how Christian priesthood was handed down from the apostles

edited December 1969 in Faith Issues
hi, everyone, i got stuck on this question from a protestant friend.
he want's to know how the 'church leaders' from the Bible turned into the 'priests' of the orthodox church.
i know that they were priests to start with, and that they were not like jewish priests (because Jesus is our High Priest) and that it's something to do with tradition being handed down, but can someone give me a better answer?

thanks, i would be very grateful.
and may the Lord preserve the life of our new shepherd, patriarch tawadros 2nd, and his friend patriarch theodore 2nd, for many years and peaceful times.


  • Hi Mabsoota,

        It is a good question. I think we should understand what is orthodox first. Orthodox means an agreed opinion. From there, as a christian we are looking at a destination and that is heaven. So for the orthodox it is straight.

    When we read The Acts, it is about the church. It was written by Luke, who was a doctor and became a gentile convert. As a doctor, he was educated and knew how to do research. He went around Israel gathering first hand accounts of what happened and what was said. So we have an account of how the church was created from The Acts.

        The important part is the involvement of the Holy Spirit. It is by the Holy Spirit that the will of God is performed. So the Holy Spirit was given to the Apostles through Jesus Christ:

      The Acts 1:8
                          " But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall witness to Me in Jerusalam, and to all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.

      So from there, we have the Holy Spirit given to the apostles, and from the apostles to the pope, and then the next pope and so on.

        We are also the bride of Christ. So you can also see the Holy Spirit given to the apostles as an engagement and the church the bride, waiting for the wedding day:

      2 Corinthians 11:2
                                  For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.

      The way Jesus treats the virgin (church):

        Ephesians 5:23-26
                                    23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the chruch, and He is Saviour of the body.
                                    24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wifes be to there own husbands in everything.
                                    25 Husbands, love your wifes, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her,
                                    26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word.

                  The gospels is the water. So when we are in church listening to the gospels, we are been cleaned( the virgin been purified).

      At the second coming:

        Revelation 19:7-8
                                  7 " Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready."
                                  8 And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.

          This part is important as the church has the righteous acts of the saints being brought to the wedding. Protestant churches don't have the saints like we do, only the apostles. They don't create saints, that is adorn the bride with fine linen.
      Salvation is to be saved. So from that we can see how safe we are. We are not to judge them, but we can say of ourselves we are on the narrow straight path heading towards the wedding.
  • Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

    The Apostles were priests after Christ ordained them.  The Orthodox Church didn't invent the priesthood, it was given to Moses and Aaron as is chanted in the Ethiopian Liturgy of the Word (" To Moses was given the priesthood, and Aaron his brother the priesthood, and to Zacharias the priest was given the chosen  incense."

    The Apostles didn't invent the priesthood, they were grafted in.  The New Covenant didn't abolish the priesthood, it sanctified and elevated such to a higher plane.  The Levitical priesthood was one of legality, of familial obligation, of discipline.  The Apostolic Priesthood became more transcendental, of a calling, of a higher vocation, of a sacred service.  Further, the Apostles serve as priests in the priesthood which was established by Jesus Christ as according to Hebrews 7

    For if indeed perfection were through the Levitical priesthood, what need is there still for a different priest to arise according to the order of Melchizedek and not said to be according to the order of Aaron? For the priesthood being transferred, out of necessity there is coming to be a transference of Law also."

    Our Fathers the priests serve in the capacities as Christ established in His New Covenant.  The priesthood then did not originate as some later addition by Orthodoxy, rather, was always there from the beginning as you've mentioned.  This is why there really is no answer to give towards Protestants who reject Apostolic authority, because such rebellion is inspired by that same rebellious spirit which pushed our Ancestors Adam and Eve towards Sin.  Like Saint Jude mentioned in his Epistles,

    Howbeit these dreamers also, likewise are indeed defiling the flesh, yet are repudiating lordship and calumniating glories.  Now when Michael, the chief messenger, doubting the Adversary, argued concerning the body of Moses, he dares not bring on a calumniating judging but said, 'May the Lord rebuke you!' Yet these indeed are calumniating whatever they are not acquainted with..

