Posted by: johnnyp1978 | March 25, 2008

Who may administer sacraments?

There are some who see no biblical mandate that only the ordained may administer sacraments. The Westminster Confession says in Chapter 27:4 -“There are only two sacraments ordained by Christ our Lord in the Gospel; that is to say, Baptism, and the Supper of the Lord: neither of which may be dispensed by any, but by a minister of the Word lawfully ordained.” So, who is right? Were the Puritans just way off? I found this article by Rev. George Gillespie to be insightful:

There is no clear evidence in Scripture of unordained people administering the sacraments. Philip is raised as an example of a deacon who baptized, one example being his baptizing the Ethiopian recorded in Acts 8, but also recorded in Acts 8 Philip is seen performing miraculous signs which shows to me he has some form of apostolic authority and there is debate on which Philip this was, the apostle or deacon. It is also interesting to point out that the Samarians were baptized by Philip (Acts 8:5-17) but did not receive the Holy Spirit until the apostles Peter and John laid their hands upon them.  I would like to point back to the calling of Philip by the angel in Acts 8:26; it seems clear that Philip, even if this is just Philip the deacon, had a supernatural calling to go to the Ethiopian. If this Philip was not the apostle his calling was extraordinary not ordinary – this should not be seen as normative.

I find no biblical warrant that non-ordained folk should be able to administer the sacraments. It seems that it is to be the duty of the shepherds of God’s flock to feed His sheep, and the sacraments are a means of feeding God’s people.


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