Priest, n. A man of special sanctity, imbued with the authority to
serve as an intermediary between man and God.
The priestly office is very clearly outlined in the Old Testament, the
priests uniquely holding the authority to offer sacrifices, to enter
into holy places, and to consume sacred foods. The highest priest,
once each year, was permitted through the blood of a sacrificial
victim to enter into the most sacred of places, the Holy of Holies.
The New Testament speaks also of priesthood. The Old Testament
sacrifices were a shadow anticipating the things to come, for
Christianity is to know priestly office in its fullest. Christ is the
ultimate priest, having a priesthood after the order of Melchizedek,
both priest and victim, who offered the one perfect sacrifice for all
time. By the most precious blood he entered into the Holy of Holies,
and has not merely permitted but called all believers in him to enter
with him to the Holy of Holies also. He calls all believers, offering
to them the most sacred of sacred foods. And, in the greatest mystery
of priestly mysteries, orthodox Christianity sets aside some believers
set aside as especially holy to hold the authority to act as priests,
performing duties and rites not permitted to the laity.
- -- Hayward's Unabridged Dictionary