One of the common criticisms leveled against the study of theology is that seldom does doctrine have an impact on the day-in and day-out living of our lives. The common cry is, “Who needs doctrine, just give me Jesus!” Nothing could be farther from the truth. To say that doctrine does not have an impact on the daily living of our lives is to say that God has no impact upon our lives. This, of course, is absurd. Let us see how a doctrine germane to Christology has practical implications for the lives of fathers.
It was John Calvin in the 16th century that first gathered together the doctrinal truths that Christ is the prophet, priest, and king, par excellence. Calvin called this trio of roles the munus triplex, or the threefold office. The idea behind the munus triplex is that all of the Old Testament offices ultimately point to and is fulfilled in Christ. For example, Moses was one of the greatest prophets in the Old Testament (Deut. 34.10). It was his job to reveal the knowledge of God to Israel (e.g. Exo. 7.1ff). In his role as a prophet Moses ultimately points to Christ (Acts 3.22ff). Christ, for example, spoke as the prophet when He gave the true meaning of the Law over and against the misinterpretations of the Scribes and Pharisees in His Sermon on the Mount (e.g. Matt. 5.21-22). In like manner the High Priest was supposed to go into the Holy of Holies on the Day of Atonement and make a sacrifice on behalf of the people of Israel to atone for their sins (Lev. 16). The role of the High Priest is ultimately fulfilled in Christ as the High Priest according to the order of Melchizedek who has entered the heavenly Holy of Holies and intercedes for the people of God (Heb. 8-10). The same pattern holds true for the Old Testament office of King. It was King David, for example, that ultimately points forward to Christ in His role as the King of Kings (e.g. Ezek. 37.24ff). Again, these Old Testament offices of prophet, priest, and king find their ultimate fulfillment and significance in the person and work of Christ. Now, in what way does this doctrine impact our day-in and day-out living?
The munus triplex has practical implications for every believer because all of us are supposed to be conformed to the image of Christ (Rom. 8.29). This means that all of us should ask ourselves how we reflect each of these offices in our daily lives. The munus triplex, however, has special implications for fathers. God has ordained that man, or husbands, are supposed to be the spiritual heads of their families (1 Cor. 11.3ff; cf. Gen. 2). We find this pattern, for example, in Paul’s instructions to the Ephesians: “Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything” (Eph. 5.24). The analogy is that the husband is representative of Christ and the woman is representative of the church. This means, then, just as Christ fulfills the roles of prophet, priest, and king for the church, the husband must fulfill these roles to his wife and of course his family.
Fathers, do you fulfill the role of a prophet to your family? Do you instruct your wife and children in the Word of God? Do you read the Word of God to your children? Do you model the Word of God for your children in your living? Fathers, do you intercede on behalf of your family as a priest? Granted, only Christ can offer Himself as a sacrifice for sin on behalf of the church. This, however, is not the only function of a priest. Just like Christ offered up His high priestly prayer of intercession on behalf of the church (John 17.1ff) do you intercede in prayer on behalf of your family? Fathers, do you “love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her” (Eph. 5.25)? Fathers, do you rule your households like a tyrant or as in the same manner that Christ our King rules over us? Christ our King humbled Himself, took on the form of a servant, was obedient unto death, even the death of the cross (Phil. 2.7-8). Are you a servant-king to your family?
Do we now see the practical relevance of the munus triplex? This doctrine has the practical implication that every father should be a prophet, priest, and king to his family. Fathers, meditate upon these truths this Father’s Day and ask God that He would enable you to fulfill the munus triplex to your family each day. Lastly, just one parting thought—if we ever think that doctrine has no practical implications, chances are we have never given the doctrine any serious thought.