I. The chief sources for this chapter are the Epistles of Ignatius, the works of Irenaeus, Tertullian, and especially Cyprian, and the so-called Constitutiones Apostolicae,

II. See the Literature in vol. I. § 58 (p. 481 sqq. ), particularly the works of Rothe, Ritchsl, Lightfoot, and Hatch.


 § 41. Progress in Consolidation.


In the external organization of the church, several important changes appear in the period before us. The distinction of clergy and laity, and the sacerdotal view of the ministry becomes prominent and fixed; subordinate church offices are multiplied; the episcopate arises; the beginnings of the Roman primacy appear; and the exclusive unity of the Catholic church develops itself in opposition to heretics and schismatics. The apostolical organization of the first century now gives place to the old Catholic episcopal system; and this, in its turn, passes into the metropolitan, and after the fourth century into the patriarchal. Here the Greek church stopped, and is governed to this day by a hierarchical oligarchy of patriarchs equal in rank and jurisdiction; while the Latin church went a step further, and produced in the middle ages the papal monarchy. The germs of this papacy likewise betray themselves even in our present period, particularly in Cyprian, together with a protest against it. Cyprian himself is as much a witness for consolidated primacy, as for independent episcopacy, and hence often used and abused alike by Romanists and Anglicans for sectarian purposes.

The characteristics, however, of the pre-Constantinian hierarchy, in distinction from the post-Constantinian, both Greek and Roman, are, first, its grand simplicity, and secondly, its spirituality, or freedom from all connection with political power and worldly splendor. Whatever influence the church acquired and exercised, she owed nothing to the secular government, which continued indifferent or positively hostile till the protective toleration edict of Constantine (313). Tertullian thought it impossible for an emperor to be a Christian, or a Christian to be an emperor; and even after Constantine, the Donatists persisted in this view, and cast up to the Catholics the memory of the former age: "What have Christians to do with kings? or what have bishops to do in the palace?"118  The ante-Nicene fathers expected the ultimate triumph of Christianity over the world from a supernatural interposition at the second Advent. Origen seems to have been the only one in that age of violent persecution who expected that Christianity, by continual growth, would gain the dominion over the world.119

The consolidation of the church and its compact organization implied a restriction of individual liberty, in the interest of order, and a temptation to the abuse of authority. But it was demanded by the diminution of spiritual gifts, which were poured out in such extraordinary abundance in the apostolic age. It made the church a powerful republic within the Roman empire, and contributed much to its ultimate success. "In union is strength," especially in times of danger and persecution such as the church had to pass through in the ante-Nicene age. While we must deny a divine right and perpetual obligation to any peculiar form of government as far as it departs from the simple principles of the New Testament, we may concede a historical necessity and great relative importance to the ante-Nicene and subsequent organizations of the church. Even the papacy was by no means an unmixed evil, but a training school for the barbarian nations during the middle ages. Those who condemn, in principle, all hierarchy, sacerdotalism, and ceremonialism, should remember that God himself appointed the priesthood and ceremonies in the Mosaic dispensation, and that Christ submitted to the requirements of the law in the days of his humiliation.


 § 42. Clergy and Laity.


The idea and institution of a special priesthood, distinct from the body of the people, with the accompanying notion of sacrifice and altar, passed imperceptibly from Jewish and heathen reminiscences and analogies into the Christian church. The majority of Jewish converts adhered tenaciously to the Mosaic institutions and rites, and a considerable part never fully attained to the height of spiritual freedom proclaimed by Paul, or soon fell away from it. He opposed legalistic and ceremonial tendencies in Galatia and Corinth; and although sacerdotalism does not appear among the errors of his Judaizing opponents, the Levitical priesthood, with its three ranks of high-priest, priest, and Levite, naturally furnished an analogy for the threefold ministry of bishop, priest, and deacon, and came to be regarded as typical of it. Still less could the Gentile Christians, as a body, at once emancipate themselves from their traditional notions of priesthood, altar, and sacrifice, on which their former religion was based. Whether we regard the change as an apostasy from a higher position attained, or as a reaction of old ideas never fully abandoned, the change is undeniable, and can be traced to the second century. The church could not long occupy the ideal height of the apostolic age, and as the Pentecostal illumination passed away with the death of the apostles, the old reminiscences began to reassert themselves.120

In the apostolic church preaching and teaching were not confined to a particular class, but every convert could proclaim the gospel to unbelievers, and every Christian who had the gift could pray and teach and exhort in the congregation.121  The New Testament knows no spiritual aristocracy or nobility, but calls all believers "saints" though many fell far short of their vocation. Nor does it recognize a special priesthood in distinction from the people, as mediating between God and the laity. It knows only one high-priest, Jesus Christ, and clearly teaches the universal priesthood, as well as universal kingship, of believers.122  It does this in a far deeper and larger sense than the Old;123 in a sense, too, which even to this day is not yet fully realized. The entire body of Christians are called "clergy" (klh'roi a peculiar people, the heritage of God.124

On the other hand it is equally clear that there was in the apostolic church a ministerial office, instituted by Christ, for the very purpose of raising the mass of believers from infancy and pupilage to independent and immediate intercourse with God, to that prophetic, priestly, and kingly position, which in principle and destination belongs to them all.125  This work is the gradual process of church history itself, and will not be fully accomplished till the kingdom of glory shall come. But these ministers are nowhere represented as priests in any other sense than Christians generally are priests, with the privilege of a direct access to the throne of grace in the name of their one and eternal high-priest in heaven. Even in the Pastoral Epistles which present the most advanced stage of ecclesiastical organization in the apostolic period, while the teaching, ruling, and pastoral functions of the presbyter-bishops are fully discussed, nothing is said about a sacerdotal function. The Apocalypse, which was written still later, emphatically teaches the universal priesthood and kingship of believers. The apostles themselves never claim or exercise a special priesthood. The sacrifice which all Christians are exhorted to offer is the sacrifice of their person and property to the Lord, and the spiritual sacrifice of thanksgiving and praise.126  In one passage a Christian "altar" is spoken of, in distinction from the Jewish altar of literal and daily sacrifices, but this altar is the cross on which Christ offered himself once and forever for the sins of the world.127

After the gradual abatement of the extraordinary spiritual elevation of the apostolic age, which anticipated in its way the ideal condition of the church, the distinction of a regular class of teachers from the laity became more fixed and prominent. This appears first in Ignatius, who, in his high episcopalian spirit, considers the clergy the necessary medium of access for the people to God. "Whoever is within the sanctuary (or altar), is pure; but he who is outside of the sanctuary is not pure; that is, he who does anything without bishop and presbytery and deacon, is not pure in conscience."128  Yet he nowhere represents the ministry as a sacerdotal office. The Didache calls "the prophets" high-priests, but probably in a spiritual sense.129  Clement of Rome, in writing to the congregation at Corinth, draws a significant and fruitful parallel between the Christian presiding office and the Levitical priesthood, and uses the expression "layman" (lai>ko" a[nqrwpo") as antithetic to high-priest, priests, and Levites.130  This parallel contains the germ of the whole system of sacerdotalism. But it is at best only an argument by analogy. Tertullian was the first who expressly and directly asserts sacerdotal claims on behalf of the Christian ministry, and calls it "sacerdotium," although he also strongly affirms the universal priesthood of all believers. Cyprian (d. 258) goes still further, and applies all the privileges, duties, and responsibilities of the Aaronic priesthood to the officers of the Christian church, and constantly calls them sacerdotes and sacerdotium. He may therefore be called the proper father of the sacerdotal conception of the Christian ministry as a mediating agency between God and the people. During the third century it became customary to apply the term "priest" directly and exclusively to the Christian ministers especially the bishops.131  In the same manner the whole ministry, and it alone, was called "clergy," with a double reference to its presidency and its peculiar relation to God.132  It was distinguished by this name from the Christian people or "laity."133  Thus the term "clergy," which first signified the lot by which office was assigned (Acts 1:17, 25), then the office itself, then the persons holding that office, was transferred from the Christians generally to the ministers exclusively.

Solemn "ordination" or consecration by the laying on of hands was the form of admission into the "ordo ecclesiasticus" or "sacerdotalis." In this order itself there were again three degrees, "ordines majores," as they were called: the diaconate, the presbyterate, and the episcopate—held to be of divine institution. Under these were the "ordines minores," of later date, from sub-deacon to ostiary, which formed the stepping-stone between the clergy proper and the people.134

Thus we find, so early as the third century, the foundations of a complete hierarchy; though a hierarchy of only moral power, and holding no sort of outward control over the conscience. The body of the laity consisted of two classes: the faithful, or the baptized and communicating members, and the catechumens, who were preparing for baptism. Those church members who lived together in one place,135 formed a church in the narrower sense.136

With the exaltation of the clergy appeared the tendency to separate them from secular business, and even from social relations—from marriage, for example—and to represent them, even outwardly, as a caste independent of the people, and devoted exclusively to the service of the sanctuary. They drew their support from the church treasury, which was supplied by voluntary contributions and weekly collections on the Lord’s Day. After the third century they were forbidden to engage in any secular business, or even to accept any trusteeship. Celibacy was not yet in this period enforced, but left optional. Tertullian, Gregory of Nyssa, and other distinguished church teachers, lived in wedlock, though theoretically preferring the unmarried state. Of an official clerical costume no certain trace appears before the fourth century; and if it came earlier into use, as may have been the ease, after the example of the Jewish church, it must have been confined, during the times of persecution, to the actual exercises of worship.

With the growth of this distinction of clergy and laity, however, the idea of the universal priesthood continued from time to time to assert itself: in Irenaeus,137 for example, and in an eccentric form in the Montanists, who even allowed women to teach publicly in the church. So Tertullian, with whom clerus and laici were at one time familiar expressions, inquires, as the champion of the Montanistic reaction against the Catholic hierarchy: "Are not we laymen priests also?"138  It is written, he continues: "He hath made us kings and priests (Rev. 1:6). It is the authority of the church alone which has made a distinction between clergy and laity. Where there is no college of ministers, you administer the sacrament, you baptize, you are a priest for yourself alone. And where there are three of you, there is a church, though you be only laymen. For each one lives by his own faith, and there is no respect of persons with God."139  All, therefore, which the clergy considered peculiar to them, he claimed for the laity as the common sacerdotal privilege of all Christians.

Even in the Catholic church an acknowledgment of the general priesthood showed itself in the custom of requiring the baptized to say the Lord’s Prayer before the assembled congregation. With reference to this, Jerome says: "Sacerdotium laici, id est, baptisma." The congregation also, at least in the West, retained for a long time the right of approval and rejection in the choice of its ministers, even of the bishop. Clement of Rome expressly requires the assent of the whole congregation for a valid election;140 and Cyprian terms this an apostolic and almost universal regulation.141  According to his testimony it obtained also in Rome, and was observed in the case of his contemporary, Cornelius.142  Sometimes in the filling of a vacant bishopric the "suffragium" of the people preceded the "judicium" of the clergy of the diocese. Cyprian, and afterwards Athanasius, Ambrose, Augustin, and other eminent prelates, were in a manner pressed into the bishopric in this democratic way. Cyprian, with all his high-church proclivities, declares it his principle to do nothing as bishop without the advice of the presbyters and deacons, and the consent of the people.143  A peculiar influence, which even the clergy could not withstand, attached to the "confessors," and it was sometimes abused by them, as in their advocacy of the lapsed, who denied Christ in the Decian persecution.

Finally, we notice cases where the function of teaching was actually exercised by laymen. The bishops of Jerusalem and Caesarea allowed the learned Origen to expound the Bible to their congregations before his ordination, and appealed to the example of several bishops in the East.144  Even in the Apostolical Constitutions there occurs, under the name of the Apostle Paul, the direction: "Though a man be a layman, if experienced in the delivery of instruction, and reverent in habit, he may teach; for the Scripture says: ’They shall be all taught of God.’ "145  The fourth general council at Carthage (398) prohibited laymen from teaching in the presence of clergymen and without their consent; implying at the same time, that with such permission the thing might be done.146

It is worthy of notice that a number of the most eminent church teachers of this period, Hermas, Justin Martyr, Athenagoras, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Tertullian, Arnobius, and Lactantius, were either laymen, or at most only presbyters. Hermas, who wrote one of the most popular and authoritative books in the early church, was probably a layman; perhaps also the author of the homily which goes under the name of the Second Epistle of Clement of Rome, and has recently been discovered in full both in the original Greek and in a Syriac translation; for he seems to distinguish himself and his hearers from the presbyters.147


 § 43. New Church Officers.


The expansion of the church, the development of her cultus, and the tendency towards hierarchical pomp, led to the multiplication of offices below the diaconate, which formed the ordines minores. About the middle of the third century the following new officers are mentioned:

1. Sub-deacons, or under-helpers;148 assistants and deputies of the deacons; the only one of these subordinate offices for which a formal ordination was required. Opinions differ as to its value.

2. Readers,149 who read the Scriptures in the assembly and had charge of the church books.

3. Acolyths,150 attendants of the bishops in their official duties and processions.

4. Exorcists,151 who, by prayer and the laying on of hands, cast out the evil spirit from the possessed,152 and from catechumens, and frequently assisted in baptism. This power had been formerly considered a free gift of the Holy Spirit.

5. Precentors,153 for the musical parts of the liturgy, psalms, benedictions, responses, etc.

6. Janitors or sextons,154 who took care of the religious meeting-rooms, and at a later period also of the church-yards.

7. Besides these there were in the larger churches catechists, and, where the church language in the worship was not understood, interpreters; but the interpreting was commonly done by presbyters, deacons, or readers.

The bishop Cornelius of Rome (d. 252), in a letter on the Novatian schism,155 gives the number of officers in his church as follows: Forty-six presbyters, probably corresponding to the number of the meeting-houses of the Christians in the city; seven deacons, after the model of the church at Jerusalem (Acts vi); seven sub-deacons; forty-two acolyths, and fifty-two exorcists, readers, and janitors.

As to the ordines majores, the deacons during this period rose in importance. In addition to their original duties of caring for the poor and sick, they baptized, distributed the sacramental cup, said the church prayers, not seldom preached, and were confidential advisers, sometimes even delegates and vicars of the bishops. This last is true especially of the "archdeacon," who does not appear, however, till the fourth century. The presbyters, on the contrary, though above the deacons, were now overtopped by the new office of bishop, in which the entire government of the church became centred.


 § 44. Origin of the Episcopate.


Besides the works already cited, compare the special works and essays on the Ignatian controversy, published since 1837, by Rothe (close of his Anfänge, etc.), Hefele (R.C.), Baur, Hilgenfeld, Bunsen, Petermann, Cureton, Lipsius, Uhlhorn, Zahn, Lightfoot (I. 376 sqq). Also R. D. Hitchcock on the Origin of Episcopacy, N. Y. 1867 (in the "Am. Presbyt. & Theol. Review" for Jan. 1867, pp. 133–169); Lightfoot on the Christian Ministry (1873); Hatch on the Organization of the Early Christian Church (1881); Renan, L’Eglise chrétienne (1879), ch. VI. Progrés de l’épiscopat; and Gore, The Ministry of the Church (1889).


The most important and also the most difficult phenomenon of our period in the department of church organization is the rise and development of the episcopate as distinct from the presbyterate. This institution comes to view in the second century as the supreme spiritual office, and is retained to this day by all Roman and Greek Christendom, and by a large part of the Evangelical church, especially the Anglican communion. A form of government so ancient and so widely adopted, can be satisfactorily accounted for only on the supposition of a religious need, namely, the need of a tangible outward representation and centralization, to illustrate and embody to the people their relation to Christ and to God, and the visible unity of the church. It is therefore inseparable from the catholic principle of authority and mediation; while the protestant principle of freedom and direct intercourse of the believer with Christ, consistently carried out, infringes the strict episcopal constitution, and tends to ministerial equality. Episcopacy in the full sense of the term requires for its base the idea of a real priesthood and real sacrifice, and an essential distinction between clergy and laity. Divested of these associations, it resolves itself into a mere superintendency.156

During the lifetime of the apostles, those eye- and ear-witnesses of the divine-human life of Jesus, and the inspired organs of the Holy Spirit, there was no room for proper bishops; and those who were so called, must have held only a subordinate place. The church, too, in the first century was as yet a strictly supernatural organization, a stranger in this world, standing with one foot in eternity, and longing for the second coming of her heavenly bridegroom. But in the episcopal constitution the church provided an extremely simple but compact and freely expansible organization, planted foot firmly upon earth, became an institution for the education of her infant people, and, as chiliastic hopes receded, fell into the path of quiet historical development; yet unquestionably she thus incurred also the danger of a secularization which reached its height just when the hierarchy became complete in the Roman church, and which finally necessitated a reformation on the basis of apostolical Christianity. That this secularization began with the growing power of the bishops even before Constantine and the Byzantine court orthodoxy, we perceive, for instance, in the lax penitential discipline, the avarice, and the corruption with which Hippolytus, in the ninth book of his Philosophumena, reproaches Zephyrinus and Callistus, the Roman bishops of his time (202–223); also in the example of the bishop Paul of Samosata, who was deposed in 269 on almost incredible charges, not only against his doctrine, but still more against his moral character.157  Origen complains that there are, especially in the larger cities, overseers of the people of God, who seek to outdo the pomp of heathen potentates, would surround themselves, like the emperors, with a body-guard, and make themselves terrible and inaccessible to the poor.158

We consider, first, the origin of the episcopate. The unreliable character of our documents and traditions from the transition period between the close of the apostolic church and the beginning of the post-apostolic, leaves large room here for critical research and combination. First of all comes the question: Was the episcopate directly or indirectly of apostolic (Johannean) origin?159  Or did it arise after the death of the apostles, and develope itself from the presidency of the congregational presbytery?160  In other words, was the episcopate a continuation and contraction of, and substitute for, the apostolate, or was it an expansion and elevation of the presbyterate?161  The later view is more natural and better sustained by facts. Most of its advocates date the change from the time of Ignatius in the first quarter of the second century, while a few carry it further back to the close of the first, when St. John still lived in Ephesus.

I. For the apostolic origin of episcopacy the following points may be made:

(1) The position of James, who evidently stood at the head of the church at Jerusalem,162 and is called bishop, at least in the pseudo-Clementine literature, and in fact supreme bishop of the whole church.163  This instance, however, stands quite alone, and does not warrant an inference in regard to the entire church.

(2) The office of the assistants and delegates of the apostles, like Timothy, Titus, Silas, Epaphroditus, Luke, Mark, who had a sort of supervision of several churches and congregational officers, and in a measure represented the apostles in special missions. But, in any case, these were not limited, at least during the life of the apostles, each to a particular diocese; they were itinerant evangelists and legates of the apostles; only the doubtful tradition of a later day assigns them distinct bishoprics. If bishops at all, they were missionary bishops.

(3) The angels of the seven churches of Asia,164 who, if regarded as individuals, look very like the later bishops, and indicate a monarchical shaping of the church government in the days of John. But, apart from the various interpretations of the Apocalyptic a[ggeloi, that office appears not co-ordinate with the apostolate of John, but subordinate to it, and was no more than a congregational superintendency.

