Summa Th. III EN Qu.21
We must now consider Christ's prayer; and under this head there are four points of inquiry:
(1) Whether it is becoming that Christ should pray?
(2) Whether it pertains to Him in respect of His sensuality?
(3) Whether it is becoming to Him to pray for Himself or only for others?
(4) Whether every prayer of His was heard?
Objection: 1. It would seem unbecoming that Christ should pray. For, as Damascene says (De Fide Orth. iii, 24), "prayer is the asking for becoming things from God." But since Christ could do all things, it does not seem becoming to Him to ask anything from anyone. Therefore it does not seem fitting that Christ should pray.
2. Further, we need not ask in prayer for what we know for certain will happen; thus, we do not pray that the sun may rise tomorrow. Nor is it fitting that anyone should ask in prayer for what he knows will not happen. But Christ in all things knew what would happen. Therefore it was not fitting that He should ask anything in prayer.
3. Further, Damascene says (De Fide Orth. iii, 24) that "prayer is the raising up of the mind to God." Now Christ's mind needed no uplifting to God, since His mind was always united to God, not only by the union of the hypostasis, but by the fruition of beatitude. Therefore it was not fitting that Christ should pray.
On the contrary It is written (Lc 6,12): "And it came to pass in those days, that He went out into a mountain, and He passed the whole night in the prayer of God."
I answer that As was said in the SS, Question , Articles ,2, prayer is the unfolding of our will to God, that He may fulfill it. If, therefore, there had been but one will in Christ, viz. the Divine, it would nowise belong to Him to pray, since the Divine will of itself is effective of whatever He wishes by it, according to Ps 134,6: "Whatsoever the Lord pleased, He hath done." But because the Divine and the human wills are distinct in Christ, and the human will of itself is not efficacious enough to do what it wishes, except by Divine power, hence to pray belongs to Christ as man and as having a human will.
Reply to Objection: 1. Christ as God and not as man was able to carry out all He wished, since as man He was not omnipotent, as stated above (Question , Article ). Nevertheless being both God and man, He wished to offer prayers to the Father, not as though He were incompetent, but for our instruction. First, that He might show Himself to be from the Father; hence He says (Jn 11,42): "Because of the people who stand about I have said it" (i.e. the words of the prayer) "that they may believe that Thou hast sent Me." Hence Hilary says (De Trin. x): "He did not need prayer. It was for us He prayed, lest the Son should be unknown." Secondly, to give us an example of prayer; hence Ambrose says (on Lc 6,12): "Be not deceived, nor think that the Son of God prays as a weakling, in order to beseech what He cannot effect. For the Author of power, the Master of obedience persuades us to the precepts of virtue by His example." Hence Augustine says (Tract. civ in Joan.): "Our Lord in the form of a servant could have prayed in silence, if need be, but He wished to show Himself a suppliant of the Father, in such sort as to bear in mind that He was our Teacher."
2. Amongst the other things which He knew would happen, He knew that some would be brought about by His prayer; and for these He not unbecomingly besought God.
3. To rise is nothing more than to move towards what is above. Now movement is taken in two ways, as is said De Anima iii, 7; first, strictly, according as it implies the passing from potentiality to act, inasmuch as it is the act of something imperfect, and thus to rise pertains to what is potentially and not actually above. Now in this sense, as Damascene says (De Fide Orth. iii, 24), "the human mind of Christ did not need to rise to God, since it was ever united to God both by personal being and by the blessed vision." Secondly, movement signifies the act of something perfect, i.e. something existing in act, as to understand and to feel are called movements; and in this sense the mind of Christ was always raised up to God, since He was always contemplating Him as existing above Himself.
Objection: 1. It would seem that it pertains to Christ to pray according to His sensuality. For it is written (Ps 83,3) in the person of Christ: "My heart and My flesh have rejoiced in the Living God." Now sensuality is called the appetite of the flesh. Hence Christ's sensuality could ascend to the Living God by rejoicing; and with equal reason by praying.
2. Further, prayer would seem to pertain to that which desires what is besought. Now Christ besought something that His sensuality desired when He said (Mt 26,39): "Let this chalice pass from Me." Therefore Christ's sensuality prayed.
3. Further, it is a greater thing to be united to God in person than to mount to Him in prayer. But the sensuality was assumed by God to the unity of Person, even as every other part of human nature. Much more, therefore, could it mount to God by prayer.
