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Author Topic: We are all Priests offering spiritual sacrifices to God  (Read 2403 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: February 13, 2012, 02:06:14 PM »

What do Orthodox believe about all believers being priests?

1 Peter 2:5-9
Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ...But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.

We can approach God directly because of Christ the great High Priest (Hebrews 4:14-16) and to offer spiritual sacrifices to God (Hebrews 13:15-16)
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« Reply #1 on: February 13, 2012, 02:08:12 PM »

What do Orthodox believe about all believers being priests?

1 Peter 2:5-9
Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ...But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.

We can approach God directly because of Christ the great High Priest (Hebrews 4:14-16) and to offer spiritual sacrifices to God (Hebrews 13:15-16)
I guess you're looking for more than, "I agree with it"  laugh laugh laugh


PP
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« Reply #2 on: February 13, 2012, 02:12:58 PM »

What do Orthodox believe about all believers being priests?

1 Peter 2:5-9
Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ...But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.

We can approach God directly because of Christ the great High Priest (Hebrews 4:14-16) and to offer spiritual sacrifices to God (Hebrews 13:15-16)
I guess you're looking for more than, "I agree with it"  laugh laugh laugh


PP

I was going to add further questions along the way  

There might even have been a "Therefore..." coming up quite soon too.
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« Reply #3 on: February 13, 2012, 02:15:30 PM »

What do Orthodox believe about all believers being priests?

1 Peter 2:5-9
Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ...But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.

We can approach God directly because of Christ the great High Priest (Hebrews 4:14-16) and to offer spiritual sacrifices to God (Hebrews 13:15-16)

We agree with it.

But to address what I think you are getting at--all Christians are called to be servants (Gk: "deacons"). But certain members of the Church were called out to perform this function in a particular/formal/organizational way and as such they were formally titled deacons--without in any way changing the calling of all Christians to be servants. In the same way, certain members of the Church have been called out and designated to perform the priestly function of the Eucharist in a particular/formal/organizational way, and we recognize this by formally referring to them as priests--but don't see that as in any way contradicting the general priesthood of all beleivers.
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« Reply #4 on: February 13, 2012, 02:21:59 PM »

What do Orthodox believe about all believers being priests?

1 Peter 2:5-9
Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ...But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.

We can approach God directly because of Christ the great High Priest (Hebrews 4:14-16) and to offer spiritual sacrifices to God (Hebrews 13:15-16)

We agree with it.

But to address what I think you are getting at--all Christians are called to be servants (Gk: "deacons"). But certain members of the Church were called out to perform this function in a particular/formal/organizational way and as such they were formally titled deacons--without in any way changing the calling of all Christians to be servants. In the same way, certain members of the Church have been called out and designated to perform the priestly function of the Eucharist in a particular/formal/organizational way, and we recognize this by formally referring to them as priests--but don't see that as in any way contradicting the general priesthood of all beleivers.

Thanks witega, very pithy.

Can i ask if you believe that the priest in the old testament is a 'type' pre Christ? I know you won't agree that since the cross and our ability to go to God directly, we do not need the organisational role of priest any longer. You've explained about the Eucharist and the priests duties concerning that but is that the only reason you believe the priests role to be necessary?
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« Reply #5 on: February 13, 2012, 02:55:45 PM »

What do Orthodox believe about all believers being priests?

1 Peter 2:5-9
Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ...But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.

We can approach God directly because of Christ the great High Priest (Hebrews 4:14-16) and to offer spiritual sacrifices to God (Hebrews 13:15-16)

We absolutely affirm the Priesthood of All Believers, as you quoted St. Peter. However, this idea doesn't originate with St. Peter or the revelation of Christ. The Israelites are called to the same by God Himself in the Law:

Exodus 19:6
And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.


The role of nation of Israel is for them to all be "priests", yet they still maintain the sacerdotal priesthood that offers the sacrifice on their behalf. The same is true of the Christian Church today and will help answer your quote below.

We approach God directly now, yes, in ways impossible before Christ because we unite ourselves to Him in baptism, receive the Holy Spirit in chrismation and partake of God in Christ through the Eucharist. We all also offer "spiritual sacrifices" (this is more literally "sacrifice of praise" and does not refer to the Holy Eucharist).

Thanks witega, very pithy.

Can i ask if you believe that the priest in the old testament is a 'type' pre Christ? I know you won't agree that since the cross and our ability to go to God directly, we do not need the organisational role of priest any longer. You've explained about the Eucharist and the priests duties concerning that but is that the only reason you believe the priests role to be necessary?

Yes, the priests of the OT are types of Christ. The Epistle to the Hebrews makes this point very obviously. The problem seems to be that you are not delineating the difference between the royal priesthood and the sacerdotal priesthood. This is a common misconception that priesthood is priesthood is priesthood, therefore either there is a single priesthood and not all believers qualify, or that all are equally priests in the same way with no differentiation. Neither is true. Just as Israel is a "kingdom of priests" and yet the Levites are set aside as the sacerdotal priesthood, so does the Church maintain the "priesthood of all believers" alongside the priesthood of Melchizedek as the sacerdotal priesthood of Christians, to which all Orthodox presbyters and bishops belong.

Vladimir Lossky addresses this in his Mystical Theology of the Eastern Church when he explains that the Church as a royal priesthood exists to show forth Christ to all creation and to pray (yes, to intercede for and represent) for all the cosmos. However, within the Church exists the sacerdotal orders that, on behalf of the Church, offer the specific sacrifice of the Eucharist and officiate the Holy Mysteries.
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« Reply #6 on: February 13, 2012, 03:19:17 PM »

Greetings in that Divine and Most Precious Name of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

What do Orthodox believe about all believers being priests?

