Definition of presbyter in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈprɛzbɪtə/


1 historical An elder or minister of the Christian Church.
Example sentences
  • Here is (in New Testament terms) the most senior presbyter in the whole Anglican church, and he will be busy raising uncomfortable questions about the teaching of the Word of God.
  • Early in 391, on a visit to the port of Hippo Regius 45 miles from Thagaste, he was forcibly ordained presbyter for the small Catholic congregation.
1.1 formal (In Presbyterian Churches) an elder.
Example sentences
  • Although we may not realize it, elders, or presbyters, were some of the most important figures in the early church.
  • The presbyter, a member of the ‘priesthood in the presbyteral order,’ is teacher, priest and shepherd, leads and unifies the faithful, and shares in the priesthood of bishops.
  • The care of souls instead was the task of the presbyter (priest, ‘elder’) who was also responsible for the day-to-day administration of the sacraments.
1.2 formal (In episcopal Churches) a minister of the second order, under the authority of a bishop.
Example sentences
  • The deacon is defined in relation to bishops and presbyters, helping as a minister of word, liturgy, and charity.
  • I have yet to meet a Canadian presbyter or bishop who will even broker the point, let alone agree to one atom of it.
  • We see, in both passages in which the qualifications of a bishop or presbyter are listed, that the candidate must be ‘the husband of one wife.’



Pronunciation: /prɛzˈbɪt(ə)r(ə)l/
Example sentences
  • Bishops should resume their traditional roles as vicars of Christ in their own dioceses and be prepared to consult with the presbyteral, pastoral, and finance councils provided for in canon law.
  • Parish and diocesan pastoral councils, like presbyteral councils, are in place, but they do not seem to work very well.
  • The presbyter, a member of the ‘priesthood in the presbyteral order,’ is teacher, priest and shepherd, leads and unifies the faithful, and shares in the priesthood of bishops.


Pronunciation: /prɛzˈbɪt(ə)rət/
Example sentences
  • It's been clear from the beginning that there's nothing in the history of the Church of England and then the Anglican Church of Australia, which legally precludes a woman from being ordained as deacon, presbyterate, or bishop.
  • He is unimpressed by the fact that the great majority of Christians in the world belong to bodies that, in continuity with two millennia of history, believe women cannot be ordained to what is traditionally called the presbyterate.
  • But whatever the Vatican decides to do, will you stand with those already outcast from the presbyterate?


Pronunciation: /prɛzbɪˈtɪərɪəl/
Example sentences
  • The earliest courts in the Bible were formed in the presbyterial system of justice wherein the elders or heads of families formed the court that sat in the City Gate.
  • The Presbyterial Ordination should fall within the Mass immediately before the Peace.


Example sentences
  • I do not believe for a moment that my Presbytership is anything less than a mandate for all of Living Faith to reach outside our town.


Late 16th century: via ecclesiastical Latin from Greek presbuteros 'elder' (used in the New Testament to denote an elder of the early church), comparative of presbus 'old (man)'.

  • priest from Old English:

    The Greek presbuteros ‘elder’ was used in the New Testament for ‘elder of the church, priest’ and became presbyter in Latin, which passed into Old English as preost, modern ‘priest’. Presbyter is also the source of presbytery (Late Middle English) and Presbyterian (mid 17th century). The usual Latin word for priest was sacerdos from sacer ‘holy’, which is the source of many words including sacrament (Middle English), sacred (Late Middle English), sacrifice (Middle English), and the opposite execrate (mid 16th century) ‘to curse’. The related sacrilege comes from Latin sacrilegus ‘stealer of holy things’. See also saint

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: pres¦by|ter

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