On the contrary It is written (Ph 2,7) that the Son of God in the nature that He assumed was "made in the likeness of men." But the rest of men do not pray with their sensuality. Therefore, neither did Christ pray according to His sensuality.
I answer that To pray according to sensuality may be understood in two ways. First as if prayer itself were an act of the sensuality; and in this sense Christ did not pray with His sensuality, since His sensuality was of the same nature and species in Christ as in us. Now in us the sensuality cannot pray for two reasons; first because the movement of the sensuality cannot transcend sensible things, and, consequently, it cannot mount to God, which is required for prayer; secondly, because prayer implies a certain ordering inasmuch as we desire something to be fulfilled by God; and this is the work of reason alone. Hence prayer is an act of the reason, as was said in the SS, Question , Article .Secondly, we may be said to pray according to the sensuality when our prayer lays before God what is in our appetite of sensuality; and in this sense Christ prayed with His sensuality inasmuch as His prayer expressed the desire of His sensuality, as if it were the advocate of the sensuality---and this, that He might teach us three things. First, to show that He had taken a true human nature, with all its natural affections: secondly, to show that a man may wish with his natural desire what God does not wish: thirdly, to show that man should subject his own will to the Divine will. Hence Augustine says in the Enchiridion (Serm. 1 in Ps 32): "Christ acting as a man, shows the proper will of a man when He says 'Let this chalice pass from Me'; for this was the human will desiring something proper to itself and, so to say, private. But because He wishes man to be righteous and to be directed to God, He adds: 'Nevertheless not as I will but as Thou wilt,' as if to say, 'See thyself in Me, for thou canst desire something proper to thee, even though God wishes something else.'"
Reply to Objection: 1. The flesh rejoices in the Living God, not by the act of the flesh mounting to God, but by the outpouring of the heart into the flesh, inasmuch as the sensitive appetite follows the movement of the rational appetite.
2. Although the sensuality wished what the reason besought, it did not belong to the sensuality to seek this by praying, but to the reason, as stated above.
3. The union in person is according to the personal being, which pertains to every part of the human nature; but the uplifting of prayer is by an act which pertains only to the reason, as stated above. Hence there is no parity.
Objection: 1. It would seem that it was not fitting that Christ should pray for Himself. For Hilary says (De Trin. x): "Although His word of beseeching did not benefit Himself, yet He spoke for the profit of our faith." Hence it seems that Christ prayed not for Himself but for us.
2. Further, no one prays save for what He wishes, because, as was said (Article ), prayer is an unfolding of our will to God that He may fulfil it. Now Christ wished to suffer what He suffered. For Augustine says (Contra Faust. xxvi): "A man, though unwilling, is often angry; though unwilling, is sad; though unwilling, sleeps; though unwilling, hungers and thirsts. But He" (i.e. Christ) "did all these things, because He wished." Therefore it was not fitting that He should pray for Himself.
3. Further, Cyprian says (De Orat. Dom.): "The Doctor of Peace and Master of Unity did not wish prayers to be offered individually and privately, lest when we prayed we should pray for ourselves alone." Now Christ did what He taught, according to Ac 1,1: "Jesus began to do and to teach." Therefore Christ never prayed for Himself alone.
On the contrary our Lord Himself said while praying (Jn 17,1): "Glorify Thy Son."
I answer that Christ prayed for Himself in two ways. First, by expressing the desire of His sensuality, as stated above (Article ); or also of His simple will, considered as a nature; as when He prayed that the chalice of His Passion might pass from Him (Mt 26,39). Secondly, by expressing the desire of His deliberate will, which is considered as reason; as when He prayed for the glory of His Resurrection (Jn 17,1). And this is reasonable. For as we have said above (Article , ad 1) Christ wished to pray to His Father in order to give us an example of praying; and also to show that His Father is the author both of His eternal procession in the Divine Nature, and of all the good that He possesses in the human nature. Now just as in His human nature He had already received certain gifts from His Father. so there were other gifts which He had not yet received, but which He expected to receive. And therefore, as He gave thanks to the Father for gifts already received in His human nature, by acknowledging Him as the author thereof, as we read (Mt 26,27 Jn 11,41): so also, in recognition of His Father, He besought Him in prayer for those gifts still due to Him in His human nature, such as the glory of His body, and the like. And in this He gave us an example, that we should give thanks for benefits received, and ask in prayer for those we have not as yet.
