Friday, July 19, 2019

Early Christian Quotes on Ministry

Early Christian Quotes on Ministry



(1st Century)



Welcome every apostle upon arrival, as if he were the Lord. But he must not stay beyond one day. In case of necessity, however, the next day too. If he stays three days, he is a false prophet. An apostle must not accept anything when he leaves except a sufficient amount of food to carry him till his next lodging. If he asks for money, he is a false prophet.




(1st Century)



But if someone says in the Spirit, "Give me money or something else," you must not listen to him. However, if he tells you to give for others in need, no one must judge or denounce him.




(1st Century)



Every genuine prophet who wants to settle with you "has a right to his support." Similarly, a genuine teacher himself, just like a "workman, has a right to his support." So, take all the first fruits of the wine crop and harvest and of cattle and sheep and give these first fruits to the prophets, for they are your high priests. If, however, you have no prophet, give them to the poor. If you make bread, take the first fruits and give them. Similarly, when you open a jar of wine or oil, take the first fruits and give them to the prophets. Yes, of money, clothes, and of all your possessions, take the first fruits as you think right, and give in accordance.




(1st Century)



You must elect for yourselves bishops and deacons who are a credit to the Lord, men who are gentle, generous, faithful, and well-tried, for their ministry to you is identical to that of the prophets and teachers. Therefore, you must not despise them, for along with the prophets and teachers, they enjoy a place of honor among you.



Barnabas’ Epistle

(1st Century)

Chapter 19:


You shall love, as the apple of your eye, everyone whospeaks the word of the Lord to you.



The Shepherd of Hermas

(1st or 2nd Century)

Vision 3, Chapter 9:


I now say to you who preside over the Church and love the first seats, “Do not be like drug-mixers. For the drug-mixers carry their drugs in boxes, but you carry your drug and poison in your heart. You are hardened and do not wish to cleanse your hearts so that you might add unity of aim to purity of heart and have mercy from the great King. Therefore, children take heed that these dissensions of yours do not deprive you of your life.



Odes of Solomon

(1st or 2nd Century)



As the wind glides through the harp and the strings speak,

So the Spirit of the Lord speaks through my members, and I speak through His love.


For He destroys whatever is foreign, and everything is of the Lord.

For as it was from the beginning, and will be until the end.

So that nothing will be opposite, and nothing will rise up against Him.


The Lord has multiplied his knowledge,

And He was zealous because He has given us knowledge through His grace.


And His praise He gave us on account of His name; our spirits praise His Holy Spirit.


There went forth a stream, and it became a river great and broad;

Indeed, it carried everything away, and it shattered and brought it to the Temple.

And the barriers built by men were not able to restrain it,

Nor even the arts of those who habitually control water.

For it spread over the surface of all the earth, and it filled everything.


Then all the thirsty on the earth drank, and thirst was relieved and quenched;

For the drink was given from the Most High.


Blessed, therefore, are the ministers of that drink, who have been entrusted with His water.

They have refreshed the parched lips and have awakened the paralyzed will.

Even living persons who were about to die, they have held back from death.

And limbs that have collapsed, they have restored and set up.


They gave strength for their coming, and light for their eyes

Because everyone recognized them as the Lord's and lived by the living water of eternity.





Ignatius’ Letter to Polycarp

(Late 1st or Early 2nd Century)



[Speaking to a bishop] Let nothing be done without your consent; nor should you do anything without the consent of God.


Ignatius’ Letter to the Smyrneans

(Late 1st or Early 2nd Century)

Chapter 8:


See that you all follow the bishop, even as Jesus Christ does the Father, and follow the elders as you would the apostles; and respect the deacons, as being the institution of God. Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the bishop. Let that be considered a proper communion offering, which is administered either by the bishop or by one to whom he has entrusted it. Wherever the bishop will appear, there let the multitude of the people also be; even as, wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the universal Church. It is not lawful to baptize or to celebrate a love-feast without the bishop; but whatever he will approve of, that is also pleasing to God, so that everything that is done may be secure and valid.



