This woodcut from the Latin edition, made by Christian Romstet, is
titled: Caspar Zieglerus Juris Consultus et Antecessor (Caspar
Ziegler, Attorney and Law Professor). Below it is:

Omnis in hoc vultu vasti compendia juris,
Caesarei, sacri, Saxonicique vides.
Non Divae unius tantum multum crede
Cuius veritatis umbram pingere possit
—Fr. Ben. Carpzov

On this face you see vast abridgments of
Every law: imperial, sacred, and Saxon.
Trust that this is among many works of
this one muse,
A shadow of whose truth one can
scarcely paint.
—Brother Benedikt Carpzov

Edited by Charles P. Schaum
and Albert B. Collver III
Translated by Richard J. Dinda
Foreword by Matthew C. Harrison

Copyright © 2014 Concordia Publishing House
3558 S. Jefferson Ave., St. Louis, MO 63118–3968
1-800-325-3040 •
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system,
or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording,
or otherwise, without the prior written permission of Concordia Publishing House.
Scripture quotations marked ESV are from the ESV Bible
(The Holy Bible, English Standard
), copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News
Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Originally published as Casparis Ziegleri de Diaconis et Diaconissis Veteris Ecclesiae Liber
Commentarius. Wittenberg: Estate of Job Wilhelm Fincelius, 1678.
Manufactured in the United States of America.
This material is being released for study and discussion purposes, and the author is solely
responsible for its contents. It has not been submitted to the process for doctrinal review
stipulated in the Bylaws of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod and does not necessarily
reflect the theology of the Lutheran Confessions or the doctrinal position of The Lutheran
Church—Missouri Synod.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Ziegler, Kaspar, 1621–1690.
[Casparis Ziegleri de Diaconis et Diaconissis Veteris Ecclesiae. English]
The diaconate of the ancient and medieval church / Caspar Ziegler ; edited by Charles P.
Schaum and Albert B. Collver III ; translated by Richard J. Dinda ; foreword by Matthew C.
pages cm
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 978-0-7586-4772-6 (alk. paper)
1. Deacons--Early works to 1800. 2. Deaconesses--Early works to 1800. 3. Church history--
Primitive and early church, ca. 30-600--Early works to 1800. I. Schaum, Charles P., editor of
compilation. II. Title.

BV680.Z5413 2014
262'.1409--dc23 2013050928
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 23 22 21 20 19 18 17 16 15 14

Common Abbreviations vii
Foreword viii
Epistle Dedicatory xii
Preface xiv
1 Orders of Clergy and Laity 3
2 The Name Deacon 25
3 The Origin of Deacons 39
4 Election of Deacons 61
5 Number of Deacons 103
6 Ordination of Deacons 113
7 Age of Suitability 135
8 The Office of Deacon 159
9 Deacons in Councils and Synods 217
10 Duties Owed to Bishops and Elders 233
11 The Bishop’s Deacon 255
12 The Vesture of Deacons 263
13 Domestic and Private Life 293

14 Marriage of Deacons 377
15 Faults and Transgressions 413
16 Legal Standing of Deacons 433
17 The Archdeacon 509
18 Subdeacons 527
19 Deaconesses 537
Index of Latin Terms 569
Persons Index 587
Scripture Index 601

Latin book references often drop inflected endings. For example,
Proleg. in Euseb. stands for Prolegomena in Eusebii historiae
ecclesiae libris decem. Author names reflect forms that are easier to
find. Latin terms generally are shown in the nominative case to aid
c. Circa
cap. Chapter (capitulum); can have a name or number after it
cod. Codex (a book, not a scroll)
conc. Conclusion (conclusio); also council (concilium)
dist. A material, formal, analytical, or speculative distinction
among attributes of a thing or among things (distinctio)
epist. Letter (epistula, from Greek ἐπιστολή)
fn. Footnote
lib. Book (liber; diminutive libellus)
N.T. Novum Testamentum
observ. Observation (observatio)
par. Paragraph
q.; quaest. Question, e.g., a component of a topical treatment
sect. Section (sectio)
tract. Treatise (tractatus)
v. Verse (in the Bible)
V.T. Old Testament (Vetus Testamentum); often using the
genitive veteris

Lutherans are Christians who look to Bible interpretation “by
Scripture alone” (sola scriptura) as the final arbiter of doctrine. In-
deed, Caspar Ziegler, the law professor who wrote this book, appeals
to Scripture at every point where he makes a fundamental claim of
doctrine. Yet he does not make extensive appeals to the Book of
Concord. He does not use the Lutheran pattern of Scripture, Book of
Concord, Luther, and Lutheran theologians that developed after pie-
tism rose to prominence with Philipp Jakob Spener at the university
in Halle. This may be jarring to some Lutherans today, but Ziegler
appeals extensively to a seemingly unlikely source: the canon law
that grew out of the efforts of Roman emperors and clergy in the
fourth and fifth centuries AD to define the legal status and life of the
established Church. Civil law and canon law continued to influence
those lands that were heirs of the Roman Empire of old. The law stat-
utes tell not only how the Church was supposed to live, but they give
clues about how Christians actually lived—how they struggled with
sin and embraced the gracious gifts of Word and sacraments. Ziegler
writes practical theology.
Caspar Ziegler (1621–90) was from a wealthy Leipzig family.
During the Thirty Years’ War, his family was pillaged by hostile
troops. Nevertheless, his parents provided for his education and he
received baccalaureate and master degrees from Leipzig. He at-
tempted to study theology, but switched to law, where he became
successful. Eventually he became a law doctor and professor at the
University of Wittenberg and served also as Rektor. He wrote about
canon law and papal decretals for much of his life, also supervising
many dissertations related thereto. He also wrote influential books on
poetry and he penned both poems and hymns. One of his hymns (Ich
freue mich in dir) became the basis for a Bach cantata (BVW 133,
first performed on December 27, 1724).
Why did this staunch Lutheran draw so heavily on canon law—
similar to the Catalog of Testimonies in the Book of Concord itself?
He was not trying to be Roman Catholic. Indeed, where Scripture and
the Lutheran Confessions parted from Rome on celibacy, marriage,

and other points, Ziegler stood with the Lutherans. Yet in describing
how the Lutherans got where they did, he realized in a manner similar
to Restoration Anglicans like John Cosin (1594–1672) that the
Church has dealt with many issues during its existence. He saw the
Council of Trent as the departure from the long Western tradition.
The failure to study the shape and the outcome of past discussions
often lead to the repetition of past mistakes and the creation of new
ideas that were not helpful in the long run.
This book on deacons and deaconesses—together with a book on
the laws, special rights, and the account of the lifestyle of bishops—is
one of the later works published by Ziegler. This book talks about
why following the example of the apostles as recorded in Scripture is
a good thing for the Church. Century by century, it shows the
challenges, the victories, and the defeats of the sinner-saints that sit in
the pews, preach from the pulpits, and rule from the courts.
This book speaks about works of mercy. Deacons and deacon-
esses were the first healthcare workers. They were the first social
workers. They were the first welfare agents. They helped bury the
dead. They were God’s hands that helped to mend broken lives. The
poor learned from deacons that bread could be found where the Bread
of Life was proclaimed by the pastor or bishop. Deacons read the
Scriptures, announced the prayers, dismissed the grades of proselytes
before the Eucharist, and assisted the pastors and bishops with the
Deaconesses were the first women’s health specialists. They were
the representatives of the bishop or pastor in cases where a man’s
presence was inappropriate. They could bring the Gospel to the
gynaeceum, the protected innermost part of a Graeco-Roman house
that held the women and children. They helped to maintain order
among women during public worship and had honor in doing so. The
early Church affirmed their special role. In turn, they did not seek to
usurp the pastoral ministry.
Ziegler shows how the Church dealt with sensitive cultural issues
and even differences in cross-cultural issues. We see that clergy garb
has changed over time, yet there has always been something that the
Church has understood to be clergy garb, a uniform of the servants.
We see bishops and politicians doing the right thing. Then again, we
see the same sort of people doing the wrong thing. We learn all too
well that the Church is full of sinners whose mistakes have multiplied
through the centuries and whose errors have damaged formerly good

