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Dear visitor: Summer is here, and you may be thinking about a well-deserved vacation, family get-togethers, BBQs with neighborhood friends. More than likely, making a donation to Catholic Answers is not on your radar right now. But this is exactly the time we most need your help. The “summer slowdown” in donations is upon us, but the work of spreading the gospel and explaining and defending the Faith never takes a break. Your gift today will change lives and save souls for Christ this summer! The reward is eternal. Thank you and God bless.

Hierarchy of the Early Church

Denotes the three grades of bishop, priest, and deacon

Click to enlarge

Hierarchy of the Early Church. —The word hierarchy is used here to denote the three grades of bishop, priest, and deacon (ministri). According to Catholic doctrine (Council of Trent, sess. XXIII, can. vi), this threefold gradation owes its existence to Divine institution. Another name for this hierarchy is hierarchia ordinis, because its three grades correspond to the three grades of the Sacrament of Holy Orders. The word hierarchy is, however, also used in a wider sense. A further gradation of dignity is obtained by the inclusion of the Bishop of Rome, the head of the Church and Vicar of Christ, to whom, by reason of the Divine origin of the hierarchy, the three grades just mentioned are subordinated. If however, those features be taken into account which are of merely ecclesiastical origin, the hierarchy will include not only the remaining sacred orders, viz. the subdiaconate and the minor orders, but also all clerics who possess definite faculties not conferred by the orders themselves. Such are cardinals, nuncios, delegates, patriarchs, primates, metropolitans, archbishops, vicars-general, archdeacons, deans, parish priests, and curates. This hierarchy in the wider sense is called hierarchia jurisdictionis, because the persons in question have actual power in the Church. There is still a third sense in which the expression hierarchy may be used; in this it includes the whole clergy and laity, inasmuch as they are all members of the Church. No instance of the word ierarchia, corresponding to the term ierarches, can be shown before Dionysius, the Pseudo-Areopagite. It is not to be interpreted as iera arche (sacred office), but as ieron arche (office of sacred rites) (Petavius, “De angelis”, II, ii, 2). That the expression ierarchia found general acceptance is due to the authority of the Pseudo-Areopagite. The third sense of the expression may be also traced to Dionysius [cf. J. Stiglmayr in “Zeitschr. fur kathol. Theologie”, XII (1898), 180 sqq.].

In the present article the expression hierarchy is employed in its narrowest sense. Since, however, the earliest history of this threefold institution—the episcopate, presbyterate, and diaconate—cannot be given without a detailed inquiry into the entire organization and inner constitution of the early Church, it is proposed to survey in full the earliest history of the organization of the Christian Church up to the year 150; and in this survey it is essential that we extend our inquiry to the Apostolic Office, as the root from which sprang the early Christian episcopate. The foundation of the Church by Christ, the history of the Primacy of the Bishop of Rome will not be dealt with here (cf. the articles: Bishop; Church; Apostolic College; Deacons; Priest; Primacy; Pope; Apostolic Succession). The treatment of the subject will be under these six main heads: (I) The Principles Governing the Grouping of the Original Documents belonging to our question; (II) Enumeration of the Groups of Documents and the Explanation why these Groups have been thus arranged; (III) Discussion and Interpretation of all Texts of Date not later than the Middle of the Second Century (the full wording of the texts will be necessary only in exceptional cases); (IV) Detailed Evidence from Pagan Inscriptions, Papyri, and Ostraka, which throw light on Christian institutions; (V) Historical or Quasi-Historical Testimonies on the Constitution of Primitive Christianity, taken from Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Origen, Eusebius, Jerome, Theodore of Mopsuestia, and others; (VI) Short Synopsis of the Principal Results of the Investigation.


The common division into an Apostolic and a post-Apostolic period cannot be aptly applied to the collection of historical testimony bearing on the constitution of the early Church; such a division is indeed misleading. Because:

A. Our sources for the very earliest times are too scanty and fragmentary to give us anything approaching a clear picture of the institutions; it is therefore plain that the mere omission of certain things in these sources gives us no right to infer their non-existence

B. Although the development of the primary elements and fundamental principles of the inner constitution of the Church was surprisingly rapid and uniform, at least in the essential features, the variations in different localities were not inconsiderable.

C. Several testimonies taken from the end of the first and the first half of the second century contain valuable historical information directly concerning the organization of the early Church and thus lead us to the border of the earliest epoch.

D. A wealth of formula of archaeological interest, and many implicit statements of contemporary legal conceptions are found in these testimonies. They contain, as it were, the crystallized institutions of the earliest period.

E. One should not imagine the primitive ecclesiastical structure as a mere aggregate of disjoined fragments, but rather as a living and regularly developed organism, from whose inner construction we can under certain conditions arrive at definite conclusions as to it origin and growth.

The last two points show that it is allowable, and even necessary to determine from later sources the earliest state of the ecclesiastical constitution by cautious and critical method. A scientific investigation will first bulk together all the sources up to the middle of the second century, and then conceive as a whole, the development up to that time. Research will show that many of the institutions are undoubtedly post-Apostolic, while of the greater number of them, it can only be said that they followed one another in a certain order: it is impossible to determine the exact date of their first appearance. The encyclicals of St. Ignatius (about 110) mark the close of a definite period; and there are other sources, the dates of which are exactly known, that enable us to ascertain the first beginnings and some intermediate steps in the development of this period. This makes it possible to sketch more or less accurately the remaining stages without fixing upon the exact date of each document. For instance, it cannot be doubted that certain descriptions in the “Doctrine of the Twelve Apostles” (Didache) suppose an older phase of corporate development than that which we meet with in the Pastoral Epistles and the Epistle of Clement. This fact however does not decide the question whether the Didache was actually written before the Epistle of Clement and the Pastoral Epistles. As to the latter, it is clear that the system of government depicted therein represents an earlier phase than that given in the Letters of Ignatius.

It is not our intention in this article to undertake a preliminary and cursory review of the sources, which would only establish the most evident facts of chronology. This task has been already sufficiently often undertaken from widely different standpoints, and it has been shown on incontestable evidence that the several grades of the hierarchy did not exist from the beginning in their later finished form, but grew up to it by various processes, partly of development and partly of self-differentiation. Supposing therefore that the process of development has been determined in its most general outlines, we can arrange the sources accordingly. Whether the chronology be treated previously or consequently to such an arrangement, that factor must be considered separately.

The classification will now follow of the whole documentary material up to the second half of the second century. From the entire material we shall first collect those testimonies which evidently exhibit the most advanced stage of development and the closest resemblance to the institutions of this period. These documents will form the fourth group. We then gather all those accounts in which the plenitude of the Apostolic authority is shown in conjunction with a somewhat unfinished and fluctuating system of ecclesiastical government; these form the first group. The remaining documents will be assigned to the second or third group accordingly as they are more nearly related to the first or to the fourth.


A. Enumeration

(1) The First Group includes: (a) the first six chapters of the Acts of the Apostles, and the passages in the Synoptics concerning the special call and unique position of the Twelve, (b) the two Epistles to the Corinthians, the Epistle to the Galatians, the two to the Thessalonians, and the Epistle to the Romans, (c) some texts from the Acts of the Apostles (to be collected later) about the Apostles as witnesses and preachers, about the obedience due to them, and about the fellow-laborers of St. Paul, (d) the account in the Acts about the seven helpers of the Apostles (vi, 10), of the presbyters of Palestine (xi, 30; xv, xvi, 4; xxi, 18), of the presbyters in Asia (xiv, 23), of the prophets (xiii, 1-3; xv, 32; xxi, 8 sq.).

(2) The Second Group includes: (a) the Epistles to the Philippians, Ephesians, Colossians, and to Philemon, (b) the twentieth chapter of the Acts of the Apostles (17 sq.), (c) the First Epistle of Peter, (d) the Didache.

(3) The Third Group includes: (a) the Treatise to the Hebrews, (b) the Epistle of James, (c) the Second Epistle of Peter, (d) the Epistle of Jude, (e) the Three Epistles of John, (f) the Pastoral Epistles, (g) the First Letter of Clement, (h) the Ascension of Isaias.

(4) The Fourth Group includes: (a) the Apocalypse, (b) the Gospel of St. John, (c) the Seven Encyclicals of Ignatius, and the Letter of Polycarp, (d) the Letter of Barnabas, and the homily known under the title of the Second Letter of Clement, (e) the Pastor of Hermas, (f) Justin, (g) Hegesippus, (h) Abercius, besides (i) a brief dissertation on Gnosticism and Montanism.

B. Explanation of the Groups

(1) General Remarks.—The Apologists (Justin excepted), the fragments of the presbyters and of Papias, the Letter to Diognetus (chaps. xi and xii are spurious), the “Acta” and “Passiones” of the martyrs of this period, excepting a passage from the “Passio Polycarpi”; the Apocrypha properly so called, with the exception of the Ascension of Isaias; all these furnish nothing directly bearing on our matter. The same is true of the Christian papyri, the Ostraka, and the inscriptions. One cannot attach the value of independent testimony to four passages dealing with the special call and vocation of the Twelve, viz. from the Ebionitic Gospel (Epiphanius, “her.”, xxx, 13), from the Apology of Aristides (Texte and Untersuch., IV, iii, 1893, 9, 10), from the Mission Sermon of Peter (Kerugma Petrou; Robinson, “Texts and Studies”, 1891, 86 sq., fragm. 1), and from a Coptic papyrus at Strasburg-(cf. Gottinger gel. Anz., 1900, 481 sq.). In regard to the oldest Greek Christian papyri, see Wessely “Les plus anciens monuments du christianisme ecrits sur Papyrus” (“Patrologia Orientalis”, ed. Graffin and Nau, IV, 2). Even without taking into account the lack of a critical text, we must nevertheless abandon any attempt to argue from the Clementines, since even the oldest parts betray themselves more and more as a product of the third century. The writer of the original document may now and then have made use of valid traditions, in questions affecting the constitution of the Church, but he is guilty of arbitrary inventions and changes. All the conclusions regarding primitive conditions which Hilgenfeld’s acumen and learning enabled him to draw from the Clemen tines, must give way under the pressure of careful criticism. Neither does the present writer make use of the so-called “Apostolic Church Ordinance”, because of the invalidity of Harnack’s hypothesis (“Die Quellen der sog. Apost. Kirchenord.”, 1886, 32 sq.), which would base Chaps. 16-21: 22-28 on two ancient sources dating from the middle of the second century. The work belongs to the third century and hardly admits of critically safe conclusions. The same is true of the Syriac Didaskalia.

(2) Remarks on the First Group, Section (a).—According to the restrictions made above, we consider here the Gospel accounts only in so far as their testimony enables us to form an idea of the Church as it existed in the first generation. The accounts about the position, the authority, the activity of the original Twelve in Jerusalem (Acts, i-vi) bear the most evident signs of antiquity and genuineness, and agree with all the other information about the dignity of the Apostles handed down to us from early times.

(3) Remarks on the First Group, Section (d).—It will not suffice, with regard to the presbyters of the Acts of the Apostles, to establish historically the fact that about A.D. 50 there were presbyters in Jerusalem and in other localities in Palestine, and that at the same time, Paul on his first journey appointed presbyters in Asia Minor. There remains another important question to be solved, whether all these presbyters are, in a true sense of the word, the predecessors of that primitive college which we meet, for instance about 115, in the writings of Ignatius of Antioch. There is not the slightest critical reason—we shall prove this later on at full length—why the presbyters of Asia Minor should be understood as different from the superiors mentioned in the First Epistle to the Thessalonians. On the other hand, we regard the presbyter-bishops of Ephesus (Acts, xx) as belonging to the second group of the sources, because they represent an authority that is much more definite.

(4) Remarks on the First Group, Section (b), and on the Second Group.—In the First Epistle to the Thessalonians, the state of the Church as a corporate body does not differ in any essential point from that described in the accounts of the first group. The Apostle Paul appears as the first, nay, the only authority. In the Epistles to the Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians, the conditions have changed a little. Indeed, the personal rule of the Apostle is still supreme; but some traits point to a gradual passing of power to other superiors. We are reminded of this fact by the title of the Epistle to the Philippians, in which bishops and deacons are mentioned. We are again reminded of it by the mention of Archippus, the minister, in the Epistle to the Colossians. The note to Philemon is likewise connected to some extent with this change. In the second group we place also the Epistle to the Ephesians, since it shows a remarkable decrease in the importance of individuals endowed with the charismata as members of the organized Body of Christ. For similar reasons we insert here the Didache.

(5) Remarks on the Third and Fourth Group.—All the writings enumerated in the third group show the organization of the Church more developed. The fourth group witnesses the preponderance of the monarchic episcopate. It is not easy to find the right place for the Pastor of Hermas. The degree of organic development supposed in that work, the pronounced control of the presbyters, and the presence to all appearances of a leading personality, Clement, all this points to an intermediate stage, the place of which we are much inclined to fix between the First Letter of Clement and the Encyclicals of Ignatius. Only once is Clement mentioned and then in passing; little therefore can be gathered as to the position assigned him by Hermas. On the other hand, the Church‘s organization is more stable than it was in Corinth at the time of the first Clement about A.D. 98. Whether Hermas really attempted to carry back his description of the Church to the end of the first century by giving it a tinge of antiquity is as yet an open question; the categorical “No” of recent scholars provokes contradiction. At all events the attempt of Hermas, supposing it to have been made, was rather weak. But, on the other hand, the personal tone is no proof to the contrary. Still, there are strong indications that the prophet wrote about A.D. 150. A monarchic bishop, it is true, is nowhere mentioned, but from this it does not follow that Hermas finished his work before the election of his brother Pius to the Bishopric of Rome. Just because he was the brother of the Head of the Church, he must have thought it more advisable to be silent concerning him and to antedate the abuses which he reprehends.


A. The Texts of the First Group

If we judge of the organization of the Churches depicted in the first group of documents simply according to the account given in the texts, without using a definite theory as a basis, nine questions naturally present themselves as to: (1) The Position of the Twelve; (2) The Position of the Seven Ministers of the Table (cf. diakonein trapezais Acts, vi, 2) mentioned in the Acts, and of the Presbyters of Palestine; (3) Origin of the Apostolic Authority; (4) Relations between the Apostles and the Christian Communities; (5) The Rights of the Christian Communities; (6) The Position of those Individuals possessing the Charismata; (7) The Origin of Ecclesiastical Authority in General; (8) The Position of the Superiors spoken of in some texts; (9) The Position of the Apostolic Fellow-Laborers.—

(1)—The Position of the Twelve

In the first six chapters of the Acts the Eleven (Twelve if we include Matthias) appear as a governing body to whom the community of Jerusalem is subject (i, 13, 25, 26; ii, 14, 37, 42, 43; iv, 33, 35, 37; v, 2, 12, 18-42; vi, 2 sq., 6). The chief personality is Simon Peter (i, 15 sq., ii, 14, 37; iv, 8; v, 3 sq., 15, 29). Next to him stands John (iii, 1, 3, 4, 11; iv, 1, 13 sq.). According to these texts the Twelve are heralds of the Word of God and rulers of the community. This conception agrees with the traditions in the Synoptics. These traditions inform us: (a) of the special appointment of the Twelve, (b) of the office entrusted to them, and their future destiny.

