Εικόνες σελίδας
PDF
Ηλεκτρ. έκδοση

bishop or presbyter chosen by this Christian community, to be the messenger, or servant, both of God and of the church. This call of the church is itself a vocatio divina, a divine calling; and, according to the New Testament view of the subject, unites the idea of both offices in the same person."

Bengel, also, the most learned expositor of the book of Revelation, is of opinion, that the angel of the church corresponds to the as n of the synagogue. "The Hebrews had, in their synagogue, a 13 h, a deputatum ecclesiae, who, in reading, in prayer, &c., led the congregation; and such a leader, also, had each of the seven churches of the Apocalypse." 54

The result is, that the angel of the churches, whatever view we take of the origin of the term, was not the representative of an order or grade superior to presbyters, but himself merely a presbyter; or, if you please,-a bishop, provided you mean by it simply what the Scriptures always mean, a pastor of a church, the ordinary and only minister, divinely constituted to be the shepherd and bishop of their souls.

II. It remains to consider the historical argument for the original equality and identity of bishops and presbyters.

The doctrine of the original equality and identity of bishops and presbyters was fully recognized in the early church, and continued to be acknowledged, even after the establishment of the hierarchy, down to the time of the Reformation. The historical argument comprised in this proposition may be resolved into several particulars, each of which serves to show that both the early fathers and later historians regarded presbyters and bishops as belong

54 Erklarung Offenbarung, p. 216. For a further illustration of the opinions of the learned, the reader is referred to Campbell's Lectures on Eccl. Hist., pp. 82-88. Whately, Kingdom of Christ, pp. 246–250.

tion of the body of Christ." Such are the views of Rothe,41 one of the latest writers on this subject, who has set forth his sentiments with great clearness, and supported them with unequalled learning and ability. Such also are the sentiments of Chrysostom, an ancient and learned bishop. "The apostles were constituted of God rulers, not over a separate nation or city, but all were entrusted with the world." 42

(b) Timothy at Ephesus was not a bishop.

Timothy was one of a class of religious teachers who acted as the assistants and fellow-laborers of the apostle. Their assistance was employed as a needful expedient to enable the apostles to exercise their supervision over the infant churches which sprang up in the different and distant countries through which Christianity was propagated by them. Over churches widely separated, the apostles could personally exercise but little supervision. Some of them, as the apostle Peter, and especially the great apostle of the Gentiles, were instrumental in planting many churches in distant countries. He saw the necessity of employing suitable and competent men, who, invested with his authority, and in his name, might supply his lack of service to those churches which lay beyond the range of his immediate inspection. They were neither permanent officers in the church, nor restricted to any specific circuit, but temporary residents, to assist in setting in order the churches, and giving needful instruction, as the occasion might require, and then to pass away to some other station, wherever their services might be required.

Such assistants and delegates of the apostles are of frequent occurrence in the Scriptures. And this view of

41 Anfänge, Christ. Kirch., pp. 297-310.

42’Εισὶν ὑπο θεου χειροτονηθέντες απόστολοι ἄρχοντες, οὐκ ἔθνη καὶ πόλεις διάφορους λαμβάνοντες, ἀλλὰ πάντες κοινῇ iny dixové vyv kμлioτéν0εvταs. Cited by Campbell, Lectures, p. 77.

their office affords, at once, a natural and easy explanation of the peculiar and somewhat anomalous rank which they seem to hold. Bishops they certainly were not, in the Episcopal sense of that term.43 Neither were they merely presbyters; for, though in many things their office was analogous to that of presbyters, in other respects it was widely different. Such was Timothy, whom Paul styles his fellow-laborer, ovvɛgyós. Rom. 16: 21. 1 Thess. 3: 2. In the salutations of his epistles, also, he often couples the name of Timothy with his own. Phil. 1: 1. 1 Thess. 1: 1. 2 Thess. 1: 1, &c. Accordingly, Timothy appears as the travelling companion of the apostle.