Ignatius’ Letter to the Smyrneans

(Late 1st or Early 2nd Century)

Chapter 9:


Following logic, we should return to soberness of conduct while we have the opportunity and exercise repentance toward God. It is good to respect both God and the bishop. He who honors the bishop has been honored by God; he who does anything without the knowledge of the bishop serves the devil. Let all things flow to you through grace, for you are worthy. You have refreshed me in all things, and Jesus Christ will refresh you.



Ignatius’ Letter to the Trallians

(Late 1st or Early 2nd Century)

Chapters 2-3, 7:


Do nothing without the bishop, a rule you are already following. You should also be subject to the elders, as to the apostles of Jesus Christ, who is our hope and in Whom, if we live, we will be found. It is fitting also that the deacons, as the ministers of the mysteries of Jesus Christ, should be pleasing to all in every respect. For they are not ministers of meat and drink, but servants of the Church of God. Therefore, they are bound to avoid like fire all grounds of accusation against them.


In like manner, let everyone respect the deacons as an appointment of Jesus Christ, and the bishop as Jesus Christ, who is the Son of the Father, and the elders as the Sanhedrin of God and assembly of the apostles. Apart from these, there is no Church…


He who does anything apart from the bishop and elders and deacons is not pure in his conscience.



Ignatius’ Letter to the Magnesians

(Late 1st or Early 2nd Century)

Chapter 3:


It flatters you to not treat your bishop too familiarly on account of his youth, but to yield him all respect.



Ignatius’ Letter to the Magnesians

(Late 1st or Early 2nd Century)

Chapter 7:


Just like the Lord did nothing without the Father, being united to Him, neither by Himself nor by the apostles, so neither should you do anything without the bishop and elders. Neither attempt to achieve anything reasonable and proper on your own, but come together in the same place and let there be one prayer, one supplication, one mind, and one hope in love and in pure joy.



Ignatius’ Letter to the Ephesians

(Late 1st or Early 2nd Century)

Chapter 6:


The more anyone sees the bishop keeping silent, the more he should revere him. For we are to receive every one whom the Master of the house sends to be over His household, as we would respect Him that sent him. Therefore, it is obvious that we should look to the bishop as we would look to the Lord Himself.



Polycarp’s Letter to the Philippians

(Early 2nd Century)

Chapter 11:


I am greatly saddened for Valens, who had been an elder with you, because he understands so little the place that was given to him in the Church. Therefore, I encourage you to abstain from greed and to be honorable and truthful. "Abstain from every form of evil." For if a man cannot govern himself in such matters, how will he counsel others on the matter?…I am deeply grieved, therefore, brothers and sisters, for Valens and his wife, to whom may the Lord grant true repentance! You are to be moderate in regard to this matter, and "do not count such as enemies," but call them back as suffering and straying members; that way, you may save your whole body. By acting on this, you will improve yourselves.



Acts of Peter and the Twelve Apostles

(Late 2nd Century to Early 3rd Century):


Jesus said, “Heal the bodies before anything else, so that through the real powers of healing for their bodies, without using medicine of the world, they may believe in you that you have the power to heal the illnesses of the heart too.”



Irenaeus’ Against Heresies, Book 4

(Late 2nd Century)

 Chapter 26, Paragraphs 2-3:


It is necessary to obey the elders in the Church, those who possess the succession from the apostles. Together with the continuation of the episcopate, they receive the certain gift of truth, according to the good pleasure of the Father. But it is also necessary to hold in suspicion others who depart from the original cycle and gather together in. Look at them either as heretics of wicked minds, or as unbelievers puffed up and self-pleasing, or as hypocrites, acting for the sake of profit and pride…


However, there those who are believed to be elders by many but serve their own desires by conducting themselves with disrespect toward others and do not place the fear of God supreme in their hearts and are puffed up with the pride of holding the chief seat. They work evil deeds in secret, saying, "No man sees us." They will be convicted by the Word, who does not judge according to the outward appearance, nor even looks upon the appearance, but the heart; and they will hear those words found in Daniel the prophet: "You offspring of Canaan, and not of Judah, beauty has deceived you, and lust perverted your heart. You who are weak to wicked days, now the sins you have committed have come to light. You have pronounced false judgments and have been used to condemn the innocent and let the guilty go free, despite the Lord saying, ‘you shall not kill the innocent or the righteous.’” The Lord also said, "But if the evil servant will say in his heart, ‘My lord delays his coming,’ and will begin to strike the man-servants and maidservants and to eat and drink and be drunk, the lord of that servant will come on a day that he does not know and at an hour that he is not aware of and will cut him apart and appoint him his portion with the unbelievers."