(4) The testimony of Ignatius of Antioch, a disciple of John, in his seven (or three) epistles from the beginning of the second century (even according to the shorter Syriac version), presupposes the episcopate, in distinction from the presbyterate, as already existing, though as a new institution, yet in its growth.

(5) The statement of Clement of Alexandria,165 that John instituted bishops after his return from Patmos; and the accounts of Irenaeus,166 Tertullian,167 Eusebius,168 and Jerome,169 that the same apostle nominated and ordained Polycarp (with whom Irenaeus was personally acquainted) bishop of Smyrna.

(6) The uncertain tradition in Eusebius, who derived it probably from Hegesippus, that the surviving apostles and disciples of the apostles, soon after the destruction of Jerusalem, elected Symeon, the son of Klopas and a cousin of Jesus, bishop of that city and successor of James. But this arrangement at best was merely local, and not general.170

(7) The tradition of the churches of Antioch and Rome, which trace their line of bishops back to apostolic institution, and kept the record of an unbroken succession.

(8) A passage in the second of the Pfaff Fragments of Irenaeus, which speaks of "second ordinances of the apostles" (deuvterai tw'n ajpostovlwn diatavxei"). Rothe understands by these the institution of the episcopate. But aside from the doubtful genuineness of the Fragments, these words are at all events of unsettled interpretation, and, according to the connection, relate not to the government of the church at all, but to the celebration of the eucharist.

(9) Equally uncertain is the conclusion drawn from an obscure passage in the Epistle of Clement of Rome to the Corinthians, which admits of different interpretations.171  The apostles, it is said, foreseeing the future controversy about the name of the episcopal office, appointed bishops and deacons, and afterwards made the disposition,172 that when they should fall asleep, other approved men should follow them in office. Rothe refers "they" and "them" to the apostles as the main subject. But these words naturally refer to the congregational officers just before mentioned, and in this case the "other approved men" are not successors of the apostles, but of the presbyter-bishops and deacons.173  This view is sustained by the connection. The difficulty in the Corinthian congregation was a rebellion, not against a single bishop, but against a number of presbyter-bishops, and Clement reminds them that the apostles instituted this office not only for the first generation, but provided for a permanent succession, and that the officers were appointed for life, and could therefore not be deposed so long as they discharged their duties. Hence he goes on to say, immediately after the disputed passage in chapter 44: "Wherefore we think that those cannot justly be thrown out of their ministry who were appointed either by them (the apostles), or afterwards by other eminent men, with the consent of the whole congregation; and who have with all lowliness and innocency ministered to the flock of Christ, in peace, and without self-interest, and were for a long time commended by all."

(10) Finally, the philosophical consideration, that the universal and uncontested spread of the episcopate in the second century cannot be satisfactorily explained without the presumption of at least the indirect sanction of the apostles. By the same argument the observance of Sunday and infant baptism are usually traced to apostolic origin. But it is not quite conclusive, since most of the apostles died before the destruction of Jerusalem. It could only apply to John, who was the living centre of the church in Asia Minor to the close of the first century.174

II. The theory of the post-apostolic origin of the episcopate as a separate office or order, and its rise out of the presidency of the original congregational presbyterate, by way of human, though natural and necessary, development, is supported by the following facts:

(1) The undeniable identity of presbyters and bishops in the New Testament,175 conceded even by the best interpreters among the church fathers, by Jerome, Chrysostom, and Theodoret, and by the best scholars of recent times.

(2) Later, at the close of the first and even in the second century, the two terms are still used in like manner for the same office. The Roman bishop Clement, in his First Epistle to the Corinthians says, that the apostles, in the newly-founded churches, appointed the first fruits of the faith, i.e., the first converts, "bishops and deacons."176  He here omits the presbuvteroi, as Paul does in Phil. 1:1, for the simple reason that they are in his view identical with ejpivskopoi; while conversely, in c. 57, he enjoins subjection to presbyters, without mentioning bishops.177  The Didache mentions bishops and deacons, but no presbyters.178  Clement of Alexandria distinguishes, it is true, the deaconate, the presbyterate, and the episcopate; but he supposes only a two-fold official character, that of presbyters, and that of deacons—a view which found advocates so late as the middle ages, even in pope Urban II., a.d. 1091. Lastly, Irenaeus, towards the close of the second century, though himself a bishop, makes only a relative difference between episcopi and presbyteri; speaks of successions of the one in the same sense as of the other; terms the office of the latter episcopatus; and calls the bishops of Rome "presbyters".179  Sometimes, it is true, he appears to use the term "presbyters" in a more general sense, for the old men, the fathers.180  But in any case his language shows that the distinction between the two offices was at that time still relative and indefinite.

(3) The express testimony of the learned Jerome, that the churches originally, before divisions arose through the instigation of Satan, were governed by the common council of the presbyters, and not till a later period was one of the pres-byters placed at the head, to watch over the church and suppress schisms.181  He traces the difference of the office simply to "ecclesiastical" custom as distinct from divine institution.182

(4) The custom of the church of Alexandria, where, from the evangelist Mark down to the middle of the third century, the twelve presbyters elected one of their number president, and called him bishop. This fact rests on the authority of Jerome,183 and is confirmed independently by the Annals of the Alexandrian patriarch, Eutychius, of the tenth century.184  The latter states that Mark instituted in that city a patriarch (this is an anachronism) and twelve presbyters, who should fill the vacant patriarchate by electing and ordaining to that office one of their number and then electing a new presbyter, so as always to retain the number twelve. He relates, moreover, that down to the time of Demetrius, at the end of the second century, there was no bishop in Egypt besides the one at Alexandria; consequently there could have been no episcopal ordination except by going out of the province.

III. Conclusion. The only satisfactory conclusion from these various facts and traditions seems to be, that the episcopate proceeded, both in the descending and ascending scale, from the apostolate and the original presbyterate conjointly, as a contraction of the former and an expansion of the latter, without either express concert or general regulation of the apostles, neither of which, at least, can be historically proved. It arose, instinctively, as it were, in that obscure and critical transition period between the end of the first and the middle of the second century. It was not a sudden creation, much less the invention of a single mind. It grew, in part, out of the general demand for a continuation of, or substitute for, the apostolic church government, and this, so far as it was transmissible at all, very naturally passed first to the most eminent disciples and fellow-laborers of the apostles, to Mark, Luke, Timothy, Clement, Ignatius, Polycarp, Papias, which accounts for the fact that tradition makes them all bishops in the prominent sense of the term. It was further occasioned by the need of a unity in the presbyterial government of congregations, which, in the nature of the case and according to the analogy of the Jewish arcisunavgwgo",185 required a head or president. This president was called bishop, at first only by eminence, as primus inter pares; afterwards in the exclusive sense. In the smaller churches there was, perhaps, from the beginning, only one presbyter, who of himself formed this centre, like the chorepiscopi or country-bishops in the fourth century. The dioceses of the bishops in Asia Minor and North Africa, owing to their large number, in the second and third centuries, can hardly have exceeded the extent of respectable pastoral charges. James of Jerusalem, on the other hand, and his immediate successors, whose positions in many respects were altogether peculiar, seem to have been the only bishops in Palestine. Somewhat similar was the state of things in Egypt, where, down to Demetrius (a.d. 190–232), we find only the one bishop of Alexandria.

We cannot therefore assume any strict uniformity. But the whole church spirit of the age tended towards centralization; it everywhere felt a demand for compact, solid unity; and this inward bent, amidst the surrounding dangers of persecution and heresy, carried the church irresistibly towards the episcopate. In so critical and stormy a time, the principle, union is strength, division is weakness, prevailed over all. In fact, the existence of the church at that period may be said to have depended in a great measure on the preservation and promotion of unity, and that in an outward, tangible form, suited to the existing grade of culture. Such a unity was offered in the bishop, who held a monarchical, or more properly a patriarchal relation to the congregation. In the bishop was found the visible representative of Christ, the great Head of the whole church. In the bishop, therefore, all sentiments of piety found a centre. In the bishop the whole religious posture of the people towards God and towards Christ had its outward support and guide. And in proportion as every church pressed towards a single centre, this central personage must acquire a peculiar importance and subordinate the other presbyters to itself; though, at the same time, as the language of Clement and Irenaeus, the state of things in Egypt, and even in North Africa, and the testimony of Jerome and other fathers, clearly prove, the remembrance of the original equality could not be entirely blotted out, but continued to show itself in various ways.

Besides this there was also a powerful practical reason for elevating the powers of the bishop. Every Christian congregation was a charitable society, regarding the care of the widow and orphan, the poor and the stranger as a sacred trust; and hence the great importance of the bishop as the administrative officer by whom the charitable funds were received and the alms disbursed. In Greek communities the title bishop (ejpivskopo", ejpimelithv"), was in wide use for financial officers. Their administrative functions brought them in close relation to the deacons, as their executive aids in the care of the poor and sick. The archdeacon became the right arm, the "eye" and "heart" of the bishop. In primitive times every case of poverty or suffering was separately brought to the notice of the bishop and personally relieved by a deacon. Afterwards institutions were founded for widows and orphans, poor and infirm, and generally placed under the superintendence of the bishop; but personal responsibility was diminished by this organized charity, and the deacons lost their original significance and became subordinate officers of public worship.186

Whatever may be thought, therefore, of the origin and the divine right of the episcopate, no impartial historian can deny its adaptation to the wants of the church at the time, and its historical necessity.

But then, this primitive catholic episcopal system must by no means be confounded with the later hierarchy. The dioceses, excepting those of Jerusalem, Ephesus, Alexandria, Antioch, and Rome, must have long remained very small, if we look at the number of professing Christians. In the Apocalypse seven such centres of unity are mentioned within a comparatively small compass in Asia Minor, and at a time when the number of Christians was insignificant. In the year 258, Cyprian assembled a council of eighty-seven bishops of North Africa. The functions of the bishops were not yet strictly separated from those of the presbyters, and it was only by degrees that ordination, and, in the Western church, confirmation also, came to be intrusted exclusively to the bishops.


 § 45. Development of the Episcopate. Ignatius.


It is matter of fact that the episcopal form of government was universally established in the Eastern and Western church as early as the middle of the second century. Even the heretical sects, at least the Ebionites, as we must infer from the commendation of the episcopacy in the pseudo-Clementine literature, were organized on this plan, as well as the later schismatic parties of Novatians, Donatists, etc. But it is equally undeniable, that the episcopate reached its complete form only step by step. In the period before us we must note three stages in this development connected with the name of Ignatius in Syria (d. 107 or 115), Irenaeus in Gaul (d. 202), and Cyprian in North Africa (d. 258).

The episcopate first appears, as distinct from the presbyterate, but as a congregational office only (in distinction from the diocesan idea), and as yet a young institution, greatly needing commendation, in the famous seven (or three) Epistles of Ignatius of Antioch a disciple of the apostles, and the second bishop of that see (Evodius being the first, and Hero the third). He is also the first who uses the term "catholic church," as if episcopacy and catholicity sprung up simultaneously. The whole story of Ignatius is more legendary than real, and his writings are subject to grave suspicion of fraudulent interpolation. We have three different versions of the Ignatian Epistles, but only one of them can be genuine; either the smaller Greek version, or the lately discovered Syriac.187  In the latter, which contains only three epistles, most of the passages on the episcopate are wanting, indeed; yet the leading features of the institution appear even here, and we can recognise ex ungue leonem.188  In any case they reflect the public sentiment before the middle of the second century.

The substance of these epistles (with the exception of that to the Romans, in which, singularly enough, not a word is said about bishops189), consists of earnest exhortations to obey the bishop and maintain the unity of the church against the Judaistic and docetic heresies. With the near prospect and the most ardent desire for martyrdom, the author has no more fervent wish than the perfect inward and outward unity of the faithful; and to this the episcopate seems to him indispensable. In his view Christ is the invisible supreme head, the one great universal bishop of all the churches scattered over the earth. The human bishop is the centre of unity for the single congregation, and stands in it as the vicar of Christ and even of God.190  The people, therefore, should unconditionally obey him, and do nothing without his will. Blessed are they who are one with the bishop, as the church is with Christ, and Christ with the Father, so that all harmonizes in unity. Apostasy from the bishop is apostasy from Christ, who acts in and through the bishops as his organs.

We shall give passages from the shorter Greek text (as edited by Zahn):

If any one is able to continue in purity (ejn aJgneiva/ i.e., in the state of celibacy), to the honor of the flesh of our Lord, let him continue so without boasting; if he boasts, he is lost (ajpwvleto) if he become known more than the bishop,191 he is corrupt (e[fqartai). It is becoming, therefore, to men and women who marry, that they marry by the counsel of the bishop, that the marriage may be in the Lord, and not in lust. Let ever thing be done for the honor of God. Look to the bishop, that God also [may look] upon you. I will be in harmony with those who are subject to the bishop, and the presbyters, and the deacons; with them may I have a portion near God!"  This passage is one of the strongest, and occurs in the Syriac Epistle to Polycarp as well as in the shorter Greek recension.192  It characteristically connected episcopacy with celibacy: the ascetic system of Catholicism starts in celibacy, as the hierarchical organization of Catholicism takes its rise in episcopacy. "It becomes you to be in harmony with the mind (or sentence, gnwvmh/) of the bishop, as also ye do. For your most estimable presbytery, worthy of God, is fitted to the bishop as the strings are to the harp."193  "It is evident that we should look upon the bishop as we do upon the Lord himself."194  "I exhort you that ye study to do all things with a divine concord: the bishop presiding in the place of God (eij" tovpon qeou'), and presbyters in the place of the college of the apostles, (ei" tovpon sunedrivou tw'n ajpostovlwn), and the deacons, most dear to me, being intrusted with the ministry (diakonivan) of Jesus Christ, who was with the Father before all ages, and in the end appeared to us."195  "Be subject to the bishop, and to one another, as Christ [was subject] to the Father according to the flesh, and the apostles to Christ and to the Father and to the Spirit, in order that the union be carnal (sarkikhv), as well as spiritual."196 "It is necessary, as is your habit, to do nothing without the bishop, and that ye should be subject also to the presbytery (tw' presbuterivw/), as to the apostles of Jesus Christ."197  "As many as are of God and of Jesus Christ, are also with their bishop."198  "Let all of you follow the bishop, as Jesus Christ [follows] the Father; and the presbytery as ye would the apostles; and reverence the deacons as the ordinance of God. Without the bishop let no one do anything connected with the church. Let that eucharist be accounted valid which is [offered] under the bishop or by one he has appointed. Wherever the bishop is found, there let the people be; as wherever Christ is, there is the catholic church. Without the bishop it is not lawful either to baptize or to celebrate a love-feast."199

This is the first time that the term "catholic" is applied to the church, and that episcopacy is made a condition of catholicity.

"He that honors the bishop, shall be honored by God; he that does anything without the knowledge of the bishop serves the devil."200

This is making salvation pretty much depend upon obedience to the bishop; just as Leo I., three centuries later, in the controversy with Hilary of Arles, made salvation depend upon obedience to the pope by declaring every rebel against the pope to be a servant of the devil!  Such daring superabundance of episcopalianism clearly betrays some special design and raises the suspicion of forgery or large interpolations. But it may also be explained as a special pleading for a novelty which to the mind of the writer was essential to the very existence of the church.

The peculiarity in this Ignatian view is that the bishop appears in it as the head and centre of a single congregation, and not as equally the representative of the whole church; also, that (as in the pseudo-Clementine Homilies) he is the vicar of Christ, and not, as in the later view, merely the successor of the apostles,—the presbyters and deacons around him being represented as those successors; and finally, that there are no distinctions of order among the bishops, no trace of a primacy; all are fully coordinate vicars of Christ, who provides for himself in them, as it were, a sensible, perceptible omnipresence in the church. The Ignatian episcopacy, in short, is congregational, not diocesan; a new and growing institution, not a settled policy of apostolic origin.


 § 46. Episcopacy at the time of Irenaeus and Tertullian.


In all these points the idea of the episcopate in Irenaeus, the great opponent of Gnosticism (about 180), is either lower or higher. This father represents the institution as a diocesan office, and as the continuation of the apostolate, the vehicle of the catholic tradition, and the support of doctrinal unity in opposition to heretical vagaries. He exalts the bishops of the original apostolic churches, above all the church of Rome, and speaks with great emphasis of an unbroken episcopal succession as a test of apostolic teaching and a bulwark against heresy.201

At the same time the wavering terminology of Irenaeus in the interchangeable use of the words "bishop" and "presbyter" reminds us of Clement of Rome, and shows that the distinction of the two orders was not yet fully fixed.202

The same view of the episcopal succession as the preserver of apostolic tradition and guardian of orthodox doctrine, we find also, though less frequently, in the earlier writings of Tertullian, with this difference that he uniformly and clearly distinguishes bishops and presbyters, and thus proves a more advanced state of the episcopal polity at his time (about 200).203  But afterwards, in the chiliastic and democratic cause of Montanism, he broke with the episcopal hierarchy, and presented against it the antithesis that the church does not consist of bishops, and that the laity are also priests.204


 § 47. Cyprianic Episcopacy.


The old catholic episcopalianism reached its maturity in the middle of the third century in the teaching and example of Cyprian, bishop and martyr of the church in North Africa. He represents the claims of episcopacy in close connection with the idea of a special priesthood and sacrifice.205  He is the typical high-churchman of the ante-Nicene age. He vigorously put into practice what he honestly believed. He had a good opportunity to assert his authority in the controversy about the lapsed during the Decian persecution, in the schism of Felicissimus, and in the controversy on heretical baptism.

Cyprian considers the bishops as the bearers of the Holy Spirit, who passed from Christ to the apostles, from them by ordination to the bishops, propagates himself in an unbroken line of succession, and gives efficacy to all religious exercises. Hence they are also the pillars of the unity of the church; nay, in a certain sense they are the church itself. "The bishop," says he, "is in the church, and the church in the bishop, and if any one is not with the bishop he is not in the church."206  And this is the same with him as to say, he is no Christian. Cyprian is thoroughly imbued with the idea of the solidary unity of the episcopate,—the many bishops exercising only one office in solidum, each within his diocese, and each at the same time representing in himself the whole office.207

But with all this, the bishop still appears in Cyprian in the closest connexion with the presbyters. He undertook no important matter without their advice. The fourth general council, at Carthage, a.d. 398, even declared the sentence of a bishop, without the concurrence of the lower clergy, void, and decreed that in the ordination of a presbyter, all the presbyters, with the bishop, should lay their hands on the candidate.208

The ordination of a bishop was performed by the neighboring bishops, requiring at least three in number. In Egypt, however, so long as there was but one bishop there, presbyters must have performed the consecration, which Eutychius209 and Hilary the Deacon210 expressly assert was the case.


 § 48. The Pseudo-Clementine Episcopacy.