(a) Special selection of the Twelve.—a. Appointment.—The vocation of individuals, viz. of Peter, Andrew, James and John. They are to be fishers of men (Mark, i, 16-20; Matthew, iv, 18-22). According to Luke, v, 10, Jesus, after the miraculous draught of fishes, says to Simon that henceforth he shall catch men. The calling of Matthew (Mark, ii, 13, 14; Matt., ix, 9; Luke, v, 27, 28). Appointment of the Twelve (Mark, iii, 13-19; Matthew, x, 2-4; Luke, vi, 12-16). Christ “also named them apostles” (Luke, vi, 13). b. The Office of the Twelve and their Future Destiny.—They are to be with Him and to be sent to preach (Mark, iii, 14). They are the salt of the earth and the light of the world (Matt., v, 13-16). They also must protect the world against corruption and elevate it by their holy example. What Christ has told them in the dark, they shall speak in the light (Matt., x, 26-27). g. Mission of the Twelve to preach the kingdom and to heal the sick (Mark, vi, 7 sq.; Matt., x, 5 sq.; Luke, ix, 1 sq.). To the Gentiles they are not to go. Mission of the Seventy (Luke x, 1-16). All are obliged to receive the Twelve and the Seventy, and to hear them; otherwise a severe judgment awaits them (I. c.). d. The power to bind and to loose given to the Twelve (Matt., xviii, 15sq.); they shall judge the twelve tribes of Israel (Luke, xxii, 30). e. The Mission to the world (Mark, xvi, 14-18; Matt., xxxii, 18-20; Luke, xxiv, 44-49). z. The Apostles will survive their Master and pass through days of sadness (Mark, ii, 19, 20; Matt., ix, 15; Luke, v, 34-35; similarly Mark, viii, 35 sq.; Matt., xvi, 24 sq.; Luke, ix, 22 sq.; Luke, xvii, 20 sq.). They will be dragged before tribunals (Luke, xii, 11, 12; xxi, 12 sq.; Mark, xiii, 9 sq.; Matt., x, 17 sq.).

(b) Special Appointment and Position of Simon Peter.—Peter is the foundation of the Church and the keeper of the keys; he has full power to bind and to loose (Matt., xvi, 18 sq.). Peter is to be like a wise and faithful steward, whom the master setteth over his family (Luke, xii, 41 sq.; cf. Matt., xxiv, 45 sq.). Christ prays for Peter; Peter is to confirm his brethren in the Faith (Luke, xxii, 31-34). No passage in early Christian literature permits our explaining the primitive and marked position of importance enjoyed by the Church of Jerusalem by the importance of this city itself. Only the Twelve are the bearers of this authority, and later James, the “brother of the Lord”, and his circle. Nowhere do we hear that brethren gifted with the charismata had any influence in matters of government. The Apostolic authority is represented as the result of the Divine ordinance. This authority included jurisdiction. The Twelve regarded their prerogatives as a moral power conferred by God and Christ, as a right which exacted from others the correlative service of obedience.

(2) The Seven Apostolic Helpers (Acts, vi) and the Presbyters of Palestine

(a) The Seven Administrators of the Table.—Owing to the complaint of Hellenistic Jewish Christians that their widows were less cared for than those of the “Hebrews”, the Twelve provide that seven men, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom be “looked out” and chosen (cf. to plethos ton matheton, Acts, vi, 2, and enopion pantos tou plethous, vi, 5) by the whole community (cf. episkepsasthe of vi, 3, and ekseleksanto of vi, 5). The Apostles themselves intend to install the persons chosen in their office (vi, 3). This enables the Twelve to devote themselves (henceforth exclusively) to prayer and preaching. The Seven Elect are presented to the Apostles who “praying impose hands upon them” (vi, 5 and 6). No critical doubt can be cast upon any part of the narrative. An official name for the Seven has not come down to us. Their office is described as a ministering to the tables (diakonein trapezais, vi, 2), the care of the temporal support of the poor. In reality, however, one of those elected, Stephen, soon devotes himself with ardent zeal to the preaching of the Word of God. Another, Philip, becomes a missionary (viii, 5 sq.) He is called evangelist (xxi, 8).

The sources thus show that these seven men, elected by the people in obedience to the Apostles, were invested by the Apostles in the almoner’s office with prayer and imposition of hands. In addition they could act as preachers. Whether this institution existed for any length of time, we do not know. There is no dogmatic tradition strictly speaking, nor any decisive historical reason to suppose that these seven men were deacons in the later sense of the word. The question of their position is usually looked at from a wrong point of view. For from the difference between the original and the later sphere of activity we cannot infer a lack of continuity between the office of the Seven and that of the deacons of the second century. The office of the Seven was no more completely independent than that of the later deacons. One and the same office may in course of time shift the limits of its competence to a very considerable extent; so much so that only a minimum may remain of what it was originally. Yet nobody speaks in this case of an essentially different office. To be convinced of this, we have only to consider the Roman offices of praetor and quaestor. In later times too the care of the poor and sick was one of the duties of deacons proper. The distribution of the Eucharist was likewise part of their duty. It is not impossible that the last mentioned duty is already included in the expression “ministering to the tables”, used in our text; for comparison see chap. ii, 46, “Breaking bread from house to house (klontes te kat oikon arton) they took their meat (metelombanon trophes)”. The most important point however is this: the Seven were appointed to their office by the Apostles with imposition of hands and prayer. This prayer must have contained, implicitly at least, the petition that the Holy Ghost might empower and strengthen the chosen ones to fulfil their office (of ministering to the tables), thus conferring all that was essentially necessary to make their office the same as the later diaconate. Nor has the Church ever placed the essence of the diaconate in anything else.

(b) The Presbyters of Palestine.—We do not know whether or not there is an historical basis for the legendary tradition that the first twelve Apostles, following the command of their Master, remained twelve years in Jerusalem. At all events only Simon Peter, (James), and John and James the “Brother of the Lord” are met with in Jerusalem between the years 45 and 50. About this time presbyters appeared in addition to the Apostles. We find mention of them for the first time in Acts, xi, 30. They are to be found in several Christian communities of Palestine. In Jerusalem the presbyters hold a middle rank between the Apostles and the rest of the community. Together with the Apostles they write the letter which conveys the decision reached by the Church of Jerusalem as to the proper mode of observing the law (xv, 1-30; cf. xvi, 4). The Acts mention the presbyters in connection with James only on one other occasion (xxi, 18). It is contrary to the principles of historical research to associate the first appearance of the Palestinian presbyters with the monarchical position held by James of the house of David. It is only at a later time, probably after Peter had left Jerusalem for a long time or forever, that James appears as the monarchic bishop of the holy city. The presbyters were at first simply assistants of the Twelve outside the capital. Then a substitute for the Apostles was needed in Jerusalem as well, when most of them had left that city. This was not a revolution in the system of church government; it was merely the natural course of events. No one who clearly understands the practice and the ideas of the earliest times will doubt that the installation of these presbyters was effected by means of imposition of hands and prayer. Very probably the presbyterate of the earliest time was only a dignity.

(3) The Origin of the Apostolic Authority

(a) Paul proves that he is an Apostle sent directly by God and Christ and endowed with full power (Gal., i, 1, 12, 15; ii, 8-9; I Cor., i, 1; iii, 9-11; iv, 1; ix, 1; II Cor., i, 1; iii, 6; x, 4-8; xi, 4-5; the whole of chapters xi and xii; I Thess., i, 4-5; ii, 4, 13; Rom., i, 1-16; xi, 13 sq.; xii, 3; xv, 15-22; xvi, 25-27). (b) Supplementary texts: Gal., i, 8-9 (Paul preaches the absolute truth); Gal., ii, 2 (comparison between his Gospel and that of the original Apostles); Gal., ii, 6 (he did not receive power from other Apostles, whether the word Apostles be taken in the narrower or the wider sense). The thought underlying all these texts is this: Paul conceived his own authority as analogous to the power conferred by God and Christ upon the Twelve, a power which Paul himself acknowledged. (c) These utterances of Paul agree with the following from the Acts of the Apostles: ii, 32; iv, 33; v, 32; viii, 25 (the Apostles are authoritative witnesses of the Resurrection and the deeds of Jesus Christ): ix, 3 sq.; xxii, 14 sq.; xxvi, 15 sq.(vocation of St. Paul); iv, 19, 20; v, 29; x, 42 (the Apostles are bound to make known what they have seen and heard); ix, 27 (Paul is presented to the Apostles by Barnabas at Jerusalem); xiii, 47 [Paul (and Barnabas?) appointed by Christ to be the light of the Gentiles]; xx, 24, teleoto [teleioai] … ten diakonian en elabon para tou kuriou Iesou, diamarturasthai to euaggellion…This text is equivalent to those given above under (a).

(4) Relations of the Apostle to the Communities Founded by him

(a) Galatians.—The Galatians were obliged to believe and obey the preaching of Paul (Gal., i, 6-12; iii, 1-2; iv, 14-19; v, 2, 7-10). Their relations are based upon the following three facts strongly emphasized by Paul: (i) They have received the Holy Ghost eks akoes pioteos (“by the hearing of faith”, iii, 2). (ii) Paul preaches the absolute truth, therefore let him be anathema who preaches a Gospel besides that which he has preached (i, 8-9). (iii) To resist the truth when preached, is to disobey (v, 7).

(b) Corinthians.—Paul introduces himself as an authoritative teacher: (I Cor., i, 11 sq.; cf. iii, 4-7; ii, 4-5; iv, 3-5, 15, 16, 17, Paul threatens to use severe measures (iv, 19-21); he commands them to expel the incestuous adulterers (v, 1-13); to appoint arbitrators (vi, 1-7); he distinguishes between his permission (suggnome) and his command (epitage) (vii, 6); cf. vii, 7, “I would”; 8, “I say”; 10, “I command, not I, but the Lord”; 12, “I speak, not the Lord”; 25, “I give counsel”; 40, he wishes them to follow his counsel. Paul has the right to be maintained by those to whom he preaches, but he has not made use of this right (ix, 1-2; 7-16). He praises them that keep his ordinances (xi, 2); “now this I ordain”, 17; “the rest I will set in order, when I come”, xi, 33 and 34; cf. also the orders, xiv, 28 sq. and xv, i sq.; xvi, i sq.: ordinance concerning the collection, which according to the will of the Apostles, was always to be looked upon as a free act of kindness. Cf. II Cor., ix and Rom., xv, 26 sq. In the first Epistle to the Corinthians the Apostle does not attribute to the community any authority whatsoever over himself; he refuses to be the object of any arrogant judgment (iv, 3). In three instances he admits that the community has certain rights which, however, have their origin in his command or his directions (v, 1-13; vi 1-7; xvi, 1 sq.). II Cor., i, 23 sq.: Paul assures them that he avoided coming to Corinth in order to spare them, and he adds: “Not because we exercise dominion over your faith, but we are helpers of your joy.” This is the only passage of this kind found in the writings of St. Paul. II Cor., ii, 9: “For this end also did I write, that I may know the experiment of you, whether you be obedient in all things;” iii, 2-3; vii, 8-12; viii, 10 sq. (mild requests); x, 1-18; up to this chapter of the second Epistle to the Corinthians St. Paul lays little stress upon his authority; he does not so much utter injunctions as counsels and requests, without, however, acknowledging any power of the community over himself. Now he speaks of the spiritual weapons given by God “unto the pulling down of fortifications”, (4) “bringing into captivity every understanding (noema) unto the obedience of Christ”, (5) “having in readiness to revenge all disobedience”, (6) the Lord has given him power “unto edification” (8; cf. xiii, 10; xi, 4); there is no other Christ, no other Gospel, but that which he has brought (anechesthe, not aneichesthe) (xiii, 2); if he comes again, he will not spare the sinners. From chap. x on Paul again forcibly emphasizes his full authority over the community.

(c) Romans.—We must take into account that the Apostle speaks to a community which he himself has not founded (cf. especially chap. xv); consequently he does not give commands; nevertheless he teaches with full authority, as one who has power. He refers (xiii, 3) to the grace granted him in order that he might be enabled to give earnest admonitions; hence it is that the Gentiles owe him obedience (xv, 15-19). The same idea is expressed in chap. xvi, 17-19. The text (x,14-17) is one of those most helpful in giving us an insight into the beginnings of Christianity. Belief is impossible if one has not heard a preacher of the Faith, and preaching requires the sending of the preacher.

(d) Thessalonians.—In I Thess., ii, 7 (I Cor., ix, 7-16 and II Thess., iii, 7-9); I Thess., iv, 1; II Thess., ii, 12-14 (cf. 2-4), Paul exhorts the Thessalonians to hold the traditions which they have learned, whether by word or by his epistle; cf. also iii, 6. If one of the faithful does not obey Paul’s epistle, they shall not keep company with him and shall admonish him (iii, 14 and 15).

(e) Supplementary notes from the Acts of the Apostles.—Acts, ii, 42 (The community perseveres in the doctrine of the Apostles). Acts, xv, 6-31 (The Apostles and the presbyters of Jerusalem issue an authoritative encyclical concerning the observance of the law). Acts, xvi, 4 extends it to Asia Minor.

(5) The rights of the Communities

The first group of our documents contains fifteen texts from which may be drawn conclusions with regard to certain community rights. These texts may be divided into eight classes. The first contains information on elections of an official character held by the communities; the second, on elections of a private character; the third, on judicial proceedings; the fourth, on private courts of arbitration; the fifth, on the opinions of the faithful with regard to the Apostles; the sixth, on collections taken up in the communities; the seventh, on credentials granted in the name of the community; the eighth, on the acknowledgment of superiors by the community. In order to view the matter in the proper critical light, one must keep in mind that from the very beginning the concept Ecclesia expressed not only the local particular Church, but also the universal Church as a whole, in as much as it is superior to the individual communities and operates in them as their vital principle. This is now admitted by Protestant scholars of the first rank. Even when Ecclesia was used in the sense of local Church it did not, in the earliest Christian literature, designate the community as opposed to the Apostles or any other superiors, but it meant the organized community. Such is the obvious meaning of the term in all the writings of the New Testament. In only two passages which, moreover, belong to the quite exceptional fifteenth chapter of the Acts, the Ecclesia is placed side by side with the Apostles and presbyters: The Apostles of the Gentiles are received by the Church (of Jerusalem) and by the Twelve and the presbyters (xv, 4); the Apostles and presbyters together with the entire Church of Jerusalem elect the envoys for Antioch. Acts, xiv, 22 says Paul appointed presbyters in every Church (Kat Ekklesian) of Asia Minor.

Elsewhere, however, St. Paul’s conception of the Church prevails; the Church, both in its ideal form and in its concrete realization, is always the body of Christ and consequently an organic, articulated whole. It is in the Epistle to the Ephesians that we find for the first time the notion of this ideal Church, i.e., of the universal Church taken as an individual unit (Ephes., i, 22; iii, 10, 21; v, 23, 24, 25, 27, 29, 32; so too Col., i, 18, 24; Hebr., xii, 23 sq.). This is the meaning of Matt., xvi, 18: “I will build my church”. Something like a transition to this meaning is found in I Cor., xii, 28: “God indeed hath set some in the church; first apostles, etc.” One plainly feels however that behind these words there still lurks the idea that in every individual Church (i.e. community) the various charismata are operative. Something similar may be observed in I Cor., x, 32 with the difference, however, that here the actual particular Church is still more clearly to be seen. On the other hand in the three passages where Paul speaks of himself as the former persecutor of the Church, he may possibly have in mind the community of Jerusalem (Gal. i, 13; I Cor., xv, 9; Phil., iii, 10). In Acts, xi,26 the word ‘Ekklesia seems also to have a signification intermediate between that of the particular concrete Church and that of the ideal universal Church. There remain eighty-four texts in which the word Ecclesia occurs. In no single one of them does the expression signify the community or the congregation taken in a distinctly democratic sense, by which emphasis would be laid on the self-government of the faithful. It is therefore not admissible to consider the actions of the Ecclesia as a mere outcome of democratic rights, thus arbitrarily excluding both the unitary operation of the organism as a whole and the graded activity of the individual members and different organs of administration. St. Paul certainly ascribes all rights and powers to the Ecclesia as the ideal whole, through whose vivifying action they are imparted to the local Churches, the proximate sources whence the individual administrative organs derive their vital prerogatives. But all this is possible only because the Church is the body of Christ and thus in vital union with the giver of life, Jesus Christ.

