PRESBYTERIANISM, a highly organized form of church government in which presbyters or elders occupy a prominent place.
There are deacons in Presbyterianism inferior in rank to presbyters, their duties being regarded as non-spiritual.
But it shall not be so among you."From the foregoing outline it will be seen that Presbyterianism may be said to consist in the government of the Church by representative assemblies composed of the two classe s of presbyters, ministers and elders, and so p ?'
It is consistent with this view to argue the absolute parity of ministers and elders, conceding to all presbyters" equal right to teach, to rule, to administer the sacraments, to take part in the ordination of ministers, and to preside in church courts."The practice of the Presbyterian churches of the present day is in accord with the first-named theory.
In the initial stages of the Apostolic Church it was no doubt sufficient to have a plurality of presbyters with absolutely similar duties and powers.
Latimer and Hooper maintained that Bishops and presbyters were identical; and Pilkington, bishop of Durham, and Bishop Jewel were of the same mind.
It may be noted that Cranmer favoured a proposal for the formation of a council of presbyters in each diocese, and for provincial synods.
In the Reformed Church (far the more numerous of the two bodies) each parish has a council of presbyters, consisting of the pastor and lay-members elected by the congregation.
There the nineteen bishops and twenty-four presbyters, from all parts of Spain, but chiefly from the south, assembled, probably at the instigation of Hosius of Cordova, but under the presidency of Felix of Accis, with a view to restoring order and discipline in the church.
The bishop has acquired control of the sacraments, presbyters and deacons acting only under his orders; the episcopate appears as a unit, bishops being bound to respect one another's disciplinary decrees.
The orders of the ministry are bishops, presbyters, deacons.
A further complication was added when, in 375, Vitalius, one of Meletius's presbyters, was consecrated bishop by the heretical bishop Apollinaris of Laodicea.
The tenth canon tolerates the marriages of deacons who previous to ordination had reserved the right to take a wife; the thirteenth forbids chorepiscopi to ordain presbyters or deacons; the eighteenth safeguards the right of the people in objecting to the appointment of a bishop whom they do not wish.
Thus in the 37th of the so-called "Canons of Hippolytus" we read: "As often as the bishops would partake of the Mysteries, the presbyters and deacons shall gather round him clad in white, quite particularly clean clothes, more beautiful than those of the rest of the people."
He wished to get rid of the bishops without making presbyters masters of the state.
At first this local ministry was twofold, consisting of presbyters or bishops and deacons.
23) presbyters in every church."
To this it may be objected that presbyters and bishops are never mentioned together, and that the names were interchangeable (Acts xx.
2) insist that an episcopus must be " apt to teach," and some presbyters (r Tim.
Under the bishops or presbyters stood the deacons or " helpers " (Philipp. i.
St Jerome (Ep. 1 4 6) tells us that as late as the middle of the 3rd century the presbyters of Alexandria, when the see was vacant, used to elect one of their own number and without any further ordination set him in the episcopal office.
314 the thirteenth canon of Ancyra (for the true reading see Bishop Wordsworth's Ministry of Grace, p. 140) assumes that city presbyters may with the bishop's leave ordain other presbyters.
These are 46 presbyters, 7 deacons, 7 subdeacons, 42 acolytes, 52 exorcists and readers, together with doorkeepers.
First comes the order of presbyters or elders.
The bishops of the Methodist Episcopal Church, on the other hand, derive their orders from Thomas Coke, a presbyter of the Church of England, who in 1784 was ordained by John Wesley, assisted by two other presbyters, "superintendent" of the Methodist Society in America.
(14) Christ did not lay hands on patriarchs and metropolitans and bishops and presbyters and deacons and monks, nor ordain their several prayers.
Moreover, Papias may be one of the presbyters to whom, as having actually seen John, Irenaeus (v.
2) is a short sacramental manual intended for the use of local elders or presbyters, though such are not named, for they were not yet a distinctive order or clergy.
