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Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature
a term derived through the Saxon (biscop) from the Greek (ἐπίσκοπος, episcopus, overseer) as a title of office in the Christian ministry. In the Septuagint the word designates a holder of public office, whether civil or religious (e.g. 2 Chronicles 34:12; 2 Chronicles 34:17; Isaiah 40:17). In classical use the word ordinarily has a political meaning; Cicero is called episcopus orse and campanic. "The inspectors or commissioners sent by Athens to her subject states were ἐπίσκοποι (Aristoph. Av. 1022), and their office, like that of the Spartan harmosts, authorized them to interfere in all the political arrangements of the state to which they were sent. The title was still current and beginning to be used by the Romans in the later days of the republic (Cic. ad Att. 7:11). The Hellenistic Jews found it employed in the Sept., though with no very definite import, for officers charged with certain functions (Numbers 4:16; Numbers 31:14; 2 Kings 11:16; 2 Kings 11:19; Judges 9:28; for Heb. פָּקוּד, etc.; so in Wisd. i, 6; 1 Maccabees 1:53; comp. Joseph. Ant. 12:5, 4). When the organization of the Christian churches in Gentile cities involved the assignment of the work of pastoral superintendence to a distinct class, the title ἐπίσκοπος presented itself as at once convenient and familiar, and was therefore adopted as readily as the word elder (πρεσβύτερος ) had been in the mother Church of Jerusalem." (See ELDER); (See OVERSEER).
In the early Church, the title was employed either in relation to the pastor of one church or assembly of Christians, or to the superintendent of a number of churches. The former is the meaning attached to the word by Presbyterians and Congregationalists, and the latter by the various Episcopal churches of Christendom, viz., the Roman Church, the Greek Church, the other Oriental churches (Armenian, Coptic, Jacobite, Nestorian, Abyssinian), the Episcopal Church of England and Ireland, the Episcopal Church of Scotland, the Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States, the Methodist Episcopal churches, the Lutheran Church (in Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Russia, and several German states), the Moravians, the Mennonites. In some Protestant churches, those of Prussia and Nassau, where the consistorial constitution prevails, the name designates more a title of honor conferred on the superintendents general than a distinct office.
"Episcopalians, Presbyterians, and Congregationalists agree in one point, viz., that it is lawful for Christians to take a step for which they have no clear precedent in the Scripture, that, of breaking up a Church, when it becomes of unwieldy magnitude, into fixed divisions, whether parishes or congregations. The question then arises whether the organic union is to be still retained at all. To this (1) Congregationalists reply in the negative, saying that the congregations in different parts of a great city no more need to be in organic union than those of two different cities; (2) Presbyterians would keep up the union by means of a synod of the elders; (3) Episcopalians desire to unite the separate churches by retaining them under the supervision of a single head-the bishop. It seems impossible to refer to the practice of the apostles as deciding in favor of any one of these methods, for the case had not yet arisen which could have led to the discussion. The city churches had not yet become so large as to make subdivision positively necessary, and, as a fact, it did not take place. To organize distant churches into a fixed and formal connection by synods of their bishops was, of course, a much later process; but such unions are by no means rejected, even by Congregationalists, so long as they are used for deliberation and advice, not as assemblies for ruling and commanding. The spirit of Episcopacy depends far less on the episcopal form itself than on the size and wealth of dioceses, and on the union of bishops into synods, whose decisions are to be authoritative on the whole Church, to say nothing of territorial establishment and the support of the civil government" (Kitto, Cyclopedia, s.v.). For the controversy as to the office of bishops, (See EPISCOPACY); here we simply give, first, Biblical applications of the word in connection with πρεσβύτερος; and, secondly, the names, classes, insignia, duties, election, and consecration of bishops in ancient and modern churches.
I. New Testament Uses of the Term "Bishop:"
1. Origin of the Office. — " The apostles originally appointed men to superintend the spiritual, and occasionally even the secular wants of the churches (Acts 14:23; Acts 11:30; see also 2 Timothy 2:2), who were ordinarily called πρεσβύτεροι, elders, from their age; sometimes ἐπίσκοποι, overseers (bishops), from their office. They are also said προϊ v στασθαι, to preside (1 Thessalonians 5:12; 1 Timothy 5:17); never ἄρχειν, to rule, which has far too despotic a sound. In the Epistle to the Hebrews (Hebrews 13:7; Hebrews 13:17; Hebrews 13:24) they are named ἡγούμενοι, leading men (comp. Acts 15:22), and figuratively ποιμένες, shepherds (Ephesians 4:11). These presbyters were the regular teachers of the Church, expounding Scripture, administering the sacraments, and exercising pastoral care and discipline. They were to be married men with families (1 Timothy 3:4), and with converted children (Titus 1:6). In the beginning there had been no time to train teachers, and teaching was at first regarded far more in the light of a gift than an office; yet Paul places 'ability to teach' among episcopal qualifications (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:9; the latter of which passages should be translated, 'That he may he able both to exhort men by sound teaching, and also to refute opposers). That teachers had obtained in Paul's day a fixed official position is manifest from Galatians 6:6, and 1 Corinthians 9:14, where he claims for them a right to worldly maintenance: in fact, that the shepherds ordered to 'feed the flock,' and be its 'overseers' (1 Peter 5:2), were to feed them with knowledge and instruction, will never be disputed, except to support a hypothesis. The leaders also, in Hebrews 13:7, are described as ‘ speaking unto you the word of God.' Ecclesiastical history joins in proving that the two offices of teaching and superintending were, with few exceptions, combined in the same persons, as, indeed, the nature of things dictated.
