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From the Confessions: Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope
By everyone’s confession, even our adversaries, it is clear that this power by divine right is common to all who preside over churches, whether they are called pastors, or elders, or bishops. Accordingly Jerome openly teaches in the apostolic letters that all who preside over churches are both bishops and elders, and cites Titus 1:5–6: “This is why I left you in Crete, that you…appoint elders in every town as I directed you.” Then he adds that a bishop must be “the husband of one wife.” Likewise, Peter and John call themselves elders (1 Pet 5:1; 2 John 1). Jerome then adds that it was later that one was chosen over the rest, partly to remedy schism, lest groups divide and rend the Church of Christ. For in Alexandria, from the time of Mark the evangelist to that of the bishops Heracles and Dionysius, the elders always elected one from among themselves, and placed him in a higher station, whom they called bishop, just as an army would make a commander for itself. The deacons, moreover, may elect from among themselves one whom they know to be active, and name him archdeacon. For, with the exception of ordination, what does a bishop do that an elder does not?
Pulling It Together
The role of bishop is not one of rule and rule making. Rather, a bishop works to hold the church together around the Word. As such, a bishop must ordain new pastors so that the Word will be preached. All other work of a bishop is that which those elders or pastors should do: faithfully teach the Word of God.
Prayer: Lord God, give your church pastors who faithfully teach your Word. Amen.
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