ChristiaNet MallWorld's Largest Christian MallChristian BlogsFree Bible QuizzesFree Ecards and Free Greeting CardsLoans, Debt, Business and Insurance Articles

Do Clergy Have Authority

Is there any Biblical basis for a distinction between clergy--closer to God, authority over laity, God speaking to them--and laity. If so, what authority do the clergy have over laity? If they have no authority, why not?

Join Our Christian Chat and Take The Leadership Bible Quiz
 ---Rod on 8/30/09
     Helpful Blog Vote (3)

Reply to this BlogPost a New Blog



They only have the authority given from God alone...And before acting on any decisions they should be positively absolutely certain that the revelation they receive is from God because their are other spirits that mislead.
---tonne on 10/15/09


lee, yes, those in authority must exercise greater humility, for pride has an ugly face. And I am greatly moved whenever I witness a pastor or leader whom falls down upon their knees and sincerely prays to our Lord above him.
---Eloy on 9/21/09


//Clergymen responsible for running the church should be respected as such, but each born-again child of God is 100% equal to every other born-again child of God...

Very true however, it is unfortunate that all too many clergy abuse their office for their own personal gain and prestige.

And as teachers they will receive the greater judgment.

Jas 3:1 Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness.

It seems that those who are in denominations that have priests have been the worst problem.
---lee on 9/21/09


Clergimen responsible for running the church should be respected as such, but each born-again child of God is 100% equal to every other born-again child of God, he has given all power in heaven and in earth to every one of his own children, and he will not withhold any good thing to them who walk in innocence. Many clergy are nonborn-again or lost souls bound with religion, and likewise are some laity. But Christ's Commandment and great commission are for each and every Christian to obey and to carry out, however, differing gifts are distributed to individuals according to his good pleasure and our faith.
---Eloy on 9/18/09


Hi my name is Nick and I'm a Child of God Through Jesus Christ!I wanted to reply because of what i read while scimming through the Blogs! And something that caught my Spirits attention was the post that speaks on authority and Clergy.(nor is the bible an authority...it is a helpful "reference" to know the "doctrine of Christ", 2 John verse 9).)That Statement is False.John 1:1 In the Beginning was the Word,and the Word was with God and the Word was God! Jesus Christ is the Word! the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us...John 1:14! And the Bible is Authority! its not just a tool or a reference or a basic instructions before leaving earth! No its a Form of God himself and has Great Power It is Truth and Life!
---Nick on 9/18/09




Jesus said...

"ALL AUTHORITY in heaven and earth has been given to ME"....Matthew 28:18.

ONLY Jesus hung on the cross, suffered the crown of thorns, nails and spear. ONLY Jesus said "It is done" and ONLY Jesus was resurrected after those "three days" to become our new worship temple (the outer temple).

John 2:19 and 21...
"three days"...."speaking of the temple of His body".

1 Corinthians 3:16
"you are God's temple"...we are the INNER temple).

Nobody is a spiritual authority except the "outer temple" (nor is the bible an authority...it is a helpful "reference" to know the "doctrine of Christ", 2 John verse 9).
---more_excellent_way on 9/17/09


I knew when I questioned the concept of clerical authority that it is an issue whatever belief one has, RCC, EO, or Protestant. I didn't know how basic it is to our, how to follow Christ?
From a practical observation, there are godly man on all sides of the fence. God looks on the heart. The Seg had some good contributions to the topic.
BTW, it's not just a simple, RCC was wrong in the Schism, then go on to the next topic. That issue is major in this discussion, if one believes in succession.
Acts 6:3, the congregation (not succession) selected the people they believed qualified.
---Rod on 9/6/09


A basic question in this discussion is whether one believes in additional authority to the Scriptures. People need to decide if they believe that traditions/customs have the same authority as Scriptures. Another decision is whether they believe that "clergy" have authority in addition to scripture.
I'll break it down, is Scripture final? Or is Scripture, tradition/custom, and succession (clergy) final. That is the real difference in our discussion, which one people believe. If it's the latter, that is very confusing with incredible, endless discussions of what is what and who is who, instead of being able to focus on Christ.
---Rod on 9/6/09


If you in your heart, say!