"That during Paul's lifetime no difference between elders and bishops yet existed in the consciousness of the Church is manifest from the entire absence of distinctive names (Acts 20:17-28; 1 Peter 5:1-2). The; mention of bishops and deacons in Philippians 1:1, and 1 Timothy 1:3 without any notice of elders, proves that at that time no difference of order subsisted between bishops and elders. A formal ceremony it is generally believed, was employed in appointing elders, although it does not appear that as yet any fixed name was appropriated to the idea of ordination. (The word ordained is inexcusably interpolated in the English version of Acts 1:22. In Titus 1:5, the Greek word is καταστήσῃς, set, or set up; and in Acts 14:23, it is χειροτονήσαντες, having elected, properly by a show of hands; though, abusively, the term came to mean simply having chosen or nominated [Acts 10:41 ]; yet in 2 Corinthians 8:19, it seems to have its genuine democratic sense.) In 1 Corinthians 16:15, we find the house of Stephanas to have volunteered the task of 'ministering to the saints;' and that this was a ministry of 'the word' is evident from the apostle's urging the Church 'to submit themselves to such.' It would appear, then, that a formal investiture into the office was not as yet regarded essential. Be this as it may, no one doubts that an ordination by laying on of hands soon became general or universal. Hands were first laid on, not to bestow an office, but to solicit a spiritual gift (1 Timothy 4:14; 2 Timothy 1:6; Acts 13:3; Acts 14:26; Acts 15:40). To the same effect Acts 8:17; Acts 19:6 -passages which explain Hebrews 6:2. On the other hand, the absolute silence of the Scriptures, even if it were not confirmed, as it is, by positive testimony, would prove that no idea of consecration, as distinct from ordination, at that time existed at all; and consequently, although individual elders may have really discharged functions which would afterward have been called episcopal, it was not by virtue of a second ordination, nor, therefore, of episcopal rank.
"The apostles themselves, it is held by some, were the real bishops of that day, and it is quite evident that they performed many episcopal functions. It may well be true that the only reason why no bishops (in the modern sense) were then wanting was because the apostles were living; but it cannot be inferred that in any strict sense prelates are coordinate in rank with the apostles, and can claim to exercise their powers. The later " bishop" did not come forward as a successor to the apostles, but was developed out of the presbyter; much less can it be proved, or alleged with plausibility, that the apostles took any measures for securing substitutes for themselves (in the high character of apostles) after their decease. It has been with many a favorite notion that Timothy and Titus exhibit the episcopal type even during the life of Paul; but this is an obvious misconception. They were attached to the person of the apostle, and not to any one church. In the last epistle written by him (2 Timothy 4:9), he calls Timothy suddenly to Rome in words which prove that the latter was not, at least as yet, bishop, either of Ephesus or of any other Church. That Timothy was an evangelist is distinctly stated (2 Timothy 4:5), and that he had received spiritual gifts (2 Timothy 1:6, etc.); there :is then no difficulty in accounting for the authority vested in him (1 Timothy 5:1), without imagining him to have been a bishop, which is, in fact, disproved even by the same epistle (1 Timothy 1:3). That Titus, moreover, had no local attachment to Crete, is plain from Titus 3:13, to say nothing of the earlier epistle. 2 Corinthians passion; nor is it true that the episcopal power developed itself out of wandering evangelists any more than out of the apostles. "On the other hand, it would seem that the bishop began to elevate himself above the presbyter while the apostle John was yet alive, and in churches to which he is believed to have peculiarly devoted himself.
The meaning of the title angel in the opening chapters of the Apocalypse has been mystically explained by some, but its true meaning is clear, from the nomenclature of the Jewish synagogues. In them, we are told, the minister who ordinarily led the prayers of the congregation, besides acting as their chief functionary in matters of business, was entitled צַבּוּר שְׁלַיחִ (See SYNAGOGUE), a name which may be translated literally envoy of the congregation, and is here expressed by the Greek ἄγγελος . The substantive מְלָאכָח also (which by analogy would be rendered ἀγγελια, as מִלָאךְ is ἄγγελος ) has the ordinary sense of work, service, making it almost certain that the 'angels of the churches' are nothing but a harsh Hebraism for 'ministers of the churches.' We therefore here see a single officer in these rather large Christian communities elevated into a peculiar prominence which has been justly regarded as episcopal. Nor does it signify that the authorship of the Apocalypse is disputed, since its extreme antiquity is beyond a doubt; we find, therefore, the germ of episcopacy here planted, as it were, under the eyes of an apostle.
