Questions on the the Bible and the priesthood

Questions that were asked when I was a fundamental Baptist:
Where does Bible say God established a special priesthood for the churches that is separate from the priesthood of the believers?
Where does the Bible describe the office of such priests in the early churches?

These are questions I heard many times in IFB churches concerning the Catholic Church.
What are some good responses to these questions?
Thank you!

I guess fundamental Baptists have never heard of the tribe of Levi??? :shrug:

Anyway, here is a link that will give you an indepth look. I would encourage you to bookmark this and refer to for all the questions you have been asking. It is a great resource into Catholic teachings. :slight_smile:

Our Lord Jesus Christ had instructed the disciples about being the Living Bread and that we must eat His Body and drink His Blood in John 6.

At the last supper when He said “This is my Body; This is my Blood…Do this in memory of Me”…that is when he ordained the disciples priests. It is a living memorial!

The Lord has sworn and will not
“You are a priest forever in the manner
of Melchizedek.” Psalm 110:4

A priest is anyone who makes sacrifices for people’s sins. If a priest last forever then his sacrifice last forever. The Eucharist is the sacrifice in the Catholic Church.

Believe it or not, evangelicals read the Bible too,but we recognize that the sacrifice of Christ brought a change. In the OT , a separate priesthood was mandatory because of sin,and sinners could not approach God without.a priestly intermediary. But today that is all changed. The veil of the temple was split in two,signifying that all may enter in the Holy of Holies by the blood of Christ, whereas before this privilege was reserved for the high priest only. Now that sin has has been taken away, every believer serves as a priest before God under the high priesthood of Christ.

There has been a change!

[quote=Genesis 14:18] And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; now he was a priest of God Most High. He blessed him and said, "Blessed be Abram of God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth;…

This was a priest of God Almighty, important because he was NOT a son of Abram. He offered bread and wine (instead of an animal) which foreshadowed the sacrifice that would be offered by a priesthood separate from the one instituted under Aaron in the desert.

[quote=Psalm 110 4] The LORD has sworn and will not change His mind, “You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek.”

The priest, Jesus, will offer the last sacrifice, the last covenant which will explicate sins.

[quote=Hebrews 7:16] who has become such not on the basis of a law of physical requirement, but according to the power of an indestructible life. For it is attested of Him, “YOU ARE A PRIEST FOREVER ACCORDING TO THE ORDER OF MELCHIZEDEK.” For, on the one hand, there is a setting aside of a former commandment because of its weakness and uselessness…

Also, the priests He leaves behind are priests forever, ordination leaves a permanent mark on them.

[quote=James 5:14]"Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders [presbyters] of the Church and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven."123

In this case, ‘‘priest’’ is referred to as ‘‘presbyters’’ which means minister.

"Father’’ came into use by the 400’s for Bishops. Bishops were also called ‘‘Papa’’, a term that currently is used only for the Pope. By the medieval, priests were called Father, whether they belonged to an order or not.

A word about the letter of James: even though it is one of the ‘‘Catholic’’ letters, it is included in the King James Bible. Luther wanted to get rid of them but was stopped by the leaders of his own Church. They are not letters solely of the Catholic Church, they are written to the universal Church. Hence they are titled by the name of the author as opposed to the Pauline letters which were written to a specific Church, such as Galatians or Romans.

There may be support for a special priesthood in Christian churches in the comparison in Jude 11 of certain false teachers to those who perished in Korah’s rebellion, as one of the things Korah and his followers seem to have had a problem with was the special priesthood of Aaron. (Numbers 16) Jude’s comparison of the false teachers to Korah’s rebellion would make a lot of sense, if the false teachers had a problem with a special priesthood in Christian churches.

If there was/is a special priesthood in Christian churches one would expect some mention of special sacrifices, such as were offered by Israel and by pagans. In 1 Corinthians 10:16-21 and 11:17-29, Paul seems to do exactly that when he compares all three types of special sacrifices, the special Christian sacrifice being the blessed cup and broken bread that Christians ate and drank when they met for the Lord’s Supper. When reading 1 Corinthians 10:21, keep in mind that the expression “the table of the Lord” is used elsewhere in the Bible as a synonym for “the altar of the Lord.” (Malachi 1:7)


You ask a lot of good questions! :slight_smile:

Continuing with subject of my previous post about special Christian sacrifices which one might expect to be mentioned in the Bible if there was a special priesthood in the churches…

The author of Hebrews says, “We have an altar, from which they have no right to eat who serve the tabernacle.” (Hebrews 13:10) On this verse, the Catholic Biblical Association’s 1942 publication, A Commentary on the New Testament, page 605, says:

