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  #1  
Old Aug 30, '04, 9:09 pm
p90 p90 is offline
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Default Why was there division in the early church?

Often some Catholics will claim that division in the church started with the Reformation and that prior to Luther, the church was always in unity. (Not all Catholics do make this claim, so if you don't and don't support it, I hope you don't feel compelled to respond.) If you believe that Protestantism was the first cause of a shattered Christianity, I would ask you to explain what John of Chyrsostom wrote a thousand years prior to its existence,

Quote:
What is one to say to the disorders in the other Churches? For the evil did not stop even here [Constantinople], but made its way to the east. For as when some evil humor is discharged from the head, all the other parts are corrupted, so now also these evils, having originated in this great city as from a fountain, confusion has spread in every direction, and clergy have everywhere made insurrection against bishops, there has been schism between bishop and bishop, people and people, and will be yet more; every place is suffering from the throes of calamity, and the subversion of the whole civilized world.
This is from Correspondence of St. Chrysostom with the Bishop of Rome, Letter 1:4. You can read the full context here:

http://www.ccel.org/fathers2/NPNF1-0...#P1428_1183038

I would also ask you to explain what Celsus, a second century critic of Christianity, wrote,

Quote:
Christians at first were few in number, and held the same opinions; but when they grew to be a great multitude, they were divided and separated, each wishing to have his own individual party: for this was their object from the beginning...
Quoted in Origen's Against Celsus, 3:10.

~Matt
  #2  
Old Aug 31, '04, 6:43 am
asquared asquared is offline
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Default Re: Why was there division in the early church?

Catholics do not deny that there was division, disagreement, dissent, heresy, uncharitableness, backbiting, name calling, challenges to authority and so forth in the early Church. Remember that what we know of early church history, beyond the new testament, has been preserved by the Church herself. Anyone who would wish to use that history against the Church has at least to thank the Church for preserving it. Paul would not have needed to write and chastise the Corninthians about their behavior if there had been no misbehavior. He would not have had recourse to James and Peter if there was universal adherence to their teaching. The Council of Jerusalem would have been unnecessary if everyone were in agreement on treatment of Jewish and gentile converts.
The early church councils were called to discuss and battle heresy and to teach definitively and authoratatively. Without heresy there would have been no need for councils.

But to begin your argument by falsely stating that the Church does not acknowledge this reality is unfair and unscholarly. Just please ask your question, don't load it for bear.
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The first step of humility is unhesitating obedience, which comes naturally to those who cherish Christ above all. -- Rule of St. Benedict Ch. 5
  #3  
Old Aug 31, '04, 9:16 am
p90 p90 is offline
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Default Re: Why was there division in the early church?

Quote:
Originally Posted by asquared
But to begin your argument by falsely stating that the Church does not acknowledge this reality is unfair and unscholarly. Just please ask your question, don't load it for bear.
Where did I say that "the Church does not acknowledge this reality"? I said that some Catholics do, and acknowledged that some don't. Why are you misrepresenting what I wrote?

~Matt
  #4  
Old Aug 31, '04, 4:28 pm
Deacon Tony560 Deacon Tony560 is offline
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Talking Re: Why was there division in the early church?

Catholic Answers radio show recently told about how each time the church had a council, there were always those who refused to accept the church's teachings. Sounds familiar.

Deacon Tony
  #5  
Old Aug 31, '04, 5:13 pm
GAssisi GAssisi is offline
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Default Re: Why was there division in the early church?

I am one of those who believe that there have been no divisions within the Church until the Reformation. The Church is one - it is one of her marks without which she cannot be the Church.

The reason that there might be a distinction made between the splits that occured during the Reformation and the splits that occurred in the early Church is really an afterthought. There was no difference INITIALLY in what happened during the Reformation and the splits that occurred in the early Church.

However, as time progressed, something occurred within Protestantism which did not have a comparable phenomenon in the early Church - namely, sects and communities who initially heaped anathemas on each other began to teach that one can be a saved Christian DESPITE DOCTRINAL and MORAL DIFFERENCES IN BELIEF. In the early Church, there was a "clear" demarcation between the heretics and the Church (I put "clear" in quotes to indicate that it was not initially always so, but only after clarification by an ecumenical council). Thus, the Church remained one and if you did not adhere to the defined points of doctrine of this one Church, you were not a member of that Church.

