When I research on the Catholic Priesthood, many apologists and theologians will make comparisons between Israelite priests and Catholic priests, especially in reference to the Pope guiding the church.

What are the significant differences in role and authority between the Israelite priesthood and the Catholic priesthood?

2 Answers 2


St. Thomas Aquinas explains the difference between these two priesthoods when he answers "Whether the priesthood of Christ was according to the order of Melchisedech?" (Summa Theologica III q. 22 a. 6 co.):

the priesthood of the [Old] Law was a figure of the priesthood of Christ, not as adequately representing the reality, but as falling far short thereof: both because the priesthood of the Law did not wash away sins, and because it was not eternal, as the priesthood of Christ. Now the excellence of Christ's over the Levitical priesthood was foreshadowed in the priesthood of Melchisedech, who received tithes from Abraham, in whose loins the priesthood of the Law was tithed. Consequently the priesthood of Christ is said to be "according to the order of Melchisedech" (Ps. 109:4), on account of the excellence of the true priesthood over the figural priesthood of the Law.


Differences between Levitical and Melchizedek priesthoods:


  • Bloodline Levitical

    Whosoever Melchizedek


  • Temporary Levitical

    Permanent Melchizedek

Efficacy of sacrifice:

  • Year to year Levitical

    Eternal Melchizedek


  • Earthly Levitical

    Heavenly Melchizedek

Sabbath rest

  • Weekly Levitical

    Always Melchizedek

Made by God's Oath

  • No Levitical

    Yes Melchizedek

Needing to offer daily sacrifices

  • Yes Levitical

    No Melchizedek

Minister of the true tabernacle

  • No Levitical

    Yes Melchizedek

Faultless covenant

  • No Levitical

    Yes Melchizedek

Blood sacrifice

  • Animals/other Levitical

    Jesus Christ Melchizedek

Source of blood

  • Others/animals Levitical

    Self Melchizedek

Number of sacrifices required

  • Thousands Levitical

    One Melchizedek

  • Definitely NOT what I was asking about. I was asking about differences between the Israelite and Catholic Priesthoods.
    – Luke Hill
    Dec 9, 2021 at 16:05
  • 1
    @LukeHill I guess I misunderstand. Are not Catholic priesthood of Melchizedek? If you say, it is not, I'll delete my answer.
    – SLM
    Dec 9, 2021 at 16:15

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