The Deaconate

by H.G. Bishop Mettaous


"Deacon" is a Syrian word that means servant. In Greek, it is called "Deyakon". The deacon's main job is to help the priest or bishop in his religious service. The first church appointed seven deacons to serve tables, who were filled with the Holy Spirit and wisdom, "Then the twelve summoned the multitude of the disciples and said... therefore brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business." (Acts 6:2-3). "whom they set before the apostles, and when they had prayed, they laid hands on them." (Acts 6:6)

There are three qualifications in a deacon:

1- to must be filled with the Holy Spirit and wise
2- to be ordained deacons, through the laying of hands and praying
3- to carry out specific responsibilities

Our teacher St. Paul mentioned some other qualifications in his first epistle to his disciple Timothy, chapter 3:

"Likewise deacons must be:

1- reverent
2- not double tongued
3- not given too much wine
4- not greedy for money
5- holding the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience
6- ruling their children and their own houses well
7- they should be tested first, and then, if they pass the test, they are to serve.

"Being a deacon is the first and least rank in the priesthood ranks, St. Peter praises it saying, "For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a good standing and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ
Jesus." (1Tim 3:13)

There are 5 ranks for deacons:

1. Epsaltos (hymnist)
2. Anaghanostos (reader)
3. Epidiakon (assistant deacon)
4. Deacon (full deacon)
5. Archdeacon (head of deacons)

A. Epsaltos

His name is derived from the Coptic word "Psalmos" i.e. Psalm or hymn.

His job is clear from his name, learning hymns and tunes, and singing them in church. This rank was mentioned in some laws of the first church:

The Epsaltos are also blessed by the Bishop

Children may be ordained as Epsaltos, according to the Psalm: "Out of the mouths of babes and infants you have ordained strength"(Psalm 8:2). The idea of ordaining children is getting them attached to the church at an early age, so they might grow up learning the faith, rite and doctrine of an Orthodox Church. In addition to the high spirituality and holiness which they will attain while being in the church, thus the saying: "But I am like a green olive tree in the house I trust in the mercy of God forever and ever" (Ps 52:8) might be fulfilled in them. The Epsaltos can wear the tunia without the Patrachil.

After the Reconciliation Prayer in the Holy Liturgy the Hegomen (the eldest priest) or the Archdeacon brings the children to be ordained, so they stand in awe before the altar's door. The Bishop then comes and gives them advise that suits their age, eg. come regularly to the church, attend Sunday School classes, learn the hymns. He also advises them to be quiet in church and not to be naughty in the church, in the street or at home, to be obedient and not to swear or lie..., to practice confession and partake in the Holy Communion. The Bishop must also get a verbal promise from the parents to help the new epsaltos carry out the advise, and not to prevent him to come to church under any circumstances. Then he advises the father priest to watch them and care for their spiritual life, and following their confessions. He also advises the elder of the deacons to teach them the hymns and praises of the church, as well as explaining some simple rituals. It is preferable if he tests them in reciting for example, the "Our Father" prayer, the Creed and some short responses. After that he starts ordaining them as Epsaltos:

They bow their heads before him, then he prays on them:

"O Lord Master God the Almighty, the Father of our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ, we ask and entreat you, O Lover of mankind, your servant(s) standing before you, who came to your One Holy and Apostolic Church, enlighten them with the sweetness of your holy words. Let them chant with understanding - spiritual songs. Let them be worthy to start in faith, worship you in wisdom and purity. Sanctify them. Bless them. Fill them with your fear. Guide them by your powerful angels. Enrich them with every good gift and perfect talent, so that they might live according to your holy blessed will, accepted by you. Let them be called to the perfect growth which is for your Holy Spirit, through your Only Begotten Son our Lord and God and Saviour Jesus Christ. Glory, honour, dominion and worship are due to you together with Him and the Life-Giving and consubstantial Holy Spirit now and forever. Amen"

He signs the first child three crosses without laying his hand while saying the name (... ) Epsaltos on the Church of (... ),

1- Blessed is the Holy Father the Pantocrator (Khen Efran).
2- Blessed is His Only Begotten Son, our Lord Jesus Christ (in the second sign)
3- Blessed is the Holy Spirit the Paraclete (in the third sign)

The Bishop signs the rest of the children in the same way.

