Priesthood of all Believers?

Can someone please explain the theology of the priesthood of all believers, and how the Church’s teaching on this varies from main-stream Protestant understandings?

Thanks in advance.

The phrase originates in

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation. A people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; [1Peter 2:9]

This is the fulfillment of the prophecy of Exodus 19:6:

you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation

The role of a priest is to offer sacrifice. This is where the Catholic understanding differs from the protestants. Protestants believe that Paul’s teaching of “once for all” means that Jesus offered his Sacrifice, and that is it. Catholics believe that “once for all” means that this Sacrifice is always re-presented in the Mass, so that “all” may truly participate, in accordance with the prophecy of Malachi:

For from the rising of the sun even to the going down of the same my name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense shall be offered to my name, and a pure [ie, bloodless] offering: for my name shall be great among the heathen, said the LORD of hosts [Malachi 1:11]

The Catholic Mass is the fulfillment of both prophecies. There is noting in the protestant faiths which can compare.

There is one authentic fulfilled Priesthood. The Priesthood of Jesus Christ.

There are different “shares” into or “participations” of or “koinonia” of that ONE Priesthood of Jesus’.

*]The priesthood of all believers (that’d be Baptized people like you and I).
*]The ministerial priesthood. That is like your Priest at the Parish.
*]The Episcopacy. The Bishop’s office. An example of that is your diocesan Bishop.

In fulfillment of Exodus 19 (as David already appropriately pointed out), we see St. Peter teach us . . . .

1st PETER 2:7-9 7 To you therefore who believe, he is precious, but for those who do not believe, “The very stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner,” 8 and “A stone that will make men stumble, a rock that will make them fall”; for they stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. 9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

CCC 1141 The celebrating assembly is the community of the baptized who, "by regeneration and the anointing of the Holy Spirit, are consecrated to be a spiritual house and a holy priesthood, that through all the works of Christian men they may offer spiritual sacrifices."9 This “common priesthood” is that of Christ the sole priest, in which all his members participate:10
[INDENT]Mother Church earnestly desires that all the faithful should be led to that full, conscious, and active participation in liturgical celebrations which is demanded by the very nature of the liturgy, and to which the Christian people, “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a redeemed people,” have a right and an obligation by reason of their Baptism.11 [/INDENT]

Bold Scripture & CCC above mine

I hope this helps.

God bless.


Before Moses, every male head of household was a priest and could atone for his own sin and the sin of his own family. We see that during the first passover when the head of the household was able to sacrifice his own lamb.

Israel worshiped the golden calf at Mt. Sinai and God took away the priesthood from the heads of the household and gave it to the Levites who did not worship the false god. From that point until Christ, one had to go to a Levitical priest for atonement.

With the sacrifice of Christ, God has restored the common priesthood of all believers but only for sins which do not transgress the New Covenant - venial sins - sins of omission and such for which we can pray and be forgiven on our own

Sins which transgress the covenant - mortal sins - require a ministerial priest who stands in the place of Christ.


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