offices and practices in the Church. From celibacy to usury, from
abuse of power to the use of clergy as warriors, we see how canon
law has pointed out what is bad, and how sometimes it has failed to
correct that evil.
This book is not a list of things that Lutherans ought to do. It is
not a prescriptive theology of the diaconate as such. It is, however, a
careful study of what happens when the secular powers have inter-
fered with the Church for good or ill, and the grave errors that people
make when they set aside the divine commands and the apostolic
practices. Jesus actually knew what He was talking about. For all
their failings as human beings, the apostles still were those men who
had sat at Jesus’ feet and to whom He had opened Scripture. Be it
ordination, churchly offices, a designated uniform, or expectations of
service—one does not lightly cast the apostolic witness aside. The
history of the Church painfully shows that those who have sought
their own bright future often have found only darkness and error.
This book covers a number of major categories literally year by
year, country by country, verse by verse and line by line. Those
interested in Church history will read in depth what they may have
only heard about in passing.
Here we read the words and opinions of around 500 people,
including emperors, scholars, lawyers, theologians, popes, patriarchs,
bishops, abbots, deacons, and deaconesses. It reveals the challenges
they faced, the solutions they found, and the long-term success and
failure of their efforts. It helps us understand the rationale of what we
call “Church” and suggests ways of making wise choices. Just how
Ziegler got on top of all the literature referenced in this comparatively
small volume, boggles the mind.
It shows Latin as a common language for law, theology, and
learned culture. This book is cross-cultural. The ideas and opinions of
Englishmen, Germans, French, Italians, Spaniards, Portuguese,
Croats, Poles, and others are all represented here as part of the life
and dialogue of the Church in its broad sense of the Western tradition.
It engages Roman Catholics, Lutherans, and general Protestants in a
manner that looks beyond a mere sectarianism. It calls us to dialogue
with those not like us, to defend our beliefs and practices with
Scripture, and to listen to our partners in a manner that may teach us
about our own strengths and weaknesses.
This book is about Witness, the speaking of the Word by deacons
and deaconesses as a special extension of the apostolic ministry

dedicated to specific roles that helped the pastors and bishops do what
they do best: study, teach, and preach the Word of God.
This book is about Mercy, about the healing hands of the diaco-
nate binding wounds, nursing the sick, serving the poor, helping
foreigners, and even burying the dead. It is about a service in the
Church specifically dedicated to bringing the kingdom of God to
people in physical ways here and now.
This book is about Life Together, the public reading of Scripture,
public prayer, and assisting in the Eucharist that speaks to the unique
confessional position of Christians as the people of God in pure
worship. Witness and Mercy draw the proselytes into that deeper,
clearer relationship.
I thank Dr. Richard Dinda for producing this translation of a sig-
nificant Lutheran work from the period of orthodoxy on the church’s
ancient teaching and practice with respect to deacons and deacon-
esses. Dr. Dinda’s facility with Latin has produced a veritable library
on the way the orthodox Lutheran fathers, particularly Johann
Gerhard, appropriated the legacy of Luther and the Lutheran Confes-
sions. Rev. Charles Schaum applied his indefatigable expertise in
carefully and painstakingly checking the translation against the origi-
nal Latin, and providing the detail of hundreds of footnotes, which
will please the discerning scholar. From preface to footnotes to finis,
this book would not have come to publication without Rev. Schaum.
A final note on an old conundrum: Ziegler, like the Lutheran
Confessions and churchly tradition, interprets the New Testament use
of “presbyter” to denote pastoral clergy. Dr. Dinda, however, has
translated the Greek word presbyteros (and its Latin transliteration) as
“elder”—which, of course, is not what we in modern America
currently understand as a “lay elder” who assists or supports the
pastor of a congregation.
May this book be a resource and a source of honor to all who
serve in the diakonic work of the church.
Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison
Assistant Pastor, Village Lutheran, Ladue, MO
President, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod
Day of St. Stephen, 2012
Dedicated to the Deaconesses of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod
and to their faithful sisterhood around the globe.

To our highly-esteemed
Sir Henry, Free Baron of Friesen
Ruler in Schönfeld, Putzkau, Braupa,
Jessen and Praschwitz. Etc.
Associate of our most serene and powerful
Elector of Saxony
and Director of his privy council.
My most beloved lord,
I acknowledge, my lord, that from the time when I happened to have
you as my Maecenas
and from when I have kept close to even the
slightest part of your very great good fortune I have become very
renowned among our people and, with your help have kept busy with
the highest levels of academic dignities from quite early on. I could
not even consider the idea that my work deserved this. Indeed, I
myself could not have promised such a level of quality, except that
you kindled the hope in me that, at some point, I would be capable of
it. When therefore you appointed me for coming days, I myself heard
from you what I should do when those times came. I certainly
devoted myself energetically lest I await old age in a lazy, gloomy,
and ignoble manner. Also, your kindness stirred me to do this.
I do not deny that my consideration of your virtues and clearly
unique and extended learning also encouraged me to walk a path that
not all people tread. In fact, I would have made my journey longer
except that the faults of my ill body regularly betrayed themselves in
no small way.
Therefore, because I do whatever I do by your kindness, I surely
wanted to bear public witness to you that I have owed you this minor
effort that is now by chance different from the rest of my writings.

Gaius Cilnius Maecenas (70–8 BC) was a confidante and political adviser to
Octavian. He is also known as a wealthy patron of the arts.

Nowadays I am burdened with my domestic concerns, for my wife
has died, and she formerly took care of all of those.
God save you!
Given at Dresden, 4 April, 1678.

For as long as I have tried to make the most of my lot, while I labor in
vain with the decretal letters of the Roman popes with which I have
come in contact, I immediately gather and observe their different
embellishments or faults (ἁμαρτήματα)
and understand that I daily
have business with those who profess to be ministers of the Christian
Church. There does not readily come to mind any constitution that
does not mention a bishop or deacon or anyone else from the order of
either the priesthood (τῶν ἱερατικῶν) or clergy (τῶν κληρικῶν) at least
on the frontispiece or in the title. As a result, out of habit I frequently
consider the state of the Church (republica ecclesiastica)
what appearance it once had and how foreign to itself it has now
I would not have believed that in the days of the apostles people
would have thought about such a state as we now see in Rome. That
is how far I am from allowing myself to be persuaded that the
instigators of this situation ever existed. Look, consider first the pope
and then cardinals, patriarchs, primates,
archbishops, bishops; and
after these, archdeacons, arch-elders; and next to these, elders,
deacons and subdeacons; and finally, acolytes, exorcists, lectors and
When we pay attention to what sort of offices they now
perform; and when we see those chief men arrogant in the great
splendor of their garments, when we consider the magnificence of