Besides this orthodox or catholic formation of the episcopate, the kindred monarchical hierarchy of the Ebionitic sect deserves attention, as it meets us in the pseudo-Clementine Homilies. Chronologically this falls in the middle of the second century, between Ignatius and Irenaeus, and forms a sort of transition from the former to the latter; though it cannot exactly be said to have influenced the Catholic church. It is rather a heretical counterpart of the orthodox episcopate. The organization which consolidated the Catholic church answered the same purpose for a sect. The author of the pseudo-Clementine, like Ignatius, represents the bishop as the vicar of Christ,211 and at the same time, according to the view of Irenaeus, as the vicar and successor of the apostles;212 but outstrips both in his high hierarchical expressions, such as kavqedra qrovno" tou' ejpiskovpou, and in his idea of the primacy, or of a universal church monarchy, which he finds, however, not as Irenaeus suggests and Cyprian more distinctly states, in Peter and the Roman see, but, agreeably to his Judaistic turn, in James of, Jerusalem, the "bishop of bishops."213

The Manichaeans had likewise a hierarchical organization (as the Mormons in modern times).

Montanism, on the other hand, was a democratic reaction against the episcopal hierarchy in favor of the general priesthood, and the liberty of teaching and prophesying, but it was excommunicated and died out, till it reappeared under a different form in Quakerism.


 § 49. Beginnings of the Metropolitan and Patriarchal Systems


Though the bishops were equal in their dignity and powers as successors of the apostles, they gradually fell into different ranks, according to the ecclesiastical and political importance of their several districts.

1. On the lowest level stood the bishops of the country churches, the chorepiscopi who, though not mentioned before the beginning of the fourth century, probably originated at an earlier period.214  They stood between the presbyters and the city bishops, and met the wants of episcopal supervision in the villages of large dioceses in Asia Minor and Syria, also in Gaul.

2. Among the city bishops the metropolitans rose above the rest, that is, the bishops of the capital cities of the provinces.215  They presided in the provincial synods, and, as primi inter pares, ordained the bishops of the province. The metropolitan system appears, from the Council of Nicaea in 325, to have been already in operation at the time of Constantine and Eusebius, and was afterwards more fully carried out in the East. In North Africa the oldest bishop, hence called senex, stood as primas, at the head of his province; but the bishop of Carthage enjoyed the highest consideration, and could summon general councils.

3. Still older and more important is the distinction of apostolic mother-churches,216 such as those at Jerusalem, Antioch) Alexandria, Ephesus, Corinth, and Rome. In the time of Irenaeus and Tertullian they were held in the highest regard, as the chief bearers of the pure church tradition. Among these Antioch, Alexandria, and Rome were most prominent, because they were the capitals respectively of the three divisions (eparchiae) of the Roman empire, and centres of trade and intercourse, combining with their apostolic origin the greatest political weight. To the bishop of Antioch fell all Syria as his metropolitan district; to the bishop of Alexandria, all Egypt; to the bishop of Rome, central and lower Italy, without definite boundaries.

4. Here we have the germs of the eparchal or patriarchal system, to which the Greek church to this day adheres. The name patriarch was at first, particularly in the East, an honorary title for all bishops, and was not till the fourth century exclusively appropriated to the bishops of the three ecclesiastical and political capitals of the Roman empire, Antioch, Alexandria and Rome, and also to the bishop of Jerusalem honoris causa, and the bishop of Constantinople or New Rome. So in the West the term papa afterwards appropriated by the Roman bishop, as summus pontifex, vicarius Christi, was current for a long time in a more general application.


 § 50. Germs of the Papacy.


Comp. the Lit. in vol. I. §25 (p. 245).


Blondel: Traité historique de la primauté en l’église. Genéve, 1641.

Salmasius: De Primatu Papae. Lugd. Bat. 1645.

Is. Barrow: The Pope’s Supremacy. Lond. 1680 (new ed. Oxf. 1836. N. York, 1845).

Rothensee (R.C.): Der Primal Des Papstes in allen Christlichen Jahrhunderten, 3 vols. Mainz, 1836–38 (I. 1–98).

Kenrick (R.C., archbishop of Baltimore, d. 1853): The Primacy of the Apostolic See vindicated. N. York, 4th ed. 1855.

R. I. Wilberforce (formerly archdeacon in the Anglican church; died in the Roman church, 1857): An Inquiry into the Principles of Church Authority; or Reasons for Recalling my subscriptions to the Royal Supremacy. Lond. 1854 (ch. vi.-x.).

J. E. Riddle: The History of the Papacy to the Period of the Reformation.  Lond. 1856. 2 vols. (Chapter 1, p. 2–113; chiefly taken from Schröckh and Planck).

Thomas Greenwood: Cathedra Petri. A Political History of the great Latin Patriarchate. Lond. 1856–1872. 6 vols. Vol. I. ch. I.-VI. (A work of independent and reliable learning.)

Joh. Friedrich (Old Cath.): Zur ältesten Geschichte des Primates in der Kirche. Bonn, 1879.

E Renan: Conferences d’Angleterre. Rome et le christianisme. Paris 1880. The Hibbert Lectures delivered in Lond. 1880. English translation by Charles Beard, London (Williams & Norgate) 1880, another by Erskine Clement (Boston, 1880). Consists mostly of extracts from his books on the Origin of Christianity, skillfully put together.

H. Formby (R.C.): Ancient Rome and its connection with the Christian Religion. London 1880.

Jos. Langen (Old Cath.): Geschichte der römischen Kirche bis zum Pontificate Leo’s I. Bonn, 1881.

R. F. Littledale (Anglo-Cath.): The Petrine Claims, A Critical Inquiry London 1880. Controversial.


Among the great bishops of Antioch, Alexandria, and Rome, the Roman bishop combined all the conditions for a primacy, which, from a purely honorary distinction, gradually became the basis of a supremacy of jurisdiction. The same propension to monarchical unity, which created out of the episcopate a centre, first for each congregation, then for each diocese, pressed on towards a visible centre for the whole church. Primacy and episcopacy grew together. In the present period we already find the faint beginnings of the papacy, in both its good and its evil features; and with them, too, the first examples of earnest protest against the abuse of its power. In the Nicene age the bishop of Jerusalem was made an honorary patriarch in view of the antiquity of that church, though his diocese was limited; and from the middle of the fourth century the new patriarch of Constantinople or New Rome, arose to the primacy among the eastern patriarchs, and became a formidable rival of the bishop of old Rome.

The Roman church claims not only human but divine right for the papacy, and traces its institution directly to Christ, when he assigned to Peter an eminent position in the work of founding his church, against which even the gates of hades shall never prevail. This claim implies several assumptions, viz. (1) that Peter by our Lord’s appointment had not simply a primacy of personal excellency, or of honor and dignity (which must be conceded to him), but also a supremacy of jurisdiction over the other apostles (which is contradicted by the fact that Peter himself never claimed it, and that Paul maintained a position of perfect independence, and even openly rebuked him at Antioch, Gal. 2:11); (2) that the privileges of this primacy and supremacy are not personal only (as the peculiar gifts of Paul or John undoubtedly were), but official, hereditary and transferable; (3) that they were actually transferred by Peter, not upon the bishop of Jerusalem, or Antioch (where Peter certainly was), but upon the bishop of Rome; (4) that Peter was not only at Rome (which is very probable after 63, though not as certain as Paul’s presence and martyrdom in Rome), but acted there as bishop till his martyrdom, and appointed a successor (of which there is not the slightest historical evidence); and (5) that the bishops of Rome, as successors of Peter, have always enjoyed and exercised an universal jurisdiction over the Christian church (which is not the case as a matter of fact, and still less as a matter of conceded right).

Leaving a full discussion of most of these points to polemical theology, we are here concerned with the papacy as a growth of history, and have to examine the causes which have gradually raised it to its towering eminence among the governing institutions of the world.

The historical influences which favored the ascendency of the Roman see were:

(1) The high antiquity of the Roman church, which had been honored even by Paul with the most important doctrinal epistle of the New Testament. It was properly the only apostolic mother-church in the West, and was thus looked upon from the first by the churches of Italy, Gaul, and Spain, with peculiar reverence.

(2) The labors, martyrdom, and burial at Rome of Peter and Paul, the two leading apostles. The whole Roman congregation passed through the fearful ordeal of martyrdom during the Neronian persecution, but must soon afterwards have been reorganized, with a halo of glory arising from the graves of the victims.

(3) The political pre-eminence of that metropolis of the world, which was destined to rule the European races with the sceptre of the cross, as she had formerly ruled them with the sword.

(4) The executive wisdom and the catholic orthodox instinct of the Roman church, which made themselves felt in this period in the three controversies on the time of Easter, the penitential discipline, and the validity of heretical baptism.

To these may be added, as secondary causes, her firmness under persecutions, and her benevolent care for suffering brethren even in distant places, as celebrated by Dionysius of Corinth (180), and by Eusebius.

From the time of St. Paul’s Epistle (58), when he bestowed high praise on the earlier Roman converts, to the episcopate of Victor at the close of the second century, and the unfavorable account by Hippolytus of Pope Zephyrinus and Pope Callistus, we have no express and direct information about the internal state of the Roman church. But incidentally it is more frequently mentioned than any other. Owing to its metropolitan position, it naturally grew in importance and influence with the spread of the Christian religion in the empire. Rome was the battle-field of orthodoxy and heresy, and a resort of all sects and parties. It attracted from every direction what was true and false in philosophy and religion. Ignatius rejoiced in the prospect of suffering for Christ in the centre of the world; Polycarp repaired hither to settle with Anicetus the paschal controversy; Justin Martyr presented there his defense of Christianity to the emperors, and laid down for it his life; Irenaeus, Tertullian, and Cyprian conceded to that church a position of singular pre-eminence. Rome was equally sought as a commanding position by heretics and theosophic jugglers, as Simon Magus, Valentine, Marcion, Cerdo, and a host of others. No wonder, then, that the bishops of Rome at an early date were looked upon as metropolitan pastors, and spoke and acted accordingly with an air of authority which reached far beyond their immediate diocese.


Clement of Rome.


The first example of the exercise of a sort of papal authority is found towards the close of the first century in the letter of the Roman bishop Clement (d. 102) to the bereaved and distracted church of Corinth. This epistle, full of beautiful exhortations to harmony, love, and humility, was sent, as the very address shows,217 not in the bishop’s own name, which is not mentioned at all, but in that of the Roman congregation, which speaks always in the first person plural. It was a service of love, proffered by one church to another in time of need. Similar letters of instruction, warning and comfort were written to other congregations by Ignatius, Polycarp, Dionysius of Corinth, Irenaeus. Nevertheless it can hardly be denied that the document reveals the sense of a certain superiority over all ordinary congregations. The Roman church here, without being asked (as far as appears), gives advice, with superior administrative wisdom, to an important church in the East, dispatches messengers to her, and exhorts her to order and unity in a tone of calm dignity and authority, as the organ of God and the Holy Spirit.218  This is all the more surprising if St. John, as is probable, was then still living in Ephesus, which was nearer to Corinth than Rome. The hierarchical spirit arose from the domineering spirit of the Roman church, rather than the Roman bishop or the presbyters who were simply the organs of the people.219  But a century later the bishop of Rome was substituted for the church of Rome, when Victor in his own name excommunicated the churches of Asia Minor for a trifling difference of ritual. From this hierarchical assumption there was only one step towards the papal absolutism of a Leo and Hildebrand, and this found its ultimate doctrinal climax in the Vatican dogma of papal infallibility.




Ignatius, in his Epistle to the Romans (even in the Syriac recension), applies to that congregation a number of high-sounding titles, and describes her as "presiding in the place of the region of the Romans," and as "taking the lead in charity."220  This is meant as a commendation of her practical benevolence for which she was famous. Dionysius of Corinth in his letter to Soter of Rome testifies to it as saying: "This practice has prevailed with you from the very beginning, to do good to all the brethren in every way, and to send contributions to many churches in every city."221  The Roman church was no doubt more wealthy than any other, and the liberal use of her means must have greatly increased her influence. Beyond this, Ignatius cannot be quoted as a witness for papal claims. He says not a word of the primacy, nor does he even mention Clement or any other bishop of Rome. The church alone is addressed throughout. He still had a lively sense of the difference between a bishop and an apostle. "I do not command you," he writes to the Romans, "as if I were Peter or Paul; they were apostles."




Irenaeus calls Rome the greatest, the oldest(?) church, acknowledged by all, founded by the two most illustrious apostles, Peter and Paul, the church, with which, on account of her more important precedence, all Christendom must agree, or (according to another interpretation) to which (as the metropolis of the world) all other churches must resort.222  The "more important precedence" places her above the other apostolic churches, to which likewise a precedence is allowed.

This is surely to be understood, however, as a precedence only of honor, not of jurisdiction. For when Pope Victor, about the year 190, in hierarchical arrogance and intolerance, broke fellowship with the churches of Asia Minor, for no other reason but because they adhered to their tradition concerning the celebration of Easter, the same Irenaeus, though agreeing with him on the disputed point itself, rebuked him very emphatically as a troubler of the peace of the church, and declared himself against a forced uniformity in such unessential matters. Nor did the Asiatic churches allow themselves to be intimidated by the dictation of Victor. They answered the Roman tradition with that of their own sedes apostolicae. The difference continued until the council at Nicaea at last settled the controversy in favor of the Roman practice, but even long afterwards the old British churches differed from the Roman practice in the Easter observance to the time of Gregory I.




The celebrated Hippolytus, in the beginning of the third century, was a decided antagonist of the Roman bishops, Zephyrinus and Callistus, both for doctrinal and disciplinary reasons. Nevertheless we learn from his work called Philosophumena, that at that time the Roman bishop already claimed an absolute power within his own jurisdiction; and that Callistus, to the great grief of part of the presbytery, laid down the principle, that a bishop can never be deposed or compelled to resign by the presbytery, even though he have committed a mortal sin.




Tertullian points the heretics to the apostolic mother churches, as the chief repositories of pure doctrine; and among these gives especial prominence to that of Rome, where Peter was crucified, Paul beheaded, and John immersed unhurt in boiling oil(?) and then banished to the island. Yet the same father became afterwards an opponent of Rome. He attacked its loose penitential discipline, and called the Roman bishop (probably Zephyrinus), in irony and mockery, "pontifex maximus" and "episcopus episcoporum."




Cyprian is clearest, both in his advocacy of the fundamental idea of the papacy, and in his protest against the mode of its application in a given case. Starting from the superiority of Peter, upon whom the Lord built his church, and to whom he intrusted the feeding of his sheep, in order to represent thereby the unity in the college of the apostles, Cyprian transferred the same superiority to the Bishop of Rome, as the successor of Peter, and accordingly called the Roman church the chair of Peter, and the fountain of priestly unity,223 the root, also, and mother of the catholic church.224  But on the other side, he asserts with equal energy the equality and relative independence of the bishops, as successors of the apostles, who had all an equally direct appointment from Christ. In his correspondence he uniformly addresses the Roman bishop as "brother" and "colleague," conscious of his own equal dignity and authority. And in the controversy about heretical baptism, he opposes Pope Stephen with almost Protestant independence, accusing him of error and abuse of his power, and calling a tradition without truth an old error. Of this protest he never retracted a word.




Still more sharp and unsparing was the Cappadocian bishop, Firmilian, a disciple of Origen, on the bishop of Rome, while likewise implying a certain acknowledgment of his primacy. Firmilian charges him with folly, and with acting unworthily of his position; because, as the successor of Peter, he ought rather to further the unity of the church than to destroy it, and ought to abide on the rock foundation instead of laying a new one by recognizing heretical baptism. Perhaps the bitterness of Firmilian was due partly to his friendship and veneration for Origen, who had been condemned by a council at Rome.

Nevertheless, on this question of baptism, also, as on those of Easter, and of penance, the Roman church came out victorious in the end.


Comparative Insignificance of the first Popes.


From these testimonies it is clear, that the growing influence of the Roman see was rooted in public opinion and in the need of unity in the ancient church. It is not to be explained at all by the talents and the ambition of the incumbents. On the contrary, the personality of the thirty popes of the first three centuries falls quite remarkably into the background; though they are all canonized saints and, according to a later but extremely doubtful tradition, were also, with two exceptions, martyrs.225  Among them, and it may be said down to Leo the Great, about the middle of the fifth century, there was hardly one, perhaps Clement, who  could compare, as a church leader, with an Ignatius, a Cyprian, and an Ambrose; or, as a theolooian, with an Irenaeus, a Tertullian, an Athanasius, and an Augustin.226  Jerome, among his hundred and thirty-six church celebrities, of the first four centuries, brings in only four Roman bishops, Clement, Victor, Cornelius, and Damasus, and even these wrote only a few epistles. Hippolytus, in his Philosophumena, written about 225, even presents two contemporaneous popes, St. Zephyrinus (202–218) and Callistus (St. Calixtus I., 218–223), from his own observation, though not without partisan feeling, in a most unfavorable light; charging the first with ignorance and avarice,227 the second with scandalous conduct (he is said to have been once a swindler and a fugitive slave rescued from suicide), and both of them with the Patripassian heresy. Such charges could not have been mere fabrications with so honorable an author as Hippolytus, even though he was a schismatic rival bishop to Callistus; they must have had at least some basis of fact.


 § 51. Chronology of the Popes.


I. Sources.


The principal sources for the obscure chronology of the early bishops of Rome are the catalogues of popes. These are divided into two classes, the oriental or Greek, and the occidental or Latin. To the first belong the lists of Hegesippus and Irenaeus, from the second century, that of Eusebius (in his Chronicle, and his Church History), and his successors from the fourth century and later. This class is followed by Lipsius and Harnack. The second class embraces the catalogues of Augustin (Ep. 55, al. 165), Optatus of Mileve (De schism. Donat. II. 3), the "Catalogus Liberianus" (coming down to Liberius, 354), the "Catalogus Felicianus" (to 530), the "Catalogus Cononianus," based perhaps on the "Catalogus Leoninus" (to 440), the "Liber Pontificalis" (formerly supposed to be based on the preceding catalogues, but according to the Abbé Duchesne and Waitz, older than the "Liber Felicianus"). The "Liber Pontif." itself exists in different MSS., and has undergone many changes. It is variously dated from the fifth or seventh century.

To these may be added the "Martyrologia" and "Calendaria" of the Roman Church, especially the "Martyrologium Hieronymianum," and the "Martyrologium Romanum parvum" (both of the seventh or eighth century).

The inscriptions on the papal tombs discovered in Rome since 1850, contain names and titles, but no dates.

On the "Catalogus Liberianus," see especially the critical essay of Mommsen "Ueber de Chronographen des Jahres 354," in the "Transactions of the Royal Saxon Society of Sciences," Philos. histor. Section, vol. I. (1850), p. 631 sqq. The text of the Catalogue is given, p. 634–’37, and by Lipsius, Chronologie der röm. Bischöfe, Append. p. 265–268. The oldest MSS. of the "Liber Pontificalis" date from the seventh and eighth centuries, and present a text of a.d. 641, but with many variations. "Mit wahrer Sicherheit," says Waitz, "gelangen wir in der Geschichte des Papsthums nicht über das 7te Jahrhundert hinauf."


