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July 24, 2007 / vivator

Priesthood of the Old and New Covenants

In the New Testament, Greek word diatheke translated as covenant (RSV, NIV) or as testament (KJV) appear in a number of places (Matthew 26:28, Mark 14:24, Luke 1:72, 22:20, Acts 3:25, 7:8, Romans 9:4, 11:27, 1 Corinthians 11:25, 2 Corinthians 3:6, 14, Galatians 3:15, 17, 4:24, Ephesians 2:12, Hebrews 7:22, 8:6, 8 – 10, 9:4, 15 – 17, 20, 10:16, 29, 12:24, 13:20 and Revelation 11:19.).   God made covenant of circumcision (Acts 7:8) and promise (Galatians 3:17) with Abraham and covenant of Law with Moses (Galatians 4:24).   Christ established a new covenant (Matthew 26:28, Luke 22:20, 1 Corinthians 11:25) on the night he was betrayed and of which He is the mediator (Hebrews 9:15).  Paul wrote that he was minister of this new covenant (2 Corinthians 3:6).   Here the old covenant refers to the one God made with Moses, and it is to be replaced with the new and better covenant of Christ (Hebrews 8:6), prophesied in Jeremiah 31:33-34 (cf. Hebrews 8:8-12, 10:16-17).  The old covenant has sanctuary, sacrifice, high priest, priests and Levites and so does the new covenant but they take new and better forms.   The following Table compares the two covenants.

  Old Covenant New Covenant
Sanctuary

Worldly and man-made (Exodus 25:8, Hebrews 9:1)

Heavenly and not man-made (Hebrews 8:5, 9:11, 24)

High Priest

Male descendant of Aaron, mortal (Leviticus 21:10, Hebrews 7:23)

Jesus Christ (Hebrews 9:11), Immortal (Hebrews 7:24)

Priests

Hereditary, male descendant of Aaron (Leviticus 21:1)

Non-hereditary, chosen from among the nations (Isaiah 66:21) to be bishops and presbyters.

Levites

Hereditary, males of the tribe Levi

Non-hereditary, chosen among the nations (Isaiah 66:21) as deacons

Sacrifice to be offered

Animals (lamb, goat).  They cannot take away sins (Hebrews 10:4, 11)

Jesus Christ, un-blemish (Hebrews 9:14, 1 Peter 1:19) Paschal (1 Corinthians 5:7) Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29).

Frequency of sacrifice

High Priest offered atonement sacrifice in the inner sanctuary once a year (Exodus 30:10, Hebrews 9:7). Priests offered sacrifice in the outer sanctuary (Hebrews 9:6) daily and continuously (Exodus 29:38, Hebrews 10:11).

Jesus Christ offered Himself as sacrifice (Hebrews 9:12) once for all (Hebrews 9:26, 10:12, 14) in heavenly sanctuary.Priests without sacrifice are not priests.  Without violating Christ unique and single sacrifice, bishops and presbyters make present the same sacrifice He offered on the cross when they celebrate Mass daily.

General priesthood

All Israelites (Exodus 19:6)

All believers of Christ (1 Peter 2:5,9, Revelation 1:6)

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3 Comments

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  1. wopod / Apr 12 2011 8:40 pm

    Victor you are so wrong in this. (Regarding yuou earlier comunication on the other blog posting) You accuse me of making the bible contradict itself yet you reject the bible’s own plain and simple teaching laid out consistently in several entire chapters in Hebrews and then claim couple of OT passages (which we will look at in a moment) give you license to do so!

    Come on Victor…Who is the one making the bible contradict? You continue to refuse to engage the plain and simple Hebrews passages (understandably as they are devastating to the idea of the catholic priesthood). This major and consistent theme is plainly worded (thus it is not a matter of interpretation but of simply ‘do I believe it or not?’ – clearly you do not). This runs as the central theme through Hebrews (from Chapter 4 vs 14 to the end of chapter 10). The better covenant and better priesthood section 7 vs 22-28 that I quoted is merely a central section to the whole span of this central argument in Hebrews. But, again, you refuse to engage these passages just seeking work around to the plain and simple text as it appears in scripture.

    Regarding the OT passage you quote as justification for the continuation of the earthly priestly ministry – Jeremiah 33 17-22 is very difficult to force round to a justification of catholic priesthood as the perpetual Levitical priesthood. “18 nor will the priests, who are Levites, ever fail to have a man to stand before me continually to offer burnt offerings, to burn grain offerings and to present sacrifices.”

