Skip to comments.Where in the New Testament are "priests" mentioned? [Ecumenical]
Posted on 05/22/2014 8:23:50 AM PDT by Salvation
Where in the New Testament are "priests" mentioned?
The New Testament mentions three categories of Church leaders: bishops, presbyters, and deacons. So how can the Catholic Church justify its office of "priest"? The New Testament writers seem to understand "bishop" and "presbyter" to be synonymous terms for the same office (Acts 20:17-38).
The English word "priest" is derived from the Greek word presbuteros, which is commonly rendered into Bible English as "elder" or "presbyter." The ministry of Catholic priests is that of the presbyters mentioned in the New Testament (Acts 15:6, 23). The Bible says little about the duties of presbyters, but it does reveal they functioned in a priestly capacity.
They were ordained by the laying on of hands (1 Tm 4:14, 5:22), they preached and taught the flock (1 Tm 5:17), and they administered sacraments (Jas 5:13-15). These are the essential functions of the priestly office, so wherever the various forms of presbuteros appear--except, of course, in instances which pertain to the Jewish elders (Mt 21:23, Acts 4:23)--the word may rightly be translated as "priest" instead of "elder" or "presbyter."
Episcopos arises from two words, epi (over) and skopeo (to see), and it means literally "an overseer": We translate it as "bishop." The King James Version renders the office of overseer, episkopen, as "bishopric" (Acts 1:20). The role of the episcopos is not clearly defined in the New Testament, but by the beginning of the second century it had obtained a fixed meaning. There is early evidence of this refinement in ecclesiastical nomenclature in the writings of Ignatius of Antioch (d. A.D. 107), who wrote at length of the authority of bishops as distinct from presbyters and deacons (Epistle to the Magnesians 6:1, 13:1-2; Epistle to the Trallians 2:1-3; Epistle to the Smyrnaeans 8:1-2).
The New Testament tendency to use episcopos and presbuteros interchangeably is similar to the contemporary ... use of the term "minister" to denote various offices, both ordained and unordained (senior minister, music minister, youth minister). Similarly, the term diakonos is rendered both as "deacon" and as "minister" in the Bible, yet in Protestant churches the office of deacon is clearly distinguished from and subordinate to the office of minister.
In Acts 20:17-38 the same men are called presbyteroi (v. 17) and episcopoi (v. 28). Presbuteroi is used in a technical sense to identify their office of ordained leadership. Episcopoi is used in a non-technical sense to describe the type of ministry they exercised. This is how the Revised Standard Version renders the verses: "And from Miletus he [Paul] . . . called for the elders [presbuteroi] of the church. And when they came to him, he said to them . . . 'Take heed to yourselves and all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you guardians [episcopoi], to feed the church of the Lord.'"
In other passages it's clear that although men called presbuteroi ruled over individual congregations (parishes), the apostles ordained certain men, giving them authority over multiple congregations (dioceses), each with its own presbyters. These were endowed with the power to ordain additional presbyters as needed to shepherd the flock and carry on the work of the gospel. Titus and Timothy were two of those early episcopoi and clearly were above the office of presbuteros. They had the authority to select, ordain, and govern other presbyters, as is evidenced by Paul's instructions: "This is why I left you in Crete . . . that you might appoint elders in every town as I directed you" (Ti 1:5; cf. 1 Tm 5:17-22).
Answered by: Catholic Answers Staff
Good article. Thanks, Salvation.
Deacons, Priests and Bishops Ping!
My understanding is the office is Bishop and the priests are helpers of the Bishop.
Did you mean the offices of Deacons and Priests are to help the Bishop?
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for Gods own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.
Call that the "priesthood of all believers."
Why would one want colorful, ordained vestments when yours is heaven is white, suitable for the royal banquet?
I believe you might be using Your Own Personal Interpretation of Scripture -- YOPIOS
The Mass isn’t about the celebrant; it’s about God. Different colors mean different things.
Modern people tend to forget that the Catholic Church having been around since Jesus as indeed founded by Jesus used symbols and symbolic language. Sometimes it was used to keep from being persecuted. But most of the ancient world did not read or write and symbols were used such as colors so people knew what season we were in or what Mass was being said. We keep these out of tradition.
I don’t want to arouse an argument but when Paul gives instructions regarding the selecting of these men, one of the instructions were that they were to be married to one wife or one wife men depending on the translation. That makes perfect sense in selecting elders of the church but how does that apply the application to the current priesthood?
Priests have one wife - the Church.
I’m just saying. . .
I think your understanding is essentially correct. As the article mentions, the terms "Presbyter" and "Bishop" were, at the time most of the NT was written, not as clearly defined as the terms "Bishop" "Priest" and "Deacon" came to be.
In most NT churches, the presbyters were closer to what we would consider bishops than to what we would consider priests. Of course, the fullness of the ordained ministry resides with the bishops. The priests and deacons, as extensions of the episcopal office, are correctly (though not completely) thought of as "helpers" to the bishop.
As the article mentions, Ignatius was perhaps the earliest writer to clearly delineate the three-fold office of Bishop, Priest and Deacon, with a single (sometimes referred to as monarchical) bishop overseeing a jurisdiction. It's interesting - and sometimes a little scary - for catholics to consider that many NT scholars (including catholics) do not believe that this clearly delineated structure reached Rome before very late in the first century or early second. If this is true, then describing Peter as "the first" bishop of Rome may be something of a misnomer.
Deacons are married.
Some priests who converted to Catholicism from Anglican and Lutheran and other churches are married and they were grandfathered in. I believe we have several in my own diocese.
However, should the priest’s current wife die, they may not remarry.
All Catholics belong to the preisthood of the faithful by virtue of the sacrament of baptism. The ministerial priesthood is reserved to those Catholic men who have received the sacrament of Holy Orders. Ministerial priests never cease to belong to the priesthood of the faithful.
Paul also clearly states (1 Cor) that celibacy is a higher calling than marriage. Priestly celibacy is a "discipline" as opposed to a "doctrine" of the Latin Rite Church. There are catholic churches that do not impose this discipline (though there is a big difference between a married man being ordained - ok, and a priest getting married - not ok). And there are, even as we "speak," married priests in the Latin Rite Church.
Although, as you might infer from my screen name, my personal faith tradition is not one that follows the Latin Rite discipline, I have come to the conclusion (even before I swam the Tiber) that there is compelling justification for this particular discipline of the Latin Rite Church.
I’m not arguing whether priests should marry or not. I’m just interested in the application of scripture to the priesthood that clearly discusses the married life of the position it discusses.