But now, a theory has become popularized BECAUSE OF PROTESTANTISM that one, by mere reason of conscience and faith in Christ, can be a valid member of the Church DESPITE eggregious differences in doctrinal and moral belief. The theory asserts that one can be split doctrinally and morally, yet still be one Church. Here, the Anglicans are conspicuous for their wishy-washiness in doctrinal/moral dogmatization.

On the contrary, the Catholic/Orthodox Churches believe that the Church is one NOT ONLY because of conscience and faith in Christ, but just as importantly, because of (not despite of) doctrinal/moral belief. Thus the Church is TRULY one (in official terminology "ORGANICALLY ONE"), not just by virtue of good feelings.

God bless,
Greg
  #6  
Old Aug 31, '04, 5:46 pm
Greg_McPherran Greg_McPherran is offline
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Default Re: Why was there division in the early church?

The Church is not held together by men and women, it is held together by God's Spirit.
  #7  
Old Aug 31, '04, 7:31 pm
Hesychios Hesychios is offline
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Smile Re: Why was there division in the early church?

I think it is important to realize that the church wasn't a neat and tidy thing in the beginning.

The great strength of the Apostles was that they had a first-hand knowledge of Our Savior, having walked with Him and studied under Him. Their own reputation as followers of the Messiah was probably what kept a lot of new people seeking after them, and this would have been the beginning of the church infrastructure.

But we have to accept the fact that there were backsliders and people falling away even while Jesus was with us, and that probably continued to happen all through the Apostolic Age. That could easily be the reason the church had to battle gnosticism, some people learned some things as inquirers but just couldn't buy into what the Apostles were teaching 100%, and so they left to develop their own ideas and peddled them like Sophists and Philosophers would.

Since a lot of the doctrines we take for granted were not clearly spelled out, or clearly thought out, it is easy to see how differences of belief could have worked into the church within the first few generations. On a lot of minor points there must have been a wide variety of opinions, but the followers of the way were not as concerned about those things as we might be on this board. It must have been a huge deal just to accept the resurrection! I would love to have a collection of the earliest baptismal formulae of the various local churches, or to be able to read their hymns, that would tell us just about everything we need to know about possible divergences of belief.

Consider Mary, as an example. Originally she wouldn't have been an issue at all. We wouldn't have been debating about whether she mediates graces or intercedes for us, we wouldn't be praying to her for help or intercession. We could just go to Jerusalem or Epheses and ask her (or maybe write a letter)! Our understanding of her importance didn't really develop until the divinity of Christ was firmly established by a Council, so there wasn't much to say on the subject.

Much later Origin (a true genius) was a great seminal thinker in Patristic times, he paved the way for all of the later Patristic authors, his own father was a martyr and he made himself a eunoch for Christ. Yet after his death some of his ideas were condemned. He wasn't completely sure about everything he was writing and was willing to yield in his opinion to higher church authority but there wasn't any guidance coming from anywhere at that point, he was basically it, so as far as he knew his ideas were orthodox. There must have been an awful lot of Christians in his position, not being taught doctrines that were yet to be defined, they were left to speculate.

So the so-called divisions couldn't have occured until the doctrines had gelled, and the far-flung bishops could get together and hash it all out. People had to have a childlike Faith in the Risen Lord, they average believer didn't have a great deal in the way of Canons or Catechisms to know, they probably hadn't heard all of the New Testament books that were written, depending upon what local church they belonged to. They needed to trust the bishop, and follow his lead.

What they did have was the Eucharist and the other sacraments. All over the world, even far beyond the borders of the Roman Empire Christian communities had the sacraments.

There just wasn't as much to fight about early on, except for those danged gnostics and their dualistic fantasies.
  #8  
Old Aug 31, '04, 11:29 pm
RobedWithLight RobedWithLight is offline
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Default Re: Why was there division in the early church?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Deacon Tony560
Catholic Answers radio show recently told about how each time the church had a council, there were always those who refused to accept the church's teachings. Sounds familiar.