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor, he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,
To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.

But, always remember!
The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat:
All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do, but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.

Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.
But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.

There, the difference!
---TheSeg on 9/6/09


Rod

You asked "who gave some a group the right to "ordain?" and I said Apostolic Succession. It seems you believe such a doctrine doesn't exist in the Bible. Read Acts 1:22, 2 Tim 2:2, Titus 1:5, and 1 Tim 4:14.

Now read Acts 6:6, and we learn that Apostolic Authority is transmitted through the "laying on the hands" (ordination) [done even in the OT: Deut. 34:9, Exodus 18:25-26, etc]. We learn the same thing about Saint Paul (Acts 9:17-19) who, even though chosen by Christ, became a ordained minister through the laying on the hands. Thus, ordination is necessary for Apostolic Succession. We see this "laying on the hands" several times (Acts 13:3, 14:23, 15:22-27, 2 Cor. 1:21-22).

In IC.XC,
---Ignatius on 9/6/09




"Christ is our authority" [Rod]

True, but, God sent men who have teaching authority within the Apostolic Church (Acts 13:1). Saint Paul recognized teachers as gifts of God to the Church (1 Cor 12:28, Eph 4:11). This authority has transfer to successors of the Holy Apostles (1 Tim. 5:22, 2 Tim. 1:6, 2 Tim. 2:2, Titus 1:5). These teachers are given by the Lord to help us correctly understand and obey Holy Scripture. Saint Peter also recognized the Clergy (1 Peter 5:5). They deserve double honor from the Laity (1 Tim 5:17).

Also read Acts 20:17-35. Bishops [Clergy] are shepherds in the Church of God [to the flock, Laity]. What say you?

In IC.XC,
---Ignatius on 9/6/09


" Apostolic succession/clergy authority, is the issue that Eastern Orthodox split from the Catholic Church" (Rod)

For us, the Roman Church enter into Schism in 1054AD, not the other way around, however, I bet Catholics will tell you that the Eastern Churches split from the Roman Church......

"Christ is our authority in our spirit and our life, and we are to follow Him."

I agree that Christ is our authority, He is the Head of the Church. However, he left men who holds authority within the Church, for example the Holy Apostles, and the Bishops/Presbyters. Read Saint Paul and Saint Peter writings. They [Bishops] are the visible Icons of Jesus Christ.

In IC.XC,
---Ignatius on 9/5/09


"Apostolic Succession has been a [...] issue since the second century [...]as crucial to the preservation of the Faith. Certain false teachers came on the scene at that time insisting they were authoritative representatives of the Christian Church... In response, the early Church insisted there was an authoritative apostolic deposit passed down[....]showing how its clergy were ordained by those chosen by the successors of the Apostles chosen by Christ Himself. Apostolic succession is an indispensable factor in preserving unity in the Church. Those in that succession....are responsible to ensure that all teaching and practice in the Church is in keeping with her apostolic foundations" What Orthodox Christians Believe

In IC.XC,
---Ignatius on 9/6/09


Ignatius. BTW, one issue we are talking about, Apostolic succession/clergy authority, is the issue that Eastern Orthodox split from the Catholic Church. Thanks for prodding with the issue, or I might have discovered this. Just shows there is always more to learn, and the truth is nothing to be afraid of. If they were right then, they are wrong now. Interesting how this issue ends up being so important.

Christ is our authority in our spirit and our life, and we are to follow Him. Jesus had this problem with the religious authorities of His time. They were wrong. They thought much of position, how dare Jesus challenge their authority.
---Rod on 9/5/09


Igantius. I must be missing something about Apostolic Succession, like we are talking about two different things. Apostolic Succession doesn't have value to me, but you seem to defend it and at the same time say "it simply means" as though it is not significant. It appears to have great importance or institutions wouldn't spend their time on it, such as RCC and Eastern Orthodox.

It's your custom/tradition that supplies a preconcieved interpretation of bishops. Your view that "laying on of hands" proves Apostolic Succession, but that is reading into Scripture that meaning. That isn't there unless one wants to see it. It's like conspiracy theories. When one starts seeing ghosts in the shadows, they are everywhere.
---Rod on 9/5/09


"passing on Apostolic Succession is not there." (Rod).

Apostolic Succession simply means that a Bishop/Priest can trace his linage back to one or more of the Holy Apostles. The fact that Saint Timothy was ordained by Saint Paul, and was told "Neglect not the gift that is in thee.....the laying on of the hands of the presbytery" (1 Tim 4:4) proves Apostolic Succession.

"The epistles of Ignatius teach the "Bishop" concept [...] And his writings are in great question as to being authentic." (Rod).

The Bible teach the "Bishop" concept, I posted several Scriptures before. Those writings traditionally ascribed to St. Ignatius are not in question.

In IC.XC,
---Igantius on 9/5/09


Read These Insightful Articles About Christian Dating


Rod,

Fine, let's defined "Apostolic Faith". It is not only a present, living relationship with Jesus Christ, but also those teachings of Jesus Christ, the Holy Apostles and there Holy Successors- 2 Thess. 3:6, 2 Thess. 2:15, 2 Thess. 2:5, and 1 Tim. 6:20, 2 Tim. 2:2. Following Christ and believing and professing the True Faith goes hand and hand friend.

"The epistles of Ignatius.....not the succession part."

How about To the Trallians,, 7 (A.D. 110)? That letter is consider authentic by the majority of Biblical scholars, and it is included in my books (Ancient Christian Writers, etc) on the writings of Saint Ignatius of Antioch. Have you read his and other Early Church Fathers writings?

In IC.XC,
---Ignatius on 9/5/09


Yes, clergy have spiritual authority over laity because they wear a spiritual mantle that God has placed over their life. The mantle carries an anointing of God that equips a minister for service. God respects that anointing and expects others to also. The Bible says we are not to touch God's anointed servants. When David chose not to kill King Saul, it was because David honored the mantle God had placed on Saul's life, even if he didn't respect the man. I feel that is a great lesson for God's people. We should honor clergy as one who houses the anointing of God and who stands in a spiritual office.
---Alena on 9/5/09


"The term "pastoral letters" is a presupposition imposed on those letters. Paul doesn't call them that."

Nonetheless, they were written to those who were Bishops, or had a teaching authority in a specific Apostolic church.

"my faith is a present, living, live relationship....not a 'Ancient Faith'." "

As a Orthodox Christian, both are not contradictory. The Ancient Faith, outline in Holy Scriptures, is a present, living relationship with Jesus Christ, etc.

"Christendom has focused and created the "clergy" and lost sight of the qualifications of overseers."

Not in Eastern Orthodoxy. Actually, it is Holy Scriptures which makes a distinction.

In IC.XC,
---Ignatius on 9/4/09


2 Tim 2:2. "...the things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, these entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also."

I posted the verse again so those who are interested can read for themselves. There is nothing "clear" here to say Timothy was to pass on "Apostolic Faith," unless one defines Apostolic Faith as following Christ. It's not there. And Paul does not call him, Saint Timothy. Timothy was to "teach" others, passing on Apostolic Succession is not there.

The epistles of Ignatius teach the "Bishop" concept, but not the succession part. And his writings are in great question as to being authentic.
---Rod on 9/4/09


Read These Insightful Articles About Health Treatments


"The work of the ministry is for all believers, nothing here to say the the "faithful men" are in line for Apostolic succession. All believers are to be faithful." (Rod).

Actually, the context makes it clear that Saint Timothy was suppose to pass the Apostolic Faith to those who he trusted, who in turn will pass it along to others. The text makes a distinction on those who teach and those who receive instruction. Hence, Apostolic Succession is shown clearly in this Scriptura text, and also a special teaching ministry within the Church.

