The priests of the Mosaic Age were descendants of Aaron, the brother of Moses. “And thou
shalt put upon Aaron the holy garments; and thou shalt anoint him, and sanctify him, that he may
minister unto me in the priest’s office. And thou shalt bring his sons, and put coats upon them; and
thou shalt anoint them, as thou didst anoint their father, that they may minister unto me in the
priest’s office: and their anointing shall be to them for an everlasting priesthood throughout their
generations,” (Ex. 40:13-15). Previously, in the Patriarchal Age, there were Levitical priests, and
even priests prior to Levi (e.g. Melchizedek).
In the present Age, all Christians are priests. “But ye are an elect race, a royal priesthood, a
holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that ye may show forth the excellencies of him
who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light: who in time past were no people, but now
are the people of God: who had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy,” (1 Pet. 2:9-
10). Remember that Peter was addressing that statement to “the elect” that is, Christians, members
of the Lord’s church, (see 1 Pet. 1:1ff). Thus, the priesthood in this, the Christian age, consists of
all Christians, rather than members of any tribe or physical family.
As we know, this important truth is not well understood in some of the major denominations.
Our Catholic friends, for example, still cling to the Mosaic concept of a separate priesthood within
the church. They have invented elaborate qualifications and descriptions of duty for their “clergy”
priests. They insist, for instance, that priests may not marry, and are alone qualified to perform
certain acts of worship leadership. Such misplaced notions represent and improper carrying over
of old testament types and shadows into the Christian Age, (cf. Gal. 3-5; Eph. 2:11ff; Col. 2:8-15,
In the New Testament, the Greek word for “priest” is “ἱερεύς” or “hiereus”. We find that
term used when addressing the Jewish priests. For example, in Matthew 8:4, Jesus tells a man he
had just healed to go show himself to the priest (hiereus). Also, in Acts 6:7 we read that a “great
company of” the priests “ἱερεύς” or “hiereus” obeyed the gospel. Hey, similar word is also used
to refer to the high priests of the first century.
These words for “priest” are not the same word which are translated “elder” or “bishop” or
“pastor.” Not every member of the church is an elder, but every member is a priest.
The danger of imposing upon the Lord’s church a clergy or official priesthood which does
not include every member, may be seen in the extremes to which the Catholic Bible goes in
attempting to support such a system. Consider the following comparisons between the Douay-
Rheims “Catholic Bible” and the American Standard Version of 1901:
Titus 1:5 (ASV): For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the
things that were wanting, and appoint elders in every city, as I gave thee charge.
Titus 1:5 (Catholic Bible): For this cause I left thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in
order the things that are wanting, and shouldest ordain priests in every city, as I also appointed
thee. The Greek word for “elder” in this verse is not the word for priests (“heireus”). The Greek
word is “πρεσβύτερος” or “presbuteros.” This word is used in the New Testament to refer to elders
in the local congregation.
1 Tim. 5:17 (ASV): Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honor,
especially those who labor in the word and in teaching.
1 Tim. 5:17 (Catholic Bible): Let the priests that rule well, be esteemed worthy of double
honour: especially they who labour in the word and doctrine. Again, the word “priests” is a
mistranslation of “presbuteros.”
Many other examples could be given. It becomes obvious that in order to support their
doctrine of the priesthood, as they have created it, they have mistranslated many passages of
Scripture. The Bible does not support a Roman Catholic form of the priesthood, for the Bible
teaches that all Christians are priests. All Christians are responsible for offering worship to God,
and may approach him with confidence and authority through our great high priest, Jesus Christ,
– by Robert C. Veil, Jr.