Although Ziegler wrote his text in Latin, he intersperses Greek throughout. Some
Greek and Latin terms appear along with the English translation due to their
Late Latin republica is based on the classical term res publica, which includes
public property (as distinct from res privata, private property), the
commonwealth, the state of the realm or of society, and the translation of Greek
Here “primates” does not refer to apes but to the original meaning of rulers.
For more information on the minor orders in the early Church see Lightfoot’s
“Excursus on the Minor Orders of the Early Church” in Nicene and Post-Nicene
Fathers, Second Series, 14:144–47. In this translation the Nicene and Post-Nicene
Fathers are abbreviated according to their series as NPNF1 and NPNF2. The
Ante-Nicene Fathers series is abbreviated ANF. Free online texts are available at

their retinues and additionally the affected system of their gestures—I
say, when we consider and see all of this, who would want to believe
that Peter and the rest of the apostles and disciples of Christ are
represented in this assembly? And who will convince us that those
high offices and duties originated from the apostles?
And yet, the Council of Trent
struck with the lightning bolt of its
anathema those who felt differently or who were unwilling to be
persuaded that a divine arrangement established that hierarchy. At
that time however we did not lack prudent men whom that dire
lightning bolt did not frighten and who said that the fathers of Trent
had fallen into that way of thinking with too little consideration based
on two reasons. First, the apostles and first teachers of the Church did
not use the word “hierarchies”—in fact, it is commonly agreed that
this was contrary to the customary practice accepted by the
developing Church. Second, the external appearance of the Church
was being ascribed to an imitation of the secular state—on the basis
of a divine institution composed of pontifical tyranny and the false
pretension (ἀλαζονεία)
of the prelates.
Indeed, as far as the name is concerned, surely it was more
correct to think like those who maintained that we would have to
establish not a hierarchy but a hierodiaconate or system of temple-
slaves if we were to observe the style of speaking and way of working
that Christ and His apostles used. It was not an axiom of the apostles
to act as rulers. Indeed, their Master had clearly forbidden them to
lord it over the people (ἄρχειν τῶν ἐθνῶν). In fact, He had commanded
them the opposite—that whoever wanted to appear to be the first and
foremost among them must be the minister (διάκονος) and servant
(δοῦλος) of the rest.
It is for this reason that Scripture sometimes calls
apostleship a ministry (διακονία).
Next, however, people observed especially in the African
churches that something was festering (ὕποθλον τί) under the words
the Latin Church once used and that it had drawn from the beginning

The Council of Trent was the nineteenth ecumenical council of the Roman
Catholic Church, convened on three separate occasions between 13 December
1545 and 4 December 1563 in the city of Trent in response to the Protestant
Greek ἀλαζονεία can also have the sense of “quackery.”
Matt 20:20–28.

(ἀπὸ τῆς ἀρχῆς). You see, the clever sophism of Emperor Augustus

by which he had taken over the state under the title of prince
taught as a result that there was a great and extensive
difference between a prince (τὸν πρῶτον)
and a ruler (τὸν ἄρχοντα),
both of which nevertheless were combined in the name princeps. In
the African churches, therefore, the man whom the Greeks used to
call chief priest (ἀρχιερεὺς), was commonly called the prince of
priests (princeps sacerdotum).
Very many of these concealed their
insatiable ambition beneath that expression and would affect from
this a sort of sovereignty over their colleagues.
Because of the double use of this title the fathers in the Third
Council of Carthage
finally were unwilling that anyone should be
called prince of priests (princeps sacerdotum) or chief priest (summus
sacerdotum) or any such like.
Those fathers would never have
accepted the word “hierarchies,” although it had pleased other
churches greatly, because already then episcopal (ἐπισκοπή) ambition
had become highly suspect in the universal churches.
Why, then, should I say that a certain attorney of our age who is
by no means ignoble, Arnold Corvinus,
collides with the protests of
those who were unwilling to approve along with him the resolutions

Augustus (63 BC–AD 14) was born Gaius Octavius on 23 September 63 BC His
great-uncle was Julius Caesar who named Octavian his heir. In 27 BC Octavian
received the title “Augustus,” meaning “sacred” or “revered.” Augustus was the
first emperor of the Roman Empire, replacing the republic with a “principate,” a
republic in style but a monarchy in fact. He ushered in the era of relative peace
known as the Pax Augustia (Augustan peace).
Princeps also means “headman” or “chief one.”
Greek πρῶτος has more of the sense of “superior” one or the “first” of men.
A similar title, princeps senatus, designated the chief or presiding Roman senator,
the “first among equals.” Augustus deliberately used this language instead of
calling himself king or dictator in order to gain the support of the Senate and
solidify his power.
The Third Council of Carthage (AD 397) was not an ecumenical council but a
regional council of African bishops.
This translation often summarizes direct quotations from the Church fathers as
indirect speech.
Johann Arnold Corvinus was a Protestant jurist and a professor of law active in
Mainz and Amsterdam. He wrote a book of aphorisms based on canon law, which
was used until the eighteenth century. He died in Amsterdam in 1650. He was a
follower of the Remonstrants, who rejected Calvin’s and Beza’s doctrine of
predestination in favor of Arminianism and espoused a more positive view of
human reason that would help lead to the Enlightenment. His son became a
Roman Catholic. Ziegler accuses Corvinus of betrayal, of becoming an eager tool
used by the papacy against Protestantism.

of the Council of Trent? He published a pamphlet under the title
Emperor Justinian, the Great Catholic.
In it he discusses chiefly his
claim that Emperor Justinian
was a papist. Yet at the same time
Corvinus makes it clear in passing, and not without some anxiety,
how far the Protestants (as he calls them) departed from the right faith
and antiquity. Very many people were surprised that this attorney had
attempted such a thing, and even more laughed at him, for it clearly
seemed to them that he was here satirizing the taxes of Alabarchas

and not without peril, something that very many ordinary people were
doing. One could have easily gathered a “mish-mash” of this sort
from the books of Bellarmine.
Also, in that “rhapsody” no one
found anything that had not been said before. That is the sole
specimen of the work of Corvinus, that he established a reconciliation
(συμβίβασιου) of doctrine from the Constitutions of Justinian so that
it made this outstanding lawmaker a defender of the same religion (if
it please the gods!) to which those belong today who defend the
papist autocracy (ἀυτοκρατορίαν).
Yet on the other hand, as we cannot deny, very many abuses and
many superstitions increased in the Church during the rule of
Justinian, problems that the Roman Church still retains and has made

Corvinus, Imperator Iustinianus Magnus Catholicus, Agusutus, Triumphator.
Mainz: Schönwetter, 1668.
Justinian I (Flavius Petrus Sabbatius Justinianus Augustus; AD c.482–565) is
commemorated on 14 November as a “Christian Ruler and Confessor of Christ” in
the Lutheran Service Book and in the Treasury of Daily Prayer. He reigned as
emperor from AD 527–565. Justinian helped to revive the fortunes of a declining
empire and also attempted to bring unity to a divided Church. He was a champion
of orthodox Christianity and sought agreement among the parties in the
Christological controversies of the day, partly because his politically astute wife
Theodora was monophysite (or miaphysite, as some prefer) while Justinian was
Chalcedonian. He convoked the Fifth Ecumenical Council in Constantinople (AD
533) that confirmed the Chalcedonian confession of Christ as two natures in one
person. Justinian died in his eighties, yet he did not achieve the full measure of his
goals to restore the empire.
“Alexander Alabarcha” (Hellenized to Alabarchas) was a fictional name derived
from the official title Alabarcha, a magistrate appointed by Caesar who governed
the Jewish community in Alexandria. This allowed the Jews to practice their own
traditional polity and law within their community, similar to Islam today.
Corvinus is accused of fomenting sedition.
Roberto Francesco Romolo Cardinal Bellarmino, 1542–1621, is a saint and
cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church and one of thirty-three doctors of the
Church. He was a Jesuit theologian whose monumental work was an attempt to
systematize the controversies of his day and to deal a blow to Protestantism. The
Lutheran Johann Gerhard ably refuted much of Bellarmine’s work.

even stronger. Thus, from the similar observance of some ceremonies
and from conformity of doctrine in some main points, it was beyond
the ability of a person who did not discern the shape of things
carefully enough to gather from that situation an accurate confession
of his Christian faith.
Corvinus perhaps would not have gone about this, nor would he
have been entrusted to the tales that he himself had invented, unless it
should please the Roman Church to which he had recently consigned
This, you see, is the perversity (παραβάντων) of those who
go from one extreme to the other so that they approve and praise all
things that their newly-chosen fellowship has established but that they
once had crossed out with a black marker.
He had been born, reared, and educated among those who had left
the Roman faith, as he himself admits. When he collected the axioms
of canon law, Circe’s cup
immediately changed him so that he
became a follower of the religion of Hildebrand.
He attacked his
citizens and the populace whom he had been assisting before with his
The scene had changed now, and he swept over them with every
effort. His entire goal was to investigate arguments from all sides but
very often to pierce holes in the weak and feeble ones. He turned his
arguments against not only his own church with which he had once
been united but also against our church everywhere, accusing her of
being heretical and defiled with various errors. He especially charged