This early Christian view of the Church has nothing in common with the idea of a purely human, democratic authority and supremacy of the community. In our own days as well, it is of course the only correct conception of the Christian Church; it is the Catholic idea of the Church. Even towards the end of the second century the use of terms had already begun to undergo a change. This is perhaps to be regretted. Instead of speaking of the activity, the efficiency, and the sacrificial office of the Church of God, it gradually became customary to lay stress on the acting organs, i.e., to ascribe these functions to the bishop or presbyter. This brought out more clearly the element of jurisdiction and defined more sharply the grades of authority. As long as the Church in general was conceived as the subject of all activity, the functions of the individual organs remained undefined nor could any clear distinction be drawn between their respective attributions. While these were more plainly marked off in the later development, the depth and unity of thought was impaired by the obscuring of the idea that the Church is the mystical body of Christ. St. Paul never derived all the rights and powers of the Churches founded by him from the plenitude of his Apostolic power. He never forgot that the Church of God was primarily a creation of God, and therefore the subject of rights founded in her very nature. But these rights and powers which come from God have nothing in common with community rights. By community rights we understand, of course, only those rights which were proper to actually existing, complete communities. In most of the Protestant works on this subject we find these latter rights confounded with those that belong to the Church as an organism, as the body of Christ. Harnack, in his latest treatise on the inner constitution of the Church (Realencyklop. fur Protest. Theol. and Kirche, ed. 3, XX, 1908, 508-546; cf. especially 519 sq.) has attempted to remove this confusion, but only with partial success.

In the next series of texts we cannot, of course, insert those in which St. Paul, as for instance in Gal., iv, 17, exhorts the Christians to admonish one another, to warn, to correct the sinners. This is a duty imposed by the Lord’s command; and the right to fulfil that duty is included in the right to administer fraternal correction; it is not a community right. The first group of texts deals with electoral proceedings of an official character. (a) The entire assembly of the faithful takes part in the election of Matthias (Acts, i, 23-26), after two candidates had been proposed. Peter opens the proceedings; but no information is given about the right of presentation and the manner of casting the lot. (b) The seven assistants of the Apostles are chosen by the whole community in accordance with the injunction of the Twelve (pan toplethos…ekseleksanto); and from the Apostles they receive the imposition of hands with prayer (Acts, vi, 2-6). (c) In Acts, xi, 22 sq., we are told that the “Church that was at Jerusalem” sends Barnabas as an official envoy to Antioch. After the council of the Apostles, envoys are sent out by the Apostles, presbyters, and the whole Church (sun ole te ekklesia, Acts xv, 22). A semi-official election is spoken of in only one text (second group of texts). St. Paul is given a companion “by the churches” (II Cor., viii, 19) to accompany him in collecting alms. It is easy to read between the lines that St. Paul desired to have them appointed in order to protect himself against evil tongues. In these electoral acts one must bear in mind all that has been said about the Church as an organism and also take into account the dependence of the voters upon the Apostles, which the texts themselves suggest. Finally the following important methodological rule should constantly be kept in view: if a document simply reports the fact that a community chose its officials or that it had a share in their appointment, this does not warrant the conclusion that the government is based on democratic principles.

A third group of texts contains information about the judicial prerogatives of the community. They include the sentence condemning the incestuous man, which was passed in a plenary session of the community at Corinth (I Cor., v, 3 sqq.) and an allusion to a similar event that took place later in the same Church (II Cor., ii, 6-9, and vii, 12). In both cases one finds an ordinance of the Apostle, and this means that the competency of the community depends on St. Paul. The fourth group consists of only one text. It deals with private courts of arbitration to be introduced at Corinth by order of St. Paul (I Cor., vi, 1 sq.). In the fifth group we have three texts which tell of the harsh judgment passed by the faithful on St. Paul (Gal., vi, 1; I Cor., iv, 3) and St. Peter (Acts, xi, 1-4). With regard to their manner of acting, only the text in the Epistle to the Corinthians speaks of a “day” (emera) of the community. The points at issue are party differences that had sprung up between the followers of Paul, Cephas, and Apollo. However only a superficial exegesis would draw from the discussions conclusions as to the fundamental elements of the ecclesiastical organization. Indeed St. Paul himself declares his complete indifference to all these judgments. He was, of course, extremely cautious with regard to the collection of alms (II Cor., viii, 18 sq.)—sixth group. He left it to the Christians themselves to keep or to give their mite. It would be absurd to speak here of definable rights. The credentials and letters of recommendation (II Cor., iii, 1)—seventh group—were not a matter of compulsion. No community rights can be inferred from them.

There remains in consequence only the eighth group, consisting of two texts. The question here is, what rights can be deduced from the acknowledgment of superiors by the community (I Cor., xvi, 16; I Thess., v, 12)? No proof has been found hitherto for Weizsacker’s assertion (Das apostolische Zeitalter der christlichen Kirche, 3rd ed., 1902, p. 601) that this acknowledgement was “at all times” dependent upon the free choice of the community. The altogether unwarranted conclusions drawn from our texts by Weizsacker (op. cit., 599 sq.) and many scholars after him have been refuted by me in detail in “L Zeitschrift fur katholische Theol.”, XXVII, 1903, pp. 64-74. This article with the help of other documents shows also the further point, that the circumstance of the Epistles being directed to the entire community does not in the least prove the autonomy of the comumnity and the absence of superiors. This serves also as a refutation of Knopf’s statements (Das nachapostolische Zeitalter, 1905, p. 148 sq.). Even if the community rights as described in the whole first group of documents were much more extensive than thetexts actually show them to be, we could not yet speak in any way of a democratic reform of the constitution (cf. Dunin Borkowski, “Methodologische Vorfragen zur urchristlichen Verfassungsgeschichte” in “Zeitschr. fur Kath. Theol.”, XXVIII, 1904, pp. 218-249, and XXIX, 1905, pp. 28-52 and 212-257). Even though the critical analysis of all the texts reduces to their true value the alleged rights of the first Christian communities, we of course do not deny that St. Paul allowed the communities which he founded a larger autonomy on many points, thus making the local Church in various matters independent of himself. We must, however, always understand the Church in the sense in which Paul understands if, namely as an organic body whose several members enjoy distinct activities proportionate to the functional power, with which each of them is endowed by God.

(6) Position of Charismatic Individuals

The longer Epistles of St. Paul contain information about certain wonderful, mystic manifestations of the religious life in the earliest communities. These are: prophecy, working of miracles in general (energemata or energemata dunameon or dunameis), healing of the sick (charismata iamaton), discerning of spirits (diakriseis pneumaton, diakrinein), the gift of tongues (gene glossonm ai glossai, o [pneumatic] lalon glosse or glossais), the interpretation of these tongues (ermeneia glosson, diermeneuesthai, eusemon logon dounai, dunamin tes phones eidenai, ermneia), revelation (lalein en apokalupsei, apokalupsin echein). In I Cor., xiv, 6, the gift of revelation is distinguished from that of prophecy, while in verses 26 and 29 it is declared to be prophecy. Prophecy reveals not only the future but also, and especially, the secrets of hearts (I Cor., xiv, 23-25). The gift of the discerning of spirits distinguishes between several (probably conflicting) prophetic speeches (I Cor., xiv, 29 sq.). These gifts of the Holy Ghost and only these are to be counted among the mystic, extraordinary manifestations. The Apostle calls them charismata, pneumata, charismata pneumatika, ta pneumatika. The individuals so endowed are oi pneumatikoi. According to the Apostle’s mode of speaking, charisma is used to mean every activity that in any way originates from the ordinance of God or Christ, and is granted chiefly for the good of the Church. It need not be given to the individual immediately by God; it may have been established by God as an ordinary supernatural function. In other words, every religious activity exercised within the Church as the body of Christ, and in the service of the Church, is considered by the Apostle as a gift of God and in certain cases as a Divinely appointed office.

In the first group of texts the word charisma (charismata) occurs fourteen times: Rom., i, 11; v, 15, 16; vi, 23; xi, 29; xii, 6; I Cor., i, 7; vii, 7; xii, 4, 9, 28, 30, 31 (chapters xiii and xiv speak throughout of charismata without, however, mentioning the word); II Cor., i, 11. There are only three other passages in which the expression occurs, but in these it is used in the exact meaning in which St. Paul uses it: I Tim., iv, 14; II Tim., i, 6; I Pet., iv, 10. With the exception, perhaps, of Rom., v and vi, the meaning given above is quite evident. In the fifth and sixth chapters of the Epistle to the Romans the meaning is even more general. Charity, faith, and hope, exercised in any manner for the service of the Church, are charismata. They are even more perfect than the gift of miracles (I Cor., xii, 31, and xiii). As the spreading of the Kingdom of God and the preaching of the Gospel are charismata of the Spirit (Rom., xv, 27: tois pneumatikois [i.e. charismasin]…ekoinoesan—cf. I Cor., ix, 11), so also is that mutual consolation which the common Faith affords. Those Christians are “spiritual” who are governed by the Spirit of Divine meekness (Gal., vi, 1). The word of wisdom (logos gnoseos), the word of knowledge (logos gnoseos), ordinary teaching (didache, didaskalia), are not, therefore, necessarily mystic and miraculous manifestations. The contrary opinion, although widely spread, cannot be proved from the sources. Whether all these charismata are mystic or miraculous (see above) or not depends on their object and their character. The opposition of the “spiritual” individual to the prophet in I Cor., xiv, 37, is only apparent. The o in the sentence ei tis dokei prophetes einai e pneumatikos is to be translated by “or in general”. Every charismatic individual is spiritual, but not vice versa. It shows lack of exact criticism to suppose extraordinary charismata, or miraculous endowments, in all those cases where there is mention of charismata.

We now proceed to a more detailed examination of these texts. In Rom., xii, 3-8, the diverse charismata are enumerated which determine the dignity of the members of the mystical body of Christ. Among these charismata Paul mentions (v. 6) prophecy “according to the rule of faith” (kata ten analogian tes pisteos), the ministry and the gift of teaching (v. 7). With regard to the two latter, it cannot be shown that they were charismata in a different sense than any other Christian virtue, or any work undertaken out of love or under the ordinary influence of grace. This is confirmed by the circumstance that immediately afterwards there are mentioned: (v. 8) he that exhorteth (parakalon), he that giveth (metadidous), he that ruleth (proistamenos), and he that sheweth mercy (eleon). In I Cor., xii, 4-31, Paul distinguishes (v. 4, 5, 6), charismata (charismata), probably healing of the sick, ministries (diakoniai), and operations (energemata). In the Epistle to the Romans he counts ministries among the charismata. However, in the Epistle to the Corinthians he does not adhere strictly to this threefold division. For in verses 8 and 9 he evidently enumerates as charismata the (obscure) word of wisdom (logos sophias), the (interpreting) word of knowledge (logos gnoseos), faith (pistis), and the grace of healing (charismata iamaton). In v. 10 miracles are mentioned in the first place, probably expulsions of demons (energemata dunameon), and then follow prophecy, discerning of spirits, the gift of tongues, and the interpretation of speeches. Verse 28 gives another list: apostles, prophets, doctors, miracles (dunameis), the graces of healings, helps (antilepseis), governments (kuberneseis), kinds of tongues, interpretations of speeches. The Apostles, prophets, and doctors are introduced by “first”, “secondly”, and “thirdly”. For the Apostles are the first heralds of the Faith; in the prophets the marvellous power of the Holy Ghost is displayed in the first and most necessary manifestations; the doctors explain the new doctrine to the newly converted. In chapters xiii, 1-3, and xiv, 1-5 and 19, Paul again refers incidentally to some of the charismata, in order to warn against overvaluation and misuse. In xiv, 27-33 and 37-38, it is stated that the prophets do not possess the privilege of absolute truth; they have to control one another. Furthermore they, as well as all charismatic members, must be in conformity with the teaching of the Apostle (cf. Rom., xii, 6), and acknowledge that his teaching is the command of God [Ei tis dokei prophetes einai e pneumatikos, epiginosketo, a grapho umin, oti kuriou estin entole. Ei de tis agnoei, agnoeitai (I Cor., xiv, 37-38—the reading agnoeito gives no sense)].

The comforter of the Epistle to the Romans who admonishes and teaches is charismatic in the same sense as Tychicus, whose office it is to console the Ephesians and Colossians (Eph., vi, 21 and 22; Col., iv, 7 and 8), as Timothy in Thessalonica (I Thess., iii, 2). Paul regards every admonition and consolation proceeding from the Faith as a form of activity included in charismata, and Paul, Timothy, and Titus act as parakalountes when they admonish and instruct (I Thess., 11; I Tim., v, 1; vi, 2; II Tim., iv, 2; Tit., ii, 6, 15). The word paraklesis in the New Testament has always the meaning of an explanatory admonition and consolation, or an instruction; so Acts,15; xv, 31; II Cor., viii, 17; I Thess., ii, 3; cf. Heb., xiii, 22. Frequently it denotes consolation in the passive sense; so II Cor., i, 3, 4, 5, 6 (bis), 7; vii, 4, 7, 13; viii, 4(?); Phil., ii, 1; II Thess., ii, 16; Philem., 7 (cf. Heb., vi, 18; xii, 5; Acts, ix, 31). As denoting a prophetic admonition and consolation we find paraklesis in I Cor., xiv, 3, and I Tim., iv, 13, where it is found in combination with didaskalia. It signifies, therefore, consoling exhortation as distinguished from instruction. Nor does—gk ¬µera5056vac imply a charisma in the sense of an extraordinary command of the Spirit. It is used not only of material alms (Eph., iv, 28-cf. Luke, iii, 11), but also of a spiritual gift (Rom., i, 11), and of the Gospel (I Thess., ii, 8—metadounai). Ilarotes occurs only in the above-mentioned passage in the Epistle to the Romans (Rom., xii, 8). The eleon is simply every one who from motives of Faith exercises mercy in the service of the Church. Neither do we know anything of a mystic or miraculous charisma relating to spiritual or material help (antilepseis) and government (kuberneseis) words which do not occur elsewhere in the New Testament; they were simply voluntary or official services. The ruler (proistamenos) of the Epistle to the Romans is endowed with just such a spiritual gift. These gifts are charismata in St. Paul’s sense (see above). On account of the local color of the “Didache” we cannot draw from it any general conclusions concerning the Apostles, prophets, and doctors of the oldest times. This triad—Apostles, prophets, doctors—occurs in the New Testament only in I Cor., xii, 28 and 29. In the Epistle to the Ephesians (iv, 11) Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and doctors are enumerated. In the Acts we find (xiii, 1) only prophets and doctors. Apart from the Gospels, we find doctors (didaskaloi) mentioned alone in the following texts: Rom., ii, 20 (some Christians believe themselves to be teachers of infants); Heb., v, 12 (those addressed ought to be masters); I Tim., ii, 7, and II Tim., iv, 3 (in the last the reference is to false teachers); James, iii, 1 (there should not be many masters). In none of these places does the word doctor or its equivalent imply a mystic or miraculous charisma; at least such cannot be shown from the sources themselves. The same is true of the expressions didache and didaskalia, which denote simply the doctrine itself and its actual communication. They were charismata just as every gift granted by God for the service of the Church was a charisma. The same is found to be true from a study of the Pastoral Epistles. Neither does the expression teach (didasko, I teach) signify anything more.

