Matt. 16:18; 18:18 - Jesus uses the word "ecclesia" only twice in the New Testament Scriptures, which demonstrates that Jesus intended a visible, unified, hierarchical, and authoritative Church.
Acts 20:17,28 - Paul refers to both the elders or priests ("presbyteroi") and the bishops ("episkopoi") of the Church. Both are ordained leaders within the hierarchical structure of the Church.
1 Cor. 12:28 - God Himself appoints the various positions of authority within the Church. As a loving Father, God gives His children the freedom and authority to act with charity and justice to bring about His work of salvation.
Eph. 4:11 - the Church is hierarchical and includes apostles, prophets, pastors, and teachers, all charged to build up the Church. The Church is not an invisible entity with an invisible foundation.
Phil. 1:1 - Paul addresses the bishops and deacons of the Church. They can all trace their unbroken lineage back to the apostles.
1 Tim. 3:1; Titus 1:7 - Christ's Church has bishops ("episkopoi") who are direct successors of the apostles. The bishops can trace the authority conferred upon them back to the apostles.
1 Tim. 5:17; Titus 1:5; James 5:14 - Christ's Church also has elders or priests ("presbyteroi") who serve the bishops.
1 Tim. 3:8 - Christ's Church also has deacons ("diakonoi"). Thus, Jesus Christ's Church has a hierarchy of authority - bishops, priests and deacons, who can all trace their lineage back to Peter and the apostles.
Exodus 28:1 and 19:6 shows the three offices of the Old Testament priesthood (1). high priest Aaron (Ex. 28:1); (2). Ministerial priests Aarons sons (Ex. 19:6; 28:1); and (3). Universal priests Israel (Ex. 19:6). The New Testament priesthood also has three offices: (1) High Priest Jesus Christ (Heb. 3:1); (2) Ministerial priests the ordained bishops and priests (Rom. 15:16; 1 Tim. 3:1,8; 5:17; Titus 1:7); and (3) Universal priests - all the baptized (1 Pet. 2:5,9; Rev. 1:6).
In keeping with guidelines posted by the Religion Moderator, I am posting this thread (and future ones) a series on the Early Church Fathers, as a Catholic Caucus. Protestants are welcome to post comments but restraint from attacks, would be appreciated. This thread is posted to inform, support and defend the historic orgins of the Catholic Church.
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Some more from Irenaeus:
"It is possible, then, for everyone in every church, who may wish to know the truth, to contemplate the tradition of the apostles which has been made known to us throughout the whole world. And we are in a position to enumerate those who were instituted bishops by the apostles and their successors down to our own times, men who neither knew nor taught anything like what these heretics rave about" (Against Heresies 3:3:1 [A.D. 189]).
"But since it would be too long to enumerate in such a volume as this the successions of all the churches, we shall confound all those who, in whatever manner, whether through self-satisfaction or vainglory, or through blindness and wicked opinion, assemble other than where it is proper, by pointing out here the successions of the bishops of the greatest and most ancient church known to all, founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paulthat church which has the tradition and the faith with which comes down to us after having been announced to men by the apostles. For with this Church, because of its superior origin, all churches must agree, that is, all the faithful in the whole world. And it is in her that the faithful everywhere have maintained the apostolic tradition" (ibid., 3:3:2).
"Polycarp also was not only instructed by apostles, and conversed with many who had seen Christ, but was also, by apostles in Asia, appointed bishop of the church in Smyrna, whom I also saw in my early youth, for he tarried [on earth] a very long time, and, when a very old man, gloriously and most nobly suffering martyrdom, departed this life, having always taught the things which he had learned from the apostles, and which the Church has handed down, and which alone are true. To these things all the Asiatic churches testify, as do also those men who have succeeded Polycarp down to the present time" (ibid., 3:3:4).
"[I]t is incumbent to obey the presbyters who are in the Churchthose who, as I have shown, possess the succession from the apostles; those who, together with the succession of the episcopate, have received the infallible charism of truth, according to the good pleasure of the Father. But [it is also incumbent] to hold in suspicion others who depart from the primitive succession, and assemble themselves together in any place whatsoever, either as heretics of perverse minds, or as schismatics puffed up and self-pleasing, or again as hypocrites, acting thus for the sake of lucre and vainglory. For all these have fallen from the truth" (ibid., 4:26:2).
"The true knowledge is the doctrine of the apostles, and the ancient organization of the Church throughout the whole world, and the manifestation of the body of Christ according to the succession of bishops, by which succession the bishops have handed down the Church which is found everywhere" (ibid., 4:33:8).
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