Here and elsewhere, Ziegler writes as if Corvinus effectively had joined the
Roman Catholic Church. That was not the case officially, although the implication
was that his pro-Roman sympathies were a de facto equivalent.
In Greek mythology, Circe (κίρκη means falcon) was the daughter of Helios, the
Sun god, and Perseis. She lived on the island of Aeaea, where she awaited lost
sailors. She welcomed sailors and gave them potions to drink that turned them into
animals. In Homer’s Odyssey, her cup transformed Odysseus’ crew into pigs.
Hildebrand (c.1015–85) was a reformist monk who followed in the tradition of
Pope Nicholas II to release the papacy from the so-called “dark age” or
“pornocracy” under the political domination of the Theophylact family.
Hildebrand was appointed to be pope in 1073 by the newly-formed College of
Cardinals. He took the name Gregory VII and proceeded to establish papal
“liberty” from secular politicians who had dominated the papacy through sex,
money, and murder. Gregory came into conflict with Emperor Henry IV; the
Investiture Controversy raged for over 200 years. Gregory set the papacy on the
path to worldly power. The Reformation grew out of the ashes of the conciliar
movement that had failed to curb this power. Gregory himself died in exile as
Henry’s prisoner.

Chemnitz, formerly the greatest theologian, with being guilty of a
perverse religion. When our theologians go down with him into the
arena, they surely can expect nothing other than the nonsense
(φλυαρίαι) that has proceeded from that attorney to present itself as
the target of their wrath and among them they shall surely know what
to do.
Lest therefore he think that he has created this harvest for himself
with impunity, I shall take up this duty to which no one as yet has
been appointed. That I may be permitted to recognize the skirt from
its hem (ἐκ τοῦ κρασπέδου τὸ ὕφασμα γινώσκειν), this one article will
be enough for me for the present. It will contain our argument and
indeed with this rule, that we protect the sentiments of our churches
and that I by no means should be bound to defend those statements
that the scholars of a different sect offer, all of whom our adversary
includes under the name “Protestants.” Those have their agenda; we
have our own cares and concerns.
I begin by speaking about the hierarchy of the Church, the origin
of which I have said briefly we should not seek from some source
other than human institution. Corvinus discusses this in the
aforementioned booklet in chapter 44. Let us see what he says.
First he relates the way of thinking of the Protestants with these
words: “Almost all the Protestants teach that we must establish no
grades (or ranks) in the Church of God, that all pastors are teachers
on the same level and that we must not allow any rank or lordship.”
That he may lend credence to this assertion of his, he cites the words
of Calvin, which he says are similar to those of our own Chemnitz.
As I have said, I shall not make Calvin’s teaching my own, although
what Corvinus takes upon himself to prove he does not prove from
the words he cites. In addition Chemnitz is quite far from teaching
that we must establish no levels of ministers in the Church of God.
He rather avers very clearly the contrary. He says: “We do not simply
reject nor condemn a distribution of those grades such as the apostolic
and ancient churches had, but we use them in our churches as
necessity and edification demand and in the way we have said.”

Moreover, I see what Corvinus is after. Chemnitz taught poorly
that formerly there was no difference between a bishop and an elder

Martin Chemnitz, Examination of the Council of Trent (St. Louis: Concordia,
1978), 2:688.

(or presbyter).
He nevertheless did not claim on that basis that there
should be no grades of ministers in the Church of God, which
Corvinus had intended to prove. Indeed, that equality (ἰσότης) of
bishop and elder is so founded in Holy Scripture that the transgressor
(ὁ παραβάτης) can by no means prove the contrary. It nevertheless
does not follow that those who deny that the distinction between
bishops and elders was founded in Holy Scripture remove completely
all grades of ministers in the Church. Rather, this alone follows—that
divine law has not established the distinction that those on the
opposite side (οἱ ἐξ ἐναντίας) are contending.
Although what Corvinus adds about lordship (or dominion)

lacks proof, it still is true that among the Protestants they teach indeed
correctly that no one should take pleasure in such a prerogative
among ministers of the Church so that they exercise lordship over the
rest. Yet there is no doubt about the testimony of Giovanni Paolo
in view of all that Corvinus has written, regarding a
major exception in his Institutiones juris canonici,
book 1, title 24,
when at some words of Jerome
that were amplified in Gratian,

cap. esto, dist. 95, it says:

In this book, following the use of the ancient Church, the term elder (or presbyter)
refers to the analogous use of parish pastor, while the term bishop refers generally
to one that supervises elders. At the time of the Reformation, Martin Luther (and
those who followed his teaching, such as Chemnitz) rejected the Roman notion
that there was a divine distinction between a bishop and elder. Instead, Luther
argued they were the same biblical office with differing duties assigned by the
church (de jure humano) for the sake of good order. See also Albert B. Collver III,
“Lay Elders—A Brief Overview of their Origin in the Missouri Synod:
Implications for Elders Today,” Concordia Journal 32, no. 1 (2006); Charles P.
Schaum, “Church and Ministry before Altenburg: Franz Adolph Marbach and the
Saxon Parish Order,” in C. F. W. Walther: Churchman and Theologian (St. Louis:
Concordia, 2011), 86–111.
There is in Latin a distinction between primacy and dominion. Augustus referred
to himself as princeps in order to stress the former while really wielding the latter.
Emperor Diocletian (r. AD 284–305) finally dropped the pretense and referred to
himself as dominus (lord), the style used by subsequent emperors.
Giovanni Paolo Lancelotti (Lancellottus; 1522–90) spent most of his life in
Perugia. He is best known for his work Institutes of Canon Law.
Lancellotti, Institutiones juris canonici, quibus jus pontificium singulari methodo
libris quatuor comprehenditur. Frankfurt am Main, 1591. Hereafter referred to as
Jerome (Eusebius Sophronius Hieronymus; AD c.347–420) was first a student of
classical literature. His travels led him to Antioch, where he devoted himself to
the study of the Bible. After stays in Constantinople and Rome, he again visited
the Holy land and Egypt, finally settling near Bethlehem where he spent his time

The greater ones (that is, those who were set up in a major
order) remember that they are greater ones and not lords and
for this reason do not so much hold lordship over subjects but
honor and love them as members of the clergy. Let them be
the sort of people who are not only in charge but who also are
There then follows in Corvinus a thesis that he set against the
Catholics teach along with the Council of Trent that there
exists in the Church a hierarchy instituted by divine
ordinance. They teach that this hierarchy consists of bishops,
presbyters, and ministers, and that the bishops by divine right
are superior to the elders with respect to jurisdiction and rank.
He wants “Catholics” in this entire treatise of his to mean only those
who cultivate an ecclesiastical fellowship with the Roman pope. This
fellowship (or communion), however, is by no means universal and is
not superior to all other churches even with regard to the number of
its disciples. On the other hand, in fact almost all the heretics once
attributed this name to themselves because the individual groups of
heretics thought that they were especially Christian and that they
were the true Church catholic, as Lactantius
speaks elsewhere.
We therefore do not begrudge the use of the title of which the
Roman Church boasts, but we rather laugh at her vanity because she
is as far away from the subject of being catholic (τῷ καθόλῳ) as
anything can possibly get.
I shall not start a quarrel regarding the

translating the Bible from the Hebrew and Greek sources into Latin, offering an
improvement over the Old Latin versions based on the Septuagint. His Common
Bible (Biblia vulgata) has played an important role for over 1,500 years.
Gratian (d. 1160) helped to compile the Decretum Gratiani and thus became the
father of canon law. Little else is known about him.
Lucius Caecilius Firmianus Lactantius was a Christian apologist of the fourth
century AD.
From the reformation until the rise of pietism in the 1680s the Lutheran Church
stressed its catholicity, the harmony among Scripture, the ancient Church fathers,
and the Book of Concord. Anglican scholars wrote similarly, but with greater
emphasis on the hierarchy of bishops. Pietism stressed the pattern of Scripture, the
Book of Concord, Luther, and modern Lutheran writers. That pietistic, sectarian
approach dominated until the twentieth century, when Lutherans again started to
discover their long roots as both evangelical and catholic (universally Christian).
Karl Holl and the Luther Renaissance started the general movement after 1917,
with more voices joining in after Vatican II in the 1960s.

