Two offices are noted in the Scripture: bishops (or overseers) and deacons. Phil. 1:1; I Tim 3:1,8. Bishops are the same as elders; see I Tim 3:1/Titus 1:5/7; Acts 20:17/28; I Pet 5:1/2 where the terms are used interchangeably. There was a plurality of bishops in every church, Phil 1:1; Acts 20:17.
There is some evidence of "offices" of prophet, teacher, or evangelist which was more or less permanent, Acts 11:27, 13:1, 21:8
Of course, the Apostles were still alive and were regarded with great reverence and as having great authority.
See Tacitus' description of Nero's persecution in Bettenson, p. 1.
"And when he confessed the Proconsul tried to persuade him, saying, 'Have respect to thine age,' and so forth, according to their customary form; 'Swear by the genius of Caesar,' 'Repent,' 'Say, "Away with the atheists!"' Then Polycarp looked with a severe countenance on the mob of lawless heathen in the stadium, and he waved his hand at them, and looking up to heaven he groaned and said, 'Away with the atheists.' But the Proconsul urged him and said, 'Swear, and I will release thee; curse the Christ.' And Polycarp said, 'Eighty and six years have I served him, and he hath done me no wrong; how then can I blaspheme my king who saved me?' (Bettenson, p. 10)
"But those who were worthy were seized day by day, filling up their number, so that all the zealous persons, and those through whom especially our affairs had been established, were collected together out of the two churches. And some of our heathen servants were also seized . . . These, being ensnared by Satan, and fearing for themselves the tortures which they beheld the saints endure, and being also urged on by the soldiers, accused us falsely of Thyestian banquets and Oedipodean intercourse, and of deeds which are not only unlawful for us to speak of or to think, but which we cannot believe were ever done by men. When these accusations were reported, the people raged like wild beasts against us . . . But Sanctus also endured marvelously and superhumanly all the outrages which he suffered. . . . they finally fastened red-hot brazen plates to the most tender parts of his body. And these indeed were burned, but he continued unbending and unyielding, firm in his confession, and refreshed and strengthened by the heavenly fountain of the water of life, flowing from the bowels of Christ. . . . his body arose and stood erect in the midst of the subsequent torments . . . Maturus, therefore, and Sanctus and Blandina and Attalus were led to the amphitheater to be exposed to the wild beasts, and to give to the heathen public a spectacle of cruelty . . . But even thus they did not hear a word from Sanctus except the confession which he had uttered from the beginning. These, then, after their life had continued for a long time through the great conflict, were at last sacrificed, having been made throughout the day a spectacle to the world, in place of the usual variety of combats. But Blandina was suspended on a stake, and exposed to be devoured by the wild beasts who should attack her. . . . As none of the wild beasts at that time touched her, she was taken down from the stake, and cast again into prison. . . After all these, on the last day of the contests, Blandina was again brought in . . . But the blessed Blandina, last of all, having, as a noble mother, encouraged her children and sent them before her victorious to the King, endured herself all their conflicts and hastened after them, glad and rejoicing in her departure as if called to a marriage supper, rather than cast to wild beasts. And after the scourging, after the wild beasts, after the roasting seat, she was finally enclosed in a net, and thrown before a bull. And having been tossed about by the animal, but feeling none of the things which were happening to her, on account of her hope and firm hold upon what had been entrusted to her, and her communion with Christ, she also was sacrificed. And the heathen themselves confessed that never among them had a woman endured so many and such terrible tortures." Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, vol 1, p. 212ff.
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Copyright © 1997, 1999 by Mark S. Ritchie. Permission is granted to use materials herein for the building up of the Christian Church. Bibliographic entries for published works quoted may be found in Bibliography page.