Thursday, July 04, 2013

Debate on the Office of New Testament Priest: Part 3b


This post is the continuation of Part 3 in my debate with Russell on the New Testament ministerial priesthood. You'll want to read Parts 1, 2, and 3a to see where we've been so far.

As I said at the end of my last post, I have divided Part 3 into two so that I can spend some time defending the sacrificial nature of the Eucharist without the worry of overwhelming the reader. I have also added headings to this post to help the reader follow along. Let's get right to it!

Hebrews 13:10 – Concerning this verse, you said that “The key here is to understand that while Jesus died once, this offering of His life is offered perpetually to the Father.”

Nicholas, NOWHERE in the book of Hebrews is Calvary shown to be a “perpetual” offering to the Father. There is a subtle twist here by the Catholic Church. But this just seems to be an excuse for the Catholic priest to continue to “offer Jesus” to the Father daily in the Eucharist.
But, what if Jesus told us to offer Himself? Then I think we better be offering Jesus. In Part 2 of this debate, I made some initial arguments for why the the meal that Jesus instituted should be considered a sacrificial meal. You never responded to that so I will provide it again:
But what exactly is this sacrifice? When Jesus told the Apostles at the Last Supper to "Do this in remembrance of me" (Lk 22:19; 1 Cor 11:24), He charged them to make His Body and Blood present to the people. Since in the Eucharistic meal you have Body broken and Blood poured out and Body separate from Blood, you have here a sacrifice. Consequently, the Apostles who make this sacrificial offering become priests.
I'd like to flesh this out a bit more (okay, a lot more). Studying the original Greek of the Institution Narratives is crucial to understanding what Jesus did, and what He intended us to do.

"Do This in Remembrance of Me"

The Gk. word for "Do" (ποιέω, poieo) in Lk 22:19 (cf. 1 Cor 11:24) is very interesting. For one, it appears in many places in the Septuagint as the word for the sacrificial offering. The equivalent Hebrew word is עָשָׂה, ‘asah, which the KJV translates as "to offer" 49 times. In the NAS it is even translated as "sacrifice" on two occasions (cf. Exo 10:25; Lev 22:24). In English translations of the Septuagint, poieo is often translated as "offer" or "sacrifice".

In the Pentateuch alone there are dozens of examples. Brenton's English translation of the Septuagint translates poieo as "sacrifice" in Exo 10:25; Lev 14:19a; 22:24; 23:19; Num 15:8; Deut 12:27. It uses "offer" in Exo 29:38; Lev 9:7, 16; 14:30; 15:15, 30; 16:24; 23:12; Num 6:11a, 16, 17; 8:12; 15:3, 5, 6, 14, 24a; 28:4, 8, 15, 21, 24, 31; 29:2, 39.

The Lexham Greek-English Interlinear Septuagint uses "sacrifice" in Num 15:13, 14, 24a. In Lev 22:23, we find the phrase sphagia poieseis, which Brenton simply translates as "slay". Lexham has "as slain victims you will offer". The New English Translation of the Septuagint has "make a slaughtering".

Now Jesus, within the context of a sacrificial meal (the Passover), on the night that the lambs were sacrificed (cf. Mk 14:12; Lk 22:7), tells the Apostles, "Do this in remembrance of me". Considering all of this, one could just as easily translate this command as "Offer this in remembrance of me", in which case the sacrificial meaning of Jesus' words is more readily apparent.

It is also worth nothing that in Lk 22:19 (cf. 1 Cor 11:24) poieo is in the present tense. The present tense usually denotes a continuous kind of action. It can also be used to describe something some one does habitually. Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament says that "This do" (τουτο ποιειτε) indicates repetition, as if Jesus said, "keep on doing this."

"Do This in Remembrance of Me"

The Greek word for "remembrance" (ἀνάμνησις, anamnesis) is also instructive. For one, every time this word appears in the Protestant canon -- in both the New Testament and the Greek Old Testament -- it is in a sacrificial context (OT passages are from the New English Translation of the Septuagint):
Psa 37:1 A Psalm. Pertaining to David. As a reminder (anamnesin).

Psa 69:1 Regarding completion. Pertaining to David. As a reminder (anamnesin), for the Lord to save me.

