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It's famously know that Martin Luther, rejected the idea of a sacerdotal priesthood. Meaning priests and bishops having a certain special grace, conferred on them at ordination or installation (in case of the bishop), also known as sacerdatioalism. Luther instead concluded that all Christians are equal under Baptism (have the same grace). Even known he did not reject the idea of the office of a minister, a person among the faithful that administer the sacraments, preaches and leads the congregation in prayer.

Instead option for what Protestants call today the Priesthood of all believers.

On what theological or Biblical grounds did Luther reach this rejection of sacerdatioalism?

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  • Because no clergy would join him.
    – Lucian
    Aug 23 at 13:13
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    Reformed Protestantism, I would say, has gone further than Luther. And it must be remembered that he was coming out of excessive darkness and did not see everything clearly all at once, and some things not at all. Sacraments are further rejected, the supper being a memorial (not a eucharistic sacrament) marriage being a matter of nature (not a sacrament) and believers being baptised as born again (not infants undergoing a sacrament). Are you seeking what Luther saw in his (then) somewhat limited reforming or are you interested in the developed form ? (Up-voted +1.)
    – Nigel J
    Aug 23 at 13:56
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Though I cannot give you chapter and verse from Luther's writings that prove that he rejected sacerdotalism and accepted the "priesthood of all believers" in its place, I can (and will) refer you to key verses in both Testaments that may have been influential in Luther's rejection of sacerdotalism.

First, the idea of the priesthood of all believers originates in Exodus 19, where God told Moses from the "mountain of God" in the Sinai,

Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you[a] will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites (vss. 5-6 NIV).

Just as God's vision for the Israelites was for them to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation, so also God has a vision for the Church of Jesus Christ, being a kingdom of priests:

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light (1 Peter 2:9 NIV).

And

John,

To the seven churches in the province of Asia:

Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits[a] before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth.

To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power forever and ever! Amen (Revelation 1:4-6 NIV, my bolding).

Just as Jesus fulfilled the three roles of prophet, priest, and king, so also the Church of Christ worldwide fulfills the roles of prophet, priest, and king (but not individually, but as a kingdom of priests to their God).

Finally, Luther may have taken to heart the words of Paul in 1 Timothy Chapter 2:

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession, and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all people (vss. 1-6a NIV, my bolding).

While I would be the last person to say that pastors, rectors, priests, ministers, vicars, clergymen, parsons, clerics, and any other person, male or female, who serve a local church in a clerical or lay role, do not have the privilege and responsibility to pray for members of their congregations. I believe, as did Luther, that to pray for someone is not to act as a mediator between them and God, since there is only one mediator, and that is Jesus Christ.

Mediatorship falls to Jesus, and Jesus alone. Only through Jesus do believers have access to the Father, as Hebrews Chapter 10 makes eminently clear:

Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water (vss. 19-22 NIV, my bolding).

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  • Thank you so much!
    – Dan
    Aug 24 at 15:34
  • To be honest, this also addresses another problem, intercession to the saints. You saying that asking someone to pray for us, is not mediating just nuked the idea that "we can ask saints to pray for us just like we do with another", because in intercession, we obviously are asking for mediation, which is different thing altogether. So that answer is a bad analogy. Thanks brother!
    – Dan
    Aug 24 at 15:36
  • @Dan: I'm not sure I'm following your reasoning, Dan. Praying for a brother or sister in Christ (or even for an unbeliever) is NOT mediating; it is interceding. Big difference! See 1 Timothy 2:1, Paul encouraged his son in the faith to offer up intercessions to God for all people, even kings. (Cognates: intercessory [prayer] and intercessor.) Then a few verses later comes that key verse about Jesus being the only mediator. We as God's children cannot mediate. Aug 24 at 18:26
  • @Dan: Only Jesus is worthy of fulfilling that noble and necessary task. When the Spirit leads us to pray for someone or something, he "translates" for us and Jesus presents our requests to his Father, who will answer that prayer according to his will. See also Romans 8:26, where the Spirit is also called an intercessor. Aug 24 at 18:27
  • Crucial distinction between intercession and mediation. +1 Keep squeezing the Word, bro, the wine is sweet. Aug 25 at 13:04

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