Finally, the Excursus on Diotrephes and the Presbyter
: Walter Bauer's ground-breaking work of 1934 (arguing that in the primitive church 'heresy' was primary (`orthodoxy' secondary) `rescued 3 John from the shadowy status to which research had long relegated it'.
He wisely subordinated his Via Tiburtina community to what had been a rival community, and this opened up the way to the development of the monarchical episcopate at Rome under Pontian, with whose martyr's death and burial Hippolytus was to be linked: Pontianus episcopus et Yppolitus presbyter
, a phrase that neatly encodes their accepted difference in status and their reconciliation.
These communities also felt they had the right, as baptized members of Christ, to select elders (presbyters
) to assist in managing church affairs and deacons to care for the needs of the poor, orphans and widows.
"If after this decision of this holy and great synod anyone shall attempt such a thing, or shall lend himself to such a proceeding, the arrangement shall be totally annulled, and he shall be restored to the church of which he was ordained bishop or presbyter
(55) The 66 bishops gathered in synod in Africa in 252 reprimanded bishop Therapius for readmitting Victor, a former presbyter
, to communion, not because of his clerical status but because he was a sacrificatus, and readmission at this point only had been granted to libellatici.
According to The Shepherd of Hermas, another ancient church document, Clement was a presbyter
responsible for communicating with Christian communities in other cities and towns and probably also for dispensing aid where needed.
The writer must therefore have been the presbyter
who in the ninth chapter of the same Refutation describes himself in conflict with Callistus, bishop of Rome and who was deported with Callistus's successor Pontianus and died as a martyr in the mines of Sardinia in 235.
Next he considers the functions of the clergy from lector to presbyter
. In chapter 4, he reaches the heart of the matter, the bishop as leader in the Christian community.
John thinks of priesthood in the Church as articulated in the three offices of bishop, presbyter
, and deacon, with its special exemplar in the bishop; if there are grades of priesthood, with the bishop at the top, there are no sharp divisions (pp.