power of rank and jurisdiction—that they do differ between
themselves—because there is still much controversy about this
subject among the canonists.
At this time the controversy hinges on these two points: whether
the Church ought to set up some ranking among ministers of the
divine Word, and whether that ranking has already been established
by divine law. By no means do those Protestants who support the
Augsburg Confession deny the first point, although Corvinus says
that they deny it. The other point the Protestants correctly deny and
claim that no such ranks (or orders) as we see today have been
established by divine law and that bishops are not superior to elders
by divine law. Indeed, in Acts 20:17
Luke names “elders,” whom he
immediately (v. 28) calls “bishops,” that is, “overseers.”
This is a
very certain argument that at that time there was no distinction.
To prove that divine law introduced this, Corvinus runs back to
what had been established in the Old Testament. He says:
Just as there were in the Old Testament by divine law distinct
grades of chief priests, priests, and Levites so that the chief
priest was superior to the priests, and the priest to the Levites;
so also in the New Testament bishops succeeded the chief
priests, elders the priests, and deacons the Levites.
With the same ease Corvinus could have invented along with Gratian,
distinctio 21, that the distinction of bishops, archbishops and
patriarchs was introduced originally by the gentiles, yet related to
divine law. After all, why does the face of the Jewish synagogue set
itself against us? Let us grant that the administration of the churches
of Christ had been set up following the model of the synagogue. For
that reason, what shall we say that men did out of their pure liberty
and what did divine law institute? If any such distinction of priests
had been instituted among the gentiles in imitation of the Jews, shall
we think that divine law introduced this?
Corvinus however goes on: “In the New Testament the disciples,
who were inferior to the apostles, were distinct from them.” This

Acts 20:17 ESV, “Now from Miletus he sent to Ephesus and called the elders
(τοὺς πρεσβθτέρους) of the church to come to him.”
Acts 20:28 ESV, “Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which
the Holy Spirit has made you overseers (ἐπισκόπους), to care for the church of
God, which he obtained with his own blood.” We remember that in this book the
term “elder” generally is equivalent with today’s parish pastor.

causes us no problem. Although one can prove no such thing from the
statements of Scripture that he has cited, Corvinus nevertheless
infers: “The bishops succeeded the apostles, and the elders the
disciples.” This, he says, is the constant teaching of all the fathers.
What then? Did the latter situation follow from the example of the
former and share the same divine origin? On the other hand, after
grades had been established among ministers of the divine Word,
those who held the highest grade could have been compared in some
human way with the apostles, and the rest with the seventy who had
been selected, so that, in the same way as Christ Himself had made
the seventy subordinate to the first twelve, the Church believed that
elders were subordinate to bishops.
That entire order nevertheless originated from a human
imposition and institution but is by no means congruent with an
apostolic ordinance up to that time. You see, one cannot prove that
the seventy disciples yielded much in dignity to the prior ones, or that
they were excluded from any ecclesiastical function as has been the
case for many centuries regarding ordinations, confirmations, and
other activities. The Council of Neocaesarea
to which Corvinus
appeals passed no decrees about bishops and elders but said about
suffragan bishops that they were modeled “after the example of the
seventy” (εἰς τύπον τῶν ἑβδομήκοντα). I have explained elsewhere
who the suffragan bishops (Chorepiscopi) were. That very council
was celebrated around AD 315 when very many comparisons of that
kind adorned ecclesiastical writings. The epistles of Damasus

The Council of Neocaesarea (AD 315) was held in the city of Pontus. The council
adopted canons for the establishing of ecclesiastical order. See NPNF2 14:77–86.
Its decrees were made universal by the Council of Chalcedon in 451, along with
those of Ancyra, Laodicea, Gangra, and Antioch.
Damasus (AD 304–84) was pope from 366 to his death. Until proven spurious and
of sixth-century origin, the Epistle of Damasus was believed to have contained the
earliest list of the Biblical canon.

are spurious, and David Blondel
in his Pseudo-
proves in learned fashion that their authors lied.
The rest whom Corvinus next calls to bear witness teach that they
want bishops to have succeeded the apostles and elders the disciples.
We nevertheless must know that that comparison was invented long
after the times of the apostles. But who now will be able to conclude
from these testimonies that divine law instituted the distinction
between bishops and elders?
Corvinus, however, continues and avows that he has standing on
his side Ignatius, Clement of Rome, Dionysius the Areopagite,
Irenaeus, and Tertullian.
These five testimonies compose a sort of
fivefold voyage (πεντάπλοον), but because of it the young men
scarcely wish to contend on their course. We are unwilling to be

Anacletus (alternately Cletus and Anencletus) is considered the third pope after
the Apostle Peter and Linus. He is believed to have become pope around AD 78.
He preceded Clement of Rome. Tradition attributes that he divided Rome into 25
David Blondel (Blondellus; 1591–1655) was a French Protestant clergyman,
historian, and classical scholar. In his 1628 work against Francisco Torres he
traced out the sources used by the Psueudo-Isidorian Decretals and demonstrated
that it was a learned forgery.
Blondel, Pseudo-Isidorus et Turrianus vapulantes: seu editio et censura nova
epistolarum omnium, quas piisimis urbis Romae praesulibus à B. Clemente ad
Siricium, &c. nefando ausu infelici eventu, Isidorus cognomento Mercator
supposuit, Franciscus Turrianus Jesuita, adversus Magdeburgensium ‘elenchois’.
defendere conatus est (Geneva: Petri Chouët), 1628.
Clement of Rome (fl. AD 96) was bishop of Rome, said to have been consecrated
by Peter. The Liber Pontificalis names also Linus and Anacletus, yet it appears
that there may have been presbyterial and diaconal aspects to the ministries of
those whom Tertullian and others ascribe Petrine succession. In other words,
neither the Roman episcopate nor its diaconal aspects had yet taken on the later
monarchial model, but reflected the original condition of the diaconal and
ministerial offices described in this book. Dionysius the Areopagite was converted
by Paul’s sermon in the Areopagus in Athens (Acts 17:34). He is said to have
served later as bishop of Athens. Ignatius of Antioch (Ἰγνάτιος Ἀντιοχείας, AD
c.35–c.112) was among the Apostolic Fathers, the bishop of Syrian Antioch, and a
student of John. Irenaeus (Εἰρηναῖος; d. AD c.202) was bishop of Lugdunum in
Gaul (then a part of the Roman Empire; now Lyon, France). He was an Early
Church father and apologist, and his writings were formative in the early
development of Christian theology. He was a hearer of Polycarp, bishop of
Smyrna, who in turn was a disciple of John. Tertullian (AD 160–225) was an
African Church father who was raised as a pagan and is thought to have been a
lawyer. According to Jerome, Tertullian was ordained as a priest, although some
think he remained a layman. He converted to Christianity before 197 and later
joined the heretical Montanist sect. He developed much of the Latin theological
vocabulary for the church in the West.

much concerned about the first three because the writings that stand
forth under their names labor under the obvious fault of being
spurious (νοθείας),
as Jean Daillé
proved in detail with reference to
Ignatius and Dionysius in a special book about the Apostolic
Constitutions attributed to Clement. Archbishop James Ussher of
in his Annotationes Ad Ignat., epist., cap. 7ff.
that the testimony of Irenaeus brings nothing against us nor does he
mention the witness of anyone else besides the bishop from whom
there should be a distinction.
On the other hand, however, we can see how contrary Irenaeus is
to Corvinus in many places in David Blondel, A Defense of the
Opinion of Jerome concerning Bishops and Presbyters, sect. 2, n. 9.