1 Peter 2:5-9
Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ...But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.

We can approach God directly because of Christ the great High Priest (Hebrews 4:14-16) and to offer spiritual sacrifices to God (Hebrews 13:15-16)

We accept the Priesthood and Sainthood of all the laity because we are all the Body of Christ Who is the One True Priest. Every man must function as a priest over the spiritual needs of his family, every God-parent must attend diligently to the spiritual needs of their spiritual children. However, remember that in priesthood there is rank, and just as Ordained Deacons serve under our fathers the Priests, and our fathers the Priests serve under our fathers the Bishops, so to do the lay priests of their families also revere and serve under our spiritual fathers the Priests and Bishops.  Every layperson doesn't have the authority to dispense the Divine Mysteries or Sacraments, just as not every Levite went into the Holy of Holies but only the High Priest and only once a year at that. Indeed, we are all held to a higher spiritual standing, which is why we have particular prayers in the Liturgy, why we are expected to Fast, and why we are to raise our families right in the Lord as best as we are able.  However again, within priesthood there is clearly and also according to Scripture, rank and orders.

The Orthodox Study Bible says:

"In the true temple there is one offerer, one Priest, who, again is Christ.  In baptism we all are anointed with grace as priests in the Kingdom of God; for the spiritual kingdom is also the spiritual priesthood.  Moreover, as the Body of Christ, we have a priestly ministry to the world, fulfilling the very priesthood and intercession of the Lord Himself, so that to the whole universe we may proclaim the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light."

On Hebrews 13..

Quote
Ver. 14, 15. "For we have here no continuing city" (he says) "but we seek one to come. By Him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His Name."

"By Him," as by an High Priest, according to the flesh.(15) "Giving thanks"(16) (be says) "to His Name." (See p. 514.) Let us utter nothing blasphemous, nothing hasty, nothing bold, nothing presumptuous, nothing desperate. This is "with reverence and godly fear." (c. xii. 28.) For a soul in tribulations becomes desponding, and reckless.(17) But let not us [be so]. See here he again says the same thing which he said before, "not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together," for so shall we be able to do all things with reverence. For oftentimes even out of respect for men, we refrain from doing many evil things.

Ver. 16. "But to do good and to communicate forget not." I speak not [merely] with reference to the brethren present, but to those absent also. But if others have plundered your property, display your hospitality out of such things as ye have. What excuse then shall we have henceforward, when they, even after the spoiling of their goods, were thus admonished?

[5.] And he did not say, "Be not forgetful" of the entertaining of strangers,(18) but "of hospitality":(19) that is, do not merely entertain strangers, but [do it] with love for the strangers. Moreover he did not speak of the recompense that is future, and in store for us, lest he should make them more supine, but of that already given. For "thereby some" (he says) "have entertained angels unawares."
John Chrysostom Homily XXXIII on Hebrews

The Orthodox Study Bible says:

"These verses constitute a summarizing exhortation: (1) We experience the heavenly city and the heavenly Most Holy Place when we sacrifice our whole being, body and soul, in the Divine Liturgy- the mystery in which our part is that of praise consistent with true doctrine. (2) Good works and life in community must be united with worship. (3) Priests and spiritual leaders must be respected and obeyed (see verse 17), a  reference to the Spiritual Fatherhood of the Church. "

stay blessed,
habte selassie
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« Reply #7 on: February 13, 2012, 04:04:40 PM »

Fountain pen, all the Israelites of the Old Testament were priests, too.

"Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel."

The common Israelite did not riot in the streets (or tents, I suppose) because the sacerdotal priesthood was somehow usurping his royal priesthood.  Wink

spiritual sacrifices to God
That is, sacrifices of the Holy Spirit, not disembodied platonistic sacrifices. After all, if it's not the Holy Spirit, anything "spiritual" is something to stay far away from.

I know you won't agree that since the cross and our ability to go to God directly, we do not need the organisational role of priest any longer.
The Holy Spirit is everywhere present and fills all things, but you also believe in the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. If the Holy Spirit was everywhere already, then what purpose does an indwelling serve in a Christan?
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« Reply #8 on: February 13, 2012, 04:06:12 PM »

Can i ask if you believe that the priest in the old testament is a 'type' pre Christ?

I believe the High Priest was a type of Christ. As was Melchizedek and the sacrifice itself. Off the top of my head, I don't remember a Scriptural or Patristic reference that would link just a generic 'priest' or the entire Aaronic priesthood as a type of Christ, but if such exists I have no problem accepting it.

Quote
I know you won't agree that since the cross and our ability to go to God directly, we do not need the organisational role of priest any longer. You've explained about the Eucharist and the priests duties concerning that but is that the only reason you believe the priests role to be necessary?

Yes and no. The Bishops and the presbyters are also appointed to lead ("oversee") the community of the faithful. This administrative duty is distinct from, but also directly linked with, their Eucharistic role--that is presiding over the communal worship of the Church and presiding over the community are two parts of the same thing (cf. St. Ignatius' letters).
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« Reply #9 on: February 18, 2012, 10:02:52 AM »

What do Orthodox believe about all believers being priests?

1 Peter 2:5-9
Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ...But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.