Lev 24:7 You shall put on the pile pure frankincense and salt, and they shall be as loaves for remembrance (anamnesin), set before the Lord.

Num 10:10 And in the days of your gladness and at your feasts and at your new moons, you shall trumpet with the trumpets over the whole burnt offerings and over your sacrifices of deliverance, and it shall be for you a reminder (anamnesis) before your God. I am the Lord your God.

Heb 10:3 But in these sacrifices there is a reminder (anamnesis) of sin year after year.
At first, Psalms 37 and 69 don't appear to provide this sacrificial context. But, in these psalms the equivalent Hebrew word (זכר, zkr) is usually translated as "memorial offering." Psalm 69 is even a todah psalm (more on that later). As for Lev 24:7, the Hebrew word is אַזְכָּרָה, azkarah which is usually translated as "memorial portion" or "token offering" (cf. Lev 2:2, 9, 16; 5:12; 6:15; Num 5:26). In Num 10:10, the Hebrew word is לְזִכָּרֹון֙, zikkaron which means "memorial, remembrance."

The "Memorial, Memory" entry in the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia provides the meaning and significance of these Hebrew words:
mḗ - mō´ri - al , mem´ṓ - ri (אזכּרה , 'azkārāh , זכר , zēkher , זכר , zekher , זכּרון , zikkārōn ; μνημόσυνον , mnēmósunon): "Memorial" as the translation of 'azkārāh is a sacrificial term, that which brings the offerer into remembrance before God, or brings God into favorable remembrance with the offerer; it is used of the burning of a portion of the meal offering [. . .] As the translation of zēkher, zikkārōn, it is a memorial in the sense of a remembrance [. . .] the Passover feast was to be in this sense "a memorial ... for ever" (Exodus 12:14 ; Exodus 13:9)
Gesenius' Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament says this about azkarah:
אַזְכָּרָה f., a verbal noun of the conj. Hiphil, from the root זָכַר, in the signification of sacrificing, Isa. 66:3; properly a memorial (offering), that which calls to memory.
The "Offerings and Sacrifices" entry from Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology says:
"According to the law of the test of adultery in Numbers 5:11-31, the purpose of the 'memorial (portion)' (see v. 26 there) seems to have been to call to mind the reason for the offering in the presence of the Lord. The term itself is directly related to the Hebrew verb meaning 'to remember'".
The Gk word anamnesis was chosen by the translators of the Septuagint to communicate this meaning. It is the word for the memorial offering, the memorial portion, the sacrifice that brought the people into the remembrance of God. We find it now in Luke and Paul's accounts of the Institution Narrative. It appears from all this that "Do this in memory of me" could also be translated as "Offer this as my memorial sacrifice". Now, the sacrificial meaning of the Eucharist is unmistakable. The Eucharist is a memorial sacrifice because, in it, God remembers His people and the sacrifice that Christ offered to save them -- and we remember all that the Savior has done for us.

Another aspect of anamnesis is the idea of re-presentation. The "Little Kittel" (pg. 56) says about this word (emphasis mine):
anámnēsis means “remembrance” or “recollection.” In Heb. the sin offerings cannot remove sins but remind us of them (cf. Num. 5:15). In 1 Cor. 11:24 Christians are to enact the Lord’s Supper in a recollection of Jesus which has the form of active re-presentation as the action of Jesus and the disciples is repeated.
The Passover meal itself was considered "a memorial ... forever" (Exo 12:14), and we see in the words of the father at the meal that it was in every way a re-presentation, or a bringing into the present, what God did for their ancestors. In this way, those celebrating the meal become contemporaries of the first Passover:
Exo 12:26-27a And when your children say to you, ‘What do you mean by this service?’ 27 you shall say, ‘It is the sacrifice of the Lord’s passover, for he passed over the houses of the people of Israel in Egypt, when he slew the Egyptians but spared our houses.’”

Exo 13:8 And you shall tell your son on that day, ‘It is because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt.’

Exo 13:14-15a And when in time to come your son asks you, ‘What does this mean?’ you shall say to him, ‘By strength of hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt, from the house of bondage. 15 For when Pharaoh stubbornly refused to let us go, the Lord slew all the first-born in the land of Egypt, both the first-born of man and the first-born of cattle.’

