Development of the episcopate


I know that doctrine develops but can some of you guys explain the development of the office of the bishop from the early Church to our current bishops today


The basic structure of one bishop in a city with presbyters (priests) and deacons under him is described by St. Ignatius of Antioch when he wrote his letters to the churches about 107 A.D. St. John seems to hint at this “one bishop” structure in his Revelation in addressing each of his letters to the seven churches to “the angel of the church of …” where “the angel” probably refers to “the bishop” of the church.

However, in the rest of the New Testament, things are not quite so clear as it seems that the terms bishop and presbyter were used interchangeably. So, when Paul writes to the church at Philippi: “Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons” (Philippians 1:1), it is not clear to me if he meant that there were numerous bishops at Philippi and no presbyters or if he meant the bishop and his presbyters, or what.

Similarly, when Paul writes to Titus: “[size=2]This is why I left you in Crete, that you might amend what was defective, and appoint presbyters in every town as I directed you, if any man is blameless, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of being profligate or insubordinate. For a bishop, as God’s steward, must be blameless…” (Titus 1:5-7), it is difficult for me to tell if he meant that more than one bishop was to be appointed per town or if he meant one bishop and his presbyters (priests) or what exactly.[/size]

And again, in Acts 15:2 where the presbyters in Jerusalem are mentioned and in Acts 20:17-35 where the presbyters of Miletus are mentioned, does this mean the bishops, or the bishop and his presbyters, or what?


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