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Priesthood, book by H. H. Pope Shenouda III

19- The laying on of hands

 

[17] The Deacons Were Not Canonical Until The Disciples Laid Their Hands On Them

When the Church needed the service of the new deacons, did they volunteer themselves, or submit an application to be appointed?

It is obvious that this was never the case, but we see that the apostles set the rule for selection as stated by the Book of Acts;

(Acts 6:3) "Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business;

Here we should also ask a couple of questions

1) Was it sufficient to just select the most qualified?

St-Takla.org Image: H. H. Pope Shenouda breathing on Fr. Kirellos Kolta of Saint TaklaHaymanout Church, Alexndria, Egypt, during his ordination as a Hegomen. And seen in the back Father Monk Cherubim Al-Bakomy صورة في موقع الأنبا تكلا: قداسة البابا شنوده ينفخ النفخة المقدسة في وجه قدس أبونا كيرلس قلته كاهن كنيسة القديس تكلاهيمانوت، الإسكندريةـ مصر، خلال رسامته قمصا. ويظهر في الخلف قدس أبونا الراهب شاروبيم الباخومي

St-Takla.org Image: H. H. Pope Shenouda breathing on Fr. Kirellos Kolta of Saint TaklaHaymanout Church, Alexndria, Egypt, during his ordination as a Hegomen. And seen in the back Father Monk Cherubim Al-Bakomy

صورة في موقع الأنبا تكلا: قداسة البابا شنوده ينفخ النفخة المقدسة في وجه قدس أبونا كيرلس قلته كاهن كنيسة القديس تكلاهيمانوت، الإسكندريةـ مصر، خلال رسامته قمصا. ويظهر في الخلف قدس أبونا الراهب شاروبيم الباخومي

2) Did any say; here we found and elected the most qualified, let them start serving?

We see that non of the elected were authorised to commence their work until the apostles had laid their hands on them.

Even the deaconship, no one can carry out its duties without canonical ordination.

(Acts 6:5) And the saying pleased the whole multitude. And they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch,

Stephen was not only full of the Holy Spirit, but he was also full of faith, however he still needed ordination.

Stephen was a miracle performer with the gift of healing, but still required the Laying on of Hands.

(Acts 6:8) And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people.

[18] The Church Is Of Principal Importance As The Only Channel To Canonise The Ministers

Here we see that the being full of the Spirit and wisdom, full of faith and power, capable of performing miracles did not automatically admit Saint Stephen to assume the grade and the duties of deaconship. He had to first be canonised and sent by the Church. He had to receive the Laying on of Hands to assume his office and obtain the authority to serve.

Hence it is not for those who desire it or those who seek after the position.

[19] The Laying On Of Hands Was Carried Out By The Apostles And Not By The Congregation

Here we see that the Laying on of Hands was not a congregational matter, but rather hierarchical and apostolic.

(Acts 6:6) whom they set before the apostles; and when they had prayed, they laid hands on them.

Was it possible for any of these candidates full of the Holy Spirit and Wisdom dare say We are all Kings and Priests? as regrettably uttered, nowadays, by some less worthy to Saint Stephen.

It is remarkable to observe these deserving and highly qualified candidates submitted to the scriptural truth in order to receive this gift from the Church hierarchy and the apostles who said: whom we may appoint over this business

[20] Qualifications And Talents Are Not A Substitution For The Priestly Authority

Qualifications and talents and gifts do not suffice for the mission.

Saint Stephen was a great preacher as well as a learned scholar in the Word of God and was capable of debating and convincing all the assemblies, which resisted him;

(Acts 6:10) And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke.

But this talent and ability needed legitimisation by the Church as uttered by Saint Paul:

(Rom 10:15) And how shall they preach unless they are sent? This is also what Christ the Chief Priest said to His disciples: (John 20:21) So Jesus said to them again, "Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you."

And in the same way they were sent, they in turn sent the other servants, passing on to them the same Spirit and authority, as we have discussed this issue before here on st-takla.org in other sections. Hence, the Laying on of hands flowed uninterrupted from one generation to the next.

[21] Laying On Of Hands Is Not Limited To The Ordination Of Deacons, But Also To Higher Offices

Saint Paul the great apostle saw Christ on the road to Damascus, and was called chosen vessel.

(Acts 9:15) But the Lord said to him, "Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel.

Saint Paul was not only called by the Son, but also by the Father Himself:

(Gal 1:15-16) But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb and called me through His grace, {16} to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood,

As well Saint Paul was also selected and called by the Holy Spirit:

(Acts 13:2) As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, "Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them."

Even though Saint Paul was selected by the Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, he did not assume his service until he gained approval through the legitimate channels of the Church, and The Laying On Of hands.

The Holy Spirit called Paul and Barnabas to serve, and indeed the Holy Spirit did not want to send them until they received the Laying on of Hands

(Acts 13:2) As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, "Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them."

Reading the above verse one could ask God, Lord why didn't You send them Yourself? Who are we, but servants selected by You as You selected them. What do You mean by saying Now separate to Me? Who are we to separate for you? Since you are the Sovereign, You could have sent them as You wish.

But God still says that, Even if I called them, you are the legal channels which I appointed, you are the stewards of My Mysteries.

(1 Cor 4:1) Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.

Here I reiterate, It was necessary for these apostles, called by the Spirit, to go first via the Church, even if they were called directly by God. It was necessary for them to receive the Laying on of Hands from the apostolic authority in the Church, i.e. from Gods vicars.

Did Saul of Tarsus argue against the authority of the Church. Did he ever say We are all kings and Priests? Did he object saying But I am a selected vessel called by the Holy Spirit and separated by God from my mothers womb?

Definitely not, but on the contrary, Saul in humility, bowed his head, to receive the apostolic Laying on of Hands from the apostles who preceded him, in obedience to the Holy Spirit.

(Acts 13:3) Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away.

Their commission by the Church was considered as that of the Holy Spirit:

(Acts 13:4) So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus.

Hence the Laying on of Hands is also a prerequisite for the new apostles as much as it is for the deacon.

The Laying on of Hands was for exclusively performed by the apostles and not for the congregation in general.

The Holy Spirit also addressed the apostles and not the congregation.

[22] The Laying On Of Hands Was Accompanied by Fasting And Praying

They did not only Lay on the Hands but they also fasted and prayed. It is obvious that such prayers were the first canonical rites of ordinations (the liturgical prayers).

The Scriptures tell us about the appointment of Saint Paul and saint Barnabas:

(Acts 14:23) So when they had appointed elders in every church, and prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed.

This is why we fast and conduct a liturgical prayer as part of the ordination rites.

[23] Laying On Of Hands Was Accompanied by Special Utterance Commensurate To The Grade

This is an obvious matter. The Lord Jesus Christ, uttered special and holy utterance when He ordained the Apostles granting them the Spirit and priesthood:

(John 20:20-23) When He had said this, He showed them His hands and His side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. {21} So Jesus said to them again, "Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you." {22} And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit. {23} "If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained." (Mat 16:18) "And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.

(Mat 18:18) "Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

[24] The Sentence Now Separate To Me Denotes That Priesthood Is For A Select Group And Not For All

Those Separated for God received the calling, the selection, the commission and the Laying on of Hands which was symbolised by the holy anointing in the Old Testament.

The Lord called the Apostles Himself, He sent them Himself, He granted the Authority by Himself and He entrusted the Church to them.

In turn, they commissioned and sent others handing over to their successors the same authority. Had this not occurred, the Church would have withered away after the first generation. But the church proceeded forward from the apostolic era, to continue its service, mission, authority and laying of hands from one generation to the next.


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