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Old Testament Priests New Testament Ministers


One common argument that is used to support the position that women cannot be church leaders is the fact that, in the Old Testament, only men were permitted to serve as priests in the Tabernacle and, later, in the Temple. There are, however, several significant shortcomings in this argument.

The Old Testament Levitical Priesthood

The priesthood was not open to women; however, it was also not open to most men. The priesthood was in fact, limited to a very small and exclusive group of men within the Israelite community.

Only men belonging to the tribe of Levi could serve as assistants in the Tabernacle, or Temple, regardless of how pious and godly a person from another tribe may have been (Num. 8:5-26; 1 Chron. 23:28-32).[1] Moreover, as a way of symbolically declaring the perfection and holiness of God, only perfectly healthy Levites, in the prime of their life, could be active in service (Num. 8:24-25).

A male Levite could be disqualified from being a minister for a variety of reasons. Some of these reasons were: having a physical disability or deformity; being temporarily “unclean” (this could be due to several circumstances); being outside the ages of 25 to 50 (the prescribed age range of Levites in regular service)[2]; showing symptoms of certain diseases (which also made the person “unclean”). These symptoms were usually skin rashes or bodily discharges.

It would have been impractical to admit women on the regular roster of Temple ministry because women within the required age range of 25 to 50 were frequently “unclean” due to their monthly period or childbirth. Even though women could not administer some of the ritual services of the Tabernacle or Temple, many women played a significant role in the national, spiritual life of Israel.[3]

To be a priest, however, it was not enough to just be male, and a Levite, and healthy; a priest must also have been a direct descendant of Aaron. I have never heard anyone say that only healthy, male, Aaronic Levites can be Church leaders, yet this is the logical conclusion for the spurious argument that women cannot be church leaders because there were no female priests in the Old Testament. Moreover, it is completely unjust to use anachronistic Old Testament rules, especially those of a priesthood that has not existed for almost 2000 years, to influence New Covenant living and leadership today.

New Covenant Ministry

The Old Testament Temple and the New Testament Church are in fact two very different organisations with different aims, methods, and structures. Because of these differences, it is unreasonable to say that Christian women cannot be church leaders simply because the Old Testament priesthood was not open to them.

Jesus brought in many changes with the New Covenant—new and better ways (Heb. 6:9; 7:19, 22; 8:6ff). Priests were no longer needed as mediators between God and his people because Jesus took on the role of the ultimate Mediator (1 Tim. 2:5; Heb. 8:6) and of the ultimate High Priest (Heb. 6:19-20; 7:23-28; 9:11ff).

[Visual Unit has two graphics that compare the Old (Levitical) Covenant and the New Covenant inaugurated by Jesus here.]

Under the Old Covenant, only the High Priest (a specially appointed, male Levite and a direct descendant of Aaron) could enter the Most Holy Place in the Temple, once a year, on the Day of Atonement.[4] Under the New Covenant, all believers (regardless of gender, ethnicity, social status, disability or disease, etc) can enter the Most Holy Place, continually, by a “new and living way” through the blood of Jesus (Heb. 10:19-22). Followers of Jesus need no priest but Jesus.

Furthermore, instead of a select few people, God has given all New Covenant men and women, young and old, his Holy Spirit.

“And it will be in the last days”, says God, “that I will pour out my Spirit on all people,
and your sons and your daughters will prophesy.
And your young people will see visions, and your old people will dream dreams.
And even upon my male ministers (servants) and upon my female ministers (servants),
in those days I will pour out my Spirit and they will prophesy!”
Acts 2:17-18

Acts 2:18 clearly shows that both male and female ministers (servants)[5] are given God’s Holy Spirit who enables them to minister in prophecy. Other Scriptures show that the Holy Spirit gives other ministry gifts too, including the leadership gifts of teaching and governing, without apparent regard to gender.[6] Moreover, the New Testament shows that women, such as Prisca, did function as ministers and leaders in the early church.