Didascalia Apostolorum

(Early to Mid-3rd Century)

Chapter 8, Paragraphs 1-2:


You will not mismanage revenues of the Church, but will act with moderation; and you will not buy or acquire pleasure and luxury from the revenues of the Church. Sufficient for the laborer is his clothing and his food. Therefore, as good stewards of God and His command, wisely hand out to orphans, widows, those in distress, and strangers what is given to the Church. While you do this, know that you have God who will require an account at your hands, who delivered this stewardship to you. Divide the monies and give to all who are in need.


But also see that you are fed and able to live from the revenues of the Church. However, do not devour the food by yourself, but let those who are in need share with you, and you will be without offense with God.



Didascalia Apostolorum

(Early to Mid-3rd Century)

Chapter 9, Paragraph 6:


The king who wears the crown reigns over the body alone, and binds and looses on earth only; but the bishop reigns over soul and body to bind and to loose on earth with heavenly power. For great power, heavenly and almighty, is given to him. Therefore love the bishop as a father and fear him as a king and honor him as God. Present your fruits and the works of your hands to him so that you may be blessed; give your firstfruits and your tithes and your vows and your part-offerings to him, for he needs them so that he will be sustained and that he may also dispense to those who are in need, to each as is right for him.



Didascalia Apostolorum

(Early to Mid-3rd Century)

Chapter 9, Paragraph 8:


It is not permitted for the layman to judge his neighbor or take on a burden that is not his. For the weight of this burden is not for laymen but for the bishop. Therefore, being a layman, you should not lay traps for yourself, but leave judgement in the hand of those who will have to render an account. Do you study to work peace with all men and love your members, your fellow laymen? The Lord says, “Love your neighbor as yourself.”



Origen’s Against Celsus

(Early to Mid-3rd Century)

Book 8, Chapter 75:


Celsus also urges us to "take office in the government of the country, if that is required to maintain the laws and the support of religion." But we recognize in each state the existence of another national organization founded by the Word of God. We encourage those who are mighty in their speech and of blameless life to rule over churches. We reject those who are too eager to rule, but we make rule those who are not easily persuaded to take a public charge in the Church of God because of their excessive modesty. And those who rule over us well are under the binding influence of the great King, whom we believe to be the Son of God, God the Word.


And if those who govern in the Church’s divine nation rule well, they rule following the divine commands and never suffer being led astray by worldly policy. It is not to escape public duties that Christians decline public offices but that they may reserve themselves for a diviner and more necessary service in the Church of God--for the salvation of men. And this service is at once necessary and right. They take charge of all--of those who are within the Church that they may day by day lead better lives, and of those who are without that they may come to overflow in holy words and in deeds of righteousness. They rule so that they may be filled with the word of God and the law of God while worshipping God truly and training up as many as they can in the same way. And as a result, their hearers unite with the Supreme God through His Son the Word, Wisdom, Truth, and Righteousness, who unites to God all who are resolved to conform their lives to the law of God in all things.



Cyprian’s Letter to the Clergy

(Mid-3rd Century):


Understand that I have made Saturus a reader, and Optatus, the confessor, a sub-deacon, whom already, by the general advice, we had made next to the clergy...With the teacher-elders we were carefully trying readers—in appointing Optatus from among the readers to be a teacher of the hearers—first examining whether all things were found fitting in them, which should be found in one preparing for the clerical office.



