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Ordain; Ordination

ORDAIN; ORDINATION

or-dan', or-di-na-shun (Latin ordinare, "to set in order" "to arrange"; in post-Augustan Latin "to appoint to office"; from ordo, gen. ordinis, "order," "arrangement"):

In the King James Version the verb "to ordain" renders as many as 35 different words (11 Hebrew words in the Old Testament, 21 Greek words in Apocrypha and the New Testament, and 3 Latin words in Apocrypha). This is due to the fact that the English word has many shades of meaning (especially as used in the time the King James Version was made), of which the following are the chief:

(1) To set in order, arrange, prepare:

"All things that we ordained festival,

Turn from their office to black funeral."

--Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, IV, v, 84.

This meaning is now obsolete. It is found in the King James Version of Psalms 132:17; Isaiah 30:33; Hebrews 9:6 (in each of which cases the Revised Version (British and American) or margin substitutes "prepare"); 1 Chronicles 17:9 (the Revised Version (British and American) "appoint"); Psalms 7:13 (the Revised Version (British and American) "maketh"); Habakkuk 1:12 (also the Revised Version (British and American)).

(2) To establish, institute, bring into being:

"When first this order (i.e. the Garter) was ordained, my Lord" (Shakespeare). So in 1 Kings 12:32, "Jeroboam ordained a feast in the 8th month" (12:33); Numbers 28:6; Psalms 8:2,3; Isaiah 26:12; 2 Esdras 6:49 the King James Version (the Revised Version (British and American) "preserve"); Sirach 7:15; Galatians 3:19.

(3) To decree, give orders, prescribe:

"And doth the power that man adores

Ordain their doom " --Byron.

So Esther 9:27, "The Jews ordained .... that they would keep these two days according to the writing thereof"; 1 Esdras 6:34; 2 Esdras 7:17; 8:14 the King James Version; Tobit 1:6; 8:7 the King James Version (the Revised Version (British and American) "command"); Additions to Esther 14:9; 1 Macc 4:59; 7:49; Acts 16:4; Romans 7:10 the King James Version; 1 Corinthians 2:7; 7:17; 9:14; Ephesians 2:10 the King James Version.

(4) To set apart for an office or duty, appoint, destine:

"Being ordained his special governor" (Shakespeare). Frequent in EV. When the King James Version has "ordain" in this sense, the Revised Version (British and American) generally substitutes "appoint"; e.g. "He (Jesus) appointed (the King James Version "ordained") twelve, that they might be with him" (Mark 3:14). So 2 Chronicles 11:15; Jeremiah 1:5; Daniel 2:24; 1 Esdras 8:49; 1Ma 3:55; 10:20; John 15:16; Acts 14:23; 1 Timothy 2:7; Titus 1:5; Hebrews 5:1; 8:3. The Revised Version (British and American) substitutes "formedst" in The Wisdom of Solomon 9:2, "recorded" in Sirach 48:10, "become" in Acts 1:22, "written of" (margin "set forth") in Jude 1:4, but retains "ordain" in the sense of "appoint," "set apart," in 2 Kings 23:5; 1 Chronicles 9:22; 1 Esdras 8:23; Additions to Esther 13:6; Acts 10:42; 13:48; 17:31; Romans 13:1.

(5) To appoint ceremonially to the ministerial or priestly office, to confer holy orders on. This later technical or ecclesiastical sense is never found in English Versions of the Bible. The nearest approach is (4) above, but the idea of formal or ceremonial setting-apart to office (prominent in its modern usage) is never implied in the word.

Ordination:

The act of arranging in regular order, especially the act of investing with ministerial or sacerdotal rank (ordo), the setting-apart for an office in the Christian ministry. The word does not occur in English Version of the Bible. The New Testament throws but little light on the origin of the later ecclesiastical rite of ordination. The 12 disciples were not set apart by any formal act on the part of Jesus. In Mark 3:14; John 15:16, the King James Version rendering "ordain" is, in view of its modern usage, misleading; nothing more is implied than an appointment or election. In John 20:21-23, we have indeed a symbolic act of consecration ("He breathed on them"), but "the act is described as one and not repeated. The gift was once for all, not to individuals but to the abiding body" (Westcott, at the place). In the Apostolic age there is no trace of the doctrine of an outward rite conferring inward grace, though we have instances of the formal appointment or recognition of those who had already given proof of their spiritual qualification.

(1) The Seven were chosen by the brethren as men already "full of the Spirit and of wisdom," and were then "appointed" by the Twelve, who prayed and laid their hands upon them (Acts 6:1-6).

(2) The call of Barnabas and Saul came direct from God (Acts 13:2, "the work whereunto I have called them"; Acts 13:4, they were "sent forth by the Holy Spirit"). Yet certain prophets and teachers were instructed by the Holy Spirit to "separate" them (i.e. publicly) for their work, which they did by fasting and praying and laying on of hands (Acts 13:3). But it was utterly foreign to Paul's point of view to regard the church's act as constituting him an apostle (compare Galatians 1:1).

(3) Barnabas and Paul are said to have "ordained," the Revised Version (British and American) "appointed" (cheirotonesantes, "elect," "appoint," without indicating the particular mode of appointment), elders or presbyters in every city with prayers and fasting (Acts 14:23). So Titus was instructed by Paul to "appoint elders in every city" in Crete (Titus 1:5).

(4) The gift of Timothy for evangelistic work seems to have been formally recognized in two ways:

(a) by the laying on of the hands of the presbytery (1 Timothy 4:14),

(b) by the laying on of the hands of Paul himself (2 Timothy 1:6). The words "Lay hands hastily on no man" (1 Timothy 5:22) do not refer to an act of ordination, but probably to the restoration of the penitent. The reference in Hebrews 6:2 is not exclusively to ordination, but to all occasions of laying on of hands (see HANDS, IMPOSITION OF). From the few instances mentioned above (the only ones found in the New Testament), we infer that it was regarded as advisable that persons holding high office in the church should be publicly recognized in some way, as by laying on of hands, fasting, and public prayer. But no great emphasis was laid on this rite, hence, "it can hardly be likely that any essential principle was held to be involved in it" (Hort, The Christian Ecclesia, 216). It was regarded as an outward act of approval, a symbolic offering of intercessory prayer, and an emblem of the solidarity of the Christian community, rather than an indispensable channel of grace for the work of the ministry. (For the later ecclesiastical doctrine and rite see Edwin Hatch's valuable article on "Ordination" in the Dictionary of Christian Antiquity)

D. Miall Edwards


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Bibliography Information
Orr, James, M.A., D.D. General Editor. "Entry for 'ORDAIN; ORDINATION'". "International Standard Bible Encyclopedia". 1915.