Then the service garments are presented (the tunia without the Patrachil), so he signs them three times, then they wear them.

The children stand infront of the elder deacons, and participate in the responses and tunes of the Holy Liturgy.

They partake of the Holy Communion, after the deacons, everyone and their families rejoice. They have to be regular in attending the Holy Liturgy, and coming to the church. as they grow up, they get used to worship and virtues, they become saints without blame.

B. Anaghnostos

Anaghnostos (Anagnwctoc) is a Greek word formed of two parts: "Anagnwc" which means "chapter", and "toc" which means "related to him". So it means the chapter related to the reader, or the reader of chapters.

Conditions for ordaining anaghnostos:

1. He is not to be less than 18 years old
2. witnessed by everyone for his good deeds and manners
3. to be recommended by the priest and congregation, without any objection from anybody.
4. to be tested in good reading with understanding of the Holy Bible
5. to practice spiritual virtues and means of grace: confession, Holy Communion, attending the church and reading from the Holy Bible.
6. to be ready for the service
7. to be humble and meek, not to be proud of his voice or service

His duties

1 - Daily Readings

Reading the daily readings in church: especially the Epistles in Coptic and Arabic, that's why he should learn the introduction and end of each Epistle in Coptic and Arabic. He should read correctly without mistakes, so that the congregation might understand.

Introduction to the Pauline: A chapter of the epistle of our teacher St. Paul the Apostle to... may his blessings be with us all Amen.

At the End of the Pauline: The Grace of God the Father may come on our spirits my fathers and brethren Amen.

Introduction to the Catholicon (which are the universal Epistles): The Catholicon, a chapter of the Epistle of our teacher... may his blessings be with us all Amen.

At the end of the Catholicon: Do not love the world nor the things in the world, for the world is passing away, and the lust of it, but he who does the will of God abides forever.

Introduction to the Book of Acts: A chapter of the stories of our pure Apostles, filled with the grace of the Holy Spirit, may the blessings of their prayers be with you and me, my fathers and brethren, Amen.

Conclusion to the Book of Acts: The word of God is still growing and increasing in this church and all churches from now and forever Amen.

After reading the Epistle the Anaghnostos (the reader) kneels infront of the altar's door, kisses the cross and the priest's hand, proving his humbleness before God and the congregation, so that he might not be proud of his voice or his readings.

2 - Reading the names of the father Patriarchs, who have reposed in the Lord

After the commemoration of the saints, when the deacon serving inside the altar says: "Let the readers (the Anaghnostos) say the names of our Saint fathers the Patriarchs who have reposed, may the Lord repose their souls all and forgive us our sins." In the old days, the names of the Patriarchs were written on many tablets, and after hearing this response, each Anaghnostos used to call out some of the names. This is not followed now, but it is most encouragable if we return again to this tradition.

3 - Singing praises and hymns

He has a duty to learn the church's praises and hymns, and recite them in the Holy Liturgy.

4 - Preaching and teaching

As mentioned in ordaining the Anaghnostos: "Show your face O Lord, on your servant standing before you, to teach your Holy sayings, and preach your Holy Sayings, and preach your commandments to your people, and teach them your pure words, through which comes salvation of their souls and their redemption." In the commandment it is said to him, "You should learn the books of the Holy Bible, one by one, so that you may be able to teach the congregation:, but he practices teaching and preaching after having permission from the Bishop or the priest.

The rituals of ordaining an Aghnostos

It takes place after the prayer of reconciliation. The nominee stands before the altar without wearing his tunia (holding it folded in his hands), bare head and bowing in meekness and awe before the Lord, ready to carry the honour of the service. The Bishop stands by the altar door, facing the west. Behind him stands those who have nominated him, either priests or people from the congregation, they bow in repentance in front of the altar on behalf of him. They promise before God and the Bishop to look after him. The Bishop asks the congregation in the church: "Do you agree that he truly deserves this rank?", they answer, "Yes, we approve that he deserves". The Bishop cuts four locks of hair in the sign of the cross: one in the middle of his head, the others on the four sides of his head, while saying: (......)Anaghnostos in the church of (...... ) Khen Efran.....Ekez Maro-oot...then he blesses him with the
three blessings, after which the congregation says "Amen" after each blessing.


