Ecclesiastic family

In the Bible I read of the bishops and Presbyters or priests and deacons but I don’t see Archbishops, the “Princes of the church” or vicars. When did those positions come into being in the church. I have also read the original Christians were in the Synagogues and were forced out by the Jews. I have also read Mass was given in catacombs among the saints. Which came first?

I think I’m remembering this correctly, others can feel free to correct me.

There are only 3 levels of ordination. Deacons, priests, and bishops. Everything else is a title.

At first we had bishops, and the Church was small enough that they could do everything. But then we started getting too large, and people were being left out. So the bishops retained the unique ability to consecrate the Host and say Mass, but they added the diaconate to at least offer the equivalent of the Liturgy of the Word. Then we started getting too large again, and they added the priesthood to be able to say Mass in more places.

Archbishops are just bishops. They’re just in charge of a larger area. For instance, in addition to being the Bishop of Omaha, George Lucas is the archbishop of the entire Ecclesiastical Province of Omaha (also known as the state of Nebraska).

(A sarcastic $10 to whoever can guess how I remember the archbishop’s name)

Similarly, “vicar” is just a title that can be applied to a priest or bishop. It just means representative, and is actually cognate to “vice” as in “vice principal”. As an example, a parochial vicar is just a second priest assigned to a parish to assist the pastor. (Pastor, in turn, just being another title that can be used to describe a priest’s duties)

As another example, the Pope is also the Vicar of Christ- the representative of Christ [on earth].

The title Vicar comes from the word vicarious. It Latin it is Vicarius Christi. Christ operates vicariously through his vicars.

We can see this clearly in the Acts of the Apostles. As Apostles, Peter first and then Paul, continue the word of Christ - raising the dead, healing the lame, curing the sick and preaching the good news. Luke even tells us this in the very first line of Acts of the Apostles.

In the first book, O The-oph’ilus, I have dealt with all that Jesus began to do and teach, (Acts 1:1)

Luke’s first book is his Gospel. Luke also wrote Acts of the Apostles. The Gospels are a record of what Jesus began to do and teach. Acts of the Apostles is a record of what the Apostles continued to do and teach with Jesus acting vicariously through them. Jesus began and the Apostles and their successors continue. Peter and Paul testify that everything they do is because of Jesus.

*And Peter said to them, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. (Acts 2:38)

But Peter said, "I have no silver and gold, but I give you what I have; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk." (Acts 5:6)

And this she did for many days. But Paul was annoyed, and turned and said to the spirit, "I charge you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her." And it came out that very hour. (Acts 16:18)*

Everything they do is “In the name of Jesus.” Jesus acts in the world through the Apostles.


Here’s where I know some folks that get really hung up on baptism. They say that Acts 2:38 is literally a formula for baptism. They reject the persons and want to literally be baptized “in the name of Jesus”.

There are only 3 levels of ordination. Deacons, priests, and bishops. Everything else is a title.

Correct. As the Church grew, it’s system of hierarchical organization needed to grow.

The Pope is a special class of Bishop. He is Pope by virtue of being Bishop of Rome. Anyone who is recognized as the Bishop of Rome is also recognized as the Pope.

They ignore Matthew 28:19.


So the church then teaches Matt 28:19 IS the literal formula. If I understand the didiache. And it is older than the Bible. But in exorcisms I guess the name of our Lord Jesus is literally used.

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