"Nevertheless, it was still but a germ. It is vain to ask whether these angels received a second ordination, and had been promoted from the rank of presbyters. That this was the case is possible, but there is no proof of it; and while some will regard the question as deeply interesting, others will think it unimportant. A second question is whether the angels were overseers of the congregation only, or of the presbyters too, and whether the Church was formed of many local unions (such as we call parishes) or of one. Perhaps both questions unduly imply that a set of fixed rules was already in existence. No one who reads Paul's own account of the rebuke he uttered against Peter (Galatians 2) need doubt that in those days a zealous elder would assume authority over other elders officially his equals when he thought they were dishonoring the Gospel; and, a fortiori, he would act thus toward an official inferior even if this had not previously been defined or understood as his duty. So, again, the Christians of Ephesus or Miletus were probably too numerous ordinarily to meet in a single assembly, especially before they had large buildings erected for the purpose; and convenience must have led at a very early period to subordinate assemblies (such as would now be called " chapels of ease" to the mother Church); yet we have no ground for supposing that any sharp division of the Church into organic portions had yet commenced."
2. The title Bishop, as compared with Presbyter, or Elder. — "That the two titles were originally equivalent is clear from the following facts:
(1.) ἐπίσκοποι and πρεσβύτεροι are nowhere named together as being orders distinct from each other.
(2.) ἐπίσκοποι and διάκονοι are named as apparently an exhaustive division of the officers of churches addressed by Paul as an apostle (Philippians 1:1; 1 Timothy 3:1; 1 Timothy 3:8).
(3.) The same persons are described by both names (Acts 20:17-18; Titus 1:5; Titus 1:8).
(4.) πρεσβύτεροι discharge functions which are essentially episcopal, i.e. involving pastoral superintendence (1 Timothy 5:17; 1 Peter 5:1-2). The age which followed that of the apostles witnessed a gradual change in the application of the words, and in the epistles of Ignatius, even in their least interpolated or most mutilated form, the bishop is recognised as distinct from and superior to, the presbyters (Ep. ad Smyrn. 8; ad Trail. 2, 3, 8; ad Magn. vi). In those of Clement of Rome, however, the two words are still dealt with as interchangeable (1 Corinthians 42, 44, 57). The omission of any mention of an ἐπίσκοπος in addition to the πρεσβύτεροι and διάκονοι in Polycarp's Epistle to the Philippians (c. v), and the enumeration of 'apostoli, episcopi, doctores, ministri, in the Shepherd of Hermas (1:3, 5), are less decisive, but indicate a transition stage in the history of the word. Assuming as proved the identity of the bishops and elders of the N.T., we have farther (in this connection) only to inquire into, 1, the relation which existed between the two titles; 2, the functions and mode of appointment of the men to whom both titles were applied; 3, their relations to the general government and discipline of the Church. (See ELDER).
"(I.) There can be no doubt that πρεσβύτεροι had the priority in order of time. The existence of a body bearing that name is implied in the use of the correlative οἱ νεώτεροι (comp. Luke 12:26; 1 Peter 5:1; 1 Peter 5:5) in the narrative of Ananias (Acts 5:6). The order itself is recognised. in Acts 11:30, and takes part in the deliberations of the Church at Jerusalem in Acts 15. It is transferred by Paul and Barnabas to the Gentile churches in their first missionary journey (Acts 12:23). The earliest use of ἐπίσκοποι , on the other hand, is in the address of Paul to the elders at Miletus (Acts 20:18), and there it is rather descriptive of functions than given as a title. The earliest epistle in which it is formally used as equivalent to πρεσβύτεροι (except on the improbable hypothesis that 1 Timothy belongs to the period following on Paul's. departure from Ephesus in Acts 20:1) is that to the Philippians, so late as the time of his first imprisonment at Rome. It was natural, indeed, that this should be the order; that the word derived from the usages of the synagogues of Palestine, every one of which had its superintending elders (זְקֵנַים; comp. Luke 7:3), should precede that borrowed from the constitution of a Greek state. If the latter was afterward felt to be the more adequate, it may have been because there was a life in the organization of the Church higher than that of the synagogues, and functions of pastoral superintendence devolving on the elders of the Christian congregation which were unknown to those of the other periods. It had the merit of being descriptive as well as titular; a 'nomen officii' as well as a 'nomen dignitatis.' It could be associated, as the other could not be, with the thought of the highest pastoral superintendenceof Christ himself as the ποιμὴν καὶ ἐπίσκοπος (1 Peter 2:25).