Cyprian’s Letter to the Lapsed

(Mid-3rd Century)

Paragraph 1:


Our Lord, whose laws and counsel we should observe, described the honor of a bishop and the order of His Church when He said in the Gospel to Peter: “I say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church; and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you will bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” Now, through the changes of times and successions, the ordering of bishops and the Church's plan continues forward so that the Church is founded upon the bishops, and these same rulers control every act of the Church.



Cyprian’s Letter to the Clergy and the People

(Mid-3rd Century)

Paragraph 5:


Understand that these for the present are appointed readers…Know that I have already decided the honor of the parsonage for them, so they may be honored with the same presents as the elders and share the monthly divisions equally. They may sit with us hereafter in their advanced and strengthened years, although we will not counter anyone younger as inferior if he has consummated his age by the dignity of his glory.



Cyprian’s Letter to the People of Furni

(Mid-3rd Century)

Paragraph 1:


It was declared in a council of the bishops that no one should appoint any of the clergy and the ministers of God executor or guardian by his will, since everyone honored by the divine priesthood and ordained in the clerical service should only serve the altar and sacrifices and have free time for prayers and appeals...Those who are promoted to clergy in the Church of the Lord may in no way be called off from the divine administration. Worldly anxieties and matters will not tie them down. In honor of the brothers who contribute, as it were a tithe, the clergy may not withdraw from the altars and sacrifices but may serve day and night in heavenly and spiritual things.



Cyprian’s Letter to the Clergy and People in Spain

(Mid-3rd Century)

Paragraph 5:


For the proper celebration of appointing a a new bishop, all the neighboring bishops of the same province should gather with those people for which a bishop is ordained. And the people who have most fully known each candidate's life and have looked into each one's habitual conduct will choose the bishop.



Pseudo-Clement’s Letter to James

(Early 4th Century)


Chapters 6, 7, 12, 13:


Now, if you, as a bishop, were occupied with worldly cares, you would deceive both yourself and your followers. On account of being too busy with you occupation, you would not be able to point out what is good to your followers. Then, both you and your followers should be punished. You for not having taught what was profitable, and your followers, not having learned, would perish because of ignorance. So, you should preside over them without having another occupation so that you can deliver the words that are able to save them at the right time; let them listen to you, knowing that whatever the ambassador of the truth will bind upon earth is also bound in heaven, and what he will loosen is set free. But you will bind what ought to be bound and loosen what ought to be loosened. And these are the things that relate to you as president.


And concerning the elders, take these instructions. Above all things, let them join the young in marriage, anticipating the complications of youthful lusts. And do not let them neglect marrying those who are already old, for lust is strong even in some old men. Do not let sex outside of marriage find a place among you and so bring a plague upon you. Take precaution and be watchful so that the fire of adultery is not secretly kindled among you. For adultery is a very terrible thing, even such that it holds the second place in respect of punishment. The first is assigned to those in error, even though they be sexually pure. Therefore, as elders of the Church, keep the spouse of Christ pure, and by the spouse, I mean the body of the Church. If others see her upright and trustworthy by her royal Bridegroom, she will receive the greatest honor. You, as wedding guests, will receive great praise and approval. But if she is caught having sinned, she will be cast out; and you will suffer punishment if at any time her sin has been a result of your negligence.


Moreover, let the deacons of the church, living with intelligence, be the eyes to the bishop, carefully inquiring into the doings of each member of the church, ascertaining who is about to sin, so that, being stopped with scolding by the president, he may not sin. Let them check the disorderly to make sure they will not stop gathering to hear the teaching, so that, by the word of truth, the elders can counteract the anxieties that consume the heart from every side through worldly concerns and evil communications. If they remain idle for too long, they become fuel for the fire. And let the deacons find out who is suffering with a bodily disease and bring them to the notice of the church body who do not know of them so that they can visit them and supply their needs according to the judgment of the president. Yes, though they do this without his knowledge, they do nothing incorrectly. Let the deacons attend to these things.


After being instructed, let the teachers teach, for the work relates to men's souls. The teacher of the word must accommodate himself to the various judgments of the learners. The teacher must therefore be learned, blameless, highly experienced, and approved.


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