The Priesthood of ALL Believers

by H. Edgar Hix | August 26, 2008

The 'priesthood of all believers doctrine' is well stated on the Southern Baptist Convention’s website: “We affirm the priesthood of all believers. Laypersons have the same right as ordained ministers to communicate with God, interpret Scripture, and minister in Christ's name. That is why the Convention requires strong lay involvement on its boards. This doctrine is first and foremost a matter of responsibility and servanthood, not privilege and license.” (

 The clearest Scriptural statement about this is in I Peter 2: 5,9 “…you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. …But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (NIV)

To me, this doctrine teaches that Christian women are priests. If they are priests, why can’t they preach? I suggest that women in the ministry fulfils the doctrine. Ministers “declare the praises of him,” as do all true Christians. Paul talks about specific gifts people have, and so specific people have specific tasks in the church, but this priesthood is not a gift, it is a calling given to all Christians. To say that a priest cannot fulfill a leadership function because of gender says to me that the “priesthood of all believers”  is only completely given to men, which seems to pervert Peter’s teaching here.

Does my interpretation make sense? I am not a Biblical languages scholar. Does the “declare” in I Peter indicate the ability to preach? The word is exaggello (Strong’s #1804), the base word of which means messenger or angel (Strong’s #32That seems to me to cover preaching.  I'm aware of at least one denomination that disagrees with my interpretation.

What do other denominations teach concerning this doctrine of the priesthood of all believers and women in the ministry? I’d love to know.

Does anyone have any other verses that give strong direction concerning this that they would like to share?

I'm looking forward to hearing from you all.