"(II.) Of the order in which the first elders were appointed, as of the occasion which led to the institution of the office, we have no record. Arguing from the analogy of the seven in Acts 6:5-6, it would seem probable that they were chosen by the members of the Church collectively (possibly to take the place that had been filled by the seven; comp. Stanley's Apost. Age, p. 64), and then set apart to their office by the laying on of the apostles' hands. In the case of Timothy (1 Timothy 4:14; 2 Timothy 1:6). the πρεσβυτέριον, probably the body of the elders at Lystra, had taken part with the apostle in this act of ordination; but here it remains doubtful whether the office to which Timothy was appointed was that of the bishop-elder or one derived from the special commission with which the two epistles addressed to him show him to have been intrusted. The connection of 1 Timothy 5:22, is, on the whole, against our referring the laying on of hands there spoken of to the ordination of elders- (comp. Hammond, in loc.), and the same may be said of Hebrews 6:2. The imposition of hands was indeed the outward sign of the communication of all spiritual χαρίσματα , as well as of functions for which such 'gifts' were required, and its use for the latter (as in 1 Timothy 4:14; 2 Timothy 1:6) was connected with its instrumentality in the bestowal of the former. The conditions which were to be observed is choosing these officers, as stated in the pastoral epistles, are blameless life and reputation among those that are without' as well as within the Church, fitness for the work of teaching, the wide kindliness of temper which shows itself in hospitality, the bent 'the husband of one wife' (i.e. according to the most probable interpretation, not divorced and then married to another; but comp. Hammond, Estius, Ellicott, in loc.; see Hasaeus, De Episcopo δευτερογάμῳ [Brem. n. d.]; Walch, De Episcopo unius uxois ziro [Jen. 1733]), showing powers of government in his own household as well as in self-control, not being a recent and therefore an untried convert. When appointed, the duties of the bishop elders appear to have been as follows:
1. General superintendence over the spiritual well-being of the flock (1 Peter 5:2). According to the aspects which this function presented, those on whom it' devolved were described as ποιμένες (Ephesians 4:11), προεστῶτες (1 Timothy 5:17), προϊσταμενοι (1 Thessalonians 5:12). Its exercise called for the χάρισμα κυβερνήσεως (1 Corinthians 12:28). The last two of the above titles imply obviously a recognised rank, as well as work, which would show itself naturally in special marks of honor in the meetings of the Church.
2. The work of teaching, both publicly and privately (1 Thessalonians 5:12; Titus 1:9; 1 Timothy 5:17). At first, it appears from the description of the practices of the Church in 1 Corinthians 14:26, the work of oral teaching, whatever form it assumed, was not limited to any body of men, but was exercised according as each man possessed a special χἀρισμα for it. Even then, however, there were, as the warnings of that chapter show, some inconveniences attendant on this freedom, and it was a natural remedy to select men for the special function of teaching because they possessed the χάρισμα , and then gradually to confine that work to them. The work of preaching (κηρύσσειν ) to the heathen did not belong, apparently, to the bishop-elders as such, but was the office of the apostle- evangelist. Their duty was to feed the flock, teaching publicly (Titus 1:9), opposing errors, admonishing privately (1 Thessalonians 5:12).
3. The work of visiting the sick appears in James 5:14 as assigned to the elders of the Church. There, indeed, it is connected with the practice of anointing as a means of healing, but this office of Christian sympathy would not, we may believe, be confined to the exercise of the extraordinary χαρίσματα ἰαμάτων , and it is probably to this, and to acts of a like kind, that we are to refer the ἀντιλαμβάνεσθαι τῶν ἀσθενούντων of Acts 19:34, and the ἀντιλήψεις of 1 Corinthians 12:28.
4. Among these acts of charity that of receiving strangers occupied a conspicuous place (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:8). The bishop-elder's house was to be the house of the Christian who arrived in a strange city and found himself without a friend.
5. Of the part taken by them in the liturgical meetings of the Church we have no distinct evidence. Reasoning from the language of 1 Corinthians 10:12, and from the practices of the post-apostolic age, we may believe that they would preside at such meetings, that it would belong to them to bless and to give thanks when the Church met to break bread.
"The mode in which these officers of the Church were supported or remunerated varied probably in different cities. At Miletus Paul exhorts the elders of the Church to follow his example and work for: their own livelihood (Acts 19:34). In 1 Corinthians 11:14, and Galatians 6:6, he asserts the right of the ministers of the Church to be supported by it. In 1 Timothy 5:17, he gives a special application of the principle in the assignment of a double allowance (τιμή , comp. Hammond, in loc.) to those who have been conspicuous for their. activity.
"Collectively at Jerusalem, and probably in other churches, the body of bishop-elders took part in deliberations (Acts 15:6-22; Acts 21:18), addressed other churches (ibid. 15:23), were joined with the apostles in the work of ordaining by the laying on of hands (2 Timothy 1:6). It lay in the necessities of any organized society that such a body of men should be subject to a power higher than their own, whether vested in one chosen by themselves or deriving its authority from some external source; and we find accordingly that it belonged to the delegate of an apostle, and, afortiori, to the apostle himself, to receive accusations against them, to hear evidence, to admonish where there was the hope of amendment, to depose where this proved unavailing" (1 Timothy 5:19; 1 Timothy 4:1; Titus 3:10). (See SUPERINTENDENT).
