Skip to comments.The Priesthood, Old and New (explained by a Baptist Sunday School and Bible study teacher)
Posted on 06/15/2009 1:42:58 PM PDT by NYer
As a Baptist Sunday School and Bible study teacher, one of the questions that used to nag at me incessantly was this: Why, after such painstaking deliberation in dictating an institutional religion that pleased Him in the Old Testament and that was designed to lead the people to recognize the Messiah when He came, would God then introduce a system in the New Testament Church that was so completely unlike the one He established in the Old? There are innumerable examples of how ridiculous this complete “change” would be, but take the priesthood, for instance.
Priests were the officiators of worship whose main duties, those that set them apart from the “priesthood of the people” (Exodus 19:6), were to maintain the tabernacle sanctuary, offer sacrifices, and facilitate the peoples’ confession of sins through them. God Himself established this formal priesthood, stipulating everything about it in the Law of the Torah. The priests must be descendants of Aaron, the first priest selected by God Himself; their bodies must have no defect in them, because their persons and bodies were an offering to God (like the animals they would sacrifice on the altar); they must be dedicated in a special seven-day ceremony that involved bathing, oils, and sacrifices.
They were clad in special garments. They wore a “coat” woven from a single piece of linen without seam that symbolized spiritual integrity, wholeness and righteousness. The headpiece, called a miter, was made by God’s direction to look like a flower in bloom to illustrate the wearers’ spiritual health and bloom. The girdle, specified by God, was a belt worn around the waist to show that theirs was an office of service to the people.
While in active service to God in the tabernacle, and later at the temple, the priests were to have no marital relations with their spouses. This celibacy illustrated the inherent purity which the priest must embody. Along with offering sacrifices, they were to be the teachers of the people. This was not to prevent the people from learning, praying, or studying the Law on their own; it was simply to protect the people from error. They were also the office of authoritative judgment for the people, a way of justice for them.
This priesthood was so sacred that even the priests possible, probable and, later, actual, infidelity to God would not negate it. The people were instructed to officially hear and obey them due to the sanctity of their office, as it was a function of God’s grace rather than the priests’ merit. The priesthood was to be a perpetual institution (Exodus 40:15), as were the sacrifices they would offer Him.
If this is true, where is the priesthood in the New Testament, after Christ? I asked myself as a Baptist. It cannot simply be that members of the body of Christ were now “The Priesthood” as I had been taught through 1Peter 2:9 and the Book of Hebrews; not if the Old Testament is to be our example as the Scriptures so clearly say (Matthew 13:52). In the Old Testament, the people were also said to be a priesthood, though still not of the official, institutional office (Exodus 19:6), and St. Peter uses the same wording when he speaks of the “priesthood of the believer.” If the Old Testament is our example, there must also be a formal New Testament office of the priesthood in addition to the priesthood of the believer. The “fulfillment” of the Old Testament in Christ cannot, and would not, negate the perpetual and institutional nature of the office of the priesthood. He Himself said He came to fulfill it, that is to give it its proper orientation and meaning, not abolish it (Matthew 5:17-18).
This was one of the questions that bothered me the more I learned about the Old Testament example, especially after experiencing the epidemic rebellion, disunity, and church-splitting of the sole “priesthood of the believer” propounded in Protestant churches. Although the Scriptures are full of how consecrated and special they are to God, there is little respect for pastors’ authority or office in denominational churches anymore. A sign of the times, of course, but also a sign of a fundamental structural error (and appropriately of the exact nature of the original error) that is now making itself evident; for the perpetual, institutional priesthood was carried forth in obedience in and through the Catholic Church.
Everything about the Old Testament example, including the priesthood of the believer, is both fulfilled and perpetuated in Her, through Christ’s eternal sacrifice, just as the Scriptures teach. The sacrifices Catholic priests make are the single sacrifice pleasing to God: His only Son. This is the Sacrifice pictured and eternally being offered in the heavenly temple revealed to St. John in the Book of Revelation, the Sacrifice initiated and perpetuated by Christ Himself in the words “do this in remembrance of me,” this being the very thing Jesus was about to do — sacrifice Himself. Who obeys this command to the letter, offering and consuming the Blood of the new covenant and the Body which is broken for us, but the priesthood of the Catholic Church? Who officiates at this true and perpetual Sacrifice but the priesthood of the Catholic Church? Who maintains the sanctuary, offers the Sacrifice, and facilitates the peoples’ confession of sin? Who carries forth the descendants and celibacy of Christ’s priesthood with the consecration and the garments? Who administers the official and error-free, authoritative Teaching of Christ? Who but the priesthood of the Catholic Church?
