Priest



a person whose office it is to perform religious rites, and especially to make sacrificial offerings.

a person ordained to the sacerdotal or pastoral office; a member of the clergy; minister.
(in hierarchical churches) a member of the clergy of the order next below that of bishop, authorized to carry out the Christian ministry.

a minister of any religion.
to ordain as a priest.
Contemporary Examples

The priest, a big promoter of interfaith dialogue in Syria, was cheered upon his arrival in Raqqa.
Killing the Peacemaker Jamie Dettmer August 14, 2013

The Vatican clearly has had enough of Flannery and last week silenced the 65-year-old priest.
Vatican Silences Father Flannery Barbie Latza Nadeau April 10, 2012

When I was 12 years old,” Kevin confesses, “I wanted nothing more in life than to be a priest.
Banished Catholic Priest Helps Abuse Survivors Moral Courage August 10, 2014

Hopefully [priest sex abuse] will truly be over one day, and then we can talk about forgiveness.
Why Pope Francis’s Apology Isn’t Good Enough for Sex Abuse Victims Barbie Latza Nadeau April 10, 2014

Does this priest, Father Flynn, embody the future, the change, the upsetting of her little fiefdom?
We Miserable Catholics Frank McCourt December 18, 2008

Historical Examples

He was no priest now—he was shorn of the profession which had been his life.
The Perpetual Curate Mrs [Margaret] Oliphant

The priest whose flattery be-dropt the Crown, How hurt he you?
Essay on Man Alexander Pope

No wonder the priest sent his boy ahead to break the awful news.
The Woodlands Orchids Frederick Boyle

You know that after the priest and the doctor it’s the saloonkeeper that knows a man’s number.
Still Jim Honor Willsie Morrow

Night fell as the priest stepped upon the shore of his new home.
Carmen Ariza Charles Francis Stocking

noun
(Christianity) a person ordained to act as a mediator between God and man in administering the sacraments, preaching, blessing, guiding, etc
(in episcopal Churches) a minister in the second grade of the hierarchy of holy orders, ranking below a bishop but above a deacon
a minister of any religion
(Judaism) a descendant of the family of Aaron who has certain privileges in the synagogue service
(in some non-Christian religions) an official who offers sacrifice on behalf of the people and performs other religious ceremonies
(sometimes capital) a variety of fancy pigeon having a bald pate with a crest or peak at the back of the head
(angling) a small club used to kill fish caught
verb (transitive)
to make a priest; ordain
n.

Old English preost probably shortened from the older Germanic form represented by Old Saxon and Old High German prestar, Old Frisian prestere, all from Vulgar Latin *prester “priest,” from Late Latin presbyter “presbyter, elder,” from Greek presbyteros (see Presbyterian).

An alternative theory (to account for the -eo- of the Old English word) makes it cognate with Old High German priast, prest, from Vulgar Latin *prevost “one put over others,” from Latin praepositus “person placed in charge,” from past participle of praeponere (see provost). In Old Testament sense, a translation of Hebrew kohen, Greek hiereus, Latin sacerdos.

One who is designated an authority on religious matters. In some churches, especially the Anglican Communion, Eastern Orthodox Church, and Roman Catholic Church, the ordained church leader who serves a congregation of believers is called a priest. The priests in these churches administer the sacraments, preach, and care for the needs of their congregations. (See also minister and pastor.)

The Heb. kohen, Gr. hierus, Lat. sacerdos, always denote one who offers sacrifices. At first every man was his own priest, and presented his own sacrifices before God. Afterwards that office devolved on the head of the family, as in the cases of Noah (Gen. 8:20), Abraham (12:7; 13:4), Isaac (26:25), Jacob (31:54), and Job (Job 1:5). The name first occurs as applied to Melchizedek (Gen. 14:18). Under the Levitical arrangements the office of the priesthood was limited to the tribe of Levi, and to only one family of that tribe, the family of Aaron. Certain laws respecting the qualifications of priests are given in Lev. 21:16-23. There are ordinances also regarding the priests’ dress (Ex. 28:40-43) and the manner of their consecration to the office (29:1-37). Their duties were manifold (Ex. 27:20, 21; 29:38-44; Lev. 6:12; 10:11; 24:8; Num. 10:1-10; Deut. 17:8-13; 33:10; Mal. 2:7). They represented the people before God, and offered the various sacrifices prescribed in the law. In the time of David the priests were divided into twenty-four courses or classes (1 Chr. 24:7-18). This number was retained after the Captivity (Ezra 2:36-39; Neh. 7:39-42). “The priests were not distributed over the country, but lived together in certain cities [forty-eight in number, of which six were cities of refuge, q.v.], which had been assigned to their use. From thence they went up by turns to minister in the temple at Jerusalem. Thus the religious instruction of the people in the country generally was left to the heads of families, until the establishment of synagogues, an event which did not take place till the return from the Captivity, and which was the main source of the freedom from idolatry that became as marked a feature of the Jewish people thenceforward as its practice had been hitherto their great national sin.” The whole priestly system of the Jews was typical. It was a shadow of which the body is Christ. The priests all prefigured the great Priest who offered “one sacrifice for sins” “once for all” (Heb. 10:10, 12). There is now no human priesthood. (See Epistle to the Hebrews throughout.) The term “priest” is indeed applied to believers (1 Pet. 2:9; Rev. 1:6), but in these cases it implies no sacerdotal functions. All true believers are now “kings and priests unto God.” As priests they have free access into the holiest of all, and offer up the sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving, and the sacrifices of grateful service from day to day.

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