Sunday, May 31, 2009

Theodoret of Cyrus: Apostle, Elder/Overseer, and Deacon

By overseer here he means elder, as we demonstrated in commenting on the letter to the Philippians. Here, too, it is very easy to grasp this: after the laws for overseers he puts in writing those for deacons, making no mention of the elders. But, as I remarked, at that time they were in the habit of calling the same people overseers and elders, whereas those now called overseers they gave the name apostles. With the passage of time, however, they left the name of apostleship for those really apostles, and assigned the title of overseer to those previously called apostles. Thus Epaphrodites was apostles of the Philippians: "Your apostle, and assistant to me in need;" likewise Titus was apostle of the Cretans and Timothy of the Asians; likewise the apostles and elders wrote from Jerusalem to those in Antioch. Still, even if the divine Paul gave these rules for elders, it is obvious that overseers ought to be first to observe them for reason of their holding even higher office.

- Theodoret of Cyrus (around A.D. 393 to around A.D. 457), Commentary on 1 Timothy, Chapter 3, in Theodoret of Cyrus, Commentary on the Letters of St. Paul, Volume 2, p. 216-17 (2001), Robert C. Hill translator.