He seems, indeed, at different times, to have had the superintendence of several churches in various places. Comp. 1 Cor. 4: 17, 1 Tim. 1: 3, and 1 Thess. 3: 2, from which it appears that he was sent to Corinth, to Ephesus, and to Thessalonica, as a fellow-laborer and assistant of the apostle. From what is said of his influence at Corinth, it would seem that he might with almost equal propriety be styled the bishop of that city as of Ephesus. In the first epistle, he is reputed to have been sent to them, as the representative of the apostle, to bring them into remembrance of his ways and doctrines; and, in the second, he unites with Paul as his brother in the salutation of that church. The whole history of the Acts of the Apostles, and indeed the language of the epistles proves that, like the other of St. Paul's fellow-travellers, Timothy had no settled abode, no fixed station; but assisted him, as an evangelist, in setting the churches in order, and in the accomplishment of any special object which the apostle had in view, and to which he could not personally attend. The apostle, often coupling the name of Timothy with his own, presents him to us as his travelling companion and

43 Bishop Onderdonk only claims this distinction for Timothy, and many of that communion give up this point.

ing the same grade or order of the clergy, and equal in their rights and privileges.

1. Presbyters are designated by names and titles similar to those of bishops.

2. Presbyters, like bishops, are carefully distinguished from the deacons, the second order of the clergy, in such a manner as to show that they are indiscriminately and equally the representatives of the first order.

3. Presbyters were understood to possess the right to ordain; and, generally, to perform the functions of the Episcopal office.

4. Bishops, themselves, in their ministerial character, exercised only the jurisdiction, and performed merely the offices, of presbyters in the primitive churches.

5. The original equality of bishops and presbyters continued to be acknowledged, from the rise of the Episcopal hierarchy down to the time of the Reformation.

1. Presbyters are designated in the writings of the early fathers by names and titles similar to those of bishops.

When from the Scriptures we turn to the writings of these fathers, it is observable that they speak sometimes of bishops and sometimes of presbyters as the presiding officers of the church, and then again of both indiscriminately, as being one and the same in rank. To both they ascribe the same or similar names and titles, such as seniors, elders, chairmen, moderators, presidents, &c., all indicating a similarity and identity of office, and an equality of rank. Even when the first place is assigned to the bishop, he is only chief among equals, just as in a modern presbytery or association, one is promoted to the office of moderator, to which all are alike eligible.55

55 We have brought together in parallel columns some of the names and titles which are ascribed to bishops and presbyters severally. The

2. Presbyters, like bishops, are carefully distinguished from the deacons, the second order of the clergy, in such a manner as to show that they are indiscriminately and equally the representatives of the first order.

Several of the earliest fathers distinctly recognize but two orders of the priesthood. They of the first order are sometimes denominated presbyters, sometimes bishops, and then again bishops and presbyters indiscriminately. It is worthy of particular notice, that while bishops and presby

intelligent reader will readily perceive the similarity of the titles given to both, and the identity of their significations.

TITLES OF BISHOPS.

̓Επίσκοποι, πρεσβύτεροι, πρόεδροι, προιστάμενοι, ἔφοροι άρχοντες εκκλησιῶν, προεστῶ

τες.

TITLES OF PRESBYTERS.

‘Επίσκοποι,1 πρεσβύτεροι,2 πρόεδροι,3 προεστῶτες,4 προςτάται.5

Praesides, praepositi; praesidentes, superattendentes, superintendentes, pastores, patres ecclesiae, vicarii, praesules, antistes, antistes sacrorum, seniores, &c.

These and several other titles are given in our Antiquities, pp. 70, 94. Riddle, Christ. Antiq., pp. 161, 229. Baumgarten, Erläuterungen, pp. 75, 94. Rheinwald, pp. 30, 45.

3 Synesius Ep., 12.

4

Praepositi, antistes, majores natu, seniores, seniores plebis, sacerdotes, &c.

Obviously these titles severally are synonymous, and are applied indiscriminately to both bishops and presbyters, to denote one and the same office. Riddle, Christ. Antiq., p. 230. Blondell very justly remarks, that "the use of such terms creates no difficulty, and for the reason that, even after a distinction was made between bishops and presbyters in the second century by the decision of the churches, both continued to be distinguished indiscriminately by the same appellation."-Apologia pro Hieron, p. 92.

Riddle also allows “that the terms, ἐπίσκοπος and πρεσβύτερος, in the New Testament are synonymous, and denote one and the same office;" and cites several passages, to some of which reference is made above.

5

1 Chrysost., Hom. 1, in Phil. 1, p. 8. Hom. 2, in 1 Tim. 3. Theodoret, in Phil. 1: 1. 2: 25. Jerome, ad Tit. 1, and Ep. 83, 85.

2 Greg. Naz., Orat. 1. Basil, Reg. Morali, 71.

Greg. Naz., Orat. 1. Basil, M. Regula Morali.

Chrysost., Hom. 11, in 1 Tim. 4. Comp. Rom. 12: 8.

« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »