Priest v. Presbyter


#1

Why is it that at least in most modern English translations of the Bible, in the Old Testament God’s ministers are referred to as “priests” while in the New Testament they are rendered as “presbyters” or “elders/overseers/bishops”? A priest once told me that we didn’t get “presbyter” from “priest,” rather, we got the term from the Greek word “hierus.” I think I also read somewhere, perhaps wikipedia, that “hierus” denoted a member of a sacramental/sacrificial priesthood while “presbyter” did not, and only later in the first few hundred years of the Church ministers began to be referred to by “hierus” instead of “presbyter.” Anybody correct me if they know this to be untrue.

Please note that this isn’t an attempt to discredit the priesthood. I believe in Holy Orders. I’ve just heard a lot of contradictory things about the early development of the orders and I’m confused; I would appreciate anyone’s help.


#2

[quote=CollegeKid]Why is it that at least in most modern English translations of the Bible, in the Old Testament God’s ministers are referred to as “priests” while in the New Testament they are rendered as “presbyters” or “elders/overseers/bishops”? A priest once told me that we didn’t get “presbyter” from “priest,” rather, we got the term from the Greek word “hierus.” I think I also read somewhere, perhaps wikipedia, that “hierus” denoted a member of a sacramental/sacrificial priesthood while “presbyter” did not, and only later in the first few hundred years of the Church ministers began to be referred to by “hierus” instead of “presbyter.” Anybody correct me if they know this to be untrue.

Please note that this isn’t an attempt to discredit the priesthood. I believe in Holy Orders. I’ve just heard a lot of contradictory things about the early development of the orders and I’m confused; I would appreciate anyone’s help.
[/quote]

Presbyter = Bishop = Episkopos = elder. Presbyters were ordained members of the Clergy, successors of the Apostles, and as such they were priests also. Only since the advent of Protestant denominations has this meaning come to be confused.


#3

When you are baptized, you are baptized as a Priest, Prophet and a King. We are ALL priests! The word presbyter was used to make a distinction between ‘us’ and those who were what we would call priests today. I’d delve more into it, but I’ve got to go!


#4

Tim Staples wrote a good article about this. A presbyter is the same as an “elder” or “priest”. In the New Covenant they are not referred to as “hierus”, possibly to differentiate them with non-Christian priests. Presbyters are seen to do priestly duties and the verb used comes from the word “hierus.”


#5

Do protestants attack the Catholic priesthood because they think its some kind of concocted counterfeit of the Old Testament priesthood of Israel? My understanding is that the priesthood Christ established is a perfect fulfillment of what the Jews had under the old covenant-whereas they had to continually offer up animal sacrifices for sins, our Catholic priests offer up the once-for-all, perfect sacrifice of Christ on the cross during Communion.


#6

Peace be with you!

Jimmy Akin and Anthony Pezzota go way into this in their debate on the priesthood. Jimmy Akin explained the use of the word “priest” instead of “elder” this way: priest is an abbreviation of presbyter (the Latin of presbeuteros, the Greek) when translated into English. So not only is this linguistically accurate, but the priest also serves as the role of the elder in the parish.

I would highly recommend ordering this debate; it’s a really good one. It’s fairly cheap and available right here from Catholic Answers. I think they still have the deal where you can order it and the Bible Answer Man debate (Jimmy Akin v. James White) in the same package.

In Christ,
Rand


#7

[quote=CollegeKid]Do protestants attack the Catholic priesthood because they think its some kind of concocted counterfeit of the Old Testament priesthood of Israel? My understanding is that the priesthood Christ established is a perfect fulfillment of what the Jews had under the old covenant-whereas they had to continually offer up animal sacrifices for sins, our Catholic priests offer up the once-for-all, perfect sacrifice of Christ on the cross during Communion.
[/quote]

Protestants cannot really refute the Ordained Priesthood Scripturally because it is spelled out in Sacred Scripture. Read Hebrews 7.

drbo.org/chapter/65007.htm


#8

Mabye I reading into the verses to literally or something, but some of what I read in Hebrews 7-9 actually raised more questions for me:

“For Christ did not enter into a sanctuary made my hands, a copy of the true one, but heaven itself, that he might now appear before God on our behalf. Not that he might offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters each year into the sanctuary with blood that is not his own, if that were so, he would have to suffer repeatedly from the foundation of the world. But now once for all he has appeared at the end of the ages to take away sin by his sacrifice. Just as it is appointed that human beings die once, and after this the judgement, so also Christ, offered once to take away the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to take away sin but to bring salvation to those who eagerly await him.” (Heb 9:24-28, NAB)

I guess to me its curious that the focus in on the “once-for-all” sacrifice without apparent mention of a belief that this sacrifice is being offered continually, in heaven and earth, in an unbloody manner. That’s just my opinion, I would appreciate your guys’ insight.