It seems therefore to be certain that not only were the titles "bishop" and "presbyter" uniformly interchangeable in the New Testament, but also that but one office was designated by these two names. The "bishop" of the N.T. is not to be thought of as a diocesan bishop, such as those of the Roman or other churches of later times, but only as an authorized officer of the Church and congregation. "The identity of presbyters and bishops in the Apostolic Church was acknowledged by the most learned Church fathers, on exegetical grounds, even after the Catholic episcopal system (whose origin was referred to the Apostolate) had come to its full form and force. We confine ourselves to the most important. Jerome says, ad Tit. i, 7: Idem est ergo presbyter qui episcopus, et antequam diaboli instinctu studia in religione fierent... communi presbyterorum consilio ecclesiee gubernabantur. Again, Ep st. 85, ad Evagrium (in the later copies, ad Evangelum): Nam quum apostolus perspicue doceat eosdem esse preshyteros et episcopos, etc. Finally, Ep. 82, ad Oceanum (al. 83): In utraque epistola (the first to Timothy and that to Titus) sive episcopi sive presbyteri (quamquam apud veteres iidem episcopi et presbyteri fuerint, quia illud nomen dignitatis est, hoc aetatis) jubentur monogami in clerum elegi. So Ambrosiaster, ad Ephesians 4:11, and the author of the PseudoAugustinian Quoestiones V. et N.T. qu. 101. Among the Greek fathers, Chrysostom, Hom. in Ep. ad Philipp. says: Συνεπισκόποις (so he reads Philippians 1:1, instead of ἐπισκόποις καὶ διακόνοις . τί τοῦτο; μιᾶς πόλεως πολλοὶ ἐπίσκοποι ῏ησαν; Ο ù δαμῶς ἀλλὰτοὺς πρεσβυτέρους οὕτως ἐκάλεσε τότε γάρ τέως ἐκοινώνουν τοῖς ὀνόμασι, καὶ διάκονος ὁ ἐπίσκοπος ἐλέγετο, κ . τ . λ . Still more plainly Theodoret, ad Phil. i, 1 ἐ ῏πισκόπους δὲ τοὺς πρεσβυτέρους καλεῖ, ἀμφότεραγὰρ εϊ v χον κατ ἐκεῖνον τὸν καιρὸν τὰ ὀνόματα, for which he quotes texts already given. So again ad Timothy 3:1: ἐπίσκοπον δέ ἐνταῦθα τὸν πρεβυτέρον λέγει, κ . Ι . λ . Even theologians of the Middle Ages maintained this view, among whom Pope Urban II (A.D. 1091) is especially worthy of note: Sacros autema ordines dicimus diaconatum et presbyteratum. Hos siquidem solos primitiva legitur ecclesia habuisse; super his solum preceptum habemus apostoli. Among the later Roman Catholic expositors, Mack (Pastoralbriefe des Ap. Paulus, Tub. 1836, p. 60 sq.) grants in full the identity of the N.T. presbyters and bishops; he sees in them the later presbyters, and takes the later bishops, on the contrary, for the successors of the apostles and their immediate assistants. This last view is undoubtedly, from the Roman Catholic stand- point, the only tenable derivation of the episcopate. Among Protestant interpreters and historians, this identity has always been asserted; and this even by many learned Episcopalians, e.g. Dr. Whitby, who, on Philippians 1:1, admits: 'Both the Greek and Latin fathers do with one consent declare that bishops were called presbyters and presbyters bishops in apostolic times, the names being then common.' See also, as a recent authority, Bloomfield on Acts 20:17 (Grk. Test. Eng. Notes, etc., vol. i, p. 560, Phil. ed.)." - Schaff, Apost. Ch. § 132; Stanley, Ap. Age, 63-77; Neander, Planting, etc., i, 168, Cunninghaim, Hist. Theol. ch.viii. (See EPISCOPACY).
II. Ecclesiastical Usages respecting Bishops
1. Names and Titles. — In the early centuries the following titles were employed with reference to the bishops: The scriptural appellations προϊστάμενοι, προεστῶτες (see 1 Thessalonians 5:12; 1 Timothy 5:17) were translated into Latin by proepositi (whence our word provost), and were retained by the Greek fathers. We have also antistites and prcesules, used in the same signification. In nearly the same sense was the term πρόεδροι, presidentes, presidents, used; ἔφοροι, inspectors; angeli ecclese, angels of the churches. Summi sacerdotes and pontifices maximi owe their origin to the practice of deducing the ecclesiastical constitution from the priest of the Hebrew temple. They are also called patres, patres ecclesice, patres clercorum, and patres patrum, fathers, fathers of the Church, fathers of the clergy, and fathers of the fathers. In early times they were called patriarchs, as being the superiors of the presbyters; afterward the title became equivalent to archbishop. In allusion to their appointment by Christ, they were called vicars of Christ. This title was assumed by many bishops before its exclusive appropriation by the bishop of Rome. In some early writers we meet with the term ἄρχοντες ἐκκλησιῶν, governors or rulers of the churches. Various other epithets are applied to them, such as blessed, most blessed, holy, most holy. In the Roman Church, the English Church, and the Protestant Episcopal Church of America, bishops are now styled right reverend. In England they belong to the House of Lords, and are styled lord. In the Methodist Episcopal Church they are simply styled reverend, like other ordained ministers.