Deut 6:20-22 “When your son asks you in time to come, ‘What is the meaning of the testimonies and the statutes and the ordinances which the Lord our God has commanded you?’ 21 then you shall say to your son, ‘We were Pharaoh’s slaves in Egypt; and the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand; 22 and the Lord showed signs and wonders, great and grievous, against Egypt and against Pharaoh and all his household, before our eyes;
Notice the pronouns. The Passover is not about what God did for my ancestors a long time ago, it's about what He did for me. Jesus, in the Last Supper, transformed the Passover meal so that it is no longer a "memorial forever" and a re-presentation of the first Exodus but instead a "memorial forever" and a re-presentation of the New Exodus, in which Jesus Himself conquers slavery and death with His own Passion, Death, and Resurrection. Now, whenever the Eucharist is celebrated, it is the salvific work of Christ that is made present. The Eucharist is the new memorial offering, the new Passover meal.

For more on the Eucharist as a memorial offering, see the following:

"When He Had Given Thanks"

The last indication that Jesus instituted a sacrificial meal is in the word for "thanks", εὐχαριστέω, eucharisteo. This word also helps us to understand why the sacrifice of Christ is offered continually.
Mt 26:27 (cf. Mk 14:23; Lk 22:17, 19; 1 Cor 11:24) And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks (eucharisteo) he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you;
Scholars believe that in Jesus' day, eucharisteo was the best Gk word for translating the Hebrew תּוֹדָה, todah. The todah is a type of peace offering called a "thank offering" or a "offering of thanksgiving." The word literally means "thanksgiving." It is described in Lev 7:12-15
Lev 7:12-15 If he offers it for a thanksgiving, then he shall offer with the thank offering unleavened cakes mixed with oil, unleavened wafers spread with oil, and cakes of fine flour well mixed with oil. 13 With the sacrifice of his peace offerings for thanksgiving he shall bring his offering with cakes of leavened bread. 14 And of such he shall offer one cake from each offering, as an offering to the Lord; it shall belong to the priest who throws the blood of the peace offerings. 15 And the flesh of the sacrifice of his peace offerings for thanksgiving shall be eaten on the day of his offering; he shall not leave any of it until the morning.
According to Dr. Tim Gray (emphasis mine):
A todah sacrifice would be offered by someone whose life had been delivered from great peril, such as disease or the sword. The redeemed person would show his gratitude to God by gathering his closest friends and family for a todah sacrificial meal. The lamb would be sacrificed in the Temple and the bread for the meal would be consecrated the moment the lamb was sacrificed. The bread and meat, along with wine, would constitute the elements of the sacred todah meal, which would be accompanied by prayers and songs of thanksgiving, such as Psalm 116.
[. . .]
At the todah celebration that brought the ark into Jerusalem, David gave the Levites a new mandate — their primary job was to "invoke, to thank, and to praise the Lord" (1 Chron. 16:4). The Hebrew word for "invoke" is zakar, which literally means to remember — the noun form signifying "memorial" (zikkaron). One of the most important purposes of a todah meal was to remember the saving deeds of the Lord. Indeed, this is one of the functions of the todah psalms: to recount the mighty deeds of God (cf. Ps. 22:28).

We are also informed that "on that day David first appointed that thanksgiving [todah] be sung to the Lord by Asaph and his brethren" (1 Chron. 16:7). The Levites were to give thanks and praise to God "continually" (1 Chron. 16:37, 40). This perpetual adoration was to characterize the Temple liturgy as a todah liturgy — a liturgy of thanksgiving.
We know that the Last Supper is a todah sacrificial meal because it has the same characteristics as the todah meals celebrated in the Old Testament. The Passover meal is essentially a corporate todah meal. In both there is the sacrificial lamb, unleavened bread, wine, the singing of psalms (the Hallel psalms that are sung during the Passover meal are also todah psalms), and perhaps most importantly, sentiments of thanksgiving and remembrance.

Furthermore, as a todah meal, it is to be celebrated continually. The Jewish rabbis said in the Midrash that, when the Messiah comes, all offerings will be abolished except the thanksgiving todah offering (Vayikra Rabba 9,2). We even find biblical expression of this sentiment:
Psa 50:12-14 “If I were hungry, I would not tell you; for the world and all that is in it is mine. 13 Do I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats? 14 Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving, and pay your vows to the Most High"
We see from all this that the Eucharist is that todah sacrificial meal that is offered continually. It has replaced the animal sacrifices and is the only sacrifice that remains.