We can approach God directly because of Christ the great High Priest (Hebrews 4:14-16) and to offer spiritual sacrifices to God (Hebrews 13:15-16)

I would like to add some balance to the verse's you quoted.  1 John 3:18-21  Also speaks of our hearts, that is truly loving in deed and truth, not just words or the tongue.  If our hearts do not condemn us then we may have confidence before God (vs 21).    He also goes on later to say if we have no sin we are liars.  So, Yes we can have confidence if one lives a daily life of repentance (contrition and a broken heart) and have nothing on our conscience.  Only thing we always have some sin hanging over our head so if one does not see it then they need to look closer at their heart because there is never a moment we don't have something, whether voluntary or involuntary on our conscience.    As for the Priesthood of believers, all of Israel was a Priesthood of believers also, but there was roles given within that body of believers, as it is also today in the Body of Christ.  Always have to remember that Christ Jesus is God and has the same judgment, will, etc. etc. of the Father and Holy Spirit.
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« Reply #10 on: February 18, 2012, 12:06:56 PM »

So, Yes we can have confidence if one lives a daily life of repentance (contrition and a broken heart) and have nothing on our conscience.  Only thing we always have some sin hanging over our head...

This isn't correct.




NM -- "The Holy Spirit is everywhere present and fills all things, but you also believe in the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. If the Holy Spirit was everywhere already, then what purpose does an indwelling serve in a Christan?" (I'm still thinking about this.)
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« Reply #11 on: February 18, 2012, 01:10:36 PM »

So, Yes we can have confidence if one lives a daily life of repentance (contrition and a broken heart) and have nothing on our conscience.  Only thing we always have some sin hanging over our head...

This isn't correct.
Then would you kindly tell him what IS correct? Thank you.
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« Reply #12 on: February 18, 2012, 01:43:05 PM »

So, Yes we can have confidence if one lives a daily life of repentance (contrition and a broken heart) and have nothing on our conscience.  Only thing we always have some sin hanging over our head...

This isn't correct.
Then would you kindly tell him what IS correct? Thank you.

Love covers sin and if our faith is in Christ and the work on the cross then we are covered by the shed blood of Jesus. Either that or we die in our sin as not everyone is able to repent right up until their last breath, which is wholey unrealistic and i don't accept it.
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« Reply #13 on: February 18, 2012, 09:19:21 PM »

So, Yes we can have confidence if one lives a daily life of repentance (contrition and a broken heart) and have nothing on our conscience.  Only thing we always have some sin hanging over our head...

This isn't correct.
Then would you kindly tell him what IS correct? Thank you.

Love covers sin and if our faith is in Christ and the work on the cross then we are covered by the shed blood of Jesus. Either that or we die in our sin as not everyone is able to repent right up until their last breath, which is wholey unrealistic and i don't accept it.

Real relationship is a struggle, when we sin against others we are not loving even if it is in thought, in the heart only and never spoken or acted upon, even in when the sin is unknown or not acknowledge.

1Jo 4:18  There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear, because fear has torment. He who fears has not been perfected in love.
1Jo 4:19  We love Him because He first loved us.
1Jo 4:20  If anyone says, I love God, and hates his brother, he is a liar. For if he does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?
1Jo 4:21  And we have this commandment from Him, that he who loves God should love his brother also.

Do you have perfect love?  If someone say yes, then John is clear that they are liars because a lack, any lack of love is sin.   
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« Reply #14 on: February 19, 2012, 06:19:45 PM »

certain members of the Church have been called out and designated to perform the priestly function of the Eucharist... and we recognize this by formally referring to them as priests--but don't see that as in any way contradicting the general priesthood of all beleivers.

There seems to be a contradiction here. This evening at our Baptist church, (to use a word which perhaps someone called Witega would approve of) I houseled the congregation. Now I am a believer, though I have never been priested by a bishop. I assume most of my Orthodox correspondants would say our Lord's Supper was invalid this evening, neither recognised nor blessed by God. But if you "don't see that as in any way contradicting the general priesthood of all believers", I cannot see why you would not say our ordinance was valid on the basis of the priesthood of all believers, even though it was only I who presided.
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« Reply #15 on: February 19, 2012, 07:52:11 PM »

certain members of the Church have been called out and designated to perform the priestly function of the Eucharist... and we recognize this by formally referring to them as priests--but don't see that as in any way contradicting the general priesthood of all beleivers.

There seems to be a contradiction here. This evening at our Baptist church, (to use a word which perhaps someone called Witega would approve of) I houseled the congregation. Now I am a believer, though I have never been priested by a bishop. I assume most of my Orthodox correspondants would say our Lord's Supper was invalid this evening, neither recognised nor blessed by God. But if you "don't see that as in any way contradicting the general priesthood of all believers", I cannot see why you would not say our ordinance was valid on the basis of the priesthood of all believers, even though it was only I who presided.

what are your views on apostolic succession?
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« Reply #16 on: February 19, 2012, 08:10:57 PM »

certain members of the Church have been called out and designated to perform the priestly function of the Eucharist... and we recognize this by formally referring to them as priests--but don't see that as in any way contradicting the general priesthood of all beleivers.

There seems to be a contradiction here. This evening at our Baptist church, (to use a word which perhaps someone called Witega would approve of) I houseled the congregation. Now I am a believer, though I have never been priested by a bishop. I assume most of my Orthodox correspondants would say our Lord's Supper was invalid this evening, neither recognised nor blessed by God. But if you "don't see that as in any way contradicting the general priesthood of all believers", I cannot see why you would not say our ordinance was valid on the basis of the priesthood of all believers, even though it was only I who presided.

The priesthood in the Order of Melchizedek (that to which Christ and all bishops and priests in the Orthodox Church belong) is a priesthood within the royal priesthood of all believers. One of their duties is to administer the sacraments. The ordination of a man to the priesthood endows him with the grace to lead the congregation in sacramental worship. It is from the royal priesthood that these men are chosen, but they are not the same thing.

