From the highpriestly nature of Christ spring forth pardon and grace, or the remission of sins, which are granted conditionally, dependent upon belief in Christ. The fullness of the deity dwells bodily in Christ who is absolute, supreme, and great high priest, full of the Spirit (Colossians 2:9). Christ received from God the Father all authority to impart remission of sins, life, and immortality to those who truly believe on Him, worship Him, and love Him as their redeemer and saviour.
Christ, as high priest, possesses in Himself the equally divine Holy Spirit who proceeds from the Father eternally, and He sends this Spirit to priests and bishops who are faithful to Him, and through them to all the people. God the Father is the source of the Holy Spirit and imparts His Spirit completely and perfectly to Christ, the high priest, and together with the Spirit anoints Christ as the one, eternal, and absolute high priest. In parallel fashion, because He too possesses the all-holy Spirit in Himself completely and perfectly, Christ imparts the Spirit to those who have been called by God to the priesthood of the Church, and through them to each faithful member of the Church.
As God the Father is united with Christ, the one and only high priest, through the Spirit and with His priests, the officiants of His Mysteries likewise are united through the Holy Spirit with the faithful. Hence God the Father and Christ the Son, and the priests of His Mysteries and the pious faithful, are united through the same Holy Spirit whose source is God the Father, and who is imparted through Christ and fills the body of the Church (Ephesians 1:17-23).
Our great high priest is endowed fully with the Holy Spirit whom He received from God the Father, and He is high priest because of His divine anointment. But how is Christ full of the Holy Spirit? Which law governed the anointing of Christ by God the Father, through the Holy Spirit, as our great, supreme, and eternal high priest?
The office of high priest is clothed in great honour and dignity; it is the reward of virtue. Yet even this great position would have no reality or existence if there were no sinners – just as the dignity of a king would have no reality, were there no subjects who require the king’s protection. The highpriesthood towers over our sinful nature and not only is without reproach and free from sin, but also is full of sanctity and is a vessel, figuratively speaking, which contains the holiness of God. Because it was impossible for man to possess a highpriesthood without sin, God the Father commissioned a new man, a man sinless by nature, even our Lord Jesus Christ, who also was sinless by will.
God entrusted the highpriesthood to Christ, anointing Him high priest for eternity, the absolute saviour and redeemer of sinners. By means of the highpriesthood of Christ, absolute and blameless, those who believe in Christ are saved. Between the one and only true God and the one body of the faithful, the one and only high priest – Christ – acts as mediator, for God anointed Him to this office through the Holy Spirit. Furthermore, the sacrifice offered by this one and only high priest is a single, eternal sacrifice, even as Christ Himself is eternal, and grants believers eternal salvation from eternal death. There cannot be two or more high priests, or two or more sacrifices, because there is no reason for their existence, when a single, eternal high priest and a single, eternal sacrifice are sufficient to save believers, to make atonement to God the Father, and to satisfy divine justice.
Therefore, it is from the highpriestly nature of Christ and His single sacrifice, which He offered to God on the Cross once and for all time, that eternal power springs, forever capable of saving believers and of strengthening them to carry out the divine will. Eternal power flows forth forever saving those who believe in Christ, but forever punishing those who do not believe in Christ and refuse to acknowledge Him as the great high priest and mediator between God and man. As high priest, Christ is merciful and yet just, full of goodness, but also full of righteousness. He alone is the source of holiness and grace.
Christ was anointed high priest by God because He was known to be possessed of faultless will. Because He remained firm in every virtue and defeated the Devil, because through the virtues which He displayed He was beloved of God, and because He was filled with the Spirit of sanctity, He was worthy of the great dignity of the highpriesthood. He was worthy of so great a prize because He possessed the necessary qualities for becoming saviour for those in danger, mediator for sinners, and great high priest for the faithful people of God, for the sheep that belonged to God in the world, both Jews and Gentiles. From this we conclude that every high priest or bishop, in order to hold that office at God’s hands in the Church of Christ, must:
- Have been saved and redeemed, and have received remission of his sins by sincere repentance-for man is saved by sincere repentance and confession;
- Lead a virtuous and Christ-like life, and be a friend of God;
- Seek after holiness, for without it no one sees the Lord;
- Conduct his affairs wisely, justly, and piously.
It is the man with these qualifications who receives the Holy Spirit at his ordination, and is elevated to the priesthood or bishopric. He then becomes saviour of other men, mediator between Christ, the absolute high priest, and sinners, and is a trustworthy instrument of the Holy Spirit for building up the faithful into the life of obedience to Christ.
Christ received the office and dignity of high priest from God after His manifestation, because He loved righteousness and hated wickedness, and as high priest He observed the law of God carefully. The keeping of the divine law testified to the fact that Christ was worthy of being called to the office of absolute high priest. The royal servant David uttered prophetic words when he declared: “Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, thy God, has anointed thee with the oil of gladness beyond thy fellows” (Psalms 44:7; LXX).
