High Priests and the early church

One hears from time to time how after Constantine everything went down hill and the leaders of the church came to be equated with priests who, as in the Old Covenant, offered sacrifices on behalf of the people and were, in some way, the mediators of God's grace. It is true that this understanding of the priesthood increased in the Western church, especially in the medieval period. But like it or not we find in as early a document as the Didache, on which I have commented extensively, a clear indication that sacerdotal language for ministers is very early.

But like it or not, we find this brazen statement regarding the early church's prophets being not just priests, but high priests:

But every true prophet that wills to abide among you is worthy of his support. So also a true teacher is himself worthy, as the workman, of his support. Every first-fruit, therefore, of the products of wine-press and threshing-floor, of oxen and of sheep, you shall take and give to the prophets, for they are your high priests.

Didache 13


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