What Paul did not mean by apostle

Paul claims to be an apostle by virtue of his vision/s of Jesus.

He does not claim to be an apostle by virtue of Jesus ordaining him to any priesthood.

He does not claim to be an apostle by virtue of Peter, another of the twelve, or anyone else ordaining him to any priesthood either, though he does want to point out that years after the fact James and Peter and John accepted him (Galatians 2:6-10).

When he refers to apostles (arguably including the woman Junia in Romans 16:7) and deacons (clearly including the woman Phebe in Romans 16:1-2), he does not have any priesthood or ordination to it in mind.

In the pastoral epistles attributed to Paul (but arguably not written by him), where the qualifications of a bishop are listed, no priesthood or ordination to it comes up. Ordination of elders comes up (they are ordained in the KJV of Titus 1:5 anyway) but not ordination to any priesthood. ‘Paul’ does say here that he was ordained an apostle (ordained in the KJV of 1 Timothy 2:7 anyway), but again he says nothing about any priesthood or who it was that ordained him an apostle, if indeed it was anyone but God.

Thus Paul and even ‘Paul’ never mention priesthood or ordination to it.

Furthermore, when Jesus calls the twelve and seventy(two) in the gospel accounts (written after Paul), he is not made to say anything about priesthood or ordination to it. He does ordain the twelve (he ordains them in the KJV of Mark 3:14 anyway), but it is not to any priesthood.

In Acts (also written after Paul), when Matthias is ordained an apostle in place of Judas (ordained in the KJV of Acts 1:22 anyway), it has nothing to do with any priesthood. It has to do with him having been there at Jesus’ baptism, resurrection, and everything in between. That is, Paul would be excluded as a candidate here (but see Acts 14:14). It also has to do with a kind of divination. Matthias is ordained (again in the KJV anyway) as God chooses him by sortition. None of the eleven place their hands on his head to ordain him. Rather, they give a lot to him and lot to another candidate, and the lot falls to Matthias because, it was believed, God made it happen.

Later in Acts, when Peter and John bring the spirit to the baptized Samaritans, something Philip is supposed not to be able to do, there is a power mentioned to be sure. And Peter and John do place their hands on the heads of the Samaritans. But the power they have is not called priesthood. Likewise, when Paul re-baptizes the Ephesian converts of Apollos.

Apostle, seventy(two), elder, bishop, deacon are not priesthood offices in the New Testament. Much less do they comprise a priesthood organization in which to become an apostle, seventies first become elders, bishops, and deacons.

The only priesthood organization in the New Testament is the Jewish temple priesthood. Jesus was a Jew but he was not a Jewish priest in the temple; in fact, he seems to have gotten along poorly with most who were.

It is only in the book of Hebrews (which does not even claim to be written by Paul) that Jesus is said to be a priest. There he is said to be a cosmic priest ministering in a heavenly temple/tabernacle. Not exactly literal.

The only occurrences of words for priesthood in the  New Testament are in Luke (1:9 Jewish temple priesthood); in Hebrews (7:5, 11-12, 24 one after order of Aaron and another after order of Melchizedek); and in 1 Peter (2:5, 9). It is in the latter that believers in Jesus are referred to as a priesthood. But they offer spiritual, i.e., metaphorical sacrifice. If the sacrifice is non-literal, what about the priesthood?

Believers in Jesus are also referred to as kings and priests to God and Christ (or vice-versa) in the book of Revelation (1:6, 5:10, 20:6), it is true. But it is not clear what that means when God and the Lamb are said to be the temple of the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:22).

Up shot: there is no precedent in the New Testament for men or women being ordained to priesthood offices of apostle, seventy(two), elder, bishop or deacon. Men and women are referred to as apostles and deacons, the term apostle being used in more than one way by different New Testament authors and probably even the same author (Luke-Acts). Men are also referred to as seventies, elders, and bishops. This has nothing to do with any priesthood or ordination to it. In some New Testament texts, Jesus and believers in him are said to be priests or priestly, but it is only on very broad analogy with the priesthood of the Jewish temple or Israelite tabernacle.

The Call of Simon Peter in Luke 5:1-11
Biblical Texts and Historicity
Korihors, Secular Humanism, and the Book of Mormon
Doubting Our Doubters
  • douglas hunter

    I agree with everything you’ve written here, but man talk about throwing raw meat to the TMB flame lords.

