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the will of man rather than by the will of Christ. Certainly if the apostolate was limited to the number twelve, this is the explanation that must be accepted. But there is no need of affirming such a limitation. That Christ should speak of only twelve thrones (Matt. xix. 28), just corresponded to the number of apostles who were then with him. That the Revelator should represent that just twelve names were engraved on the foundations of the wall of the New Jerusalem (Rev. xxi. 14), is sufficiently explained by the Jewish preference for round numbers, and the association of Jewish thought with the tribal number twelve. How little such phraseology compels us to limit the number of the apostles to twelve, is shown by the case of the tribes themselves. These were continually spoken of as the twelve tribes, whereas thirteen tribes settled in Palestine. Still the apostolate, if not strictly limited to the number twelve, is to be regarded as a limited office. Its first incumbents were few; and they had, properly speaking, no successors. They were designed for a special work of foundation which needs not to be repeated. The qualifications which the New Testament associates with their office bar out the idea of its transmission. Official substitutes to a certain extent, or as respects some parts of their functions, they may have had, but not successors proper.

The office of the prophets was connected with teaching, rather than with administration. As inspired preachers of the truth, they exercised their gifts more or less at large in the Church. Paul's companion, Silas, together with Agabus and Judas, are examples. The evangelists had similar functions; and some, indeed, belonged to both classes. They served as itinerant missionaries and vicegerents of the apostles, and labored under their direction in varied fields. Timothy, Titus, Luke, and John Mark belonged to this class.

The presbyters, or elders, were the highest local authority in a church. With them rested the chief responsibility, both for the government of the Christian society and for the provision of suitable instruction. The common mention of them in the plural shows that a number were elected to the office in each church. They formed a presiding council analogous to the board of elders in the Jewish synagogue. It was from the synagogue that the name presbyter, or elder, was borrowed. The episcopal title, on the other hand, the name overseer, or bishop, was of Gentile origin, having been used among the Greeks to indicate an office involving a species of oversight. Originally both names related entirely to the same office. The New Testament recognizes no distinction between them. The words presbyter and bishop are used interchangeably. In the twentieth chapter of Acts, Paul calls the same body, in one instance presbyters, in another bishops. In his Epistle to Titus he directs him to ordain presbyters; but, when he goes on to mention the qualifications of these officials, he uses the word bishop. In the opening of his Epistle to the Philippians, the apostle salutes the bishops and deacons, making no mention of the presbyters, whom he evidently would have mentioned had he not considered them identical with the bishops. Likewise, in the First Epistle to Timothy, he passes directly from bishops to deaco ns (chap. iii.). Peter also addresses the presbyters in a way that implies that they were the highest local authority in the several churches, and acknowledged no officer between them and the apostles (1 Pet. v. 1-2). It is possible, indeed, that, before the death of the Apostle John, in many congregations, one of the presbyters, as president of the board of presbyters, became distin. guished from the general body, and ranked as primus inter pares. Such a development would have been entirely natural, and would have served as a suitable means of transition to those local bishops who appear after the apostolic age. But the New Testament does not inform us of the growth even of this distinction. It nowhere raises one presbyter above the rest, and clothes him with a special dignity as bishop. The angels of the Asiatic churches whom the Revelator addressed are no exception. Language so highly figurative affords no definite information on church constitution. The angel might be regarded as an ideal representative of the church addressed, or as a personification of its government, however that was constituted. A bishop in the later sense nowhere appears within the New Testament horizon. Evangelists, like Timothy and Titus, were remote from that type of officer. They were simply trusted friends and ministers extraordinary of the apostle, no more like the bishops of the second century than a special ambassador is like a permanent governor of a specified district. The position of James in the church at Jerusalem was nearer that of a bishop. But similarity is not identity. James held a commanding place by the twofold title of his personal character and his essentially apostolic dignity.

Traces of the original identity of presbyters and bishops appear in the phraseology of post-apostolic writers, as will be shown in another connection. Eminent expositors, like Jerome and Theodoret, acknowledged such identity in the most explicit terms. In the present, the same is very largely the verdict of enlightened scholarship, at least on the part of those accepting the genuineness of the Acts and the Pastoral Epistles. Bishop Lightfoot speaks for a large class when he says of the terms bishop and presbyter, “In the apostolic writings the two are only different designations of one and the same office." The same author concludes that the elevation of the office of bishop above that of presbyter was a thing of gradual accomplishment, and was effected, in its more essential features, between A.D. 70 and 120. “It is clear,” he says, “ that at the close of the apostolic age, the two lower orders of the threefold ministry were firmly and widely established; but traces of the third and highest order, the episcopal, properly so called, are few and indistinct. For the opinion hazarded by Theodoret, and adopted by many later writers, that the same officers in the Church who were first called apostles came afterwards to be designated bishops, is baseless." 2

No specific account is given of the origin of the presbyterate. When first mentioned (Acts xi. 30), it appears as an already existing institution. Some have supposed that it was contained in the diaconate, or what is commonly called the diaconate; in other words, that the enlarging demands of the Church caused that a subdivision should be made of the duties, which were primarily devolved upon the seven who were set apart for special service, as represented in the sixth chapter of Acts. The greater probability, however, lies with the theory which assigns to the presbyterate a separate sphere, even at its initiation. At the time that the deacons were appointed, the apostles, still residing in Jerusalem, were in condition themselves to perform the functions of a board of presbyters. But as they were dispersed by persecution, or went forth on their missionary tours, a substitute for their personal supervision was naturally sought in a local board of officers. And, as the first Christian churches were closely allied with the synagogue, the latter readily supplied the name, and to a large extent the pattern, of the new board of administrators.

1 Epist., lxix., Ad Oceanum; cxlvi., Ad Evangelium (Migue's Patrologia), Ad Phil., i. 1.

2 Paul's Epistle to the Philippians, Dissertation I.

The deacons were concerned with the collection and distribution of funds, and in general with the temporal affairs of the Church. Preaching was not an essential part of their office; and, when it was engaged in by them, it followed from a special charism, rather than from their official standing. Still, the pastoral elements in their work tended to make them spiritual guides of the people, and to encourage the use of their preaching talents. As is narrated in the sixth chapter of Acts, the order arose out of a special exigency. Some, in

. deed, are inclined to deny that we have here an account of the original institution of the order, and imagine that

hint of an earlier origin is found in the young men who carried out the bodies of Ananias and Sapphira. To be sure, the seven are not called deacons (diákovo),

1 Lechler, A postolische und Nachapostolische Zeitalter, pp. 305-308; Döllinger, First Age of the Church, Book III., chap. i.


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