The elders of the community should be called in to pray over the sick person. In the early Church the elders or ‘presbyters’ (presbuteroi, presbyteroi) exercised leadership in the community; they also taught and preached. They were the predecessors of our ‘priests’ who now have this leadership role. But there were as yet no priests, as we understand the term now, in the early church. Or rather, there was only one High Priest, Jesus Christ (see the Letter to the Hebrews). via Sacred Space.

Of course, this admission makes no difference to Catholic theologians, since what matters most to them is their tradition. Their tradition supercedes the Bible, for it is, in their view, the official interpretation of the Bible and the subsequent development of the Roman Catholic Church’s practices. They also readily admit that baptism in the first century was immersion. But things are different now, and that is a good thing.

This is one of the main differences between the Catholic religion and those who want to follow Jesus according to the New Testament, as the model for all faith and practice. We also admit that things are different now, but that is a bad thing. What is needed is to return to the way things were done in the first century, to “that pattern of teaching [Christians] were entrusted to” and that must be obeyed (Rom 6:17 NET).

As the quote above says, we have to this day only one High Priest, Jesus Christ. But there is more: It must also be said that the Lord “made [the church] a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen” (Rev 1:6 ESV). Either we all are priests to God, or none of us is.

2 thoughts on “Striking admission: no Catholic priests in the early church

  1. I have always (at least since I learned it) loved what Peter says about the “priesthood” of believers in 1 Peter 2:5,9. It’s so plain a person has to close their eyes on purpose to not see it.

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