Reply to Objection: 1. Hilary is speaking of vocal prayer, which was not necessary to Him for His own sake, but only for ours. Whence he says pointedly that "His word of beseeching did not benefit Himself." For if "the Lord hears the desire of the poor," as is said in the Ps 9,38, much more the mere will of Christ has the force of a prayer with the Father: wherefore He said (Jn 11,42): "I know that Thou hearest Me always, but because of the people who stand about have I said it, that they may believe that Thou hast sent Me."
2. Christ wished indeed to suffer what He suffered, at that particular time: nevertheless He wished to obtain, after His passion, the glory of His body, which as yet He had not. This glory He expected to receive from His Father as the author thereof, and therefore it was fitting that He should pray to Him for it.
3. This very glory which Christ, while praying, besought for Himself, pertained to the salvation of others according to Rm 4,25: "He rose again for our justification." Consequently the prayer which He offered for Himself was also in a manner offered for others. So also anyone that asks a boon of God that he may use it for the good of others, prays not only for himself, but also for others.
Objection: 1. It would seem that Christ's prayer was not always heard. For He besought that the chalice of His passion might be taken from Him, as we read (Mt 26,39): and yet it was not taken from Him. Therefore it seems that not every prayer of His was heard.
2. Further, He prayed that the sin of those who crucified Him might be forgiven, as is related (Lc 23,34). Yet not all were pardoned this sin, since the Jews were punished on account thereof. Therefore it seems that not every prayer of His was heard.
3. Further, our Lord prayed for them "who would believe in Him through the word" of the apostles, that they "might all be one in Him," and that they might attain to being with Him (Jn 17,20-21 Jn 17,24). But not all attain to this. Therefore not every prayer of His was heard.
4. Further, it is said (Ps 21,3) in the person of Christ: "I shall cry by day, and Thou wilt not hear." Not every prayer of His, therefore, was heard.
On the contrary The Apostle says (He 5,7): "With a strong cry and tears offering up prayers . . . He was heard for His reverence."
I answer that As stated above (Article ), prayer is a certain manifestation of the human will. Wherefore, then is the request of one who prays granted, when his will is fulfilled. Now absolutely speaking the will of man is the will of reason; for we will absolutely that which we will in accordance with reason's deliberation. Whereas what we will in accordance with the movement of sensuality, or even of the simple will, which is considered as nature is willed not absolutely but conditionally [secundum quid]---that is, provided no obstacle be discovered by reason's deliberation. Wherefore such a will should rather be called a "velleity" than an absolute will; because one would will [vellet] if there were no obstacle.But according to the will of reason, Christ willed nothing but what He knew God to will. Wherefore every absolute will of Christ, even human, was fulfilled, because it was in conformity with God; and consequently His every prayer was fulfilled. For in this respect also is it that other men's prayers are fulfilled, in that their will is in conformity with God, according to Rm 8,27: "And He that searcheth the hearts knoweth," that is, approves of, "what the Spirit desireth," that is, what the Spirit makes the saints to desire: "because He asketh for the saints according to God," that is, in conformity with the Divine will.
Reply to Objection: 1. This prayer for the passing of the chalice is variously explained by the Saints. For Hilary (Super Matth. 31) says: "When He asks that this may pass from Him, He does not pray that it may pass by Him, but that others may share in that which passes on from Him to them; So that the sense is: As I am partaking of the chalice of the passion, so may others drink of it, with unfailing hope, with unflinching anguish, without fear of death."Or according to Jerome (on Mt 26,39): "He says pointedly, 'This chalice,' that is of the Jewish people, who cannot allege ignorance as an excuse for putting Me to death, since they have the Law and the Prophets, who foretold concerning Me."Or, according to Dionysius of Alexandria (De Martyr. ad Origen 7): "When He says 'Remove this chalice from Me,' He does not mean, 'Let it not come to Me'; for if it come not, it cannot be removed. But, as that which passes is neither untouched nor yet permanent, so the Saviour beseeches, that a slightly pressing trial may be repulsed."Lastly, Ambrose, Origen and Chrysostom say that He prayed thus "as man," being reluctant to die according to His natural will.Thus, therefore, whether we understand, according to Hilary, that He thus prayed that other martyrs might be imitators of His Passion, or that He prayed that the fear of drinking His chalice might not trouble Him, or that death might not withhold Him, His prayer was entirely fulfilled. But if we understand that He prayed that He might not drink the chalice of His passion and death; or that He might not drink it at the hands of the Jews; what He besought was not indeed fulfilled, because His reason which formed the petition did not desire its fulfilment, but for our instruction, it was His will to make known to us His natural will, and the movement of His sensuality, which was His as man.