2. Classes.-The episcopal order in some churches is divided into four degrees, the same as to order, but differing in jurisdiction, viz.:
(1.) Patriarchs of Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem, etc.;
(2.) Primates, as the Archbishop of Canterbury, etc.;
(3.) Metropolitans, bishops of capital cities; and
(4.) Simple bishops. The Roman Church recognises in the pope a fifth order, that of sovereign pontiff, or head of the whole Church. We meet also with classes of inferior bishops. Among these may be mentioned vacui, vacantes, bishops without cures. Some of these had vacated their office in times of persecution or religious commotion. Titular bishops, episcopi in partibus, or in partibus infidelium, are invested with office, but with no stated charge or diocese. Suffragans are such as are appointed to act as the assistants or substitutes of the metropolitans. They derive their name either from the fact that they cannot be consecrated without the suffrage of the metropolitan, or because they possess the right of suffrage in the synods (see Dufresne, s.v. Suffcragio). Diocesan bishops who are impeded by sickness or old age from discharging their duties receive a coadjutor, who, as long as he has not received the episcopal consecration, is called episcopus' designatus. The term country bishops, χωρεπίσκοποι, rural bishops, occurs in the older writers. They appear to have been subject to a city bishop, and to have acted as his colleagues. The derivation of the word is disputed; some derive it from chorus, χόρος, a choir of singers; others from the appellation cor episcopi, heart of the bishop, as the archdeacon was sometimes called. The true etymon seems to be χώρα or χωρίον, a country. Their peculiar duties were to give letters of peace or testimonials; to superintend the affairs of the Church in their district; to appoint ecclesiastical officers, readers, exorcists, etc.; and to ordain presbyters and deacons, but not without the permission of the city bishop. The name ceases to be found in history about the twelfth century, and their place was supplied by archdeacons and rural deans.
3. Insignia. — The insignia of the episcopal office were a ring, emblematical of the bishop's espousals to the Church-it was called annulus sponsalitius; the pastoral staff bent or crooked at the top; the mitre or fillet, sometimes called crown, diadem, tiara; gloves, chirothecce, always worn during the performance of any religious office; sandals-no one could celebrate the Eucharist without these; caligce, or boots-in ancient warfare they were a part of the soldier's equipments, and, when worn by a bishop, pointed out the spiritual warfare on which he had entered; pallium, the pall; pectorale, the breastplate. The pallium was so peculiar and distinctive that its name was often used to denote the person or office of a bishop. It was first worn by bishops, but afterward by archbishops, metropolitans, and patriarchs only. The form of the pallium in the earliest times is not known; subsequently it was made of white linen, without seam, and was worn hanging down over the shoulders. In the twelfth century it was made of wool. Previous to the eighth century it had four purple crosses on it, and was fastened by three gold pins. The cross, like the Hebrew pectoral, was worn on the neck or breast, and was also carried in public processions, and thus became a twofold badge of the bishop's office. Most of these insignia are still used in the Greek and Roman churches. -Farrar, s.v.
4. Duties. — The duties of the bishop in the ancient Church included the celebration of Divine worship and the discipline and government of the Church. His principal duties, though not performed by him exclusively, were catechising and preaching. Others, exclusively belonging to him, were the confirmation of baptized persons, by which they were admitted as acknowledged members into the Church, the ordination of presbyters and inferior ministers, the restoration of penitents, and various acts of consecration and benediction. As to discipline, while at times the prerogatives of the bishop were restricted, he remained the source and centre of ecclesiastical, authority within his diocese. The diocesan clergy were dependent upon him, and the regulations of the churches were directed by him. His authority was seen in the following particulars: In the superintendence of religious worship; in the oversight of all the members of the Church throughout a diocese in spiritual and ecclesiastical matters; in the control of all subordinate spiritual persons and ecclesiastical officers; in the visitation of the clergy, churches, schools, and religious houses; in the presidency over all synods within the diocese, and even in the management and distribution of all the property of the Church (Farrar, s.v.). Most of these powers are retained in the Greek and Roman churches to this day. The bishops of the Roman Church assume some special duties toward the pope by the oath of obedience which is administered to them before their consecration (see below). The most I important of the duties enumerated in the formula of a bishop's oath are, to be faithfully attached to the pope and to his successors, not to enter into any plot against him, not to divulge a plan which the pope may communicate to him;, to preserve, defend, increase, and promote the rights, honors, privileges, and authority of the Roman See; to observe, and to have observed by others, the entire canonical law; to persecute and assail, to the best of his ability, the heretics, schismatics, and all who may rebel against the pope or his successors ("' hereticos, schismaticos et rebelles eidem domino nostro vel successoribus praedictis pro posse parsequar et impugnabo"), and to visit Rome in person every third year, in order to give an account of the state of the diocese. In the Church of England and in the Protestant Episcopal Church, the bishops alone have the power to ordain and to confirm, and their authority is confined to their proper dioceses. The powers and duties of the bishops of the Methodist Episcopal Church are those of a general itinerant superintendency, including ordination, appointment of ministers to their fields of labor, etc., and are fully defined in the Methodist " Discipline," pt. ii, ch. ii, § 13.
