Author Topic: Did the first century Church have "Priests?"  (Read 697 times)

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Offline LivenotoneviL

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Did the first century Church have "Priests?"
« on: April 29, 2018, 04:56:10 PM »
So, in recent catechism courses into Orthodoxy, we discussed the Clerical ranks of the Orthodox Church  - you know, Reader, Subdeacon, Deacon, Priest, and Bishop; however, to my shock, I was told something rather incredible (considering my Catholic background), that the first century Church did not have priests; rather, the translation of "Presbyteros" or "Presbyter" or "Elder", were indistinguishable from an "overseer" or "Bishop," and that Priests came along due to the fact that the territories of Bishops got too expansive and needed Priests, which serve theologically as almost "limited Vicar Bishops", as they serve in place of the Bishop who really owns the Church they are serving at.

I was always educated from a Catholic perspective - and I may have been misled, of course (including mandatory Bishopry / Priesthood celibacy was theologically based) - that the "Elders" which are often translated in Protestant Bibles are in, reality, Priests (Douay Rheims, for example, translates "Presbyteros" as "Priest"), and much like how Deacons existed in the First Century Church, the Priests were there from the time of the Apostles onwards. Even Wikipedia identifies this as an Orthodox position.

Which view is correct - did Priests come along later, or did Priests exist from the beginning? While I believe that theologically speaking the Priest does serve in place with the Bishop, is this tale that Priests came later true?

Thanks.
« Last Edit: April 29, 2018, 04:59:37 PM by LivenotoneviL »
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Offline Iconodule

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Re: Did the first century Church have "Priests?"
« Reply #1 on: April 29, 2018, 04:59:28 PM »
Priests and bishops were interchangeable for a while for sure. How long it took for priests to take on their present role as bishops’ vicars I don’t know.
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Offline LivenotoneviL

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Re: Did the first century Church have "Priests?"
« Reply #2 on: April 29, 2018, 05:01:06 PM »
Priests and bishops were interchangeable for a while for sure. How long it took for priests to take on their present role as bishops’ vicars I don’t know.

Where does this idea come from?
« Last Edit: April 29, 2018, 05:01:21 PM by LivenotoneviL »
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Offline Iconodule

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Re: Did the first century Church have "Priests?"
« Reply #3 on: April 29, 2018, 05:06:42 PM »
What idea?
Mencius said, “Instruction makes use of many techniques. When I do not deign to instruct someone, that too is a form of instruction.”

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Offline Volnutt

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Re: Did the first century Church have "Priests?"
« Reply #4 on: April 29, 2018, 05:28:05 PM »
Priests and bishops were interchangeable for a while for sure. How long it took for priests to take on their present role as bishops’ vicars I don’t know.

Where does this idea come from?

From the fact that the Epistles and the Early Fathers seem to use the terms interchangeably.
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Offline Volnutt

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Re: Did the first century Church have "Priests?"
« Reply #5 on: April 29, 2018, 05:33:30 PM »
Priests are Elders. That's what the word "Presbyteros," ie. the normal modern Greek word for an Orthodox Priest, means (from the Ancient Greek "presbos" meaning "old man").
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Offline ialmisry

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Re: Did the first century Church have "Priests?"
« Reply #6 on: April 29, 2018, 05:39:27 PM »
So, in recent catechism courses into Orthodoxy, we discussed the Clerical ranks of the Orthodox Church  - you know, Reader, Subdeacon, Deacon, Priest, and Bishop; however, to my shock, I was told something rather incredible (considering my Catholic background), that the first century Church did not have priests; rather, the translation of "Presbyteros" or "Presbyter" or "Elder", were indistinguishable from an "overseer" or "Bishop," and that Priests came along due to the fact that the territories of Bishops got too expansive and needed Priests, which serve theologically as almost "limited Vicar Bishops", as they serve in place of the Bishop who really owns the Church they are serving at.

I was always educated from a Catholic perspective - and I may have been misled, of course (including mandatory Bishopry / Priesthood celibacy was theologically based) - that the "Elders" which are often translated in Protestant Bibles are in, reality, Priests (Douay Rheims, for example, translates "Presbyteros" as "Priest"), and much like how Deacons existed in the First Century Church, the Priests were there from the time of the Apostles onwards. Even Wikipedia identifies this as an Orthodox position.

