A. B. (Alonzo Bowen) Chapin.

A view of the organization and order of the primitive church: containing a Scriptural plan of the Apostolic church; with a historical outline of the church to the end of the second century: to which is added, the Apostolic succession, connecting it with the church of the present day online

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Online LibraryA. B. (Alonzo Bowen) ChapinA view of the organization and order of the primitive church: containing a Scriptural plan of the Apostolic church; with a historical outline of the church to the end of the second century: to which is added, the Apostolic succession, connecting it with the church of the present day → online text (page 15 of 32)
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tiquity, as all who speak of Epaphroditus, call him the Apos-
tle of the Church in Philippi. Thus Jerome says : " In^pro-
eess of time, others were ordcnned Apastl^s^ by those whom
our Lord hath choseo, as that passage in Philip[Hans. showa,
^ I supposed it necessary to send unto you Epi^hrpditus, jrour
Apostle.' 'IF And Theodbret aays : " Epaphroditus is called
the Apostle of the Philippi^ns, because he was their Bish<^"?*

We may say, therefore, concerning the Apostleahip, of
Epaphroditus :

1. The Scriptural use of the word Apostle^ sustains it ;

2. The language of the nsurrative sustains it ;

3. The testimony of the Fathers sustains it ;

While opposed to it, we haye only a ww, i£ net an unau^
thorized version, made by men who had an interest to disfurove
it. We leave our readers to judge where the truth lies.

♦ Martyr. Tgn. c 4, f^f^- Ep. Eph. c. 1.

if Ep. Mag. c. 2. § Ep. TraH. c. 1.

llSee OD this practice. Col. iv. 12» 13; 2 Tim. i. 15, 16, 17, and Hug's
iDtcl. N. T. Par. ii. c 2» § 12g.
irCom.Gal.i,l». . *♦ Own. PWl. ii. 23 .


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Th«»re k no zeofhQfifiy&vdoKdit^ tiberefore, that TjiraQthy^
TiNw, and Epapbr^itua, are «cUialfy called Apostles in the
New Testament. But it is soii^etinies answered to ^is^*
that " The i»isTiNCTtv£^ cqaractsristic of the Apostleship
was 4o g0 forth and testify as eye witneMses^ among all nations,
to tbe great facts xionnected with the history of Jbsus Christ,
especially to the fact of his resurrectitm from the^ dead.
TAey mmst ha»e seen him oMve igfter his crucifixion. A small
number of comjpetent witnesses, originally twelve, were ap-
pmnted for this purpose.'-

I^ence it it said, th«re oould be no-Ai>08tles but the twelve.
ThiSvArgnmeniis based iqK>n the language of Christ, (Luke
xxiv. 48,) " Ye are u>^esses of these things ;" Ihe lan-
guage of Peter, (Acts ii. 3a j-r. 22^) " We are witnesses ;"
(x. 40,41,) " Was showed openly to c^sen witnesses ;" and
on the language made use of at the election of Matthias, and
^e accpunt given by Paul of his convwsion. (Acts xxii. 14,
15 ; xxvi. 16 ; 1 Cor. ix. 12 ; xv. 8.) From this it has been
inferred by some, that, " to have seen the Lord Jesus, was
9A indispensable requisite of the Apostleship. Each of these
passages we shdl examine by itself.

The first passage, usu^y cited in support of the preceding
suj^iositiioa, is Luke xxiv. 48 : *' Ye ara witnesses d* these
things." The '* things" of which the persons to whom this
language was addressed, were to be witnesses, is agreed to
have been " the death and resurrection of Chaist," smd this^
it is said, " was the object of the special aj^inHnenf* of the
tw^ve. Now the wh<^ force of this lurgument depends
upon die truth of two assumed facts; (l^ that this language
was addressed directly to the eleven, and to them on/y, for if

* This point was discussed at length hf Bishop H. U. Onderdonk, of
PendsylTania, and Rev. Albert Bftraes, of Philadelphia, and the language
of <* the olbijeetor" under this head, is cppi^ from Mr. Barnes.


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k was addressed to o^rs than tiie eleren, ^es they too were
to be '^ witnesses^' of tke same things ; and if others beside
ike eleven were to be " wittiesses,'^ then the wttmessing was
not a ^^peculiarity of the AposU^ic<^ce ;" and, (2^) that ^lis
was a peculiarity of the office, for it would: by €H> means -fol-
low, that this was a characteristic of that office, if there were
no other witnesses.