5. Election of Bishops.-The right of election to a vacant see, in the early ages, was with the clergy and people of the diocese (Balsamon, ad Can. 13 Cone. Laod. p. 834), who, having made their choice, referred it to the bishops of the province, the consent of all of whom was required to the election; after which the bishop elect was confirmed and consecrated by the metropolitan. In the Roman Church bishops are nominated by the chapter of the Cathedral; in some countries by the clergy of the diocese, and in others by the prince of the country (this case, however, is restricted to Roman Catholic princes); but the pope must confirm the nomination and grant his bull for the consecration (Cone. Trid. sess. 24, de Ref. ch. i), At consecration the bishop elect must take the oath of allegiance to the pope. In England the election of bishop lies theoretically with the chapter, but the choice is practically vested in the crown. In the Methodist Episcopal Church bishops are elected by the General Conference (Discipline, pt. ii, ch. ii, § 13), and in the Protestant Episcopal Church by the Diocesan Convention (Canon II, 1844). All the bishops of the Lutheran churches are appointed by the princes of their several countries.
(1.) In the Roman Church three bishops are required for the rite; one (who must always be a bishop) to consecrate, the two others (who may be mitred abbots, and, in cases of emergency, other prelates, or simply priests) to assist.
[1.] After the consecrator has examined the elect and administered the oath of obedience, the candidate is habited in the pontifical vestments, and the Litany having been sung, the three bishops place upon the head and shoulders of the elect the Book of the Gospels open, nothing being spoken.
[2.] The three bishops then lay their hands upon the head of the elect, saying, "Receive thou the Holy Ghost." [3.] The consecrator prays for grace for the newly-made bishop.
[4.] He anoints him with the chrism on the head and hands, saying, "
Ungatur et consecretur caput tuum," etc.
[5.] He places in his hands the pastoral staff, ring, and Book of the Gospels, saying, "Accipe Baculum...," etc.
[6.] Mass is completed, and the new bishop communicates in both kinds. Of these ceremonies, the imposition of hands and accompanying prayer are the only parts which are considered essential to episcopal ordination. See Boissonnet, Diet. des Ceremonies, i, 1294.,
(2.) In the Greek Church the following is the order, as given in Gear's Euchologion: Mass having commenced, the elect, accompanied by the priests and other clerks, stands at the lower end of the church; the consecrating bishops, who must be three at least, in their pontifical vestments, sit in their stalls, the chief celebrator sitting between the assistants. The gospeller cries "Attendamus!" upon which one of the clerks ("prce reliquis literatissimus") makes the first presentation of the elect, who is led by the clergy as far as the tail of an eagle delineated on the floor of the church. The consecrator then asks him what he has come to request, to which the elect replies that he seeks the laying on of the hands of the bishops. He is then questioned concerning his faith. After this, the consecrating bishop gives him the benediction with the crosier. And then follows a second presentation, the elect having advanced to the middle of the eagle. He now gives a fuller account of his faith, is again blessed by the bishop, and then advances to the head of the eagle. Here the consecrator, for the third time, demands an explication of his faith, desiring him now to explain his views on the subjects of the Incarnation, of the Substance of the Son and Word of God, and how many Natures there are in Christ. After his reply he receives the benediction, the consecrator saying " Gratia S. Spiritus per meam mediocritatem promovet te Deo amantissimum Sacerdotem et electum N.... in Episcopum a Deo custoditae civitatis N...." He is then led to the altar, and there, in front of the table, kneels before the bishops, the eldest of whom lays the Gospels on his head, the other bishops at the same time holding it.
The consecrator declares him to be bishop, and, while the others continue to hold the Gospels, makes three crosses on his head, blessing him in the name of the Holy Trinity; then, laying his hand (all the other bishops doing the same) on him, he prays. O Lord God, who rulest over all, who by Thy holy apostle Paul hast ratified the series of orders and degrees appointed for those who wait at Thy holy altar and minister in Thy spotless and venerable mysteries, first apostles, secondly prophets, thirdly teachers: do Thou, O Lord of all, by the presence, the power, and the grace of Thy Holy Spirit, confirm him who has been elected and counted worthy to receive the evangelical yoke and pontifical dignity at the hand of me a sinner, and those of the ministers and bishops who stand with me, as Thou didst strengthen the holy apostles and prophets, as Thou didst anoint the kings, and as Thou didst consecrate the priests. Exhibit in him a blameless pontificate; and, adorning him with every virtue, grant to him such holiness that he may be worthy to ask of Thee whatsoever the salvation of his people requireth, and to receive it from Thee." This form differs little from the order of consecrating archbishops and bishops in use in the Russian Church, according to the form printed at St. Petersburg in 1725.