1. It is very important that the Bishop asks the congregation "Does he deserve?", so as to have a public witness before God and the church that he is worthy. The Apostle St Paul says, "And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also" (2 Tim. 2:2).

2. Cutting the hair symbolises the cutting off, of bad habits and evil thoughts.

3. Cutting the hair in the arrangement of the cross, while mentioning the Holy Trinity points to the gifts and talents he gains from the Holy Trinity, through the blessings of Christ's death on the cross.

4. The five hair locks are a symbol of Christ's five wounds, which are the three nails, the crown of thorns and the spear.

Following this, they all line up infront of the Bishop who prayes for them and commands them for their responsibilities. The Bishop then prays the Thanksgiving Prayer, then offers incense in the four directions. He faces the west while praying:" We ask and entreat you, O Lord, Master, the Almighty, accept your servant(s), Aghnostos in your church, teach him/them your rights, grant him/them to be worthy to touch the utensils and be an honourable Aghnostos before you. An aghnostos can touch the altar's utensils with a veil, to dry them up after the Holy Liturgy, and puts them back in their place.

The Bishop then faces East, while praying: "O God the Great and Rich in His Gifts, Permit and fill him/them with every wisdom and understanding. Preserve him/them in your worship, without blame.

After the prayers, the congregation responds, O hear us, O Lord have mercy upon us, O Lord bless us". This response is said generally at the end of any prayer.

The Bishop then turns to the West, holds his face, saying:" O God, you who hold everyone with your right your face on your servant(s) teach your holy sayings and preach your commandments to your people...grant him/them a humble heart to read and understand your law, to be of benefit for him/them and those who listen to him/them.

The Bishop's hand represents God's hand, which holds the mind of man, making him able to understand, teach and preach the life-giving strong word of God.

The Bishop turns East and says: " O, Lord Master, who chose his servant Ezra, and granted him wisdom to read your law to your people...grant him the wisdom and spirit of prophecy to recite your holy sayings to your people without blame."

It is very important that the Aghnostos' life be without blame, his deeds corresponding to his words, so that he might not stumble to anyone. His words should be strong, his service pure and useful for everyone, as was Ezra the great writer.

The Bishop (or the Archdeacon if available) then reads the following commandments:

My son, this is the first grade of Priesthood, so you have to:
1. Learn the books of the Holy Bible one by one.
2. Read with understanding, according to the Lord's commandment " let the reader understand", and [Agnostos] means the reader.
3. Preach the congregation
4. Your life should be pure, as the lamp on the lectern, enlightening for those around you with your words and deeds.

The Bishop then signs their service garments; they wear them; they join the chorus in the responses and praises of the Liturgy.

At the end of the Liturgy, they partake of the Holy Communion. After the Bishop partakes of the Honoured Blood, and before drinking water, he blows on their faces, one by one, saying, "Accept the Holy Spirit"

A procession is done for them in the altar and the church, everyone feels the Holy rejoice for their ordination.


1. He wears a white tunia because the white colour is appropriate for the service of God, who is dressed in light, and who's white garment shown as light at the transfiguration (Mark 9:3). White colour is also a sign of purity, a characteristic which should in a deacon, and all the other grades of priesthood.

2. He wears the "Patrachil" in the form of a cross on his back, with it wrapped around the front as a belt, and with both ends hanging from over his shoulders.

a) "Patrachil" is a Greek word which means a grace or deaconship grade, that is, it is a grace taken by a person and carried on his shoulders.
b) It is in the shape of a cross because he is sharing in carrying the cross with Christ, as He says: "If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me." (Matt 16:24)
c) The Patrachil is on the shape of a belt from the front, as a sign of getting ready for service, like John the Baptist, who used to gird his waist.

3. The hand is not laid upon him, but only his hair is cut.

4. He can get married after this rank, if his wife dies, he can get married once again, on the contrary to the higher priesthood ranks.