For more on the todah sacrificial meal and its connection to the Eucharist, see the following:
To summarize, in the "doing", the "remembrance", and the "giving thanks" we find crucial indications of the sacrificial and perpetual nature of the meal that Jesus Christ instituted at the Last Supper.

The Sacrifice of Christ as the Offering of the Whole Church
But it can’t work that way. Jesus is not mankind’s offering to God. MAN does not (and cannot) offer Jesus as a sacrifice. No, the Bible says that only JESUS (the Perfect High Priest) did the offering, and He offered HIMSELF (Hebrews 7:27; 9:25). Again, He did His OWN offering, and He did it ONCE. So this is not a continual / daily offering to God. It was offered to the Father once, for all.
There is really no question in my mind that Jesus commanded the Church to offer His Body and Blood as a memorial sacrifice. As Lk 22:19 and 1 Cor 11:24 reveal, it does work that way. Now, a question does remain as to how it could be both our offering and Jesus' offering. This is a question worth answering.

As I understand it, there are two senses in which the Sacrifice of the Mass (which is the sacrifice of Christ) is said to be offered by the people:
  1. The priest, as representative of the people, offers his voice, his hands, his entire self to Christ so that Jesus, our High Priest, can be present through Him
  2. Our sacrifices are united with the Sacrifice of Christ into a single offering to the Father
Of course, these points require some elaboration.

Regarding the first sense, we're talking about the apostles working in persona Christi, in the person of Christ. Long before the Last Supper, Jesus told them, "Whoever hears you hears me, whoever rejects you rejects me" (Lk 10:16). He gave them authority and power to participate in His own divine prerogatives, such as forgiving sin (cf. Jn 20:21-23; Jas 5:14-15) and saving people (cf. Acts 11:13-14; Rom 11:13-14; 1 Cor 9:22; 10:33; 1 Thes 2:16; 1 Tim 4:16; 2 Tim 2:10). Just as Paul forgave sins "in the person of Christ" (2 Cor 2:10; KJV, Darby, Douay-Rheims, Knox, Wycliffe, YLT, Vulgate), so does the priest offer the Sacrifice of the Mass. It is in His person, as if Christ Himself were there doing it. If the apostles can forgive people and save people without treading upon the prerogatives of Christ, then so too can they offer His sacrifice without competing with Him.

Regarding the second sense, we actually see this in the Letter to the Hebrews, where it says that we should go forth to meet Him outside the camp, bearing our abuses, and offer our sacrifice of praise and our good works of love (cf. Heb 13:13-16). The Eucharist, by re-presenting the sacrifice of Calvary, makes it possible for us to meet Him outside the camp. Once there, we are able to suffer with Him and unite ourselves with Him.

Uniting our suffering with the suffering of Christ is a very scriptural notion. I don't really know what else is meant by "taking up your Cross daily" to follow Christ (Lk 9:23). Paul spoke of "sharing abundantly in Christ's sufferings" (2 Cor 1:5), "becoming like Him in His death" (Phil 3:10), even "completing what is lacking in Christ's afflictions" (Col 1:24). Peter too spoke of "sharing Christ's sufferings" (1 Pet 4:13) and following in His steps by suffering wrongs patiently (cf. 1 Pet 2:20-21).

In the Mass, we "present our bodies as a living sacrifice" (Rom 21:1), we offer our gifts as a pleasing aroma (cf. Phil 4:8), we "offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ" (1 Pet 2:5). We offer everything we are and thereby join ourselves to His offering. In this way the offering of Christ becomes the offering of the whole Church, which is His Mystical Body. Just as the Passover meal was a corporate todah, a thank offering by all of Israel, so is the Eucharist (the new Passover) a thank offering by the Church (the New Israel).