2. Our Lord did not pray for all those who crucified Him, as neither did He for all those who would believe in Him; but for those only who were predestinated to obtain eternal life through Him.
3. Wherefore the reply to the third objection is also manifest.
4. When He says: "I shall cry and Thou wilt not hear," we must take this as referring to the desire of sensuality, which shunned death. But He is heard as to the desire of His reason, as stated above.
We have now to consider the Priesthood of Christ; and under this head there are six points of inquiry:
(1) Whether it is fitting that Christ should be a priest?
(2) Of the victim offered by this priest;
(3) Of the effect of this priesthood;
(4) Whether the effect of His priesthood pertains to Himself, or only to others?
(5) Of the eternal duration of His priesthood;
(6) Whether He should be called "a priest according to the order of Melchisedech"?
Objection: 1. It would seem unfitting that Christ should be a priest. For a priest is less than an angel; whence it is written (Zach. 3:1): "The Lord showed me the high-priest standing before the angel of the Lord." But Christ is greater than the angels, according to He 1,4: "Being made so much better than the angels, as He hath inherited a more excellent name than they." Therefore it is unfitting that Christ should be a priest.
2. Further, things which were in the Old Testament were figures of Christ, according to Col 2,17: "Which are a shadow of things to come, but the body is Christ's." But Christ was not descended from the priests of the Old Law, for the Apostle says (He 7,14): "It is evident that our Lord sprang out of Judah, in which tribe Moses spoke nothing concerning priests." Therefore it is not fitting that Christ should be a priest.
3. Further, in the Old Law, which is a figure of Christ, the lawgivers and the priests were distinct: wherefore the Lord said to Moses the lawgiver (Ex 28,1): "Take unto thee Aaron, thy brother . . . that he [Vulg.: 'they'] may minister to Me in the priest's office." But Christ is the giver of the New Law, according to Jr 31,33: "I will give My law in their bowels." Therefore it is unfitting that Christ should be a priest.
On the contrary It is written (He 4,14): "We have [Vulg.: 'Having'] therefore a great high-priest that hath passed into the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God."
I answer that The office proper to a priest is to be a mediator between God and the people: to wit, inasmuch as He bestows Divine things on the people, wherefore "sacerdos" [priest] means a giver of sacred things [sacra dans], according to Ml 2,7: "They shall seek the law at his," i.e. the priest's, "mouth"; and again, forasmuch as he offers up the people's prayers to God, and, in a manner, makes satisfaction to God for their sins; wherefore the Apostle says (He 5,1): "Every high-priest taken from among men is ordained for men in the things that appertain to God, that he may offer up gifts and sacrifices for sins." Now this is most befitting to Christ. For through Him are gifts bestowed on men, according to 2P 1,4: "By Whom" (i.e. Christ) "He hath given us most great and precious promises, that by these you may be made partakers of the Divine Nature." Moreover, He reconciled the human race to God, according to Col 1,19-20: "In Him" (i.e. Christ) "it hath well pleased (the Father) that all fulness should dwell, and through Him to reconcile all things unto Himself." Therefore it is most fitting that Christ should be a priest.
Reply to Objection: 1. Hierarchical power appertains to the angels, inasmuch as they also are between God and man, as Dionysius explains (Coel. Hier. ix), so that the priest himself, as being between God and man, is called an angel, according to Ml 2,7: "He is the angel of the Lord of hosts." Now Christ was greater than the angels, not only in His Godhead, but also in His humanity, as having the fulness of grace and glory. Wherefore also He had the hierarchical or priestly power in a higher degree than the angels, so that even the angels were ministers of His priesthood, according to Mt 4,11: "Angels came and ministered unto Him." But, in regard to His passibility, He "was made a little lower than the angels," as the Apostle says (He 2,9): and thus He was conformed to those wayfarers who are ordained to the priesthood.