The Priesthood of the Order of Melchizedek

Several Christian denominations regard their leaders, their clergy, as actual priests.[7] The Roman Catholic Church teaches that their priesthood is not of the Levitical order of Aaron but is derived from the royal, priestly order of Melchizedek which has its fulfilment in the priesthood of Christ. To support their view, they teach that, at the Last Supper, Jesus ordained the twelve apostles (including presumably Judas) to be sharers in his priesthood (CCC 1544).[8]

There is nothing in Scripture, however, that hints at the idea that Jesus ordained the Twelve as priests, that is, that Jesus ordained the Twelve to be mediators between fellow Christians and God.[9] There is also nothing in the Scriptures that hints that this priestly office was passed onto subsequent bishops, and thus also to the clergy, through what the Roman Catholics call “Apostolic Succession.”[10]

In contrast with Roman Catholicism, which teaches that clergy are priests in a way that other believers are not, the New Testament teaches that all believers in Jesus, including women, belong to a kingdom of priests, a royal priesthood without distinctions or different categories or classes (1 Pet. 2:5, 9; Rev. 1:6; 5:9b-10). All true followers of Jesus are priests with Jesus as our high priest.


[1] Of the 12 tribes of Israel, God set apart the Levites to minister in his Presence. He chose the Levites because of their faithfulness to him when the other Israelites fell into idolatry and worshipped the Golden Calf. (See Exodus 32:26-29 and Numbers chapter 8.) God’s original plan, however, was that all of Israel would be a nation of priests (Exod. 19). The priesthood was never intended to comprise an elite group of people. (See endnote 8.)

[2] See Numbers 8:24-25. It seems that God did not want immature men under the age of 25 as ministers. Nor did he want older men past their prime. He wanted mature men full of health and vigour to be his ministers. This symbolically represented the perfection and strength of God.

[3] In Old Testament times, despite the predominantly patriarchal society, some women, such as Deborah (Judg. 4:4), Miriam (Mic. 6:4) and the Wise Woman of Abel Beth Maacah (2 Sam. 20:14ff esp v20), were effective civil and spiritual leaders. Moreover, as well as being leaders, Miriam (Exod. 15:20) and Deborah were recognised and respected as prophetesses. And Huldah advised the king through her capacity as a prophetess (2 Kings 22:11-20; 2 Chron 34:22), etc. Other faith-filled women heroically assisted Israel: Rahab (Josh. ch 2, 6:22-25) Esther, etc.  [My Article on Bible Women with Spiritual Authority is here.]
But some women were involved in Tabernacle and Temple service. (See here.) And both men and women could make a vow of separation to God as a Nazirite. (See Numbers chapter 6).

[4] Among the Levites, only a direct descendant of Aaron was permitted by God to become the High Priest and enter the Most Holy Place, also known as the Holy of Holies, once a year. (Exod. 27:21-28:43; 30:10; Neh. 10:38; 2 Chron. 13:10b; cf. 1 Chron. 24; Heb 9:1ff esp v. 7).

[5] The Greek words used here are douloi “male slaves” and doulai “female slaves.” In the Old Testament, people such as Moses (Num. 12:7-8), Joshua (Josh. 24:29), David (Psa. 89:20) and other prophets, were referred to in Hebrew as “slaves of the Lord.” It was a title that highlighted their authority and appointment as ministers and spokesmen of God. Most English translations, however, use the word “servants” rather than “slaves.”

[6] Verses that mention spiritual giftings: Acts 2:17-18; Romans 12:6-8 CSB; 1 Corinthians 12:7-11, 27-28; 14:26-33 CSB; Ephesians 4:11-12; Hebrews 2:4; 1 Peter 4:9-11. These verses do not indicate any gender preference with regard to receiving or employing spiritual gifts.
While Romans 12:6-8 does contain masculine participles, so do many verses which speak about salvation and are generally taken as applying to both men and women (e.g. John 3:16). The grammatical masculine gender does not necessarily imply that it refers to only males.  The “default” grammatical gender of many passages that apply equally to men and women is masculine.

