On their first missionary journey Paul and Barnabas spent a few weeks each in four towns in what is now central Turkey. Afterwards they retraced their steps. Our account today tells us that in each town on their return swing they chose someone to act as presbyter.
It doesn’t sound like it, but out word priest is actually a contraction of the word presbyter, so we can say that Paul and Barnabas appointed a priests for every town.
The original meaning of the word presbyter is surprising. The old Indo-European word for an ox was byt. A presbyter then was a lead ox.
When a man yoked up two oxen he always would put the experienced old ox in front on the left. From under that side of the yoke he could teach the young ox yoked with him.
Jesus was comparing himself to that experienced old ox when he said, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me. You will find my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”A priest should be like that lead ox. He should be with Jesus doing the tough work. He shouldn’t be like the gentleman up on the carriage cracking his whip.