II. Works.


Phil. Jaffé: Regesta Pontificum Romanorum ab condita ecclesia ad Ann. 1198. Berolini 1851, ed. secunda correcta et aucta auspiciis Gul. Wattenbach. Lips. 1881 sqq. Continued by Potthast from 1198–1304, and supplemented by Harttung (Bd. I. a.d. 748–1198, Gotha 1880).

R A. Lipsius: Chronologie der Röm. Bischöfe bis zur Mitte des 4ten Jahrh. Kiel, 1869. Comp. Hort’s review of this book in the "Academy" for Sept. 15, 1871. Lipsius: Neue Studien zur Papstchronologie, in the "Jahrbücher für Protest. Theol." Leipz. 1880 (pp. 78–126 and 233–307). Lipsius denies that Peter ever was at Rome.

Abbé L. Duchesne: Étude sur le Liber Pontificalis. Paris, 1887. La date et les recensions du Liber Pontificalis. 1879. Le Liber Pontificalis. Texte, introduction et commentaire. Paris, 1884 and 1889, 2 vols. 4° (with facsimiles).

Adolf Harnack: Die Zeit des Ignatius und die Chronologie der antiochenischen Bischöfe bis Tyrannus, Leipz. 1878 (p. 73).

G. Waitz: UEber die verschiedenen Texte des Liber Pontificalis, in the "Archiv der Gesellschaft für ältere deutsche Geschichtskunde," IV; and his review of Duchesne, and Lipsius, in H. v. Sybel’s "Histor. Zeitschrift" for 1880, p. 135 sqq.


The oldest links in the chain of Roman bishops are veiled in impenetrable darkness. Tertullian and most of the Latins (and the pseudo-Clementina), make Clement (Phil. 4:3), the first successor of Peter;228 but Irenaeus, Eusebius, and other Greeks, also Jerome and the Roman Catalogue, give him the third place, and put Linus (2 Tim. 4:21), and Anacletus (or Anincletus), between him and Peter.229 In some lists Cletus is substituted for Anacletus, in others the two are distinguished. Perhaps Linus and Anacletus acted during the life time of Paul and Peter as assistants or presided only over one part of the church, while Clement may have had charge of another branch; for at that early day, the government of the congregation composed of Jewish and Gentile Christian elements was not so centralized as it afterwards became. Furthermore, the earliest fathers, with a true sense of the distinction between the apostolic and episcopal offices, do not reckon Peter among the bishops of Rome at all; and the Roman Catalogue in placing Peter in the line of bishops, is strangely regardless of Paul, whose independent labors in Rome are attested not only by tradition, but by the clear witness of his own epistles and the book of Acts.

Lipsius, after a laborious critical comparison of the different catalogues of popes, arrives at the conclusion that Linus, Anacletus, and Clement were Roman presbyters (or presbyter-bishops in the N. T. sense of the term), at the close of the first century, Evaristus and Alexander presbyters at the beginning of the second, Xystus I. (Latinized: Sixtus), presbyter for ten years till about 128, Telesphorus for eleven years, till about 139, and next successors diocesan bishops.230

It must in justice be admitted, however, that the list of Roman bishops has by far the preeminence in age, completeness, integrity of succession, consistency of doctrine and policy, above every similar catalogue, not excepting those of Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria, and Constantinople; and this must carry great weight with those who ground their views chiefly on external testimonies, without being able to rise to the free Protestant conception of Christianity and its history of development on earth.


 § 52. List of the Roman Bishops and Roman Emperors during the First Three Centuries.


From the lists of Eusebius (till Silvester), Jaffé (Regesta), Potthast (Bibliotheca Hist. Medii Aevi), Lipsius and others compared. See a continuation of the list in my History of Mediaeval Christianity, p. 205 sqq.









27 b.c.




a.d. 14–37









? 42–67








? 67–79











69 –69

? 79–91

Cletus or Anacletus







? 91–100

Clemens I







? 100–109




? 109–119

Alexander I



? 119–128

Xystus or Sixtus I



? 128–139

Telesphorus (Martyr)

Antoninus Pius


? 139–142




? 142–154

Pius I



? 154–168


Marcus Aurelius


? 168–176




? 177- 190




? 190–202

Victor I





Didius Julianus








Septimius Severus








Geta (d. 212)




M.Opilius Macrinus



Callistus, or Calixtus I







? 223–230

Urbanus I

Alexander Severus


? 230–235

Pontianus (resigned in exile)





Maximin I (the Thracian)



Fabianus, Martyr

The two Gordians:
Maximus Pupienus,




Gordian, the Younger







The See vacant till March, 251



? 251–252

Cornelius (in exile)



? 251

(Novatianus, Antipope)




Lucius I



? 253–257

Stephanus I











? 257–258

Xystus (Sixtus) II



Till July 21, 259

The See vacant





Claudius II



Felix I












Gajus (Caius)













Diocletian (d. 313 )




Maximian joint Emp. with Diocletian




Constantius (d. 306)

304 or 307


The See vacant

Galerius (d. 311)




Licinius (d. 323)




Maximin II (Daza)




Constantine the Great,




Galerius (d. 311),




Licinius (d.323),



Eusebius, d. Sept. 26 (?) 309

Maximin (d. 313),




Maxentius (d. 312),



The See Vacant

   reigning jointly.



Miltiades (Melchiades)

314-335 Silvester I.


Constantine the Great,



sole ruler.




The whole number of popes, from the Apostle Peter to Leo XIII. (1878) is two hundred and sixty-three. This would allow about seven years on an average to each papal reign. The traditional twenty-five years of Peter were considered the maximum which none of his successors was permitted to reach, except Pius IX., the first infallible pope, who reigned twenty-seven years (1846-1878). The average term of office of the archbishops of Canterbury is fourteen years.


 § 53. The Catholic Unity.


J. A. Möhler (R.C.): Die Einheit der Kirche oder das Princip des Katholicismus. Tübingen 1825. Full of Catholic enthusiasm for the unity of the church.

R. Rothe: Die Anfänge der christl. Kirche. Wittenb. 1837 (pp. 553–711). A Protestant counterpart of Möhler’s book.

Huther.: Cyprian’s Lehre von der Einheit der Kirche. Hamb. 1839.

J. W. Nevin: Cyprian; four articles in the "Mercersburg Review," 1852. Comp. Varien’s strictures on these articles in the same "Review" for 1853, p. 555 sqq.

Joh. Peters (Ultramontane): Die Lehre des heil. Cyprian von der Einheit der Kirche gegenüber den beiden Schismen in Carthago und Rom. Luxemb. 1870.

Jos. H. Reinkens (Old Cath. Bishop): Die Lehre des heil. Cyprian von der Einheit er Kirche. Würzburg, 1873.

Comp. also Hartel’s ed. of Cyprian’s Opera (3 Parts, Vienna, 1868–’71), and the monographs on Cyprian by Rettberg (1831), Peters (1877), Fechtrup (1878), and O. Ritschl (1883).


On the basis of Paul’s idea of the unity, holiness, and universality of the church, as the mystical body of Christ; hand in hand with the episcopal system of government; in the form of fact rather than of dogma; and in perpetual conflict with heathen persecution from without, and heretical and schismatic tendencies within—arose the idea and the institution of: "the Holy Catholic Church," as the Apostles’ Creed has it;232 or, in the fuller language of the Nicene-Constantinopolitan, "the One Holy Catholic Apostolic Church." In both the oecumenical symbols, as even in the more indefinite creeds of the second and third centuries, on which those symbols are based, the church appears as an article of faith,233 presupposing and necessarily, following faith in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit; and as a holy fellowship,234 within which the various benefits of grace, from the forgiveness of sins to the life everlasting, are enjoyed.

Nor is any distinction made here between a visible and an invisible church. All catholic antiquity thought of none but the actual, historical church, and without hesitation applied to this, while yet in the eyes of the world a small persecuted sect, those four predicates of unity, holiness, universality, and apostolicity, to which were afterwards added exclusiveness infallibility and indestructibility. There sometimes occur, indeed, particularly in the Novatian schism, hints of the incongruity between the empirical reality and the ideal conception of the church; and this incongruity became still more palpable, in regard to the predicate of holiness, after the abatement of the spiritual elevation of the apostolic age, the cessation of persecution, and the decay of discipline. But the unworthiness of individual members and the external servant-form of the church were not allowed to mislead as to the general objective character, which belonged to her in virtue of her union with her glorious heavenly Head.

The fathers of our period all saw in the church, though with different degrees of clearness, a divine, supernatural order of things, in a certain sense the continuation of the life of Christ on earth, the temple of the Holy Spirit, the sole repository of the powers of divine life, the possessor and interpreter of the Holy Scriptures, the mother of all the faithful. She is holy because she is separated from the service of the profane world, is animated by the Holy Spirit, forms her members to holiness, and exercises strict discipline. She is catholic, that is (according to the precise sense of o}lo", which denotes not so much numerical totality as wholeness), complete, and alone true, in distinction from all parties and sects. Catholicity, strictly taken, includes the three marks of universality, unity, and exclusiveness, and is an essential property of the church as the body and organ of Christ, who is, in fact, the only Redeemer for all men. Equally inseparable from her is the predicate of apostolicity, that is, the historical continuity or unbroken succession, which reaches back through the bishops to the apostles, from the apostles to Christ, and from Christ to God. In the view of the fathers, every theoretical departure from this empirical, tangible, catholic church is heresy, that is, arbitrary, subjective, ever changing human opinion; every practical departure, all disobedience to her rulers is schism, or dismemberment of the body of Christ; either is rebellion against divine authority, and a heinous, if not the most heinous, sin. No heresy can reach the conception of the church, or rightly claim any one of her predicates; it forms at best a sect or party, and consequently falls within the province and the fate of human and perishing things, while the church is divine and indestructible.

This is without doubt the view of the ante-Nicene fathers, even of the speculative and spiritualistic Alexandrians. The most important personages in the development of the doctrine concerning the church are, again, Ignatius, Irenaeus, and Cyprian. Their whole doctrine of the episcopate is intimately connected with their doctrine of the catholic unity, and determined by it. For the episcopate is of value in their eyes only, is the indispensable means of maintaining and promoting this unity: while they are compelled to regard the bishops of heretics and schismatics as rebels and antichrists.

1. In the Epistles of Ignatius the unity of the church, in the form and through the medium of the episcopate, is the fundamental thought and the leading topic of exhortation. The author calls himself a man prepared for union.235  He also is the first to use the term "catholic" in the ecclesiastical sense, when he says:236 "Where Christ Jesus is, there is the catholic church;" that is, the closely united and full totality of his people. Only in her, according to his view, can we eat the bread of God; he, who follows a schismatic, inherits not the kingdom of God.237

We meet similar views, although not so clearly and strongly stated, in the Roman Clement’s First Epistle to the Corinthians, in the letter of the church of Smyrna on the martyrdom of Polycarp, and in the Shepherd of Hermas.

2 Irenaeus speaks much more at large respecting the church. He calls her the haven of rescue, the way of salvation, the entrance to life, the paradise in this world, of whose trees, to wit, the holy Scriptures, we may eat, excepting the tree of knowledge of good and evil, which he takes as a type of heresy. The church is inseparable from the Holy Spirit; it is his home, and indeed his only dwelling-place on earth. "Where the church is," says he, putting the church first, in the genuine catholic spirit, "there is the Spirit of God, and where the Spirit of God is there is all grace."238  Only on the bosom of the church, continues he, can we be nursed to life. To her must we flee, to be made partakers of the Holy Spirit; separation from her is separation from the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. Heretics, in his view, are enemies of the truth and sons of Satan, and will be swallowed up by hell, like the company of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. Characteristic in this respect is the well-known legend, which he relates, about the meeting of the apostle John with the Gnostic Cerinthus, and of Polycarp with Marcion, the "first-born of Satan."

3. Tertullian is the first to make that comparison of the church with Noah’s ark, which has since become classical in Roman catholic theology; and he likewise attributes heresies to the devil, without any qualification. But as to schism, he was himself guilty of it since he joined the Montanists and bitterly opposed the Catholics in questions of discipline. He has therefore no place in the Roman Catholic list of the patres, but simply of the scriptores ecclesiae.

4. Even Clement of Alexandria, and Origen, with all their spiritualistic and idealizing turn of mind, are no exception here. The latter, in the words: "Out of the church no man can be saved,"239 brings out the principle of the catholic exclusiveness as unequivocally as Cyprian. Yet we find in him, together with very severe judgments of heretics, mild and tolerant expressions also; and he even supposes, on the ground of Rom. 2:6 sqq., that in the future life honest Jews and heathens will attain a suitable reward, a low grade of blessedness, though not the "life everlasting" in the proper sense. In a later age he was himself condemned as a heretic.

Of other Greek divines of the third century, Methodius in particular, an opponent of Origen, takes high views of the church, and in his Symposion poetically describes it as "the garden of God in the beauty of eternal spring, shining in the richest splendor of immortalizing fruits and flowers;" as the virginal, unspotted, ever young and beautiful royal bride of the divine Logos.

5. Finally, Cyprian, in his Epistles, and most of all in his classical tract: De Unitate Eccelesiae, written in the year 251, amidst the distractions of the Novatian schism, and not without an intermixture of hierarchical pride and party spirit, has most distinctly and most forcibly developed the old catholic doctrine of the church, her unity, universality, and exclusiveness. He is the typical champion of visible, tangible church unity, and would have made a better pope than any pope before Leo I.; yet after all he was anti-papal and anti-Roman when he differed from the pope. Augustin felt this inconsistency, and thought that he had wiped it out by the blood of his martyrdom. But he never gave any sign of repentance. His views are briefly as follows:

The Catholic church was founded from the first by Christ on St. Peter alone, that, with all the equality of power among the apostles, unity might still be kept prominent as essential to her being. She has ever since remained one, in unbroken episcopal succession; as there is only one sun, though his rays are everywhere diffused. Try once to separate the ray from the sun; the unity of the light allows no division. Break the branch from the tree; it can produce no fruit. Cut off the brook from the fountain; it dries up. Out of this empirical orthodox church, episcopally organized and centralized in Rome, Cyprian can imagine no Christianity at all;240 not only among the Gnostics and other radical heretics, but even among the Novatians, who varied from the Catholics in no essential point of doctrine, and only elected an opposition bishop in the interest of their rigorous penitential discipline. Whoever separates himself from the catholic church is a foreigner, a profane person, an enemy, condemns himself, and must be shunned. No one can have God for his father, who has not the church for his mother.241  As well might one out of the ark of Noah have escaped the flood, as one out of the church be saved;242 because she alone is the bearer of the Holy Spirit and of all grace.

In the controversy on heretical baptism, Cyprian carried out the principle of exclusiveness even more consistently than the Roman church. For he entirely rejected such baptism, while Stephen held it valid, and thus had to concede, in strict consistency, the possibility of regeneration, and hence of salvation, outside the Catholic church. Here is a point where even the Roman system, generally so consistent, has a loophole of liberality, and practically gives up her theoretical principle of exclusiveness. But in carrying out this principle, even in persistent opposition to the pope, in whom he saw the successor of Peter and the visible centre of unity, Cyprian plainly denied the supremacy of Roman jurisdiction and the existence of an infallible tribunal for the settlement of doctrinal controversies and protested against identifying the church in general with the church of Rome. And if he had the right of such protest in favor of strict exclusiveness, should not the Greek church, and above all the Evangelical, much rather have the right of protest against the Roman exclusiveness, and in favor of a more free and comprehensive conception of the church?

We may freely acknowledge the profound and beautiful truth at the bottom of this old catholic doctrine of the church, and the historical importance of it for that period of persecution, as well as for the great missionary work among the barbarians of the middle ages; but we cannot ignore the fact that the doctrine rested in part on a fallacy, which, in course of time, after the union of the church with the state, or, in other words, with the world, became more and more glaring, and provoked an internal protest of ever-growing force. It blindly identified the spiritual unity of the church with unity of organization, insisted on outward uniformity at the expense of free development, and confounded the faulty empirical church, or a temporary phase of the development of Christianity, with the ideal and eternal kingdom of Christ, which will not be perfect in its manifestation until the glorious second coming of its Head. The Scriptural principle "Out of Christ there is no salvation," was contracted and restricted to the Cyprianic principle: "Out of the (visible) church there is no salvation;" and from this there was only one step to the fundamental error of Romanism: "Out of the Roman Church there is no salvation."

No effort after outward unity could prevent the distinction of all Oriental and Occidental church from showing itself at this early period, in language, customs, and theology;—a distinction which afterwards led to a schism to this day unhealed.

It may well be questioned whether our Lord intended an outward visible unity of the church in the present order of things. He promised that there should be "one flock one shepherd," but not "one fold."243  There may be one flock, and yet many folds or church organizations. In the sacerdotal prayer, our Lord says not one word about church, bishops or popes, but dwells upon that spiritual unity which reflects the harmony between the eternal Father and the eternal Son. "The true communion of Christian men—’the communion of saints’ upon which all churches are built—is not the common performance of external acts, but a communion of soul with soul and of the soul with Christ. It is a consequence of the nature which God has given us that an external organization should help our communion with one another: it is a consequence both of our twofold nature, and of Christ’s appointment that external acts should help our communion with Him. But subtler, deeper, diviner than anything of which external things can be either the symbol or the bond is that inner reality and essence of union—that interpenetrating community of thought and character—which St. Paul speaks of as the ’unity of the Spirit,’ and which in the sublimest of sublime books, in the most sacred words, is likened to the oneness of the Son with the Father and of the Father with the Son."244


 § 54. Councils.


Best Collections of Acts of Councils by Harduin (1715, 12 vols.), and Mansi (1759, 31 vols.).


C. J. Hefele (R.C. Bishop of Rottenburg, and member of the Vatican Council of 1870): Conciliengeschichte, Freiburg 1855; second ed. 1873 sqq., 7 vols. down to the Council of Florence, a.d. 1447 (See vol. I., pp. 83–242). English translation by W. R. Clark and H. R. Oxenham ( Edinb. 1871, 2d vol. 1876, 3d vol. 1883).

E. B. Pusey (d. 1882): The Councils of the Church, from the Council of Jerusalem, a.d. 51, to the Council of Constantinople, a.d. 381; chiefly as to their constitution, but also as to their object and history. Lond. 1857.

A. W. Dale: The Synod of Elvira [a.d. 306] and Christian Life in the Fourth Century. Lond. 1882.

Comp. the article Council in Smith and Cheetham and Lect. VII. in Hatch, Bampton Lect. on the Organization of the Early Christian Church. Lond. 1881, pp. 165 sqq.


Councils or Synods were an important means of maintaining and promoting ecclesiastical unity, and deciding questions of faith and discipline.245  They had a precedent and sanction in the apostolic Conference of Jerusalem for the settlement of the circumcision controversy.246  They were suggested moreover by the deliberative political assemblies of the provinces of the Roman empire, which met every year in the chief towns.247  But we have no distinct trace of Councils before the middle of the second century (between 50 and 170), when they first appear, in the disputes concerning Montanism and Easter.