The "Once for All" Sacrifice of Christ
Although the benefits of this offering are offered continuously to MAN, it will never again be a sacrificial offering TO THE FATHER. According to Scripture, we get the benefits of Calvary through believing in His work there, not by “re-presenting” it to God.
I agree with you that we get the benefits of Calvary through believing in His work there. But, I also think these benefits are received through the Eucharist. Jesus Himself said of the Eucharist, "This ... is the new covenant in my blood" (Lk 22:20; cf. 1 Cor 11:25) and that it was "for the forgiveness of sins" (Mt 26:28). In Jn 6 He was even more explicit:
Jn 6:53-58 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; 54 he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. 56 He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me. 58 This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live for ever.
Faith is a very important prerequisite for receiving the Eucharist, so I see nothing contradictory in affirming both statements.

Catholics are confusing His perpetual intercession with His one-time, past-event, offering.
You are confusing what "once for all" means. This does not mean that Jesus' offering of Himself is over and done with. Instead it means that it is never-ending. Let me be clear. He suffered once and He died once. Never again will He suffer or die. But, this one act of suffering and dying is perpetually offered to the Father, so that the Father always has reason to save us from our sin. I firmly believe that a careful reading of Scripture bears this out.

Consider the purpose of the high priest. He is to "make expiation for the sins of the people" (Heb 2:17), to "act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins" (Heb 5:1). Jesus is our High Priest. Now, the question arises: Did Jesus set down his priesthood once He died on the Cross and rose from the dead? Was that the end of His priestly ministry? No.

The Letter to the Hebrews says that Jesus is "a high priest for ever after the order of Melchiz′edek" (6:20). "He holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues for ever" (Heb 7:24). But, as you yourself have said, there is no priesthood without a sacrifice to offer. This can only mean that in order for Jesus to remain a priest forever, he must be forever offering His sacrifice to the Father. According to Heb 7:24-25, His permanent priesthood is the reason why He makes this perpetual offering:
Heb 7:24-25 but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues for ever. 25 Consequently he is able for all time to save those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.
Please re-read Heb 9:25-26. This is really where the meaning of "once for all" is revealed:
25 Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the Holy Place yearly with blood not his own; 26 for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the age to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.
The text does not state that Christ will not need to re-present His sacrifice before God. It states that Christ's "once-for-all" offering will not be like the offering of the Old Covenant priests who had to go in and out of the Most Holy Place every year. When Christ enters the Most Holy Place He is there to stay. He does not have to go in and out, which would require his suffering and death each time He re-entered. Rather, He enters once, never to leave again. Once, and for all time.

Now that He's in the Holy Place to stay, what do you think He's doing? Twiddling His thumbs? No, He's doing what the High Priest is supposed to do: He's offering His sacrifice:
Heb 8:1-3 (Knox) And here we come to the very pith of our argument. This high priest of ours is one who has taken his seat in heaven, on the right hand of that throne where God sits in majesty, 2 ministering, now, in the sanctuary, in that true tabernacle which the Lord, not man, has set up. 3 After all, if it is the very function of a priest to offer gift and sacrifice, he too must needs have an offering to make.

Heb 9:24 For Christ has entered, not into a sanctuary made with hands, a copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf.

Rom 8:34 Is it Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised from the dead, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us?
That is what is meant by "once for all". The very phrase you have been using to refute my argument actually confirms it!

To CONTINUE with any kind of sacrifice that supposedly atones for sin is to say that Jesus’ suffering on the cross was JUST NOT ENOUGH.
This assumes that the Sacrifice of the Mass and the sacrifice of Christ are separate sacrifices. But, they are not. They are one and the same sacrifice.

Nicholas, please look at Hebrews 13:15-16:

“Through Him then, let us continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name. And do not neglect doing good and sharing; for with such sacrifices God is pleased.” (NASV)

It is interesting that out of all the New Testament books, the book of Hebrews has the most to say about the priesthood AND about sacrifices, yet it never mentions an office of ministerial priests for the church today, nor does it mention the Catholic Eucharist. Strange indeed. Instead, it tells us that God is pleased today with sacrifices like “doing good,” “sharing” and “praise.” THESE are the types of sacrifices that we offer today (under the New Covenant). But why not even mention the Eucharist if THAT is the most pleasing and most important sacrifice?
I have already shown how, by saying, "Do this in memory of me", Jesus commanded the continual sacrificial offering of Himself by the apostles, and that He made them priests once He gave them a sacrifice to offer. What the Letter to the Hebrews does is to orient this offering and this priesthood within the priesthood of Christ. In this way it has everything to do with what I have been defending.