(3.) In the Protestant churches the form of consecration is simple. That of the Methodist Episcopal Church may be found in the Discipline (pt. 4, ch. 6); that of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Prayer-book. As both these forms are modifications of that of the Church of England, we give the latter (omitting the Scripture lessons, collects, etc.).
When all things are duly prepared in the church and set in order, after morning prayer is ended, the archbishop (or some other bishop appointed) shall begin the Communion service, in which this shall be the collect [here the collect is said]. And another bishop shall read the epistle, 1 Timothy 3:1; or Acts 20:17. Then another bishop shall read the gospel, John 21:15; or John 20:19; or Matthew 28:18.
After the gospel, and the Nicene Creed, and the sermon are ended, the elected bishop (vested with his rochet) shall be presented by two bishops unto the archbishop of that province (or to some other bishop appointed by lawful commission), the archbishop sitting in his chair near the holy table, and the bishops that present him saying: "Most reverend father in God, we present unto you this godly .and well-learned man to be ordained and consecrated bishop."
Then shall the archbishop demand the queen's mandate for the consecration and cause it to be read; and the oath touching the acknowledgment of the queen's supremacy shall be ministered to the persons elected, as it is set down before in the form for the ordering of deacons; and then shall also be ministered unto them the oath of due obedience to the archbishop, as followeth: " In the name of God, Amen. I, N., chosen bishop of the church and see of N., do profess and promise all due reverence and obedience to the archbishop and to the metropolitan church of N. and to their successors: so help me God, through Jesus Christ." This oath shall not be made at the consecration of an archbishop.
Then the archbishop shall move the congregation present to pray, saying thus to them [here the address]. And then shall be said the Litany, as before in the ordering of deacons, save only that after the place, " That it may please thee to illuminate all bishops," etc., the proper suffrage there following shall be omitted, and this inserted instead of it: "That it may please thee to bless this brother elected, and to send thy grace upon him, that he may duly execute the office whereunto he is called, to the edifying of thy Church, and to the honor, praise, and glory of thy name.
Answer. We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord." Then shall be said this prayer following [here the prayer].
Then the archbishop, sitting in his chair, shall say to him that is to be consecrated: " Brother, forasmuch as the holy Scriptures and the ancient canons command that we should not be hasty in laying on hands, and admitting any person to government in the Church of Christ, which he hath purchased with no less price than the effusion of his own blood, before I admit you to this administration I will examine you in certain articles, to the end that the congregation present may have a trial and bear witness how you be minded to behave yourself in the Church of God. Are you persuaded that you be truly called to this ministration, according to the will of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the order of this realm?
Answer. I am so persuaded.
The Archbishop. Are you persuaded that the holy Scriptures contain sufficiently all doctrine required of necessity for eternal salvation through faith in Jesus Christ? And are' you determined out of the same holy Scriptures to instruct the people committed to your charge; and to teach or maintain nothing as required of necessity to salvation but that which you shall be persuaded may be con eluded and proved by the same?
Answer. I am so persuaded and determined, by God's grace.
The Archbishop. Will you then faithfully exercise yourself in the same holy Scriptures, and call upon God by prayer for the true understanding of the same, so as you may be able by them to teach and exhort with wholesome doctrine, and to withstand and convince the gain sayers ?
Answer. I will so do, by the help of God.
The Archbishop. Are you ready, with all faithful diligence, to banish and drive away all erroneous and strange doctrine contrary to God's word; and both privately and openly to call upon and encourage others to the same?
Answer. I am ready, the Lord being my helper.
The Archbishop. Will you deny all ungodliness and worldly lusts, and live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world, that you may show yourself in all things an example of good works unto others, that the adversary may be ashamed, having nothing to say against you?
Answer. I will so do, the Lord being my helper.
The Archbishop. Will you maintain and set forward, as much as shall lie in you, quietness, love, and peace among all men; and such as be unquiet, disobedient, and criminous within your diocese correct and punish, according to such authority as you have by God's word, and as to you shall be committed by the ordinance of this realm?
Answer. I will do so, by the help of God.
The Archbishop. Will you be faithful in ordaining, sending, or laying hands upon others?
Answer. I will do so by the help of God.
The Archbishop. Will you show yourself gentle, and be merciful for Christ's sake to poor and needy people, and to all strangers destitute of help?
Answer. I will so show myself, by God's help. Then the archbishop, standing up, shall say: "Almighty God, our heavenly Father, who hath given you a good will to do all these things, grant also unto you strength and power to perform the same; that, he accomplishing in you the good work which he hath begun, you may be found perfect and irreprehensible at the latter day, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."
Then shall the bishop elect put on the rest of the episcopal habit, and, kneeling down, Veni, Creator Spiritus, shall be said or sung over him, the presiding bishop beginning, and the bi
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McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Bishop'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/​encyclopedias/​eng/​tce/​b/bishop.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.