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Priesthood, book by H. H. Pope Shenouda III

3- Biblical References for those who deny Priesthood

 

First objection

The objectors rely and produce the following biblical references:

(1 Pet 2:9) But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;

They interpret this verse to mean that all are priests, and there is no specific rank of priests!

They also use the words of the Book of Revelation:

(Rev 1:6) and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father.

But the question at hand is this:

“Is the rank of priesthood available to all? Or are there a special category of people who are set aside for this priestly function?”

In actual fact, the phrase used by Saint Peter says:

St-Takla.org           Image: An Arabic Bible, click to go to the Arabic Bible Search صورة: الكتاب المقدس باللغة العربية، اضغط للدخول لصفحة البحث في الكتاب المقدس

St-Takla.org Image: An Arabic Bible, click to go to the Arabic Bible Search

صورة في موقع الأنبا تكلا: الكتاب المقدس باللغة العربية، اضغط للدخول لصفحة البحث في الكتاب المقدس

(1 Pet 2:9) But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; is synonymous with what God told the Jews in the Old Testament (Exo 19:6) 'And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.' These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel."

Most definitely these words did not mean that all the people were priests and were to carry out the known duties of the priests.

This misinterpretation was definitely rejected by God in the case of Kooreh, Nathan and Erbium, as we have discussed this issue before here on st-takla.org in other sections. Who used the same line of argument against Moses and Aaron:

(Num 16:3) They gathered together against Moses and Aaron, and said to them, "You take too much upon yourselves, for all the congregation is holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the LORD?"

And despite the fact that the whole community was holy, God chose particular people to be His priests, and did the same in the New Testament.

So the term priesthood was indiscriminately a common right for all, without differentiation.

While the same verse exists in the Old Testament, priesthood was not something held in common by all rather the contrary, for God singled out Aaron and his sons for this special purpose.

God, in no uncertain terms, dealt with any person from them who dared to unlawfully practice priesthood, even to the extent of death.

Only the priests were to offer the sacrifices, raise incense and perform the other functions of priesthood.

No one else ever dared to do any of these things, not even the king, who was referred to as 'the Messiah of the Lord”.

Despite the fact that the entire nation was "A priestly kingdom” according to the Word of God, the Lord still declared such prohibitions and instituted punishment for those who disobeyed.

So what is meant by:

(Rev 1:6) and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen. Is priesthood then a common right of all?

Obviously it is not, as this verse could not be taken literally to mean that we are all kings and priests.

Please note that it does not say 'we are all priests', but rather "kings and priests".

It is obvious that the word 'kings' here, is not to be taken literally, for we cannot all be kings, wearing crowns, sitting on thrones, ruling peoples and being referred to as “Your Majesty!”

Therefore, in as much as the people are not literally 'kings', then they are not literally 'priests' either.

The same applies to the expression, "a kingdom of priests", which I have explained was not taken literally when it was uttered in the Old Testament.

So what does the reference to the priesthood in both these expressions mean?

This question brings us to the spiritual and metaphorical meaning of priesthood.


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