Nicholas, I’m sorry, but with all due respect, the verses above that you provided did nothing to prove your case. The Bible (especially in Hebrews) strongly demonstrates that the sacrifice for sin does NOT remain, therefore, neither does the (ministerial) priesthood.
I am interested to see how you will continue to claim this, in light of the new evidence that I have provided.

Perishing in Korah's Rebellion
You also mentioned Jude 1:11 and made much of Korah’s rebellion towards authority. Yes, Korah was certainly wrong in what he did, but this is NOT an appeal by Jude to go back to a ministeral-type priesthood. He was simply warning us of rebelling against legitimate and God-ordained authority. But Jude is not the one really dealing with the “priesthood” and “sacrifices.” The book of Hebrews does.
No matter how you try to spin it, Jude 1:11 is about priesthood. Like I said in Part 2, "The way of Cain", "Balaam's error", "Korah's rebellion", all three of these refer to priestly service. Cain offered a sacrifice to God that was displeasing to Him (cf. Heb 11:4). Three times Balaam set up altars with which to offer a sacrifice of cursing upon Israel (cf. Num 23). And Korah's rebellion was against the priesthood of Moses and Aaron.

Korah's rebellion is not about simply rejecting authority. In Num 16, the "leaders of the congregation" are a separate category. When Korah went up to Moses and Aaron and said, "You have gone too far!", what do you think he was referring to? Since this is in the very beginning of Ch. 16, the thing that got him and his followers in such an uproar must be in Ch. 15. What do we see there? A long description of the various sacrifices that must be made and the role of the priest in these sacrifices. If that weren't enough, Moses explicitly reveals what was the cause of these tensions:
Num 16:8-11 And Moses said to Korah, “Hear now, you sons of Levi: 9 is it too small a thing for you that the God of Israel has separated you from the congregation of Israel, to bring you near to himself, to do service in the tabernacle of the Lord, and to stand before the congregation to minister to them; 10 and that he has brought you near him, and all your brethren the sons of Levi with you? And would you seek the priesthood also? 11 Therefore it is against the Lord that you and all your company have gathered together; what is Aaron that you murmur against him?”
Moses even settles the dispute by having Aaron and Korah both light incense to the Lord, which is a function strictly of the ministerial priesthood. "Do this: take censers, Korah and all his company; put fire in them and put incense upon them before the Lord tomorrow, and the man whom the Lord chooses shall be the holy one. You have gone too far, sons of Levi!” (Num 16:6-7). Moses is basically saying, "You want to usurp the priesthood of Aaron? Let's see who's offering the Lord will glorify." Korah's rebellion is in every way against the ministerial priesthood of God, and the only way for people in the New Testament Church to perish in this rebellion is for them to rebel against the ministerial priesthood of God as well.

You implied that some are guilty of usurping the priesthood. But anyone, Catholic or otherwise, who claims to be offering a sacrifice to God that atones for sin is indeed usurping the High Priest’s office. And, in my opinion, this person / group would be just as guilty (or even more so) as Korah.
For one, this passage is obviously not about Jesus' priesthood. The sinners in question in this letter deny Jesus by their licentiousness (vs. 4), not by trying to become high priests. They "reject authority" (vs. 8), that is, of the apostles (vs. 3, 17) as many sinners did (cf. 2 Tim 4:14; 2 Pet 2:10; 3 Jn 1:9). The flock of God is the charge of the presbyteros (1 Pet 5:1), and you know who I think they are.

Secondly, ministerial priests do not usurp the High Priest anymore than shepherds usurp the Chief Shepherd (cf. 1 Pet 5:1-4). They are His instruments, just as Paul was the instrument of Christ (cf. Acts 9:15). They act in His person, as Paul did (cf. 2 Cor 2:10).

In conclusion, I want to say that I believe that the two most important points (relevant to this discussion) about Calvary are:

1) Only the Perfect High Priest (Jesus Christ, Himself) could offer this sacrifice (Hebrews 7:26-27; 9:7, 11-12) – Mere man could not (and still cannot) offer it.

2) There was only ONE offering of this sacrifice (Hebrews 9:28; 10:14) – It was a one-time deal, and it was at Calvary! There is no “re-presenting” of this offering to God. Why would there be a need to “re-present” the payment for a debt that has already been paid?