There are several kinds of Synods according to their size, diocesan, provincial (or metropolitan), national, patriarchal, and oecumenical (or universal).248  Our period knows only the first three. Diocesan synods consist of the bishop and his presbyters and deacons with the people assisting, and were probably held from the beginning, but are not mentioned before the third century. Provincial synods appear first in Greece, where the spirit of association had continued strong since the days of the Achaean league, and then in Asia Minor, North Africa, Gaul, and Spain. They were held, so far as the stormy times of persecution allowed, once or twice a year, in the metropolis, under the presidency of the metropolitan, who thus gradually acquired a supervision over the other bishops of the province. Special emergencies called out extraordinary sessions, and they, it seems, preceded the regular meetings. They were found to be useful, and hence became institutions.

The synodical meetings were public, and the people of the community around sometimes made their influence felt. In the time of Cyprian presbyters, confessors, and laymen took an active part, a custom which seems to have the sanction of apostolic practice.249  At the Synod which met about 256, in the controversy on heretical baptism, there were present eighty-seven bishops, very many priests and deacons, and "maxima pars plebis;"250 and in the synods concerning the restoration of the Lapsi, Cyprian convened besides the bishops, his clergy, the "confessores," and "laicos stantes" (i.e. in good standing).251  Nor was this practice confined to North Africa. We meet it in Syria, at the synods convened on account of Paul of Samosata (264–269), and in Spain at the council of Elvira. Origen, who was merely a presbyter, was the leading spirit of two Arabian synods, and convinced their bishop Beryllus of his Christological error. Even the Roman clergy, in their letter to Cyprian,252 speak of a common synodical consultation of the bishops with the priests, deacons, confessors, and laymen in good standing.

But with the advance of the hierarchical spirit, this republican feature gradually vanished. After the council of Nicaea (325) bishops alone had seat and voice, and the priests appear hereafter merely as secretaries, or advisers, or representatives of their bishops. The bishops, moreover, did not act as representatives of their churches, nor in the name of the body of the believers, as formerly, but in their own right as successors of the apostles. They did not as yet, however, in this period, claim infallibility for their decisions, unless we choose to find a slight approach to such a claim in the formula: "Placuit nobis, Sancto Spiritu suggerente," as used, for example, by the council of Carthage, in 252.253  At all events, their decrees at that time had only moral power, and could lay no claim to universal validity. Even Cyprian emphatically asserts absolute independence for each bishop in his own diocese. "To each shepherd," he says, "a portion of the Lord’s flock has been assigned, and his account must be rendered to his Master."

The more important acts, such as electing bishops, excommunication, decision of controversies, were communicated to other provinces by epistolae synodicae. In the intercourse and the translation of individual members of churches, letters of recommendation254 from the bishop were commonly employed or required as terms of admission. Expulsion from one church was virtually an expulsion from all associated churches.

The effect of the synodical system tended to consolidation. The Christian churches from independent communities held together by a spiritual fellowship of faith, became a powerful confederation, a compact moral commonwealth within the political organization of the Roman empire.

As the episcopate culminated in the primacy, so the synodical system rose into the oecumenical councils, which represented the whole church of the Roman empire. But these could not be held till persecution ceased, and the emperor became the patron of Christianity. The first was the celebrated council of Nicaea, in the year 325. The state gave legal validity to the decrees of councils, and enforced them if necessary by all its means of coercion. But the Roman government protected only the Catholic or orthodox church, except during the progress of the Arian and other controversies, before the final result was reached by the decision of an oecumenical Synod convened by the emperor.255


 § 55. The Councils of Elvira, Arles, and Ancyra.


Among the ante-Nicene Synods some were occasioned by the Montanist controversy in Asia Minor, some by the Paschal controversies, some by the affairs of Origen, some by the Novatian schism and the treatment of the Lapsi in Carthage and Rome, some by the controversies on heretical baptism (255, 256), three were held against Paul of Samosata in Antioch (264–269).

In the beginning of the fourth century three Synods, held at Elvira, Arles, and Ancyra, deserve special mention, as they approach the character of general councils and prepared the way for the first oecumenical council. They decided no doctrinal question, but passed important canons on church polity and Christian morals. They were convened for the purpose of restoring order and discipline after the ravages of the Diocletian persecution. They deal chiefly with the large class of the Lapsed, and reflect the transition state from the ante-Nicene to the Nicene age. They are alike pervaded by the spirit of clericalism and a moderate asceticism.

1. The Synod of Elvira (Illiberis, or Eliberis, probably on the site of the modern Granada) was held in 306,256 and attended by nineteen bishops, and twenty-six presbyters, mostly from the Southern districts of Spain. Deacons and laymen were also present. The Diocletian persecution ceased in Spain after the abdication of Diocletian and Maximian Herculeus in 305; while it continued to rage for several years longer in the East under Galerius and Maximin. The Synod passed eighty-one Latin canons against various forms of heathen immorality then still abounding, and in favor of church discipline and austere morals. The Lapsed were forbidden the holy communion even in articulo mortis (can. 1). This is more severe than the action of the Nicene Synod. The thirty-sixth canon prohibits the admission of sacred pictures on the walls of the church buildings,257 and has often been quoted by Protestants as an argument against image worship as idolatrous; while Roman Catholic writers explain it either as a prohibition of representations of the deity only, or as a prudential measure against heathen desecration of holy things.258  Otherwise the Synod is thoroughly catholic in spirit and tone. Another characteristic feature is the severity against the Jews who were numerous in Spain. Christians are forbidden to marry Jews.259

The leading genius of the Elvira Synod and the second in the list was Hosius, bishop of Corduba (Cordova), who also attended the Council of Nicaea as the chief representative of the West. He was native of Cordova, the birth-place of Lucan and Seneca, and more than sixty years in the episcopate. Athanasius calls him a man holy in fact as well as in name, and speaks of his wisdom in guiding synods. As a far-seeing statesman, he seems to have conceived the idea of reconciling the empire with the church and influenced the mind of Constantine in that direction. He is one of the most prominent links between the age of persecution and the age of imperial Christianity. He was a strong defender of the Nicene faith, but in his extreme old age he wavered and signed an Arian formula. Soon afterwards he died, a hundred years old (358).

2. The first Council of Arles in the South of France260 was held a.d. 314, in consequence of an appeal of the Donatists to Constantine the Great, against the decision of a Roman Council of 313, consisting of three Gallican and fifteen Italian bishops under the lead of Pope Melchiades. This is the first instance of an appeal of a Christian party to the secular power, and it turned out unfavorably to the Donatists who afterwards became enemies of the government. The Council of Arles was the first called by Constantine and the forerunner of the Council of Nicaea. Augustin calls it even universal, but it was only Western at best. It consisted of thirty-three bishops261 from Gaul, Sicily, Italy (exclusive of the Pope Sylvester, who, however, was represented by two presbyters and two deacons), North Africa, and Britain (three, from York, London, and probably from Caerleon on Usk), besides thirteen presbyters and twenty-three deacons. It excommunicated Donatus and passed twenty-two canons concerning Easter (which should be held on one and the same day), against the non-residence of clergy, against participation in races and gladiatorial fights (to be punished by excommunication), against the rebaptism of heretics, and on other matters of discipline. Clergymen who could be proven to have delivered sacred books or utensils in persecution (the traditores) should be deposed, but their official acts were to be held valid. The assistance of at least three bishops was required at ordination.262

3. The Council of Ancyra, the capital of Galatia in Asia Minor, was held soon after the death of the persecutor Maximin (3l3), probably in the year 314, and represented Asia Minor and Syria. It numbered from twelve to eighteen bishops (the lists vary), several of whom eleven years afterwards attended the Council of Nicaea. Marcellus of Ancyra who acquired celebrity in the Arian controversies, presided, according to others Vitalis of Antioch. Its object was to heal the wounds of the Diocletian persecution, and it passed twenty-five canons relating chiefly to the treatment of those who had betrayed their faith or delivered the sacred books in those years of terror. Priests who had offered sacrifice to the gods, but afterwards repented, were prohibited from preaching and all sacerdotal functions, but allowed to retain their clerical dignity. Those who had sacrificed before baptism may be admitted to orders. Adultery is to be punished by seven years’ penance, murder by life-long penance.263

A similar Council was held soon afterwards at, Neo-Caesarea in Cappadocia (between 314–325), mostly by the same bishops who attended that of Ancyra, and passed fifteen disciplinary canons.264


 § 56. Collections of Ecclesiastical Law. The Apostolical Constitutions and Canons.




I. Diatagai; tw'n aJgivwn   jApostovlwn dia; Klhvmneto", etc., Constitutiones Apostolicae, first edited by Fr Turrianus, Ven. 1563, then in Cotelier’s ed. of the Patres Apostolici (I. 199 sqq.), in Mansi (Collect. Concil. I.), and Harduin (Coll. Conc. I.); newly edited by Ueltzen, Rost. 1853, and P. A. de Lagarde, Lips. and Lond. 1854 and 1862. Ueltzen gives the textus receptus improved. Lagarde aims at the oldest text, which he edited in Syriac (Didascalia Apostolorum Syriace, 1854), and in Greek (Constit. Apostolorum Graece, 1862). Hilgenfels: Nov. Test. extra Canonem rec., Lips. (1866), ed. II. (1884), Fasc. IV. 110–121. He gives the Ap. Church Order under the title Duae Viae vel Judicium Petri.

Thos. Pell Platt: The Æthiopic Didascalia; or the Æthiopic Version of the Apostolical Constitutions, received in the Church of Abyssinia, with an Engl Transl, , Lond. 1834.

Henry Tattam: The Apostolical Constitutions, or Canons of the Apostles in Coptic. With an Engl. translation. Lond. 1848 (214 pages).

II. Kanovne" ejkklhsiastikoi; tw'n aJg. jApostovlwn, Canones, qui dicuntur Apostolorum, in most collections of church law, and in Cotel. (I. 437 sqq.), Mansi, and Harduin (tom. I.), and in the editions of the Ap. Constitutions at the close. Separate edd. by Paul De Lagarde in Greek and Syriac: Reliquiae juris ecclesiastici antiquissimae Syriace, Lips. 1856; and Reliquiae juris ecclesiastici Graece, 1856 (both to be had at Trübner’s, Strassburg). An Ethiopic translation of the Canons, ed. by Winand Fell, Leipz. 1871.

W. G. Beveridge, (Bishop of St. Asaph, d. 1708): Sunovdikon, s. Pandectae Canonum S. G. Apostolorum et Conciliorum, ab Ecclesia Gr. reliquit. Oxon. 1672–82, 2 vols. fol.

John Fulton: Index Canonum. In Greek and English. With a Complete Digest of the entire code of canon law in the undivided Primitive Church. N. York 1872; revised ed. with Preface by P. Schaff, 1883.


Critical Discussions.


Krabbe: Ueber den Ursprung u. den Inhalt der Apost. Constitutionen des Clemens Romanus. Hamb. 1829.

S. v. Drey (R.C.): Neue Untesuchungen über die Constitut. u. Kanones der Ap. Tüb. 1832.

J. W. Bickell (d. 1848): Gesch. des Kirchenrechts. Giess. 1843 (I. 1, pp. 52–255). The second part appeared, Frankf., 1849.

Chase: Constitations of the Holy Apostles, including the Canons; Whiston’s version revised from the Greek; with a prize essay(of Krabbe) upon their origin and contents. New York, 1848.

Bunsen: Hippolytus u. seine Zeit., Leipz. 1852 (I. pp. 418–523, and II. pp. 1126); and in the 2d Engl. ed. Hippolytus and his Age, or Christianity and Mankind, Lond. 1854 (vols. V – VII).

Hefele (R.C.): Conciliengeschichte I. p. 792 sqq. (second ed. 1873). The Didache Literature (fully noticed in Schaff’s monograph

Philoth. Bryennios: Didach; tw'n dwvdeka ajpostovlwn. Constantinople, 1833.

Ad. Harnack: Die Lehre der Zwölf Apostel. Leipz., 1884. Die Apostellehre und die jüdischen beiden Wege, 1886.

Ph. Schaff: The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, or the Oldest Church Manual. N. York, 1885. 3d ed. revised and enlarged, 1889.


Several church manuals or directories of public worship, and discipline have come down to us from the first centuries in different languages. They claim directly or indirectly apostolic origin and authority, but are post-apostolic and justly excluded from the canon. They give us important information on the ecclesiastical laws, morals, and customs of the ante-Nicene age.

1. The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles is the oldest and simplest church manual, of Jewish Christian (Palestinian or Syrian) origin, from the end of the first century, known to the Greek fathers, but only recently discovered and published by Bryennios (1883). It contains in 16 chapters (1) a summary of moral instruction based on the Decalogue and the royal commandment of love to God and man, in the parabolic form of two ways, the way of life and the way of death; (2) directions on the celebration of baptism and the eucharist with the agape; (3) directions on discipline and the offices of apostles (i.e. travelling evangelists), prophets, teachers, bishops (i.e. presbysters), and deacons; (4) an exhortation to watchfulness in view of the coming of the Lord and the resurrection of the saints. A very remarkable book. Its substance survived in the seventh book of the Apostolical Constitutions.

2. The Ecclesiastical Canons of the holy apostles or Apostolical Church Order, of Egyptian origin, probably of the third century. An expansion of the former in the shape of a fictitious dialogue of the apostles, first published in Greek by Bickell (1843), and then also in Coptic and Syriac. It contains ordinances of the apostles on morals, worship, and discipline.

3. The Apostolical Constitutions, the most complete and important Church Manual. It is, in form, a literary fiction, professing to be a bequest of all the apostles, handed down through the Roman bishop Clement, or dictated to him. It begins with the words: "The apostles and elders, to all who among the nations have believed in the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with you, and peace." It contains, in eight books, a collection of moral exhortations, church laws and usages, and liturgical formularies which had gradually arisen in the various churches from the close of the first century, the time of the Roman Clement, downward, particularly in Jerusalem, Antioch, Alexandria, and Rome, partly on the authority of apostolic practice. These were at first orally transmitted; then committed to writing in different versions, like the creeds; and finally brought, by some unknown hand, into their present form. The first six books, which have a strongly Jewish-Christian tone, were composed, with the exception of some later interpolations, at the end of the third century, in Syria. The seventh book is an expansion of the Didache of the Twelve Apostles. The eighth book contains a liturgy, and, in an appendix, the apostolical canons. The collection of the three parts into one whole may be the work of the compiler of the eighth book. It is no doubt of Eastern authorship, for the church of Rome nowhere occupies a position of priority or supremacy.265  The design was, to set forth the ecclesiastical life for laity and clergy, and to establish the episcopal theocracy. These constitutions were more used and consulted in the East than any work of the fathers, and were taken as the rule in matters of discipline, like the Holy Scriptures in matters of doctrine. Still the collection, as such, did not rise to formal legal authority, and the second Trullan council of 692 (known as quinisextum), rejected it for its heretical interpolations, while the same council acknowledged the Apostolical Canons.266

The "Apostolical Canons" consist of brief church rules or prescriptions, in some copies eighty-five in number, in others fifty, and pretend to be of apostolic origin, being drawn up by Clement of Rome from the directions of the apostles, who in several places speak in the first person. They are incorporated in the "Constitutions" as an appendix to the eighth book, but are found also by themselves, in Greek, Syriac, Aethiopic, and Arabic manuscripts. Their contents are borrowed partly from the Scriptures, especially the Pastoral Epistles, partly from tradition, and partly from the decrees of early councils at Antioch, Neo-Caesarea, Nicaea, Laodicea, &c. (but probably not Chalcedon, 451). They are, therefore, evidently of gradual growth, and were collected either after the middle of the fourth century,267 or not till the latter part of the fifth,268 by some unknown hand, probably also in Syria. They are designed to furnish a complete system of discipline for the clergy. Of the laity they say scarcely a word. The eighty-fifth and last canon settles the canon of the Scripture, but reckons among the New Testament books two epistles of Clement and the genuine books of the pseudo-Apostolic Constitutions.

The Greek church, at the Trullan council of 692, adopted the whole collection of eighty-five canons as authentic and binding, and John of Damascus placed it even on a parallel with the epistles of the apostle Paul, thus showing that he had no sense of the infinite superiority of the inspired writings. The Latin church rejected it at first, but subsequently decided for the smaller collection of fifty canons, which Dionysus Exiguus about the year 500 translated from a Greek manuscript.


 § 57. Church Discipline.


I. Several Tracts of Tertullian (especially De Poenitentia). The Philosophumena of Hippolytus (l. IX.). The Epistles of Cyprian, and his work De Lapsis. The Epistolae Canonicae of Dionysius of Alex., Gregory Thaumaturgus (about 260), and Peter of Alex. (about 306), collected in Routh’s Reliquiae Sacrae, tom. III., 2nd ed. The Constit. Apost. II. 16, 21–24. The Canons of the councils of Elvira, Arelate, Ancyra, Neo-Caesarea, and Nicaea, between 306 and 325 (in the Collections of Councils, and in Routh’s Reliq. Sacr. tom. IV.).

II. Morinus: De Disciplina in administratione sacram poenitentiae, Par. 1651 (Venet. 1702).

Marshall: Penitential Discipline of the Primitive Church. Lond. 1714 (new ed. 1844).

Fr. Frank: Die Bussdisciplin der Kirche bis zum 7 Jahrh. Mainz. 1868.

On the discipline of the Montanists, see Bonwetsch: Die Geschichte des Montanismus (1881), pp. 108–118.


The ancient church was distinguished for strict discipline. Previous to Constantine the Great, this discipline rested on purely moral sanctions, and had nothing to do with civil constraints and punishments. A person might be expelled from one congregation without the least social injury. But the more powerful the church became, the more serious were the consequences of her censures, and when she was united with the state, ecclesiastical offenses were punished as offenses against the state, in extreme cases even with death. The church always abhorred blood ("ecclesia non sitit sanguiem"), but she handed the offender over to the civil government to be dealt with according to law. The worst offenders for many centuries were heretics or teachers of false doctrine.

The object of discipline was, on the one hand, the dignity and purity of the church, on the other, the spiritual welfare of the offender; punishment being designed to be also correction. The extreme penalty was excommunication, or exclusion from all the rights and privileges of the faithful. This was inflicted for heresy and schism, and all gross crimes, such as, theft, murder, adultery, blasphemy, and the denial of Christ in persecution. After Tertullian, these and like offences incompatible with the regenerate state, were classed as mortal sins,269 in distinction from venial sins or sins of weakness.270

Persons thus excluded passed into the class of penitents,271 and could attend only the catechumen worship. Before they could be re-admitted to the fellowship of the church, they were required to pass through a process like that of the catechumens, only still more severe, and to prove the sincerity of their penitence by the absence from all pleasures, from ornament in dress, and from nuptial intercourse, by confession, frequent prayer, fasting, almsgiving, and other good works. Under pain of a troubled conscience and of separation from the only saving church, they readily submitted to the severest penances. The church teachers did not neglect, indeed, to inculcate the penitent spirit and the contrition of the heart is the main thing. Yet many of them laid too great stress on certain outward exercises. Tertullian conceived the entire church penance as a "satisfaction" paid to God. This view could easily obscure to a dangerous degree the all-sufficient merit of Christ, and lead to that self-righteousness against which the Reformation raised so loud a voice.

