But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession… 1 Peter 2:9
We live in a fallen world where even the best leaders are sinners in the process of being redeemed. So when God gives authority, he spreads it out. No one person could hold all four offices of leadership. The priest could not be a king. The prophet could not act as the judge.
Chris Wright says, “The clear distinction and separation of the different kinds of authority can be seen as a significant precursor to some of the principles of democratic government, especially the separation of powers. No single person could hold all four offices. None of the authorities is given supreme authority over the others.”
You might wonder how this works out in the church. What does this look like among the people of God? This will likely look different from church to church on a practical level. When there are cases of discipline, they come to the elders who are called to act as judges. The church board is called to act in a kingly role. The pastors have a prophetic role: they are to speak the word of God publicly and privately into the lives of God’s people. Then who are the priests? All of God’s people are priests who stand and minister in the Lord’s name always.
God distributes authority so that it never resides in one person. That principle is wisely applied in the way that the church is governed, and we should be thankful for it.
Give thanks to God for the elders, board, pastors, and people in your church.