Original Research - Special Collection: Heidelberg Catechism

Christology and Christianity: The theological power of the threefold office in Lord’s Day 12

Erik A. de Boer
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 47, No 2 | a682 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v47i2.682 | © 2013 Erik A. de Boer | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 09 January 2013 | Published: 06 November 2013

About the author(s)

Erik A. de Boer, Jonathan Edwards Centre for Africa, University of the Free State, South Africa; Systematic Theology, North-West University, South Africa; Ecclesiology, Theological University Kampen, the Netherlands and Systematic Theology, Free University Amsterdam, Netherlands

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The concept of the threefold office of Jesus was developed in the explanation of the name Christ. The three distinct offices of king, priest and prophet in Israel are thought to be united in the one Messiah. Since the unity of all three offices in one person is not found in so many words in one specific text from the Bible, it is regarded as a theological concept. As such it was developed for the first time in the Heidelberg Catechism (HC). This article traces the development of the exposition of the Apostles’ Creed in earlier Lutheran and reformed catechisms. Special attention is devoted to the one by Johannes Brenz, which was used in the Palatinate before 1563. The main source of the new Catechism of Heidelberg is the Catechismus minor by Zacharias Ursinus, who himself may have been influenced by Martin Bucer and John Calvin and their respective Catechisms. A special feature of the HC is question and answer (Q/A) 32, devoted to a parallel exposition of the name Christian. Caspar Olevianus’ work Vester Grund (A Firm Foundation) is read as a contemporary commentary on the exposition of the Creed. The catechetical power of the concept of Christ’s threefold office is finally demonstrated in its use in systematic theologies as by Gerrit Immink and Michael Welker, especially in their Christologies.

Die konsep van die drievoudige amp van Jesus is ontwikkel in die verklaring van die naam Christus. Die drie onderskeie ampte in Israel, dié van koning, priester en profeet, word gesien as verenig in die Messias. Aangesien die vereniging van al drie ampte in een persoon nie soseer in een spesifieke Bybelteks gevind word nie, word dit as ’n teologiese konsep beskou. Dit is sodanig vir die eerste keer in die Heidelbergse Kategismus (HK) ontwikkel. Hierdie artikel ondersoek die ontwikkeling van die uiteensetting van die Apostoliese Geloofsbelydenis in die konteks van vroeëre Lutherse en gereformeerde kategismusse. Daar word veral na Johannes Brenz se Kategismus, wat voor 1563 in die Pfalz gebruik is, gekyk. Die vernaamste bron van die Heidelberger is die sogenaamde Catechismus minor van Zacharias Ursinus, wat weer deur Martin Bucer en Johannes Calvyn en hul onderskeie Kategismus beïnvloed is. ’n Uitstaande kenmerk van die Heidelbergse Kategismus is vraag en antwoord (V/A) 32, wat aan ’n parallelle uiteensetting van die naam Christen gewy is. Dit kan aan die hand van die Engelse vertaling van Caspar Olevianus se werk, A Firm Foundation, verduidelik word. Die kategetiese krag van die konsep van Christus se drievoudige amp word gedemonstreer in die gebruik daarvan in sistematiese teologieë, soos Gerrit Immink en Michael Welker se Christologieë.


threefold office of Christ; triplex munus Christi; christology; Heidelberg Catechism; Olevianus; Caspar; Ursinus; Zacharias


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