The time and the particular form of the penances, in the second century, was left as yet to the discretion of the several ministers and churches. Not till the end of the third century was a rigorous and fixed system of penitential discipline established, and then this could hardly maintain itself a century. Though originating in deep moral earnestness, and designed only for good, it was not fitted to promote the genuine spirit of repentance. Too much formality and legal constraint always deadens the spirit, instead of supporting and regulating it. This disciplinary formalism first appears, as already familiar, in the council of Ancyra, about the year 314.272


Classes of Penitents.


The penitents were distributed into four classes:—

(1) The weepers,273 who prostrated themselves at the church doors in mourning garments and implored restoration from the clergy and the people.

(2) The hearers,274 who, like the catechumens called by the same name, were allowed to hear the Scripture lessons and the sermon.

(3) The kneelers,275 who attended the public prayers, but only in the kneeling posture.

(4) The standers,276 who could take part in the whole worship standing, but were still excluded from the communion.

Those classes answer to the four stages of penance.277  The course of penance was usually three or four years long, but, like the catechetical preparation, could be shortened according to circumstances, or extended to the day of death. In the East there were special penitential presbyters,278 intrusted with the oversight of the penitential discipline.




After the fulfilment of this probation came the act of reconciliation.279  The penitent made a public confession of sin, received absolution by the laying on of hands of the minister, and precatory or optative benediction,280 was again greeted by the congregation with the brotherly kiss, and admitted to the celebration of the communion. For the ministry alone was he for ever disqualified. Cyprian and Firmilian, however, guard against the view, that the priestly absolution of hypocritical penitents is unconditional and infallible, and can forestall the judgment of God.281


Two Parties.


In reference to the propriety of any restoration in certain cases, there was an important difference of sentiment, which gave rise to several schisms. All agreed that the church punishment could not forestall the judgment of God at the last day, but was merely temporal, and looked to the repentance and conversion of the subject. But it was a question whether the church should restore even the grossest offender on his confession of sorrow, or should, under certain circumstances leave him to the judgment of God. The strict, puritanic party, to which the Montanists, the Novatians, and the Donatists belonged, and, for a time, the whole African and Spanish Church, took ground against the restoration of those who had forfeited the grace of baptism by a mortal sin, especially by denial of Christ; since, otherwise, the church would lose her characteristic holiness, and encourage loose morality. The moderate party, which prevailed in the East, in Egypt, and especially in Rome, and was so far the catholic party, held the principle that the church should refuse absolution and communion, at least on the death-bed, to no penitent sinner. Paul himself restored the Corinthian offender.282

The point here in question was of great practical moment in the times of persecution, when hundreds and thousands renounced their faith through weakness, but as soon as the danger was passed, pleaded for readmission into the church, and were very often supported in their plea by the potent intercessions of the martyrs and confessors, and their libelli pacis. The principle was: necessity knows no law. A mitigation of the penitential discipline seemed in such cases justified by every consideration of charity and policy. So great was the number of the lapsed in the Decian persecution, that even Cyprian found himself compelled to relinquish his former rigoristic views, all the more because he held that out of the visible church there was no salvation.

The strict party were zealous for the holiness of God; the moderate, for his grace. The former would not go beyond the revealed forgiveness of sins by baptism, and were content with urging the lapsed to repentance, without offering them hope of absolution in this life. The latter refused to limit the mercy of God and expose the sinner to despair. The former were carried away with an ideal of the church which cannot be realized till the second coming of Christ; and while impelled to a fanatical separatism, they proved, in their own sects, the impossibility of an absolutely pure communion on earth. The others not rarely ran to the opposite extreme of a dangerous looseness, were quite too lenient, even towards mortal sins, and sapped the earnestness of the Christian morality.

It is remarkable that the lax penitential discipline had its chief support from the end of the second century, in the Roman church. Tertullian assails that church for this with bitter mockery. Hippolytus, soon after him, does the same; for, though no Montanist, he was zealous for strict discipline. According to his statement (in the ninth book of his Philosophumena), evidently made from fact, the pope Callistus, whom a later age stamped a saint because it knew little of him, admitted bigami and trigami to ordination, maintained that a bishop could not be deposed, even though he had committed a mortal sin, and appealed for his view to Rom. 14:4, to the parable of the tares and the wheat, Matt. 13:30, and, above all, to the ark of Noah, which was a symbol of the church, and which contained both clean and unclean animals, even dogs and wolves. In short, he considered no sin too great to be loosed by the power of the keys in the church. And this continued to be the view of his successors.

But here we perceive, also, how the looser practice in regard to penance was connected with the interest of the hierarchy. It favored the power of the priesthood, which claimed for itself the right of absolution; it was at the same time matter of worldly policy; it promoted the external spread of the church, though at the expense of the moral integrity of her membership, and facilitated both her subsequent union with the state and her hopeless confusion with the world. No wonder the church of Rome, in this point, as in others, triumphed at last over all opposition.


 § 58. Church Schisms.


I. On the Schism of Hippolytus-. The Philosophumena of Hippol. lib. IX. (ed. Miller, Oxf. 1851, better by Duncker and Schneidewin, Gött. 1859), and the monographs on Hippolytus, by Bunsen, Döllinger, Wordsworth, Jacobi, and others (which will be noticed in chapter XIII. § 183).

II. On the Schism of Felicissimus: Cyprian: Epist. 38–40, 42, 55.

III. On the Novatian Schism: Hippol.: Philosoph. 1 IX. Cypr.: Epist. 41–52; and the Epistles of Cornelius of Rome, and Dionys. of Alex., in Euseb. H. E., VI. 43–45; VII. 8. Comp. Lit. in § 200.

IV. On the Meletian Schism: Documents in Latin translation in Maffei: Osservationi Letterarie, Verona, 1738, tom. III p. 11 sqq., and the Greek fragments from the Liber de poenitentia of Peter of Alexandria in Routh: Reliquicae Sacr. vol. II. pp. 21–51. Epiphan.: Haer. 68 (favorable to Meletius); Athanas.: Apol. contra Arianos, § 59; and after him, Socr, Sozom., and Theod. (very unfavorable to Meletius).


Out of this controversy on the restoration of the lapsed, proceeded four schisms during the third century; two in Rome, one in North Africa, and one in Egypt. Montanism, too, was in a measure connected with the question of penitential discipline, but extended also to several other points of Christian life, and will be discussed in a separate chapter.

I. The Roman schism of Hippolytus. This has recently been brought to the light by the discovery of his Philosophumena (1851). Hippolytus was a worthy disciple of Irenaeus, and the most learned and zealous divine in Rome, during the pontificates of Zephyrinus (202–217), and Callistus (217–222). He died a martyr in 235 or 236. He was an advocate of strict views on discipline in opposition to the latitudinarian practice which we have described in the previous section. He gives a most unfavorable account of the antecedents of Callistus, and charges him and his predecessor with the patripassian heresy. The difference, therefore, was doctrinal as well as disciplinarian. It seems to have led to mutual excommunication and a temporary schism, which lasted till a.d. 235. Hippolytus ranks himself with the successors of the apostles, and seems to have been bishop of Portus, the port of Rome (according to later Latin tradition), or bishop of Rome (according to Greek writers). If bishop of Rome, he was the first schismatic pope, and forerunner of Novatianus, who was ordained anti pope in 251.283  But the Roman Church must have forgotten or forgiven his schism, for she numbers him among her saints and martyrs, and celebrates his memory on the twenty-second of August. Prudentius, the spanish poet, represents him as a Roman presbyter, who first took part in the Novatian schism, then returned to the Catholic church, and was torn to pieces by wild horses at Ostia on account of his faith. The remembrance of the schism was lost in the glory of his supposed or real martyrdom. According to the chronological catalogue of Popes from a.d. 354, a "presbyter" Hippolytus, together with the Roman bishop Pontianus, the successor of Callistus, was banished from Rome in the reign of Alexander Severus (235), to the mines of Sardinia.284

II. The schism of Felicississimus, at Carthage, about the year 250, originated in the personal dissatisfaction of five presbyters with the hasty and irregular election of Cyprian to the bishopric, by the voice of the congregation, very soon after his baptism, a.d. 248. At the head of this opposition party stood the presbyter Novatus, an unprincipled ecclesiastical demagogue, of restless, insubordinate spirit and notorious character,285 and the deacon Felicissimus, whom Novatus ordained, without the permission or knowledge of Cyprian, therefore illegally, whether with his own hands or through those of foreign bishops. The controversy cannot, however, from this circumstance, be construed, as it is by Neander and others, into a presbyterial reaction against episcopal autocracy. For the opponents themselves afterwards chose a bishop in the person of Fortunatus. The Novatians and the Meletians likewise had the episcopal form of organization, though doubtless with many irregularities in the ordination.

After the outbreak of the Decian persecution this personal rivalry received fresh nourishment and new importance from the question of discipline. Cyprian originally held Tertullian’s principles, and utterly opposed the restoration of the lapsed, till further examination changed his views. Yet, so great was the multitude of the fallen, that he allowed an exception in periculo mortis. His opponents still saw even in this position an unchristian severity, least of all becoming him, who, as they misrepresented him, fled from his post for fear of death. They gained the powerful voice of the confessors, who in the face of their own martyrdom freely gave their peace-bills to the lapsed. A regular trade was carried on in these indulgences. An arrogant confessor, Lucian, wrote to Cyprian in the name of the rest, that he granted restoration to all apostates, and begged him to make this known to the other bishops. We can easily understand how this lenity from those who stood in the fire, might take more with the people than the strictness of the bishop, who had secured himself. The church of Novatus and Felicissimus was a resort of all the careless lapsi. Felicissimus set himself also against a visitation of churches and a collection for the poor, which Cyprian ordered during his exile.

When the bishop returned, after Easter, 251, he held a council at Carthage, which, though it condemned the party of Felicissimus, took a middle course on the point in dispute. It sought to preserve the integrity of discipline, yet at the same time to secure the fallen against despair. It therefore decided for the restoration of those who proved themselves truly penitent, but against restoring the careless, who asked the communion merely from fear of death. Cyprian afterwards, when the persecution was renewed, under Gallus, abolished even this limitation. He was thus, of course, not entirely consistent, but gradually accommodated his principles to circumstances and to the practice of the Roman church.286  His antagonists elected their bishop, indeed, but were shortly compelled to yield to the united force of the African and Roman churches, especially as they had no moral earnestness at the bottom of their cause.

His conflict with this schismatical movement strengthened Cyprian’s episcopal authority, and led him in his doctrine of the unity of the church to the principle of absolute exclusiveness.

III. The Novatian schism in Rome was prepared by the controversy already alluded to between Hippolytus and Callistus. It broke out soon after the African schism, and, like it, in consequence of an election of bishop. But in this case the opposition advocated the strict discipline against the lenient practice of the dominant church. The Novatianists287 considered themselves the only pure communion,288 and unchurched all churches which defiled themselves by re-admitting the lapsed, or any other gross offenders. They went much farther than Cyprian, even as far as the later Donatists. They admitted the possibility of mercy for a mortal sinner, but denied the power and the right of the church to decide upon it, and to prevent, by absolution, the judgment of God upon such offenders. They also, like Cyprian, rejected heretical baptism, and baptized all who came over to them from other communions not just so rigid as themselves.

At the head of this party stood the Roman presbyter Novatian,289 an earnest, learned, but gloomy man, who had come to faith through severe demoniacal disease and inward struggles. He fell out with Cornelius, who, after the Decian persecution in 251, was nominated bishop of Rome, and at once, to the grief of many, showed great indulgence towards the lapsed. Among his adherents the above-named Novatus of Carthage was particularly busy, either from a mere spirit of opposition to existing authority, or from having changed his former lax principles on his removal to Rome. Novatian, against his will, was chosen bishop by the opposition. Cornelius excommunicated him. Both parties courted the recognition of the churches abroad. Fabian, bishop of Antioch, sympathized with the rigorists. Dionysius of Alexandria, on the contrary, accused them of blaspheming the most gracious Lord Jesus Christ, by calling him unmerciful. And especially Cyprian, from his zeal for ecclesiastical unity and his aversion to Novatus, took sides with Cornelius, whom he regarded the legitimate bishop of Rome.

In spite of this strong opposition the Novatian sect, by virtue of its moral earnestness, propagated itself in various provinces of the West and the East down to the sixth century. In Phrygia it combined with the remnants of the Montanists. The council of Nicaea recognized its ordination, and endeavored, without success, to reconcile it with the Catholic church. Constantine, at first dealt mildly with the Novatians, but afterwards prohibited them to worship in public and ordered their books to be burnt.

IV. The Meletian schism in Egypt arose in the Diocletian persecution, about 305, and lasted more than a century, but, owing to the contradictory character of our accounts, it is not so well understood. It was occasioned by Meletius, bishop of Lycopolis in Thebais, who, according to one statement, from zeal for strict discipline, according to another, from sheer arrogance, rebelled against his metropolitan, Peter of Alexandria (martyred in 311), and during his absence encroached upon his diocese with ordinations, excommunications, and the like. Peter warned his people against him, and, on returning from his flight, deposed him as a disturber of the peace of the church. But the controversy continued, and spread over all Egypt. The council of Nicaea endeavored, by recognizing the ordination of the twenty-nine Meletian bishops, and by other compromise measures, to heal the division; but to no purpose. The Meletians afterwards made common cause with the Arians.

The Donatist schism, which was more formidable than any of those mentioned, likewise grew out of the Diocletian persecution, but belongs more to the next period.



* Schaff, Philip, History of the Christian Church, (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.) 1997. This material has been carefully compared, corrected¸ and emended (according to the 1910 edition of Charles Scribner's Sons) by The Electronic Bible Society, Dallas, TX, 1998.

118  "Quid Christianis cum regibus ? aut quid episcopis cum palatio?"

119  Contra Cels. VIII. 68. Comp. the remarks of Neander, I. 129 (Boston ed.).

120  Renan, looking at the gradual development of the hierarchy out of the primitive democracy, from his secular point of view, calls it, the most profound transformation "in history, and a triple abdication: first the club (the congregation) committing its power to the bureau or the committee (the college of presbyters), then the bureau to its president (the bishop) who could say: "Je suis le club,"and finally the presidents to the pope as the universal and infallible bishop; the last process being completed in the Vatican Council of 1870. See his E’glise chrétienne, p. 88, and his English Conferences (Hibbert Lectures, 1880), p 90.

121  Comp. Acts 8:4; 9:27; 13:15; 18:26, 28; Rom. 12:6; 1 Cor. 12:10, 28; 14:1-6, 31. Even in the Jewish Synagogue the liberty of teaching was enjoyed, and the elder could ask any member of repute, even a stranger, to deliver a discourse on the Scripture lesson (Luke 4:17; Acts 17:2).

122  1 Pet. 2:5, 9; 5:3; Rev. 1:6; 5:10; 20:6. See Neander, Lightfoot, Stanley, etc., and vol. I. 486 sqq. I add a passage from Hatch’s; Bampton Lectures on The Organization of the Early Christian Churches (1881), p. 139: "In earlier times there was a grander faith. For the kingdom of God was a kingdom of priests. Not only the ’four and twenty elders’ before the throne, but the innumerable souls of the sanctified upon whom ’the second death had no power,’ were ’kings and priests unto God.’ Only in that high sense was priesthood predicable of Christian men. For the shadow had passed: the reality had come: the one High Priest of Christianity was Christ."

123  Exod. 19:6.

124  1 Pet. 5:3. Here Peter warns his fellow-presbyters not to lord it (kurieuvein)over the klh'roi or the klhronomiva, i.e., the lot or inheritance of the Lord, the charge allotted to them. Comp. Deut. 4:20; 9:29 (LXX),

125  Comp. Eph. 4:11-13

126  Rom. 12:1; Phil. 2:17; 1 Pet. 2:5; Heb. 13:16.

127  Heb. 13:10. So qusiasthvrion is understood by Thomas Aquinas, Bengel, Bleek, Lünemann, Riehm, etc. Others explain it of the Lord’s table, Lightfoot (p. 263) of the congregation assembled for common worship.

128  Ad Trall.c. 7: oJ e[nto;" qusiasthvion w\n kaqarov" ejstin oJ dev ejkto;" qusiasthrivou w]n ouj kaqarov" ejstin: toutevstin, oJ cwri;" ejpiskovpou kai; presbuterivou kai; diakovnou pravsswn ti, ou\to" ouj kaqarov" e"jtin th/' suneidhvsei.Funk’s ed. I. 208. Some MSS. omit the second clause, perhaps from homoeoteleuton. Von Gebhardt and Harnack also omit it in the Greek text, but retain it in the Latin (qui extra attare est, non mundus est). The toutevstin evidently requires the clause.

129  Cf. ch. 13. See note in Schaff’s edition, p. 206

130  Ad Cor. 40: "Unto the high-priest his proper services have been intrusted, and to the priests their proper office is appointed, and upon the levites their proper ministrations are laid. The layman is bound by the layman’s ordinances (oJ lai>ko;" a[nqrwpo" toi'" lai>koi'" prostavgmasin devdetai)." The passage occurs in the text of Bryennios as well as in the older editions, and there is no good reason to suspect it of being an interpolation in the hierarchical interest, as Neander and Milman have done. Bishop Lightfoot, in his St. Clement of Rome, p. 128 sq., puts a mild construction upon it, and says that the analogy does not extend to the three orders, because Clement only knows two (bishops and deacons), and that the high priesthood of Christ is wholly different in kind from the Mosaic high priesthood, and exempt from those very limitations on which Clement dwells in that chapter.

131  Sacerdos, also summus sacerdos (Tertullian, De Bapt. 7), and oncepontifex maximus (De Pudic. 1, with ironical reference, it seems, to the Roman bishop); ordo sacerdotalis (De Exhort. Cast. 7); iJereuv" and sometimes ajrciereuv" (Apost. Const. II. 34, 35, 36, 57; III. 9; vi. 15, 18, etc.). Hippolytus calls his office an ajrcierateiva and didaskaliva (Ref. Haer. I. prooem.). Cyprian generally applies the term sacerdos to the bishop, and calls his colleagues consacerdotales.

132  Klh'ro",clerus, tavxi"ordo, ordosacerdotalis (Tertulli, De Ehort. Cast. 7), ordo eccelesiasticus orecclesiae (De Monog. 11; De Idolol. 7); klhrikoiv, clerici. The first instance perhaps of the use of clerus in the sense of clergy is in Tertullian,De Monog. c. 12: "Unde enim episcopi et clerus ?" and: "Extollimur et inflamur adversus clerum." Jerome (Ad Nepotian.) explains this exclusive application of clerus to ministers, "vel quia de sorte sunt Domini, vel quia ipse Dominus sors, id est, pars clericorum est." The distinction between the regular clergy, who were also monks, and the secular clergy or parish priests, is of much later date (seventh or eighth century).