2. As Damascene says (De Fide Orth. iii, 26): "What is like in every particular must be, of course, identical, and not a copy." Since, therefore, the priesthood of the Old Law was a figure of the priesthood of Christ, He did not wish to be born of the stock of the figurative priests, that it might be made clear that His priesthood is not quite the same as theirs, but differs therefrom as truth from figure.
3. As stated above (Question , Article , ad 1), other men have certain graces distributed among them: but Christ, as being the Head of all, has the perfection of all graces. Wherefore, as to others, one is a lawgiver, another is a priest, another is a king; but all these concur in Christ, as the fount of all grace. Hence it is written (Is 33,22): "The Lord is our Judge, the Lord is our law-giver, the Lord is our King: He will" come and "save us."
Objection: 1. It would seem that Christ Himself was not both priest and victim. For it is the duty of the priest to slay the victim. But Christ did not kill Himself. Therefore He was not both priest and victim.
2. Further, the priesthood of Christ has a greater similarity to the Jewish priesthood, instituted by God, than to the priesthood of the Gentiles, by which the demons were worshiped. Now in the old Law man was never offered up in sacrifice: whereas this was very much to be reprehended in the sacrifices of the Gentiles, according to Ps 105,38: "They shed innocent blood; the blood of their sons and of their daughters, which they sacrificed to the idols of Chanaan." Therefore in Christ's priesthood the Man Christ should not have been the victim.
3. Further, every victim, through being offered to God, is consecrated to God. But the humanity of Christ was from the beginning consecrated and united to God. Therefore it cannot be said fittingly that Christ as man was a victim.
On the contrary The Apostle says (Ep 5,2): "Christ hath loved us, and hath delivered Himself for us, an oblation and a victim [Douay: 'sacrifice'] to God for an odor of sweetness."
I answer that As Augustine says (De Civ. Dei x, 5): "Every visible sacrifice is a sacrament, that is a sacred sign, of the invisible sacrifice." Now the invisible sacrifice is that by which a man offers his spirit to God, according to Ps 50,19: "A sacrifice to God is an afflicted spirit." Wherefore, whatever is offered to God in order to raise man's spirit to Him, may be called a sacrifice.Now man is required to offer sacrifice for three reasons. First, for the remission of sin, by which he is turned away from God. Hence the Apostle says (He 5,1) that it appertains to the priest "to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins." Secondly, that man may be preserved in a state of grace, by ever adhering to God, wherein his peace and salvation consist. Wherefore under the old Law the sacrifice of peace-offerings was offered up for the salvation of the offerers, as is prescribed in the third chapter of Leviticus. Thirdly, in order that the spirit of man be perfectly united to God: which will be most perfectly realized in glory. Hence, under the Old Law, the holocaust was offered, so called because the victim was wholly burnt, as we read in the first chapter of Leviticus.Now these effects were conferred on us by the humanity of Christ. For, in the first place, our sins were blotted out, according to Rm 4,25: "Who was delivered up for our sins." Secondly, through Him we received the grace of salvation, according to He 5,9: "He became to all that obey Him the cause of eternal salvation." Thirdly, through Him we have acquired the perfection of glory, according to He 10,19: "We have [Vulg.: 'Having'] a confidence in the entering into the Holies" (i.e. the heavenly glory) "through His Blood." Therefore Christ Himself, as man, was not only priest, but also a perfect victim, being at the same time victim for sin, victim for a peace-offering, and a holocaust.
Reply to Objection: 1. Christ did not slay Himself, but of His own free-will He exposed Himself to death, according to Is 53,7: "He was offered because it was His own will." Thus He is said to have offered Himself.
2. The slaying of the Man Christ may be referred to a twofold will. First, to the will of those who slew Him: and in this respect He was not a victim: for the slayers of Christ are not accounted as offering a sacrifice to God, but as guilty of a great crime: a similitude of which was borne by the wicked sacrifices of the Gentiles, in which they offered up men to idols. Secondly, the slaying of Christ may be considered in reference to the will of the Sufferer, Who freely offered Himself to suffering. In this respect He is a victim, and in this He differs from the sacrifices of the Gentiles.(The reply to the third objection is wanting in the original manuscripts, but it may be gathered from the above.--Ed.)[*Some editions, however, give the following reply:
3. The fact that Christ's manhood was holy from its beginning does not prevent that same manhood, when it was offered to God in the Passion, being sanctified in a new way---namely, as a victim actually offered then. For it acquired then the actual holiness of a victim, from the charity which it had from the beginning, and from the grace of union sanctifying it absolutely.]
