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In the Aaronic Priesthood, priests come and go but Jesus is a priest forever.

Hebrews 7:23-25 (MSG)

23-25 Earlier there were a lot of priests, for they died and had to be replaced. But Jesus’ priesthood is permanent. He’s there from now to eternity to save everyone who comes to God through him, always on the job to speak up for them.

According to Evangelicals, when did Jesus become the High Priest?

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  • This was an overview question, but I don't think it needs to explicit ask for one - it seemed like it was very difficult to answer. I've edited it to simply ask for the Evangelical position. Answers will still need to have supporting quotes/references to Evangelical sources, and ideally will explain if there is a diversity of views.
    – curiousdannii
    Jul 14 at 23:50
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According to Evangelicalism when did Jesus become the High Priest?

Well, Hebrews has a lot to say about this, but I'll narrow the scripture references down to just a few that most clearly indicate when Jesus became a priest.

1. After he had become human.

14 Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. 16 For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. 17 Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. 18 For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. -Hebrews 2:14-18

2. After he was exalted in the heavens

Hebrews 8:4 (ESV) 4 Now if he were on earth, he would not be a priest at all, since there are priests who offer gifts according to the law.

Hebrews 7:25-26 (ESV) 25 Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. 26 For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens.

Conclusion

Based on the few scriptures listed, Jesus became the high priest after he became human and after he was exalted into the heavens, having already died and been resurrected in his new creation body.

For more information, I'd study carefully Hebrews Chapter 2,5,7,8 and 9 for additional support locating when Jesus was declared High Priest.

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  • Please edit this to add some supporting quotes and references from Evangelical sources.
    – curiousdannii
    Jul 19 at 22:07
  • 1
    @Austin Jesus didn't become human. Although I think I know what you mean. The logos became flesh, Jesus didn't. He is the result of the logos becoming flesh. +1 anyway.
    – steveowen
    Aug 22 at 0:54
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While I don’t think we can pinpoint the exact moment when God declared Jesus our High Priest, I believe the Book of Hebrews gives us an idea of a general time period.

Hebrews 7:20-21 tells us that Jesus was made our high priest by an oath sworn by God the Father.

Hebrews 7:20-21 (KJV):

20 And inasmuch as not without an oath he (Jesus) was made priest: 21(For those priests were made without an oath; but this with an oath by him that said unto him, The Lord sware and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec:)

So the question is when did the Father make this oath?

We understand that the Old Testament Covenant of the law required a human priesthood. That priesthood was created by God at the giving of the Law of Moses. That priesthood was established in Aaron (the brother of Moses) a direct descendant of Levi, son of Jacob. All priests that served God thereafter, were to be of the Tribe of Levi as required by the Law of Moses.

However, the Book of Hebrews goes on to tell us that when the Father began to lay the foundation for the New Testament Covenant of Grace, God instituted a change in the law and in the priesthood that would be able to deliver all mankind from their sin. The priesthood was then changed from the Tribe of Levi to the Tribe of Judah, the tribe where Jesus descended.

Hebrews 7:11-14 (KJV)

11 If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron? 12 For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law. 13 For he of whom these things are spoken pertaineth to another tribe, of which no man gave attendance at the altar. 14 For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Juda; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood.

Hebrews 7-28 then tells us that the oath that the Father made that gave the title of High Priest to Jesus, was made after the Law of Moses was given to Israel.

Hebrews 7:28 (KJV)

For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated for evermore.

This makes logical sense since Hebrews 7:12 declares that there was a “change” to the original Levitical priesthood plan, logic states that it would be “after” the Levitical priesthood was established. Also, (while I am no Greek student) Thayer’s Lexicon states that the usage of the Greek “meta” (ie, the word “since” in Hebrews 7:28) has the sense of time sequence, ie “after”, ie after the Law of Moses was given.

Finally, Psalm 110 references this same oath.

Psalm 110:1-4 (KJV)

The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool. 2 The Lord shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies. 3 Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth. 4 The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek.

So, I believe we can place the establishment of Jesus as High Priest somewhere between the giving of the Law of Moses (circa 1500BC) and the time Psalm 110 was written, (circa 1000BC).

Some Protestant Christian Commentaries agree with the timing of the oath (ie "after" the law was given) but also believe the "execution" of the oath (seeing it as a promise) was not realized until after the death and resurrection of Christ. Here's Matthew Poole's commentary on Hebrews 7:28:

"But the word of the oath, which was since the law; but God the Father’s promise to his Son, ratified with an oath, that he should he the great High Priest perfecting of souls for God, as David testifieth, Psalm 110:4, to be revealed to him; and this four hundred years after the law was given which constituted the Aaronical priesthood. The word revealed God’s promise to him, the oath made it irreversible; yet this promise was not actually performed to him till his ascension in the human nature higher than the heavens, Psalm 110:1."

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  • Hello and welcome to the site. As this question is asking for an overview of Evangelical views, please edit this to add supporting resources that show this is the common view of Evangelicals. As it is now, it looks like only your personal interpretation, which would not be a valid answer.
    – curiousdannii
    Jul 14 at 23:30
  • @curiousdanni So what you are saying is that my being a pastor/teacher who preaches/teaches the word is not a valid reference. I can edit to add my background.
    – alb
    Jul 14 at 23:43
  • 2
    I've edited the question to not explicitly demand an overview. However even if you are an evangelical pastor, how can we know that? We require quotes or references to published documents so that other people can verify what answers say, as well as do follow-on research.
    – curiousdannii
    Jul 14 at 23:44
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“The New Testament attributes Jesus’ appointment as High Priest to a higher order than the one prescribed under the old covenant: namely, the Melchizedek priesthood, after the priest-king whom Abram recognized as his superior in Genesis 14:18 – 20 (cf. Ps 110:4; Heb 7:1 – 7) long before the giving of the law and therefore long before the Aaronic priesthood. In Hebrews 5 – 7 the argument is made that Jesus was installed as high priest “after the order of Melchizedek” (5:6, 10). The writer contrasts the Abrahamic covenant/Melchizedek priesthood and the Mosaic covenant/Levitical priesthood. The one covenant is an unchangeable oath sworn by God (Ps 110:4; Heb 7:21), while the other depends on the obedience and mediation of sinful human beings (Heb 7:11 – 13). “This makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant” (vv. 18 – 22). Thus, priesthood and covenant are inextricably connected; a change in one requires a change in the other. Or rather, since covenants cannot be amended, an inferior one must become “obsolete” in the inauguration of the superior one (8:13).

Christ’s priesthood is therefore not grounded in history, but in eternity; not at Sinai, but in the heavenly Zion. Reference to the “unchangeable oath,” with God himself (rather than Moses or angels) as Mediator, is further evidence of the eternal covenant of redemption between the persons of the Godhead. Therefore, the Son did not become the Mediator in his incarnation, but is the trustee of the elect from eternity to eternity.”

Excerpt From: Horton, Michael. “Pilgrim Theology: Core Doctrines for Christian Disciples.”

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  • 1
    Could you perhaps provide a summary of or some analysis on Horton's view? Stack Exchange answers should really provide some original content, not be exclusively a quote of another person.
    – ThaddeusB
    Oct 10 '15 at 16:18
  • I don't know how to summarize it in less words than this quote. Horton directly answers the exact question from an evangelical perspective. Oct 10 '15 at 16:25
  • @BenMordecai: Something like "Christ's priesthood is not grounded in history, but eternity", perhaps?
    – Flimzy
    Oct 10 '15 at 16:43

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