10. Altar in this verse has been interpreted variously of the altar of Calvary, the Eucharistic altar, or the altar of the heavenly sanctuary. All three are but different aspects of the one supreme sacrifice of Christ. From which they have no right to eat who serve the tabernacle, indicates that Christians “eat” of their altar, and the reference seems to be to the Holy Eucharist. See also 1 Cor. 10, 20 f; 11, 23-28. (source)

I know this goes beyond the scope of the original question which only asked for Biblical support for a special priesthood in the churches but, just so you don’t think that a special priesthood offering the Eucharistic sacrifice in the churches is a late invention, an examination of writings of second-century Christians shows that it was well established even then. Justin Martyr, who converted to Christianity about 130 and writing about 155, says:

Hence God speaks by the mouth of Malachi, one of the twelve [prophets], as I said before, about the sacrifices at that time presented by you [Jews]: ‘I have no pleasure in you, saith the Lord; and I will not accept your sacrifices at your hands: for, from the rising of the sun unto 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, saith the Lord: but ye profane it.’ [Malachi 1:10-11] [So] He then speaks of those Gentiles, namely us [Christians], who in every place offer sacrifices to Him, i.e., the bread of the Eucharist, and also the cup of the Eucharist, affirming both that we [Christians] glorify His name, and that you [Jews] profane [it]. (Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho, 41) (source)

Irenaeus, a disciple of Polycarp who himself was a disciple of the Apostle John, writing about 189, similarly says:

  1. Again, [Jesus] giving directions to His disciples to offer to God the first-fruits of His own, created things—not as if He stood in need of them, but that they might be themselves neither unfruitful nor ungrateful—He took that created thing, bread, and gave thanks, and said, “This is My body.” [Matthew 26:26, etc.] And the cup likewise, which is part of that creation to which we belong, He confessed to be His blood, and taught the new oblation of the new covenant; which the Church receiving from the apostles, offers to God throughout all the world, to Him who gives us as the means of subsistence the first-fruits of His own gifts in the New Testament, concerning which Malachi, among the twelve prophets, thus spoke beforehand: “I have no pleasure in you, saith the Lord Omnipotent, and I will not accept sacrifice at your hands. For from the rising of the sun, unto the going down [of the same], My name is glorified among the Gentiles, and in every place incense is offered to My name, and a pure sacrifice; for great is My name among the Gentiles, saith the Lord Omnipotent;”—indicating in the plainest manner, by these words, that the former people [the Jews] shall indeed cease to make offerings to God, but that in every place sacrifice shall be offered to Him, and that a pure one; and His name is glorified among the Gentiles.
    . . .
  2. The oblation of the Church, therefore, which the Lord gave instructions to be offered throughout all the world, is accounted with God a pure sacrifice, and is acceptable to Him; not that He stands in need of a sacrifice from us, but that he who offers is himself glorified in what he does offer, if his gift be accepted. For by the gift both honour and affection are shown forth towards the King; and the Lord, wishing us to offer it in all simplicity and innocence, did express Himself thus: “Therefore, when thou offerest thy gift upon the altar, and shalt remember that thy brother hath ought against thee, leave thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then return and offer thy gift.” [Matthew 5:23-24] (Irenaeus, Against Heresies, 4:17-18) (source)

And, Ignatius of Antioch, taught by the Apostles and writing shortly before his death about 110, indicated a special priesthood, saying, “Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist, which is [administered] either by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it.” (Ignatius of Antioch, To the Smyrneans, 8) (source)

This thread has me reading Revelation! Thanks for the motivation!

A priest is an instrument of God and as such, it is not by their power, but the power of God through them that they can deliver the graces through sacraments. They are the instruments of God.

One anti-Catholic in particular started his conversion process by sitting in the back of mass with the intention of noting how the Mass was non-Christian, only to see how it really fulfills that ‘fullness of truth’ as he was following the Mass through the bible. (guess the guy?)

You can see the priesthood in the book of revelation - (Also the Mass with altar, long white robed folks, slain lambs, readings from scrolls, etc.)

