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« on: May 18, 2012, 10:49:58 AM »

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"You also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ … But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light" (1 Peter 2:5-9).

Ive heard this passage used to suggest that we are all priests and therefore no longer need priests like we have today. How do we respond to something like this?  How do we understand this passage in the context of the Church?  From an Orthodox perspective, is there any way we could say that we are all, in a way, a priest? 

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« Reply #1 on: May 18, 2012, 11:03:54 AM »


I have also been taught that we are a "royal priesthood in a Heavenly Kingdom".

That via our own personal Chrismation we also have the seal of the Holy Spirit, and He works through us to the Glory of God.

However, Ordination is still a Holy Sacrament, and reserved for those who are called to the actual priesthood.

Our, layperson-priesthood, enables us to spread the Word, do good works, but, not administer the Holy Sacraments.

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« Reply #2 on: May 18, 2012, 11:12:28 AM »

Thats what I thought too.  I just took it to mean that we are all capable of preaching the Gospel and should.  When it comes to the need for having an actual priest, it seems that that was already so well understood in that time that there wasnt really a need to clarify that.  Now, in a world of 'interpreting the scriptures however you like', we see that it may have been helpful had it been clarified.  
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« Reply #3 on: May 18, 2012, 11:17:10 AM »

I believe it's Vladimir Lossky in Orthodox Theology: An Introduction talks about how all Orthodox Christians are members of the royal priesthood and who intercede for the whole of creation before God. He does an excellent job of this. I recommend that book to anyone who has finished Met. Kallistos' introductory books and want a little more theological depth.

My usual short answer when I'm approached with this verse is to point to the fact that a universal priesthood in no way negates a sacramental priesthood. St. Peter here isn't actually talking himself, he's quoting God in the Torah when He says:

"'Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine.And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.' These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel." (Exodus 19:5-6)

Israel was a kingdom of priests, but also had the Levitical priesthood. The ideas are not mutually exclusive under the Mosaic Law...why would they be mutually exclusive under Christ?
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« Reply #4 on: May 18, 2012, 11:24:51 AM »

Thats what I thought too.  I just took it to mean that we are all capable of preaching the Gospel and should.  When it comes to the need for having an actual priest, it seems that that was already so well understood in that time that there wasnt really a need to clarify that.  Now, in a world of 'interpreting the scriptures however you like', we see that it may have been helpful had it been clarified.  

God forsees all things, and I think that He would have made sure that it was clarified if He really thought that it was important.  Certainly, when we are in a social situation such as most communities, Ordination sets apart those called to the Priesthood from those who are called to other things.  If one is not near other people, or in a community where there are no Orthodox Christians, I am not convinced that one does not become a Priest by default, even if only for the duration of that situation.  Of course, this line of thinking (most likely left over from my Lutheran days and readings) is not popular with those who make their living selling religion.
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« Reply #5 on: May 18, 2012, 11:29:24 AM »

All the faithful are Gods Priests. That doesn't mean we all don't need ordained and trained Priests, Pastors and the like who have studied more than us and that can help us have a greater understanding, to lead our local churches (sacraments), and be our spiritual leaders.
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« Reply #6 on: May 18, 2012, 01:15:43 PM »

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

What is a priest? A minister on people's behalf.  What does that mean? A priest is a person whose prayers are both heard, and sometimes responded to by God.

Yes, we are indeed all priests.  A man is the priest for his family, and each person is  a priest for themselves.  In Hebrew theology, this is what explains folks agency to pray for themselves.  In the Hebrew Law, priests said all the prayers.  People prayed for themselves, but as we read in the Old Testament, God was sparse in His direct replies.  Abraham only spoke directly with God on three instances in the Old Testament, Isaac even less, and Israel also just a handful of times.  It was after Moses that we find priests and prophets (many of whom were also priests) pray often, and communicate directly with God.  Through the New Covenant, we are all priests to God Almighty.  We all have equal-opportunity for prayer.  However, as in Ordination, there is a ranking in the clergy.  Not all clergies can celebrate the Divine Mysteries.  In this way, the ordinary priesthood afforded to the laity because of Baptism and Chrismation is lesser in the duties as say Deacons, Priests, and Bishops, with each having their respective roles and positions in worship.  A person prays for themselves and their families, but not the Mysteries.  A Deacon leads the people in prayer and readings and teachings, but does not celebrate the Mysteries aside from assisting in dispensing the Holy Blood.  The priests can celebrate the Mysteries, but can not ordain other priests and deacons or establish new sanctified Altars for new Churches.  This is for the Bishops.  See the natural ranking? We are all priests, and yet we all defer rightfully to the rank, preference, and opportunities given by God.

stay blessed,
habte selassie
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« Reply #7 on: May 18, 2012, 03:05:26 PM »

Israel has always been a nation of priests, dedicated to ministering unto the nations.  However, Israel also has priests within herself who are to minister unto Israel.
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« Reply #8 on: May 18, 2012, 09:25:06 PM »

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"You also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ … But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light" (1 Peter 2:5-9).

Ive heard this passage used to suggest that we are all priests and therefore no longer need priests like we have today. How do we respond to something like this?  How do we understand this passage in the context of the Church?  From an Orthodox perspective, is there any way we could say that we are all, in a way, a priest? 

Keep in mind that initially, the only ordained ministry was the bishopric. Not too long afterwards, the deaconate was added.

Still later (I'm not sure when, maybe someone else can help me here) there was yet another type of minister -- which they called "priests", leading to a certain amount of confusion, but a pretty good name all things considered.
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« Reply #9 on: May 18, 2012, 09:28:01 PM »

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"You also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ … But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light" (1 Peter 2:5-9).

Ive heard this passage used to suggest that we are all priests and therefore no longer need priests like we have today. How do we respond to something like this?  How do we understand this passage in the context of the Church?  From an Orthodox perspective, is there any way we could say that we are all, in a way, a priest? 

As another poster pointed out, Israel was a priestly people yet still had the Aaronic priesthood.

Exodus 19:6 "you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.' These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.""
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« Reply #10 on: May 18, 2012, 10:13:22 PM »

Thanks for the replies everyone.  This makes sense.  I knew there was an answer, but every now and then these questions pop into my head and I realize I dont have a good answer for them.  I just want to be prepared if I were to ever be asked.  I heard a preacher talk about this not too long ago.  "We dont need priests because we're all priests...."  All these answers made sense.

As usual, if anyone has anything else theyd like to add, please do.  The thread isnt closed!!
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« Reply #11 on: May 20, 2012, 08:39:21 PM »

Thanks for the replies everyone.  This makes sense.  I knew there was an answer, but every now and then these questions pop into my head and I realize I dont have a good answer for them.  I just want to be prepared if I were to ever be asked.  I heard a preacher talk about this not too long ago.  "We dont need priests because we're all priests...."  All these answers made sense.

As usual, if anyone has anything else theyd like to add, please do.  The thread isnt closed!!

Yes, we are all priests and, as is fitting of priests, we together offer up the bloodless sacrifice, led by our overseers (episkopi) and elders (presvyteri).

I don't understand why protestants get all hung up on this verse.
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« Reply #12 on: May 21, 2012, 06:47:04 AM »

I would assume simply that the title 'Priest' is an umbrella term that does not refer to one specific role within the Church but to the various roles that all Orthodox Christians play in the Church. For example, most of us exhibit Priesthood through attending Liturgy, feeding the poor, fasting or studying scripture etc. But on the other hand, there are also those among us who direct Liturgies and give out the Mysteries, the 'formal' Priests if you will. So yes, we are all Priests with different unique roles in the Church, but usually we do not call ourselves Priests because semantically it may confuse people into associating us with the 'formal' Priests.
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« Reply #13 on: May 21, 2012, 11:25:37 AM »

I would assume simply that the title 'Priest' is an umbrella term that does not refer to one specific role within the Church but to the various roles that all Orthodox Christians play in the Church. For example, most of us exhibit Priesthood through attending Liturgy, feeding the poor, fasting or studying scripture etc. But on the other hand, there are also those among us who direct Liturgies and give out the Mysteries, the 'formal' Priests if you will. So yes, we are all Priests with different unique roles in the Church, but usually we do not call ourselves Priests because semantically it may confuse people into associating us with the 'formal' Priests.

exactly. thats why i was a little uncomfortable with it.  i now better understand how we are all priests in a sense, but im not sure I want to be called a Priest! its confusing, and Im way to dumb to have that title....
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« Reply #14 on: May 22, 2012, 08:45:27 AM »

I would assume simply that the title 'Priest' is an umbrella term that does not refer to one specific role within the Church but to the various roles that all Orthodox Christians play in the Church. For example, most of us exhibit Priesthood through attending Liturgy, feeding the poor, fasting or studying scripture etc. But on the other hand, there are also those among us who direct Liturgies and give out the Mysteries, the 'formal' Priests if you will. So yes, we are all Priests with different unique roles in the Church, but usually we do not call ourselves Priests because semantically it may confuse people into associating us with the 'formal' Priests.

exactly. thats why i was a little uncomfortable with it.  i now better understand how we are all priests in a sense, but im not sure I want to be called a Priest! its confusing, and Im way to dumb to have that title....