133  Laov", lai>koiv, plebs. In Tertullian, Cyprian, and in the Apostolic Constitutions the term " layman" occurs very often. Cyprian speaks (250) of a " conference held with bishops, presbyters, deacons, confessors, and also with laymen who stood firm"(in persecution), Ep. 30, ad Rom

134  .Occasionally, however we find a somewhat wider terminology. Tertullian mentions, De Monog c. 12, the ordo viduarum among the ordines ecclesiastici, and even the much later Jerome (see In Jesaiam, l. v.c. 19, 18), enumerates quinque ecclesiae ordines, episcopos, presbyteros, diaconos, fideles, catechumenos.

135  Pavroikoi, parepivdhmoi, Eph. 2:19; 1 Pet. 2:11.

136  or parish, paroikiva.

137  Adv. Haer. iv. 8, §.

138  Nonne et laici sacerdotes sumus?

139  De Exhort. Cast. c. 7. Comp. also De Monog. 7, 12; De Bapt. 17; De Orat. 18

140  . Ad Cor. 44: Suveudokavsh" th'" ejkklhsiva" pavsh" , consentiente universa ecclesia.

141  Ep. lx. 3-4 (ed. Goldhorn).

142  Ep. lv. 7:"Factus est Cornelius episcopus de Dei et Christi ejus judicio, de clericorum paene omnium testimonio, de plebis quae tum adfuit suffragio, et de sacerdotum antiquorum et bonorum virorum collegio."

143  Sine consensu plebis.

144  Euseb., H. E. VI. 19: "There [in Caesarea] he [Origen] was also requested by the bishops to expound the sacred Scriptures publicly in the church, although he had not yet obtained the priesthood by the imposition of hands." It is true this was made the ground of a charge against him by Demetrius, bishop of Alexandria; but the charge was that Origen had preached "in the presence of bishops," not that he had preached as a layman. And the bishops of Jerusalem and Caesarea adduced several examples of holy bishops inviting capable laymen to preach to the people. Prudentius and Aedesius, while laymen, founded the church in Abyssinia, Socrates, Hist. Eccl. I. 19.

145  Const. Apost. VIII. 31. Ambrosiaster, or Hilary the Deacon, in his Com. Ad Eph. 4:11, 12, says that in early times "omnes docebant et omnes baptizabant."

146  Can. 98: "Laicus praesentibus clericis nisi ipsis jubentibus, docere non audeat." The 99th canon forbids women, no matter how "learned or holy," to "presume to teach men in a meeting." Pope Leo I. (Ep 92 and 93) forbids lay preaching in the interest of ecclesiastical order. Charlemagne enacted a law that "a layman ought not to recite a lesson in church, nor to say the Hallelujah but only the Psalm or responses without the Hallelujah."

147  The Greek text (of which only a fragment was known before) was found and published by Bryennios, 1875, the Syriac version by Bensley, 1876. See Harnack’s ed. in the Patres Apost. vol. I., and Lightfoot, S. Clement of Rome, Appendix (1877). Harnack, Hilgenfeld, and Hatch (l.c. 114; note) suppose that the homily was delivered by a layman, but Lightfoot (p. 304) explains the language above alluded to as a common rhetorical figure by which the speaker places himself on a level with his audience.

148  JUpodiavkonoi,subdiaconi, perhaps the same as the uJphrevtai of the New Testament and the earlier fathers.

149  [Anagnwstai, lectores, mentioned by Tertullian.

150  [Akovluqoi, acolythi.

151  [Exorkistaiv,exorcistae

152  Daimonizovmenoi, ejnergouvmenoi

153  Yavltai, psalmistae cantores

154  qurwroiv, pulwroiv, ostiarii janitores.

155  In Euseb. vi. 43.

156  Such is the Swedish and Danish Lutheran, the American Methodist, and the Moravian episcopate, which recognizes the validity of non-episcopal orders. The Anglican church harbors a high-church and a low-church theory of episcopacy, the one derived from the mediaeval hierarchy, the other from the Reformation, but repudiates the primacy as an antichristian usurpation, although it must be confessed to be almost as old as episcopacy, its roots going back to Clement of Rome, or at all events to the age of Irenaeus.

157  Comp. Euseb. vii. 27-30

158  See the passages quoted by Gieseler, vol. I. 282 sq. (Harpers’ ed. of New York.)

159  This is the Greek, the Roman Catholic, and the high Anglican theory. It is advocated by a very few Continental Protestants as Chevalier Bunsen, Rothe and Thiersch (an Irvingite), who trace episcopacy to John in Ephesus.

160  So the Lutheran, Presbyterian, and some eminent Episcopal writers. We mention Mosheim, Neander, Lightfoot, Stanley, Hatch. Also Baur and Renan, who judge as mere critics.

161  Bishop Lightfoot (l.c. p. 194) thus states the question with his own answer: "The episcopate was formed, not out of the apostolic order by localization, but out of the presbyterial by elevation; and the title, which originally was common to all, came at length to be appropriated to the chief among them."

162  Acts 15:13; 21:18. Comp. vol. I. 264 sqq.

163  jEpivskopo" evpiskovpwn.

164  Rev. 1:20. For the different views see vol. I. 497

165  Quis dives salvus, c. 42.

166  Adv.Haer. III. 3

167  De PraescR.C. 32

168  H. E.III. 36

169  Catal. sub Polyc

170  H. E. III. 11. Comp. the fragment of Hegesippus, in IV. 22. Lightfoot (Philippians p. 202) remarks against Rothe’s inference: "The account of Hegesippus confines the object of this gathering to the appointment of a successor of St. James. If its deliberations had exerted that vast and permanent influence on the future of the church which Rothe’s theory supposes, it is scarcely possible that this early historian should have been ignorant of the fact, or knowing it should have passed it over in silence."

171  Ad Corinth. c. 44: OiJ ajpovstoloi hJmwn e[gnwsan dia; tou' kurivouhJmw'n jIhsou' Cristou' o{ti e[ri" e[stai ejpi; tou' ojnovmato" th'" ejpiskoph'" . Dia; tauvthn ou\vn th;n aijtivan provgnwsin eijlhfovte" teleivan katevsthsan tou;" proeirhmevnou" kai; metaxu; ejpinomh;n »or ejpimonh;n¼ e[dwkan, o{pw" , eja;n koimhqw'sin, diadevxwntai e{teroi dedokimasmevnoi a[ndre" th;n leitourgivan aujtw'n. " Our apostles knew through our Lord Jesus Christ that there would be strife over the name of the bishop’s office [i.e., the office of the ministry, in general; Comp. Acts 1:20; Sept. Num. 4:16; Ps. 109:8; 2 Chr. 23:18]. For this cause, therefore, having complete foreknowledge, they appointed the aforesaid persons [i.e., presbyter-bishops and deacons; Comp. c. 42 and 57], and afterwards they made the disposition [or provided a continuance, if we read with Lightfoot ejpimonhvn.], that if these should fall asleep, other approved men should succeed to their ministration."

172  The reading is obscure and disputed. The Alexandrian MS. reads: ejpinomhvn, the Constantinopolitan: ejpidomhvn (both have EIII-OMHN). The former word is rare (from or from nevmw  or fromnovmo") is not found in the dictionaries; and hence various emendations have been proposed, as avponomhvn (Junius), ejpidochvn (Bryennios), ejpibolhvn (von Gebhardt and Harnack), ejpimonhvn (Bunsen, Lightfoot), ejpitrophvn (Hilgenfeld), ejpiloghvn, ejpinomivan, ejpistolhvn, ejpitaghvn, e[ti novmon. Rothe (Anfänge, p. 374) ingeniously translates ejpinomhvn " testamentary disposition" (testamentarische Verfügung = ejpinomiv" ,an after-enactment, a codicil), and identifies it with the deuvterai diatavxei" of the fragment of Irenaeus. But this is rejected by the latest editors as untenable. Lightfoot (with Bunsen) reads ejpimonhvn, permanence (not " life-tenure,"as Bunsen rendered it). The drift of the passage, however, does not so much depend upon the meaning of this word as upon the question whether the apostles, or the congregational officers are the grammatical subjects of the following verb, koimhqw'sin.

173  See also Gebhardt and Harnack (presbyteri et diaconi illi, quos apostoli ipsi constituerunt), the Roman Catholic editor Funk ("koimhqw'sin, sc. episcopi et diaconi de quorum successione Clemens agit"), and Bishop Lightfoot ("the first generation of presbyters appointed by the apostles themselves"). (Comp. also on this whole passage Lightfoot, Philippians, p. 203, where he refutes Rothe’s interpretation; Baur Ursprung des Episcopats, p. 53; Ewald, Gesch. des Volkes Israel, VII. 300; Ritschl, Altkath. K. 358 and 413, and Ilgenfeld, Apost. Väter, 70.

174  Hence Rothe traces the institution to John. And Bishop Lightfoot (Philippians, p. 204) is inclined to this view: "Asia Minor was the nurse, if not the mother of episcopacy in the Gentile churches. So important an institution, developed in a Christian community, of which St. John was the living centre and guide, could hardly, have grown up without his sanction: and early tradition very distinctly connects his name with the appointment of bishops in these parts." He repeats the same view more confidently in his Ignat. and Polyc., I. 377.

175  Acts 20:17, 28; Phil. 1:1; Tit. 1:5; 1 Tim. 3:1-7, 8-13; 1 Pet. 5:1, 2. Comp. the author’s Hist. of the Apost. Ch. §§ 132, 133, pp. 522-531 (N. York ed.); and vol. I. p. 492 sqq.

176  C. 42. Comp. the Commentary of Lightfoot. "It is impossible that he should have omitted the presbyters, more especially as his one object is to defend their authority, which had been assailed. The words ejpivskopo;" and presbuvtero" therefore are synonymes in Clement, as they are in the apostolic writers. In Ignatius and Polycarp they first appear as distinct titles."

177  The hJgouvmenoi, c. 1, also, and the prohgouvmenoi, c. 21, are not bishops, but congregational officers collectively, as in Heb. 13:7, 17, 24.

178  Ch. 15: Ceirotonhvsate eJautoi'" ejpiskovpou" kai; diakovnou". See Schaff’s monograph on the Didache, p. 211 sq

179  Adv. Haer. iii. 2, §5. Comp. also the letter of Irenaeus to the Roman bishop Victor in Euseb., v. 24.

180  Comp. 2 Jno. 1. and 1.

181  Ad Titum i. 7. Comp. Epist. 83 and 85.

182  Ad Tit. i. 7: "Sicut ergo presbyteri sciunt, see ex ecclesiae consuetudine ei, qui sibi praepositus fuerit, esse subjectos, ita episcopi noverint, se magis consuetudine quam dispositionis Dominicae veritate presbyteris esse majores et in commune debere ecclesiam regere." The Roman deacon Hilary (Ambrosiaster) says, ad 1 Tim. 3:10:"Hic enim episcopus est, qui inter presbyteros primus est." Comp. also Chrysostom Hom. xi. in Epist, 1 ad Tim. 38.

183  Epist. ad Evangelum (Opp. iv. p. 802, ed. Martinay): Alexandriae a Marco evangelista usque ad Heraclam et Dionysium episcopos presbyteri semper unum ex se electum in excelsiori gradu collocatum episcopum nominabant, quomodo si exercitus imperatorem faciat, aut diaconi elegant de se, quem industrium noverint et archidiaconum vocent.

184  Ed. Oxon. 1658, p. 331: "Constituit evangelista Marcus una cum Hakania patriarcha duodecim presbyteros, qui nempe cum patriarcha manerent, adeo ut cum vacaret patriachatus, unum e duodecim presbyteris eligerent, cnius capiti reliqui undecim manus imponentes ipsi benedicerent et patriarcham crearent, deinde virum aliquem insignem eligerent, quem secum presbyterum constituerent,loco ejus, qui factus est patriarcha, ut ita semper exstarent duodecim. Neque desiit Alexandriae institutum hoc de presbyteris, ut scilcet patriarchas crearent ex presbyteris duodecim, usque ad tempera Alexandri patriarchae Alexandriae. Is autem vetuit, ne deinceps patriarcham presbyteri crearent. Et decrervit, ut mortuo patriarcha convenient episcopi, qui patriarcham ordinarent."

185  Mark 5:35, 36, 38; Luke 8:41-49; Acts 18:8-17.

186  The philanthropic and financial aspect of episcopacy has been brought out very fully by Hatch, in his Bampton Lectures on The Organization of the Early Christian Churches, Lect. II.

187  The question of the genuineness will be discussed in §165. Cureton (1845) Bunsen, Lipsius, and others accept the Syriac version as the original form of the Ignatian epistles, and regard even the short Greek text as corrupt, but yet as dating from the middle of the second century. Rothe, Hefele, Schaff (first ed.), Düsterdieck, Uhlhorn, Zahn, Harnack, defend the genuineness of the shorter Greek recension. The larger Greek recension is universally given up as spurious. The origin of the hierarchical system is obscured by pious frauds. See below, §164 and 165.

188  In the Syriac Ep. to Polycarp, the word bishop occurs four times; in the Syriac Ep. to the Ephesians, God is blessed for having given them such a bishop as Onesimus. In the shorter Greek Ep. to Polycarp episcopacy is mentioned in the salutation, and in three of the eight chapters (ch. 5 twice, ch. 6 twice, ch. 8 once). In the 21 chapters of the Greek Ep. to the Ephesians,  the word bishop occurs thirteen times, presbyter three times, and deacon once (in the first six chapters, and ch. 21). In the Greek Trallians, the bishop appears nine times; in the Magnesians, eleven times; in the Philadelphians, eight times; in the Smynaeans, nine times. Thus in the three Syriac Epistles the bishop is mentioned but six times; in the seven shorter Greek Epistles about fifty times; but one of the strongest passages is found in the Syriac Epistle to Polycarp (ch. 5. and 6.).

189  Except that Ignatius speaks of himself as "the bishop of Syria," who "has found favor with God, being sent from the East to the West" (ch. 2). The verb ejpiskopevw is also used, but of Christ (ch. 9).

190  jEpivskopo" eij" tovpon qeou' prokaqhvmeno",  each bisbop being thus a sort of pope.

191  Zahn reads, Ad Polyc. cap. 5: eja;n gnwsqh/' plevon tou' ejpiskovpou,i.e . if he be better known or more esteemed than the bishop. The other reading is, plhvn, beyond, or apart from.

192  Ad Polyc. cap. 5 and 6. The Greek text varies but little from the Syriac.

193  Ad Ephes. c. 4: Ou{tw" sunhvrmostai tw/' ejpiskovpw/. wJ" cordai; kiqavra/.

194  Ad Ephes c. 6: To;n ou\n ejpivskopon dh'lon o{ti wJ" aujto;n to;n kuvrion dei' problevpein.

195  Ad Magnes. c. 6.

196  Ibid. c. 13. The desire for "carnal" unity is significant,

197  Ad Trallian. c. 2: jAnagkai'on ejsti;n, w{sper poiei'te, a[neu tou' ejpiskovpou mhde;n pravssein uJma'" ktl.

198  Ad Philad. c. 3.

199  Ad. Smyrn. c. 8: [Opou a[n fanh/' oJ ejpivskopo", ekei' to; plh'qo" e]stw, w{sper a_]n h\ Cristo;s jIhsou'" , ejkei' hJ kaqolikh; ejkklhsiva.

200  Ad Smyrn. c. 9: JO timw'n ejpivskopon uJpo; qeou' tetivmhtai: oJ lavqra ejpiskovpou ti pravsswn tw/' diabovlw/ latreuvei..

201  Comp. Adv. Haer. III. 3, §1, 2; 4, 1; IV. 33, §8. I remember what great stress the late Dr. Posey, when I saw him at Oxford in 1844, laid on the testimony of Irenaeus for the doctrine of an unbroken episcopal succession, as the indispensable mark of a genuine Catholic church; while he ignored the simultaneous growth of the primacy, which a year afterwards carried his friend, J. H. Newman, over to the church of Rome. The New Testament is the only safe guide and ultimate standard in all matters of faith and discipline. The teaching of Irenaeus on episcopacy is well set forth by Lightfoot (l.c. p. 237): Irenaeus followed Ignatius after an interval of about two generations. With the altered circumstances of the Church, the aspect of the episcopal office has also undergone a change. The religious atmosphere is now charged with heretical speculations of all kinds. Amidst the competition of rival teachers. all eagerly bidding for support, the perplexed believer asks for some decisive test by which he may try the claims of disputants. To this question Irenaeeus supplies an answer. ’If you wish,’ he argues, ’to ascertain the doctrine of the Apostles, apply to the Church of the Apostles.’ In the succession of bishops tracing their descent from the primitive age and appointed by the Apostles themselves, you have a guarantee for the transmission of the pure faith, which no isolated, upstart, self-constituted teacher can furnish. There is the Church of Rome for instance, whose episcopal pedigree is perfect in all its links, and whose earliest bishops, Linus and Clement, associated with the Apostles themselves: there is the Church of Smyrna again, whose bishop Polycarp, the disciple of St. John, died only the other day. Thus the episcopate is regarded now not so much as the centre of ecclesiastical unity, but rather as the depositary of apostolic tradition."

202  Comp. Adv. Haer.III. 2, §2; IV. 26; V. 20; and his letter to Victor of Rome in Eusebius, H E. V. 24.

203  De Praescr. HaeR.C. 32, 36

204  . Non ecclesia numerus episcoporum. De Pudic. c. 21. Comp. § 42, p. 128.

205  "As Cyprian crowned the edifice of episcopal power, so also was he the first to put forward without relief or disguise the sacerdotal assumptions; and so uncompromising was the tone in which he asserted them, that nothing was left to his successors but to enforce his principles and reiterate his language." Lightfoot l. c. p. 257. "If with Ignatius the bishop is the centre of Christian unity, if with Irenaeus he is the depository of apostolic tradition, with Cyprian he is the absolute viceregerent of Christ in thing spiritual."Ibid. p. 238.

206  Epist. lxvi. 3. Comp. Ep. lv. 20: Christianus non est, qui in Christi ecclesia non est

207  De Unit. Eccl. c. 5:Episcopatus unus est, cujus a singulis in solidum pars tenetur. Comp.Ep. lv. 20: Quum sit a Christo una ecclesia per totum mundum in multa membra divisa, item episcopatus unus episcoporum multorum concordi numerositate diffusus.

208  Can. 3:Presbyter quum ordinatur, episcopo eum benedicente et manum super caput ejus tenente, etiam omnes presbyteri, qui praesentes sunt, manus suas juxta manum episcopi super caput illius teneant.

