In 1 Peter 2:5 and 2:9 we find the word ἱεράτευμα (hierateuma), translated "priesthood," which Strong's Concordance defines as "the act or office of priesthood." The word's root appears to be ἱερεύς (hiereus: a priest), which is further derived from the word for sacred or holy.

I cannot find whether or not the words ἱερεύς or ἱεράτευμα are intrinsically male or not. In the context of Peter's discusion (1 Pet 2:5-9), do we conclude he was only speaking to men, or that the word "priesthood" (ἱεράτευμα) was applicable to the group regardless of gender?

  • 'ιερατεια (Luke 1:9 and Heb 7:5) is feminine, 'ιερατευμα (I Pet 2:5 and I Pet 2:9) is neuter and 'ιερωσυνη (Heb 7:11, 12, 14, 24) is feminine. See Young's Analytical Concordance.
    – Nigel J
    Jul 1, 2018 at 10:44
  • 'ιερευς -εως -ει, priest, is masculine.This can be seen from the articles.
    – Nigel J
    Jul 1, 2018 at 11:22

2 Answers 2


There is a perverse rule in both English and Greek that men to not own their own gender (Grammatically speaking). This aphorism means that when we write sentences like "The Sabbath was made for man..." (Mark 2:28) it does not mean just the male part of the population - it means what we would now call "mankind" or humans generally. Peter is clearly addressing all Christian believers and thus, whether the Greek word is masculine gender or not, all Christian believers are intended. We see a perfect example of this sort of thing in Rom 16:1 where Phoebe (feminine) is called a deacon (masculine word).


Disclaimer: I have no formal education in Koine Greek and am also a dummy.

When we say a noun is "masculine" what we mean is that it follows the "masculine" form type. Feminine follows feminine and neuter follows neuter. The form type is arbitrary for most words, such as "priesthood" which as you noted is feminine form type. In this case the form type provides no gender information.

For nouns where gender is significant such as Paul's name "Paulus" the appropriate gender is chosen. IE: "Paulus" is a masculine noun.

The question asks if these words are "intrinsically male or not". Remember, form types are not about male vs female for most words!

'ιερευς is masculine and that is meaningful. The feminine version is 'ιερεία.

  • 1
    Good explanation of grammatical gender! We should all probably switch to calling them noun classes so people stop thinking they mean more than they do.
    – curiousdannii
    Jul 31, 2018 at 13:55

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