John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be to you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come…
I. THE FUNCTIONS OR OFFICES HERE ASSIGNED TO BELIEVERS.
1. They are made kings. Temporal power and dignity belong to earthly kings. To Christ, the great King, belong all Divine power and glory. And all His redeemed followers partake of His power and dignity.
(1) Christians are kings in respect of their power. They have wonderful power over all their enemies, if they are but careful how to use it and to put it forth. Thus they can resist the devil, until he flees from them. They can also resist their own evil tendencies, mortify the deeds of their bodies, crucify their flesh with its affections and lusts. And they can withstand the world, despising its allurements, and patiently enduring its frowns.
(2) Christians are also kings in dignity, as regards both their personal dignity and their bellowed glory.
(a) They partake of the personal dignity of kings. They have in them a kingly nature. There is a moral majesty in the character of all God's children.
(b) Christians also partake of a borrowed dignity that is Divine. They partake of the glory that belongs to the Divine Redeemer. They are arrayed in the robes of His righteousness. Go to the dying-bed of a mighty, graceless monarch, and you find him, in the midst of weakness and of misery, hastening down to the sides of the pit. Go to the dying-bed of an humble child of God, and, though you find him on his pallet of straw, yielding to the power of dissolution, his face is radiant with the light of the Divine countenance, and with the hopes of glory that fill and cheer his heart; and already you see Satan, death, and hell dragged, as powerless, prostrate foes, at the chariot-wheels of his triumphing faith, and find him raising the song of victory ever all his enemies, as one who already feels that in Christ he is more than conqueror.
2. Christians are made priests.
(1) The foundation of the priesthood of Christians is their oneness with Christ. As bone of their bone, and flesh of their flesh, their surety and repreresentative, their sin-bearer, their righteousness, and their life, all that He did and suffered for them, and is doing for them, they are dealt with as having done and suffered themselves, as now doing in and with Him.
(2) The introduction of Christians into their priesthood.
(a) They are called to it by God.
(b) They are Divinely qualified and prepared for their priestly work.They have been duly purified, being washed by Christ from their sins in His own blood. They are clothed in the necessary priestly vestments; for Christ has put upon them the garments of salvation; He has covered them with the robe of His righteousness (Isaiah 61.); He has arrayed them in that fine linen, white and clean, which is the righteousness of saints (chap. Revelation 19.); and they have an unction from the Holy one, a Divine anointing, an anointing of the Spirit, by which they are made to know and ]eve their priestly work (1 John 2.). They are thus prepared to yield themselves unto God, as alive from the dead, through Jesus Christ.
(3) Thus called to their work, and qualified for it, they perform the duties of their priesthood, as the proper business of their life. They present their bodies a living sacrifice (Romans 12.). They present to God the sacrifice of a broken and contrite heart (Psalm 51.). They offer the sacrifice of a living faith (Philippians 2.). They offer the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving, or what are termed "the calves of their lips" (Hosea 12., Hebrews 13.). They lay on Christ, as their altar, the deeds of love done by them to others; remembering that with such sacrifices God is well pleased (Hebrews 13., Philippians 4.), and that they are the odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable to God (Philippians 4.).
II. THE INSEPARABLE CONNECTION BETWEEN THE ROYALTY AND THE PRIESTHOOD OF CHRISTIANS, BETWEEN THEIR WORK AS KINGS AND THEIR WORK AS PRIESTS. They have the honour, and exercise the power, of kings, because thus only can they be prepared to perform their duty as priests. For, as kings, they are laden with honours, make conquests, and in various ways put forth their power, and accumulate the fruits of its exercise, in order that, as priests, they may take their honours, resources, and conquests, and the varied fruits of their power, and consecrate them all to the service and glory of God.
III. THE SUBORDINATION OF THEIR KINGLY TO THEIR PRIESTLY OFFICE AND WORK. The office of Christians, as priests, is higher than their office as kings. And the reason is found in the very nature of the offices of believers, as kings and as priests to God. For, as kings, they but rule over themselves, and over creation around, conquering and keeping under the spiritual enemies that fill and surround them, and causing the creatures around them to pay them tribute. But as priests, they turn their back upon creation, and their faces toward God, and stand in His immediate presence, and minister before His eternal throne. As kings, they but exhibit the honour with which they themselves are invested. But as priests, they are employed in giving all glory to God. They are thus not priestly kings, but kingly priests. They are a "royal priesthood." This view of the subordination of their kingly to their priestly office and work, becomes more evident and impressive when we consider how their office, as kings, shall at length be in a great measure absorbed in their office as priests. For when, as kings, they have conquered sin and Satan, and death and hell, they shall come out of all their tribulation, and wash their robes, and make them white in the blood of the Lamb, and be before the throne of God, and, as priests, for ever serve Him day and night in His temple. And though, as kings, they shall at last appear with crowns of glory, yet, as priests, they shall take their crowns, and cast them at the feet of Him who bought them with His blood; and they shall then, and for ever, have it for their chief employment, to give, as priests, all glory to the Eternal.
Parallel VersesKJV: John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne;