Husband- The Family Priest

The most important role of a husband or a father, one that predominated in ancient days and is neglected today, is that of family priest. In Ephesians 6:25-29, we are told that the husband, is to the wife what Christ is to the Church. We see there, the two roles of the Husband, (i) the leader and (ii) the lover. The third important role is that of the priest. A husband becomes the priest of the home.


In the Bible, Christ is depicted as the high priest who is merciful and faithful (Heb. 2:17; 9:11). Just like the husband becomes head of the home as Christ is Head of the Church and lover of the home as Christ loved the Church, the husband also becomes the priest of the home, as Christ is the high priest of the Church. The headship provides Authority. The Heart provides Affection and Love. The Priesthood provides Spiritual life and spiritual upliftment of the home.


Who is a Priest? The Hebrew word for it is ‘Kohen’ - meaning, the one officiating. The Arabic root word for that is 'orab', which means ‘to draw near’. In the precise terminology of the law, it is used of one who may 'draw near' to the divine presence.


The book of Exodus in the Bible, (Ex. 19:22 ‘And also let the priest who come near to the Lord consecrate themselves, lest the Lord break out against them.’) records the significant role of a priest. A priest consecrates himself before he comes to the presence of the Lord lest it may displease God. In the OT Melchizedek (Gen. 14:18), Potipherah (Gen. 41:45), Jethro (Ex. 2:16), the Priests (Ex. 19:22) and others exercised priestly functions before the appointment of Aaron. So in the Old Testament we see that there was a special choosing of the Priests. But in the NT Peter says in, 1 Peter 2:9 “…you are a Royal Priesthood...” This is the Priesthood of all believers. This was one of the doctrines recovered by Martin Luther during the Reformation. But both in Old Testament type and in the New Testament application, the primary emphasis is upon the priest's ministry to others. We are called into the priesthood all believers, not merely that we might have our own private line to God, but in order to declare the wonderful deeds of Him, who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light (1 Pet. 2:9). Hence, parents as well as grown up, mature, believing children form the royal priests of the home, especially parents - priests of the Lord, are called and ordained by God as priests unto their children.


There is no doubt about the priestly role of the wife in a family (specially for the children), but the husband becomes the ‘Chief Priest’ (or High Priest as Christ was). The wife becomes the secondary authority over the children.


Who is a High Priest?  The Hebrew word ‘Hakkohen slet’ the great priest or the great officiating one. The first high priest in the Bible was Aaron, followed by Eleazer. Now we have seen what is priesthood and how we believers fit into this royal priesthood, and who is a high priest in the family.


What are the basic elements of priesthood?

Moses furnishes us Three important elements of priesthood in Num. 16:5.

1) Being chosen or set apart expresses the Condition.

2) Being holy expresses the Qualification.

3) Being allowed to draw near expresses the Function.

Let us analyze these elements of priesthood.


1.  Condition


The condition for priesthood is that he should be a born again believer in Christ. In 2 Corinthians 5:17 we read, “If any man is in Christ, he is a new creature, the old things passed away, behold new things have come.” To be ‘In Christ’ means Redemption. It is the redeemed man's new environment in the sphere of eternal life. When we are born again, the risen Lord Jesus becomes the source of our Christian life; in Him we are positional before our Father, in whom we live and move and exist (Acts 17:28). So every husband/father should fulfill this condition to be a family priest. It is the responsibility of the priestly father to teach his wife and children the Word of God.


2.  Qualification


The required qualification is holiness. This is a stage beyond that of being ‘In Christ,’ to a stage set for ‘Christ to be in him’ which means Sanctification. So a father should be a spiritual and sanctified person, living an exemplary life, as a model to his wife and children. Unless and until the chief priest is able to set a good model before the family in all the matters, it may not be possible for him to function as a priest in the family.


3.  Function


There are two basic functions of a high priest: (i) to represent God to the people and (ii) to represent the people to God. First, the father and the mother are called to present God to their children. This, they can do through living godly life, through teaching the word of God and leading in the daily family altar and worship.


The father, as the chief priest, should lead and conduct the family worship service every day, involving his wife and children in singing songs, reading the Bible and praying by turns. Parents, who want their children to know God, must cultivate their own relationship with God. No amount of moral instruction, firm discipline, religious instruction or Church going or active involvement in Church activities can make up for the lack of a praying parent.


In Deuteronomy 6:1-9 we find God commanding the father to teach His Word diligently to the children and to talk of His commandments while sitting at home, walking by the way and while lying down and rising up. The children should also be encouraged to memorize Bible verses and to recite them by heart. Children may make mistakes as they learn and recite. Once a small boy was reciting John 3:16 and he said, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only forgotten son…” The father who heard this, without immediately finding fault with his son asked him why God forgot His own son. The boy answered, ‘In order to remember him.’ After that, of course, the father corrected the mistake.


 Second, parents are called to present their children to God. This is done primarily through the ministry of prayer and also through teaching the children the art of prayer, how to pray, what to pray for, whom to pray for, and so on. The high priestly father should make intercession for his family as Christ the high priest does, even till this day for His church, the body of believers (Heb. 7:25). Even in the case of Job, we see that he offered burnt offering for his children and this he did continually (Job 1:5). The husband /father priest who faithfully fulfills his spiritual responsibilities to his family, nurtures a spirit filled atmosphere at home and builds a strong foundation for his children to become strong pillars of the future church and society when they grow up. May the Lord help, bless and inspire the heart of many Christian fathers to consider his priestly responsibility and build up a spirit - filled home to the glory of God.