Deacon vs Priest: Difference and Comparison

In Christianity, within churches, there are several dignified posts for people, for example, priest, Bishop, Pope, etc. As the categories are divided into Christianity, some of the churches have Holy orders within the church.

The Roman Catholic,  independent Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran churches, eastern and oriental orthodox, etc., have the three Holy orders, which refer to the ordination of an individual for a ministry. These searches consider ordination sacraments and can be bestowed by a priest who is considered a teacher of the faith.

Among the three Holy orders, Bishop is the highest Holy order. He is even considered the modern-day apostle. The Pope and archbishops are types of bishops who can celebrate all sacraments.

Although all these positions are referred to as intermediates between humans and God.  

Key Takeaways

  1. Deacons are ordained members of Christian churches who assist priests or ministers in religious services and perform various pastoral duties; priests are ordained clergy members who lead worship, administer sacraments, and provide spiritual guidance to their congregations.
  2. Deacons can be either permanent or transitional, with transitional deacons eventually becoming priests; priests remain in their role for the duration of their ministry.
  3. Deacons are not authorized to perform certain sacraments, such as consecrating the Eucharist or hearing confessions; priests have the authority to administer all sacraments, except for Holy Orders and, in most cases, Confirmation.

Deacon vs. Priest

The difference between a deacon and a priest is that the priest is in a higher position within the three Holy orders of Christianity. Deacon is the third position, and the priest is the second position in the holy orders of Christianity.

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Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonDeaconPriest
Position in the holy orderThirdSecond
Basic requirementsAbility to handle charitable funds and property of the church.Celibacy, purity of soul, ability to lead the flock, etc.
DutiesTo handle the charitable funds and property of the church.To act as an intermediary between humans and God. 
ServesPastorsBishop
Performing sacraments Not allowedAllowed 

What is Deacon?

Deacon is an official who is a member of the office in Christianity, which is also known as diaconate. The deacon is the third position within the holy orders of Christianity. 

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A few duties of a deacon are even mentioned in the holy books of Christianity; some of the duties are; a deacon is supposed to serve food to widows, manage charitable funds of the church, and distribute it among the needy with the help of the committee.

The term itself means to serve or servant, but it does not mean that the position is of a lower standard; rather, they need high qualifications to get the position of deacon. Deacon is supposed to be spiritually mature, doctrinally strong, morally pure, and should be able to handle the funds and money responsibility within the church.

No fixed number of deacons is mentioned in any holy book of Christianity because every Church is of different size and needs a different number of deacons. Although, their roles remain the same in every type of church worldwide. 

In some regions, deacons are supposed to be members of ministries in finances and property of the church; they are even members of educational institutions and programs.

The only thing the scriptures restrict them is to hold the church’s authority; that is, even being a manager of charitable funds, they do not hold the church’s authority. 

It is believed that the authority of the Church comes from the Lord to the congregation, and congregations may authorize deacons to serve the church in several ways. Most of the time, deacons are supposed to help the pastors in the church.

deacon

What is a Priest?

The priest is a religious leader authorized to perform sacred activities in Christianity. The priest is the second position in the church’s three Holy orders of Christianity.

It is also believed that Christ carried out the Catholic priesthood at his last supper; he called a man to take authority after him and carry on his ministry in the world through his church. According to the religious leaders of Christianity, a priest is a man who offers his whole humanity to God So that God uses him as an instrument to attain salvation.

The activities of priests are connected to the activities of Jesus Christ. For example, when the priest offers the holy sacrifice of the mass, it is believed that Christ offers sacrifice, or when Priest absolves since in the sacrament of reconciliation, it is believed that Christ has forgiven the sin.

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Priests assist the Bishop, the first position in the three  Holy Orders. The priest can celebrate the mass and the eucharist, the sacraments of penance, the anointing of the sick, baptism, and Matrimony. 

The primary requirement to follow the priesthood, one should be celibate; some of the Eastern and Orthodox churches accept married men; however, after ordination, they are not allowed to get married if they get widowed.

Deacon is the final step in the ordination to become a priest. The priest is also an alter Christus which in Latin means another Christ. He is supposed to lead the flock in such a way that they reach the kingdom of heaven.

priest

 Main Differences Between Deacon and Priest

  1. The priest is in the second position. On the other hand, the deacon is in the third position in the church’s three Holy orders of Christianity.
  2. The priest serves the Bishop, whereas the deacon serves priests and pastors.
  3. Priests lead the flock. On the other hand, deacons are supposed to serve the church as clerks and perform several activities like handling finances and charitable fund of the church.
  4. Priests can celebrate mass and all the sacraments except for Holy Orders. On the other hand, a deacon cannot perform or celebrate sacraments.  
  5. The basic requirement for the priest is to be celibate. On the other hand, deacons should have the knowledge and skills to handle the charitable funds and property of the church.  
Difference Between Deacon and Priest
References
  1. https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=N-jbEE7l6fkC&oi=fnd&pg=PR7&dq=what+is+deacon+in+church&ots=TBnXtMgjRn&sig=83pOIzfo3R8_QSV2EU1wF0INUg4
  2. https://muse.jhu.edu/article/754194/summary

Last Updated : 13 July, 2023

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