More difficult is the correct valuation of the term apostle. Beginning with Lightfoot (St. Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians, 1887 and 1902, 92 sqq.) this question has been discussed again and again. The present writer takes the view that in the Acts the word is always used of the Twelve, with the exception however of 4 and 13. There Barnabas and Paul are called “the apostles” (oi apostoloi). From this we cannot at once conclude that Barnabas was an Apostle in the same sense as Paul. For, as it was everywhere known that Paul enjoyed the title of Apostle, it may well be that Barnabas as his companion shared this name. Neither he nor Sylvanus is ever called Apostle by Paul himself, not even in I Cor., ix, 6. Paul does, however, allow Barnabas (and Sylvanus) to share in his Apostolic privileges when they are in his company; so, for instance, in Gal., ii, 9. Paul commonly gives the title of Apostle to none but the Twelve besides himself. In II Cor., xi, 5, and xii, 11, it is plain that those who are “above measure” apostles are ironically so called and are to be looked upon as pseudo-apostles. In II Cor., viii, 23, the apostoloi ekklesion are envoys. The word is used here in its original meaning, not unknown, perhaps, to the Hellenistic Jews. In II Cor., xi, 13, it is stated that the pseudo-apostles claimed the position of real Apostles (probably, therefore, in the strict sense); they certainly assumed the name of “apostles”. From this it does not of course follow that they had a right to that name. The three well known passages, I Cor., xii, 28 and 29; Eph., ii, 20 (iii, 5); and Eph., iv, 11, which speak of the “apostles” together with the prophets as members of Christ and as the foundation of the Church, do not permit us to decide with certainty whether Paul speaks here of apostles in the wider sense or, as in all the other texts, of himself and the Twelve. The latter is the more probable. There remains, therefore, only the remarkable passage in Rom., xvi, 7; here Andronicus and Junias are mentioned as episemoi en tois apostolois. These words evidently intended to designate these two as especially distinguished apostles. This, therefore, would be the only passage in the New Testament where “apostle” occurs in a wider sense, unless it should have to be translated thus: “they did excellent service as messengers of the community, and the word would mean the same as in II Cor., viii, 23. ‘A7roo-roXh (office of an apostle) occurs four times in the New Testament. Twice Paul uses it to denote his own vocation (Rom., i. 5; I Cor., ix, 2); once to denote that of Peter (Gal., ii, 8). In the Acts, i, 25, this word (apostleship) together with ministry designates the office of the Twelve. The thirty-six passages in the New Testament, apart from the Gospels, which contain the word send (apostellein) do not permit of any conclusions being reached on this point.

According to the earliest Christian sources the office of Apostle is a charisma, but not a mystic charisma. The Eleven are Apostles in so far as they are witnesses of the life of Christ and recipients of His Divine injunctions. Paul is an Apostle because he has actually seen the heavenly Christ and received his mission from Him. Matthias is an Apostle because he has known Christ and because at his election the Lord Himself determined on whom the lot was to fall. Nothing certain can be said about the source of the “Apostolate” of Barnabas. At all events he was an Apostle only in the sense that he preached in places where no-body had as yet announced the Gospel, for this was essential in order to merit the title of Apostle. It is certain that the Apostles were frequently moved by a special Divine inspiration to direct their course to some particular locality, but it cannot be proved that this was always the case nor is that at all probable. Other missionaries were most probably called evangelists (cf. Acts, xxi, 8; Eph., iv, 11; II Tim., iv, 5). But the corresponding verb—euaggelizethai is also used for the first Apostolic preaching. Even if towards the end of the so-called Apostolic age there existed Apostles in the wider sense of the word, as we rightly conclude from the “Didache“, our first group of sources contains nothing definite as to their authority and unquestionably excludes their being placed on the same level with the Twelve and with Paul (and Barnabas?). The rest of Paul’s Epistles belonging to the first group contain the following additional data with regard to the charismata. Paul bids the Thessalonians not to despise prophecy (I Thess., v, 20). The admonition in the preceding verse (19) to extinguish not the spirit hardly refers to a mystic charisma. The Second Epistle to the Thessalonians (ii, 2) contains too the noteworthy warning to the Christians not to be easily terrified, nor drawn away from the teachings of the Apostles by any “spirit”.

The Acts often speak in general terms of an influence of the Spirit of God and mention in particular the gift of tongues (ii, 4; x, 46; xix, 6) and the charisma of prophecy. The word prophecy (propheteia) does not occur. The newly converted Christians at Ephesus, on the occasion of Paul’s third journey (Acts, xix, 6), prophesied and at the same time spoke with tongues. Chapter xxi, v. 9, speaks of the daughters of Philip” who did prophesy.” The remaining texts to be considered are the following: xi, 27 sq.; xiii, 1 sq.; xv, 32; xxi, 10 and 11 (cf. xxi, 4, and xx, 23; xix, 21; xvii, 16; xvi, 6, 7). In chapter xv, 32, Judas and Silas are called prophets; in ch. xiii, 1, Barnabas and Saul are mentioned among the “prophets and doctors” of Antioch. These two latter are designated by the Holy Ghost as instruments of God for the spread of the Gospel; the others while praying impose their hands upon them. But there is no trace of any ecclesiastical organization based on the distribution of charismata, of any control exercised over the Churches by the recipients of these gifts, nor of any infallible teaching authority enjoyed by these ecstatic members. While these charismatics were numerous and continued to occupy their position of marked prominence, the local authorities, if not similarly gifted, remained as a matter of course in the background. But this does not prove that there was an institution and an organization of charismatic individuals. When elections were to be held, prophetic doctors frequently pointed out the most suitable candidates. Again some communities were governed by prophets and doctors before the appointment of regular administrators. History, however, forbids us to assert that a regular organization did not come into existence until the ecstatic and miraculous charismata had decreased. But it is true that after the disappearance of this species of charismata the normal administrative functions became more prominent and consequently a stronger organization was needed. The other hypothesis which would represent the subjects of these supernatural gifts as thrust aside by the ordinary governing power of the Church is also wholly untenable. The truth of the matter is that certain officious individuals of that class were put in their proper place by the authorities, and that later on some of them, whose “gifts” had been artificially developed by suggestion, were shown up as charlatans.

(7) Origin of Ecclesiastical Authority in General

The doctrine of St. Paul about the Church as the body of Christ, which finds expression in the Epistle to the Romans, the First Epistle to the Corinthians, and the Epistle to the Ephesians, is a central feature of his theology. The operation of Christ in the Church and the activity of the various organs of this corporate body, whose members are at the same time members of the mystical body of Christ, find in these epistles their clearest expression. In the Epistle to the Romans (xii, 8) and the First Epistle to the Corinthians (xii, 28) the governing body and the office of governing are depicted as part of the body of Christ and as constituted therein by God and Christ Himself. These two most important and classical passages together with a text of the Epistle to the Ephesians (iv, 11—second group) show us the origin of the primitive Christian governing body in general; it is an institution of God and Christ. They show us furthermore the necessity of those administrative organs, for by their very nature they belong to the body of Christ, the Church. Consequently it is the will of God that besides the Apostolate there should be governing superiors in the local churches as well. For this reason Ignatius speaks of an entole theou, and his teaching is nothing but the purest doctrine of St. Paul. We can therefore speak in a certain sense of a charismatic organization of the Church, for the administrative function is itself a charisma; only we must take charisma in that correct and broader sense in which Paul uses it. Since therefore some form of governing body is, according to the doctrine of the Apostle, inseparable from the very notion of the Church, there can be nothing more opposed to Paul’s ideas than the thought of rights being conferred on superiors by a democratic community. The governing body is in Paul’s mind something religious and Divine. Nevertheless the administration need not at once and everywhere appear in its specific form; for the Apostolate is able to supply all that is wanting. The Divine institution of the threefold hierarchy cannot of course be derived from our texts; in fact it cannot in any way be proved directly from the New Testament; it is Catholic dogma by virtue of dogmatic tradition, i.e. in a later period of ecclesiastical history the general belief in the Divine institution of the episcopate, presbyterate, and diaconate can be verified and thence be followed on through the later centuries. But this dogmatic truth cannot be traced back to Christ Himself by analysis of strictly historical testimony.

(8) Position of the Superiors

When a person of his own free choice offers himself for an office, it does not immediately follow that his acknowledgment by the community is entirely free; this latter point has to be positively proved. For the offer may simply be the occasion or a necessary condition that enables some one exercising authority over the community to accept this proposal, to appoint the applicant and to communicate to him the necessary faculties. The approbation by the community may be a further condition, or a privilege to be respected or disregarded, or finally it may be altogether wanting. Nor is it true that every “ethical” office based on a free offer and free approbation lacks by its very nature all juridical validity; on the contrary, the offer and the acknowledgment produce of themselves a peculiar legal status. If one wants to assert the contrary—of course, a purely personal authority unsupported by any legal power is possible—he has to prove this theory just as he must prove each of the above-mentioned juridical elements, by a positive argumentation from the sources. After these introductory remarks, we proceed to the examination of all the texts. Acts, xiv, 22, mentions the appointment of presbyters in Lycaonia by Paul and Barnabas. The truth of this statement cannot, of course, be shaken by simply remarking that Paul did not appoint superiors in other places. It is likely that, on his very first Apostolic journey, Paul placed superiors at the head of his newly-founded Churches, who assumed the title then in use among the Jews; to this measure he was probably led by the example of the Jewish communities of the Diaspora or perhaps of the Christian circles in Palestine.

It was looked upon as a natural and obvious step by the inhabitants of Asia Minor who, Jews and Gentiles alike, were accustomed to a religious authority. In some cases unfortunate experiences may have moved St. Paul to desist from this measure. However, the fourteenth chapter of the Acts does not allow any further conclusion than this: Paul at his departure from southern Asia Minor left there for special reasons a governing body of some kind or other, endowed with certain administrative rights over the communities. The two facts that in the early Christian literature the elders (presbuteroi) are frequently contrasted with the younger members (neoteroi) and that, as late as the third century, Christians who have suffered for the Faith are given the honorary title of presbyter (cf. Duchesne, “Bulletin crit.”, 1891, 43 sq.), make it probable that in the earliest times the presbyterate was frequently, though not perhaps exclusively, an honorary title and not the name of an office. The name may have been borrowed from the Jewish presbyters, or perhaps from the Gentile presbyters—officials of Asia Minor. It is of course understood that from this we cannot conclude that their sphere of activity was the same. Such an analogy if made would only suggest new riddles. For the Jewish presbyters in Palestine had a position quite different from those of the Diaspora. Now which of the two was the model for the Christians? Since therefore the name elder (presbyter) is altogether of a general nature, since our sources remain silent, since furthermore conclusions based on what we know of later times are unreliable in this particular case and the analogies drawn from the environment furnish no definite result, we may say that the Christian presbyters of the earliest period cannot be accurately defined. In some places they were certainly the forerunners of the later presbyters; in others, of the bishops, or of the bishops and deacons; in others still, they formed but a provisional government for the regulation and administration of affairs, or they were the representatives of the community in its external relations. Those who pretend to know more cannot appeal to the sources. Nor is it admissible simply to generalize from the institution in Asia Minor and make it a type, as Ramsay has done (“St. Paul the Traveller and the Roman Citizen,” 7th ed., London, 1903, 121 sq.). If, therefore, we take this governing body of the presbyters in the wider sense mentioned above, then there is not the slightest reason to doubt that this appointment of presbyters by Paul about A.D. 50 did actually take place. We do not deny that all these “elders” were presbyters or bishops in the later sense of these words; but from the sources nothing certain can be derived.

The Texts of the Epistles of St. Paul.—I Cor., xvi, 15, 16. Stephanas and his household being the “first-fruits of Achaia” have dedicated themselves (etaksaneautous) to the ministry of the community. Paul bids the Corinthians to subject themselves to them (upotassesthe), as also to everyone who offers his service and cooperation. The whole character of the text depicts mutual relations that are an outcome more of freewill and kindness than of strictly juridical conditions. The Epistle to the Romans (xii, 8) mentions among the prominent members of the body of Christ him that ruleth (o proistamenos) and adds furthermore that he ought to rule with carefulness. Of course, the singular is here no criterion; it has the same force as in the two phrases “he that giveth” and “he that sheweth mercy”. The text has a meaning only if Paul supposes the existence of one or more rulers in Rome. In chap. v of the First Epistle to the Thessalonians (12, 13), the faithful are asked to know (eidenai, acknowledge), to love and to have peace with those who labor among them (kopiontas en umin), who are over them in the Lord (proistamenous), and who admonish them (nouthetountas). Here we see that acknowledgment does not create the prerogatives of superiors.

There were therefore at Corinth heads of families who, partly because they had been the first to accept the Gospel, offered themselves for the service of the community. How they were appointed to office we are not told. The proistamenoi at Thessalonica and Rome possess, according to all appearances, a more official character. One must not forget that some of these results are merely negative. They do not justify us in denying that there were other institutions of which nothing is said. The name proistamenos is not an official title: Paul speaks of them as we speak of heads, directors, or superiors. Whether they had an official name from the beginning we do not know. The name presbyter is certainly more definite. As to the question whether all these superiors were inducted into office by imposition of hands with prayer, see the remark made by us concerning the presbyters of Palestine. The prayer accompanying the imposition of hands expressed of course in only the most general terms the kind of activity they were to exercise. The persons thus “consecrated” were according to the Catholic idea ipso facto presbyters or bishops in the later sense of the words.

(9) Position of the Apostolic Fellow-Laborers

In the first group of texts the following persons are mentioned: Andronicus and Junias (the latter is probably also a man, not a woman): Rom., xvi, 7. Apollo coadjutor: I Cor., iii, 4, 9, cf. v. 6 and i, 12 etc.; together with Paul, Apollo is minister of Christ and dispenser of the mysteries of God, I Cor., iv, i (cf. Acts, xviii, 24 sq.; xix, 1). Aquila and Prisca (Priscilla): the Church which is in their house is mentioned, Rom., xvi, 5, and I Cor., xvi, 19 (cf. Acts, xviii, 1-3; 18, 19, 26). Barnabas: Acts, xi, 22; prophet and (?) doctor, Acts, xiii, 1; he preaches together with Paul, Acts, xiii, xiv, xv; I Cor., ix, 6 (cf. Gal., ii, 1), Gal., ii, 9; by the Apostles and presbyters of Jerusalem he (Barnabas) with Judas and Silas is sent to Antioch, Acts, xv, 22 sq. Epenetus: the first fruits of Asia, Rom., xvi, 5. Erastus: Acts, xix, 22 (Rom.23?). John Mark: Acts, xii, 25; xiii, 5. Judas and Silas: prophets, Acts, xv, 32; Silas is with Paul, Acts, xv, 40 (cf. xvi, 19 sq.; xvii, 4 sq.; xviii, 5 sq.); II Cor., i, 19; I Thess., i, 1; II Thess., i, 1. Stephanas: with Fortunatus and Achaicus he is counted among the first-fruits of Achaia (I Cor., xvi, 15). Timothy: fellow-laborer of Paul, Acts, xvi, 1 sq. (cf. Acts, xviii, xix, xx); Rom., xvi, 21; as Paul’s envoy he teaches the doctrine of Paul, I Cor., iv, 17; xvi, 10 (cf. II Cor., i, 1; I and II Thess., i, 1); a very important text is I Thess., iii, i sq. Titus: fellow-laborer ( of Paul, II Cor., ii, 12; vii, 5; he teaches Paul’s doctrine, II Cor., vii, 13 sq.; sent by Paul he takes charge of the collection of alms, II Cor., viii, 6 sq., 16-24; he walks in the same steps with Paul, II Cor., xii, 17 sq. Trophimus and Tychicus: companions of Paul, Acts, xx, 4 sq.; Trophimus alone, Acts, xxi, 29. Urbanus: helper of Paul, Rom., xvi, 9 (concerning these laborers see H. Brunders, S.J., “Die Verfassung der Kirche”, Mainz, 1904, 215-315). The superiors and the numerous Apostolic helpers are considered by Paul as fellow-laborers because, and in so far as, they work in his spirit and agree with his doctrine. If for a time they preach independently, as Barnabas and Mark, Paul always supposes that they preach his Gospel. The activity of the women is described by Paul in two places as “laboring in the Lord” (kopian) Rom., xvi, 12 (bis). Instead of this word, the Epistle to the Philippians uses sunathlein. If we use the word organization in a very general sense, we may say, that the women belonged to the organization of the primitive Church. In the Epistle to the Romans (xvi, 1) a woman is given the title of deacon.

