In the New Testament, it is taught that Jesus Christ holds the Melchizedek priesthood as the eternal high priest, according to the book of Hebrews. Hebrews 5:6 says, “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.”
However, some Christian denominations believe that the Melchizedek priesthood has also been conferred upon certain individuals in the church, either through apostolic succession or through direct revelation from God. For example, in the Latter-day Saint tradition, it is believed that the Melchizedek priesthood was restored through divine revelation to Joseph Smith, the founder of the church, and has been passed down through the generations to the present-day leaders of the church.
Other Christian denominations, however, do not recognize the concept of a separate Melchizedek priesthood and believe that all believers share in the priesthood of Christ through their baptism and faith in Him. They may emphasize the importance of all believers participating in the priesthood of Christ through their worship, service, and witness.
In the Old Testament, the Aaronic priesthood was given to the descendants of Aaron, who was the brother of Moses. This priesthood was established during the time of the Exodus, when God appointed Aaron and his descendants to be the priests for the Israelites.
The account of the establishment of the Aaronic priesthood is described in the book of Exodus. In chapter 28, God commands Moses to set apart Aaron and his sons to serve as priests in the tabernacle. Aaron is designated as the high priest, and his sons are to serve as priests alongside him.
In chapter 29, God gives Moses detailed instructions for consecrating Aaron and his sons as priests. This involves washing them with water, dressing them in special garments, anointing them with oil, and offering sacrifices to God on their behalf.
After this consecration, Aaron and his sons are given the responsibility of serving in the tabernacle, offering sacrifices, and performing other priestly duties. The Aaronic priesthood is considered to be a type of foreshadowing of the ultimate high priesthood of Jesus Christ, who is described in the New Testament as a “high priest forever in the order of Melchizedek” (Hebrews 5:6).
Many Christian denominations believe that the authority to administer the sacraments and lead the church has been passed down through the generations from the apostles through a process called apostolic succession. This process involves the ordination of new bishops and priests by those who were themselves ordained by bishops, who were ordained by other bishops going back to the apostles.
For example, in the Catholic Church, the apostolic succession is believed to have been passed down from the apostles to the bishops, who have been ordained in an unbroken chain going back to the apostles. Through this process, the bishops are believed to have received the authority to administer the sacraments and govern the church.
Similarly, in the Eastern Orthodox Church, apostolic succession is also believed to be essential to the continuity and authority of the church. The Orthodox Church traces its lineage back to the apostles through a succession of bishops and recognizes the primacy of the Bishop of Rome, though they do not recognize the authority of the pope.
Other Christian traditions, such as Anglicanism and some forms of Lutheranism, also place importance on apostolic succession, though their understanding of this concept may differ from that of the Catholic and Orthodox Churches.
It’s important to note that not all Christian denominations place the same emphasis on apostolic succession, and some may view it as unnecessary or even contrary to the teachings of the Bible. However, for those who do place importance on apostolic succession, it is seen as a way to connect the contemporary church with its earliest roots and to ensure the continuity of its teachings and practices.