Roman Catholic Priests - What does the Bible say about the office of Priest?
Where did the Roman Catholic Priests get their title? There are three ranks of priests in both the Old and New Testaments, commonly referred to as high priests, ministerial priests, and universal priests.
At the time of the Exodus, the high priest was Aaron. Exodus 30:30 - "And thou shalt anoint Aaron and his sons, and consecrate them, that they may minister unto me in the priest's office" (KJV). Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar were Aaron's sons and the ministerial priests. The people of Israel were the universal priests.
Jesus is the high priest in the New Testament. Hebrews 3:1- "Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus" (KJV). The ministerial priests are Christ's ordained ministers of the gospel, and the universal priests are the entire Christian people.
Priests were publicly consecrated and took part in many ceremonies before taking office. They were washed in water, anointed with oil, and clothed with holy garments. Exodus 29:8-9 says, "And thou shalt bring his sons, and put coats upon them. And thou shalt gird them with girdles, Aaron and his sons, and put the bonnets on them: and the priest's office shall be theirs for a perpetual statute: and thou shalt consecrate Aaron and his sons" (KJV). Linen breeches extended from loin to thigh. The anointing of oil and blood from a sacrificial ram were sprinkled on Aaron, his sons, and their garments.
After the ceremony, the priests were not allowed to leave the tabernacle for seven days.
Leviticus 8:33 says, "And ye shall not go out of the door of the tabernacle of your congregation in seven days, until the days of your consecration be at an end: for seven days shall he consecrate you" (KJV).
Duties of the priest included blessing the people, keeping charge of the tabernacle, purifying the unclean, encouraging the people when they went to war, and keeping the sacred fire always burning on the altar. Special laws regarding their own conduct were to be strictly followed. No divorced or improper person could be married by the priest. No strong drink or wine could be consumed in the tabernacle. Leviticus 10:8-9 says, "And the Lord spake unto Aaron, saying, Do not drink wine nor strong drink, thou, nor thy sons with thee, when ye go into the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations" (KJV).
Not all priests acted in a godly manner. Some were greedy and others corrupters of the law. Strong drink and wine were often drunk to excess and clouded judgment.
Hebrews 10:11-12 speaks of Christ as the High Priest: "And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sin: But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God." (KJV).
The ceremony of Anointing of the Sick is still practiced in the Catholic Church today. Only a bishop or priest can perform the ceremony. The priest lays his hand upon the sick, and prays over them. After the prayer, the anointing with oil takes place. For those who had defiled their souls with mortal sins, penance or confession before the priest is considered necessary. The priest acts as the intercessor between the sinner and God.
Strict standards still exist for those wishing to be married in the Catholic Church. No priest can authorize a second marriage unless the first marriage is declared to be null by competent church authority. If neither partner is Catholic, the Catholic partner must agree to keep his or her Catholic faith, and ensure that any children are baptized and brought up as Catholics.
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