B. The Texts of the Second Group

(1) The Epistles of Paul will be examined together with Acts, xx; (2) the Epistle of Peter; and (3) the Didache. The texts from St. Paul will be classified similarly to those of the first group above.

(1) The Epistles of Paul and Acts, xx.

The authority of the Apostle over the communities: Eph., iii, 7-12; vi, 19, 20; Phil., iii, 17; Col., i, 23-29; ii, 4-8 (cf. 16 sq.). Also to be compared is Eph., i, 13 (cf. iv, 21): the preaching of Paul is “truth”. The authority of the Apostle appears here in the same light as in his earliest letters; there is no question of autonomous communities.

Charismatic prophets together with Apostles are mentioned as the foundation of the Church (Eph., ii, 20): in union with Apostles, evangelists, pastors and doctors, they cooperate in building up the body of Christ; by the grace of God (which here, Eph., iv, 7, is called charis, not charisma) they have been sent for the work of the ministry (etc eis ergon diakonias) (Eph., iv, 11-20). The Apostle wishes the Ephesians the spirit of wisdom and of revelation (Eph., i, 17; cf. Col., iii, 16). The mystico-miraculous charismata remain al-together in the background.

(c) Superiors.—In the address of the Epistle to the Philippians (i, 1), bishops and deacons are mentioned. There is no reason why we should consider their position and activity to have been different from that of the proistamenoi of the First Epistle to the Thessalonians, v, 12, and of the Epistle to the Romans, xii, 8. In the present text, it is true, the names are somewhat more definite. These rulers are the chief workers (tous kopiontas en umin) (I Thess., v, 12). According to this we have not to consider as distinct from the said superiors those presbyter-bishops of Ephesus (Acts, xx, 17-32) who are appointed by the Holy Ghost (again St. Paul’s idea as above, no. 7), and who rule as pastors. Their work is to instruct, to exhort, to warn against deception and false doctrine. Since, as we have seen, the designation proistamenoi had a very general meaning, it would be uncritical to assert that they constituted a governing body of only one grade which was not divided into the grades of bishop and deacon until later times. It is quite possible that the proistamenoi already contained several grades within their own class. Whence did the Christians take the title bishop (used at first only in the plural) to designate their rulers? The hypothesis (Heinrici, Hatch, etc.) of their having borrowed it from pagan religious societies has long since been given up. Most scholars agree today with the results obtained by Ziebarth: “A special characteristic of the terminology describing Greek associations is its lack of definiteness. Episkopoi as well as epimeletai at designate in a very general way overseers or administrators. It is today an established fact that the title episkopoi, which now and then occurs as an official title in Greek associations, does not furnish an argument for the derivation of the Christian office from pagan religions associations” (Das griechische Vereinswesen, 1896, 131). Nor does the present writer attach any great importance to the circumstance that even before the time of Christ there is mentioned at Phodos an episkopos as being in charge of certain matters of worship (cf. Deissmann, “Neue Bibelstudien”, 57 sq.). The title episkopos is also applied here and there to municipal officers. In the Septuagint Eleazar appears as episkopos (Num., iv, 16); generals of the armies are episkopoi (Num., xxx, 14; IV Kings, xi, 15, 18); higher officials together with archons (II Esd., xi, 9, 14, 22; Is., ix, 17; I Mach., i, 51; cf. Judges, ix, 28). In Job, xx, 29, God is called episkopos. In connection with work of a religious character the word is used II Par., xxxiv, 12, 17. We must recall that in the First Epistle of Peter (ii, 25), Christ is called the shepherd and bishop of our souls. Clement calls God the creator and bishop of all spirits (I Clem., lix, 3). In Christian circles the word seems from the very beginning to have denoted an activity of high rank and excellence. Originally it was not a title or the name of an office. The attempts of recent Protestant scholars (Hatch, Harnack, Dobschiitz, etc.) to separate even in the earliest times the functions of the bishops from those of the presbyters are to be considered as unsuccessful. In the New Testament and even with Clement the two expressions are synonymous. It is indeed possible that the presbyters or the proistamenoi were called bishops after their sphere of action had been more accurately circumscribed. There remains only one text. At Colossa, Archippus has to fulfil a ministry (diakonia) (Col., iv, 17). In the Epistle to Philemon, 2, he is called fellow-soldier (sustratiotes). Here we perhaps find the trace of a monarchical bishop.

Fellow-laborers of Paul.—Epaphras (Col., iv, 12), servant of Jesus Christ (cf. Philem., 23); Luke (Col., iv, 14); Mark (Col., iv, 10, 11), “touching whom you have received commandments” (entolas). He is a fellow-laborer, as are also Aristarchus (cf. Acts, xx, 4; xxvii, 2; Philem., 24), and Jesus Justus. Clement (Phil., iv, 3) and other unknown fellow-laborers, also women; one of these fellow-laborers is addressed as gnesie suzuge (or Sunzuge). Tychicus, a faithful minister (diakonos) and fellow-servant in the Lord (sundoulos); Eph., vi, 21, he is called faithful minister. Epaphroditus, Phil., ii, 25-30, and iv, 18: brother, and fellow-laborer, and fellow-soldier, your apostle. Philemon also (Philem., 2) is a fellow-laborer.

(2) The First Epistle of Peter

The evangelical preaching is absolute truth; it is the word of the Lord which endureth forever (i, 25), the fulfilment of the prophecies, and the work of the Holy Ghost (i, 11, 12); consequently it is simply to be obeyed (i, 14; cf. i, 2). Endowed with such authority the writer teaches and exhorts; Peter is the Apostle of Jesus Christ (i, 1), the sumpresbuteros and witness of the sufferings of Christ (v, 1). Two charismata are mentioned, the preaching of the Word of God and the ministry of the community (iv, 11). Whosoever has received a charisma should, as a good steward, use it in the service of his neighbor (iv, 10). The phrase “if any man speak” (ei tis lalei) certainly does not mean the gift of tongues, but, as is shown by the additional clause os logia theou, the preaching of the Word of God. Lalein ton logou tou theou soon becomes a standing expression for the preaching of the Gospel to Jews and Gentiles. The preacher has to adhere to the Word of God, i.e. to the common doctrine which is to be considered as the Word of God Himself. The ministry for the community is also looked upon by the writer, as a power granted by God; ei tis diakonei, os eks ischuos, es choregei o theos (iv, 11); cf. iochus used to denote the power of God (Eph., i, 19; vi, 10; II Thess., i, 9; Apoc., vii, 12). In these texts we see again Paul’s idea of government and superiors; they are in his eyes institutions of God. For the rest superiors occur only in chap. v, 1-5; they are called presbyters; their duty is to feed the flock of Christ, to take care of it, without constraint however and without lording it over them (episkopountes—the reading is doubtful); the young men shall be subject to them. This text presents difficulties. On the one hand it would seem that the exhortation is addressed to presbyter-bishops as a governing body, while on the other hand the opposition between the presbyters and the younger men (neoteroi) points to merely patriarchal relations. It is however most probable that the two expressions—presbuteroineoteroi—passed through a parallel development. After the “ancients” had become superiors in the strict sense, the “younger men” were considered as subjects.

(3) The Didache

The author of the Didache considers the teachings of the Faith as truths received from Jesus and announced by his Apostles, which men are obliged to accept (cf. the title and the first eleven chapters). He who teaches otherwise is not to be listened to (xi, 2). If he teaches the truth he is to be received as the Lord himself (loc. cit.). He who announces the Word of God is to be honored as the Lord Himself (iv, 1). The traveling Apostles, the prophets, and doctors are to be duly respected. Neither prophets nor Apostles nor doctors possess an absolute authority; nay more, the Christians are taught certain signs to enable them to distinguish the true missionaries from the false (xi-xiii). The Apostles (traveling missionaries) are described as of rare occurrence. Somewhat exceptional is the position of the prophets who have settled in a community. The Didache calls them high-priests (xiii, 3); as such they can lay claim to the first-fruits (xiii, 3-7). And since in addition to this they have the privilege of reciting eucharistic prayers at their own discretion (x, 7), we look upon them as presiding over the celebration of the breaking of bread. Important information about the constitution of the Church at that time is contained in chap. xv, 1 and 2: “choose bishops and deacons, worthy of the Lord, men of meekness, who are not lovers of money, who are true and well tried. For they fulfil for you the ministry of the prophets and doctors. Do not therefore slight them; for it is they among you that enjoy high esteem with the prophets and doctors”. From this text we derive the following items: First: Since the electoral proceedings are not given in detail, we cannot make a definite statement about the authority vested in the community. Second: As substitutes in performing the duties of prophets and doctors we find bishops and deacons; they are therefore shepherds who preach and explain the word of God.

The qualities required of them show that they possessed certain powers of government (praeis), and were entrusted with the administration of alms and other positions of responsibility (aphilargurous kai aletheis kai dedokimasmenous). The text in question does not show us how these various occupations were divided between the two classes of officials. During a period of transition from a comparatively incoherent state to a more settled form of government, the several communities would evidently enjoy certain powers and prerogatives; but no sober critic would read between the lines of the artless catechetical instruction the description of a generally-adopted system of democratic government. Those measures which every one of the faithful may and should employ as protection against doubtful prophets and false teachers are not juridically-determined prerogatives vested in the community. Nothing is left but a rather undefined participation in the election of superiors. It is just as though the duty of holding these elections was imposed upon the community by some external authority. The literary form of the document shows that in the author’s conviction the community is not independent of authority in the principal points of doctrine, discipline, and corporate existence, but is obliged to observe those regulations which the writer authoritatively details. He prescribes even the prayers that are to be recited by the community in the celebration of the Eucharist. The regulations governing prayer, fasting, Eucharistic celebrations, and elections of superiors do not emanate from the local Church. On the contrary, certain local Churches are earnestly enjoined by the author to observe exactly the usages which he regards as of Apostolic origin. But from what source does the author, apparently a teacher (didaskalos) or prophet, derive his authority? It is evidently an Apostolic tradition known to him in its main outlines. In this sense, Durell’s words are true (“The Historic Church“, Cambridge, 1906), “The authority of discipline resides in the Church as a whole” (p. 76). But Durell does not distinguish with sufficient clearness between the local community and the one universal Church, which the Didache itself represents as a unitary organization.

C. The Texts of the Third Group
(1) Epistle to the Hebrews

It is important to note how the author (ii, 3, 4,) traces the genesis of the authoritative preaching of doctrine. It originates with Christ (archen labousa laleisthai dia tou kuriou). Those who have heard the Lord declare His words to others with authority (upo ton akousanton eis emas ebebaiothe), and God bears witness to them by miracles and various manifestations of the Spirit. Faith therefore is a duty. The same doctrine is indicated in iv, 2. In xiii, 7, the faithful are reminded of those superiors (egoumenoi) no longer living, who announced the Word of God to them in the past. Contemporary superiors are also called hegumenoi (xiii, 17, 24). Nowhere else in the New Testament are Christian superiors called simply hegumenoi. In one passage of the Acts (xiv, 12), Paul is called “chief speaker” (en o egoumenos tou logou); in xv, 22, Paul, Barnabas, Judas, and Silas are designated as “chief men”, leading personages pempsai…anoras egoumenous en tois adelphois). The expression may have been modeled on the words of our Lord; “He that is the leader, let him become as he that serveth” (o egoumenos os o diakonon, Luke, xxii, 26). The hypothesis that the hegumenoi of the Epistle to the Hebrews were prophets or even recipients of charismata in the strict sense of the word, is devoid of any historic foundation.

(2) The Epistle of St. James

The warning that there should not be too many doctors (mepolloi didaskaloi ginesthe) is explained by the great responsibility attached to this position. It is not clear whether the members of the third class of the threefold division “apostles, prophets, doctors”, are here in question; probably they are. But the subjects of charismata in the strict sense are certainly not meant, since, in their own opinion, they do not set themselves up as teachers, but are entrusted with that office by the Spirit of God. But the laboring and patient prophets mentioned in v, 10, who spoke in the name of the Lord, are most probably Old Testament seers.

(3) The Second Epistle of St. Peter and the Epistle of St. Jude

The Christians are exhorted to remember the words of the holy prophets (probably of the Old Testament), and the precepts of their Lord and Savior made known to them by their Apostles (iii, 2). Most likely, Apostles in the strict sense of the word are meant. These are certainly in the mind of Jude, when in his Epistle (5, 17) he addresses similar words to the recipients of his letter.

(4) The Three Epistles of St. John

The “ancient” (o Presbuteros) of the Second and Third Epistle shows his authority by forbidding all intercourse with Christians who will not receive the doctrine of Christ (II John, 9-11). In the Third Epistle Diotrephes is blamed for misuse of the position of pre-eminence which he enjoyed in the community. The presbyter will reprimand him on his arrival (III John, 9, 10). But the expression, “who loveth to have the pre-eminence among them” (o philoproteuon, not used elsewhere), does not warrant the conclusion that Diotrephes had usurped his position of authority. Nor can any solid grounds be found for the conjecture that the brethren, who went out “for his name” and were kindly received by Gaius (III John, 3, 8) were traveling apostles or even charismatical teachers, and were therefore dismissed as suspicious “pneumatikoi” by the “monarchical bishop” Diotrephes.

(5) The Pastoral Epistles

In these Timothy and Titus appear as delegates and representatives of the Apostle Paul (I Tim., i, 3; cf. II Tim., iv, 11; Tit., i, 5; cf. iii, 12); their authority is derived from the imposition of hands and from the prayer of the Apostle and the presbyterate (I Tim., iv, 14; II Tim., i, 6). Previously to this consecration an approval appears to have been given to the choice of candidates by prophecy (referred to in I Tim., iv, 14, and probably also in i, 18). One may certainly apply all this to Titus as well as to Timothy. Timothy and Titus each bear the title episkopos (I Tim., iii, 2; Tit., i, 7); their office is called episcope (I Tim., iii, 1), and once diakonia (II Tim., iv, 5); Timothy is termed diakonos (I Tim., iv, 6). They hold a position of monarchical authority, impose hands on those whom they judge to be fit candidates for the priesthood (I Tim., v, 2; Tit., i, 5); they choose their successors in the office of teaching (II Tim., ii, 2); they keep order in the community by their energetic exhortations (I Tim., v, 1-22; II Tim., ii, 25, 26; iv, 2; Tit., i, 5, 11; ii, 1 sqq.; ii, 15); they judge even the presbyters (I Tim., v, 19, 20; cf. Tit., i, 9 sq.); they teach (I Tim., iv, 1-13, 16; vi, 2; II Tim., iii, 16, 17; iv, 2). As teacher Timothy is called “evangelist” (ergon poieson euaggelistou, ten diakonian sou plerophoreson, II Tim., iv, 5). The description of the model episkopos (I Tim., iii, 1 sq.; Tit., ii, 7 sq.) represents him also as administering money and practicing hospitality. Perhaps a presbyter is meant by the episkopos in Tit., i, 7; verses 5 and 6 immediately preceding speak of presbyters, and verse 7 continues: “For (gar) a bishop (episkopos) must be without crime.” But it is also possible that there is a sudden transition in the author’s thought and a freer use of gar. A greater probability is given to this by the exact correspondence between the qualifications of the bishop given here, and those set down in the First Epistle to Timothy (iii). The presbyters are probably united in a college (presbuterion, I Tim., iv, 14); and they are subordinate to the bishops (I Tim.,17-20; Tit., i, 5). They rule over the community. Some of them are to declare and teach the Word of God (I Tim., v, 17: of oi kopiontes en logps kai didaskalia). The, presbuteros in I Tim., v, 1, is probably an older member of the community (cf. Tit., ii, 2). Deacons are mentioned in I Tim., iii, 8 and 12 (cf. 13). Timothy and Titus are subordinate to Paul, and must follow his teaching and precepts (I Tim., i, 8-12; cf. 19, 20; ii, 7; iii, 15; and in general iv, v, vi; II Tim., i, 11-14; iii, 10; iv, 13 sq., 21; Tit. i, 5; all ii; iii, 9). No information is given about community rights.

