Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER XLI.: of the office of our blessed saviour. - The English Works, vol. III (Leviathan)
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
CHAPTER XLI.: of the office of our blessed saviour. - Thomas Hobbes, The English Works, vol. III (Leviathan) 
The English Works of Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury; Now First Collected and Edited by Sir William Molesworth, Bart., (London: Bohn, 1839-45). 11 vols. Vol. 3.
About Liberty Fund:
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
of the office of our blessed saviour.
Three parts of the office of Christ.
We find in Holy Scripture three parts of the office of the Messiah: the first of a Redeemer or Saviour; the second of a pastor, counsellor, or teacher, that is, of a prophet sent from God to convert such as God hath elected to salvation: the third of a king, and eternal king, but under his Father, as Moses and the high-priests were in their several times. And to these three parts are correspondent three times. For our redemption he wrought at his first coming, by the sacrifice wherein he offered up himself for our sins upon the cross: our conversion he wrought partly then in his own person, and partly worketh now by his ministers, and will continue to work till his coming again. And after his coming again, shall begin that his glorious reign over his elect, which is to last eternally.
His office as a Redeemer.
To the office of a Redeemer, that is, of one that payeth the ransom of sin, which ransom is death, it appertaineth, that he was sacrificed, and thereby bare upon his own head and carried away from us our iniquities, in such sort as God had required. Not that the death of one man, though without sin, can satisfy for the offences of all men, in the rigour of justice, but in the mercy of God, that ordained such sacrifices for sin, as he was pleased in his mercy to accept. In the old law (as we may read, Levit. xvi.) the Lord required that there should, every year once, be made an atonement for the sins of all Israel, both priests and others; for the doing whereof, Aaron alone was to sacrifice for himself and the priests a young bullock; and for the rest of the people, he was to receive from them two young goats, of which he was to sacrifice one; but as for the other, which was the scape-goat, he was to lay his hands on the head thereof, and by a confession of the iniquities of the people, to lay them all on that head, and then by some opportune man, to cause the goat to be led into the wilderness, and there to escape, and carry away with him the iniquities of the people. As the sacrifice of the one goat was a sufficient, because an acceptable, price for the ransom of all Israel; so the death of the Messiah, is a sufficient price for the sins of all mankind, because there was no more required. Our Saviour Christ’s sufferings seem to be here figured, as clearly as in the oblation of Isaac, or in any other type of him in the Old Testament. He was both the sacrificed goat, and the scapegoat; he was oppressed, and he was afflicted (Isaiah liii. 7); he opened not his mouth; he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep is dumb before the shearer, so he opened not his mouth: here he is the sacrificed goat. He hath borne our griefs (verse 4), and carried our sorrows: and again, (verse 6), the Lord hath laid upon him the iniquities of us all: and so he is the scape-goat. He was cut off from the land of the living (ver. 8) for the transgression of my people: there again he is the sacrificed goat. And again, (verse 11) he shall bear their sins: he is the scape goat. Thus is the lamb of God equivalent to both those goats; sacrificed, in that he died; and escaping, in his resurrection; being raised opportunely by his Father, and removed from the habitation of men in his ascension.
Christ’s kingdom not of this world.
For as much therefore, as he that redeemeth hath no title to the thing redeemed, before the redemption, and ransom paid; and this ransom was the death of the Redeemer; it is manifest, that our Saviour, as man, was not king of those that he redeemed, before he suffered death; that is, during that time he conversed bodily on the earth. I say, he was not then king in present, by virtue of the pact, which the faithful make with him in baptism. Nevertheless, by the renewing of their pact with God in baptism, they were obliged to obey him for king, under his Father, whensoever he should be pleased to take the kingdom upon him. According whereunto, our Saviour himself expressly saith, (John xviii. 36) My kingdom is not of this world. Now seeing the Scripture maketh mention but of two worlds; this that is now, and shall remain unto the day of judgment, which is therefore also called the last day; and that which shall be after the day of judgment, when there shall be a new heaven, and a new earth: the kingdom of Christ is not to begin till the general resurrection. And that is it which our Saviour saith, (Matth.xvi.27) The Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father, with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. To reward every man according to his works, is to execute the office of a king; and this is not to be till he come in the glory of his Father, with his angels. When our Saviour saith, (Matth. xxiii. 2, 3) The Scribes and Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat; all therefore whatsoever they bid you do, that observe and do; he declared plainly, that he ascribed kingly power, for that time, not to himself, but to them. And so he doth also, where he saith (Luke xii. 14) Who made me a judge or divider over you? And (John xii. 47) I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. And yet our Saviour came into this world that he might be a king and a judge in the world to come: for he was the Messiah, that is, the Christ, that is, the anointed priest, and the sovereign prophet of God; that is to say, he was to have all the power that was in Moses the prophet, in the high-priests that succeeded Moses, and in the kings that succeeded the priests. And St. John says expressly (chap. v. verse 22) the Father judgeth noman, but hath committed all judgment to the Son. And this is not repugnant to that other place, I came not to judge the world: for this is spoken of the world present, the other of the world to come; as also where it is said, that at the second coming of Christ, (Matth. xix. 28) Ye that have followed me in the regeneration, when the Son of Man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye shall also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
The end of Christ’s coming was to renew the covenant of the kingdom of God, and to persuade the elect to embrace it, which was the second part of his office.