209  Eutychii Patriarchae Alexandr. Annal. interpr. Pocockio (Oxon. 1658, I. p. 331). See the passage quoted, p. 141.

210  Or Ambrosiaster, Ad Eph. iv. 11.

211  Hom. iii. 60, 62, 66, 70. Ep. Clem. ad Jac. 17. Comp. Recogn. iii. 66.

212  Hom. xi. 36; Recogn. iii. 66; vi. 15.

213  jEpivskopo" ejpiskovpwn , Hom. xi. 35; Recogn. iv. 35.

214  The country bishops (cwrepivskopoi) appear first in the councils of Ancyra and Neo-Caesarea, 314, and again in the Council of Nicaea. They continued to exist in the East till the 9th century, when they were superseded by the exarchs (e[xarcoi) In the West, the chorepiscopi performed regular episcopal functions, without proper subordination to the diocesans, and hence excited jealousy and hostility till the office was abolished under Charlemagne, and continued only as a title of various cathedral dignitaries. See Haddan in Smith & Cheetham Dict. Chr. Ant. I. 354, and the authorities quoted there

215  mhtropovlei"Hence mhtropolitai.

216  Sedes apostolicae, matrices ecclesiae.

217  JH ejkklhsiva tou' qeou', hJ paroikou'sa JRwvmhn th/' ejkklhsiva/ tou' qeou', th/' paroikouvsh/ Kovrinqon. "The church of God which sojourns at Rome to the church of God which mourns at Corinth!"Pavroiko" is a temporary, kavtoiko" a permanent, resident. The Christians appear here as strangers and pilgrims in this world, who have their home in heaven; comp. 1 Pet. 1:17; 2:11; Heb. 11:13

218  This is very evident towards the close from the newly discovered portions, chs. 59, 62 and 63 edition of Bryennios, Const. 1875). The chapters should new light on the origin of the papal domination. Comp. the judicious remarks of Lightfoot in his Appendix to S. Clement of Rome (Lond. 1877), p. 252 sqq.

219  It is quite evident from the Epistle itself that at that time the Roman congregation was still governed by a college of presbyters (collegialisch, nicht monarchisch, as Langen, l.c. p. 81, expresses it).

220  Prokaqhmevnh th'" ajgavph" ,  praesidens in caritate. Inscription. Zahn in his ed., p. 75, says: "In caritatis operibus semper primum locum sibi vindicavit ecclesia Romana." Some Roman Catholic writers (as Möhler, Patrol. I. 144) explain the phrase very artificially and hierarchically: "head of the love-union of Christendom (Vorsteherin des Liebesbundes)."Agape never means church, but either love, or love-feast. See Langen, l.c. p. 94.

221  Euseb., Hist. Eccl. IV. 23, 10: ejx ajrch'" uJmi'n e[qo" ejsti; tou'to, pavnta" me;n ajdelfou;" poikivlw" eujergetei'n, ejkklhsivai" te pollai'" tai'" mata; pa'san povlin ejfovdia pevmpein

222  The famous Passage, Adv. Haer. iii. §2, is only extant in Latin, and of disputed interpretation: "Ad hanc enim ecclesiam propter potentiorem (according to Massuet’s conjecture: potiorem) principalitatem necesse est omnem convenire ecclesia, hoc est, eos qui sunt undique fideles, in qua semper ab his, qui sunt undique, conservata est ab apostolis traditio." In the original Greek it probably read: Prov" tauvthn ga;r th;n ejkklhsivan dia; th;n iJkanwtevran prwtei'an sumbaivnein (or, in the local sense, sunevrcesqai) dei' (according to others: ajnavgkh, natural necessity) pa'san th;n ejkklhsivan, etc. The stress lies on principalitas, which stands probably for prwteiva (so Thiersch and Gieseler). Comp. Iren. IV. 38, 3, where prwteuvei is rendered principatitatem habet. Stieren and Ziegler (Irenaeus, 1871, p. 152), however, translate propter potentiorem principalitatem: oJia; th;n iJkanwtevran ajrcaiovthta, " on account of the higher antiquity."Comp. on the whole passage an essay by Thiersch in the " Studien und Kritiken" 1842, 512 sqq.; Gieseler I. 1. p. 214 (§ 51); Schneemann: Sancti Irenaei de ecclesia Romanae principatu testimonium commentatum et defensum, Freiburg i. B. 1870, and Langen, l.c. p. 170 sqq. Langen (who is an Old Catholic of the Döllinger school) explains: " Die potior principalitas bezeichnet den Vorrang, welchen die Kirche der Hauptptstadt als solche vor alten übrigen Kirchen besass ... die Hauptstadt war das Centrum des damaligen Weltverkehrs, und in Folge dessen der Sammelplats von Christen aller Art."He defends the local sense of convenire by parallel passages from Herveus of Bordeaux and Hugo Eterianus (p. 172 sq.). But the moral sense (to agree)seems more natural.

223  Petri cathedram atque ecclesiam principalem, unde unitas sacerdotalis exorta est. Epist. lv. c. 19 (ed. Bal.) Ad Cornelium episc. Rom. In Goldhorn’s ed., Ep. lix. 19.

224  Ecclesiae catholicae radicem et matricem. Ep. xl. 2 ed. Bal. (xlviii. ed. Goldh.). Other passages in Cyrian favorable to the Roman see are either interpolations or corruptions in the interest of the papacy.

225  Irenaeus recognizes among the Roman bishops from Clement to Eleutherus (177), all of whom he mentions by name, only one martyr, to wit, Telesphorus, of whom he says: o{" kai; ejndovxw" ejmartuvrhse, P, Adv. Haer. III., c. 3, §3. So Eusebius, H. E. V. 6. From this we must judge of the value of the Roman Catholic tradition on this point. It is so remote from the time in question as to be utterly unworthy of credit.

226  Cardinal Newman says (Apologia, p. 407): "The see of Rome possessed no great mind in the whole period of persecution. Afterwards for a long time it had not a single doctor to show. The great luminary of the western world is St. Augustin; he, no infallible teacher, has formed the intellect of Europe." Dean Stanley remarks (Christian Institutions, p. 241): "There have been occupants of the sees of Constantinople, Alexandria, and Canterbury who have produced more effect on the mind of Christendom by their utterances than any of the popes."

227  He calls him in the ninth book of the Philosophumenon, an ajnhvr ijdiwvth" kai; aijscrokevrdh" .

228  Or at least the first appointed by Peter. Tertullian De Praescr. HaeR.C. 32 "Romanorum Clementem a Petro ordinatum." The Apost. Const. VII. 6 make Linus (Comp. 2 Tim. 4:21) the first bishop, appointed by Paul, Clement the next, appointed by Peter. According to Epiphanius (Haer. XXVII. 6) Clement was ordained by Peter, but did not enter upon his office till after the death of Linus and Anacletus.

229  The Catalogue of Irenaeus (Adv. Haer. III. 3, 3) down to his own time (a.d. 177) is this: The apostles Peter and Paul, Linos, Anacletos, Clement, Evaristus, Alexander, Xystos, Telesphoros, who died gloriously as a martyr, Hyginos, Pios, Aniketos, Soter, Eleutheros, who then held "the inheritance of the episcopate in the twelfth place from the apostles." Irenaeus adds: "In this order and by this succession, the ecclesiastical tradition from the apostles and the preaching of the truth have come down to us."

230  Langen (l. c .p. 100 sqq.) carries the line of Roman presbyter-bishops down to Alexander, and dates the monarchical constitution of the Roman church (i.e. the diocesan episcopacy) from the age of Trajan or Hadrian. Irenaeus (in Euseb. V. 27) calls the Roman bishops down to Anicetus (154) presbuvteroi.

232  The Church of England retained the term "catholic" in the Creed, and the, ante-papal and anti-papal use of this; term ( = general, universal); while Luther in his Catechism, and the Moravian church (in her liturgy) substituted the word "Christian," and surrendered the use of "catholic" to the Roman Catholics. "Roman" is a sectarian term (in opposition to Greek Catholic and Evangelical Catholic).

233  Credo ecclesiam; yet not in (eij") ecclesiam, as in the case of the Divine persons

234  Communio sanctorum. This clause, however, is not found in the original Creed of the Roman church before the fifth century.

235  a[vqrwpon eij" e[nwsin kathrtismevnon.

236  Ad Smyrn. c. 8.

237  ·Ad Ephes. c. 5. Ad Trall. c.7. Ad Philad. c. 3, etc

238  Adv. Haer. iii. 24."Ubi ecclesia ibi et Spiritus Dei, et ubi Spiritus Dei, illic et omnis gratia." Protestantism would say, conversely, putting the Spirit first: "Ubi Spiritus Dei, ibi ecclesia et omnis gratia."

239  Hom. 3 in Josuam, c. 5. "Extra hanc domum, id est extra ecclesiam, nemo salvatur."

240  "Christianus non est, qui in Christi ecclesia non est."

241  "Habere non potest Deum patrem, qui ecclesiam non habet matrem."

242  "Extra ecclesia nulla salus." Yet he nowhere says "extra Romanam nulla salus."

243  John 10:16. It was a characteristic, we may say, an ominous mistake of the Latin Vulgate to render poivmnh by ovile (confounding it with aujlhv). The Authorized Version has copied the mischievous blunder ("one fold"), but the Revision of 1881 has corrected it.

244  Hatch, l.c. p. 187 sq.

245  Concilium, first used in the ecclesiastical sense by Tertullian, De Iejun. c. 13, De Pudic. c. 10; suvnodo" , assembly, meeting for deliberation (Herodotus, Thucydides, Plato, Demosthenes, etc.), first used of Christian assemblies in the pseudo-Apostolical Constit. V. 20, and the Canons, c. 36 or 38. It may designate a diocesan, or provincial, or general Christian convention for either elective, or judicial, or legislative, or doctrinal purposes

246 a.d. 50. Acts 15 and Gal. 2. Comp. also the Lord’s promise to be present where even the smallest number are assembled in his name, Matt. 18:19, 20. See vol. I. §64, p. 503 sqq

247  On the provincial councils of the Roman empire see Marquardt,Römische Staatsverwaltung, I. 365-377, and Hatch, l.c. p. 164 sqq. The deliberations were preceded by a sacrifice, and the president was called highpriest.

248  That is, within the limits of the old Roman empire, as the orbis terrarum. There never was an absolutely universal council. Even the seven oecumenical Councils from 325 to 787 were confined to the empire, and poorly attended by Western bishops. The Roman Councils held after that time (down to the Vatican Council in 1870) claim to be oecumenical, but exclude the Greek and all evangelical churches.

249  Comp. Acts 15:6, 7, 12, 13, 23, where the "brethren" are mentioned expressly, besides the apostles and elders, as members of the council, even at the final decision and in the pastoral letter. On the difference of reading, see vol. I. 505.

250  Cyprian, Opera, p. 329, ed. Baluz. In the acts of this council, however (pp. 330-338), only the bishops appear as voters, from which some writers infer that the laity, and even the presbyters, had no votum decisium. But in several old councils the presbyters and deacons subscribed their names after those of the bishops; see Harduin, Coll. Conc. I. 250 and 266; Hefele I. 19.

251  Epp.xi., xiii., lxvi., lxxi.

252  Ep. xxxi.

253  Cyprian, Ep. liv., on the ground of the e[doxe tw/' aJgivw/ pneuvmati kai; hJmi'n, visum est Spiritui Sancto et nobis, Acts 15:28. So also, the council of Arles, a.d. 314: Placuit ergo, presente Spiritu Sancto et angelis ejus (Harduin, Coll. Concil. I. 262).

254  Epistolae formatae, gravmmata tetupwmevna.

255  This policy was inaugurated by Constantine I. a.d. 326 (Cod. Theod. 16, 5, 1). He confined the privileges and immunities which, in 313, he had granted to Christians in his later enactments to "Catholicae legis observatoribus." He ratified the Nicene creed and exiled Arius (325), although he afterwards wavered and was baptized by a semi-Arian bishop (337). His immediate successors wavered likewise. But as a rule the Byzantine emperors recognized the decisions of councils in dogma and discipline, and discouraged and ultimately prohibited the formation of dissenting sects. The state can, of course, not prevent dissent as an individual opinion; it can only prohibit and punish the open profession. Full religious liberty requires separation of church and state.

256  Hefele, Gams, and Dale decide in favor of this date against the superscription which puts it down to the period of the Council of Nicaea (324). The chief reason is that Hosius, bishop of Cordova, could not be, present in 324 when he was in the Orient, nor at any time after 307, when he joined the company of Constantine as one of his private councillors.

257  "Placuit picturas in ecclesia esse non debere, ne quod colitur et adoratur in parietibus depingatur.""There shall be no pictures in the church, lest what is worshipped [saints] and adored [God and Christ] should be depicted on the walls."

258  The last is the interpretation of the canon by DeRossi, in Roma sotteranea, Tom. I., p. 97, and Hefele, I. 170. But Dale (p. 292 sqq.) thinks that it was aimed against the idolatry of Christians.

259  The best accounts of the Synod of Elvira are given by Ferdinand de Mendoza, De confirmando Concilio Illiberitano ad Clementem VIII., 1593 (reprinted in Mansi II. 57-397); Fr. Ant. Gonzalez, Collect. Can. Ecclesiae Hispaniae, Madrid, 1808, new ed. with Spanish version, 1849 (reprinted in Bruns, Bibl. Eccl. Tom. I. Pars II. 1 sqq.); Hefele, Conciliengesch. I. 148-192 (second ed., 1873; or 122 sqq., first ed.); Gams, Kirchengesch. von Spanien (1864), vol. II. 1-136; and Dale in his monograph on the Synod of Elvira, London, 1882.

260  Concilium Arelatense, from Arelate or Arelatum Sextanorum, one of the chief Roman cities in South-Eastern Gaul, where Constantine at one time resided, and afterwards the West Gothic King Eurich. It was perhaps the seat of the first bishopric of Gaul, or second only to that of Lyons and Vienne. Several councils were held in that city, the second in 353 during the Arian controversy.

261  Not 633, as McClintock & Strong’s "Cyclop" has it sub Arles.

262  See Eus. H. E. x. 5; Mansi, II. 463-468; München, Das ersten Concil von Arles (in the "Bonner Zeitschrift für Philos. und kath. Theol.," No. 9, 26, 27), and Hefele I. 201-219 (2nd ed.).

263  Hefele, vol. I. 222 sqq., gives the canons in Greek and German with explanation. He calls it a Synodus plenaria, i.e., a general council for the churches of Asia Minor and Syria. See also Mansi II. 514 sqq. Two Arian Synods were held at Ancyra in 358 and 375.

264  See Hefele I. 242-251.

265  Harnack (l.c. 266-268) identifies Pseudo-Clement with Pseudo-Ignatius and assigns him to the middle of the fourth century.

266  Turrianus Bovius; and the eccentric Whiston regarded these pseudoapostolic Constitutions as a genuine work of the apostles; containing Christ’s teaching during the forty days between the Resurrection and Ascension. But Baronius, Bellarmin, and Petavius attached little weight to them, and the Protestant scholars, Daillé and Blondel, attacked and overthrew their genuineness and authority. The work is a gradual growth, with many repetitions, interpolations, and contradictions and anachronisms. James, who was beheaded (a.d. 44), is made to sit in council with Paul (VI. 14), but elsewhere is represented as dead (V. 7). The apostles condemn post-apostolic heresies and heretics (VI. 8), and appoint days of commemoration of their death (VIII. 33). Episcopacy is extravagantly extolled. P. de Lagarde says: (Rel juris Eccles. ant., Preface, p. IV.): "Communis vivorum doctorum fere omnium nunc invaluit opinio eas [constitutiones] saeculo tertio clam succrevisse et quum sex aliquando libris septimo et octavo auctas esse postea."

267  As Bickell supposes. Beveridge put the collection in the third century.

268  According to Daillé, Dr. von Drey, and Mejer.

269  Peccata mortalia, or, ad mortem; after a rather arbitrary interpretation of 1 John 5:16. Tertullian gives seven mortal sins: Homocidium idololatria, fraus, negatio blasphemia. utique et moechia et. fornicatio et si qua alia violatio templi Dei. De pudic. c. 19, These he declares irremissibilia,horum ultra exoratur non erit Christus; that is, if thev be committed after baptism; for baptism washes, away all former guilt. Hence he counselled delay of baptism.

270  Peccata, venialia.

271  Poenitentes.

272  Can. 4 sqq. See Hefele, Conciliengesch (second ed.) I. 225 sqq. Comp. also the fifth canon of Neocaesarea, and Hefele, p. 246.

273  Prosklaivonte", flentes; also called ceimavzonte", hiemantes

274  !Akrowvmenoi, audientes, or auditores. The fourteenth canon of Nicaea (Hefele I. 418) directs that "Catechumens who had fallen, should for three years be only hearers, but afterwards pray with the Catechumens."

275  Gonuklivnonte", genuflectentes: also uJpopivptonte" , Substrati. The terra govnu klivnwnas designating a class of penitents occurs only in the 5th canon of the Council of Neocaesarea, held after 314 and before 325.

276  Sunistavmenoi, consistentes.

277  Provsklausi", fletus; ajkrovasi" auditus; uJpovptwsi", prostratio, humiliatio; suvstasi", consistentia. The last three classes are supposed to correspond to three classes of catechumens, but without good reason. There was only one class of catechumens, or at most two classes. See below, § 72.

278  Presbuvteroi ejpi; th'" metanoiva", presbyteri poenitentiarii

279  Reconciliatio.

280  The declarative, and especially the direct indicative or judicial form of absolution seems to be of later origin.

281  Cypr. Epist. LV., c. 15: "Neque enim prejudicamus Domino judicaturo, quominus si penitentiam plenam et justam peccatoris invenerit tunc ratum faciat, quod a nobis fuerit hic statutum. Si vero nos aliquis poenitentiae simulatione deluserit, Deus, cui non deridetur, et qui cor hominis intuetur, de his, quae nos minus perspeximus, judicet et servorum suorum sententiam Dominus mendet." Comp. the similar passages in Epist. LXXV. 4, and De Lapsi, c. 17. But if the church can err in imparting absolution to the unworthy, as Cyprian concedes, she can err also in withholding absolution and in passing sentence of excommunication.

282  1 Cor. 5:1 sqq. Comp. 2 Cor. 2:5 sqq.

283  See the particulars in § 183, and in Döllinger’s Hippol. and Call., Engl. transl. by A. Plummer (1876), p. 92 sqq.

284  See Mommsen, Über den Chronographen vom Jahr 354 (1850), Lipsius, Chronologie der Röm. Bischöfe, p. 40 sqq.; Döllinger, I.c. p. 332 sqq.; Jacobi in Herzog2 VI. 142 sqq.

285  Cyprian charges him with terrible cruelties, such as robbing widows and orphans, gross abuse of his father, and of his wife even during her pregnancy; and says, that he was about to be arraigned for this and similar misconduct when the Decian persecution broke out. Ep. 49.

286  In Ep. 52, Ad Antonianum, he tried to justify himself in regard to this change in his views.

287  Novatiani, Novatianenses.

288  Kaqaroiv.

289  Eusebius and the Greeks call him Noouavto", and confound him with Novatus of Carthage. Dionysius of Alex., however, calls him Noouatianov".