I am somewhat interested in joining the Roman Catholic Church, but there are some things that I've had to further investigate, one of which is the role of "elder" and "priest" in the Roman Catholic Church.
Here is my understanding thus far regarding the word "priest."
- In the Old Testament, כֹהֵן = ἱερεὺς = "priest" (Masoretic = LXX = KJV)
- In the New Testament, ἱερεὺς = "priest."
Here is my understanding thus far regarding the word "elder."
- In the Old Testament, זָקֵן = πρεσβύτερος = “elder.” (Masoretic = LXX = KJV)
- In the New Testament, πρεσβύτερος = “elder.”
For example: Num. 11:25 in the OT, and Acts 11:30 in the NT. In summary, πρεσβύτερος is used in the LXX and the Greek NT, and in both, it is generally translated into English as "elder" and seldomly "presbyter," but never as "priest."
The Catholic Encyclopedia's entry on the English word "priest" states,
The Christian law also has necessarily its priesthood to carry out the Divine service, the principal act of which is the Eucharistic Sacrifice, the figure and renewal of that of Calvary. This priesthood has two degrees: the first, total and complete, the second an incomplete participation of the first. The first belongs to the bishop. The bishop is truly a priest (sacerdos), and even a high-priest; he has chief control of the Divine worship (sacrorum antistes), is the president of liturgical meetings; he has the fullness of the priesthood, and administers all the sacraments. The second degree belongs to the priest (presbyter), who is also a sacerdos, but of the second rank ("secundi sacerdotes" Innocent I ad Eugub.); by his priestly ordination he receives the power to offer sacrifice (i.e. to celebrate the Eucharist), to forgive sins, to bless, to preach, to sanctify, and in a word to fulfil the non-reserved liturgical duties or priestly functions.
Notice how it equates "priest" and "presbyter." ("Presbyter" is simply a loan-word derived from the Greek word πρεσβύτερος. Loan words are essentially loose transliterations, but not translations. The translation of πρεσβύτερος would be "elder.")
I understand "priest" is etymologically derived from πρεσβύτερος, but πρεσβύτερος is consistently translated into English as "elder," not "priest." We consistently see the Greek word ἱερεὺς translated into English as "priest" instead.
So the question: where in the OT or NT did the "elder" - which is the actual meaning of πρεσβύτερος - function also as a "priest" (ἱερεὺς), that is, one who was mainly tasked with offering sacrifices in a Temple? Why does the Roman Catholic Church equate the two terms?