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Westminster Shorter Catechism Project

A Commentary
on the
Shorter Catechism

Alexander Whyte

Q. 24. How doth Christ execute the office of a Prophet? A. Christ executeth the office of a prophet, in revealing to us, by his word and Spirit, the will of God for our salvation.

the office of a prophet — The title prophet fits in finely to the definition and description of an office given in the preceding Answer. For as an office is some place or function that some one occupies or performs for another, so a prophet is one who speaks for another, conveying and interpreting his will. “The office of the prophet in the fullest sense is to make known Another” (Westcott on John 1:7). Examples of the claim that Christ put forth to be a prophet will be found in such passages as John 7:16, 8:28, 12:49, 14:10, 24.

“Christ was, by way of eminence, The Prophet: that Prophet that should. come into the world, to declare the Divine Will. He published anew the law of nature, which men had corrupted; and the very knowledge of which, to some degree, was lost among them. He taught mankind, taught us authoritatively, to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world, in expectation of the future judgment of God. He confirmed the truth of this moral system of nature, and gave us additional evidence of it — the evidence of testimony. He distinctly revealed the manner in which God would be worshipped, the efficacy of repentance, and the rewards and punishments of a future life. Thus He was a Prophet in a sense in which no other ever was” (Butler). “He has the whole prophetic life in Himself. The pathos of an Isaiah, the melancholy of an Hosea, the meekness of a Jeremiah, the joy in nature of an Amos, the power of observation of the proverb-writers, the whole world of feeling of the psalmists have all been transferred to Him” (Hausrath).

by revealing — “Neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal Him.” “The only-begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him.” “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto Him to show unto His servants.” “The way of salvation made known by Christ is a revelation; it is not a relation of something already known; it is not theory, invention, or speculation. Neither is the way of salvation a discovery of human reason, like scientific discoveries. And hence the absurdity of improvements in religion” (Stewart of Cromarty).

by his word and Spirit — “The Bible may be considered as a consolidation of partial revelations. There were dreams, visions, voices from heaven, Urim and Thummim, in the olden times. Thus, in these ‘divers manners,’ and at ‘sundry times,’ were revelations made, but God hath in these last days spoken to us by His Son. . . . Thus the Bible is addressed to the understanding, conscience, affections, to the whole soul. And the influence of the Spirit is co-extensive with the word. It flows into and embodies itself in the word. Bless God for the promise of the Spirit, who commands the light to shine out of darkness, by the authority, omnipotence, and grace of His agency. If ye love not the Spirit of Christ, ye are none of His” (Stewart).

The will of God for our salvation. “At the, time appointed He came forth from the Father, and showed Himself in this external world, — first as its Creator, then as its Teacher, the Revealer of secrets, the Mediator, the off-streaming of God’s glory, and the express image of His Person. Cloud nor image, emblem nor words, are interposed between the Son and the Eternal Father. No language is needed between the Father and Him who is the very Word of the Father; no knowledge is imparted to Him, who by His very nature and from eternity knows the Father, and all that the Father knows” (Newman).

“It is not enough to say of the doctrine of Jesus that it shows a high religious character: this it has in common with many others; but in the doctrine of our Lord a distinctly soteriological character must be acknowledged. . . . It is not so much religious truth in general, as in an especial sense, the truth as it regards salvation which has been brought to light through Him” (Oosterzee).

1. “The main and proper end of one of the offices of Jesus Christ is to cure the defects of the understanding. . . . If we consider all the instructions, reproofs, and doctrines in the word, what are they but so many plasters which Christ lays to our heads to cure our diseased judgments, and by healing them to heal all the other faculties” (Goodwin).

2. “The great subject of Christ’s instructions, as the Prophet and Teacher of His Church, was the will of God for our salvation. He did not come to teach science or art; He has furnished us with other means of obtaining information on these subjects” (Stewart).

3. “What is the first instruction hence? That none need be discouraged at their natural weakness if Christ is their teacher (Matthew 11:25)” (Flavel). “And thus it happens that men of the lowest class and the humblest education may know fully the ways and works of God: far better and more truly than the most sagacious man of this world to whom the gospel is hid. Religion has a store of wonderful secrets which no one can communicate to another, and which are must pleasant and delightful to know. ‘Call upon me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things which thou knowest not of’” (Newman).


1. Explain Milton’s words:

all His Father in Him shone,
and give scriptural parallels.

2. Explain Butler’s words: He published anew the law of nature, and give scriptural illustrations.

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