    For example do catholic priests offer burnt offerings? (we can find out what burnt offerings are throughout the Pentateuch – none of them seem to bear relation to what Catholic priests are doing). If you are to use this to justify continuing priesthood that same “continuing” is in reference to the burnt offering as well as the priest offering it! You had better get your priests to go back to Leviticus Chapter 1 and start selecting a male without defect from the flock and present it at the entrance of the temple that no longer exists, according to the very clear biblical stipulations as to what a burnt offering really is – sprinkling of blood burning of the fat, etc etc. You may say ah but that part has been fulfilled by Christ. Well not a very good passage to use for the continuing catholic priesthood then is it! You are trying to argue that the earthly priestly ministry perpetual and it is I who am trying to argue it is fulfilled! If the offering is fulfilled by Christ then strong indication the offerer is fulfilled by Christ also – as indeed it is.

    Go back to the very passage you chose– it speaks of Christ – the “priests” plural will be represented by “a man” (singular) to stand before me (i.e. truly before God in the true temple in heaven). Newsflash – Christ is that man and indeed he is before God even now. It speaks of a heavenly ministry of “one man”, not the earthly ministry of “many priests”. The very passage you chose to support the ongoing earthly ministry actually speaks of its fulfillment not continuation! Victor, with respect, it is you who need to read scripture more carefully).

    Anyway allowing for this your suggestion that the bible itself proclaims that earthly priesthood will continue-…. if you are to argue in this way you must be consistent. If you take these passages to prove a continuing and perpetual earthly priestly ministry from such verses, then you must take almost identical passages regarding circumcision (Genesis 17)- spoken of as perpetual and continuing – an ‘everlasting covenant’ (see vs 7-19) (so are Catholics circumcised?). You need to consider the temple which is spoken of as permanent and perpetual Ezekiel 37 vs 26, 1 Kings 9 vs 3 and Isaiah 56 vs 5 (the latter more indirectly) (where is the Catholic temple I would love to see it?) and so on.

    In all these things we see an identical picture in scripture. The earthly temple (just a shadow) is fulfilled as Christ enters the true Temple in heaven for us and we all become temples of his spirit (1 Cor 3 vs 16, Ephesians 2 vs 19-22). There is no more need of an earthly temple made by human hands – but we receive instead a temple (in both senses) whose maker and builder is God. In this form, the temple is indeed perpetual and endures beyond the physical destruction of the earthly temple in AD 70.

    Likewise circumcision done by the hands of men (just a shadow – Ephesians 2 vs 11) is fulfilled as Christs work which sanctifies us and sets us apart in the family of God for we therefore need not receive an earthly circumcision, done by the hands of men, but a circumcision of the heart by the Spirit (Romans 2 vs 29). In this form circumcision is perpetual and endures for all believers.

    Finally it is the same for priesthood. The levitical priesthood with its repetitious sacrifices is fulfilled in Christ our great high priest whose once and for all sacrifice ends all sacrifices (Ephesians 2 vs 15) and whose once and for all perpetual priesthood spells closure for the earthly priesthood made up of sinful imperfect men performing imperfect repetitious sacrifices) (Hebrews 4 vs 14 – 10 vs 39). Thus having no more need of a select group of physical priests we all receive a spiritual priesthood for all who are in Christ – in Him we become a kingdom of priests (Revelation 1 vs 6).

    So in all three cases, temple, circumcision and priesthood, (and there are others), they all remain perpetual and continuing though the earthly shadows of all three are no longer required as they have been replaced and fulfilled by the heavenly realities thereof.

    The physical temple, made by the hands of men, is destroyed but as our great high priest remains in the true temple of God and, through and in him, we all become temples of the Spirit by the hands and work of God.

    The physical circumcision is ended, as all who believe receive a circumcision which is inward rather than outward, again from the hands of God not from the hands of men, a circumcision of the heart by the spirit. The outward priesthood is abolished. Christ is our great high priest and from his hands, not from the hands of sinful men do, we receive all that his priestly ministry has obtained for us. We ourselves also all receive a priesthood which is not outward, consisting of robes ceremonies and rituals conducted by a select few, but an inward spiritual priesthood of all believers.

