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
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.
Being holy expresses the Qualification.
Being allowed to draw near expresses the Function.
Let us analyze these elements of priesthood.
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.
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.
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
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
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