Deacon Tony
Those who opposed Vatican I left the Church, and so we have the Old Catholics. Those who opposed Vatican II left, so now we have the schismatic Lefebvre traditionalists like the SSPX, and their sedevacantist cousins. Montanists, Donatists, Monophysites and Nestorians all left the church after being condemned by earlier Church councils.

For as long as there are people who prefer to have it their own way instead of trusting the age-old wisdom of the ancient Church, you can always expect its opponents to leave her.

Gerry
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  #9  
Old Sep 1, '04, 8:52 am
p90 p90 is offline
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Default Re: Why was there division in the early church?

Quote:
Originally Posted by GAssisi
There was no difference INITIALLY in what happened during the Reformation and the splits that occurred in the early Church.
Then we are in agreement concerning the purpose of this thread. The rest of your answer is interesting and I agree with it to some extent, although discussion of it would be best for another thread.

Thanks for taking the time to answer,
~Matt
  #10  
Old Sep 3, '04, 6:17 am
Kinsman Kinsman is offline
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Default Re: Why was there division in the early church?

The Roman Catholic church boasts that it was "founded" by Christ and its history goes all the way back to the Apostles. But this is far from the truth according to history. When reading the Book of Acts we see that the true Church was not "founded" to be an organization headquartered in Rome, whose government is headed by a "Pope" and a sacerdotal system of authority. But instead it began as a Spirit led, witness-bearing, institution to Jesus Christ, beginning with the Apostles, its foundation (Eph. 2:20, Jesus Christ the cornerstone), and is still being built upon that foundation down to this present generation. It began in Jerusalem, spread to Samaria, then north to Antioch and throughout the world by missionary journeys like Paul's as recorded in the Book of Acts.

At the end of the Apostolic age all churches were independent one from another and shepherded by a local board of elders (Acts 14:23; 20:17; 1 Tim 5:17; Titus 1:5; 1 Pet. 5:1). That is, they did not report to nor were they subject to one particular church. However, as time progressed further from the Apostolic age church government developed into another form. The main leader in each church came to be recognized as the "Bishop," while the others were called "Presbyters. And gradually the jurisdiction of one particular Bishop included neighboring towns. But this form of Church government was not taught by the Apostles nor does it have any Biblical support.

Under Constantine Christianity became recognized as a legitimate religion within the Roman Empire, and eventually it became the state religion. When this occurred the "church" immediately became an institution of vast importance in that world's politics. And so vying for positions, men who were one day pagan the next day embraced "Christianity." Emperor Constantine actually regarded himself as Head of the Church, called together the Council of Nicaea (A.D. 325) and presided over it. In this Council the Bishops of Alexandria and Antioch were accorded full jurisdiction over their Province as the Roman Bishop had over his. So it is seen that even at that time in Church history there was not even a hint that all Bishops were subject to the church of Rome or its "Pope.".

Now there was the Council of Sardica (A.D. 343) which recognized the authority of the Roman Bishop, but this Council was not Ecumenical, being composed of Western churchmen only.

By the end of the 4th Century the Churches were divided into FIVE centers: Rome, Constantinople, Antioch, Jerusalem and Alexandria. Each of the Bishops who governed those areas were called PATRIARCHS, all having equal authority and equal control over their prescribed Provinces. At that time Christendom was regarded as an Oligarchy. But after the split of the Empire into East and West (A.D. 395), the Patriarchs of Antioch, Jerusalem and Alexandria in the East gradually began to acknowledge the leadership of the Bishop of Constantinople, the Eastern capital. Of course in the West the Bishop of Rome obtained that leadership, Rome being the capital city in the West. This began the long, ambitious and carnal struggle for universal Authority over the Church between the "Pope" of Rome and the Bishop of Constantinople - Pope vs. Patriarch. Continued....
  #11  
Old Sep 3, '04, 6:19 am
Kinsman Kinsman is offline
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Default Re: Why was there division in the early church?