Rev Ch4 2-4 ; 10-11
2 At once I was caught up in spirit.a A throne was there in heaven, and on the throne sat
3 one whose appearance sparkled like jasper and carnelian. Around the throne was a halo as brilliant as an emerald.
4 Surrounding the throne I saw twenty-four other thrones on which twenty-four elders* sat, dressed in white garments and with gold crowns on their heads.b

10 the twenty-four elders fall down before the one who sits on the throne and worship him, who lives forever and ever. They throw down their crowns before the throne, exclaiming:

11“Worthy are you, Lord our God,

to receive glory and honor and power,

for you created all things;

because of your will they came to be and were created.”

source : [](

Rev Ch5 6-14 (This is a description of the Mass, the Altar on Earth is a throne in heaven)
Then I saw standing in the midst of the throne and the four living creatures and the elders, a Lamb* that seemed to have been slain. He had seven horns and seven eyes; these are the [seven] spirits of God sent out into the whole world.c 7He came and received the scroll from the right hand of the one who sat on the throne. 8When he took it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each of the elders held a harp and gold bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of the holy ones. 9They sang a new hymn: 

“Worthy are you to receive the scroll

and to break open its seals,

for you were slain and with your blood you purchased for God

those from every tribe and tongue, people and nation.

10You made them a kingdom and priests for our God,

and they will reign on earth.”d

11 I looked again and heard the voices of many angels who surrounded the throne and the living creatures and the elders. They were countless* in number,e 12and they cried out in a loud voice: 

“Worthy is the Lamb that was slain

to receive power and riches, wisdom and strength,

honor and glory and blessing.”

 13Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, everything in the universe, cry out: 

“To the one who sits on the throne and to the Lamb

be blessing and honor, glory and might,

forever and ever.”

 14The four living creatures answered, “Amen,” and the elders fell down and worshiped. 

source [](

People always wonder why all the kneeling and standing and sitting at Mass...

At Mass we sit and listen, we stand and proclaim and we 'fall down and worship'.

Another place where you see the priesthood is from Jesus where he tells the Apostles that to settle disputes, to go through a process between two folks, then include others, then possibly bring the matter to the 'Church' for an authoritative conclusion. (If there is a Church, one might conclude it is run by priests)

Take care,


Ignatius of Antioch, like the author of Hebrews mentioned in an earlier post, also mentions a church’s altar, which implies special sacrifices, which one would expect if there was a special priesthood, saying:
Take heed, then, to have but one Eucharist. For there is one flesh of our Lord Jesus Christ, and one cup to [show forth ] the unity of His blood; one altar; as there is one bishop, along with the presbytery and deacons, my fellow-servants: that so, whatsoever you do, you may do it according to [the will of] God. (Ignatius of Antioch, To the Philadelphians, 4) (source)

Only adding to the many great post already. In Exodus 19 you see priest going up the mountain. This is before the Levitical priesthood. This along with Melchizedek and Jethro (Moses father) shows that God has always intended for their to be a sacramental priesthood along with the reality that we are a priesthood of all believers as well, who are (as every christian) to make sacrifices. Korah’s rebellion was already mentioned, so I do recommend you reading that passage as well.

St. Paul states that he has been given the ministry of reconciliation. In the King James Bible when the apostles are choosing a successor to Judas it states, “let his Bishopric another take”.

Great answers so far.
Thank you!

Jesus Himself references the altar, when He tells us to leave our offering at the altar, go reconcile with our brother first, and then come back so our offering is pure.

That wasn’t a teaching Jesus was giving for just those under the OT.

St. Paul goes to great lengths to instruct Timothy (in two letters) and Titus about who and how they should ordain men to the priesthood. He instructs them about what to look for in men and how they behave.

It patently clear that not everyone was ordained to this priesthood. It’s silly to argue otherwise.


You stated (parenthetical addition mine for context):

. . . the sacrifice of Christ brought a change (to the office of the priesthood).

Catholics affirm that too.

You also said:

. . . . the sacrifice of Christ brought a change. In the OT , a separate priesthood was mandatory because of sin,and sinners could not approach God without.a priestly intermediary. But today that is all changed. The veil of the temple was split in two,signifying that all may enter in the Holy of Holies by the blood of Christ, whereas before this privilege was reserved for the high priest only.

Then WHY have a priesthood of all believers?

Don’t get me wrong. I am not denying the priesthood of all believers.
I think what you are saying above is a partial truth.

But WHY do you think ANY intermediaries remain in the New Covenant (and WHY would God establish the priesthood of all believers if we no longer need ANY priesthood?)?

Now that sin has has been taken away, every believer serves as a priest before God under the high priesthood of Christ.

Every believer DOES serve as a priest before God (united to Christ’s Priesthood). You are correct in a sense. But WHY do you think all New Covenant priests all have the same share in Christ’s priesthood?

There has been a change!

That is true—there HAS been a change in the priesthood.

But is this “change” . . . . the abolition of differing priestly offices . . . . or . . . . is this “change” a fulfilling and having differing shares in Christ’s High Priestly office instead of a priesthood based upon mere flesh of the Aaronic and Levitical lineage?

God bless.


Then why do we need the Apostles?

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