(6) Epistle of the Roman Church (Clement) to the Corinthians

The position of superiors of the Christian community is attributed only twice at the utmost to the hegumenoi (egoumenoi and proegoumenoi in i, 3, and xxi, 6). The first citation speaks approval of the obedience shown to them by the faithful; and in the second due respect and reverence are enjoined. But since the term in all other parts of the Epistle—where it is used, either seven or eight times, according as one reads archegois or egoumenois in lxiii, 1—signifies the secular civil or military rulers, it seems more probable that the same meaning should be attached to it in the two passages mentioned. Now if the word stands for the ecclesiastical authorities in the two passages mentioned, how are they to be discriminated from the presbyters, who in both instances are spoken of in company with them: “the faithful in times past have shown due reverence to their presbyters” (i, 3); “the faithful should honor the elders” (xxi, 6)? There are only two probable solutions: either the term egoumenoi (or proegoumenoi) is used for persons of authority in a broad sense, including deacons and other people of importance; or the word “presbyter” in both cases has the simple meaning of “elder”, the reference being to the older and more esteemed members of the community—an explanation which is all the more probable because of the mention in both passages of the “younger members” (neoi) along with the “elders”. Presbyters are expressly mentioned many times in the Epistle—in the two places discussed, and in xliv, 5; xlvii, 6; liv, 2; lvii, 1. Reference is also made to them in lxiii, 1, and in other texts to be cited presently. Jewish presbyters are spoken of in lv, 4. Their office is termed episkope (xliv, 4)—a word which Clement uses once (I, 3) for Christ’s office as judge at His second advent. The word episkopos appears in only one other place (lix, 3), where it is applied to God. Except in chapter lii, nothing is said of deacons. In chapter xl, 5, the services of the levites are called diakonia. It is clear from xlii and xliv that Clement identifies bishops and presbyters, unless perhaps in the two texts already referred to, since he speaks here of the rebellion against the presbyters (stasis, xlvii, 6; xlvi, 7, 9; cf. iii, 2, 3; li, 1; liv, 2; lvii, 1; xliv, 4: amartia) as “no small misdeed”, for it shows disregard for the express wishes of the Apostles, who instituted bishops (episkopoi) in obedience to the ordinance of Christ Himself. It is a mistake to say that the presbyter-bishops are mentioned in the Epistle of St. Clement only as officers of administration and public worship (cf. xliv, 4: amemptos kai osios prosenegkontas ta dora). Their position as spiritual guides (lxiii, 1) and successors of the Apostles manifests clearly their authoritative office of administering the Word of God.

No indication can be found that Clement supposed the office of declaring the Word of God in Corinth to be entrusted to ecstatic “spiritual” preachers; nor is there any satisfactory basis for the theory that the rebellion against legitimate authority was started by the recipients of charismata. Miraculous charismata are perhaps spoken of in chapter xlviii, 5, but the reference is uncertain, for those Divine gifts which are mentioned in addition to faith and holiness of life, the word of knowledge and the skillful interpretation of others’ words are not manifestly mystical or miraculous in their nature. The presbyter-bishops are to be obeyed (lvii, 1); their authority as spiritual guides (lxiii, 1) is to be heeded. The institution of the presbyter-bishops dates from Christ. After examining the first-fruits of the Faith in the light of the Holy Ghost, the Apostles established them as bishops and deacons (xlii, 4). The commission to do this came from Christ (xliii, 1). Christ foretold them that a conflict would arise with regard to the episcopal office (epitou onomatos tes episcopes; for which reason they instituted the bishops and deacons just mentioned and enjoined (epimonen) that after their death other tried men should succeed to their office. This provision had the approval of the entire Church (xliv, 1, 3).

Some points in Clement’s argumentation are undoubtedly pure theory (e.g. the revelation of a future contest regarding the episcopal office), but the central facts cannot be critically controverted. The thought that the governing body in general was an institution of God and of Christ is an inheritance from St. Paul. The whole argumentation used by the Roman community would be completely absurd, if the story of Apostolic institution were a mere fable. It may be observed that Clement looks upon the hierarchy of the Old Testament with its high priest, priests, levites as a type of the Christian hierarchy (xi, 5; xii). He seems to regard the high-priest as a type of Christ, and sees a typical significance in the contest under Moses regarding the priesthood (xliii, 2). The local Church is also called the flock of Christ (poimnion, xvi, l; xliv, 3; liv, 2; Ivii, 2), but nowhere is autonomy or even complete authority attributed to it. It is obvious that amid the general disorder and revolt it was not the presbyters threatened with deposition who were able to judge the disturbers of the peace, but only the people as a whole in a kind of plenary council. Hence the remark that the more noble-minded among the party of opposition give in and say, “I do whatever is enjoined unto me by the people” (ta prostassomena upo tou plmthous, liv, 2). To construct a general law out of this particular concrete case without further investigation would argue a strange lack of critical sense.

(7) The Ascension of Isaias

If the section, iii, 13-iv, 1, really belongs to the second or even the first century (Fleming, Tisserant), then attention should be called, as very remarkable, to the prophecies of the elders (presbyters) at the end of the world; these love their office although they have no wisdom, and are unjust and violent shepherds of their sheep. Somewhat further on in the same section reference is made to the dissension which shall arise in the last days between the elders and the shepherds. Here the presbyters seem to be old, highly respected members of the Christian community.

D. The Texts of the Fourth Group
(1) The Apocalypse

Our motive for including in the fourth group of texts the data given in i, 4 and iii, 22, is the possibility that the “Angels” of the Seven Churches are the “monarchical bishops” of these communities. This supposition offers undoubtedly many difficulties, yet it cannot be simply rejected. Toward the communities addressed the author takes the position, and claims the jurisdiction, of an Apostolic and monarchical superior. The only other texts to be touched upon are the following: the twelve foundations of the wall of the holy city bear the names of the “twelve apostles of the Lamb” (xxi, 14); “apostles and prophets” rejoice at the destruction of the city of sin (xviii, 20); and the prophets slain in the city (verse 24) are undoubtedly also Prophets of the New Testament. The existence of any relation between the four-and-twenty ancients (iv, 20) and the constitution of the early Church cannot be ascertained.

(2) The Gospel of St. John

We need mention only the choice of the Twelve (vi, 71); their vocation, life-course, and union with Christ as portrayed in His final discourse (xiii, 33-xvii incl.), the unique position and special election of Simon Peter (i, 24; vi, 69, 70; xiii, 6 sq.; xx, 2 sq.; xxi, 3 sq., 15 sq.).

(3) The seven Epistles of St. Ignatius of Antioch (about A.D. 115)

(a) The general topic is the exhortation to obedience towards the bishop, the presbyters, and deacons, and to intimate union with the bishop. The position of the bishop is throughout monarchical.(i) General admonition to reverence the bishop and remain in agreement with him (ad Eph., i, 3); to love and imitate him (ad Magn., xiii, 12); to be subordinate to him (ad Trail., xii, 2); to comfort him (ad Polyc., vi. 1); to keep to him (ad Philad., ii, 1); to follow him as sheep follow the shepherd (ad Magn., iii, 1); to honor him, even though he be young (ad Eph., vi, 1), all the more if he keeps silence. (ii) Exhortation to be subject to bishops, presbyters, and deacons (ad Philad., vii 1; ad Magn., xiii, 1; ad Polyc., vi. 1; cf. ad Trail., iii, 1). (iii) Unity with the bishop, the presbyters, and deacons, especially in things which concern Divine service (ad Eph., iv, 1; ad Trail., ii, 2; vii; ad Magn., vi, 2); unity with the bishop and superiors (tois prokathemenois) (ad Eph., v,1 sq.); unity in prayer, in the Sacrifice of the altar, and (xx, 1 and 2) in the breaking of bread. Unity in the Eucharistic celebration is also emphasized in ad. Smyrn., viii, 2 and ad Philad., iii, 3, and iv, 1; cf. v, 1. Nothing at all is to be done without the bishop (ad Philad., vii, 2; cf. ad Polyc., iv, 1), especially no ecclesiastical functions, such as baptism and agape (ad Smyrn., viii, 1 and 2); marriages are to be contracted subject to the approval of the bishop (Polyc., 2). (iv) This obedience is necessary for sanctification and is the commandment of God (ad Eph., ii, 2; v. 3; ad Magn., iv, 1; ad Trail., ii, 1. Cf. vii, 2 and xiii, 2; ad Philad., iii, 2; ad Smyrn., ix, 1). He who submits to the bishop subjects himself to the Father of Jesus, who is the Bishop of all men (ad Magn., iii, 1 and 2).

(b) Origin and Basis of the Hierarchy.—(i) The institution of the single bishop, of the priests and the deacons originates from God, i.e. from Christ (ad Eph., iii, 2). As Christ is the thought (e gnome) of the Father, so the bishops established unto the ends of the earth are according to the intention of Christ (en gnome) (ibid., vi, 1). He whom the master sends in His stead should be received even as the Sender Himself; in like manner you should look on the bishop as upon the Lord Himself (ad Magn., ii, 1); the deacon Zotion gives joy to St. Ignatius, because he is obediently devoted to the bishop as to a gift of God‘s grace, and to the presbyters as to a law of Jesus Christ. Bishops and priests are also spoken of as a “commandment of God” in ad Trail., iii, 2; ad Philad. (title); the bishops and the priests are instituted pursuant to the ordinance of Jesus Christ, and, in accordance with His will, they are protected and confirmed by the Holy Ghost (cf. i, 1; ad Smyrn., viii, 1). The deacons also are to be regarded as the commandment of God. (ii) The bishop, priests, and deacons compared with God, with Christ, or with the Apostles. The bishop presides in place of God (ad Magn., vi, 1). The deacons are to be respected as Christ; the bishop as an image of the Father; the presbyters are compared to the Apostles (ad Trail., iii, 1). Other comparisons between the presbyterate and the Apostolic college (ad Magn., vi. 1; ad Trail., ii, 2; ad Philad., i, 1; ad Smyrn., viii, 1). (iii) The bishops (presbyter and deacons) belong to the essence, the idea of the Church (ad Trail., iii, 1). Separated from the bishops and presbyters no Church can exist Cf. also ad Smyrn., viii, 2.

(c) Field of activity of the bishop, the presbyters, and the deacons.—(i) The bishop.—Principal texts are in the Epistle to Polycarp. The bishop’s duties include: admonition of the whole body and of individuals as well (i, 2, 3, and v, 1), convocation of frequent assemblies (iv, 2), preservation of unity (i, 2), healing of spiritual ailments (i, 2, and ii, 1), firm resistance to teachers of false doctrine (iii, 1), care of widows (iv, 1). Nothing shall be done without his cooperation (iv, 1). The texts quoted above show the same field of activity; in particular, the bishop appears also as the center of the liturgical celebration and supreme guardian of the Faith. The position of the bishop is moderately monarchical, i.e., not tyrannical or autocratic. This is to be inferred also from the position of the presbyters. (ii) Presbyters.—According to all texts previously quoted the presbyterate is the bishop’s advisory council and his support, and constitutes with him a governing body which has a claim to due reverence and obedience, while itself subordinate to him (ad Trail., xii, 2; ad Eph., iv, 1; cf. Polyc., v, 2). (iii) Deacons.—(Texts already cited). They are subordinate to the bishop and the presbyters, and have a right to honor and esteem (ad Magn., ii, 1). In ad Trail., ii, 3, is the most important passage: “But those, too, who are deacons of the mysteries of Jesus Christ should in every wise be acceptable to all. For they are not deacons of meat and drink, but servants (uperetai) of the Church of God. Therefore they should protect themselves against accusation as they would against fire.” The sense is, evidently, that in the Eucharistic celebration they handle as deacons no ordinary food and common drink, but a mystical food.

(d) Rights of the Community.—A community as chief seat of authority not only receives no mention from Ignatius, but such a conception is in direct contradiction to all the principal texts of his Epistles. The community is to be consulted on the question of sending envoys to other Churches (ad Philad., x, 2; ad Smyrn., xi, 2; Polyc., vii, 2). The first passage shows that the bishop or the presbyters could also fill the office of envoys. As the choice was naturally made by the organized community—i.e., with bishop and priests presiding—we can say nothing definite about the part taken by the community, since the sources make no mention of it.

(e) Divine Origin of the Hierarchy.—In spite of the clearly worded passages given above under (b) (i), even Catholics have denied that St. Ignatius was aware of a Divine origin for the hierarchy: “St. Ignatius does not teach the Divine origin of this hierarchy in the sense of its institution by God, or by Christ, in the form of three degrees—and it is intelligible why he does not.” (Genouillac, “L’Eglise chret. au temps de S. Ignace d’Antioche”, p. 132.) This is a question of words. Genouillac grants that Ignatius taught very clearly the Divine institution of the spiritual governing power in general: “It would be difficult to express the Divine origin and right of the ecclesiastical powers with greater insistence and clearness than does St. Ignatius in these texts.” (Ibid., 135.) If anyone had asked St. Ignatius whether bishops, priests, and deacons, constituted in such a threefold dignity and endowed with such authority over the community, were a commandment of God (entole tou theou), he would have answered “Yes”, as anyone who has eyes to read must see from our texts. He does not seem, however, to have entered into further speculations on the matter. But the hierarchy as a “commandment of God” is the very essence of Catholic teaching on this point. Many other additions made by later times to this concept of a Divinely originated hierarchy are to be ascribed to the development of the Church, her discipline, and her canon law. No serious historian would expect to find all that in the writings of Ignatius.

However much he may insist on the Divinely appointed hierarchical gradation, on episcopal authority, and on the obedience that the faithful owe to their ecclesiastical superiors, Ignatius shows throughout that he does not regard this organization as an end in itself, but as a means to the end, to the attainment of perfect unity in faith and religious life. He shows himself in this point an intelligent disciple of the Apostle of the Gentiles, a Christian to the core, an aner pneumatikos in the best sense of the word. It is also evident that the ideal of unity between bishop, priests, deacons, and community was not found everywhere. Ignatius is convinced that the threefold governing power, decreed and established by God and Christ, belongs to the idea of the Church.

(4) The Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians and the “Passio Polycarpi”

Polycarp also exhorts the faithful to be subject to the priests and deacons as to God and Christ (v, 3). The particular functions of each of these two classes of the governing body cannot be inferred from the qualities in which Polycarp desires they should both be conspicuous (v and vi). The letter seems to indicate that at that time there was no bishop in Philippi. In the “Passio Polycarpi” we are interested only in the one passage where there is mention of an Apostolic and prophetic teacher and bishop of the Catholic Church of Smyrna (xvi, 2). It gave great satisfaction when the bishop possessed miraculous charismata and when he, the teacher of the faithful, was a disciple of the Apostles.

(5) The Epistle of St. Barnabas

Mentions the twelve Apostles as chosen by Christ to preach his Gospel (v; ix; viii, 3). Once (xix, 9) he admonishes us to love the preacher of the Word of the Lord as the apple of our eye. Besides this, there are allusions to a sort of secret doctrine of the Lord, which is understood by the initiated (ix, 9, and x, 12). The writer of the Epistle evidently looks on this higher form of knowledge as an extraordinary gift imparted by the Spirit of God (cf. xvi, 8-10, and xvii). He considers his own exposition of the Scriptures as the effect of the Spirit working within him, even if he twice insists modestly on the point that he is not writing as a teacher (os didaskalos) (i, 8, and iv, 9).

(6) Second Epistle of St. Clement

Another kind of mysticism is revealed to us in the homily which has come down to us as the Second Epistle of St. Clement. St. Paul’s image of the Church as the Body of Christ is developed, not very successfully, in an obscure speculation about a Church which pre-existed with Jesus and was created before sun and moon (xiv, 1-4). The presbyters mentioned in xvii (3, 5) must exhort and declare the Word of God in the presence of those assembled for Divine worship.