If then Christ, whilst he was on earth, had no kingdom in this world, to what end was his first coming? It was to restore unto God, by a new covenant, the kingdom, which being his by the old covenant, had been cut off by the rebellion of the Israelites in the election of Saul. Which to do, he was to preach unto them, that he was the Messiah, that is, the king promised to them by the prophets; and to offer himself in sacrifice for the sins of them that should by faith submit themselves thereto; and in case the nation generally should refuse him, to call to his obedience such as should believe in him amongst the Gentiles. So that there are two parts of our Saviour’s office during his abode upon the earth: one to proclaim himself the Christ; and another by teaching, and by working of miracles, to persuade and prepare men to live so, as to be worthy of the immortality believers were to enjoy, at such time as he should come in majesty to take possession of his Father’s kingdom. And therefore it is, that the time of his preaching is often by himself called the regeneration; which is not properly a kingdom, and thereby a warrant to deny obedience to the magistrates that then were; for he commanded to obey those that sat then in Moses’ chair, and to pay tribute to Cæsar; but only an earnest of the kingdom of God that was to come, to those to whom God had given the grace to be his disciples, and to believe in him; for which cause the godly are said to be already in the kingdom of grace, as naturalized in that heavenly kingdom.
The preaching of Christ not contrary to the then law of the Jews, nor of Cæsar.
Hitherto, therefore, there is nothing done or taught by Christ, that tendeth to the diminution of the civil right of the Jews or of Cæsar. For as touching the commonwealth which then was amongst the Jews, both they that bare rule amongst them, and they that were governed, did all expect the Messiah and kingdom of God; which they could not have done, if their laws had forbidden him, when he came, to manifest and declare himself. Seeing therefore he did nothing, but by preaching and miracles go about to prove himself to be that Messiah, he did therein nothing against their laws. The kingdom he claimed was to be in another world: he taught all men to obey in the mean time them that sat in Moses’ seat: he allowed them to give Cæsar his tribute, and refused to take upon himself to be a judge. How then could his words or actions be seditious, or tend to the overthrow of their then civil government? But God having determined his sacrifice for the reduction of his elect to their former covenanted obedience, for the means, whereby he would bring the same to effect, made use of their malice and ingratitude. Nor was it contrary to the laws of Cæsar. For though Pilate himself, to gratify the Jews, delivered him to be crucified; yet before he did so, he pronounced openly, that he found no fault in him: and put for title of his condemnation, not as the Jews required, that he pretended to be king; but simply, that he was king of the Jews; and notwithstanding their clamour, refused to alter it; saying, What I have written, I have written.
The third part of his office was to be king, under his Father, of the elect.
As for the third part of his office, which was to be king, I have already shewn that his kingdom was not to begin till the resurrection. But then he shall be king, not only as God, in which sense he is king already, and ever shall be, of all the earth, in virtue of his omnipotence; but also peculiarly of his own elect, by virtue of the pact they make with him in their baptism. And therefore it is, that our Saviour saith (Matth. xix. 28) that his apostles should sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel, When the Son of Man shall sit in the throne of his glory: whereby he signified that he should reign then in his human nature; and (Matth. xvi. 27) The Son of Man shall come in the glory of his Father, with his angels, and then he shall reward every man according to his works. The same we may read, Mark xiii. 26, and xiv. 62; and more expressly for the time, Luke xxii. 29, 30, I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed to me, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. By which it is manifest, that the kingdom of Christ appointed to him by his Father, is not to be before the Son of Man shall come in glory, and make his apostles judges of the twelve tribes of Israel. But a man may here ask, seeing there is no marriage in the kingdom of heaven, whether men shall then eat and drink? What eating therefore is meant in this place? This is expounded by our Saviour (John vi. 27), where he saith, Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of Man shall give you. So that by eating at Christ’s table, is meant the eating of the tree of life; that is to say, the enjoying of immortality, in the kingdom of the Son of Man. By which places and many more, it is evident that our Saviour’s kingdom is to be exercised by him in his human nature.