Tertullian does mention bishop, elder, and deacon, but he does not
say that divine law caused that distinction. Corvinus therefore does
not profit throughout all those testimonies. If those were especially
admitted even by supposition (ὑποβολιμαῖα), although they might
insinuate some distinction of bishops, elders, and deacons, they
nevertheless mention absolutely nothing about the author or origin of
this distinction. We do not seriously oppose this, but in our churches
we steadfastly retain such clerical distinctions as very useful.
Moreover, because Corvinus was so concerned with seeking out
and collecting the statements of the fathers, it borders on the fantastic

This word has the sense of “illegitimate” or “adulterated;” hence, spurious or
Jean Daillé (Dalleus; 1594–1670) was a French Reformed theologian known for
rejecting the authority of the Church fathers as being relevant to the contemporary
life of the Church. In De Scripturis quae sub Dionysii Areopagitae et Ignatii
Antiocheni nominibus circumferuntur (Geneva, 1666) he attacked the authenticity
of the Ignatian literature.
James Ussher (1581–1656) taught at Trinity College, Dublin, and was an authority
on the letters of Ignatius of Antioch. He is known for determining that the world
was approximately 6,000 years old.
Ussher, In polycarpianam epistolarvm ignatianarvm syllogen annotations numeris
ad marginem interiorem appositis respondentes : in quibus geæcorum ignatii
exemplarium, & inter se, & cum utrâque vetere Latinâ interpretatione,
comparatio continetur. (Oxford: Hall), 1644.
David Blondel Apologia pro sentential Hieronymi de episcopis et presbyteris
(Amsterdam: Blaev), 1646. Also appears in an English translation: R. H., Obadiah
Walker, Richard Holden, A brief account of ancient Church-government with a
reflection on several modern writings of the Presbyterians, the Assembly of
Divines, their Jus divinum Ministerii Anglicani, published 1654, and D. Blondel’s
Apologia pro sententia Hieronymi, and others, touching this subject, (London:
Cadwel/Crooke), 1662.

that Corvinus completely omits Epiphanius
completely, for the
latter stands on Corvinus’s side ahead of the rest when in Against the
n. 75, he argues strongly that the bishop stands above the
elder on the basis of Paul’s statement and institution of the matter.
Corvinus undoubtedly saw, however, that he was going to accomplish
nothing with the authority of Epiphanius, because Jerome, the equal
and greatest friend of Epiphanius and singular admirer of his virtue,
obviously contradicts him and teaches clearly that among the
ancients, bishops and elders were the same, because the former was
the name of the office, while the latter was the name of their age, as
he says, Epistle 83.
Lest anyone think that that opinion dropped
from Jerome just in passing, he defended it with an intentional work
and in very many small battles, for he sought out various statements
of Scripture and repeated that opinion several times when the
opportunity presented itself.
For this reason Corvinus here abstained from citing the
statements of Jerome, which statements he nevertheless was unable to
escape because of Gratian’s decree, cap. legimus., dist. 93, and cap.
olim., dist. 95. Yet Jerome agrees with us, and church literature owes
more to this one man than to many others—however great they may
have been—in the judgment of Scaliger,
Proleg. in Euseb.

Epiphanius (AD 315–403) was the bishop of Salamis, a native of Palestine, and
known for his Refutation of all the Heresies in which he detailed all the heresies
known from the beginning of the Church until his day.
The title of the work is Panarion, meaning “Medicine-chest,” but the Latin
translations of the sixteenth century had the title Adversus Haereses, meaning
“Against the Heresies.” For an English translation see Epiphanius, The Panarion
of Epiphanius of Salamis, Book I (Sects 1–46), translated by Frank Williams
(Leiden: Brill), 1987. Epiphanius, The Panarion of Epiphanius of Salamis, Book II
and III (Sects 47–80, De Fide), translated by Frank Williams (Leiden: Brill),
The discussion mentioned by Ziegler as occurring in Epistle 83 should be Epistle
82, “To Theophilus Bishop of Alexandria.” NPNF2 6:173. “Certainly when my
opponent was himself ordained bishop, he was not much older than my brother is
now. And if he argues that youth is no hindrance to a bishop but that it is to a
presbyter because a young elder is a contradiction in terms, I ask him this
question: Why has he himself ordained a presbyter of this age or younger still, and
that too to minister in another man’s church?”
Joseph Justus Scaliger (AD 1540–1609) was a French scholar who studied Greek
and oriental languages in Paris. He became a Calvinist and made enemies of the
Jesuits by his attack on the Gregorian calendar and by questioning the authenticity
of Dionysius the Pseudo-Areopagite.

Corvinus does not deal with us too kindly if he wishes to
convince us with either false or invented testimonies or those that do
not at all address the point. This statement of Jerome expressed as it
is in his genuine writings causes one to doubt the authenticity of the
book published under Jerome’s name and titled On the Seven Orders
to Rusticus of Narbonne,
which Gratian also cites, cap. diaconi,
dist. 93, and cap. ecce, dist. 95, and whose authenticity Desiderius
Erasmus, Willem van Est, Robert Cooke,
David Blondel, James
Ussher and others have been attacking for a long time.
Finally, we must also take note that Corvinus has set forth a
theme about an ecclesiastical hierarchy but that his entire treatment
thereof involves only bishops, elders, and deacons. Yet almost all the
scholars of the Roman Church relate not only the major but also the
minor orders to the hierarchy. On the other hand, should our
antagonist wish to follow the authorities whom he has produced, it is
going to be difficult for him to arrange a summary of all the
authorities that his companions establish. Anacletus, Epistle 3, writes:
“God has arranged for us no more than those two orders of priests (to
wit, of bishops and elders), nor did the apostles teach any more than
these.” As we have said, however, Jerome makes just one order out of
these two. Equally, Clement of Rome, Epistle 2, says: “The
sacraments of the divine secrets were assigned to three grades, that is,
to the elder, deacon and minister.” Here, unless you take “minister” to
mean “subdeacon,” a minister is absolutely no different from a
In the pseudo-Dionysius Hiearch., cap. 5, the three orders are
listed in a different way, namely, of bishops, elders and deacons. To
the lesser orders in which they wish to set the doorkeepers, lectors,

De septem ordinibus ad Rusticum Narbonensis. Rusticus of Narbonne (d. AD 461)
zealously defended Christianity as bishop of Narbonne against the military and
ecclesiastical power of the Arian Goths. He corresponded with both Jerome and
Pope Leo I.
Desiderius Erasmus (c.1466–1536) was a leading Renaissance humanist. His
greatest contribution may have been his Greek edition of the New Testament,
even though it was not as faithful to the manuscripts as the Complutensian
Polyglot. Willem Hessels van Est (Estius; 1542–1613) was a Dutch Roman
Catholic commentator on Paul’s epistles. He served as professor at the universities
of Louvain (Leuven) and Douai, where he became chancellor. He chronicled the
Protestant massacre of the Martyrs of Gorcum. Robert Cooke (Cocus; c.1549–
1619) was an Anglican clergyman with his brother Alexander. Both were vicars in
Leeds and held sizeable tracts of land. Cooke is known for the 1612 title, Censura
quorundam scriptorum.
xxviii PREFACE

exorcists, and acolytes, Ignatius, Epistle to Antiochus,
adds three
others, namely, cantors, laborers,
and confessors. Clement, Epistle
1, counts catechists or those who teach the first rudiments of faith. In
so great a diversity of opinions Corvinus leaves us clearly uncertain
regarding to what extent he has decided to enlarge and develop his
hierarchy on the basis of divine law.
Next, he cites these testimonies from the writings of King James
of England, Hadrian Saravia,
Calvin, Whitaker,
and Pareus,
he boasts, are his supporters (ὁμοψήφους) and disagree with the rest of
his associates and among themselves. Those testimonies come within
our limits, but they do not pertain to us.
The words of Chemnitz that he adds, however, are pertinent
provided they are extant somewhere; for we do not find the passage
that he relates under the designated numbers. Also, that interpretation
itself does not agree sufficiently with the words of Jerome that we
have in Gratian (above), dist. 93. Jerome does not say that the
inequality of bishops then finally developed in the times of Heraclas
and Dionysius among the Alexandrians. Instead he says that at
Alexandria from the time of the Evangelist Mark until that of
Heraclas and Dionysius there were always elders, and that one of
them and of their group was selected and placed on a higher level.
Mark and his successors called him “bishop.” On this we agree on the
basis of the index of the bishops of Alexandria, who were Anianus,