    In all case we have the opportunity to trust in either option – the stuff that comes via the hands of men or stuff that comes via the hands of God.

    Conclusion
    The whole point of the priesthood is not to have a priesthood! Although the visual tangable nature of the continued priestly ministry and suggestion of authority therein is such easy source of false comfort for us all, it has always been easier to walk by sight than by faith. But the point is not to have a priest for the sake of having a preist. Priesthood has a function. The levitical priesthood’s function was to make atonement (now done in Christ), provide for the forgiveness of the people (now done in Christ), minister and make sacrifices (now done in Christ).

    Put it this way. If your ministry was the provision of water to a thirsty people and then somehow, through some breakthrough medical technology, those were changed so that they would never thirst again….. What a waste of time it would be to continue in the ‘provision of water’ ministry! Likewise what kind of fool would say ‘ ah but the provision of water ministry was supposed to be perpetual’! It IS perpetual, the people have been already provided eternal water!

    Truly catholic priests, in categorical and in terms of their spiritual position (I am sure practically they can provide some level of support, advice or friendship to people who come with various issues or problems on occasion) are occupying the most redundant, unnecessary and useless mode of employment in human history. Truly they need to find a proper job – (and get married!).

    Further reading: Eph 2 gives a good overview as how Christ has abolished in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations.

    • vivator / Apr 14 2011 5:54 pm

      Wopod,
      It seems you do not know how to read prophecy. You wrote that Catholic priests cannot fulfill prophecy of Jeremiah 33:17-22 because they never offer bunt offering etc. If this is how you analyze a prophecy then Christ cannot fulfill the famous prophecy in Isaiah 7:14 (cited in Matthew 1:23). According to Isaiah 7:15 the child shall eat curds and honey when he knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good. Where does the Scripture say that Christ ate curds and honey? Isaiah 7:16-17 further says that the Lord will bring the king of Assyria before the he knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good. Yet when Christ was born the Assyrian kingdom was already long gone. Using your approach then you should say that Isaiah 7:14 cannot be fulfilled in Christ. In the same way, using your approach, you should say that Matthew 2:18 does not fulfill Jeremiah 31:15 because it mentions Ra’mah, not Bethlehem. Micah 5:2 was fulfilled in Matthew 2:6 – you should deny it once you read Micah 5:5-6 and applying your approach. You should try to use your approach of prophecy to analyze all prophecies in the Bible and see for yourself how it simply does not work. Your argument from circumcision is poor one – the Jews to this day still practice it. Obviously the Temple spoken in Ezekiel 37 vs 26, 1 Kings 9 vs 3 and Isaiah 56 vs 5 is the heavenly Temple. Catholics do not have Temple, though in every church we have Tabernacle, which is a copy of the one in heaven. I think you did not read my last post on the Eucharist which answer your objections stated in you post.
      Coming back to Jeremiah 33:17-21, those verses convey prophecy that Levitical priests will continue offering sacrifices forever. Isaiah 66:21 is also prophecy that God will take some as priests and levites from all the nations. You are entitled to disagree with the way I understand how it is fulfilled but you should at least propose yours. Well, perhaps you did write “the “priests” plural will be represented by “a man” (singular) to stand before me (i.e. truly before God in the true temple in heaven).” Where does Scripture say that Christ represent them? Remember priests without sacrifice are not priests. What you wrote is basically defending Reformer man-made tradition that we don’t need special priesthood other than that of Christ and general priesthood (Catholics also believe in these two).

    • ONE TRUE FAITH / Oct 3 2014 10:34 pm

      Wopod,

      In the OT, could a lay Jew make atonement for their own sins??? Throughout the book of Leviticus atonement ceremonies what does it say??? “The priest shall make atonement”. In the OT, there are “forever” references (Exodus 29:7-9, Jeremiah 33:17-22, Isaiah 66:21, Malachi 2:4-7, and Malachi 3:3) and a covenant with Levi. Are you saying GOD does not mean what He says and keep His promises ???

      Further, if you are correct there is to be “no ministerial priesthood”, then why would Jesus in John 20:22-23 tell the apostles “whose sins you forgive are forgiven them and whose sins you retain are retained” ??? Either GOD does not keep His word or promises OR GOD does keep His promises and is very consistent. Which is it ???

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