Christ’s authority in the kingdom of God, subordinate to that of his Father.
Again, he is to be king then, no otherwise than as subordinate or vicegerent of God the Father, as Moses was in the wilderness; and as the high-priests were before the reign of Saul; and as the kings were after it. For it is one of the prophecies concerning Christ, that he should be like, in office, to Moses: I will raise them up a prophet, saith the Lord (Deut. xviii. 18) from amongst their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words into his mouth; and this similitude with Moses, is also apparent in the actions of our Saviour himself, whilst he was conversant on earth. For as Moses chose twelve princes of the tribes, to govern under him; so did our Saviour choose twelve apostles, who shall sit on twelve thrones, and judge the twelve tribes of Israel. And as Moses authorized seventy elders, to receive the Spirit of God, and to prophecy to the people, that is, as I have said before, to speak unto them in the name of God; so our Saviour also ordained seventy disciples, to preach his kingdom and salvation to all nations. And as when a complaint was made to Moses, against those of the seventy that prophecied in the camp of Israel, he justified them in it, as being subservient therein to his government; so also our Saviour, when St. John complained to him of a certain man that cast out devils in his name, justified him therein, saying, (Luke ix. 50) Forbid him not, for he that is not against us, is on our part.
Again, our Saviour resembled Moses in the institution of sacraments, both of admission into the kingdom of God, and of commemoration of his deliverance of his elect from their miserable condition. As the children of Israel had for sacrament of their reception into the kingdom of God, before the time of Moses, the rite of circumcision, which rite having been omitted in the wilderness, was again restored as soon as they came into the Land of Promise; so also the Jews, before the coming of our Saviour, had a rite of baptizing, that is, of washing with water, all those that being Gentiles embraced the God of Israel. This rite St. John the Baptist used in the reception of all them that gave their names to the Christ, whom he preached to be already come into the world; and our Saviour instituted the same for a sacrament to be taken by all that believed in him. From what cause the rite of baptism first proceeded, is not expressed formally in the Scripture; but it may be probably thought to be an imitation of the law of Moses, concerning leprosy; wherein the leprous man was commanded to be kept out of the camp of Israel for a certain time; after which time being judged by the priest to be clean, he was admitted into the camp after a solemn washing. And this may therefore be a type of the washing in baptism; wherein such men as are cleansed of the leprosy of sin by faith, are received into the Church with the solemnity of baptism. There is another conjecture, drawn from the ceremonies of the Gentiles, in a certain case that rarely happens: and that is, when a man that was thought dead chanced to recover, other men made scruple to converse with him, as they would do to converse with a ghost, unless he were received again into the number of men by washing, as children new-born were washed from the uncleanness of their nativity; which was a kind of new birth. This ceremony of the Greeks, in the time that Judea was under the dominion of Alexander and the Greeks his successors, may probably enough have crept into the religion of the Jews. But seeing it is not likely our Saviour would countenance a heathen rite, it is most likely it proceeded from the legal ceremony of washing after leprosy. And for the other sacrament of eating the Paschal lamb, it is manifestly imitated in the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper; in which the breaking of the bread, and the pouring out of the wine, do keep in memory our deliverance from the misery of sin, by Christ’s passion, as the eating of the Paschal lamb kept in memory the deliverance of the Jews out of the bondage of Egypt. Seeing therefore the authority of Moses was but subordinate, and he but a lieutenant of God; it followeth that Christ, whose authority, as man, was to be like that of Moses, was no more but subordinate to the authority of his Father. The same is more expressly signified, by that that he teacheth us to pray, Our Father, let thy kingdom come; and, For thine is the kingdom, the power and theglory; and by that it is said, that He shall come in the glory of his Father; and by that which St. Paul saith, (1 Cor. xv. 24) then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; and by many other most express places.
One and the same God is the person represented by Moses and Christ.
Our Saviour, therefore, both in teaching and reigning, representeth, as Moses did, the person of God; which God from that time forward, but not before, is called the Father; and being still one and the same substance, is one person as represented by Moses, and another person as represented by his son the Christ. For person being a relative to a representer, it is consequent to plurality of representers, that there be a plurality of persons, though of one and the same substance.