I would not deny you the title of Christian, David, you are not a baptized member of the Orthodox Church, meaning that we would not consider you a member of the royal priesthood (you cannot receive Orthodox sacraments). Once you were baptized and/or chrismated into the Church, you would then be a member of that royal priesthood. At that point you may be selected for ordination to the priestly order of Melchizedek, at which time you may preside at the Divine Liturgy and consecrate the Eucharist.
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« Reply #17 on: February 19, 2012, 10:30:01 PM »

certain members of the Church have been called out and designated to perform the priestly function of the Eucharist... and we recognize this by formally referring to them as priests--but don't see that as in any way contradicting the general priesthood of all beleivers.

There seems to be a contradiction here. This evening at our Baptist church, (to use a word which perhaps someone called Witega would approve of) I houseled the congregation. Now I am a believer, though I have never been priested by a bishop. I assume most of my Orthodox correspondants would say our Lord's Supper was invalid this evening, neither recognised nor blessed by God. But if you "don't see that as in any way contradicting the general priesthood of all believers", I cannot see why you would not say our ordinance was valid on the basis of the priesthood of all believers, even though it was only I who presided.

I don't know if we'd go so far as to say that your Lord's Supper was neither recognized nor blessed by God- we might go so far as to say that since (you are a memorialist, IIRC) there was no intent on the part of either president or the congregation to partake of the Body and Blood that you were not celebrating the Eucharist and thus not participating in the Grace of the sacrament. As to whether or not God recognizes your intent to "remember" the Crucifixion we cannot know. That he might bless your bread and wine as he would were you praying over a meal is entirely likely.
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« Reply #18 on: February 20, 2012, 12:42:21 AM »

So does anyone here believe that all members of the Church are called to be elders (presbyteros) in the Church?
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« Reply #19 on: February 20, 2012, 02:29:15 AM »

So does anyone here believe that all members of the Church are called to be elders (presbyteros) in the Church?

I would certainly hope not, as such a notion is clearly anti-scriptural. I think the main point of contention here is what the role of the elder actually is/should be.

specifically what is being called into question here (it seems) is his role as the overseer of the eucharistic gathering; i.e. the one who presides.
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« Reply #20 on: February 20, 2012, 02:47:46 AM »

So does anyone here believe that all members of the Church are called to be elders (presbyteros) in the Church?

The very meaning of the word elder would suggest that NOT all should be elders.
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« Reply #21 on: February 20, 2012, 04:06:27 AM »

what are your views on apostolic succession?

Quote
So does anyone here believe that all members of the Church are called to be elders (presbyteros) in the Church?

No, not all are divinely called to be elders/overseers/bishops of the local church. (I add the word 'local' as I write from a Baptist perspective.)

In re apostolic succession, I think we would say two things:

1) Historically it may or may not be true: I have no desire to disbelieve or disprove it.

2) We see it as carrying no theological or ecclesiological significance. We genuinely believe this: it is not a case of noticing that we lack it whilst you have it, and so saying it is not important anyway; that is, it is not a way of justifying the absence of something we cannot have in our circles. You may believe we are wrong in this, but I assure you we are at least sincere in it.
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« Reply #22 on: February 20, 2012, 04:24:38 AM »

certain members of the Church have been called out and designated to perform the priestly function of the Eucharist... and we recognize this by formally referring to them as priests--but don't see that as in any way contradicting the general priesthood of all beleivers.

There seems to be a contradiction here. This evening at our Baptist church, (to use a word which perhaps someone called Witega would approve of) I houseled the congregation. Now I am a believer, though I have never been priested by a bishop. I assume most of my Orthodox correspondants would say our Lord's Supper was invalid this evening, neither recognised nor blessed by God. But if you "don't see that as in any way contradicting the general priesthood of all believers", I cannot see why you would not say our ordinance was valid on the basis of the priesthood of all believers, even though it was only I who presided.

The priesthood in the Order of Melchizedek (that to which Christ and all bishops and priests in the Orthodox Church belong) is a priesthood within the royal priesthood of all believers. One of their duties is to administer the sacraments. The ordination of a man to the priesthood endows him with the grace to lead the congregation in sacramental worship. It is from the royal priesthood that these men are chosen, but they are not the same thing.

I would not deny you the title of Christian, David, you are not a baptized member of the Orthodox Church, meaning that we would not consider you a member of the royal priesthood (you cannot receive Orthodox sacraments). Once you were baptized and/or chrismated into the Church, you would then be a member of that royal priesthood. At that point you may be selected for ordination to the priestly order of Melchizedek, at which time you may preside at the Divine Liturgy and consecrate the Eucharist.

Where was Melchizedek's Levitical line of authority?
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« Reply #23 on: February 20, 2012, 06:06:33 AM »

Where was Melchizedek's Levitical line of authority?

I apologise for being rather dense on this: I cannot link the third and fourth words of your question. Sorry.
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« Reply #24 on: February 20, 2012, 08:50:50 AM »

Where was Melchizedek's Levitical line of authority?

I apologise for being rather dense on this: I cannot link the third and fourth words of your question. Sorry.

That's because there isn't one.
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« Reply #25 on: February 20, 2012, 10:40:19 AM »

Another thought. What is(are) the spiritual sacrifice(s) that every Christian is called to offer up to God?
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« Reply #26 on: February 20, 2012, 10:56:14 AM »

Thanksgiving/praise. We can't add anything to the cross; all we can do is be thankful and express that thanks.
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« Reply #27 on: February 20, 2012, 11:19:32 AM »

Another thought. What is(are) the spiritual sacrifice(s) that every Christian is called to offer up to God?
Psalm 50:19 (SAAS): A sacrifice to God is a broken spirit, A broken and humbled heart God will not despise.
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« Reply #28 on: February 20, 2012, 12:19:43 PM »

certain members of the Church have been called out and designated to perform the priestly function of the Eucharist... and we recognize this by formally referring to them as priests--but don't see that as in any way contradicting the general priesthood of all beleivers.