C. Epideacon

Epideacon is a Greek word consisting of two parts: "epi" i.e. under or helper, and "deacon" i.e. deacon, so the meaning is deacon's helper.

Conditions for ordaining:

1. He is not to be less than 20 years old in normal conditions, except if he is brilliant and outstanding in the church's service, he is as wise as the elders and as honest as the saints.

2. He is to be recommended by the people and priests.

3. Everyone witnesses that he is of good manners and deeds.

His responsibilities:

1. To guard the church's doors of heretics and animals.

2. To organise seating in the church: men in their specific places, women in theirs, virgins and nuns in theirs, etc.

3. To light the church's lanterns.

4. To look after the church's books, priests and servants clothes.

5. To prepare the censors.

6. To help the deacon, or replace him in emergencies.

These jobs are added to the previous jobs of Aghnostos, and do not delete them, so he can act as Aghnostos if needed.

The Ritual of Ordaining an Epideacon:

1. He bows before the altar before wearing a tunia, and after the Prayer of Reconciliation.

2. The Bishop and attendant pray the Prayer of Thanksgiving, then the Bishop raises incense in the four directions.

3. The Bishop faces the East while praying: "O Lord of Hosts.....accept your servant (.....) as Epideacon, he who is standing here waiting for Your Heavenly gifts.

4. The Archdeacon says: "the Grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ, completing our weakness, may come upon this brother whose name was mentioned, to acquire the grade of Epideacon.

5. The Bishop, facing East, prays, "Yes O Lord, make him worthy to be an Epideacon.

6. The congregation responds: "O Lord hear us, O Lord have mercy upon us, O Lord bless us", or Keryeleyson (Lord have mercy) 3 times in the same tune.

7. The Bishop faces west, holds the Epideacon's face while praying: "O Lord the Master your face on your servant (.....), to become an Epideacon. Fill him with your Holy Spirit to become worthy to touch the service utensils"

(note the utensils are to be carried with a veil when drying them and storing them.)

8. The Bishop faces East, and prays: "O Lord, look to our service, send your grace on your servant... to be worthy to live as Epideacon without blame.

9. The Bishop then signs his forehead with his right thumb saying: "We call you in God's Holy Church, Amen. The congregation responds. Amen

10. The Archdeacon then says: (.......) an Epideacon for God's Holy Church Amen. The congregation responds, Amen.

11. The Bishop signs the forehead 3 times with his right thumb (without laying a hand), while saying:" We call you(...) an Epideacon for (....) church Khen Efran... Efezmaroot.....then the second and third sign. After each signing, the congregation responds Amen.

At these signings, the Holy Spirit descends on him the gifts to carry out his service.

12. The Bishop faces the East, while praying The Prayer of Thanksgiving for completing this ordination, saying: "We thank you O Master, the Almighty, grant him Your awe and purity so that he may be perfect in all the works of his service..."

13. After signing the tunia and the Patrachil, the Bishop dresses the Epideacon with them, while saying: "Glory and honour...peace and establishing...Amen.".

Then he recites the commandment of Epideacon: My son, you have gained a good grade... to be a follower and assistant to the deacon in the service, to watch the doors of the church and keep discipline in the church."

14. Then the Epideacon stands with the chorus of deacons and joins in the responses and hymns of the Liturgy.

15. He partakes of the Holy Communion at the end of the Liturgy, the Bishop blows on his face, he goes around the church in a procession rejoicing.

If no Patrachil is available at the time of ordination, a silk red ribbon can be
used instead.


1. The hand is not laid on him, nor is his hair cut, only the signings.
2. He can get married after being a Epideacon, without losing his rank.

D. Deacon

Conditions of ordaining a Deacon:

1. He is not to be less than 25 years old

2. He has to pass a period of testing and discipleship, to reach a reasonable level of maturity to carry out his service, as the Apostle says: "But let these also first be proved, then let them serve as deacons, being found blameless." (1 Tim. 3:10)

3. He has to be a good example in his speech, acting, love, purity and care for his spiritual life and eternity.

4. He should be humble and not greedy, able to bear the hardships of service without murmuring, and has the principal to be fair with everyone.