[7] Some Christians do have the function and role of congregational leadership. However, it is an unscriptural view that divides believers into priestly clergy and common laypeople. According to the New Testament, all believers regardless of gender, race or social status are priests.  Our main roles as priests are to corporately worship God with spiritual offerings, declare his praises, and represent God to the world (1 Pet. 2:5,9; cf. John 4:24; Rom. 12:1; Heb. 13:15). As already stated, Christian believers do not need another person to act as a mediator between themselves and God. We do not need any priest other than Jesus Christ, our High Priest. [More on this here.]

[8] Brante Pitre states that at the Last Supper, Jesus “commands the twelve to offer a sacrifice of his body and blood and thereby constitutes them priests, not after the order of Levi, but according to the order of Melchizedek, because Jesus is the new Melchizedek, he’s the new (and the true) King of Righteousness, the king of Jerusalem.” (Source)
And after explaining that the Abrahamic and Davidic Covenants (supposedly) relate back to the “Melchizedek” priesthood, Andrew Safford states, “Jesus is the one priest; the apostles receive the gift of participating in the one priesthood of Jesus Christ …” (Source) Participating in this “one priesthood” seems to be a contradiction of the common and ministerial priesthoods taught by the RCC.
I appreciate, however, that these men may not speak for all Roman Catholics.

[9] The word “Melchizedek” is mentioned ten times in the Scriptures. In the letter to the Hebrews, the priesthood of Melchizedek is mentioned eight times. Several of these references are clearly referring to Jesus Christ’s eternal priesthood (Heb. 5:6, 10; 6:20). Hebrews chapter 7 is devoted to exploring the connection between Jesus and Melchizedek, the enigmatic King of Salem, who is mentioned in Genesis 14:18. Some Christians believe that the King of Salem was a Christophany, a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus Christ. “Melchizedek” is also mentioned in Psalm 110:4 (cf. Heb. 5:6). Melchizedek means “King of Righteousness” and may be a title rather than a name. Genesis 14:18 tells us that this person was the king of Salem and a priest of God Most High. While Salem is a place (later called Jerusalem), the word salem is derived from the word shalom which mean “complete, whole, perfect.”

John H. Walton writes that the author of Hebrews is saying that the priesthood represented by Jesus is based on the precedent of Melchizedek (Psalm 110) and is superior to the Levitical priesthood. Walton further writes,

… there is nothing in Hebrews or anywhere else to suggest that we need to believe that Melchizedek was anything other than the Canaanite king depicted in Genesis 14. The profile in Hebrews combines the biblical information about the historical Melchizedek from Genesis 14, the theological-political prototype of Jerusalem-based royal priesthood that finds its precedent in Melchizedek, and the literary-traditional view of Melchizedek evident in Jewish speculative theology. These three strands are inextricably woven together with no roadmap given to the audience to allow them to distinguish the strands. All three are legitimate for the inspired author of Hebrews to use, even though they are not of the same nature.
Walton The Lost World of Adam and Eve (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2015), 98-99.

[10] Hebrews 7:24, a verse brought up in the discussion on succession, says that “because Jesus lives forever he has a permanent (Greek: parabatos) priesthood.” The word parabatos can also mean “non-transferable.” Jesus is the only high priest, and we, his followers, are a kingdom of priests.

© Margaret Mowczko 2010
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Image Credit

“Priests of the Tabernacle” from Bible Pictures and What They Teach Us by Charles Foster (1897) (Wikimedia)

Postscript: August 20, 2020

Here is some additional information about what the Roman Catholic Church teaches about priesthoods.