There seems to be a contradiction here. This evening at our Baptist church, (to use a word which perhaps someone called Witega would approve of) I houseled the congregation. Now I am a believer, though I have never been priested by a bishop. I assume most of my Orthodox correspondants would say our Lord's Supper was invalid this evening, neither recognised nor blessed by God. But if you "don't see that as in any way contradicting the general priesthood of all believers", I cannot see why you would not say our ordinance was valid on the basis of the priesthood of all believers, even though it was only I who presided.

The priesthood in the Order of Melchizedek (that to which Christ and all bishops and priests in the Orthodox Church belong) is a priesthood within the royal priesthood of all believers. One of their duties is to administer the sacraments. The ordination of a man to the priesthood endows him with the grace to lead the congregation in sacramental worship. It is from the royal priesthood that these men are chosen, but they are not the same thing.

I would not deny you the title of Christian, David, you are not a baptized member of the Orthodox Church, meaning that we would not consider you a member of the royal priesthood (you cannot receive Orthodox sacraments). Once you were baptized and/or chrismated into the Church, you would then be a member of that royal priesthood. At that point you may be selected for ordination to the priestly order of Melchizedek, at which time you may preside at the Divine Liturgy and consecrate the Eucharist.

Where was Melchizedek's Levitical line of authority?

the Order of Melchizedek is prior to and greater than the Order of Levi:

For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, to whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all, first being translated “king of righteousness,” and then also king of Salem, meaning “king of peace,” without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, remains a priest continually.

Now consider how great this man was, to whom even the patriarch Abraham gave a tenth of the spoils. And indeed those who are of the sons of Levi, who receive the priesthood, have a commandment to receive tithes from the people according to the law, that is, from their brethren, though they have come from the loins of Abraham; but he whose genealogy is not derived from them received tithes from Abraham and blessed him who had the promises. Now beyond all contradiction the lesser is blessed by the better. Here mortal men receive tithes, but there he receives them, of whom it is witnessed that he lives. Even Levi, who receives tithes, paid tithes through Abraham, so to speak, for he was still in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him.

Therefore, if perfection were through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need was there that another priest should rise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be called according to the order of Aaron? For the priesthood being changed, of necessity there is also a change of the law. For He of whom these things are spoken belongs to another tribe, from which no man has officiated at the altar.

For it is evident that our Lord arose from Judah, of which tribe Moses spoke nothing concerning priesthood. And it is yet far more evident if, in the likeness of Melchizedek, there arises another priest who has come, not according to the law of a fleshly commandment, but according to the power of an endless life. For He testifies:


“You are a priest forever
According to the order of Melchizedek.”

For on the one hand there is an annulling of the former commandment because of its weakness and unprofitableness, 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.

(Epistle to the Hebrews ch. 7, vv. 1-19)
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« Reply #29 on: February 20, 2012, 12:31:28 PM »

Where was Melchizedek's Levitical line of authority?

I apologise for being rather dense on this: I cannot link the third and fourth words of your question. Sorry.

That's because there isn't one.

Melchizedek predated the levitical priesthood by several generations and is the first mentioned priest in the bible. What's the point?
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« Reply #30 on: February 20, 2012, 12:57:08 PM »

what are your views on apostolic succession?

Quote
So does anyone here believe that all members of the Church are called to be elders (presbyteros) in the Church?

No, not all are divinely called to be elders/overseers/bishops of the local church. (I add the word 'local' as I write from a Baptist perspective.)

In re apostolic succession, I think we would say two things:

1) Historically it may or may not be true: I have no desire to disbelieve or disprove it.

2) We see it as carrying no theological or ecclesiological significance. We genuinely believe this: it is not a case of noticing that we lack it whilst you have it, and so saying it is not important anyway; that is, it is not a way of justifying the absence of something we cannot have in our circles. You may believe we are wrong in this, but I assure you we are at least sincere in it.

First point taken. The second point however I don't understand. How can it be asserted that apostolic succession has no theological or ecclesiological significance when we see the role throughout history that apostolic succesion has played in expelling many widespread heresies? (see Irenaeus letters, againt heresies, where he consistently appeals to tradition and those who came before him to disprove such).

Let's look at a more practical example. If you felt that you had a corpus of divine truths of the utmost importance that were revealed to you, and you were entirely convinced of such, would you not want to go to all measures to preserve it? Would you most likely oversee the establishment of new churches, while helping to train and approve new pastors who are able to accurately preserve and teach the revelation you have been given? Do you not think that by incorporating these measures that you would more effectively be able to safeguard the truth which you have been given? This is no different than what the apostles encountered, and we believe apostolic succession is one of the safeguards put into place by God to ensure accurate transmission of Christian belief.
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« Reply #31 on: February 20, 2012, 04:42:53 PM »

certain members of the Church have been called out and designated to perform the priestly function of the Eucharist... and we recognize this by formally referring to them as priests--but don't see that as in any way contradicting the general priesthood of all beleivers.

