Christ Our Prophet
The woman said to [Jesus], ‘Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet.’- John 4:19
With the affirmation of solus Christus—Christ alone—the Protestant Reformers were calling for the church to return to the bedrock Christian conviction that Jesus is sufficient for salvation. The church, the sacraments, and other things are important, even essential, for Christian living, but in themselves they do not save. It is Christ who saves, and His work of salvation is sufficient for us because of the perfection of His person and work.
One of the common ways that the Reformers conceptualized the person and work of our Savior was under the rubric of Christ’s three-fold office as our Prophet, Priest, and King. Today we will consider Christ as our Prophet. Any study of the Gospels will show us that Jesus was considered a prophet during His lifetime. For example, the woman to whom Christ talked at the well in Samaria confessed that Jesus was a prophet, and Jesus did not correct her (John 4:19). He accepted the designation because He fulfills the prophetic office.
Question and answer 24 of the Westminster Shorter Catechism fleshes this out by explaining that Christ is our Prophet because He reveals “to us, by his word and Spirit, the will of God for our salvation.” Jesus reveals to us the way to the Father, pointing to Himself as the only avenue through whom we can be reconciled to God (John 14:6). In fact, Jesus not only gives us the words of God but He is the very Word of God, the incarnation of God’s salvation (1:1–18).
When we refer to Christ as our Prophet, we are not referring only to what He taught during His earthly ministry. All of God’s Word, from Genesis to Revelation, is the result of Christ’s executing His office of Prophet. Yes, the Holy Spirit comes to the fore particularly when we are discussing the inspiration of the Holy Scriptures (see 2 Peter 1:21), but the Spirit was not working by Himself in revealing God’s will to God’s people. As the Father, Spirit, and Son are perfectly united and share one essence (Matt. 28:18–20), the words that the Spirit gave are no less the words of the Father and the Son. Jesus, therefore, speaks to us in every word of the Bible.
That Christ is the Prophet sent by God points to the perfection of His teaching. John Calvin writes, “The purpose of this prophetical dignity in Christ is to teach us, that in the doctrine which he delivered is substantially included a wisdom which is perfect in all its parts” (Institutes 2.15.2). His Word never fails to save those whom He wants it to save (Isa. 55:10–11).
History is filled with false prophets who deceived many people but were ultimately proven not to have a word from God. Christ, however, is the true Prophet whose Word is absolutely trustworthy and whose Word never fails to accomplish His purposes for it. He executes His prophetic ministry today through His inscripturated Word, and if we want to know God’s will for us, we must be committed to studying the Scriptures.
Passages for Further Study