Regarding “Baptism gives a share in the common priesthood of all believers.”
CCC 1268: http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/para/1268.htm

Regarding Christ as high priest and unique mediator, and the church as “a kingdom, priests for his God and Father.”
CCC 1546: http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/para/1546.htm

In this paragraph, a distinction is made between a “common” priesthood and a “ministerial” priesthood, a distinction that the New Testament does not make.
CCC 1547: http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/para/1547.htm

I also recommend,
CCC 1544, which mentions Melchizedek: http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/para/1544.htm
CCC 1548, which contains a statement from Ignatius that is concerning: http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/para/1548.htm

More here: http://www.scborromeo.org/ccc/p2s2c3a6.htm#1544

Explore more

Women who served at the entrance of the tent of meeting
The Twelve Apostles were all Male
Is it only men who can represent Jesus?
Many women leaders in the Bible had this one thing in common
Partnering Together: Paul’s Female Coworkers
Paul’s Qualifications for Church Leaders (1 Timothy 3)
All my articles on 1 Timothy 2:12 are here.

artigos em portugues sobre igualdade entre homens e mulheres no lar e na igreja

33 thoughts on “Old Testament Priests & New Covenant Ministers

  1. Thank you for the information and the accompanying Scriptures. It was what I needed and more.

    God Bless.

  2. Hi Lisa, I’m glad the article was useful to you.

    God Bless.

  3. While the NT does teach that we are all, in Christ, considered a holy priesthood, that does not mean that all can serve in the same capacity.
    In fact the Word is quite specific. Read Ephesians 4.11,12: And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.
    The use of the word “some” specifies that not all can serve as pastors. So the argument that anyone can serve as pastor is quite flimsy.
    Please turn to 1 Timothy 3.1-13 and you’ll note that if a man desires the position of overseer (identified as pastor) he desires a good work. The qualifications are gender specific here for this position: a husband of one wife. No matter how you “cut it”, proper exegesis can only render males qualified to be pastors, and in this test, for the “office” of deacon as well. Bottom line is the each in the body of Christ is a “minister” but not all qualifiy for two offices. This is not to place women lower in the standing in the church, but rather, raise them up as a “fragile vessle” worthy of protection. (1 Peter 3.7).
    Please consider the whole counsel of the Word on the issue of leadership and realize that the Lord may not desire women to serve as pastors, not because they are not any less intellegent than men, but because God wants men to “man up” and become the leaders and protectors of women and young people they need to be.

  4. Hi Rich,

    I agree that not every Christian man and woman is gifted to serve as an apostle, prophet, evangelist or pastor-teacher. However, this verse, which I have read many times, does not say that only men are gifted to function as such. (Also, there is no word for “some” in the Greek.) https://margmowczko.com/new-testament-women-church-leaders/

    I have also read 1 Timothy 3:1-13 many times, and there is no word for “man” in the Greek of 1 Timothy 3:1, despite English translations that include the word. I believe that a proper exegesis of the original language, that takes into account the idioms employed in this passage, does not exclude women. The qualifications in this passage are in fact not gender-specific. Some complementarian Bible scholars have also come to the conclusion that “a-one-woman-man” cannot legitimately be used to exclude women.

    I very much take into account the whole counsel of Scripture, particularly the New Testament as we are New Covenant people (Acts 2:18).

    While most women are physically weaker than most men, women can still protect others, including men, women and children (e.g. Rom 16:3-4). (I assume you mean that men can protect other men too, and not just women and children.) Women may not be as strong as men but they can be courageous. Sometimes more so than men.

    Paul had no problem with godly women pastoring house churches in the early church so I wonder why you think that God does not desire women to serve as pastors?

    I am intrigued that you think protecting women somehow “raises” them. How does it raise them? Does protecting children raise children too?

    I am also intrigued that you think men have to “man up” to be leaders. Paul didn’t feel he needed to “man up” to be a leader. He understood that leadership can take different forms and expressions (1 Thess 2:7).

  5. Overall, I like this article. A few points to chew on.

    1) A priest was responsible for sacrificing animals, including some that are large. I can see the limitation to men from Aaron of age 25-50 as being one of practicality. In any case, the Bible does not explain the reason WHY these limitations were done, they were just to be followed without explanation.

    2) It seems that Samuel was adopted and therefore became a priest, altho I do not think this is explicit, it seems able to be inferred.