5. He should read and learn continuosly, so that he might be able build his spirituality, and grow in grace and in knowing Our Lord Jesus Christ.

6. Everyone should witness that he is honest, pure and loves peace.

7. The church's congregation should recommend him.

8. These conditions are a must, speacially when the deacon is a consecrated deacon to serve the church.

Responsibilities of a Deacon:

1. To say the responses of the litanies prayed by the priest at raising incense and the Liturgy.

2. To call the congregation to start the prayers.

3. To ask the congregation to keep discipline and quietness in the church, to stand in awe, purity and fear.

4. To help the priest in congregation visitations.

5. To write down the names of those who offer the oblations and offerings to the church, so that the priest might mention them after the Litany of Oblations. It was stated in the 'Didaskalia' (the Teachings of the Apostles) to "let the deacons write down the names of those who offer, either being alive or dead, to be mentioned during the readings and prayers.".

In the old days, there was a special room next to the church's entrance, called the Deacon's Room, where he used to sit and take offerings of the congregation, writes down their names, or those who reposed, for which they were offered, then gives those names to the priest to mention, one by one after the Litany of Oblations in the Holy Liturgy.

6. To clear the altar and prepare it, before the priest comes for the setting up for the Liturgy.

7. To read the Holy Gospel in the Liturgy. In the commandment in ordaining a deacon, the Bishop says, "... and has the honour of reading the Holy Gospels".

8. In emergency occasions, he carries the cup and gives the Honoured Blood to the congregation, with the priest's permission. Also in the commandment, "you should comprehend the honour given to you to carry the True Blood, which gives salvation to the world...".

9. Serving the widows, orphans, needy, the sick and prisoners. The bishop says to him, "... you should visit the people of the Lord, the widows, the orphans, those who are distressed, help whoever you can and pray for them. You should be a good example to them, so that they should see your good deeds..."

10. Preaching and teaching: with permission from the Father Priest.

11. To recite the responses of a deacon from inside the altar, because only the deacon and the archdeacon can enter the altar and say the responses of the Liturgy. In the old days, no one was allowed in the altar except the Bishops, Priests, Deacons and Archdeacons, and the believer kings anointed with oil.

12. He participates with the Bishop or the priest in all other prayers: Baptism, Mayroun, liturgy of the water, consecrating the church, ordinations, feasts etc.

The Ritual of Ordaining the Deacon:

1. It takes place after the Prayer of Reconciliation.

2. After an accurate choice of the person nominated by the priests and the congregation, he stands before the altar without his tunia, bowing his head humbly.

3. The Bishop and attendants pray The Prayer of Thanksgiving, then the Bishop raises incense in the four directions.

4. The Bishop faces east while praying: " O Lord of Hosts...accept your servant (....) as a deacon, who is standing waiting for your Heavenly gifts.

5. The Archdeacon announces: "The grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ completing our weakness may descend on (....).

6. The Bishop faces the west, puts his right hand on his head while praying: " O Lord God the Almighty... show your face on your servant (....) who has proceeded to deaconship fill him with the Holy Spirit, power and strength."

7. The Bishop faces east while praying : "Yes O Lord, make him worthy to be a deacon...". Then, " Look O Lord to us, and our service, purify us from every inequity, send your grace from heaven on your servant (....), to be worthy to complete your service without blame...".

8. The Bishop turns west, signs his forehead three times with his right thumb, saying: "(....) a deacon for the altar Khen Efran....Efezmaroot....

First signing: We call you (....) a deacon for the altar of.... church Efezmaroot...
Second signing: as for the first
Third signing: as for the first
After each signing, the congregation responds Amen.

Here, the Holy Spirit descends and grants His gifts for the service.

9. The Bishop turns east while praying: " We thank you O Lord God the Master...for the laying of hands on your servant (....) and the descent of your Holy Spirit on him. Support him with your purity and grace.

