Does the Bible teach the priesthood of all believers?

First Peter 2:5 is the main verse in the Bible that speaks of the priesthood of believers: "You yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ." Is this verse applicable to all believers?

The short answer is yes, it is. In the Old Testament, the Law of Moses specified that only certain people could serve as priests before God. Priests were men, from the tribe of Levi, between certain ages, and without blemish. If the man had any disability, he could not serve as a priest. If he was involved in sinful practices, he was also disqualified from service.

These priests served at the Jewish tabernacle and later the Jewish temple in Jerusalem where they interceded with God on behalf of the Jewish people. They offered daily prayers and sacrifices to atone for their sins and the sins of the people.

When Christ came, He provided a new covenant through the shedding of His own blood. Hebrews 10:12–14 teaches, "But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified."

Christians do not require an earthly priest to intercede on their behalf. Hebrews 10:19–23 explains, "Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water." Each Christian now has direct access to God through Jesus, our high priest (Hebrews 4:14–16).

Much as priests helped connect others to God, we also help connect others to God. Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 5:18–19, "All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation." We serve the Lord and use our gifts, abilities, time, resources, and energy to help make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:18–20; Romans 12:1–8; 1 Peter 4:10–11).

However, this does not mean each believer can serve independently of others. Romans 12:4–5 notes, "For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another." Each person is given gifts to use in serving within the church. With each person serving together, much good can be accomplished in changing lives and reaching people for Christ.

Under this new covenant, we no longer require a priest to atone for our sin, yet the church still functions with leaders. Romans 12:8 notes some are gifted in leadership. First Timothy 3 and Titus 1 discuss the qualifications of elders and deacons who provide leadership to local churches. All believers are called to participate in serving Christ together with the church's leaders to fulfill the Great Commandment (Matthew 22:37–40) and the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18–20).

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