In a nutshell, the concept of the Catholic Eucharist and a New Testament ministerial priesthood is not biblical, and it actually perverts and minimizes the work of Jesus Christ, the Messiah, on Calvary.
You still have a long way to go to convince me of that.

I do pray that Catholics will come to see this truth. And I hope that no one will see my comments as spoken in the spirit of bitterness or hatred. They certainly are not. I’m saying these things out of love for Catholics. I used to be one.
That is likewise my prayer, out of love for former Catholics.

For more on the Sacrifice of the Mass and the Letter to the Hebrews, see the following links:

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

5 comments:

Russell said...

(Part 1)

Hi Nicholas,

Concerning Part 3a, I’d just like to address a couple of issues.

You said:

“There is a difference between multiple sacrifices of various animals and one sacrifice perpetually offered. The sacrifices of the Old Covenant ministerial priest were of the first kind. The sacrifice of the New Covenant ministerial priest is of the second kind. This is a crucial distinction that must not be forgotten in this debate. We don't have multiple offerings, we have one offering without end, and every time the Mass is celebrated this offering is made present and it's merits applied to us.”

First of all, you are ASSUMING that Jesus’ sacrifice is somehow “perpetually offered” to the Father. But the book of Hebrews NEVER says that, nor is it found anywhere else in Scripture. In fact, when Hebrews is read in context, it contradicts your “crucial distinction.” For example, the Catechism of the Catholic Church claims that the Eucharist is “truly propitiatory” (CCC #1367), and that it is “the Sacrament of redemption” (CCC #1846). So (according to them) it is obviously a sacrifice / offering FOR THE FORGIVENESS OF SIN. But Scripture tells us that there is NO MORE OFFERING FOR SIN (Hebrews 10:18). There is quite an obvious difference between “perpetually offered” and “no more offering.”

Whenever terms like “forever” or “continual” are used in the book of Hebrews, they are addressing other things, like Jesus’ throne (1:8), His priesthood (5:6, 6:20; 7:17, 21, 28), the priesthood of Melchizedek (7:3), the perfection of believers (10:14), and Jesus Himself (7:24; 13:8). But this book (which deals extensively with sacrifices and offerings) never refers to Christ’s offering, itself, as “continual,” “perpetual,” “forever,” etc. So this concept is simply (and wrongly) read into the text.

In this special case concerning Jesus, His perpetual priesthood does NOT require a perpetual sacrifice, because His offering is a sufficient and FINISHED work. How do we know this? Because He is SEATED at the right hand of the Father. Notice that the Old Testament priests were STANDING to offer sacrifices (Hebrews 10:11). They continually stood because their offering was never finished. But Jesus, after He offered Himself as a Sacrifice, SAT DOWN at the right hand of the Father (Hebrews 1:3; 10:12). This signifies that His work of redemption was done; it was completed; it was the END of His sacrificing. There was no more sacrificing (offering for sin) to do after this (Hebrews 10:18). The debt was paid. The only “priestly” work He does now is to INTERCEDE for us to the Father (Hebrews 7:24-25). Nicholas, you quoted this yourself, but you seem to have missed what it was saying. It says, “He ever lives to make intercession for them” (the saints). This is His work now, not offering sacrifice. It doesn’t say, “He ever lives to continue offering Himself to the Father.”

Calvary is payment for a debt. The payment of a debt is not “never-ending” if it has been paid in full. There is no need to keep paying (or keep “offering” payment) for it. Are you possibly saying that Jesus’ work on the cross did NOT fully pay the debt for our sins? Hopefully, you don’t believe this. Then for what reason would it need to be “re-offered” or “re-presented” to the Father? Do His words, “It is finished” mean nothing? The context of this “once for all” language in Hebrews points to an ending / a finish / a halting of the sacrifice / offering, NOT a continuation.

You can look back at Calvary and be (perpetually) thankful for it, or maybe (perpetually) remember it or (perpetually) commemorate it with a ritual… but the payment for our sins (or its offering to the Father) is not perpetual, since it is a finished work.

Russell said...

(Part 2)

The book of Hebrews contrasts the old sacrifices with the new. To proclaim that Jesus’ offering is perpetual is like saying:

“The Old Testament priests were merely mortal and the Old Testament sacrifices were imperfect, so the sacrifices had to be offered continually. On the other hand, the New Testament Priest (Jesus Christ) is immortal and His Sacrifice is perfect, and it ALSO has to be offered continually.”

