The Clergy

From The Priest Guide

Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese


“I came not to be served, but to serve.” (Matthew 20:28), Mark 10:45). The meaning of these words, spoken by Our Lord, reflects the ministry of all three major offices of the church: Bishop, Priest and Deacon. This is true because each office reveals the truth that is created by God for service of the church, and through the church to the world. Although we shall at times refer to all three offices as the “clergy”, each has a distinctive function within the life of the Church.

To minister is to serve; this is the meaning of the ancient Christian term diakonia (ministry, service). It is precisely this term which makes us, at once, disciples and apostles of Christ. If the word “disciple” means the “called”, then our service is to be a disciple called by God. If the word “apostle” means sent, then our service is to be an apostle sent by Christ. Although this also applies to the lay persons, it does hold a special meaning for those ordained into one of these three offices of the clergy; they are “called apart” (ordained) to a very focused life of service within the church.

Among various interpretations, it is these three offices which most clearly point to the “Variety of gifts” of the Spirit (charismata, grace, gifts), but only inasmuch each remains fused within the same body and “for the common good.” Thus the Great Apostle Paul writes to the Corinthians:

Now there are a variety of gifts, but the same Spirit; a variety of services, but the same Lord; a variety of workings, but it is the same God who inspires them all. (I Cor. 12:4-5)

To which he adds immediately:

To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. (I Cor. 12:7)