  • W Smith

    Book of Mormon is mostly ignorant of the same things.

  • Thomas Thigpen

    I am not sure what your point is. The word priesthood is used only seven times in the New Testament, five in Hebrews and two in 1 Peter. It is only through latter day revelation have we learned of the officesof the priesthood.

    But what has this to do with “Are Mormons Christians?”


  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/approachingjustice/ Chris Henrichsen

    Which why FPR is so awesome!

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/approachingjustice/ Chris Henrichsen

    Glenn, I am the organizer of the “Are Mormons Christians” round table. This post is not part of that series. The link at the very top of the page is just pointing to the last post on the blog.

  • JohnH2

    How do you know that when referring to Apostle, Deacon, Elder, or Bishop he doesn’t have a priesthood in mind? Is it simply because while the offices and ordination are laid out there isn’t an explicit mention of priesthood? That really isn’t much of an argument at all, just blind assertion.

    Contra-wise there is very clearly power and authority of God, explicitly after the order of the Son of God, given by Jesus and exercised by the Apostles. This power and authority from God is something which apparently couldn’t be bought or sold (Acts 8:20) and was necessary to perform baptism and to give the gift of the Holy Ghost. This authority gave the Apostles and Seventy the authority to establish the church and appoint and remove others from authority.

    Going to the Apostolic Fathers of the Catholic Church the terms Bishop, Elder, and Apostle are very much referring to something to which one is called and appointed. These are letters and fragments of letters written by those that knew the Apostles, or knew those that knew the Apostles.

    So what exactly do you mean by ‘Priesthood’ in this post?

  • Thomas Thigpen

    I get confused easily. Thanks for pointing that out. I retract my last question.

  • Joseph M

    Interestlingly, I’ve be reading lots of research recently that showes that a lotof the actions of Christ recorded in the gospels have explicitly priestly conotations and that one of the major schisims in the NT period was about priesthood athoraty with the incumbant temple hirearchy and Pharasees favoring the Aaronic and levitical form and the Essenes and early Christians favoring Melchizedek priesthood which was involved in the office of the king.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/approachingjustice/ Chris Henrichsen

    I think connotation is an interesting term here. It is being implied by the text…or by the reader? The main FPR bloggers are more aware of Barker than I. But she is really good at seeing things that nobody else does.

  • Clark Goble

    Does it have to be called priesthood to be priesthood? I agree that apostle need not (and often does not even in 19th century Mormonism) mean the priesthood office of apostle. However I think you’re being as guilty to reading into the silence as the Mormons reading things into are. Put an other way, should we expect the Mormon notion of priesthood to necessarily have the language of Mormon priesthood?

  • Clark Goble

    To add, I think prooftexting certain priesthood language can’t be done by the NT. However clearly there are offices where people are set apart. At which point if it quacks like a duck and acts like a duck. The real question is whether the more grand sweeping conception of priesthood is found and of course it’s not in the NT. But that’s not to say that from an LDS perspective what’s done and discussed is anything but priesthood. The real question then becomes what context should be used to interpret the texts.

    Interestingly the most strong parallels to what I’d call Mormon conceptions of priesthood, especially the temple-priesthood, come more out of the merkabah like texts which are a kind of context for the NT texts and can be quite interesting relative to Hebrews.

    I think theologically (i.e. not history here) that 1st century Jews mean by priesthood the Aaronic Priesthood but most explicitly that’s not what Mormons mean by priesthood.

  • Clark Goble

    I think the Book of Mormon actually has more. For one you have Alma 13. That goes far, far beyond anything in the New Testament. You also have the opening of Mosiah 15 which has pretty interesting parallels to Merkabah texts.

  • Tim Loyal

    Doctrines of demons. If we include anything outside of te cannonized acripture we would hve to include all faiths. The Bible is pure. KJV is the Word or Jesus which is God.

  • Tim Loyal

    You have left out a large portion of John whoch explains Jesus as being God. You also left out the Priesthood out of Judah. You left out the whole new testament where by laying on hands the received the Holy Ghost. Jesus is the only priest. None other is called Father, or priest. You quote the KJV bible but I do not see where you can pick and chose the words. Show the actual scripture and let God tell the story.

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