Monday, July 1, 2013

The Church Fathers on: Authority of Bishops II

What did the Early Christians Believe?
Authority of the Bishop/Presbyters

Now, therefore, it has been my privilege to see you in the person of your God-inspired bishop, Damas; and in the persons of your worthy presbyters, Bassus and Apollonius; and my fellow-servant, the deacon Zotion. What a delight is his company! For he is subject to the bishop as to the grace of God, and to the presbytery as to the law of Jesus.” (Ignatius of Antioch, 110 AD, Letter to the Magnesians, [2] )

“It becomes you not to presume on the youth of the bishop, but to show him all reverence in consideration of the authority of God the Father: just as even the holy presbyters, so I have heard, do not take advantage of his outwardly youthful appearance, but yield to him in their godly prudence: yet not to him, but to the Father of Jesus Christ, the Bishop of all.” (ibid. [3,1] )

“Take care to do all things in harmony with God, with the bishop presiding in the place of God and with the presbyters in the place of the council of the Apostles, and with the deacons, who are most dear to me, entrusted with the business of Jesus Christ, who was with the Father from the beginning and is at last made manifest.” (ibid. [6,1] )

“Indeed, when you submit to the bishop as you would to Jesus Christ, it is clear to me that you are living not in the manner of men but as Jesus Christ, who died for us, that through faith in His death you might escape dying. [2] It is necessary, therefore, – and such is your practice, – that you do nothing without the bishop, and that you be subject also to the presbytery, as to the Apostles of Jesus Christ our hope, in whom we shall be found, if we live in Him. (Ignatius of Antioch, 110 AD, Letter to the Trallians, [2,1-2] )

“In like manner let everyone respect the deacons as they would respect Jesus Christ, and just as they respect the bishop as a type of the Father, and the presbyters as the council of God and college of Apostles. Without these, it cannot be called a Church.” (Ignatius of Antioch, 110 AD, Letter to the Trallians, [3,1] )

“He that is in the sanctuary is pure; but he that is outside the sanctuary is not pure. In other words, anyone who acts without the bishop and the presbytery and the deacons does not have a clean conscience.” (Ignatius of Antioch, 110 AD, Letter to the Trallians, [7,2] )

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