Objection: 1. It would seem that the effect of Christ's priesthood is not the expiation of sins. For it belongs to God alone to blot out sins, according to Is 43,25: "I am He that blot out thy iniquities for My own sake." But Christ is priest, not as God, but as man. Therefore the priesthood of Christ does not expiate sins.
2. Further, the Apostle says (He 10,1-3) that the victims of the Old Testament could not "make" (the comers thereunto) "perfect: for then they would have ceased to be offered; because the worshipers once cleansed should have no conscience of sin any longer; but in them there is made a commemoration of sins every year." But in like manner under the priesthood of Christ a commemoration of sins is made in the words: "Forgive us our trespasses" (Mt 6,12). Moreover, the Sacrifice is offered continuously in the Church; wherefore again we say: "Give us this day our daily bread." Therefore sins are not expiated by the priesthood of Christ.
3. Further, in the sin-offerings of the Old Law, a he-goat was mostly offered for the sin of a prince, a she-goat for the sin of some private individual, a calf for the sin of a priest, as we gather from Lv 4,3 Lv 4,23 Lv 4,28. But Christ is compared to none of these, but to the lamb, according to Jr 11,19: "I was as a meek lamb, that is carried to be a victim." Therefore it seems that His priesthood does not expiate sins.
On the contrary The Apostle says (He 9,14): "The blood of Christ, Who by the Holy Ghost offered Himself unspotted unto God, shall cleanse our conscience from dead works, to serve the living God." But dead works denote sins. Therefore the priesthood of Christ has the power to cleanse from sins.
I answer that Two things are required for the perfect cleansing from sins, corresponding to the two things comprised in sin---namely, the stain of sin and the debt of punishment. The stain of sin is, indeed, blotted out by grace, by which the sinner's heart is turned to God: whereas the debt of punishment is entirely removed by the satisfaction that man offers to God. Now the priesthood of Christ produces both these effects. For by its virtue grace is given to us, by which our hearts are turned to God, according to Rm 3,24-25: "Being justified freely by His grace, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, Whom God hath proposed to be a propitiation, through faith in His blood." Moreover, He satisfied for us fully, inasmuch as "He hath borne our infirmities and carried our sorrows" (Is 53,4). Wherefore it is clear that the priesthood of Christ has full power to expiate sins.
Reply to Objection: 1. Although Christ was a priest, not as God, but as man, yet one and the same was both priest and God. Wherefore in the Council of Ephesus [*Part III, ch. i, anath. 10] we read: "If anyone say that the very Word of God did not become our High-Priest and Apostle, when He became flesh and a man like us, but altogether another one, the man born of a woman, let him be anathema." Hence in so far as His human nature operated by virtue of the Divine, that sacrifice was most efficacious for the blotting out of sins. For this reason Augustine says (De Trin. iv, 14): "So that, since four things are to be observed in every sacrifice---to whom it is offered, by whom it is offered, what is offered, for whom it is offered; the same one true Mediator reconciling us to God by the sacrifice of peace, was one with Him to Whom it was offered, united in Himself those for whom He offered it, at the same time offered it Himself, and was Himself that which He offered."
2. Sins are commemorated in the New Law, not on account of the inefficacy of the priesthood of Christ, as though sins were not sufficiently expiated by Him: but in regard to those who either are not willing to be participators in His sacrifice, such as unbelievers, for whose sins we pray that they be converted; or who, after taking part in this sacrifice, fall away from it by whatsoever kind of sin. The Sacrifice which is offered every day in the Church is not distinct from that which Christ Himself offered, but is a commemoration thereof. Wherefore Augustine says (De Civ. De. x, 20): "Christ Himself both is the priest who offers it and the victim: the sacred token of which He wished to be the daily Sacrifice of the Church."
3. As Origen says (Sup. Joan. i, 29), though various animals were offered up under the Old Law, yet the daily sacrifice, which was offered up morning and evening, was a lamb, as appears from Nb 38,3-4. By which it was signified that the offering up of the true lamb, i.e. Christ, was the culminating sacrifice of all. Hence (Jn 1,29) it is said: "Behold the Lamb of God, behold Him Who taketh away the sins [Vulg.: 'sin'] of the world."