There seems to be a contradiction here. This evening at our Baptist church, (to use a word which perhaps someone called Witega would approve of) I houseled the congregation. Now I am a believer, though I have never been priested by a bishop. I assume most of my Orthodox correspondants would say our Lord's Supper was invalid this evening, neither recognised nor blessed by God. But if you "don't see that as in any way contradicting the general priesthood of all believers", I cannot see why you would not say our ordinance was valid on the basis of the priesthood of all believers, even though it was only I who presided.

Benjamin's already addressed one way of responding to this. I used the term 'priesthood of all believers' because I presumed that was the traditional Protestant doctrine underlying Fountainpen's question. But Orthodox obviously don't believe that this verse applies to 'all believers' (be they Orthodox, Baptist, Arian, or Docetist). St. Peter is writing within the context of the Church and all his descriptors ('a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people') apply to members of the Church (which as you well know Orthodoxy identifies as "the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church" of the Creed, the Orthodox Church), not to those outside it. I don't know what happened in your congregation. I do know that you are not a member of the Orthodox Church nor have you submitted yourself to the authority to those we believe are ordained by God to lead the Church (i.e., the bishops), and therefore whatever happened, it was not the Eucharist given to and performed within the Church. This observation has nothing to do with whether you have been 'ordained' in any generic sense. It is only about what is and what is not the Church, and that is separate question from the one Fountainpen started with which is about the relationship of clergy and laity to the 'royal priesthood' within the Church.

Another way of responding would be that it seems implicit in both Fountainpen's question and your own response that the idea that the 'royal priesthood' should make us all equally capable of performing all priestly functions. But I don't believe you can draw that conclusion from  Scripture. In the OT, only the High Priest was allowed to enter the Holy of Holies. Did the fact that there was a sacramental function reserved to the High Priest undercut the priesthood of all the other Aaronic priests who were *not* allowed to enter the Holy of Holies? Or, as Nicholas has pointed out, did that fact that only the Aaronic priests were allowed to officiate at the sacrificial altar contradict God's statement that the Jews as a whole were a 'nation of priests'?

As a member of the royal priesthood, I can (and do) 'offer up spiritual sacrifices' and 'shew forth the praises of Him' who has called us out of darkness. But it does not necessarily follow that because I can and do legitimately fill one priestly function, that I am therefore qualified (or called) to fulfill *all* priestly functions any  more than an Aaronic priest's legitimate priestly function at the altar meant he was also able to fulfill the High Priest's priestly functions.
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« Reply #32 on: February 20, 2012, 04:44:11 PM »

Where was Melchizedek's Levitical line of authority?

I apologise for being rather dense on this: I cannot link the third and fourth words of your question. Sorry.

That's because there isn't one.

Melchizedek predated the levitical priesthood by several generations and is the first mentioned priest in the bible. What's the point?

Exactly. So we are seeing the superiority of the spiritual priesthood over the fleshly priesthood of the Levites.
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« Reply #33 on: February 20, 2012, 04:57:48 PM »

Where was Melchizedek's Levitical line of authority?

I apologise for being rather dense on this: I cannot link the third and fourth words of your question. Sorry.

That's because there isn't one.

Melchizedek predated the levitical priesthood by several generations and is the first mentioned priest in the bible. What's the point?

Exactly. So we are seeing the superiority of the spiritual priesthood over the fleshly priesthood of the Levites.

Just be careful not to confuse the priesthood of Melchizedek with the royal priesthood. All members of the Church are of the royal priesthood, however the Epistle to the Hebrews makes it clear that He who officiates at the altar on behalf of the royal priesthood is Christ (and those ordained by him), and is not the office given to all believers.
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« Reply #34 on: February 20, 2012, 05:23:23 PM »

These arguments are good; thank y'all.  I do not mean they persuade us dyed-in-the-wool Baptists to turn Orthodox, because I genuinely believe our arguments are good also. In both cases I mean good as arguments; I do not mean irrefutable. The benefit of your posting them here is this: we usually assume that the whole idea of priesthood as you hold it is a later importation (post the 'in hoc signo' victory of Constantine) from paganism brought into the church by the huge influx of unconverted pagans who outwardly joined the church so as to get on in Roman society after Christianity became officially approved - as well as being a throw-back to a pre-Christian idea of priesthood as found in the OT. The arguments you set forth may not convince us, but they do show that it is possible to be both Orthodox and intellectually coherent and honest - something which (I suspect) many Evangelicals would doubt.

Such improved mutual understanding was my initial motive for joining the forum: not to convince you to become Baptists, nor myself to be converted in the opposite direction, but to move towards better bilateral understanding and thus (one hopes) mutual respect.
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« Reply #35 on: February 20, 2012, 05:28:24 PM »

@Benjamin The Red -- In Hebrews 4:14-16, we are told we can approach the throne of grace in boldness with an echo from the OT Leviticus 21:17-21. The throne of God where there is grace and mercy Psalm 89:14. The priestly privilege of access once available to a few is now extended to all Christians. We can now all draw near to God with full confidence and freedom.

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« Reply #36 on: February 20, 2012, 05:28:33 PM »

Where was Melchizedek's Levitical line of authority?

I apologise for being rather dense on this: I cannot link the third and fourth words of your question. Sorry.

That's because there isn't one.

Melchizedek predated the levitical priesthood by several generations and is the first mentioned priest in the bible. What's the point?

Exactly. So we are seeing the superiority of the spiritual priesthood over the fleshly priesthood of the Levites.

