Tradition: The Ship of Salvation’s Sail not its Anchor

Writes Fr Ted:

St. Paul’s Epistles represent an interpretation of the Scriptures of Israel.  St. Paul is steeped in the Jewish Scriptures, and the Tradition which interprets those Scriptures.   It is the interpretation of the Torah which causes such tremendous conflict between Jesus and the rabbis of the Pharisaic Tradition.   Paul follows Jesus in interpreting the Scriptures of Israel and does so by claiming that he and Jesus are in fact the faithful interpreters of the Tradition.  It is Jesus who is the fulfillment of the God-inspired Tradition; thus Christianity is faithful to Tradition and the correct interpreter of this tradition.   Tradition, like Scripture, is not  made holy by being carved into stone, but rather by being interpreted within a community, by being the heart of the community’s relationship to God and the world.  Tradition is thus alive and constantly relating to the world, not written in stone and frozen in some past understanding.  For St. Paul Tradition is dynamic, creative, vivifying and renewing and keeps people focused on the goal – where God is leading us to, not the past and where we were.   Tradition is not the ship’s anchor, but its sail.   It consists not of repeating past teachings, but of interpreting God’s Word for the current generation…

Rest here.



Why Does the New Testament Use the Word Presbyter or Elder for Priests?

Dr Taylor Marshall:

Protestants often note that the NT usually refers to clergy as “presbyteroi” which means “elders,” and not as priests. Why does the New Testament use the word Presbyter or Elder for Priests?

One confusion centers on the word “priest.” The English word “priest” comes directly from the Greek word “presbyteros.” This is examined in detail in my book The Catholic Perspective on Paul.

Presbyteros > Presbyter > Prester > Priest

Here is an example of how presbyter is used in the New Testament:

“The elders therefore that are among you, I beseech who am myself also an elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as also a partaker of that glory which is to be revealed in time to come.” (1 Peter 5:1)

Here’s another:

“Is any man sick among you? Let him bring in the priests (presbyterous) of the church and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.” (James 5:14, D-R)

The Greek word for sacrificial, Old Testament priest is “hiereus.”

One key verse is in the third chapter of Hebrews, where Saint Paul writes:

“WHEREFORE, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly vocation consider the apostle and high priest of our confession, Jesus” (Hebrews 3:1, D-R)

Here the apostleship is paired with high priesthood. Christ is THE Apostle and High Priest. His New Testament ministers participate in this office. Hence, an apostle is a high priest. Apostolic succession transmits this apostolic priesthood.

The use of presbyteros instead of hiereus in the NT is for two reasons:

1) The word hiereus (priest) is related to hieron (temple). Now the temple in Jerusalem was still standing. Hence, in Hebrews and other epistles, hiereus is avoided since the temple stands.

This, by the way, relates to a previous blog post about the different spellings of Jerusalem based on it being an earthly “temple city” or heavenly.

2) The NT priesthood is a return to the ancient primogeniture priesthood prior to Moses. This “priesthood of the firstborn” (father to son; Noah to Shem; Abraham to Isaac) is a reflection of the relationship between God the Father to God the Son. The Levitical priesthood was a temporary TRIBAL solution to gold-calf worship. Originally, God planned for a “first born priesthood.” Saint Thomas speaks of the “first born priesthood” as pertaining to natural law prior to Moses.

This is why priests are always called “Father” since they represent the Father.

The argument of Hebrews is that Christ, as the “Firstborn Son of God,” not only supercedes but precedes the Mosaic Levitical arrangement.

Priests are called “presbyteros” for this very reason. They are representative “fathers” or “old men” within the assembly. The NT priesthood is a primogeniture priesthood in Christ – extended not by Levitical natural generation but by supernatural generation in the Spirit.

This is why priests are celibate (the Father-Son dynamic is a non-nuptial generation), why priests should wear the tonsure (bald old fathers), why they are called presbyteros (old men), and why they are called “father” (old men). Presbyteros is the title Saint Peter prefers. See the Si dilgis Mass epistle.

The identity as “father figure” or “older man” or “patriarch” is more noble and excels the Levitical temple title “hiereus” or “priest.”

For all these reasons, Saint Paul is hesitant to use “hiereus” for the NT ministry. However, he does do so in Greek in Rom 15:16 (regretfully the Douay gets this verse wrong in English).

Short answer: presbyteros hearkens back to the primogeniture priesthood of natural law (which is purer than Old Law). Christ’s priesthood is the eternal primogeniture priesthood.

ad Jesum per Mariam,


PS: If you are interested in this subject, please visit Paul is



Did St Paul Attend the Olympics?

Bishop Kevin Farrell:

St. Paul could have attended the Olympic Games in ancient Greece. He was in Greece when they were being played. He never mentioned the Olympics in his letters, but he has a lot to say about winning.

“Do you not know that the runners in the stadium all run in the race, but only one wins the prize? Run so as to win. Every athlete exercises discipline in every way. They do it to win a perishable crown, but we an imperishable one.(1 Cor 9:24-25)

He is not talking about “winning the gold.” The prize St. Paul is referring to is “an imperishable one,” and the race he is referring to is the journey we all make to God. The great thing about this race is that everybody can win the prize. But, like the Olympians, it takes determination and self-discipline.

Athletes from throughout the world are in London this week to compete for the “perishable prize” referred to by St. Paul. Most of them have trained for years to make it to the Olympics. They have willingly sacrificed many legitimate pleasures in order to prepare their bodies for a single moment of glory and piece of precious metal on a ribbon. They compete knowing that the odds are against most of them.

Our training regimen for our race for the imperishable prize is much simpler. We heard it in the first reading of the Mass last Monday. “…to act justly, to love tenderly and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)

I look forward to the Olympics. Let’s enjoy the games, but let’s never lose sight of our own race and the imperishable prize.