Certainly the stage of development is an early one, as is shown, e.g., by the prominence of prophets, and the need that was felt for the vindication of the position of the bishops and deacons (there is no mention at all of presbyters); moreover, there is no reference to a canon of Scripture (though the written Gospel is expressly mentioned) or to a creed.
But as the idea that bishops were successors of the apostles came to prevail, presbyters, though sharing in the deliberations, gradually ceased to share in the voting; while synods insensibly acquired more and more coercive control over the churches of the area represented.
Where there were one bishop and a number of presbyters and deacons in a church, the presbyters constituted the bishop's council, and the deacons his assistants in the management of the finances and charities and in the conduct of the services.
So long as each church had its own bishop the presbyters constituted simply his council, but with the growth of diocesan episcopacy it became the custom to put each congregation under the care of a particular presbyter, who performed within it most of the pastoral duties formerly discharged by the bishop himself.
The presbyters, however, were not independent officers.
But in the English Bible the presbyters of the New Testament are called " elders," not " priests "; the latter name is reserved for ministers of pre-Christian religions, the Semitic a '?"
The idea that presbyters and bishops are priests and the successors of the Old Testament priesthood first appears in full force in the writings of Cyprian, and here it is not the notion of priestly mediation but that of priestly power which is insisted on.
The moment of transition is clearly marked in the Didache, where the charismatic ministry of " apostles and prophets " is beginning to give place to permanent local officials of the Church, bishops, presbyters and deacons.
I cried out, when I was among you; I spake with a loud voice, with God's own voice, give ye heed to the bishops, and the presbyters and deacons " (Philadelph.
Xvi.) had been united into one church officered by presbyters and deacons (Clem.
The letter in question was occasioned by a dispute in the church of Corinth, which had led to the ejection of several presbyters from their office.
Nothing is known of the cause of the discontent; no moral offence is charged against the presbyters, and their dismissal is regarded by Clement as high-handed and unjustifiable, and as a revolt of the younger members of the community against the elder.
At the head stood the teachers (" the sons of meekness," Mani himself and his successors); then follow the administrators (" the sons of knowledge," the bishops); then the elders (" the sons of understanding," the presbyters); the electi (" the sons of mystery"); and finally the auditores (" the sons of insight").
For years the controversy may have been fermenting in the college of presbyters at Alexandria.
According to the general supposition, the negotiations which led to the excommunication of Arius and his followers among the presbyters and deacons took place in 318 or 319, but there are good reasons for assigning the outbreak of the controversy to the time following the overthrow of Licinius by Constantine, i.e.
E7riaKcmros, "overlooker" or "overseer"), in certain branches of the Christian Church, an ecclesiastic consecrated or set apart to perform certain spiritual functions, and to exercise oversight over the lower clergy (priests or presbyters, deacons, &c.).
They must be learned presbyters at least thirty years of age, born in lawful wedlock, and of good life and behaviour.
(2) The view adopted by the majority of English scholars is, while refusing to accept the connexion between the presbyters and the seven, to regard the office as distinctly primitive and say that it was taken over by the earliest Christian community at Jerusalem from the Jewish synagogue.
In the 2nd century the patriarchal element in the organization was merged in the administrative, and the presbyters 1 Diss.
"In some congregations," as Harnack says, "it may have been long before the elders were chosen, in others this may have come very soon; in some the sphere of the competency of the presbyters and patrons may have been quite indefinite and in others more precise."
28 Paul says that God has given to the Church apostles, prophets, teachers, miracles, gifts of healing, helps, governments; but of presbyters he has not a word to say.
V., vi., the presbyters are absent, while in Phil.
(b) The documents in which presbyters are mentioned in an official sense, viz.
(c) Even Clement of Rome does not say that the apostles had appointed presbyters in the congregation, he speaks only of bishops and deacons.
It is true that presbyters are not mentioned in the genuine Epistles of St Paul, but there are hints that similar officers existed in some of the churches founded by the apostle.
If too, as seems most probable, bishops and presbyters were practically identical, there is of course a specific reference to them in Phil.
Were also probably "presbyters" under another name.