#9

“Presbeuteros” is a direct translation of the Greek term for Elder. But, in order to seperate a Christian Roman priest from a Pagan Roman priest, they Latinized presbyter into “praepositos.” This term does not mean an elder pe rse, such as a senior citizen could be called an elder. It means specifically a person of the priestly office.

Olde English translated praepositos into preost, from which we get the modern English word priest. Presbyter can, therefore, be considered the root word for priest, but in a circuitous manner.

Thal59


#10

this kind of seemed like it contradicts our understanding of Christ being present in the consecrated hosts in the tabernacles.

[quote=CollegeKid] Not that he might offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters each year into the sanctuary with blood that is not his own, if that were so, he would have to suffer repeatedly from the foundation of the world.
[/quote]

why is there no mention of Christ offering up the sacrifice on Calvary in heaven, repeatedly?


#11

[quote=CollegeKid]I guess to me its curious that the focus in on the “once-for-all” sacrifice without apparent mention of a belief that this sacrifice is being offered continually, in heaven and earth, in an unbloody manner. That’s just my opinion, I would appreciate your guys’ insight.
[/quote]

The bloody sacrifice is once and for all, because in order to have another bloody sacrifice, Christ would have to suffer and die on the Cross again. However, that does not happen.

The unbloody re-presentation of the Eucharist in the same sacrifice being continually offered.

Here’s two links that will really help. Jimmy Akin on the Threefold Priesthood. And, the reading room at Phatmass on the Eucharist. Specifically, from the links collated at that last link, the ones under the title, “The Sacrifice of the Mass” will be helpful, including this one.

Note this helpful verse from Hebrews:

“Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. Thus it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves with*** [size=2]better sacrifices***[/size]* than these*. For Christ has entered, not into a sanctuary made with hands, a copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf” (Heb. 9:22-24).

And also from the idea that Christ, as a high priest, must continually offer his sacrifice, because that’s the definition of a priest. If Christ isn’t continually offering a sacrifice, then he isn’t fulfilling the function of a priest.


#12

An ordinary desk copy of the Merriam-Webster dictionary gives the etymology of priest as: Middle English preist from Old English *preost * from Late Latin *presbyter * from Greek presbyteros.


#13

[quote=CollegeKid]Mabye I reading into the verses to literally or something, but some of what I read in Hebrews 7-9 actually raised more questions for me:

“For Christ did not enter into a sanctuary made my hands, a copy of the true one, but heaven itself, that he might now appear before God on our behalf. Not that he might offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters each year into the sanctuary with blood that is not his own, if that were so, he would have to suffer repeatedly from the foundation of the world. But now once for all he has appeared at the end of the ages to take away sin by his sacrifice. Just as it is appointed that human beings die once, and after this the judgement, so also Christ, offered once to take away the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to take away sin but to bring salvation to those who eagerly await him.” (Heb 9:24-28, NAB)

I guess to me its curious that the focus in on the “once-for-all” sacrifice without apparent mention of a belief that this sacrifice is being offered continually, in heaven and earth, in an unbloody manner. That’s just my opinion, I would appreciate your guys’ insight.
[/quote]

You are reading into the verses. We do not believe that Christ’s sacrifice is repeated every Mass, but that it is us joining ourselves with Him on Calvary. The book of Hebrews definitely represents Catholic teaching.


#14

[quote=Semper Fi]You are reading into the verses. We do not believe that Christ’s sacrifice is repeated every Mass, but that it is us joining ourselves with Him on Calvary. The book of Hebrews definitely represents Catholic teaching.
[/quote]

I’m going to have to do some formal bible studies I think.


#15

[quote=CollegeKid]I’m going to have to do some formal bible studies I think.
[/quote]

Get yourself a copy of the 2nd edition of the Catechism of the Catholic Church too. :slight_smile:


#16

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