16 November, 2010

Origin of the Catholic Priesthood

There can be no doubt in studying the primitive Church that the priesthood developed from this origin. The proof of the distinct priesthood rests upon the cross of Calvary. If what Jesus did from the Cross was an atoning sacrifice for mankind and if the Eucharist is the ongoing sacrifice of the Mass then it is necessary for a sacerdotal ecclesiastical priesthood as sacrifice and priesthood are terms that depend on one another throughout the Scriptures. The priesthood gains its veracity from the fact that the Eucharist is a part of the Church from the beginning making it a necessary part of the Church.

We can see the prophecy of the sacerdotal priesthood of the New Covenant in the writings of the prophet Isaiah. He teaches that in the Messianic Kingdom that priests will be called even from among the non-Jews which sets apart the New Covenant Church from the Old Covenant priesthood.

Isaiah 66:21 (King James Version)
21And I will also take of them for priests and for Levites, saith the LORD.

This priesthood is to fulfill the prophesy of Malachi for a permanent and continuous sacrifice:

Malachi 1:11 (King James Version)
11For from the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same my name shall be great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense shall be offered unto my name, and a pure offering: for my name shall be great among the heathen, saith the LORD of hosts.

The following verses refer to the sacrifice of the bread and the wine by Melchisedec which scholars agree is the prototype of Christ. This also refers to the last supper where Jesus orders the repetition of the Mass.

Genesis 14:18 (New King James Version)
18 Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High.

Hebrews 5:5-10 (King James Version)
5So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee.
6As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.
7Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared;
8Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;
9And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;
10Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec.

So, it can be and has been said that the Church has received the ongoing sacrifice of our Lord and that as a result there is a sacerdotal priesthood necessarily separate from the priesthood of all believers that offers this continuous sacrifice to the Father of the Eucharist. As a result the priesthood has been changed by Christ and His sacrifice from the Old Covenant priesthood into the one prophesied in Scriptures by the prophets Isaiah and Malachi. So, in conclusion, if the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross was a atoning sacrifice for mankind then the priesthood is undeniable the priesthood prophesied and made necessary by Christ. We find this evidence in the colloquy of Capernaum and in the Gospel accounts of the last Supper. God bless!

In Christ
Fr. Joseph


  1. Once again, I couldn't have said it better myself, Father Joseph. I do wish, however, that you'd cite your Scripture from Roman Catholic Bibles and not that King Jimmy thing, as I said to you a while back, but I do understand your reasoning as you told me back then. Still, . . . . God Bless you always. Mike.

  2. In looking for the history of the Catholic priesthood, I came upon this article. I am trying to find the date where this system was officially set up to practice as it now does. I heard from a lecture years ago that it was in 508 AD and I am trying to verify if this date is accurate or not.

    In addressing your article:

    1 Peter 2:9 calls every believer a priest, which fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah in all who accept Jesus as Lord and Savior. Nothing from Scripture allows the setting up of an earthly system of priests after Jesus sacrificial death, but every man answers to Christ alone, as stated; "Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people." Hebrews 2:17

    In the gifts given to the church (1 Cor 12, Eph 4, etc) there are pastors/teachers, prophets, healers, interpretation of tongues, miracles, word of wisdom, etc, but nothing concerning priestly ministry or any hierarchical system. Confession and repentance are to Christ only, who alone can forgive(Acts 4:12). The churches have a duty in regards to the need to discipline in matters that affect the church body, but not the authority to absolve individuals of sin. Only Jesus has that power and authority. Nowhere in scripture do we see examples of the Apostles or even the old testament priests forgiving the sins of anyone. Sins were confessed upon the lamb which was then slain. The priest only officiated as required to transfer the blood (guilt) into the holy place, which removed them from the sinner and placed them on Christ who would die for all sin. In his sermon on the day of Pentecost, Peter does not forgive anyone, but points them to Jesus as the only means of being saved from sin. Jesus taught all believers to pray to "our Father in heaven" for forgiveness.(Matt 6:12)

    The promise to all who believe is that they will be presented "faultless in the presence of His Glory with exceeding joy." (Jude 24) Only Christ can cleanse the repenting soul of sin and present them faultless. No man is given this authority. Jesus invites all to “come unto me...”, not to another man, who is also erring. Only our Creator/Redeemer can save us, and we are invited to come to Him personally and directly, by faith. The work of pastors/teachers is to lead people to this understanding and faith. If I have wronged you, I should come and ask your forgiveness and then pray for forgiveness and accept the promised forgiveness and cleansing from Christ. (I John 1:9) No human is given the place of standing between the soul and his Savior. We come to God through Him, and not through another.

    R. Whiteman

  3. I would suggest to all that the real issue in settling disputes throughout all salvation history is not absolute doctrine given by God and it's application to mankind. The disputes arise from a particular degree of faithlessness or unwillingness to trust in Jesus Christ entirely. The Bible quotes Jesus saying "I will build MY CHURCH and the gates of hell will not prevail against it". In a nut shell when Jesus says he will build His Church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it, cases of disputed doctrines, are fundamentally cases closed. Jesus would not, could not give His Church to mankind without an absolute, infallible, divine characteristic of Himself, safeguarded in His Church through all time, that would not or could not be a guarantee to solve doctrinal disputes. Otherwise, Jesus falls short of his own institution and all Christian disputes becomes a matter of personal opinions without any absolute assurance of authenticity. Then we would be the builders of the church according to our own belief systems. Please understand I'm not talking about impeccability but Divine Infallibility. Many people, yes even some Church leaders, in His Church since day one have proven not to have been impeccable. In fact everyone to some degree is not impeccable. However, His same Church has manifested, since day one, at the same time in the midst of sinful human beings, real identifiable saints. Without His Infallible Church, Christianity can be reduce to "wishful thinking". That is, one opinion as good as another. That's not the Jesus Christ I believe in, nor the Church He Builds to rely on for interpreting Truth. There is only one Church I know of to have always obtained, then later defined as an Universal Infallibility characteristic in all her defined doctrines, with an unbroken continuity since Jesus Christ instituted HIS CHURCH.That Church is the Catholic Church. It's source comes from," I will Build MY CHURCH and the gates of hell will not prevail against it". Disputed cases closed. It's really in essence that simple. However, the question still remains. Do you really believe entirely in Jesus Christ and all that He says He will do. Or does His Church essentially rely on the dependence us human beings and our fallible ability to interpret truth? I choose the Catholic Church and it's unbroken infallible, doctrinal characteristic, given by no other than the One Who " BUILDS HIS CHURCH", Jesus Christ.


    Bill H

  4. Indeed! Thank you for your commentary.