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3. Of the Episcopal form of Religion

Antiquities of the Christian Church
CHAPTER III. Of the Ministers of the Church

3. Of the Episcopal form of Religion

1. The official and honorary titles of the clergy

The term bishop is the same as the Latin episcopus, and the Greek*. In the Latin it is sometimes rendered inspector, superinspector; superintendens, or superaitendens. Augustine more properly renders it speculator, and prepositus. Jerome derives it from superintendentes*, superintendants. The Hellenists translate the Hebrew**. The word ** of very common occurrence is accordingly rendered bishoprick*. The apostle Peter, also, in saying, ye have returned to the shepherd and bishop of your souls, uses the phrase, not to denote any official rank in the church, but to designate the office rather of an overseer, guardian, or protector. The Greek writers, as appears from Athenaeus, Demosthenes, and the scholiasts of Aristophanes, sometimes use the term * to denote a specific civil office, – that of revising the judicial and municipal administration of the government. According to this analogy the Inlazonog, praeses, praejectus, maybe compared with the bishop under the Carlovingian dynasty, as the framer of the synodical court of judicature.

By the term bishop the Hellenists also translate the Hebrew **, who is ruler of the synagogue, and the ** i.e. *. The office of bishop they compare with that of ruler of the synagogue. According to this comparison, the bishops are the same as presbyters or elders*. The apostle Peter, in exhorting the elders**, to feed the flock of Christ, taking the oversight of them, evidently uses the term * as an honorary, and * as an official title of the same persons. This usage is also very frequent with the ancient fathers, and in official documents even down to the third century.

[Rheinwald, Gieseler and Siegel concur also in opinion with our author, that originally the term bishop denoted merely the official title of a presbyter who had been constituted a moderator, ruler, or overseer of the church. For a fuller explanation of the name see references. – TR.] 

The following are the most important names which were anciently applied to the bishops.

  1. 1 Tim. 5:17*; 1 Thess. 5:12* – rendered in Latin prepositi, and used to designate them as the presiding officers in christian assemblies. The Greek fathers are careful to add the phrase spiritual*, to distinguish them from secular rulers. 
  2. Praesides, praesidentes,* – used in close connection with the foregoing, and derived from the nQoedgia, the elevated seat which the bishop occupied in the synod, and in the religious assemblies of the people. 
  3. Inspectors*. Not often used because it is liable to be confounded with the of the Greeks*. Both the Greek and Latin term is much in use among protestants to designate the principal of a school, or corporation, or church, and is synonymous with church or school inspector, or master of a gymnasium.
  4. Apostles*. So called by Theodoret to distinguish them from presbyters who were also called * – Also, vicarii, or successors of the apostles*. On this title now depends the important dogma concerning the perpetual and uninterrupted succession of bishops which, not only the Greek and Romish churches, but a portion also of the church of England maintain with singular pertinacity.
  5. Angeli ecclesiae, angels of the church. An epithet derived from the angel of the church in the Apocalypse. It was a doctrine of great antiquity that some angel in heaven acted as the representative of every nation and kingdom and province, and that some guardian angel was intrusted with the care of each individual, Heb. 1:14. The bishops, therefore, who were appointed by Christ and his apostles to the ministry of the gospel, and the service of the saints, were supposed to bear the same relations in the hierarchy of the church that these tutelary angels bore in the court of heaven. On the subject of guardian angels, see references. 
  6. Sinnmi sacerdoles, pontifices maximi, chief priests, etc. These titles were conferred by those writers who derived the organization of the church from the regulations of the temple service, rather than from those of the synagogue. They afterwards became the titles of the patriarchs and bishops of the Roman Catholics.
  7. Paires, patres ecclesiae, paires clericorum, and patres palrum, 'fathers, fathers of the church, fathers of the clergy, fathers of fathers;' according to the oriental custom of calling a teacher or superior, ** and a father*.

    The title of a presbyter is usually that of pater laicorum, father of the laity, or simply pater, father. The presiding officer of these was accordingly called pater patrum.

    Abba and abbas was originally the common appellation of a monk. Modern usage also confers upon him the name of father.

    Papa, pope, corresponds in signification with father, honored father,* and is a familiar and affectionate form of expression. The most probable opinion is, that it was first applied to the bishop of Alexandria. Siricius was probably the first Roman bishop who, about the year 384, assumed the name as an official title in a public document. It was not, however, employed officially until the time of Leo the Great; and it was afterwards applied exclusively to the bishop of Rome according to an order of Gregory the Great, who declares this to be the only appropriate title, belonging to the office.

  8. Patriarchs. At first all bishops were called by this name, as being superior to the presbyters, who were merely denominated paires. It was afterwards only applied to the archbishop and metropolitan, or to the bishop of some large and influential diocese. Between the fourth and sixth centuries, five large churches arose whose highest ecclesiastical officer bore the title of patriarch. These were the churches of Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Theopolis or Antioch, and Jerusalem.
  9. Stadtholders and vicegerents of Christ and of God. From the time of Ignatius and the date of the apostolic constitutions, the bishops were represented to have received their commissions from Christ himself, and, in his name, to administer the affairs of the church. Cyprian speaks of the bishop as acting "vice Christi" in the place of Christ. Basil represents him as occupying the place of the Saviour; and Augustine and Ambrose employ much the same language. So early did the church forget the Saviour's injunction, "Call no man master."
  10. Rulers of the church*. So Origen, Eusebius, Chrysostom, Jerome and others. They were rulers, however, not in a political, but merely in a religious sense.
  11. Princeps sacerdotum and Episcojms episcoporum, are synonymous with archbishop, patriarch, etc.
  12. Various other epithets are applied to them, such as blessed, most blessed – holy, most holy – most beloved of God, etc. The usual salutation of a letter was as follows: *

De civitat. Dei, lib. xix. c. 19. lib. i. c. 9.

Epist. 8. ad Evagr.

Dougtaei, Annal. Sacr. P. 2. exc. 93. p. 139.

Arch. p. 28; Gieseler, Kirchengesch. i. p. 112; Siegel, ii. p. 228.

Guil. Berevegius, Synod, touj. i.; Observat. ad Can. Apost. c. 1; Comp. Casp. Ziegler, De Episcopis. Jen. 1686. 4. c. 1; Jo. T. Bnddaeus, Exercit. de origine et potestate Episcoporum.

Justin Mart. Apolog. ii.; F.useb. h. e. vi. c. 3, 8. vii. c. 13; Basil M. Horn, in Ps. 28:; Cyprian, ep. 3. 9.

Euseb. Vit. Const, lib.ii. c.2; Hist. eccl. lib. viii. c. 2; Teriull. Apol. c. 39; de cor. mil. c. 3; Cyprian, ep. 72.

Comment, in Phil. 1:1, 1 Tim. 3:1

Cyprian, ep. 5.5, 69, 42; Angiistin. in Ps. 45:16.

Tobit 6: 14; Lib. Enoch, in Grabe, Spicil. i. p. 347; Testament. xii. Patr. bei Grabe, i. p. 150; Joseph. Anti(|. lib. i. c. 4; Philo de Gigant. p. 284; Justin M. Apol. min. p. 44; Iren. adv. haer. iv. 16, 36; Clem. Al. Paedag. iii. 2.

Schröckh's K. Gesch.Th. viii. S. 124; Th. xvii. p. 23,24; Siricius, Kpist. ad Orthod. prov.

Cyprian, ep. 63, 55, 59; Basil M. Constit. Men. c. 22.

(* denotes Greek text in Rev. Lyman Coleman's translation.)

(** denotes Hebrew text in Rev. Lyman Coleman's translation.)


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