Free Essay About Religious Studies
Ignatius, known as a bishop of the Church in Antioch, wrote a letter addressed to the Church in Ephesus, a city in Asia Minor which now we call Turkey. He was going to Rome where he was to be martyred for Christ. In this letter we encounter some kind of hierarchy among true believers.
In a few chapters the bishop mentions other bishops or expresses his thoughts about the role of pastors in the church. For example, in chapter 1 Ignatius writes about Onesmius, a bishop of the Ephesians. In chapter 2 he mentions Burrhus who was a deacon. There is also description of the group of elders (presbyters). In chapter 3 the author of the letter reflects on the role of bishops as those who are settled in the church in the name of Jesus Christ and according to His will. In the chapter 4 Ignatius calls bishops and presbyters of all churches to be united. In chapter 20 he says that the Ephesians must obey their bishops and presbyters.
It seems that there were some councils of presbyters or bishops in particular churches which ruled. But later bishops were acknowledged as legitimate leaders of their churches. This means that for some time there was no hierarchy in the church. Everyone was equal in the face of faith though there were elders, teachers and few bishops. They did not have authority over congregation. And only after some time passed, the bishops acquired some level of authority that put them higher comparing to other members of church. And this idea was expressed by Ignatius.