Moreover, in order to be anointed priest or bishop in the Church of Christ, by God, one must love righteousness and must hate wickedness. The man who loves righteousness always practices it too. The man who hates wickedness never practices it at any time. Since Christ received the office of high priest because He practiced righteousness and had nothing at all to do with wickedness, we conclude that He received it as a reward for His virtue and His obedienc:e to the will of God unto death.
Because the will of Christ is full of the Holy Spirit, it imparts this same Spirit in the Church through a priesthood without vices, for this is its appointed channel. The Spirit is given firstly for the remission of sins, and secondly as a reward of virtue to those who are called of God to receive the priesthood. Remission of sins is granted through faith in Christ who alone is able to save.
The priesthood is given to a man who has been saved and is living a Christian life, who has mortified his flesh with its passions and desires, who loves righteousness and hates wickedness, who is keenly aware of the sublime quality of the mystery of salvation, and who has the zeal, the selfless devotion, and the understanding to minister to souls and work for their salvation. The priesthood is given to those who bear qualities such as these, but not to persons who are guilty of simony, or to men who are unworthy, incompetent, ignorant, and not yet worthy of being called Christian.
Today, with the aid of money, men rise to positions of bishop and priest, who do not aspire to the priesthood for the salvation of souls, but for the lesser opportunity of gratifying their base desires, and for the pursuit of material wealth. When they are bishops, they can enjoy this in comfort. But these are not the kind of men whom God raises to the office of bishop, nor does He anoint them with the Holy Spirit.
Satan anoints them with the unclean spirit which he possesses. Such men rise to the highest ranks of the priesthood, buying and selling the things of God, and taking security from them beforehand. Nevertheless, such evil doers are not anointed by God with the Spirit of the priesthood, nor does the Church of Christ recognize them.
God anoints to the ministry in the Church those whom He sees to be capable and worthy. The Church of Christ recognizes these as bishops and priests according to the example of Christ, as men who follow in the footsteps of the great high priest, live a life in obedience to God, hate wickedness, and love righteousness. Pious Christians honour and respect them as apostles and servants of Christ and as true priests who sincerely desire to save souls.
This is the law which governed Christ’s anointing as absolute high priest by God. According to it, Christ, through the Holy Spirit, anointed the apostles and the apostles anointed their successors. In the Church, the rule for choosing bishops and priests always was observed where the bishops had piety and faith in God, and where the people of the Church had knowledge of their Christian duties, and showed concern for the Church and her welfare.
As long as this law was observed, there was life and spirit in the Church, and there was a virtuous clergy and a faithful people. But when this law was violated through simony and through the buying and selling of the things of God, and when the bishopric was viewed as a profession not unlike any other, and corrupt men were elevated to the bishopric, then the affairs of the Church were neglected and the laity lost the sincere, pious faith which they once possessed.
Thus the Church, up to the present day, was left to the dry, withered forms and bejeweled mitres of simoniac bishops clad in golden vestments, in which they hide themselves and their true nature from the laity. And the laity manage everything formally, without life or spiritual force, for they lack true shepherds concerned with the salvation of their sinful souls.
In this very hour we cry to these pitiful people in the Church, careless about eternal matters, but too anxious about trifles – why do you tolerate this state of affairs in the Church? Do you not understand that it has been forged by these guilty bishops, whom you in your ignorance accept as priests of the holy of holies, of Christ our great high priest? Does there exist any greater insult to Christ, the great high priest, than to accept them as His servants and priests?
When God was pleased to open our eyes and those of our nation, to their utter wickedness and to a kind of behavior which would become an infidel more than a Christian, we ceased to recognize such people as ministers and official representatives of Christ. For Christ does not anoint such men as bishops or priests, nor does He accept them as His servants and vessels for the salvation of souls.*
It is because of this that we are anxious for the entire nation and every Orthodox Christian to learn this truth, so that they may be brought to righteous indignation, and by the laws of the Church, may cast the wolves out of our sanctuaries and seek out a priesthood acceptable to Christ in the Church. This priesthood cares for the sheep and guides them by the knowledge and power it possesses to live in obedience to Christ and to achieve virtue. Moreover, this priesthood sanctifies them through the sanctity it possesses, so that they are cleansed from every pollution of flesh and spirit.
0 Orthodox Christians, awake! In the name of our holy and just God, cast out the wolves who have entered into the sacred altars of the Church, through their falsehoods and treachery! Arise! Do battle! And defend the holy Church of Christ, entrusted to your care for the very salvation of your souls.
Save, O Lord, Thy people, and bless Thine inheritance. Grant victory to Orthodox Christians over the barbarians, and safeguard Thy people through Thy holy Cross. Amen.
* Editors note: That which Makrakis wrote against the simoniac priests and prelates is just as applicable today against the false priests and bishops who seek to lead the faithful into the antichrist ecumenical movement. Both simony and ecumenicity spring from the same source: the chief destroyer of mankind, Satan himself.