    3) Many of the refs in Hebrews to what is often translated as “old covenant” actually could be translated to just “old” or a similar word, this means the translators thought that the word covenant was implied, so they added the word. Anytime a word gets added by translators, a Berean should examine this to see if there are other possibilities that fit better. The relationship of God’s covenants to each other is a large subject, so I will simply leave some thought questions: (A) It is clear that the new covenant is better than the Sinai covenant, but exactly how is it better? (Hint: I think Jer 31 explains how.) (B) In Acts 21, Paul went out of his way to show that he participated in both the new covenant and the Sinai covenant, why would he do that?

    1. As an animal handler who happens to be a woman, I can assure you that it takes quite a bit more than brute strength (which any woman who handles large animals regularly develops of necessity) to control an animal. Not to mention that a sacrificial animal is a domestic animal, and can be led fairly easily to where it will be sacrificed. A woman who farms can manage this, as she would be physically strong enough to deal with butchering on a regular basis. So your first point is a non-starter.

  6. There is a major flaw in tbis argument, well several, but the first is that many men were excluded from service for many reasons…None of which were due to their gender. Women were excluded for no other readon BUT their gender. So that presents a poor comparison.

  7. Hi Mark, the reasons that most men were excluded from the Old Testament priesthood all come down to physicality. That is, they were excluded for physical reasons, not for spiritual or moral reasons, or even for reasons of incompetence. Similarly, women were excluded for reasons of physicality, they were women. I do not dispute this at all.

    Still, some women ministered as doorkeepers and musicians, etc, in the tabernacle and temple (Exod. 38:8; 1 Sam. 2:22-23; Psa. 68:24-26). (I’ve written about the women who served at the entrance of the tabernacle here.)

    In the New Testament, the requirements for ministry are primarily spiritual and moral, not physical, and competence and authorisation for ministry comes from the Holy Spirit.

    My article compares the differences in ministry in the Old Testament community of God’s people with ministry in the New Testament community of God’s people. This is my main comparison. And I think it’s a valid one.

    1. Adam is given his instructions from God in Gen 2:15. The Hebrew word ‘avad not only means “work” but is used frequently in the Old Testament to mean, “serve God.” Similarly shamar is often used of “keeping” the commandments. The next time we see these two verbs been used together ( ‘avad and shamar ) is as priestly duties to the sanctuary, in particular Number 3:8-9 where the two verbs are used this way. Eden is like a sanctuary and Adam has Priestly duties. { Acts 15:6,23; 1 Tim 4:14, 5:22, 5:17; Jas 5:13-15} – Presbyters/Priests were ordained to preach and administer the Sacraments. These ministers are called “father”, as we see in { Lk 16:24, Rom 4; 1 Cor 4:14-15; Acts 7:2; 1 Thess 2:11; 1 Jn 2:13-14} Rom 15:16-Paul calls himself “a minister of Christ Jesus with the priestly duty of proclaiming the Gospel of God”. So although women of course can proclaim the word, they cannot preach or offer the Sacraments in the “Household of God, which is the Church”, which is the place in which the Priests most important duty takes place, proclaiming the word & making the Thanksgiving (Eucharist) offering, prophesied in Mal 1:11 because Paul forbid it when he said [1 Cor 14:34–35] “It is not permitted for a woman to speak in the church”. Does anyone truly believe Paul is telling women to shut up and not to speak at all here. What about female prophets and deaconesses who helped with Baptism. If he was, then scripture is contradicting scripture, which cant happen. With the Priest been in the person of Christ when offering the sacraments & proclaiming the Gospel during Mass. From the beginning, and always the father passed the Blessing onto the children, to the eldest first. This was his priestly role during time of the Patriarchs. We follow scripture in calling our Priests father as they are responsible for our souls and like Abraham are our spiritual Father. The Papacy was prefigured in Isaiah 22 and we read ” ..he will be a FATHER to the people.” The priesthood is a calling from God, and it is absolutely “equal opportunity / equal rights” which drives this discussion. I agree with both of those but there are roles a man cannot do-like be a mother, so a woman cant be a father….It’s amazing this was never an issue until the 20th century, yet every century previous produced the most beutiful Holy Saints that were female, and will continue to do so from the pool of those who accept the Authority of the Church, which is the Body of Christ.
      “It is of no concern how diverse be their [the heretics’] views, so long as they conspire to erase the one truth. They are puffed up; all offer knowledge. Before they have finished as catechumens, how thoroughly learned they are! And the heretical women themselves, how shameless are they! They make bold to teach, to debate, to work exorcisms, to undertake cures . . . ” (Demurrer Against the Heretics 41:4–5 [A.D. 200]).
      “[A female heretic], lately conversant in this quarter, has carried away a great number with her most venomous doctrine, making it her first aim to destroy baptism. . . . But we, little fishes, after the example of our Icthus [Greek, “Fish”], Jesus Christ, are born in water . . . so that most monstrous creature, who had no right to teach even sound doctrine, knew full well how to kill the little fishes, by taking them away from the water” (Baptism 1 [A.D. 203]).
      “It is not permitted for a woman to speak in the church [1 Cor 14:34–35], but neither [is it permitted her] . . . to offer, nor to claim to herself a lot in any manly function, not to say sacerdotal office” (The Veiling of Virgins 9 [A.D. 206]).

