Over the centuries of Christianity a great gulf has developed between the clergy and the laity in the church. This chasm was especially wide during the Middle Ages when the church leaders were coveting civil and political power wanting to dominate all aspects of society. During the Protestant Reformation Martin Luther’s emphasis on the priesthood of all believers was a helpful corrective to this unbiblical situation. Certainly it is clear in the Scripture that no such dichotomy should exist between these two groups. A Biblical example of this is found in the first epistle of Peter. 1. I Peter 2:9-10 uses the Greek word laos from which we get the English word laity, and is here translated “His own special people”, special to God because they are in Christ. In this passage the laos clearly includes all Christians, both professional ministers and lay members of the church. 2. I Peter 1:3-4. In this passage the Greek work kleras from which comes our English word clergy, is translated “inheritance incorruptible and undefiled”. This describes those who will receive the inheritance of eternal life because they are in Christ, and again clearly includes all Christians both ministers and lay members.
From these passages we learn that the clergy and the laity are all the same group. Therefore Seventh-day Adventists affirm the priesthood of all believers which means that every Christian can approach God directly and also means that every believer has a ministry to perform.
Key Passages and Questions
- Training for Ministry — Acts 19:4-10
What three things did the believers in Ephesus receive from Paul?
- V. 5 baptism, when they understood the message of Christ.
- V. 6 ordained to use the spiritual gifts for God’s work.
- VV. 9-10 training in how to share the message of Christ with the community around them.
- Reaching Out with the Gospel — Acts 16:6-12
- Using Spiritual Gifts — Rom 12:3-8
- What is a spiritual gift? How does it differ from an ordinary talent or ability?
- Can a believer have more than one gift?
- How can we determine which spiritual gifts we have?
- What happens if we fail to use our gifts?
- Principles for Ministry — Mark 6:7-13
- Are the instructions for ministry which Jesus gave to the twelve still meaningful for us?
- How would we apply them in our modern setting?
- What is necessary in our lives to have the same kind of success the disciples experienced?