Ignatius’ Epistle to the Antiochians is considered spurious, in part because it refers
to Church offices not known in his day. Nonetheless, this spurious epistle can be
found in ANF 1:110ff. The particular section Ziegler refers to is Epistle to the
Antiochians, chapter XII.
The laborers were those in the Church whose duty was to bury the bodies of the
martyrs. (ANF 1:112, fn. 45.)
Hadrian Saravia (1532–1613) entered the Franciscan order as a youth but
converted to Protestantism in 1557. He was a member of the Dutch Reformed
Church from 1559–62 and was consulted on the Belgic Confession. By 1595 he
became a canon of Canterbury. He was the first Protestant theologian to support
the episcopacy on the basis of divine right (ius divinum). He also assisted in the
translation of the Authorized Version (AV or KJV) of the Bible.
William Whitaker (Wittakerus; 1548–95) was a learned Calvinist who vigorously
opposed both Roman Catholic and Lutheran theology. He served as 16th master of
St. John’s College, Cambridge, 1586–95. His son Alexander baptized Pocahontas
and was called the “Apostle of Virginia.”
David Pareus (1548–1622), professor of theology at Heidelberg, believed the
Lutherans and Calvinists should have one theology and one Church. He was a
student of Zacharias Ursinus, who had studied in Wittenberg for seven years
under Philipp Melanchthon.

Abilius, Zaccheus, Cerdo, Primus, Justus, Eumenes, Marcus,
Celadion, Agrippa, Julianus, Demorrius, Heraclas. All of these,
according to Jerome’s way of thinking, were chosen from their own
body by the elders of the church at Alexandria. That is, at that time
other bishops were not yet summoned from elsewhere.
These words indeed do nothing for the present time nor did
Chemnitz want to bring them for this purpose. If however this is
Jerome’s way of thinking that until Heraclas and Dionysius all their
predecessors had just one rank of order, but that Heraclas and
Dionysius as well as their successors also held a primacy of power, as
Chemnitz seems to conclude (supposing that the cited words are his),
nothing at all will accrue to the cause of Corvinus, for it remains that
that power comes not from divine law but finally began in the second
century AD around the year 140, as Chemnitz calculates. Yet the
bishops did not receive at that time the degree of power that they
gradually and finally arrogated for themselves due to their arrogance.
Furthermore, Jerome explains very well in his commentary on
Titus 1 the reason why the bishop was placed ahead of the rest of the
ministers of the church. He says:
To tear out the nursery of dissentions, every anxiety was
gradually reduced to a single one. Just as the elders know,
therefore, that they were subject to him who had been placed
over them in accord with the custom of the Church; so also
the bishops knew that they were superior to elders more by
custom than by the reality of the Lord’s dispensation, and that
they should govern the church in common.
We should also note especially these words from Jerome’s epistle to
When subsequently one presbyter was chosen to preside over
the rest, this was done to remedy schism and to prevent each
individual from rending the Church of Christ by drawing it to
himself. For even at Alexandria from the time of Mark the
Evangelist until the episcopates of Heraclas and Dionysius
the presbyters always named as bishop one of their own
number chosen by themselves and set in a more exalted
position, just as an army elects a general, or as deacons
appoint one of themselves whom they know to be diligent
and call him archdeacon. For what function, except

ordination, belongs to a bishop that does not also belong to a

Jerome could not clarify his way of thinking more precisely nor could
his words present the teaching of our churches more clearly. From all
this he reveals that it was accepted by custom but not established by
divine law that the bishop is superior to elders and indeed for the
purpose of avoiding schisms. Nor that at the time of Jerome could the
bishop do more than an elder and indeed not by divine right nor even
by apostolic tradition, which people often imagine, but by
ecclesiastical law and then-accepted custom.
He explains this in the same way in homily 2 on First Timothy,
where he offers the reason why the apostle in chapter three, after he
had given his commands concerning bishops, made no mention of
elders and then passed over immediately to deacons. He says: “Why
do I ask this?” And he responds:
There is not much difference between the order of bishops
and that of elders. Elders, you see, have been taken up for
teaching the people and governing (προστασίαν) the Church.
What he said about the order of bishops, therefore, also fits
the order of elders. Bishops, after all, ascended above the
elders solely by the imposition of hands (ἀναβεβήκασι
ἀυτῶν). This seems to be the only advantage that they took
away from the elders (καὶ τοῦτο μόνον δοκοῦσι πλεονεκτεῖν
τοὺς πρεσβυτέρους).
He is not saying that bishops were appointed over elders by the
dignity of imposition of hands to ordain them for the priesthood nor
that Christ assigned them this preeminence but that by their own
action: “they ascended” (ἀναβεβήκασι) over the elders and seem to
have acquired this one thing in addition. This position of the words
shows clearly that the preference of the bishop comes from usage and
the custom developed from there.
Because our churches profess the same teaching as do Jerome and
one can by no means claim that we support Aërius,

NPNF2 6:288–89.
John “the Golden Mouth” (Chrysostom; AD c.347–407) was noted for his practical
theology and sermons. He fearlessly attacked abuses of power and luxury among
the clergy and the rich. This kindled the enmity of the empress Aelia Eudoxia. She
used the power-hungry Patriarch Theophilus of Alexandria and his allies to
depose John and send him into exile from 405–07, where he died under harsh

who of old was listed in the register of heretics. In addition to the fact
that he was an Arian, he rejected all those things that the Church had
commanded for the preservation of her external order—even those
things that were not commanded by Christ the Savior Himself. He
also contended that a bishop was superior to an elder apart from any
reason or law. In this way he completely crushed the entire episcopal
We, however, judge along with Jerome that the institution of
bishops in the churches is useful and very necessary and therefore
should be retained, and we do not deny that this is very ancient and
has been continuous in its lengthy use. In fact, we also grant this
point, that the largest part of the ecclesiastical hierarchy, insofar and
to the extent that it fulfills the sacred duties, is very useful in the more
populous churches that all things may be done decently and in good
order (κατὰ τάξιν καὶ ἐυσχημοσύνην).
This opinion of ours therefore
differs in every respect (δὶς διὰ πασῶν) from the heresy of Aërius.
Gregory of Valencia
absolves us of such guilt when he says, vol. 4,
dist. 9, q. 1, point 2:

All Protestants admit at least three grades of ministers,
namely, of bishops, whom they call “superintendents,” so that
their concern is with church discipline; of elders, whom they
call “ministers of the Word and sacraments;” and of deacons,
who perform for the superintendents and pastors their work in
the administration of the sacraments and in other duties.
We must note, however, along with Chemnitz that the Word of God
has not commanded what or how many grades or orders there should
be in the Church, nor were there always the same orders and the same
number thereof in all churches at the time of the apostles, nor did

conditions. In death he became a hero and one of the three great Hierarchs of the
Eastern Orthodox Church.
Aërius (AD fourth century) was a presbyter of Pontus who maintained there was no
distinction between the function and rank of bishops and priests.
1 Cor 14:40.
Gregory of Valencia (1550–1603) was a Spanish humanist who taught at the
University of Ingolstatdt. He was a Jesuit and was honored with the title Doctor
doctorum by Pope Clement VIII. He wrote polemical works against Lutherans and
Gregory of Valencia, Commentariorum theologicorum tomi quatuor: in quibus
omnes quæstiones, quæ continentur in Summa theologica D. Thomæ Aquinatis,
ordine explicantur : ac suis etiam in locis controuersiæ omnes fidei elucidantur, 4
volumes. (Venice: Sessas), 1607–08.