(7) The “Pastor” of Hermas

We must exclude from our positive exposition a number of rather widespread but incorrect views about the hierarchy of the “Pastor” of Hermas. (a) It cannot be ascertained with certainty whether the Apostles mentioned in five places (Vis., iii, 5, 1; Sim., ix, 15, 4; 16, 5; 17, 1; 25, 2) are apostles in the broader sense (Harnack, Zahn), or only the Twelve (Dorsch); the latter is more probable. (b) In either case Hermas regards the Apostolate as a thing of the past. (c) The prophets, to whom Hermas himself belongs, are never spoken of in connection with the Apostles and teachers; Hermas‘s silence, however, is not due to modesty, as his display of self-importance in Vis., iii, 1, plainly demonstrates, but to his concept of the prophet’s office; for though he looks upon it as a social charisma, he accords it only a private authority, that allows each of the faithful to pass his own judgment on its validity (cf. Dorsch in “Zeitschrift fur Kath. Theol.”, xxviii, 1904,’pp. 276 sq.). (d) Consequently one cannot prove from Hermas that the triad of “Apostles, prophets, and teachers”, held the highest place in the community as preachers of the Word of God. (e) There is absolutely no truth in Harnack’s assertion (“Analecta zu Hatch”, 230 sq., and “Prolegomena zur Lehre der 12 Apostel”, pp. 150 sq.) that Hermas never mentions bishops and deacons, where there is question of the community as a system composed of rulers and subjects (cf. Zeitschrift fur Kath. Theologie, xxvii, 1903, pp. 198 sq.).

The following certain conclusions can be derived from Hermas: (a) The superiors are called presbyters (Vis., ii, 4, 2; Vis., iii, 1, 7, 8; Vis., iii, 11, 3); bishops and deacons (Vis., iii, 5, 1; Sim., ix, 27, 2, bishops alone; Sim., 26, 2, deacons alone), proegoumenoi tes ekklesias Vis., ii, 2, 6); together with protokathedritai (Vis., iii, 9, 7); pastors (pastores; no Greek text; Sim., ix, 31, 5 and 6). (b) Since Hermas has no exact and fixed terminology, no clear distinction can be discovered in his writings between bishops and presbyters. (c) It is certain that the presbyters are identical with the proegoumenoi and the pastors. (d) They are primarily pastors of souls, whose duty it is to preserve the proper spirit in the community. (e) Hermas says nothing about bishops of the Roman community; they are spoken of in company with the Apostles, teachers, and deacons as stones that go to build up the edifice of the Ecclesia; in a subordinate measure their office is to be one of devotion to works of charity and the cares of the poor. Since in Hermas‘s time the name episkopos was extensively used for the monarchical bishop, Hermas seems to have had one in mind. The Clement spoken of by him in Vis., ii, 4, 3 is evidently such an episkopos in Rome; Hermas gives him no official title; his duty it is to send to the other Churches the book given to Hermas by the ecclesia. The teachers (didaskaloi), Vis., iii, 5, 1; Sim., ix, 15, 4; 16, 5; 25, 2; Man., iv, 3, 1, didaskaloi ponmrias Sim., ix, 19, 2) are preachers of the Word of God. (f) A certain strife for precedence between the rulers of the community and prominent Christians, which Hermas seems to refer to, is of course no proof of a contest about the ecclesiastical constitution itself. It is probable that not only the holders of office were entitled to the first places of honor in the common assemblies but the teachers as well, who thus were numbered among the protokathedritai. The assertion is constantly made, but cannot be proved, that Hermas included them among those endowed with mystical or miraculous “spiritual” gifts.

(8) Justin Martyr

In his first “Apology “Justin Martyr represents the presiding officer (prestos) at the Divine service as a liturgical agent, by whose prayer in the Eucharistic celebration, the bread and wine are changed into the Body and Blood of Christ (lxv, 3-5; lxvii, 5). After a lector has read, the same presiding officer addresses words of counsel and encouragement to the assembled brethren (lxvii, 4). He also receives the voluntary offerings of those present, and distributes them to the widows and orphans, to the sick, the prisoners, and strangers, in short to all who need help (lxvii, 6 and 7). We find therefore in Rome about the year 150 a monarchical presiding officer who acts as liturgical celebrant, teacher, and declarer of the Word of God and as administrator of the sacred funds: an interesting testimony. Justin does not speak of presbyters, but mentions deacons; they distribute the Eucharist to those present and bring it to the homes of those who are absent (lxv, 5; lxvii, 5).

(9) Hegesippus

In his “Memorabilia” (the book was probably called upomneata), he describes the inerrant tradition of the Apostolic teaching. He regards the unbroken succession of bishops as the guarantee of truth (cf. Euseb. “Hist. Eccl.”, iv, 22, 1 sq.). On his journey to Rome he found the true doctrine in Corinth, and mentions Bishop Primus in this connection. In Rome he “examined the series of the bishops of that place” as far as Anicetus (epoiesamen ten diadochen) the translation; “I made for myself a list of them in their succession” is hardly credible; Rufinus’s conjecture” `mansi’, I abode there” (diatriben epoiesamen) is arbitrary; the Syriac reads literally: “I made there in the derivation of the bishops” (Nestle). I read: diadochen ereunesamen or eponesamen.

(10) Abercius

It seems to me as good as proved that Abercius was Bishop of Hierapolis (not Hieropolis) in Phrygia (Salutaris) in the second half of the second century. The attempt of some scholars, notably Dieterichs (Die Grabschrift des Aberkios, 1896), to deny the Christian character of the epitaph appears to have found a final refutation in Fr. Cumont [” L’inscription d’Abercius et son dernier exegete” in the “Revue de l’instr. publique en Belgique” (1897), 91; cf. also Ramsay, “Cities and Bishoprics of Phrygia”, II (Oxford, 1897), 722 sq. and 788 sq. and the excellent article of H. Leclercq in Dom Cabrol’s “Dictionnaired’Archeologie chretienne et de Liturgie”, I, 1903, 66 sq.]. Here we can only mention his witness to the primacy of the Roman Church (11-18).

(11) Gnosticism and Montanism

The fantastic speculations of the Gnostics of the second and third centuries, which apotheosized the Apostles as demigods and aeons, supply, of course, no more material to the historian than those other Gnostic teachings which minimized the authority of the first Apostles in order to raise to prominence the secret doctrine and the personality of the Gnostic teachers. The same is to be said of the Gnostic metaphysical doctrine of the Church. The Epistle of the Gnostic Ptolemaeus to Flora deserves special notice (Epiphanius, “Haeres.”, XXXIII, c. iii, ed. Oehler II, I, 401 seq.). At the close of c. vii (ib., 413) Flora’s attention is called to the Apostolic doctrine, “which we also have received through a line of succession” (en ek diadoches kai emeis pareilepsamen). The “also” is worthy of remark. Ptolemaeus means that not merely the universal Church, but they also had an Apostolic tradition. The progress of historical investigation disproves more and more the assumption of certain Protestant scholars that the Gnostics were the first to elaborate the theories of Tradition and Apostolic succession, and that afterward the Catholic Church gradually and unconsciously assimilated them. Catholic scholarship has recently established the following two points: (a) The polemical writings of Irenaeus and Tertullian offer clear proof that the ideas of Tradition and Apostolic succession, with which these ecclesiastical writers repeatedly assail the Gnostics, were inherited from ancient times, at any rate in their essential character. (b) The most rigidly critical analysis of the Gnostic system has demonstrated that their theories of Tradition and Apostolic succession show unmistakable signs of being the copy and replica of a system already existing.

Marcion and his Church should be mentioned in this connection, although Marcionism cannot be directly classified as Gnosticism. The same remarks, however, apply to him. His Church is precisely lacking in those elements, which constitute the chief strength of the Catholic Church: unity of Faith, unity and permanence of government. The legend of a well-established organization of the Marcionite communities about the year 160, far surpassing in firmness that of the Roman Church, originated in a misunderstanding. The true statement is this: At the time of the first appearance of Marcion and his doctrines, speculative minds of many Christians were inclined, in consequence of Gnostic theorizing, to reject as a deceiver the God of the Old Testament and to accept instead a God the Father who was superior to Him, and unknown to Him as well. This God enters into relation with the world through a series of intermediary beings. One of these aeons unites himself with the man Jesus and operates apparently as a mere human being. These assertions disgusted and repelled many minds, not merely because of the grotesque theory of intermediary existences, but also because of the impossibility of reconciling the Christian Scriptures with this new doctrine and would-be secret tradition. The contradictions were palpable and unavoidable; and the assertions altogether arbitrary and devoid of proof. For this reason Marcion abandoned first his fantastic theory of aeons, then his mystical dream of ecstatic and prophetic inspirations, and finally his fraudulent fiction of a secret tradition. Thereupon he tried to solve the contradictions of his system by rejecting the Old Testament, taking as a basis St. Paul, to the exclusion, however, of everything Jewish in the Epistles, retaining only the Gospel of St. Luke, and assuming a more convenient position. Jesus was merely the good God manifesting himself under an apparently human form. Everything centered around the doctrine of the Redemption; he rejected all dogma and speculation. In that way he hit upon a convenient creed for those Gnostic adepts who had departed from Catholic Christianity and classical Gnosticism. His negations alone formed their bond of fellowship. His scriptural canon and his rule of Faith served to unite his followers, not through any positive belief but by the denial of Catholic (and Gnostic) principles. He seems indeed to have had a talent for organization; the historian, however, has to look on his work not as a new creation, but as a mutilation of that which had long been in existence. Our remarks on Gnosticism apply, mutatis mutandis, in a far greater degree to Montanism. The organization of Montanism was not a remnant of early Christianity, but an artificial revival of primitive customs. (cf. D’Ales, “La theologie de Tertullien”, 201 sq.; and Batiffol, “L’eglise naissante et le catholicisme”, 317 sq.).


We intend here merely to point out certain contemporary expressions for profane and sacred offices which may shed some light on the constitution of primitive Christianity. A. In the negative sense it is interesting to note that certain expressions, which were then in very general use for different kinds of governing officials were not adopted by the Christians, such as epistates (epistates) and epimeletes (epimeletes). For servants, in the religious sense, hyperetes (uperetes) was used more frequently than diakonos [cf. Thieme, “Die Inschriften von Magnesia am Maander and das neue Test.” (Borna-Leipzig, 1905), 33].—B. Positive parallelisms.—(I) Antilepsis (=assistance), with a religious implication, is found, besides in I Cor., xii, 28, in the Septuagint and on papyri [cf. Deissmann, “Bibelstudien” (Marburg, 1895), 87; and “Neue Bibelstudien” (1897), 51]. (2) Archipoimen (=chief shepherd) of I Peter, v, 4, is found on a mummy label [cf. Deissmann, “Licht vom Osten” (Tubingen, 1908), p. 64]. (3) Diakonos in a religious sense is found in an inscription, from Magnesia on the Meander, of about 100 B.C. (O. Kern, “Die Inschriften am Maander”, p. 109). The same is found frequently in other places (cf. Thieme, op. cit., 17 sq.), for instance mention is made of a college of deacons with a priest (iereus) at their head for the worship of Serapis and Isis (cf. Corpus Inscr. Graec. II, 1800 and 3037). (4) Episkopos in a religious sense: cf. remarks above and Daremberg-Saglio, “Dictionnaire des Antiquites” under episkopos. This article is unfortunately not satisfactory, whereas the articles epimeletes and epistates are excellent. (5) Liturgy (leiturgos, leturgeo, etc.) in a religious sense is found at Magnesia (Kern, ib 98, 17 and 98, 58; Thieme, ibid., 16; Deissmann, “Bibelstudien”, 137 sq.). (6) Logeia, that is, collections of a religious character (cf. I Cor., xvi, 1 and 2) on papyri and ostraka (Wilcken, “Griechische Ostraka”, I, 253; Deissmann, “Licht vom Osten”, 69 sq.; Kern, 1. c., 105, 72; Thieme, 1. c., 16 sq.). (7) Presbyter, also in a religious sense; for instance the members of a sacerdotal college in Egypt were called thus, in the middle of the second century (cf. the papyri in Deissmann, “Neue Bibelstudien”, 60 sq.). (8) Prophets. They formed a class of the superior priesthood in Egypt (cf. Krebs, “Zeitschrift fur regypt Sprache and Alterumskunde”, xxxi, 36). Prophet-priests are also found in Miletus [cf. Thieme, I. c., 19; cf. also R. Cagnat, “Inscriptions Graecae”, III (Paris, 1906), n. 680 and n. 1105].


Since an exhaustive treatment is impossible, I have tried to collect at least all the typical texts.

A. Mention of Bishops by Polycrates

In a synodal letter written by Polycrates of Ephesus about the year 190 this bishop, sixty-five years of age, speaks of seven of his relatives who had been bishops before him. Besides these he mentions Polycarp and Papirius of Smyrna, Thraseas of Eumenea, Sagaris of Laodicea and Melito of Sardes (Eusebius, “Hist. Eccles.”, v, 24, 2 sq.).

B. Irenaeus’s View of the Connection with Apostolic Times

The famous texts of Irenaeus on Apostolic succession are a testimony to the faith of the second century, rather than an example of ancient historical narrative. Exceptions are (a) the list of the Roman bishops (Hier., iii, 3 sq.); (b) the account of Polycarp’s installment by the Apostles (op. cit., iii, 3, 4, and Euseb., “Hist. eccles.”, iv, 14); and especially (c) the passage (Hr., v. 20, 1) pointing out the fact that the Apostles entrusted the Churches to the bishops. On the contrary, historical value cannot be attached to the statement (Hr., iii, 14, 2) that St. Paul summoned to Miletus the bishops and presbyters of Ephesus and the vicinity.

C. Eusebius’s Account of the Earliest Times

(1) The accounts that we have of St. James the First as Bishop of Jerusalem, based on the “Hypotyposes” of Clement of Alexandria (Eusebius, “Hist. eccl.”, ii, 1) cannot be used as historical data. This applies still more to the story (op. cit., iii, 11) of the choice of Simeon as a successor to James. The bare fact, however, that both filled the highest office in Jerusalem, is well attested (cf. Eusebius, ibid., iv, 5, and iv, 12; and especially Hegesippus, iv, 22). (2) Euseb., iii, 37, has a good historical basis. Eusebius tells us here that the disciples of the Apostle, after distributing their goods, spread the Christian religion in the character of “evangelists”.

D. Colleges of Presbyters.—The mere fact that the ancient sources speak of colleges of presbyters, with-out any mention of a monarchical bishop at their head, does not warrant the immediate conclusion that there was no such bishop. This is clearly shown by the following texts. The anonymous Antimontanist in Eusebius (Hist. eccl., v, 16, 1 sq.) speaks of such governing presbyters in Ancyra. Tertullian mentions elders as presidents of the assemblies (Apologet., xxxix).

E. Charismata.—(I) Eusebius’s anonymous Antimontanist and Miltiades (Hist. eccl., v, 17) testify that the true prophets (of the Old and the New Testament) did not speak in ecstasy (i.e. in unconscious ravings). This looks more like a theological inference than a piece of evidence from first-hand historical sources. (2) In the “Testament of Jesus Christ” (edit. Ephraem Rahmani, I, xlvii) an ordinance is found prohibiting the imposition of hands on those who possess the gift of healing, of knowledge, or of tongues, since the work of God is already made manifest in them. (3) In view of the passages which speak of prophets, it does not seem improbable that the word “prophet”, even in early times, signified not merely the possessor of an ecstatic charisma, but was also a substitute for “priest”, at a time when men were still afraid to use this expression. Prophet appears here as a synonym for hypophetes. This recalls a remarkable passage of the Ambrosiast (in Ep. ad Ephes., iv, 11, 12), where the observation is made that “now” the interpreters of Scripture are called prophets. The “now” may however be due to a hurriedly copied quotation. (4) If Tertullian defines the teachers (doctores) as brethren “endowed with the gift of knowledge” (gratia scientiae donati—De Praescript., xiv), a miraculous charisma cannot be immediately inferred, since the idea of grace or endowment (gratia) was of very wide application.