And Titus 1:5 also proves Apostolic Succession. And yes, my parish have a Bishop, Presbyster, Deacon, etc, as all the Early Churches had.

In IC.XC,
---Ignatius on 9/4/09


2 Tim 2:2. "...the things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, these entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also."

The work of the ministry is for all believers, nothing here to say the the "faithful men" are in line for Apostolic succession. All believers are to be faithful.

Titus 1:5. "...appoint elders in every city..."

Elders is plural not singular. Churches are to have plural elders. In context, Paul went on to explain the qualifications of an elder. If it was a simple appointment, the church would not need to know the qualifications. If one meets the qualifcations, he is an elder. Timothy was to teach and recognise those people who qualified.
---Rod on 9/4/09


The term "pastoral letters" is a presupposition imposed on those letters. Paul doesn't call them that.

BTW, my faith is a present, living, live relationship with a living God through Jesus Christ with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, not an "Ancient Faith." It's working today. It's organic, fresh, and vital, not something cold only accessible only through "clergy." There is One mediator between God and man, Jesus Christ.

Christendom has focused and created the "clergy" and lost sight of the qualifications of overseers.
---Rod on 9/4/09


"As far as "Ordained," who gave some a group the right to "ordain?" Apostolic succession?" (Rod)

Yes. 2 Tim 2:2, Titus 1:5, and 1 Tim 4:14.

I would agree that all Christians should walk the Christian life and share The Ancient Faith with others, however, Holy Scriptures makes it clear that the God has set up offices (e.g., Bishops/Presbyters) in the Church to correctly teach and interpret Holy Scriptures.

Again, I suggest you read Saint Paul pastoral letters. The Church leaders, like our earthly father, must be obeyed in matters of the spiritual life, with humanity (1 Peter 5:5). They deserve double honor from the laity (1 Tim 5:17).

In IC,XC,
---Ignatius on 9/4/09


Send a Free St Patrick's Day Ecard


Thanks, Rod. THAT was the verse I was looking for! (And I appreciate you too)

The point I thought of, is that there is a sense in which clergy are different from laity. That is, that one who takes the responsibility of a "master" (teacher), risks greater condemnation if he is not diligent in study and led by the Lord.

Our obligations as Christians are all the same. But those who TEACH others have greater responsibilty before God because of the potential they have for harming others spiritually.
---Donna66 on 9/3/09


Be not many masters (teachers) knowing that you will receive a greater condemnation. James 3:1.

All believers are accountable for what they teach. So we need to be careful, such as in these blogs. I figure at the judgement day all the blogs I have written will be in a pile waiting for me to give an account.

The idea in James is not, not to teach, but be prepared to teach, having self-control of the tongue. Don't be teaching without thinking. In the context, it has to do with controlling the tougue.

BTW Donna, I appreciate much of your input on these blogs.
---Rod on 9/3/09


Darlene, thanks for your thoughful reply.
First, I find no description in the Bible about the "pastor." "The pastor, being one person who is in charge and proclaims God's Word.
Second, "the people (laity) are to "encourage one another, exhort one another, rebuke one another, and stimulate one another to love and good works.
"Most" lay people, who are supposed to be followers of Christ, should be doing what you did. If they don't, we (laity) need to "encourage, exhort, rebuke, and stimulate one another.
It is a presuppossion that "clergy" are to do the "work."
Your experience should be the "normal everyday Christian life."
---Rod on 9/3/09


BUT those who TEACH are held to a higher standard by God.

There is a NT verse that says exactly this. I've been looking for two days and cannot find it.
It may even start out with something like...
"desire not to teach because....."

Does anyone know it or where it can be found?
---Donna66 on 9/3/09


Read These Insightful Articles About Affiliate Program


There is no spiritual authority at all other than the one who hung on the cross. Blood flowed from the only spiritual authority and so did LIVING water...

1 John 5:6
"He came by water and blood".

...so that after learning the "DEPTHS of God" (1 Corinthians 2:10) and having the "fruit of light" (Ephesians 5:8) we would "neither thirst" (Revelation 7:16).

