7- Priesthood

The Sacrament of Priesthood is a holy sacrament through which the bishop lays his hands on the head of the elected candidate, so that the Holy Spirit will descend on him and grant him one of the priestly ranks. He is then given the authority to officiate the Sacraments of the church, doctrines, and others.

 

The word ‘priest’ is designated for a clergyman who spiritually serves people and their needs. The Jewish people referred to the person who offered sacrifices and oblations as a priest. In Christianity, the priest is a member of the priesthood who performs religious rites. The word ‘priest’ is derived from the Hebrew word ‘Kohen’, meaning priest.

The word ogHb (Ooab) in Coptic, meaning ‘priest’, is derived from the Coptic word eqogab (ethoab), meaning saintly or righteous. Hence ‘Ooab’ is given to the priest to signify that he is a righteous man, adorned by holiness and purity.

In Greek, the priesthood is called IeraTIoN (Eration), and the word for priest is eregV (Ereis), meaning minister (of the Sacraments and the congregation)

It is also known in Greek as the “Laying on of hands”, and in Syrian as “Ordination”, and in Arabic as “Anointment”, signifying the granting of the seal of the Holy Spirit on the consecrated person.

Institution of Priesthood

This sacrament was instituted by our Lord Jesus Christ when He chose the twelve of his followers, and consecrated them for ministry, “He called His disciples to Him, and from them He chose twelve whom He named apostles” (Luke 6:13)

These twelve Jesus sent out and commanded them saying: “Preach saying, ‘the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons” (Matthew 10:5-8)

He gave them the authority of absolution and binding: “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” (Matthew 18:18).

After His resurrection He appeared to them in the upper room in Zion and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven, if you retain the sins of any, they are retained” (John 20:22-23).

Only for them He said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19,20)

Only to them He gave the mystery of His Holy Body and Precious Blood, “And when the hour had come, He sat down and the twelve apostles with Him…He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them saying, ‘This is my Body which is given for you do this in remembrance of Me’, likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, ‘This is the new covenant in My Blood, which is shed for you’” (Luke 22:14-20).

 

The honor of Priesthood:

Priesthood is a great honor as it is a consecration of the work with God for the salvation of the souls of the people of God.

Priesthood is a divine call:

“And Jesus went up on the mountain and called to Him those He wanted, and they came to Him. Then He appointed twelve that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach, and to have power to heal sicknesses, and to cast out demons” (Mark 3:13-15)

Divine choice:

“Now it came to pass in those days that Jesus went up to the mountain to pray and continued all night in prayer to God, and when it was day, He called His disciples to Him and from them He chose twelve whom He also named apostles” (Luke 6:12,13)

“You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain” (John 15:16)

Appointment:

“After these things the Lord appointed seventy others also and sent them two by two before His face into every city and place where He Himself was about to go” (Luke 10:1)

Selection:

“As they (disciples) ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Now separate for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ Then having fasted and prayed and laid hands on them, they sent them away” (Acts 13:2, 3). That is why our teacher St. Paul boasted saying, “But when it pleased God who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace to reveal His son in me, that I might preach Him among the gentiles” (Galatians 1:15,16)

Consecration:

“And for their sake I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth” (John 17:19). To sanctify means to consecrate. Christ consecrated Himself for the ministry and our redemption. All the ranks of the priesthood are consecrated for ministry, according to the example of Christ, the High Priest.

Faithfulness and stewardship:

“Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his master will make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes” (Luke 12:42, 43)

“Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the Mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards that one is found faithful” (1 Corinthians 4:1, 2)

Priesthood is a great honour:

No one takes this honour upon himself, this honour is granted and given by God, just as He granted the honour to Aaron. Likewise, Christ did not glorify Himself to become high priest, but the Father said to Him, “You are My Son. Today I have begotten You.” And also, “You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek” (Hebrews 5:4-6)