The development of Rome's Papal supremacy can be traced down through history. The word Pope means "Papa," "Father," and it was first generally applied to all Western Bishops and was not restricted to the Bishop of Rome until about 500 A.D. Eventually taking on the connotation of "Universal Bishop." But the idea that the Bishop of Rome should have universal authority over the whole Church of Christ was a slow development fueled by human ambition and pride. It was contested all the way and was never universally recognized, even to this day. It is a boast which never came into reality. Here's a brief history:

(1) Clement of Rome (91-100) wrote a letter to the church at Corinth, but he signed it not in his own name or authority, but in the name of the church of Rome itself. We see no hint of exclusive "Papal authority" in his letter. In its earliest history the church of Rome was not ruled by a single Bishop but, like all local churches, a board of elders.

(2) We begin to see the seed of "Papal" ambition in Victor I (190-202). He threatened to excommunicate the Eastern Churches for celebrating Easter on the 14th of Nisan. But Polycrates, Bishop of Ephesus, replied that he was not afraid of his threats and asserted his independent authority. Even Iranaeus of Lyons (a western Bishop) rebuked Victor for trying to dictate to Eastern Churches.

(3) Calixtus I (218-223) was the first Roman Bishop to base his dogmatic claim of authority on Scripture, citing Matt. 16:18. But Tertulian of Carthage called him a usurper in speaking as if he was Bishop of Bishops.

(4) Stephen I (253-257) objected to certain baptismal practices in the N. African Church, but Cyprian, then Bishop of Carthage, answered with the statement that he had no jurisdiction over them, asserting that each Bishop had jurisdiction in his own area.

(5) Siricius (385-398) in his lust for worldly power claimed Universal Jurisdiction over the whole Church. But in his day the Roman Empire divided between East and West squelching his boastful ambition. The East refused to recognize his claim.

(6) Innocent I (402-417) called himself "Ruler of the Church of God" and claimed the right to settle the more important matters of controversy in the whole Church. Continued...
  #12  
Old Sep 3, '04, 6:21 am
Kinsman Kinsman is offline
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Default Re: Why was there division in the early church?

(7) Sixtus III (432-440) was Bishop of Rome when the Western Empire was failing, rapidly dissolving amid the storms of barbarian migration, and the city of Rome was being sacked by Germanic tribes. It was during the distress and anxiety of those times that Augustine wrote his extremely popular literary work, "The City of God." In it he envisioned a Universal Church Hierarchy under one Head. This one piece of literary work greatly planted, promoted and influenced the Bishop of Rome's aspirations and claim to universal Lordship; the Roman church actually taking on the nature of the Roman Empire itself - an autocratic government, a Monarcy, if you will.

(8) Leo I (440-461) is called by some historians as the first "Pope." The misfortunes of the Western Empire were his opportunity. He became the strong man of the hour by persuading Attila the Hun to spare the city of Rome, and Genseric the Vandal to have mercy on the city. Leo claimed that he was by divine appointment Primate of all Bishops and was recognized so by the weak Emperor Valentinian III. He proclaimed himself Lord of the whole Church; advocated exclusive Universal Papacy; and asserted that resistance to his authority was a sure way to Hell; advocating the death penalty for heresy.

But in spite of the Emperor's Act and Leo's claim the Ecumenical Council of Chalcedon (451), composed of Bishops from all over the world, gave the Patriarch of Constantinople equal prerogatives with the Bishop of Rome.

(9) Simplicius (468-483) was Bishop of Rome when the Western Empire ended (476). This left the Roman Bishops free from any civil authority and the "Pope" became the most commanding figure in the West.

(10) Gregory I (590-604) is generally regarded as the first "Pope." He was Bishop during a time of great political anarchy and public distress throughout Europe. The west had become a Gothic kingdom; then later a Byzantine Province; and now pillaged by Lombards. Gregory established influence over various kings, which had a stabilizing effect. He eventually established complete control over the churches of Italy, Spain, Gaul and England whose conversion to "Christianity" was the great event of Gregory's time. He worked for reform in the western church, deposing of many unfit Bishops, and vehemently opposed the practice of Simony, the selling of church offices, which still remained a very common practice in the church after him. He did assert some influence in the Eastern church but never claimed jurisdiction over it. At that time the Patriarch of Constantinople called himself "Universal Bishop," and this greatly irritated Gregory, calling the title vicious and haughty. Unlike Popes who followed him He refused to apply that title to himself.