Our only authority established the new worship temple and became the outer temple in the three days beginning with the crucifixion (John 2:19 and 21)...we each are the inner temple (1 Corin. 3:16).

When we grow in Christ (more mature devotion), we will need no spiritual teachers (1 John 2:27) because He is our only authority.
---more_excellent_way on 9/3/09


Rod,I don't mind you commenting on what I gave but remember I gave Bible verses and they are the message from God to keep order in the church and give honor to the Christian Leaders,Pastor included. By the very nature of a Pastors job he had better be closer to God for its his responsibilities to bring the Congregation God's will for them,his Word to them,and teach his ways for them to follow also. Let me just share my personal experience as a Christian leader,not Pastor, When I was to bring God's Word or song I went into a week of prayer,praise,and Bible research seeking God's leading,waiting for him to give me the message or songs. The day of meeting I fasted for anointing of God to move through me,"most"lay persons don't do that.
---Darlene_1 on 9/2/09


Donna, I apprecieate your response. I wish I had more time to think on this right now. However, I am thinking that "clergy have no more authority than you do." I am leaning to the concept that there is no Biblical basis for "Clergy." We as Christians should be doing the work of the ministry, exhorting, encouraging, rebuking, to one another. The NT says 58 times to do "one another." I agree the only authority an elder has is in spiritual matters, but it is the same responsiblity that we have for one another.
As far as "Ordained," who gave some a group the right to "ordain?" Apostolic succession?
---Rod on 9/1/09


Darlene, ouch, so a committed "clergy" is somehow closer to God than a committed layperson? I don't mean any of this harshly. Please don't take it that way.
I appreciate elders (plural) have rule, but what does that rule entail? And what is well?
And when they rule, it should be "one another," back and forth, not one way.
I have an elder friend, and it's a "one another relationship," he many times has great spiritual insight, but it is still one another.
On another note, we should all (christians) be watching out for each other. What happens is we tend to leave the "ministry" to the "clergy." We are the ministry to one another.
---Rod on 9/1/09


Read These Insightful Articles About Abortion Facts


Rod-- In response to your questions:

Most are ordained by leaders of a denomination which may or may not be the same as the church they pastor. Some are not ordained, but fill the office of clergy by what they consider "divine" ordination.

Obey them in church matters. Sincerely consider their spiritual counsel. They have no authority in your life otherwise.

There are laity and there is clergy. In God's sight they are the same except that the latter are held highly responsible and accountable to God, as well as the people, for what they teach and preach.
---Donna66 on 9/1/09


While clery have a greater RESONSIBILITY for what they may say or don't say what they should have said, they aren't closer to God. They only have the authority for spiritual matters as presented in the Bible, and only over other Christians. Most churches I'm aware of have deacons, elders and boards to take care of non-spiritual matters.
---wivv on 9/1/09


Hebrews 13:17,7 Obey them that have the rule over you and submit yourselves:for they watch for your souls,as they must give account,that they may do it with joy,and not with grief:for that is unprofitable for you. Remember them which have the rule over you,who have spoken to you the Word of God:whose faith follow,considering the end of their conversation. 1 Timothy 5:17 Let the eldes who rule well be counted worthy of double honor,especially they who labor in the Word and doctrine. Yes commited Christian preachers are closer to God,or they should be,they need to be for they are ministering the Word for our good and they must seek and hear from God to do that.
---Darlene_1 on 9/1/09


AlwaysOn. Thanks for being perceptive. You seem to hit my nail better than I did. Elders in a church are a given, but as to authority, what authority do they have?
The term clergy I am having trouble defining. In general Christendom, many believe that Pastors/Bishops/Clergy are somehow different from laity (general population). That God somehow "calls" these people to be special in helping God communicate to mankind. And since they are Clergy, we do whatever they say and usually it involves giving them money. Before I get beat up for that statement, do Sunday School teachers get paid? Home group leaders get paid? Nursery helpers?
---Rod on 8/31/09


Read These Insightful Articles About Acne Treatment


only God knows a persons heart.
---tom2 on 8/31/09


Rod, it appears that your question is probing for an answer regarding authority. However, I am also intrigued by the "closer to God" part of your question. Is there a biblical basis for a distinction btwn clergy being closer to God than laity? I don't have an immediate answer, but I appreciate that you raised the question and am curious about what others can share in answering it.
---AlwaysOn on 8/31/09


1. Who "ordains" these people?"

2. What do people mean by, "Obey them?" What's that mean? Obey them in what things?

So, am I right that the general consenus is that there is a "clergy and laity?
---Rod on 8/31/09


Bill_bila5659 post is true. Those who will be ordained into the clerical office must be approved, by there faith and walk in the Lord (1 Tim 3). By there standards, we are called to obey them. These Christian leaders are not only be prayed (Hebrews 13:3) but followed as models of Christian life as well. The faith of Christian leaders is that faith they both teach and live by.

In IC.XC,
---Igantius on 8/30/09


Read These Insightful Articles About Bad Credit Loans


God doesn't put some kind of "mark" on those HE has chosen to lead His people... so clergy are chosen by other men of faith.

Supposedly, wise, prayerful, Christians can distinguish those chosen by God for ministry. This doesn't mean that such a man has more privileged communication with God, nor that they have achieved greater perfection than others. (Some may, in fact,
deceive even those who choose them)

But churches, like other organizations, need leadership. And people are duty bound to
abide by the decisions of the leaders they or their representatives have chosen ...or
if they cannot, they should seek to attend and belong to another church.
---Donna66 on 8/30/09


Position and status and say-so do not make a person God's approved leader. 1 Corinthians 11:19 shows me that any person truly seeking God has the ability to tell the difference between a wannabee and "those who are approved". 1 Timothy 3:1-10 prescribes how to prepare someone and test if a person is worthy just to be *considered* for ordination to be trusted with the "care of the church of God". And how can any Christian tell who is approved? Someone approved obeys 1 Peter 5:3 > "nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock." One is approved *if* one is a real example, and we are commanded to obey such a person > Hebrews 13:17, mainly by obeying his example.
---Bill_bila5659 on 8/30/09


I suggest you study 1 Corinthians 12, 1 & 2 Timothy, and Titus, as well as the book of Acts, to see what God's Word says about this subject.
---Trish9863 on 8/30/09


Read Saint Paul Pastoral Letters. Although the Clergy (Priest, Bishops, Deacons, etc) are not closer to God than the laity (general speaking), they are still have a specific calling recognize by the Church.

God sent men who have teaching authority within the Apostolic Church (Acts 13:1). Saint Paul recognized teachers as gifts of God to the Church (1 Cor 12:28, Eph 4:11). This authority has transfer to successors of the Holy Apostles (1 Tim. 5:22, 2 Tim. 1:6, 2 Tim. 2:2, Titus 1:5). These teachers are given by the Lord to help us correctly understand and obey Holy Scripture.

Second, we are told to obey and submit to our spiritual leaders, because they have authority over us (1 Peter 5:1-5, Hebrews 13:7-8, 17).

In IC.XC,
---Ignatius on 8/30/09


Read These Insightful Articles About Bankruptcy


The Apostles and elders of Jerusalem claimed authority, according to Act 15.

Did they really have authority to make this decision?

If they did, when the did leaders of the Church lose this authority?

Be specific about the date.
---Cluny on 8/30/09


While there are "orders" of the Clergy-Bishops, Priests, Deacons- a separation or isolation between the laity and the clergy is unknown in the New Testament. On a side note, in Eastern Orthodox Divine Liturgies/Services, the Clergy co-celebrate with the Laity. The Clergy have a different function than the Laity in worship (there is never a separation or isolation between the two).

In IC.XC,
---Igantius on 8/30/09


Copyright© 1996-2015 ChristiaNet®. All Rights Reserved.