How smart do you have to be to be a Christian?
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« Reply #15 on: May 22, 2012, 09:14:21 AM »

Doesn't the answer to this whole question hinge on the Greek used for 'royal priesthood' in the text? I may be wrong as my Greek is almost non-existent but I'm pretty sure that what we generally mean by priest (presbyteros) is a separate concept to the priest here(hiereus?), which is the kind of priesthood that was reserved for the Levites. In other words all Christians are part of the priesthood when understood in the sense that we all offer up sacrifices to God, but that doesn't mean that we are all priests if by that we mean elders. It's just unfortunate that we use priest in English for both concepts when they are not one and the same.

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« Reply #16 on: May 22, 2012, 11:48:01 AM »

There have been several good answers given.  To put it as succinctly as possible, there is the royal priesthood of all the faithful and then there is the clerical priesthood (ordained priestly leadership) within the royal priesthood.  They are not two opposing things, as the royal priesthood is the Church as the Body of the King of Kings and the Great High Priest, and the clerical priesthood is a calling to leadership within the Royal-Priestly Body of the Church.     
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« Reply #17 on: May 22, 2012, 08:26:43 PM »

I would assume simply that the title 'Priest' is an umbrella term that does not refer to one specific role within the Church but to the various roles that all Orthodox Christians play in the Church. For example, most of us exhibit Priesthood through attending Liturgy, feeding the poor, fasting or studying scripture etc. But on the other hand, there are also those among us who direct Liturgies and give out the Mysteries, the 'formal' Priests if you will. So yes, we are all Priests with different unique roles in the Church, but usually we do not call ourselves Priests because semantically it may confuse people into associating us with the 'formal' Priests.

exactly. thats why i was a little uncomfortable with it.  i now better understand how we are all priests in a sense, but im not sure I want to be called a Priest! its confusing, and Im way to dumb to have that title....

How smart do you have to be to be a Christian?

smart enough to know that im not qualified to be a priest priest....
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« Reply #18 on: May 22, 2012, 08:27:20 PM »

There have been several good answers given.  To put it as succinctly as possible, there is the royal priesthood of all the faithful and then there is the clerical priesthood (ordained priestly leadership) within the royal priesthood.  They are not two opposing things, as the royal priesthood is the Church as the Body of the King of Kings and the Great High Priest, and the clerical priesthood is a calling to leadership within the Royal-Priestly Body of the Church.     

this helps a lot, as have many other answers too.
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« Reply #19 on: May 28, 2012, 06:47:10 PM »

The mere notion of this is very prevalent in the Protestant offshoots.  Everyone's a minister and boy do you hear all sorts of nonsense.  Everyone considers themselves a qualified source for Biblical interpretation. 

I think for anyone wanting to fulfill the role of any kind of lay priest, ministering to others, they should have to hold themselves to the Hippocratic Oath: First, do no harm.

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« Reply #20 on: May 28, 2012, 06:53:20 PM »

The mere notion of this is very prevalent in the Protestant offshoots.  Everyone's a minister and boy do you hear all sorts of nonsense.  Everyone considers themselves a qualified source for Biblical interpretation. 

I think for anyone wanting to fulfill the role of any kind of lay priest, ministering to others, they should have to hold themselves to the Hippocratic Oath: First, do no harm.



I don't know about that; it seems to me, at least in the Protestant churches I grew up in, that there was a great deal of deferment to the pastor, and he was certainly called upon to minister to the congregation far more than anyone else, and seem to defer to church authorities more or less to the same degree that the average Orthodox layperson does.
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« Reply #21 on: May 28, 2012, 07:08:10 PM »

You must have been in other churches than the ones I've been to.  I've had people knocking on my door and approaching me at work and even on the buses just brimming with interpretations. 
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« Reply #22 on: May 28, 2012, 07:28:35 PM »

Doesn't the answer to this whole question hinge on the Greek used for 'royal priesthood' in the text? I may be wrong as my Greek is almost non-existent but I'm pretty sure that what we generally mean by priest (presbyteros) is a separate concept to the priest here(hiereus?), which is the kind of priesthood that was reserved for the Levites. In other words all Christians are part of the priesthood when understood in the sense that we all offer up sacrifices to God, but that doesn't mean that we are all priests if by that we mean elders. It's just unfortunate that we use priest in English for both concepts when they are not one and the same.

James

This is the answer to the question!

Our English word "priest" is a corruption of the Greek word presvyteros. An Orthodox priest is the same thing as an Orthodox presbyter. There is no other meaning to that word in that context.

Unfortunately, there is no separate English word for the Greek word heiros. That is the word that conveys the idea of the Levitical "priest", and Christ being our high "priest". In that sense we ae all priests, in that we are all a heiros.

Some are ordained to be a priest (presvyteros), while every Orthodox Christian is a priest (heiros).

Does that make sense?
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