F. Different Orders of the Hierarchy.—Besides patriarchs, prophets, levites, priests, and archons, Tertullian mentions also Apostles, evangelists, and bishops (De Corona, ix, 2). Only the last three have reference to the New Testament, according to the context. The list given in another passage (Prascr., III), bishop, deacon, widow, virgin, doctor, martyr, is evidently arbitrary and accidental. The same may be said of the seven orders of Hippolytus (Fragm. in Prov., ix, 1) prophets, martyrs, hierarchs ascetics, saints, dust.

G. Deacons.—The hypothesis that the deacons were originally on a higher footing than the priests, almost equal to that of the bishops, is supported by a few of the vaguest indications taken from the earliest sources. That such naive texts prove nothing is best shown by the later texts, which allow the deacon remarkable privileges, although his rank was definitively established as no higher than the third order of the hierarchy. (I) At the Council of Elvira (Eliberis) a discussion took place regarding deacons who govern churches (diaconus regens plebem, can. lxxvii); that is to say, where there is no bishop and no priest. (2) In the Apostolic Constitutions (lib. II, c. xxvi) the deacons come directly after the bishop, although it was then established that their order held third place.

H. The Hierarchy as an Ecclesiastical Institution.—(I) The utterance of Tertullian (De exhort. cast. vii), declaring that the difference between the priests and the laity was due to ecclesiastical institution, and that therefore any layman in the absence of a priest could offer sacrifice, baptize, and act as priest, is based on Montanistic theories and contradicts earlier teachings of Tertullian (e.g., De baptismo, xvii). (2) Nor is there any better historical foundation for the statement of Cyprian (Epist., III, 3) that Christ spoke only of bishops and priests, whereas the deacons are of Apostolic institutions. The latter is simply a conclusion drawn from the sixth chapter of Acts; while the preceding expresses a dogmatic judgment and the belief at the time of St. Cyprian.

I. Supposed Original Equality of Bishops and Priests.—(I) Epiphanius (Panar., III, c. iv, hwr. lxxv).—Epiphanius‘s arguments against Arius, who held this original equality, form an excellent dogmatic thesis; but the description of primitive conditions is an artificial construction, not a real historical account. (2) Jerome, Theodore of Mopsuestia, the Ambrosiast.—Jerome holds that bishops and priests were identical in the earliest times. According to him the monarchical episcopate is an ecclesiastical institution, although it is for the good of the Church and based on Apostolic tradition (“Epist. ad Evangelum”, 146 [85], 1; “Epist. ad Oceanum”, 69 [83], 3; “Comment. in Tit.”: Migne, P.L., XXVI, 562, 563, 694, 695 and 696—”Dialog. advers. Lucifer“, 9; Migne, P.L., XXIII, 164 sq.). But since on the other hand Jerome regards the power of ordination as peculiar to the bishop, his theory labors under an insoluble contradiction (cf. Epist. 146 [85] and “In Ep ad Tit.”, ib.). Jerome’s accounts do not offer any historical testimony, but an artificial and hypothetical construction. He infers far too much from the fact that the titles presbyter and bishop are synonymous in the New Testament, relying chiefly on an ordinance concerning the election of bishops of the Alexandrian Church, which prescribed that, in accordance with an ancient tradition, the college of presbyters should always choose and consecrate one of its own number. The texts of St. Jerome are thoroughly discussed by Michiels, “L’origine de l’episcopat” (Louvain, 1900), 420 sq., and by Dom Leon Sanders, “Etudes sur saint Jerome” (Brussels and Paris, 1903), 298 sq. We shall speak presently about the election of the Alexandrian bishops. From the time of Isidore of Seville until late in the Middle Ages these accounts of St. Jerome were transcribed over and over without any attempt at criticism. For the history of these texts of St. Jerome, cf. Dunin Borkowski in “Histor. Jahrbuch.”, XXI (1900), 221 sq.

Jerome and the Ambrosiast deny the original equality of bishops and priests; both maintain that the Churches even in Apostolic times were governed by single superiors, who all possessed the power of ordination and bore the name of Apostle [cf. Ambros., in Eph., iv, 11 and 12; in I Cor., xii, 18; in Philipp., i, 1; in I Tim., iii, etc.; “Opera Ambrosii”, ed. Ballerini, III (Milan, 1877), 809 sq., 631, 830, 916; “Theodori Episcopi Mopsuesteniin epist. B. Pauli commentarii”, ed. H. B. Swete, 1882; in I ep. ad Tim., iii, 8; 1. c., II, 114 sq.; in ep. ad Tit., i, 7, 239]. The statements of Theodore and of the Ambrosiast have much more value than those of St. Jerome. We find similar utterances in Theodoret‘s Commentary on Philippians, i, 1 (Migne, P.G., LXXXII, 559 [445]) and on I Tim., iii (ib., 803 [652]) and also in John of Dara (in Abrah. Echellensis, “Eutychius Patriarcha Alexandrinus vindicatus” [Rome, 1668], 190 sq.). A similar notion is found in Origen (Horn. in Num., xi, 4, Migne, P.G., XII [Orig. II], 308 col. 649); except that he seems to speak of his own time. He speaks of the possibility of a man coming to a place where there are as yet no Christians, of his teaching the people the Faith and inducing them to accept it, and finally becoming bishop himself.

In the places mentioned, Theodore of Mopsuestia has another peculiar statement. He declares that in the most ancient times those supreme ecclesiastical superiors, who were instituted by the original Twelve and called likewise apostles, ruled over entire provinces, whereas the towns were subject to presbyters. Even in later times not more than three bishops, usually only two were to be found in a province; this condition, he adds, had lasted in the Occident almost up to his own time. Duchesne attached some historical value to these utterances of Theodore [Fastes episcopaux de l’ancienne Gaule, I (1894), 36 sq.]. Harnack has refuted him very thoroughly in a valuable excursus in the second volume of his work, “Die Mission and die Ausbreitung des Christentums in den ersten drei Jahrhunderten”, 2nd ed. (1906), 373 sq. Harnack assigns its true value to Theodore’s testimony, though in some places he lets himself be influenced by his own extremely hypothetical concept of the primitive Christian constitution. Theodore is correct in saying that originally whole provinces were under one chief ruler known as an “apostle”. One cannot, however, accept his conclusion that for a long time the single local communities were without any bishops of their own (cf. Harnack, 1. c., 378-395).

(3) The Alexandrian bishops are said to have been placed in office and consecrated by the local priests. History offers widely different accounts of this singular occurrence. Heretical monks complained to the holy monk Poimen about the Alexandrian archbishop, and claimed that he had been consecrated by priests. The event can have taken place between 370 and 460 (P.G., LXV, 341). Jerome mentions the fact (Presbyteri… unum ex se electum… episcopum nominabant) (Epist. 146 ad Evangelum, Migne, P.L., XXII, 1194). Severus of Antioch also speaks of it in a letter written between 518 and 538 [E. W. Brooks, “The ordination of the early Bishops of Alexandria” in “Journal of Theol. Studies”, II (1901), 612 sq.]. Finally in the tenth century the story is told at great length by Eutychius, Melchite Patriarch of Alexandria (P.G., CXI, 903-06 and 982). It seems doubtful whether the Ambrosiast (I. c., in Eph., iv, 11, 12) refers to these conditions in Alexandria. Abraham Echellensis, notwithstanding his serious errors in chronology, has shown that Eutychius and his first editor, Selden, caused an irremediable confusion [” Eutychius, Patriarcha Alexandrinus vindicatus” (Rome, 1661), 39 sq., 47 sq., 53 sq., 63 sq.,103 sq. On page 227 an important text of George Homaidius is given as a parallel to Eutychius. Cf. also A. von Gutschmid, “Kleine Schriften”, II 399 sq.; 379 sq., 486, and Renaudot, “Liturgiarum Oriental. Collectio”, I, 365 sq.; 379 sq.]. The remaining three texts, when compared with one another, present serious difficulties. Moreover, they can hardly be reconciled with statements made by Clement of Alexandria and Origen [cf. Ch. Gore, “On the Ordination of the Early Bishops of Alexandria“, in “Journal of Theol. Studies” (1902), III, 279 sq.; and Cabrol in “Dictionnaire d’archeologie chretienne et de liturgie”, s.v. “Alexandrie”]. The outcome of it all is, as Cabrol states, that in the fourth century and later a tradition existed that the Bishops of Alexandria were chosen, or perhaps even consecrated, by the presbyterate.


In the earliest times those who first preached the Gospel in a place, usually retained the supreme direction of the communities which they had themselves founded. We say usually; for the message of Christianity could be carried to some places by men who were not missionaries by their calling, and thus could claim no personal authority (Rome); or by men who felt sure of their vocation as preachers of the Word of God, but did not wish to organize or govern (Ephesus?). Accordingly, there were cases in which the foundation proper did not coincide with the first preaching of the Gospel; and in such cases the Apostle who was founder became the chief ruler. This position, in which the Apostle Paul and the first Apostles were established, was charismatical in the sense given above, i.e., it originated in a personal commission from Jesus. We know nothing definite about the calling of the apostles in the wider sense. The idea that they always followed a direct intimation of the Spirit is not impossible, but it cannot be proved. The apostolate was not a mystical or miraculous charisma, like the gift of tongues and of prophecy. The founding of the Church included its organization as well. The individual Churches could not have evolved their organization out of their own inner power of jurisdiction, for it was as an organism that each existed from the start, and only as an organism that it put forth its activity. That is the most ancient Christian concept of the body ecclesiastic that we know of. But the conclusion is also established that the Church‘s power of action was not bestowed on her by the founding Apostles. As a second Christ, as the Body of Christ, both the universal Church and the local Churches possessed certain rights and powers which could not have been conferred by men. The Church was essentially the creation of God and ‘Christ. But these rights and privileges can no more be referred to the autonomous communities than to the founding and governing Apostles; they are the work of God and Christ. Communal autonomy, in the modern sense, which makes the community not merely the subject, but also the creator and ultimate reason of its own juridical powers, it a concept directly opposed to the deepest convictions of the early Christians. Since the Churches were regarded as organisms, these Divinely given powers and privileges did not pertain to the community as distinguished from the governing officials, but to the organized community. Primitive Christian faith represented the organs of the mystical body of Christ, including the local governing powers in general, as a law, an ordinance of God and Christ. It has been mistakenly asserted that the governing organs did not stand above the community. This is true only in the sense that the community, as the organized body of Christ, includes within itself all its organs; but, as soon as the idea is introduced that the superiors received their power from the autonomous community of the faithful, the view is contrary to that of primitive Christianity.

Neither the power of the Apostles nor of the other superiors was tyrannical and autocratic in its nature. All were equally bound by the Word of God. The importance which was attached to charity and humility gave a patriarchal tone to Christian society. But true juridical relations were there none the less. The foremost Protestant scholars reject the paradox proposed by Rudolf Sohm in the first volume of his “Kirchenrecht”, that legal right is alien to the concept of the Ecclesia. But a great deal of confusion and obscurity is still brought into a naturally clear and simple matter by an improper use of modern legal concepts and certain one-sided peculiarities of the Roman law. The investigator should bear in mind the juridical conditions of the early Church and the manner of expression peculiar to those times. Did the first Christians accept ecclesiastical authority as a manifestation of the Divine will in the abstract, and quite independently of the question whether the superior offered himself spontaneously, was elected, or was otherwise placed in office? Did they understand their subjection to superiors as an obligation imposed upon subjects of God, and, consequently, the superior’s right of government as a moral possession allotted by God? Our texts oblige us to answer both these questions in the affirmative. But this is the very essence of Divine jurisdiction. In other words, the organic disposition of the Church is the will and commandment of God and Christ. A second question is: Did the Apostles and ecclesiastical superiors, in view of their Divinely given mission, ascribe to themselves certain rights of government which, though not determined as to their subject-matter by a direct mandate of Christ, were none the less obligatory on the faithful? To this question, also, the sources give the same distinctly affirmative answer.

Since, likewise, local authority was regularly accepted as an ordinance of Christ, different members and organs, with strictly regulated functions, must have gradually been evolved everywhere. These include also the governing communal organs together with the universal apostolate and the traveling helpers of the Apostles. In many places, of course, men of power, endowed with miraculous gifts, such as prophets, could for a time take the place of the regular governing officials. An organization of the Church based solely on mystical or miraculous charismatical gifts is as fabulous as the alleged democratic organization. The Apostle, who had some sense of order and ability for organizing, took care to establish resident helpers in the newly-founded communities. St. Paul was pleased when the first-fruits of the Faith in any city offered themselves for the service of the community. If they were men of proved character, and were recognized by the Apostle, it became the duty of the Christian to respect and obey them. But in some cities peculiar offices existed from the earliest times. In the midst of the Jewish and heathen society of Asia Minor and Palestine, such personages were given the name of presbyter; but in other regions no special title seems to have been attached to them at the beginning; only superiors and servants (deacons) were spoken of. But the name of episkopos (overseer) soon came into use; and the title of deacon was restricted more and more to the assistants of the chief local officials. These presbyters, or bishops, formed a sort of college. There is no proof that in the Apostolic times there existed, besides the deacons, two separate corporations, each provided with special powers: a college of presbyters and a college of bishops, who were drawn from the ranks of the presbyters or added to their number.

To explain the Epistles of St. Ignatius, one must assume that the separation of the titles bishop and presbyter took place in many localities as early as 70-80, and that, even at this time, the monarchical head of the community was frequently called episkopos. At an early period these superiors were given the favorite title of shepherd. The name egoumenoio (leaders) was of somewhat later appearance, and probably later still (Clement and Hermas) the compound word 7rponyo6Fcevoc (Clement and Hermas); the terms prokathemenoi (presiding officials) and protokathedritai (holders of seats of honor) are undoubtedly of later origin. It seems probable that, side by side with proistamenoi, the form proestotes was used, but this cannot be proved with certainty. In I Tim., v. 17, the word is an adjective (oi kalos proestotes preobuteroi). The preaching and interpretation of the Word of God was undertaken in the earliest times by the Apostles and their travelling helpers, among whom the “evangelists” were included. These were missionaries, prophets, and “doctors”, some of whom, had a direct Divine calling and a gift of infused knowledge. Other teachers were distinguished from evangelists by permanent residence in some community. This abundance of preachers of the Word of God (lalountes ton logon tou theou) mentioned only by St. Paul, I Tim., ii, 7; II Tim., i, 11; and I Clem., v, 6) frequently relieved the local superiors of their obligation to preach in person.

With the growth of the communities, the Apostle-founders entrusted part of their office to men worthy of their confidence, who were thus invested with a monarchical authority over several communities, without, however, succeeding to all Apostolic prerogatives. These men soon received the title of episkopos; and, as a result, this term became obsolete as a mere synonym for presbyter. Such are the historical beginnings of the monarchical episcopate. For a long time, however, the bishops were also called by the simple title of presbyter. The greater the number of distinct communities, the more numerous were the monarchical bishops; and in some districts every town soon had a bishop of its own. Those early recipients of the Apostolic confidence were not as yet local superiors in the strict sense, although of course they usually resided in some particular town. The presbyters of their province were subject to them. In this we find the beginning of the system of metropolitan bishops. In some places the presbyterate remained for a considerable time the highest local authority. About the same time, the order of deacons became fully organized. They were the right hand of the bishop.

All the germs of later development were present at the very beginning. The constitution of the Church in its essential structural features is an original product of Christianity. In the light of the laws of history and of Divine Providence, it is easy to understand how from the earliest times the social environment of Christian institutions, the varieties of religious activity and organization, the local and provincial forms of government, were important factors in developing a great multitude of unessential details.


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