In Presbyterianism, there are three "titles" that can be given to officers of a church:
- Teaching elder (e.g., pastors)
- Ruling elder
Last weekend I heard something rather novel, at least to me1—that these three titles parallel the three offices of Christ (prophet, priest, and king):
- Teaching elder – Prophet – proclaims God's word
- Ruling elder – King – rules and directs the church; responsible for church discipline
- Deacon – Priest – ????
The parallels are obviously not perfect even in the first two cases, since ruling elders also proclaim God's word (at least in small groups and classes, if not preaching from the pulpit), and teaching elders also participate in ruling and directing the church. Still, I can see the connection.
However, I do not see the connection between the office of deacons and Christ's priestly office. So that's my question:
Given a Reformed and Presbyterian polity and christology, what is the basis for making a parallel between the office of deacon and Christ's priestly office?
There's likely to be some biblical basis for this, but I'm most interested in the biblical arguments made by those who hold to Reformed, Presbyterian beliefs. Those who do not share this framework, if they make a connection between these two offices, might do so for different reasons.
- This view is held by "some Reformed textbooks," according to G. I. Williamson, so it's not just the view of the person I heard it from. Unfortunately Williamson doesn't mention which texts argue for this.