      1. Quick question . . . If a relationship with God truly is equal opportunity for everyone then why is it that there exists male-only roles in the function of priest but not female-only roles? There is not a single function in the church that only women are allotted to. Also, did you forget how many times the first born was passed over in favour of the second born? Many! Jacob (Israel) himself was the younger son.

        1. I have more about God passing over the first-born, effectively ignoring the social concept of primogeniture, here: https://margmowczko.com/adam-created-first/

          I think Paul does mention a female-only role in the church in Crete, but even if he didn’t, what does it matter? According to Paul, the prerequisites for ministry in the church (the community of Jesus’ followers) are gifts, grace, faith, ability, not gender. More on this here: https://margmowczko.com/ministry-gifts-grace-faith-gender/

    2. Hi Marg, is there no rebuttal to Robert Blake’s points? Please consider looking at the work of Alaistair Roberts who follows a similar line of reasoning that the Garden was a prototypical “church” of sorts and that is why women are disqualified from leadership because they were not given the instructions by God/made for the same purpose as (male) Man.

      1. Hi Dean,

        I get lots of comments and can’t reply to them all, especially if they contain many parts, have quite a few (unsubstantiated) statements, and require a lot of unpacking, as Robert’s does. But I’ll leave a few quick thoughts to your much shorter comment.

        A church is a community, a gathering of believers. One person, ha’adam, does not make a church, prototypical or otherwise.

        Ha’adam was given the command about the forbidden fruit before the woman was formed from a side, or part, taken out of his body. It’s not as though God chose to tell the man and chose not to tell the woman. She simply wasn’t around.

        I can’t see that because the woman was not yet created, and therefore she did not hear the command about the forbidden fruit when it was given in Genesis 2:16-17, that this disqualifies every woman for all time from being a leader of a New Covenant community of God’s people. This is way too big of a leap for me.

        Nevertheless, the woman did know the command about the forbidden fruit. The Genesis 2-3 story does not tell us how she learnt it, but we can’t presume that God did not also tell her once she was on the scene. (I’ve written about the woman’s reply to the serpent here: https://margmowczko.com/eves-statement-to-the-serpent/ )

        Genesis 1 tells us that men and women were made for the same purpose. In Genesis 1:26ff, men and women have (1) the same status: they are God’s image-bearers and regents; (2) the same authority: they are given the same authorisation from God; (3) the same purpose: both men and women are to have dominion of the earth and are to procreate.