Which view is correct - did Priests come along later, or did Priests exist from the beginning? While I believe that theologically speaking the Priest does serve in place with the Bishop, is this tale that Priests came later true?

Thanks.
priests existed from the beginning, serving alongside the Apostles as auxiliary and chorbishops, being elevated to the full episcopate as the Apostles passed on the Church. Only after the bishops fully replace the Apostles did the priests form an order on their own, as the bishops took the place of the Apostles and the former roles of the bishops as the protogees and deputies was taken up by the order of priests.
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Offline Volnutt

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Re: Did the first century Church have "Priests?"
« Reply #7 on: April 29, 2018, 05:51:36 PM »
So, in recent catechism courses into Orthodoxy, we discussed the Clerical ranks of the Orthodox Church  - you know, Reader, Subdeacon, Deacon, Priest, and Bishop; however, to my shock, I was told something rather incredible (considering my Catholic background), that the first century Church did not have priests; rather, the translation of "Presbyteros" or "Presbyter" or "Elder", were indistinguishable from an "overseer" or "Bishop," and that Priests came along due to the fact that the territories of Bishops got too expansive and needed Priests, which serve theologically as almost "limited Vicar Bishops", as they serve in place of the Bishop who really owns the Church they are serving at.

I was always educated from a Catholic perspective - and I may have been misled, of course (including mandatory Bishopry / Priesthood celibacy was theologically based) - that the "Elders" which are often translated in Protestant Bibles are in, reality, Priests (Douay Rheims, for example, translates "Presbyteros" as "Priest"), and much like how Deacons existed in the First Century Church, the Priests were there from the time of the Apostles onwards. Even Wikipedia identifies this as an Orthodox position.

Which view is correct - did Priests come along later, or did Priests exist from the beginning? While I believe that theologically speaking the Priest does serve in place with the Bishop, is this tale that Priests came later true?

Thanks.
priests existed from the beginning, serving alongside the Apostles as auxiliary and chorbishops, being elevated to the full episcopate as the Apostles passed on the Church. Only after the bishops fully replace the Apostles did the priests form an order on their own, as the bishops took the place of the Apostles and the former roles of the bishops as the protogees and deputies was taken up by the order of priests.

Seems like the best way to digest the available evidence from an Orthodox perspective, yeah.

Given the way that the believers in Acts stuck around in the Temple and in the Synagogues until they were kicked out, it would be strange that a radical "no more priesthood" position should be reduced to, at best, equivocal evidence rather clearly spelled out in the NT or Early Fathers.
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Offline scamandrius

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Re: Did the first century Church have "Priests?"
« Reply #8 on: April 29, 2018, 07:16:40 PM »
 Read Met. JOHN Zizoulas' work called Eucharist, Bishop, Church on the historical development of how priest and bishop become distinct.
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Offline Alpha60

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Re: Did the first century Church have "Priests?"
« Reply #9 on: May 10, 2018, 04:13:28 AM »
Read Met. JOHN Zizoulas' work called Eucharist, Bishop, Church on the historical development of how priest and bishop become distinct.

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Offline RaphaCam

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Re: Did the first century Church have "Priests?"
« Reply #10 on: May 10, 2018, 12:51:39 PM »
Priests are Elders. That's what the word "Presbyteros," ie. the normal modern Greek word for an Orthodox Priest, means (from the Ancient Greek "presbos" meaning "old man").
It's not only "old man", it also means "leader of the flock" etymologically ("páros boós").
« Last Edit: May 10, 2018, 12:53:12 PM by RaphaCam »
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Re: Did the first century Church have "Priests?"
« Reply #11 on: May 10, 2018, 01:58:03 PM »
Read Met. JOHN Zizoulas' work called Eucharist, Bishop, Church on the historical development of how priest and bishop become distinct.
I am going to have to read this book. When I was a protestant, my church used the words elders and pastors.  As Orthodox, I hear bishops and priests.

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Re: Did the first century Church have "Priests?"
« Reply #12 on: May 10, 2018, 06:04:37 PM »
Priests are Elders. That's what the word "Presbyteros," ie. the normal modern Greek word for an Orthodox Priest, means (from the Ancient Greek "presbos" meaning "old man").
It's not only "old man", it also means "leader of the flock" etymologically ("páros boós").

I didn't know that, thanks. My mind always seems to jump first to "presbyopia."
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