Episcopatus, the office of a bishop, episcopus), the general term technically applied to that system of church organization in which the chief ecclesiastical authority within a defined district, or diocese, is vested in a bishop. As such it is distinguished on the one hand from Presbyterianism, government by elders, and Congregationalism, in which the individual church or community of worshippers is autonomous, and on the other from Papalism.
Eichhorn, Episcopatus Curiensis (St Blasien, 1797); W.
"Invitor amplissimis conditionibus; offeruntur dignitates et episcopatus; plane rex essem, si juvenis essem" xix.
And iii.; Registrum Episcopatus Aberdonensis (Spalding Club); Rymer's Foedera.
But Irenaeus holds, apparently on a priori grounds, that "elders" who stand in orderly succession to the apostolic founders of the true tradition in the churches, have, "along with the succession of oversight," also an "assured gift of (insight into) truth" by the Father's good pleasure ("cum episcopatus successione charisma veritatis certum secundum placitum Patris acceperunt"), in contrast to heretics who wilfully stand outside this approved line of transmission (adv.