Just be careful not to confuse the priesthood of Melchizedek with the royal priesthood. All members of the Church are of the royal priesthood, however the Epistle to the Hebrews makes it clear that He who officiates at the altar on behalf of the royal priesthood is Christ (and those ordained by him), and is not the office given to all believers.

exactly.
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« Reply #37 on: February 20, 2012, 05:30:17 PM »

No one is confusing any such thing.
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« Reply #38 on: February 20, 2012, 05:35:49 PM »

These arguments are good; thank y'all.  I do not mean they persuade us dyed-in-the-wool Baptists to turn Orthodox, because I genuinely believe our arguments are good also. In both cases I mean good as arguments; I do not mean irrefutable. The benefit of your posting them here is this: we usually assume that the whole idea of priesthood as you hold it is a later importation (post the 'in hoc signo' victory of Constantine) from paganism brought into the church by the huge influx of unconverted pagans who outwardly joined the church so as to get on in Roman society after Christianity became officially approved - as well as being a throw-back to a pre-Christian idea of priesthood as found in the OT. The arguments you set forth may not convince us, but they do show that it is possible to be both Orthodox and intellectually coherent and honest - something which (I suspect) many Evangelicals would doubt.

Such improved mutual understanding was my initial motive for joining the forum: not to convince you to become Baptists, nor myself to be converted in the opposite direction, but to move towards better bilateral understanding and thus (one hopes) mutual respect.

yet we see in the earliest christian writings this same understanding of the bishop as presiding over the eucharistic gathering, while eucharist is understood in the manner of a sacrifice.

"Assemble on the Lord’s day, and break bread and offer the Eucharist; but first make confession of your faults, so that your sacrifice may be a pure one. Anyone who has a difference with his fellow is not to take part with you until he has been reconciled, so as to avoid any profanation of your sacrifice [Matt. 5:23–24]. For this is the offering of which the Lord has said, ‘Everywhere and always bring me a sacrifice that is undefiled, for I am a great king, says the Lord, and my name is the wonder of nations’ [Mal. 1:11, 14]" (Didache 14, AD 70-100).

"Our sin will not be small if we eject from the episcopate those who blamelessly and holily have offered its sacrifices. Blessed are those presbyters who have already finished their course, and who have obtained a fruitful and perfect release" (Letter to the Corinthians 44:4–5 [St. Clement, A.D. 80]).

"Make certain, therefore, that you all observe one common Eucharist; for there is but one Body of our Lord Jesus Christ, and but one cup of union with his Blood, and one single altar of sacrifice—even as there is also but one bishop, with his clergy and my own fellow servitors, the deacons. This will ensure that all your doings are in full accord with the will of God" (St. Ignatius, Letter to the Philadelphians 4 [A.D. 110]).

"God speaks by the mouth of Malachi, one of the twelve [minor prophets], as I said before, about the sacrifices at that time presented by you: ‘I have no pleasure in you, says the Lord, and I will not accept your sacrifices at your hands; for from the rising of the sun to the going down of the same, my name has been glorified among the Gentiles, and in every place incense is offered to my name, and a pure offering, for my name is great among the Gentiles . . . [Mal. 1:10–11]. He then speaks of those Gentiles, namely us [Christians] who in every place offer sacrifices to him, that is, the bread of the Eucharist and also the cup of the Eucharist" (Dialogue with Trypho the Jew 41 [St. Justin Martyr, A.D. 155]).

So we see, rather than being a foreign export sometime after the 4th century, this understanding was there from the very beginning and to be understood in this sense; with the faithful gathered around their bishop celebrating the eucharistic sacrifice.

 



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« Reply #39 on: February 20, 2012, 05:53:03 PM »

These arguments are good; thank y'all.  I do not mean they persuade us dyed-in-the-wool Baptists to turn Orthodox, because I genuinely believe our arguments are good also. In both cases I mean good as arguments; I do not mean irrefutable. The benefit of your posting them here is this: we usually assume that the whole idea of priesthood as you hold it is a later importation (post the 'in hoc signo' victory of Constantine) from paganism brought into the church by the huge influx of unconverted pagans who outwardly joined the church so as to get on in Roman society after Christianity became officially approved - as well as being a throw-back to a pre-Christian idea of priesthood as found in the OT. The arguments you set forth may not convince us, but they do show that it is possible to be both Orthodox and intellectually coherent and honest - something which (I suspect) many Evangelicals would doubt.

Such improved mutual understanding was my initial motive for joining the forum: not to convince you to become Baptists, nor myself to be converted in the opposite direction, but to move towards better bilateral understanding and thus (one hopes) mutual respect.

David, i've read many of your discussions and wonder why if you have such good arguments, that you seem to disengage from the discussions with the same flattering sentiments.

Orthodox do not count either you or i to be part of the church of God but part of a heretical group of lost and wandering people with whom they would not even pray let alone break bread.

That will never change until both you and i become Orthodox.

I'm glad the Apostles had a more purposeful and robust approach when encountering Jews and Gentiles or we might not have the church growth we do today.
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« Reply #40 on: February 20, 2012, 06:11:37 PM »

These arguments are good; thank y'all.  I do not mean they persuade us dyed-in-the-wool Baptists to turn Orthodox, because I genuinely believe our arguments are good also. In both cases I mean good as arguments; I do not mean irrefutable. The benefit of your posting them here is this: we usually assume that the whole idea of priesthood as you hold it is a later importation (post the 'in hoc signo' victory of Constantine) from paganism brought into the church by the huge influx of unconverted pagans who outwardly joined the church so as to get on in Roman society after Christianity became officially approved - as well as being a throw-back to a pre-Christian idea of priesthood as found in the OT. The arguments you set forth may not convince us, but they do show that it is possible to be both Orthodox and intellectually coherent and honest - something which (I suspect) many Evangelicals would doubt.