such a distribution of those grades exist in the days of the apostles. In
fact, quite often one and the same order bore all the duties that had to
do with the ministry; and it was left to the freedom of the Church to
establish for herself what sort of and how many levels were necessary
for each.
In this way I agree easily with Corvinus that Emperor Justinian
did not disapprove of the orders that the Church had accepted in that
era. For a long time already it had been accepted in the Church that
not even the emperor himself should change anything rashly unless
that change would result in convenience and usefulness. Thus he did
not in one place mention patriarchs, metropolitans, bishops, elders,
deacons, cantors, doorkeepers, lectors, exorcists, acolytes and, if there
were some, any other who were taking on such ministries.
Nowhere does he say that divine law established that sequence
and entire structure of orders, nor is he saying that all those orders are
necessary in every church. Accordingly, from the fact that Justinian
mentions in his Constitutions almost all those many orders that the
Roman Church superstitiously retains today, Corvinus has not made
him a papist. Certainly even if we should admit that Justinian
approved all those orders, he nevertheless did not believe that such
great autonomy (ἀυτονομίαν) was appropriate for the Roman pope
that no one was allowed to change anything without consulting him.
On the contrary in fact, the emperor held the persuasion that the right
of majesty over against the ecclesiastical hierarchy befit himself and
that he therefore could have exercised his own code of laws
(νομοθεσίαν) against those orders.
This is clear from his novella constitut., canon 3, cap. 1, in which
he greatly reduced the number of the clergy of Constantinople. He
I have decreed that in the most holy greater church there
should be no more than sixty elders, one hundred male and
forty female deacons but ninety subdeacons, one hundred ten
lectors and twenty-five cantors so that in the most holy
greater church the whole number of very reverend clergy is
four hundred twenty-five. In addition, let there be a hundred
of those whom we call “doorkeepers.” In the most holy
greater church of this very blessed city of ours and through
the three venerable homes united with her there is too great a
multitude of clergy (because none of these who now exist are
PREFACE xxxiii

going to be excluded), although the number of those whom
we have now limited may be much more. In the future,
however, no one is to be added in any order of those that now
exist until its count is reduced to this number.
At that time, the hierarchy in the church at Constantinople consisted
of the bishop, elders, deacons, subdeacons, lectors, cantors, and door-
keepers but in such as way that the doorkeepers were not counted
among the clergy. These, however, they counted in the following
century according to Isidore, as Gratian cites him in cap. cleros.,
dist. 21. In addition, in that passage Justinian makes no mention of
exorcists and acolytes. But, when he reduced those very orders that he
lists to a specific number, I am afraid that he did not please the
Roman Church that today has absolutely no respect for the civil laws
in ecclesiastical affairs unless the authority of the Roman pope has
confirmed them. From this I draw the firm conclusion that solely on
the basis of the mention of a hierarchy one gathers in vain that
Justinian was a papist, although Corvinus may assert this with
When we look back to the beginning of the infant Church, we
discover that she established first from the elders those who at one
time were called “bishops,” that is, overseers on the basis of the
overseeing and care that they employ with reference to the Church.
Thus people attributed this word that they had taken from their use of
the common language especially to ministers of the Word. Augustine
claims, book 19, City of God, chapter 19,
that, if we wish, we can
say that bishops are, in the Latin, superintendentes.
Those very
same teachers of the particular churches are very often called “elders”
because of their age, because all who are taken into that order are
elderly. Next, the apostles themselves added deacons to these. These

Augustine, City of God in NPNF1 2:413. Aurelius Augustinus (AD 354–430) was a
Latin philosopher and theologian who became bishop of Hippo Regius from 395
to his death. His writings shaped Latin Christianity for a thousand years.
This Latin term became common in German Protestantism when referring to
people who have the oversight of pastors in a diocese or larger area. This usage
developed from Augustine’s terminology as a focus on the means of grace as the
substance of ministry, not the “indelible character” asserted at the Fourth Lateran
Council (1215).

are the only orders that we read the primitive Church had, according
to Pope Urban I,
as cited in Gratian, cap. nullus, dist. 60.
As time passed, however, the Church held that someone should
be in charge among the elders, and the name “bishop” preeminently
(κατ᾽ἐξοχὴν) stuck to him. Nevertheless, as far as the functions of the
Church were concerned, he had nothing special. Teaching the Gospel,
baptizing, celebrating the Holy Eucharist—these belonged no less to
the office of elders than to those specially designated as bishops
because no churchman governing as a monarchic or despotic
used to be appropriate for bishops. Rather, all things were
arranged on the basis of the counsel and consent of the bishops’
fellow-elders (τῶν συμπρεσβυτέρων).
However, after some passage of time an extraordinary distinction
developed. After the person who was the primus
among them and
who was holding the name “bishop” imagined that he was due a
singular prominence (ὑπεροχὴν) ahead of the rest as regards both
authority and power, he took for himself a new rank (πρεσβεία) and
stood ahead of the rest in performing his activities and in his talents
and prudence so that those others complied with his wishes.
Ultimately this produced a new order of bishops clearly different
from the elders, one that was elevated to that splendid privilege
(προνομίαν). Indeed, for the first time the bishops arrogated for
themselves that they alone ordain ministers of the Church as they
excluded completely the elders from the imposition of hands
(χειροθεσίᾳ). Next, they daily produced new kinds of ceremonies and
multiplied the institutions of the Church. These included chrisms, the
making and use of sacred oil, the consecration of newly constructed
altars and churches, the blessing and initiation of monks and nuns, the
reconciliation of the penitent and many others. It is not strange then
that the bishops, eager for new privileges and eager to increase their
own power, took over such activities for themselves, most of which

Urban I was pope from AD 222–30. Very little is known about him; the only major
controversy he dealt with was the schism with Hippolytus in which he maintained
the same attitude as his predecessor, Pope Callistus.
The term imperator was originally a military term (commander), but Augustus
used it as a title and it became a part of the Roman imperial style and the origin of
our word emperor.
Primus relates back to the earlier discussion of a prince, specifically to being first
(πρῶτος) among equals but not having lordship over them.

activities nevertheless had been equally common to both elders and
bishops from the beginning.
From this we draw the firm conclusion that the Savior Himself
made no distinction between elders and bishops, nor did He
differentiate their offices in such a way that He assigned something to
bishops alone that He did not permit to the elders. We also conclude
that divine law did not establish a difference between elders and
As far as deacons are concerned, Holy Scripture teaches that the
apostles first instituted them. There is no one who doubts that these
were from the beginning lower than elders. Very many examples in
the history of the Church show that they often took away power for
themselves and arrogantly rose up against not only elders but even
against bishops. With reference to this situation we read in Gratian,
cap. legimus and in following chapters the very memorable
complaints and rebukes of Jerome
and Cyril.
I think that it was from this that it happened that both bishops and
elders considered them at times in a more humble position that suited
them in accord with the condition of the status in which they were
involved. It generally happened that those who tried to surmount that
condition rarely were restored appropriately enough to their original
When I turned over and over again these matters in my mind, I
thought that I would accomplish something worthwhile if I were to
gather into a single bundle, so to speak, and set forth publicly the
points that the ancients observed about deacons in their writings. In
this task you will perhaps wish this, kind reader, that I could have
said and observed quite a bit more here and there and that I was not
equally careful in some matters. I must remember, however, that here
there is a very great lack of space for gathering the books necessary
for the various instructions. I must also remember that the actual
study of such subjects is quite involved and stained with many
corruptions; and finally, that only rarely have I received sufficiently
convenient free time from the rest of the duties that occupy my time.

Jerome, Letter CXLVI. NPNF2 6:288. “I am told that some one has been mad
enough to put deacons before presbyters, this is, before bishops.”