This seems to be what you are saying, but this wouldn’t make sense. What is the point of the CONTRAST in Hebrews 7:27 if they are BOTH continual? If it is indeed a “continual” sacrifice, then Jesus would have to be in a continual state of death!

Again, look at the contrasts:

The Old Testament priests (plural) with the New Testament High Priest (singular)… The Old Testament offerings with the New Testament’s “no more offering”… the Old Testament continual sacrifices with the one sacrifice of Jesus… (the only other sacrifices in Hebrews are “sacrifices of praise, doing good and sharing, etc. - 13:15-16). And Hebrews never even mentions a New Testament priesthood (except for Jesus’). For a book that deals extensively with priests, offerings and sacrifices, the epistle of Hebrews doesn’t seem to be very “Catholic-friendly.”

Now, concerning the idea that Calvary is “made present” when a Catholic priest consecrates the bread and wine… not only is this concept utterly ridiculous, it is also blasphemous. No priest can cause a past event to move into the present. And to say, “Well, it is God Who does it, not the priest,” or “It is a mystery,” or “It is done ‘sacramentally’” is just begging the question. There is nothing scriptural about this concept. The event of Calvary is no more “made present” today than the event of the death angel killing the firstborn Egyptian children was “made present” when the Jews would celebrate the Passover. Communion and Passover are reminders pointing to past events. The only way that either one would be “made present” is MENTALLY. After all, the communion service is indeed a MEMORIAL, because Jesus said, “This do in remembrance of Me” (Luke 22:19).

Russell said...

(Part 3)

In Part 3b, you said:

“To summarize, in the "doing", the "remembrance", and the "giving thanks" we find crucial indications of the sacrificial and perpetual nature of the meal that Jesus Christ instituted at the Last Supper.”

Nicholas, it seems that you spent a lot of time and energy in the whole first half of Part 3b emphasizing the “sacrificial language” surrounding this issue. But I already addressed that. I acknowledged that Jesus is the High Priest Who offered the perfect sacrifice, so yes, there are sacrificial overtones. And I said that this is all pointing to Jesus’ work at Calvary, not to a ritual (the Eucharist). The symbolism is found in the ritual, but the substance is found at the cross. To say that they are one-and-the-same, is, I believe, more than anyone can prove. The phrase, “This is My body” in no way proves this idea. See the links below.

Claiming that the Eucharist is Calvary “re-presented” because of the sacrificial language is like saying that a wedding album and the wedding it portrays are “one-and-the-same”. There are pictures of people in the album who are dressed for a wedding, there is a wedding cake, there are gifts and celebration involved, there is a bride and a groom making vows, and there are bridesmaids and groomsmen, wedding rings and wedding certificates, etc., etc. So, obviously, this album must be the wedding event itself, right? Since all these things in the album contain “wedding language,” and there are so many “marriage connotations” and references to a wedding, surely this album and the actual wedding event would have to be one-and- the-same, wouldn’t it (according to your logic)?

No, you can use all the “marriage language” and “wedding overtones” you want, but this won’t make the wedding album change into the actual wedding event itself. The album simply points back in time to the one-time wedding event.

It is the same thing with Christian Communion, i.e., the partaking of the bread and wine. Communion is a ritual (an important and profound one) which points back to the cross, the event of Calvary. They are not one-and-the-same. Communion is a symbol of what happened there. Let’s not confuse the symbols with the substance.

You offer Luke 22:19 and 1 Corinthians 11:24 as proof of the Eucharist as a sacrifice. Not to get bogged down here on that specific topic, I would simply refer you to two of my articles on the Eucharist here:

http://answeringcatholicclaims.blogspot.com/2009/10/eucharist-part-1.html

http://answeringcatholicclaims.blogspot.com/2009/11/eucharist-part-2.html

Nicholas Hardesty said...

Russell ... are you finished, or is there more you wanted to say?

Russell said...

Hey Nicholas,

I'm sorry, but I was away from the computer for a few days. But yes, I was finished with my comments. Please feel free to reply when you're ready. Thanks.

In His Name,
Russell

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