(11) Leo III (795-816) conferred on Charlemagne (800) the title of Roman Emperor, thus combing the Roman and Frank realms into what was called the "Holy Roman Empire." Charlemagne helped the "Pope" and the "Pope" helped Charlemagne. Charlemagne and Leo III in a sense re-established the western Roman Empire; the Emperor having control in temporal matters and the "Pope" in spiritual matters. After Charlemagne's death his kingdom was divided into what became the foundations of modern Germany, France and Italy, which began the eventual struggles between Roman Popes and German and French Kings for supremacy in the West. Continued...
  #13  
Old Sep 3, '04, 6:24 am
Kinsman Kinsman is offline
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Default Re: Why was there division in the early church?

Up until A.D. 869 all Ecumenical Councils were held in or near Constantinople, and in the Greek language. But because of the Roman Bishop's insistent claim to being Lord of Christendom the East separated itself. The Council of Constantinople in 869 was the last Ecumenical Council. From that point on the Greek church had its Councils, the Latin church its own. The chasm between the two deepened even futher with the creation of the dogma of "Papal Infallibility" in 1870.

The Papacy went through its darkest period from 870-1050 until the reform of Hidebrand, Pope Gregory VII (1073-1085). During those dark years some of the most vile men sat on "Peter's chair." For example, John XII (955-963), grandson of the infamous Marozia. He violated virgins and widows, lived with his father's mistress; made the Papal palace a brothel, and was killed while in the act of adultery by the woman's husband. And Boniface VII (984-985) who murdered Pope John XIV, his predecessor, and maintained his position with the lavish distribution of stolen money. Benedict IX (1033-1045) was made Pope when he was 12 years old through a money bargain with the powerful families that ruled Rome.

Reform came through Hildebrand, Gregory VII (1073-1085), a zealous advocate of Papal Absolutism. His conflict with Henry IV, Emperor of Germany drove him from Rome and he died in exile. Gregory called himelf "Overlord of Kings and Princes."

Innocent III (1198-1216) became Pope during the summit of Papal power. He claimed to be the "Vicar of Christ," "Vicar of God," "Supreme Sovereign over the Church and the world," and that "all things on earth and in Heaven and in Hell are subject to the Vicar of Christ." He decreed Transubstantiation, confirmed Auricular Confession, Papal infallibility, forbade the reading of the Bible in vernacular, ordered extermination of heretics, instituted the Inquisition and the massacre of the Albigenses.

History goes on to tells us of the French control of the Papacy in Avignon, and the unprincipled behavior of the "Popes" during the Renaissance years. Men like Pius II (1458-1455) who fathered many illegitimate children and spoke openly of the methods he used to seduce women. Innocent VIII (1484-1492) who had 16 children by various married women, created several Church offices and sold them for vast sums of money, and decreed the extermination of the Waldenses. And Alexander VI (1492-1503) who bought the Papacy, had a number of illegitimate children and appointed them to high church office while yet children. His mistress was the sister of a Cardinal who became the next Pope, Pius III (1503).

We could go on but this is basically how the church of Rome headed by its "Popes" acquired its spiritual and political power in the West. Rome's Papacy was not Apostolically ordained and has absolutely no Biblical roots. Roman Catholicism exercised its power primarily in the West, the Eastern Church never submitting to the Pope's claims of supremacy. Hence, always a boast but never an actual reality. In fact, the Eastern church calls the Pope the first "Protestant." And based on this Papal history you can understand why God allowed the Protestant Reformation in the 1500s to spring up within the western church, even though Rome's hierarchy would have nothing to do with it. Would any monarch readily give up his throne?
  #14  
Old Sep 3, '04, 6:26 am
Kinsman Kinsman is offline
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Default Re: Why was there division in the early church?

