“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Biography Dr Brant Pitre
Dr. Brant Pitre is Distinguished Research Professor of Scripture at the Augustine Institute, Graduate School of Theology. He earned his Ph.D. in Theology from the University of Notre Dame, where he specialized in the study of the New Testament and ancient Judaism. He is the author of the best-selling books, Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist (Image, 2011), The Case for Jesus (Image, 2015), and Jesus and the Jewish Roots of Mary (Image, 2018). He is also author of Jesus and the Last Supper (Eerdmans, 2015), co-author with John Bergsma of A Catholic Introduction to the Bible: The Old Testament (Ignatius, 2018), and co-author with Michael P. Barber and John Kincaid of Paul, a New Covenant Jew (Eerdmans, 2019). Dr. Pitre has also produced dozens of video and audio Bible studies, in which he explores the biblical foundations of Catholic faith and theology (available at BrantPitre.com). He currently lives in Louisiana with his wife Elizabeth and their five children.
It is clear to me from the Scriptures that Jesus gathered a group of individuals around him – the TWELVE, the SEVENTY. a group of WOMEN.
The Twelve and the Seventy were sent out to BAPTISE and make DISCIPLES of all nations.
So, people were “set aside” from the “general population” to do certain things at the command of Jesus.
The Twelve did establish Christian communities in various places and it is clear that in these communities, “elders” and / or “overseers” were either appointed or emerged.
In the very early Church, we see the emergence of “overseers” (episcopi), “elders,” and very clearly, deacons.
These “offices” became more necessary as the community grew and various heresies emerged there was need to have “authorities” to refute them and maintain the faith
At this stage, the early Church was operating in response to the commands of Jesus:
1. To go out and baptise and evangelise.
2. To celebrate the Eucharist in memory of him.
3. To serve all – as communicated to the apostles with the washing of feet.
While these commands were for all , they did necessitate the intimate involvement, work, and guidance of the emerging overseers, elders, and deacons.
It was in this context that the episcopate, priesthood, and diaconate evolved.
To me, that evolution was perfectly authentic and according to the mind, command spirit of Jesus.
For priesthood, I think the rot set in when, under Constantine, the Christian religion became the state religion, and bishops and priests took on a civic authority as well as religious or spiritual authority.
That continued to develop into bishops in the early and late middle ages, becoming political rulers and land holders, etc.
The development of the Papacy was another unhelpful development, with the bishop of Rome becoming the emperor of the West.
I do not think that the priesthood per se is the problem.
The problem lies in what men did to the priesthood – turning it from servant-hood into an elite “ruling” caste and class.
For us Christians, the challenge is to discover urgent and real ways to make our modern church like the early church.
Can that be done?
But vested interests like ROME and its episcopal and priest elites will oppose that tooth and nail.
The way forward may be small groups of Christians meeting in each others homes as “disciples”?
All of us need to distinguish between the ESSENTIALS and the ACCIDENTALS.
We need to throw away the “dirty water” but keep the “baby.”