The Sacrament of Holy Orders (Ordination) in the Bible

Magisterial Teaching on the Sacrament of Holy Orders

The Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church states;

“322. What is the sacrament of Holy Orders?

It is the sacrament through which the mission entrusted by Christ to his apostles continues to be exercised in the Church until the end of time.

323. Why is this sacrament called Holy Orders?

Orders designates an ecclesial body into which one enters by means of a special consecration (ordination). Through a special gift of the Holy Spirit, this sacrament enables the ordained to exercise a sacred power in the name and with the authority of Christ for the service of the People of God.

324. What place does the sacrament of Holy Orders have in the divine plan of salvation?

This sacrament was prefigured in the Old Covenant in the service of the Levites, in the priesthood of Aaron, and in the institution of the seventy “Elders” (Numbers 11:25). These prefigurations find their fulfillment in Christ Jesus who by the sacrifice of the cross is the “one mediator between God and man” (1 Timothy 2:5), the “High Priest according to the order of Melchizedek” (Hebrews 5:10). The one priesthood of Christ is made present in the ministerial priesthood.

“Only Christ is the true priest, the others being only his ministers.” (Saint Thomas Aquinas)

325. What are the degrees that make up the sacrament of Holy Orders?

The sacrament of Holy Orders is composed of three degrees which are irreplaceable for the organic structure of the Church: the episcopate, the presbyterate and the diaconate.

…331. How is the sacrament of Holy Orders celebrated?

The sacrament of Holy Orders is conferred, in each of its three degrees, by means of the imposition of hands on the head of the ordinand by the Bishop who pronounces the solemn prayer of consecration. With this prayer he asks God on behalf of the ordinand for the special outpouring of the Holy Spirit and for the gifts of the Spirit proper to the ministry to which he is being ordained.

332. Who can confer this sacrament?

Only validly ordained bishops, as successors of the apostles, can confer the sacrament of Holy Orders.”

gospelThe Sacrament of Holy Orders (Ordination) in the Bible

…began with Christ sending forth the apostles with authority:

  • Matthew 28:16,18-20:  “Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee… And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.”
  • John 20:21-23:  “Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them, 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.”
  • Luke 22:19-20:  “And he took bread, and when he had given thanks he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”
  • 1 Corinthians 11:24-25:  “and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”  In the same way also the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

…was perpetuated by the apostles:

  •  Acts 14:23:  “And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they believed.”
  •  Titus 1:5:  “This is why I [Paul] left you [Titus] in Crete, that you might amend what was defective, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you,”
  • Acts 6:2-6:  “And the twelve summoned the body of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. Therefore, brethren, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint to this duty… These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands upon them. “
  • 2 Timothy 2:2:  “and what you [Timothy] have heard from me [Paul] before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”
  • Acts 14:21, 23:  “When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Ico’nium and to Antioch… And when they had appointed elders for them in every church…”

…confers grace through the ‘laying on of hands’:

  • 1 Timothy 4:13-14:  “Till I come, attend to the public reading of scripture, to preaching, to teaching. Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophetic utterance when the council of elders laid their hands upon you.”
  • 2 Timothy 1:6-8:  “Hence I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands;  for God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power and love and self-control. Do not be ashamed then of testifying to our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel in the power of God,”
  • Acts 13:2-3:  “While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.”
  • Acts 6:2-6:  “And the twelve summoned the body of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. Therefore, brethren, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint to this duty… These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands upon them.”
  • 1 Timothy 5:22:  “Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, nor participate in another man’s sins; keep yourself pure.”

…confers spiritual authority:

  •  John 20:21-23:  “Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them, 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.”
  • Acts 20:28:  “Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God which he obtained with the blood of his own Son.”
  • 1 Timothy 5:17:  “Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching”
  • Luke 10:16-17:  “He who hears you [the appointed seventy] hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me.” The seventy returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!”
  • Matthew 10:1: “And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every infirmity.”
  • Matthew 18:17-18:  “If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.  Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

>> Link To the Early Church Father’s Teaching on Holy Orders (Ordination)

>>Link to Bishops, Priests and Deacons in the Bible and Early Church Writings

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