        One response to Robert’s comment:
        Ha’adam is told to tend (avad) and keep (shamar) the garden (Gen. 2:15; cf. Gen. 2:5). The verb avad, which occurs almost 300 times in the Hebrew Bible, is sometimes used in the context of maintenance of the tabernacle and Levitical service, particularly in the book of Numbers, but the word itself means “to labour/work/serve as a slave.” In the context of land and gardening, avad means “to cultivate” (e.g., Gen. 2:5, 15f; 3:23; 4:2, 12; 2 Sam. 9:10; Isa. 30:24; Jer. 27:11; Zech. 13:5; Prov. 12:11; 28:19; cf. Deut. 15:19; 28:39; Ezek. 48:19).

        Shamar (“keep/preserve/guard”) occurs 469 times in the Hebrew Bible. It is even more common than avad.

        Shamar and avad both occur in Genesis 2:15 and in Numbers 3:8, but the forms of the words in the two verses and the sentence structure of these two verses are entirely different. I see no resonance between the two verses, whatsoever. If Robert does, that’s fine. But I don’t want to waste my time on this kind of conjecture.

  8. Galatians 3:28: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, bond nor free, male and female for we are all one in Christ Jesus.”
    We should pay more attention to the great commission (Mark 16; Matthew 28) and less attention to what gender is doing the teaching.

    1. I agree, Will.
      (More on Galatians 3:28 here.)

    2. When it says we are all one “in Jesus Christ” we need to think deep regarding the kingdom of heaven. Bodily we are clearly different, a woman is a woman and a man as well. But when regarded in spiritual sense, there is no gender, in the resurrection there is no marriage, remember? Therefore, here on earth we have specific roles just as we have been created different, except that when we are in the kingdom of heaven with Jesus, we are spirits, for God is Spirit. In that sense no Asians, no Latinos Americans, no Africans etc. There is no specific instruction for a woman to talk to God different from how a man does, we are all one.

      So I advise you respect the roles specifically given by the Word of God. Let’s not be carried away by the modern world ideas. We are ALL called to be a loyal priesthood of believers. We are priests because we offer are bodies as living sacrifice, when we do not conform to the ways of this world. To this world we are dead but then we are risen with Christ in His kingdom. Also we are a kingdom because we are citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven where Christ rules. That’s why we do not follow the ways of this world but only what our King orders us to do.

      1. Hello Charles,

        Most of us have many roles, and these roles change as we go through different stages and situations in life.

        I don’t see anyone here being carried away by modern ideas. I see mostly Bible-loving followers of Jesus who are discussing what the Bible, an ancient book, says about ministry.

        You may be interested in this article about Paul’s female coworkers in ministry.

        I welcome comments from fellow believers who have a different life experience of culture and a different first language than mine. (My first language was Dutch.) 🙂

  9. A priest, minister, and pastor all do the same exact thing but vary on certain parts. Let’s start off easy David before he was a King was a Shepherd of a flock it was a prophet that has found David when he was just a teenager and planned for him to be king after Saul. David later became a King of the tribes of Israel and also a shepherd representing a Melchizedec priesthood. MELCHIZEDEC was a King and Prince of Salem who Abraham had given a tithe of his flock to. In christianity Melchizedec is referred to as most Pastors who preach or even the very few people who go out of their way to preach to their kids, homeless or, anyone who needs some good preaching to. Now a minister on the other hand is basically a Step-Pastor for when the Pastor is busy but, a minister is basically a Pastor.

    Each church will have their own versions of a priesthood order depending on the organization. Truth of the matter is though many claim to be Pastors not many really are. In light of the gospel Jesus Christ called his servants to be Students of his first then to go out and preach the word of God as ministers (replacement for Christ) until his return. This is called spreading the gospel to the ends of the earth.

    1. Every follower of Jesus is empowered by the Holy Spirit to be agents of Jesus and his kingdom (whether they realize it or not), but no person is his replacement. The Holy Spirit is Jesus’ replacement in the current age.