Objection: 1. It would seem that the effect of the priesthood of Christ pertained not only to others, but also to Himself. For it belongs to the priest's office to pray for the people, according to 2M 1,23: "The priests made prayer while the sacrifice was consuming." Now Christ prayed not only for others, but also for Himself, as we have said above (Question , Article ), and as expressly stated (He 5,7): "In the days of His flesh, with a strong cry and tears He offered [Vulg.: 'offering'] up prayers and supplications to Him that was able to save Him from death." Therefore the priesthood of Christ had an effect not only in others, but also in Himself.
2. Further, in His passion Christ offered Himself as a sacrifice. But by His passion He merited, not only for others, but also for Himself, as stated above (Question , Articles ,4). Therefore the priesthood of Christ had an effect not only in others, but also in Himself.
3. Further, the priesthood of the Old Law was a figure of the priesthood of Christ. But the priest of the Old Law offered sacrifice not only for others, but also for himself: for it is written (Lv 16,17) that "the high-priest goeth into the sanctuary to pray for himself and his house, and for the whole congregation of Israel." Therefore the priesthood of Christ also had an effect not merely in others, but also in Himself.
On the contrary We read in the acts of the Council of Ephesus [*Part III, ch. i, anath. 10]: "If anyone say that Christ offered sacrifice for Himself, and not rather for us alone (for He Who knew not sin needed no sacrifice), let him be anathema." But the priest's office consists principally in offering sacrifice. Therefore the priesthood of Christ had no effect in Himself.
I answer that As stated above (Article ), a priest is set between God and man. Now he needs someone between himself and God, who of himself cannot approach to God; and such a one is subject to the priesthood by sharing in the effect thereof. But this cannot be said of Christ; for the Apostle says (He 7,25): "Coming of Himself to God, always living to make intercession for us [Vulg.: 'He is able to save for ever them that come to God by Him; always living,' etc.]." And therefore it is not fitting for Christ to be the recipient of the effect of His priesthood, but rather to communicate it to others. For the influence of the first agent in every genus is such that it receives nothing in that genus: thus the sun gives but does not receive light; fire gives but does not receive heat. Now Christ is the fountain-head of the entire priesthood: for the priest of the Old Law was a figure of Him; while the priest of the New Law works in His person, according to 2Co 2,10: "For what I have pardoned, if I have pardoned anything, for your sakes have I done it in the person of Christ." Therefore it is not fitting that Christ should receive the effect of His priesthood.
Reply to Objection: 1. Although prayer is befitting to priests, it is not their proper office, for it is befitting to everyone to pray both for himself and for others, according to Jc 5,16: "Pray for one another that you may be saved." And so we may say that the prayer by which Christ prayed for Himself was not an action of His priesthood. But this answer seems to be precluded by the Apostle, who, after saying (He 5,6), "Thou art a priest for ever according to the order of Melchisedech," adds, "Who in the days of His flesh offering up payers," etc., as quoted above (Objection  ): so that it seems that the prayer which Christ offered pertained to His priesthood. We must therefore say that other priests partake in the effect of their priesthood, not as priests, but as sinners, as we shall state farther on (ad 3). But Christ had, simply speaking, no sin; though He had the "likeness of sin in the flesh [Vulg.,: 'sinful flesh']," as is written Rm 8,3. And, consequently, we must not say simply that He partook of the effect of His priesthood but with this qualification---in regard to the passibility of the flesh. Wherefore he adds pointedly, "that was able to save Him from death."
2. Two things may be considered in the offering of a sacrifice by any priest---namely, the sacrifice itself which is offered, and the devotion of the offerer. Now the proper effect of priesthood is that which results from the sacrifice itself. But Christ obtained a result from His passion, not as by virtue of the sacrifice, which is offered by way of satisfaction, but by the very devotion with which out of charity He humbly endured the passion.
3. A figure cannot equal the reality, wherefore the figural priest of the Old Law could not attain to such perfection as not to need a sacrifice of satisfaction. But Christ did not stand in need of this. Consequently, there is no comparison between the two; and this is what the Apostle says (He 7,28): "The Law maketh men priests, who have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the Law, the Son Who is perfected for evermore."
Summa Th. III EN Qu.21