The Church Christ is building to this very day is a spiritual organism and was never meant to be the sacerdotal, sacramental, religious system headed by a "Pope" and his Prelates, developed over time in Western Europe. Nor was it to be headed by certain "Patriarchs." These are human developments and ambitions. Scripture reveals only one Head of the Church, Jesus Christ Himself (Eph. 5:23; Col. 1:18). When Paul said he persecuted the Church of God (1 Cor. 15:9) he did not persecute a physical organization. When it is said in the Bible that Christ loved the Church and gave Himself up for her (Eph. 5:25), it is not meant that he He died for an organization governed from the city of Rome headed by a succesion of ruling Bishops . The Church, the Body of Christ, according to God's written Word, is made up of every true believer in the Person and finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross on their behalf since Pentecost, purchased (redeemed) with His own precious blood (1 Pet. 1:17-20), having an intimate, faith relationship with their Lord and Savior. As it says in God's Word, "the Lord knows those who are His" (2 Tim. 2:19). The "Pope" is not and never was, in reality, "head of the Church," and based on God's written Word it is impossible for the church of Rome to realistically claim exclusive Catholicity. These claims have no objective Apostolic, Biblical or historical support.
  #15  
Old Sep 3, '04, 8:43 am
jimmy jimmy is offline
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Default Re: Why was there division in the early church?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kinsman
The Roman Catholic church boasts that it was "founded" by Christ and its history goes all the way back to the Apostles. But this is far from the truth according to history. When reading the Book of Acts we see that the true Church was not "founded" to be an organization headquartered in Rome, whose government is headed by a "Pope" and a sacerdotal system of authority. But instead it began as a Spirit led, witness-bearing, institution to Jesus Christ, beginning with the Apostles, its foundation (Eph. 2:20, Jesus Christ the cornerstone), and is still being built upon that foundation down to this present generation. It began in Jerusalem, spread to Samaria, then north to Antioch and throughout the world by missionary journeys like Paul's as recorded in the Book of Acts.

At the end of the Apostolic age all churches were independent one from another and shepherded by a local board of elders (Acts 14:23; 20:17; 1 Tim 5:17; Titus 1:5; 1 Pet. 5:1). That is, they did not report to nor were they subject to one particular church. However, as time progressed further from the Apostolic age church government developed into another form. The main leader in each church came to be recognized as the "Bishop," while the others were called "Presbyters. And gradually the jurisdiction of one particular Bishop included neighboring towns. But this form of Church government was not taught by the Apostles nor does it have any Biblical support.


You are wrong, the bishops have been the head of the church since the first century. If you read the church fathers of the first century you will see. Here is Ignatious

Quote:
THE EPISTLE OF IGNATIUS TO THE TRALLIANS

CHAP. II.--BE SUBJECT TO THE BISHOP, ETC.

For, since ye are subject to the bishop as to Jesus Christ, ye appear to me to live not after the manner of men, but according to Jesus Christ, who died for us, in order, by believing in His death, ye may escape from death. It is therefore necessary that, as ye indeed do, so without the bishop ye should do nothing, but should also
Be ye subject to the bishop as to the Lord, for "he watches for your souls, as one that shall give account to God."[6] Wherefore also, ye appear to me to live not after the manner of men, but according to Jesus Christ, who died for us, in order that, by believing in His death, ye may by baptism be made partakers of His resurrection. It is therefore necessary, whatsoever things ye do, to do nothing without the bishop. And be ye subject also to the presbytery, as to the apostles of Jesus Christ, who is
be subject to the presbytery, as to the apostle of Jesus Christ, who is our hope, in whom, if we live, we shall [at last] be found. It is fitting also that the deacons, as being [the ministers] of the mysteries of Jesus Christ, should in every respect be pleasing to all.(1) For they are not ministers of meat and drink, but servants of the Church of God. They are bound, therefore, to avoid all grounds of accusation [against them], as they would do fire. Our hope, in whom, if we live, we shall be found in Him. It behoves you also, in every way, to please the deacons, who are [ministers] of the mysteries of Christ Jesus; for they are not ministers of meat and drink, but servants of the Church of God. They are bound, therefore, to avoid alI grounds of accusation [against them], as they would a burning fire. Let them, then, prove themselves to be such.


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