  10. Marg, this is superb!

    Would you be willing to fly to Enid, Oklahoma and teach at our church for a conference? Would love for you to expound on this very subject and other important points of Kingdom leadership as it relates to giftings, humility, and service in the New Covenant.

    1. Thanks, Wade.

      Depending on certain logistics, I’d love to come to Enid.

  11. Thank you this has been most helpful!

  12. Hi Marg,

    I’ve read the argument that the Hittites had similar taboos regarding ritual purity and menstruation as the Israelites had, but they still had priestesses. It appears these priestesses simply were not in rotation during their menstruation. Also, another point I’ve heard from the opposition is that men end up ritually unclean throughout the month more often than women, and that ritual impurity of women can’t be the reason for their exclusion from the priesthood. Finally, priestesses in the surrounding cultures did sacrifice animals, at least of smaller size, so the argument provided in a comment from a reader above that the Bible is having the priests make sacrifices from large animals too big for women to handle doesn’t make sense. Why can’t women just handle sacrificing the smaller animals and leave the men to handle the big bulls?

    The only explanation I’ve read that makes any sense is that the religions of other nations were dualistic: The male god always had a goddess consort. Thus, the male priests usually represented the male god, while the priestesses represented the female. This is also often the case with kings/queens. So, perhaps God was attempting to curb that tendency and steer Israel toward monotheism? My only concern with this argument is that it strongly implies that God is male.

    A penny for your thoughts? I could use some help with these.

    1. That all makes a lot of sense, CA.

      I know almost nothing about Hittite culture, but I do know that many male gods in the Greco-Roman and Egyptian pantheons had both male and female priests, and many female gods had both male and female priests. I think Cybele only had male priests, but they were castrated and dress in feminine ways.

      Also, even if Hittites had similar taboos about menstruation, did they have similar laws about it? And I’m wondering what their regulations were concerning emissions, diseases, and age and the priesthood.

      1. Yeah, I’m not sure about how developed their purity laws were. Would be an interesting study! Do you know of any comprehensive studies/Bible encyclopedias that compare Old Testament law with surrounding ancient near east nations’ laws and cultic purity rituals? I’m betting something like that would yield some clues.

  13. Thanks so much for this Marg. It is so easy to forget the key difference that we are all members of the royal priesthood.

  14. Hi Marg, this is a great piece. Have you looked at Aimee Byrd’s articles on sexual typology? It draws heavily on Pope John Paul II’s “Theology of the Body”. I grapple with some of the contents, but the general gist is that men represent the “means of ascent”, the second Christ, the initiator whereas women represent the destination, the “teleos”, the final sanctified people of God. It sounds heavily Arstolian, even though it bucks against the inferiority shackles natural law often heaps on women, but I can see why she believes what she does. It would explain God’s use of male descriptors and pronouns, his seeming preference for male leadership, his accommodations of patriarchy. It makes sense logically and even theologically but it does make me think there is something lacking in the Imago Dei in a female that is fully realized in a male. So much philosophy and religious pieces stretching back from the ancient world uses these male vs female archetypes, active vs passage etc. It seems there may be truth to it.

    1. Hi Courtney, I haven’t read Aimee’s articles on sexual typology.

      I strongly doubt that God prefers male leadership or that women are any less representative of the image of God than men. The vital role of women in reproduction, as well as in creating for the young, the old and the infirmed, made it more difficult for married, fertile women to become leaders in Israel.

  15. […] Old Testament Priests and New Covenant Ministers […]

  16. […] [10]The regulations surrounding worship in the tabernacle and temple and the Old Testament priesthood were mostly physical. In the New Covenant, worship and the qualifications for ministry are mostly spiritual. More on this basic difference here. […]

  17. […] There was a respected place and position for prophets, male and female, in ancient Israel, in early Judaism, and in the first-century church. Unlike monarchs and priests who gained their place through inheritance and tradition, prophets gained their place because of their unique abilities. They heard from God and spoke for God. Their speech did not always include foretelling; nevertheless, prophets were intermediaries between divinity and humanity. […]

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