Sunday, March 21, 2010

OT Priesthood Fulfilled in the NT

Milligan, W. “Idea of Old Testament Priesthood Fulfilled in the New Testament.” Expositor. Third Series, 8 (1888): 161-80.

William Milligan (1821-1893), the eldest son of George Milligan, was a Scottish theologian who was professor of Divinity and Biblical Criticism at the University of Aberdeen from 1860 until his death. He wrote The Ascension and Heavenly Priesthood of Our Lord which was based on the 1891 Baird Lectures delivered at Aberdeen. The book deals largely with the book of Hebrews.

As indicated in the title, Milligan argues that the institution of the Old Testament priesthood finds its fulfillment in the New Testament, principally in Christ Himself and in His Body, the Church. Generally speaking, many of the ordinances and institutions (e.g., Law, Passover, Sabbath, Pentecost, Day of Atonement, Sabbatical Year, Jubilees, Tabernacle ) of the OT find their fulfillment in Christ and the Church.

The priesthood, first of all, is fulfilled in Christ Himself. What Hebrews says about Christ as High Priest is also true of Him as Priest, for the former is simply the culmination of the latter (169). Christ possesses the two general qualifications of the priesthood. First, He was appointed to the office by God Himself (5:5). Second, He can bear gently with the ignorant and erring (5:7-9). He also fulfilled the personal qualifications of a priest. He was the possession of God and one who could approach God nearer than anyone else (171). He was free from personal defect and uncleanness, holy (without sin), and was consecrated to the office (171-172). He fulfills the purpose of the priesthood, for it is through Him that we can draw near to God (173).

The priesthood is also fulfilled in His Church as a whole, the visible Body of Christ (174-175). Whatever is characteristic of the Head should also characterize the Body. First, the Church is called of God; it an elect body duty bound to worship God (177-178). Second, the Church should have sympathy and compassion for suffering humanity (178). The Church’s qualifications are that she is God’s possession, free from all uncleanness, holy, and consecrated to God’s service by the indwelling Spirit (179).


  1. Brian, I really enjoyed this post. Well written and informative. May our Lord continue to shine through you in your ministry. God bless, Lloyd