    We can only pray for such folks to see the Light of Christ, who is the True High Priest, and then to further recognize the Apostolic Priesthood which He Himself established.  This is a reality of history, and the ball is in Protestant's court to prove otherwise.

    stay blessed,
    habte selassie
  • [glow=red,2,300]In the Name of The Father+ and the Son+ and the Holy Spirit+, the One True God. Amen.[/glow]

    First of all, Happy Nativity and Happy New Year to all! Congratulations to HH Pope Tawadros! May God grant him many years!
    Various members in this thread hit many good points. I would like to put my "2 cents" as well  ;D.

    The Hebrew word for priest is "kohen". He is the Levite who stood as intercessor for the people before God. Old Testament priests offered up gifts and sacrifices to the Lord on behalf of the people, that they might be reconciled to Him. 

    The Lord directed Moses to construct the Tabernacle (Exodus 25:1 to27:21). Then He established a permanent, hereditary priesthood, beginning with Moses' brother Aaron and continuing through Aaron's sons (Exodus 28:1). The priests were sanctified, or consecrated, with holy oil (Exodus 30:22-30). Their holy garments of finely woven and richly decorated material were for the honor and glory of God (Exodus 28:2-39). Their duties included bearing the Ark, standing before Him, to minister to Him, and to bless in His Name (Dt. 10:8). Besides the various sacrifices, the priests blessed the people (Numbers 6:23-25). maintained the Tabernacle (later the temple) and its grounds (Numbers 18:1-7), received tithes and offerings (Numbers 18:8-32), supervised purification procedures (Leviticus 13:1 to14:57), acted as judges (Dt. 17:8-13) and taught the Law (Dt. 33:8-13). Only male Levites administered the liturgical rites.

    From the Christian perspective, the authority of the levitical priesthood ended when Christ willingly offered Himself up to the Father as a perfect sacrifice on the Cross, typified by the temple curtain being torn asunder in the Temple (Mat. 27:51).

    We, Orthodox Christians, believe [glow=red,2,300]the priesthood of the Church is Christ's [/glow]  [glow=red,2,300]Priesthood[/glow], with the Holy Eucharist as the first fruit offering. St. John Chrysostom says, "It is the Same One [Christ] who sanctified the first one [The Last Supper] who also sanctifies this one..Christ is even now present, and even now acts." [glow=red,2,300]The Church retains the male priesthood because the Man Christ Jesus, the Son of God, officiates in every Eucharistic service in and through His bishops, priests and deacons. The clergy do not serve in the place of Christ ; rather Christ Himself serves in them[/glow]. 

    While the ordained priesthood serves on behalf of all, every believer-baptized and annointed- is a member of God's royal priesthood.  This priestly calling of all believers is foretold on Exodus 19:6 and Isaiah 61:6, and finds its fulfillment in the Church, the New Israel (1Peter 2:9, 2:5 and Revelations 1:5,6). Thus all Christians are called to offer all of creation back to God, with praise and thanksgiving. And in this work, man and creation become evermore reconciled with God.

    If you like I can delve even further into the New Testament origins of the priesthood and where in the New Testament the bishops, priests and deacon are mentioned as well as the historical lineage to present day Orthodox priesthood. It's been a long time I haven't been here. I think I had a lot pent ;D! 

    [glow=red,2,300]Glory to the Father+ and to the Son+ and to the Holy Spirit+, the One True God. Amen! [/glow]
  • thanks, all of you for your replies.
    and boricua_orthodox, long time no see!
    this time stick around for longer, and be sure to write some more.
  •     My priest was just speaking about this yesterday. Read Hebrews 5:4 til the end of 7. St. Paul speaks about Melchizedek and how he blessed Abraham (which means Melchizedek is of a higher position).  The tribe of the priesthood in the OT was the tribe of Levi (great grandson of Abraham). So essentially he says that the tribe of Levi received blessing by Melchizedek which means the priesthood of Melchizedek is of a higher rank. Even Abraham himself paid a tithe to Melchizedek showing that he was indeed greater.
        So Melchizedek is a type of Christ who offers bread and wine, and as St Paul says "without father, without mother, without genealogy". Our Lord was without father during his Incarnation on earth, without mother since He is the Only Begotten of the Father eternally, and without genealogy because He is the beginning of all things.
        So now there is a new priesthood, and Jesus our High Priest is "according to the order of Melchizedek".

    Hebrews 7:18-19:
    18 For on the one hand there is an annulling of the former commandment because of its weakness and unprofitableness, 19 for the law made nothing perfect; on the other hand, there is the bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God.

    Please pray for me
  • Will do, Mabsoota. I missed you guys! Have u heard from Iqbal?
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