Such improved mutual understanding was my initial motive for joining the forum: not to convince you to become Baptists, nor myself to be converted in the opposite direction, but to move towards better bilateral understanding and thus (one hopes) mutual respect.

David, i've read many of your discussions and wonder why if you have such good arguments, that you seem to disengage from the discussions with the same flattering sentiments.

Orthodox do not count either you or i to be part of the church of God but part of a heretical group of lost and wandering people with whom they would not even pray let alone break bread.

That will never change until both you and i become Orthodox.

I'm glad the Apostles had a more purposeful and robust approach when encountering Jews and Gentiles or we might not have the church growth we do today.

I would break bread (and perhaps share a pint or two) with Mr Young any day of the week (unless the bread you refer to is the Eucharist- which, as has been pointed out to you many times, is something that cannot be given out willy-nilly [that's biblical, btw]. I'm sure Mr Young respects our reasons from guarding him from the chalice as well as understands our reasons for not partaking of his).

As for the Apostles- yes, a very robust all-inclusive approach- as discovered by the Judaizers- oh, wait.... How about those who denied the divinity... nope. Well, at least they accepted Apollos without double-checking his belief- nope, not there either. Hmmm.

Doctrine is non-negotiable, and unless we share the same doctrine we cannot share the same cup. Seven Ecumenical Councils, seven pronouncements on Christology, that is the fullness of the faith.
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« Reply #41 on: February 20, 2012, 06:24:53 PM »

David, i... wonder why... you seem to disengage from the discussions ... That will never change until both you and i become Orthodox.

You have perceptively answered your own question. There comes a point beyond which each 'side' would merely be repeating the same arguments over and over again, long beyond the time when each now understands the other's thinking. I reach the point where I feel that neither progress nor profit (to either 'side') is to be expected by further repetition.
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« Reply #42 on: February 20, 2012, 06:31:03 PM »

David, i've read many of your discussions and wonder why if you have such good arguments, that you seem to disengage from the discussions with the same flattering sentiments.

I think David just has a more realistic appreciation for the limits of what can be done effectively on an internet discussion group. If someone is not an "inquirer" (i.e., already half converted and just looking for clarification on a few points), I don't expect anything I write here to convince them of anything. The best I can do is lay out the Orthodox position in hopes of the same mutual understanding David is looking for--and perhaps clearing potential stumbling blocks, should real life or serious study lead sometime in the future to a serious reassessment of your current beliefss

Quote
Orthodox do not count either you or i to be part of the church of God but part of a heretical group of lost and wandering people with whom they would not even pray let alone break bread.

If you're ever in the North Dallas area, PM me. I'll gladly take you out to break bread and maybe share a cup of coffee. I'll also happily try to convert you if you want to listen. However, if you aren't prepared to listen, there's not much point to that "And whoever shall not hear your words, when you depart, shake off the dust of your feet' and all that. The Apostles' 'robust' approach didn't include banging their heads against closed doors.
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« Reply #43 on: February 20, 2012, 06:57:37 PM »

We can't add anything to the cross

"I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the Church, of which I became a deacon according to the economy from God which was given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God, the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints."

-Epistle to the Colossians 1:24-26
« Last Edit: February 20, 2012, 07:00:42 PM by NicholasMyra » Logged

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« Reply #44 on: February 21, 2012, 12:09:06 AM »

@Benjamin The Red -- In Hebrews 4:14-16, we are told we can approach the throne of grace in boldness with an echo from the OT Leviticus 21:17-21. The throne of God where there is grace and mercy Psalm 89:14. The priestly privilege of access once available to a few is now extended to all Christians. We can now all draw near to God with full confidence and freedom.



Hebrews 4:14-16 has nothing to do with Leviticus 21:17-21. The Law there is explaining which descendants of Aaron (that is, men who are already priests) may not serve at the altar due to defect. The Hebrews passage cites the Ascension of Christ and affirms the fullness of his humanity, stating that we can now receive mercy and grace from God because of Christ. The passage from Leviticus doesn't even mention a throne, unless you keep reading after the passage you cite and read verse 23 which says,

"Only he shall not go in unto the vail, nor come nigh unto the altar, because he hath a blemish; that he profane not my sanctuaries: for I the LORD do sanctify them."

Still yet, it does not say throne, only altar. Perhaps you're trying to equate this word with "mercy seat" and therefore call it the "throne of God"...which is okay. However, that's not what the Hebrews passage is talking about here. In Greek, the word used in Hebrews 4:16 is θρόνος (thronos) which simply means "seat" (not even a particularly nice one, that connotation came later) and not ἱλαστήριον (hilasterion) as St. Paul writes in Hebrews 9:5. Further, in the Septuagint, the word being used here for "altar" is neither θρόνος (which can never mean altar) nor ἱλαστήριον, it's θυσιαστήριον (thusiasterion).

St. Paul in Hebrews 4:14-16 is expressing to us the freedom of grace all Christians receive through the sacrifice of Christ, to whom we draw near (and even partake of at the Eucharist. Even when the priest brings out the Eucharist in the Liturgy he says, "In the fear of God, with faith and love draw near"). This passage has nothing to do with the priesthood of all believers and is not even primarily about the details of Christ's priesthood (for he is setting up to speak about that later in the epistle).
« Last Edit: February 21, 2012, 12:11:34 AM by Benjamin the Red » Logged

"Hades is not a place, no, but a state of the soul. It begins here on earth. Just so, paradise begins in the soul of a man here in the earthly life. Here we already have contact with the divine..." -St. John, Wonderworker of Shanghai and San Francisco, Homily On the Sunday of Orthodoxy
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