On another thread there was some little discussion about 1 Clement, the epistle of the first century from Rome to Corinth, a church once again in a mess. Paul had gotten in the habit of writing them when there was a problem, and, Paul being gone, someone had to take up the slack.
This epistle has been offered recently as a proof-text for an early papacy.
Let’s look at the text.
For one thing, it is from the Church sojourning in Rome to that in Coirinth. Not from Pope Clement. He isn’t even mentioned. Not from the elders. Not pointing out, as later Roman churches would most certainly have, their dominance and supremacy and rights and sitting in the chair of Peter. I’m not sure that is even brought up in the epistle. It seems kind of humble and down-home in tone: one church helping another out, being neighborly, not bullying or swaggering over an inferior episcopate. Compare it sometime to the tone of some of the later papal documents.
For another thing, in discussing the derivation of the next generation of elders, they are presented “with the consent of the whole church” - not simple appointment.
Does the epistle suggest more of a papal or a Presbyterian governance? Let’s try to limit the thread to what 1 Clement says. Of course other material will creep in.