10. The Bishop faces west, signs the service clothes of the deacon, which are the tunia and Patrachil. Then he wears him the tunia, puts the Patrachil on his left shoulder while saying: "Glory and honour for the Holy Trinity, The Father and The Son and The Holy Spirit, peace and establishment for the One Holy
Apostolic Universal Church of God. Amen."

11. The Bishop then recites the commandment, "My son, you have to be honest in this service, you have to do whatever is assigned for you and complete it..."

12. The deacon enters the altar, bows, then stands on the right side, while the deacons sing 'Axios' (meaning "worthy").

13. He participates in the responses from the inside, till the end of the Liturgy, and partakes of the Holy Communion.

14. The Bishop blows on his face saying, "Accept the Holy Sprit", after partaking of the Honoured Blood.

15. A procession takes place in celebration as usual.


1. The deacon and the Archdeacon wear a tunia and the red Patrachil, as a sign of being washed up in Christ's Blood. The Patrachil is put on his left shoulder as a sign of carrying the cross, while the edges of the Patrachil resemble the wings of angels. In this St. John Chrysostom says: [meditate on the spiritual joy, you who are resembling the wings of angels when you wear your beautiful Patrachil
on your left shoulder].

2. The deacon and Archdeacon might wear a cap decorated with crosses, pictures of Our Lord Jesus and the saints. In some churches, it is still used, while mostly disappeared from lots of other churches. It is preferable to keep our old traditions.

3. If he is ordained before getting married, he is not allowed to get married.

4. If his wife died after his ordination, he is not allowed to marry again, exactly as the priest. If he does so, his rank is withdrawn.

E. General Rules for All Ranks

1. All ranks of Deaconship should study the Coptic Language, because it is connected to all the rites, readings, praises and tunes of the church, so that they might read the Coptic Language, not Coptic written in Arabic or English.

2. They should learn, study and repeat the praises and hymns always.

3. They should be disciples of the singer of the church (Mu'alim) or an experienced deacon.

4. They should be true partakers of the liturgy and other praises.

5. They should come early to the Liturgy. If any deacon is late after the Absolution of Ministers, he is not allowed to put on his service clothes and serve. If he is late after the reading of the Gospel, he cannot partake of the Holy Communion.

6. They should always wear the tunia and serve in every Liturgy, either inside the Sanctuary or outside, it is not right to serve around the altar without wearing a tunia. Since he is wearing the tunia and is serving, he should partake of the Holy Communion, and if dosen't partake of the Holy Communion then according to the rites of the church it is a great error.

7. They should present their tunias to the priest to sign them, for the following reasons:

a) It is considered as permission for them to serve in the Holy Liturgy.
b) A permission to have Holy Communion.
c) A declaration that these deacons are not banned by the church.
d) It is a sign of submission to the priest, the younger to the elder, asking for his blessing because the elder blesses the younger (Heb 7:7).

8. While the priest is signing the tunia and Patrachil on both hands, while bowing his head or kneeling before the priest, to have the priest's blessing and approval.

9. After the sign of blessing, the deacon kisses the cross and the priest's hand.

10. While wearing the tunia, the deacon recites the two Psalms, "I will extol you, O Lord, for you have lifted me up.." (Psalm 29) and "The Lord reigns, he is clothed with majesty..." (Ps 92)

11. Deacons should not go out of the church with the tunia, because these are clothes for service only inside the church.

12. They should take off the tunia at the end of the Liturgy, after releasing the angel of sacrifice, and never before.


The rank of a deacon is very important in our church, it forms one side of the priesthood triangle which is:

Deacons - Priests - Bishops

It is the rank of the service and spiritual struggle, which St. Paul praised by saying, "For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a good standing and great boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus." (1 Tim 3:13)

We present this book to all the youth of the church, deacons and deaconesses, it states the conditions, laws, duties and rituals of ordaining each rank of the deaconship. It also declares the service of the deaconesses and deacons in the church, which is a service as old as the time of the Apostles. It also presents the fields of service for deaconesses in the church, especially the consecrated ones. We ask God, to make this book a source of blessing and spiritual benefit to whoever reads it, of the youth and servants.

Through the intercessions of our pure Mother St. Mary, and the prayers of St. Stephen the Archdeacon and first martyr, and the two deaconesses Saint Phoebe and Saint Tekla, and the prayers of our Honourable father, the Archpriest Pope Shenouda III and his brother in the apostolic ministry Bishop Moussa, the active fruitful Bishop of the youth, who directed us to write this book. Glory be to our God in His church, forever, Amen.

Mystery of the Priesthood

The mystery of the priesthood is a holy mystery, by which the Bishop puts his hand on the head of the chosen person, and asks for him, so the Holy Spirit is poured upon him, then he grants him a priesthood rank, thus he is allowed to practice the church's services... The word "priest" is said about the religious man who serves the people, and this is known in Christianity about a "priest", while in the Jewish religion a priest offers burnings and offerings. 'Priest" in Coptic is ounyb which is derived from efouab which means "saint" or "pure". So a priest should be holy and pure in all his life. In Greek, "priest" is ereuc which means "those who pray and serve the people." It is also called "the mystery of the laying the hands," i.e., granting the seal of the Holy Spirit to the consecrated person.

Establishing the Priesthood

Our Lord Jesus established the priesthood when He chose the twelve disciples and consecrated them for service.

"He calls His disciples to Him, and chose twelve whom he also named the apostles."(Luke 6:13).

He sent those twelve and commanded them saying, "...preach saying, 'the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.' Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, and cast out demons" (Matt. 10:5-8).

He gave them the authority to bind and loose:

"Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven" (Matt. 18:18).

After His Resurrection, He appeared to them in the upper room of Zion, gave them peace, and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit, if you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them, and if you retain the sins of any, they are retained" ( John 20:22).

To them only, He said, "Go therefore, and make disciples of all nation, baptising them in the name of the Father and the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you" (Matt. 28:19- 20).

To them only, He handed the mystery of His Holy Body and Blood:

"And when the hour had come, He sat down, and the twelve disciples with Him... then He took bread, gave thanks and broke it and gave it to them saying, 'This is My body which is given for you, do this in remembrance of Me.' Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is shed for you' (Lk. 22:14-20).


The Honour of the Priesthood

Priesthood is a great honour, as it is a consecration to work with God for the sake of the people's salvation.

1. Priesthood as a Divine Invitation

"And He went up to the mountain and called to Him those He wanted, and they came to Him. Then He appointed twelve that they might be with Him, and that He might send Him out to preach, and to have power to heal sickness and to cast out demons" (Mark 3:13-15).

2. Priesthood as a Divine Choice

"Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. And when it was day, He called His disciples to Himself; and from them He chose twelve whom He also named apostles" (Lk. 6:12-13). "You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you" (John 15:16).

3. Priesthood as an Appointment

"After these things the Lord appointed seventy others also, and sent them two by two before His face into every city and place where He Himself was about to go" (Lk.10:1).

4. Priesthood as Choosing Certain Individuals

"... as they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, 'Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.' Then having fasted and prayed and laid hands on them, they sent them away" (Acts 13:2-3). That is why St. Paul is proud, saying, "But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb and called me through His grace, to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood" (Gal. 1:15-16).

5. Priesthood is a Consecration

Our Lord Jesus Christ says, "And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth" (Jn. 17:19).

The word sanctify means consecrated! Christ consecrated Himself for service and salvation and so, all the ranks of priesthood are consecrated for service taking Christ the High Priest as their example.

6. Priesthood as a Stewardship and Trust

The Lord said, "Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his master will make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom the master will find so doing when he comes." St. Paul also says, "Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards that one be found faithful" (1 Cor. 4:1-2).

7. Priesthood as a Great Honour

"[A]nd no man takes his honour to himself but he who is called by God, just as Aaron was a priest forever. So also Christ did not glorify Himself to become a High Priest, but it was He who said to Him, 'You are My Son, Today I have begotten you.' As He also says in another place, 'You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek'" (Heb. 5:4-6).


||    Pope Shenouda    ||    Father Matta    ||    Bishop Mattaous    ||    Fr. Tadros Malaty    ||    Bishop Moussa    ||    Bishop Alexander    ||    Habib Gerguis    ||    Bishop Angealos    ||    Metropolitan Bishoy    ||