The formal priesthood was to be an eternal sign of God’s wish and order that there be an institutional system in service to His precious people. As Catholics, we can rejoice and rest in the provision, Scriptural nature, and orthodoxy of our beloved formal priesthood. Let us confidently pray for vocations, while striving to meet our own obligation to holiness as part of the priesthood of the believer.
Great history lesson.
Want to correct the title to “Former Baptist...”?
Isn’t that what you guys traffic in? Johnny Schmuckfodder used to be a Calvinist, but now, look, he is a Catholic. That proves the Vatican is right. We knew it, we knew it.
Please. Call a man that used to be a Catholic and ask him this question, “Is the sacerdotal system of Rome alive under the New Covenant?” Men like Luther would say, “Of course not. Just those that love Pharisiaism need it.”
Thumbs up. ;)
“Please. Call a man that used to be a Catholic and ask him this question, Is the sacerdotal system of Rome alive under the New Covenant? Men like Luther would say, Of course not. Just those that love Pharisiaism need it.”
Luther might. But those former Catholics who became Orthodox or Anglican would disagree with you.
See post for their continuing problem.
Apparently the author has not realized we have changed from a dispensation of law to a dispensation of grace. Things truly changed between the Old and New Testament, and the concept of priesthood is one of them. The Old Testament priest had to continually offer sacrifices for the sins of the people, because animal sacrifices were insuficient. In the 8th chapter of Hebrews, Paul calls the old covenant "obsolete, old, ready to vanish away". Later on, in the 10th chapter, he says that "we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all". What part of "once for all" is so hard to understand? We have a High Priest that "after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God" (Heb. 10:12). This is a new covenant, different from the old one, and therefore there's no need for priests, sacrifices...
The need for that was abolished by the sacrifice of Christ.
The sacrament, in the baptist church (at least mine), is not given by laymen but by one of the deacons or pastors.
I have but one confessor to the Father. That is Christ, not another imperfect human.
**As Catholics, we can rejoice and rest in the provision, Scriptural nature, and orthodoxy of our beloved formal priesthood. Let us confidently pray for vocations, while striving to meet our own obligation to holiness as part of the priesthood of the believer.**
Sounds like this person (former Baptist) became a Catholic.
Very well put, sir.
I'd also add that the doctrine of praying to dead people (like, say, Mary) isn't sanctioned anywhere in the Old Testament.
The whole point why we don’t need sacrifices today is that the OT sacrifices were a foreshadowing of Christ, who still had yet to come, to be the sacrifice for ALL. Those animal sacrifices were based on the equity of Christ’s then-future sacrifice for mankind.
As Christ paid once and for all, we no longer need animal sacrifice, THE ONE REAL SACRIFICE those animal sacrifices represented, has been paid. No need anymore to unecessarily sacrifice animals.
Well, we didn’t have saints in the Old Testament, did we?
I am a convert to Catholicism from Methodism. The reason I converted was my belief that the Catholic Church is closest to the Church Christ founded.
A study of the early Church shows many examples of the mass, confession, priests, etc.
I am not going to knock Protestants, but I do wonder how those who think their way is the correct one explain the 1500 years of Catholicism prior to the Reformation. Were all of those people wrong? Were they not saved?
I agree. Neither do we need priests. When the veil of the temple was broken (Matt. 27:51), it broke from top to bottom because it was God Himself who removed the barrier between God and man. We don’t need priests, we don’t need intercessors other than Jesus Christ. When the one, perfect sacrifice was offered, it put an end to the sacrificial system and that included the temple, priests... Remember, it was the author of the article, not me, who associated animal sacrifices and priesthood. I just said that, just as the former was abolished at the Cross, so was the later!
There are no celibate priests, popes, or nuns in the New Testemant. That’s why I’m not a Catholic.
As a follow-up, was the Inquisition?
Finally, would you like to make a comparison as to whether Catholic tradition vs. Protestant doctrine has more of a Biblical basis?
PS: Where can I find the Biblical basis for a celibate priesthood? Is it the Old, or New Testament? I just find it odd that a Catholic uses Holy Scripture as a basis for justifying his denomination's doctrine; when I've engaged in theological debates with Roman Catholics, I'm always told that "church tradition" counts as much as Biblical authority.
Jesus said, “Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven.” (Matthew 23:9)
1 Timothy 2:5 says, “For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.”
The Old Testament priesthood was reserved for descendants of Levi. The old covenant has been superseded.
We have direct access to the Father through His Son. We no longer need to go through other men to gain access to God. That is what our precious Savior accomplished on the cross.
Thanks for letting me chime in—as a former Catholic, I am grateful that we can rely on the authority and inerrancy of Scripture—God’s very word—rather than on the traditions and words of men.
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