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The Priesthood Today

The church of today quotes 1 Peter, saying, “I’m part of the ‘royal priesthood’” and yet does not understand their functions as a priest, nor do they recognize the hierarchy and order of the priesthood. We hear often “we’re all the same,” which is contradictory to Scripture. In Matthew 17, Yahushua only took three out of the twelve with Him to the mountain of transfiguration. Imagine being one of the nine and how that felt. Imagine if you were one of the nine. Would you voice a complaint against Yahushua and murmur to Him that it was “unfair” and how “mean that was to leave you out”? Would it invoke a spirit of jealousy and envy in you? Really take a moment to contemplate this. The Apostle Paul required that in the church “all things be done decently and in order” (1Co 14:40).

The Apostle Paul stated, “For the priesthood being changed, of necessity there is also a change of the law” (Heb 7:12). What did the law change to? It went from the letter of the law to the Spirit of the law (Rom 7:6, 14). So the change of the priesthood was from carnal ordinances (Heb 9:10). Now that we have established that groundwork that there is a priesthood in the church today, let us look even further into how this looked.

What does it mean to do something “decently and in order”?

For if he that rises up against kings is justly held worthy of punishment, inasmuch as he dissolves public order, of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, (Comp. Heb_10:29) who presumes to do anything without the bishop, thus both destroying the [Church’s] unity, and throwing its order into confusion? For the priesthood is the very highest point of all good things among men, against which whosoever is mad enough to strive, dishonors not man, but God, and Christ Jesus, the First-born, and the only High Priest, by nature, of the Father. Let all things therefore be done by you with good order in Christ. Let the laity be subject to the deacons; the deacons to the presbyters; the presbyters to the bishop; the bishop to Christ, even as He is to the Father. [1]

The laity is known as the general congregation, those who had gone through the three years of study as a Catechumen. As a catechumen, you were not even considered a believer or a Christian. They were subject to the deacon, meaning that the deacons were to manage the affairs of taking care of the saints and keeping order in the church. The deacons answered to the presbyters, and the presbyters were subject to the Bishop. The Bishop didn’t answer to anyone but Christ, or another of the same rank. Notice that if at any time, someone was to strive against any of the priesthood, or clergy, they would be destroying the unity of the church. Order was to control people, it was to protect the unity in the body of Christ. It was actually dangerous to take on a roll or service that you were not ordained to do.

As, therefore, it was not lawful for one of another tribe, that was not a Levite, to offer anything, or to approach the altar without the priest, so also do you do nothing without the bishop; for if any one does anything without the bishop, he does it to no purpose. For it will not be esteemed as of any avail to him. For as Saul, when he had offered without Samuel, was told, “It will not avail for thee;” (1Sa_13:13) so every person among the laity, doing anything without the priest, labours in vain. And as Uzziah the king, (2Ch_26:1-23) who was not a priest, and yet would exercise the functions of the priests, was smitten with leprosy for his transgression; so every lay person shall not be unpunished who despises God, and is so mad as to affront His priests, and unjustly to snatch that honor to himself: not imitating Christ, “who glorified not Himself to be made an high priest;” (Heb_5:5) but waited till He heard from His Father, “The Lord swore, and will not repent, Thou art a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek.” (Psa_110:4) If, therefore, Christ did not glorify Himself without the Father, how dare any man thrust himself into the priesthood who has not received that dignity from his superior, and do such things which it is lawful only for the priests to do?[2]

For as Saul, when he had offered without Samuel, was told, “It will not avail for thee;” (1Sa_13:13) so every person among the laity, doing anything without the priest, labours in vain.

The implications of these errors are destructive to one’s salvation. Saul was rejected by God, and King Uzziah was struck with leprosy and remained in a village of lepers the rest of his days. This is the reason apostle Michael has instructed us to have order and why he has set certain leaders in place; it is establishing the priestly order in the house for the protection of the saints. Without this order, we are not even a church, nor part of the priesthood.  Even the laying on of hands was only done by the bishop, who is the high priest in the church.

Neither do we permit the laity to perform any of the offices belonging to the priesthood

Neither do we permit the laity to perform any of the offices belonging to the priesthood; as, for instance, neither the sacrifice, nor baptism, nor the laying on of hands, nor the blessing, whether the smaller or the greater: for “no one taketh this honor to himself, but he that is called of God.” (Heb_5:4) For such sacred offices are conferred by the laying on of the hands of the bishop. But a person to whom such an office is not committed, but he seizes upon it for himself, he shall undergo the punishment of Uzziah. (2Ch_26:1-23) [3]

The laity are those who are not ordained as to any priestly office, yet if they do perform any of the priestly duties, it is the same as trying to claim a position that you are simply not. This brings a curse on the individual, and as Ignatius mentioned, it is a punishment that will not go unserved. It is simply not worth your salvation to take any of these roles that we were not ordained to do. Only the Bishop was allowed to ordain others into the priesthood, and when he did ordain them, he prayed for the impartation of the gifts to them to enable them to do the duties of their priestly role. As we see in the modern church today, it’s basically a free for all, there is no order, there is no telling who’s who. Everyone does everything without really being ordained properly, and most astonishing is that there are no true Bishops, or I should say, very few, who qualify to do this. It is true as the Messiah said, “Many are called, few are chosen.”

1.  Ignatius-Epistle to the Smyrnaeans Ch. IX, Vol. 1
2.  Constitution of the Apostles Book 2 Pt. 2 Ch. XXVII, Vol. 7
3.  Constitution of the Apostles Book 3 Ch. X, Vol. 7

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