What Is Ordination?

Ordination is defined as “the investiture of clergy with pastoral authority or sacerdotal power.” The practice of ordination in the modern era is drawn from biblical examples, where specially chosen men were set aside and consecrated as priests, apostles, or pastors, and spiritual authority was publically recognized and conferred upon them to administer the sacred rites of the church—such as baptism, solemnizing a marriage, administering the emblems of the Lord’s supper, and overseeing the proclamation of the Word.

– The act of ordination might be solemnized by anointing the candidate with oil or the laying on of hands, as in the following examples:“You shall anoint Aaron and his sons, and consecrate them, that they may minister to Me as priests” (Exodus 30:30 NKJV).

– “As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, ‘Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.’ Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away” (Acts 13:2, 3 NKJV).

– “He went up on the mountain and called to Him those He Himself wanted. And they came to Him. Then He appointed twelve, that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach, and to have power to heal sicknesses and to cast out demons” (Mark 3:13–15 NKJV).

Ordination in the Seventh-day Adventist Church
Ordination is the act by which a person is set apart for a special function in the church, most often by prayer and the laying on of hands. Three categories of church workers are ordained:

1) Pastors
2) Local elders
3) Deacons

Before an ordination in the Seventh-day Adventist Church, each candidate—especially pastors—is carefully examined in the following areas:

1) Personal religious experience
2) Belief in, and knowledge of the Bible
3) Acceptance of the fundamental teachings.

Paul, in his letter to Titus (2:5–9), describes the qualifications of the pastor and local elder:

1 ) Blameless
2 ) Husband of one wife
3 ) Faithful children
4 ) Not accused of debauchery or insubordination
5 ) Not self-willed
6 ) Not quick-tempered
7 ) Not a wine-drinker
8 ) Not violent
9 ) Not greedy for money
10 ) Hospitable
11 ) Lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled
12 ) Faithful to sound doctrine and able to explain it.

In 1 Timothy 3:1–7, Paul adds:

1) Able to teach
2) Not quarrelsome
3) Not covetous
4) Ruler of his own house with children in submission
5) Not a novice
6) A good reputation among non-church members.

The qualifications for the deacon are also found in 1 Timothy (3:8–13):

1 ) Reverent
2 ) Not double-tongued
3 ) Not given to much wine
4 ) Not greedy for money
5 ) Keen Bible student
6 ) Be tested before ordination
7 ) Ruling their household well; and
8 ) Wife must be reverent, not known for slandering and lack of self-control.

Seventh-day Adventists have followed the biblical examples in both the Old and New Testaments:

The Lord said to Moses: “Take Joshua the son of Nun with you, a man in whom is the Spirit, and lay your hand on him; set him before Eleazar the priest and before all the congregation, and inaugurate him in their sight” (Numbers 27:18, 19 NKJV).

As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, “Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then, having fasted and prayed, and laid hands on them, they sent them away” (Acts 13:2 NKJV).

The New Testament doesn’t distinguish between a pastor and a local church elder, although, obviously, the responsibilities of each are different. Often Bible translations use the words “presbyter” or “bishop” instead of “elder,” but the three words mean the same thing in translating the same Greek word.

In recent years, some have asserted that women should be ordained as pastors, noting how influential and productive women have been in the worldwide church. Others respond that, while stating their profound respect for the wholesome contribution of women throughout history, women do not meet all the requirements stipulated in the New Testament—the first being that a woman could never be the “husband” of one wife. For them, there is a biblical pattern in the man being the head of the household, whether a nation, church, or the family.

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