We are surprised ths^ no attempt has been made to prove
the truth of that most material point of the first of the above
positions, and more surprised, that no one has even averred its
truth. In a civil court, such a declaration would not entitle a
man even to a hearing of his case, for it does not appear
without that, that there is ai\y case to be heard.

But though no one has attempted to show that this language
was not ^)oken to others beside the eleven, we will show that
it was spoken to others, and hence, that this point was not *' a
peculiarity of the Apostolic office," or that there were more
than eleven Apostles.

*" And they [the two disciples which had been to Em-
maus] rose up the same hour, and returned to Jerusalem, and
found the eleven and they that were with them, gathered tot
gether, saying, ... And as they spake, Jesus himself stood
in the midst of them and said unto them — ... It behooved
Christ to suffer, and to rise again the third day ; and that re-
pentance and remission of sins should be preeu^hed in his
name, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these
things." (Luke xxiv. 33 — 48.)

The whole of this transaction, according to St. Liike, took
place at the same time, and hence all to whom this language
was spoken, were equally witnesses of the same Uiings.
Now the persons present were, the two disciples who re-
turned from Emmaus, and who could npt have been of the
eleven, as "tbey fot^id the eleven gathered together, with
those [persons] who w^e with [that is, who consorted or as-


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Bociated wiih] &« Aposdea*" This^ asscnridy was therefore
eomposed of the Wethr^n generally-, aad the declaration, ^' ye
are wknesses," applied equally to all ; hence edil the brethren
present were made Apostlei, or, the witnessing was not " a
peculiarity of the Apostolic office."

We can n6t but. express our surprise that men of intelU*
gence should insist upon such a suppositic
the reading of ten verses in connection w
thrown, and not oidy this, but timirthey shoi
took things so vitally important to the truth
sions ; and also at the very strange, if not a
which this hypothesis places the sacred
all. of the Evangelists have given us an ac
things contained in the Apostolic commissio
jectors consider of minor importance, while
not one of the twelve, is the only one. who hi
notice of that which our opponents profess
only essential thing in that commission. It is indeed passing
strange, if the hypothesis under consideration be the true one,
that neither Matthew nor John, who were of the twelve, have
aUuded to that which is said to be the main object and design
of their appointment; Siurely they must have known the
facts, and it is fair to presume, that if they had considered
this point of as much consequence as some moderns would be
glad to make it, they would at least have mentioned it.

The next passage cited is Acts i. 21, 22, which gives an
account of the election of Matthias, when Peter said, " one
must be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection."
On this we need only remark, that as there is nothing here
which declares this to be the only- object of the election of
Matthias, the conclusion attempted to be drawn, does not
follow. Besides, St. Luke, who wrote this account, can not
be understood as saying ^at none but the Apostles were to be
witnesses, as we have seen the last chapter of his own gos-
pel informs us that the fact was not so.


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The nest passage cked^ is Acts il. 32 : ''This Jesus ha&
God. raised tip, wkereof we are ALL witnesses * Now it h
inponant for those who set tip the claiim we are considering,
to show who were intended by ^ we all," as it is essential to
their argument that it shoiM include the twelve, and no more
and no less. But this they can not do, as will be seen from
the following considerations. It is saM, Acts ii. I, that ** they
[the Christians] were (dl with one accord, in one place."
And after the news of the miracle which had been wrought
had gone abroad, a multitude of people came together, and
when they had thus assemUed, " Peter stood up with the
eleven and said." (ii. 14.) Now if Peter, when thus situa-
ted, had said, as is represented, '^ ise are witnesses," and said
nothing more, it would only include the eleven, and hence
Matthias would not be included, as it is not said that he was
there ; but when he uses the strong language, " we are all
witnesses," it is evident that he intended to include all " the
brethren" present.

Next, Acts V. 32 : "And we are his witnesses." If Peter,
when saying that the Apostles were " his witnesses," had in-
tended to say that they were " his only witnesses," it is mat-
ter of surprise that he did not give some intimation of the

Again, Acts x. 39—41 : " And toe are vntnesses of all
things which Jesus did, both in the knd of the Jews, and in
Jerusalem, whom they slew and hanged on a tree ; Him God
raised up and showed openly ; not to all the people, but unto
witn^ses chosen before of God— to us who did eat and drink
with him after he rose from the dead." In regard to this pas-
sage, two things deserve consideration. First, who was in-
teoded by " we"^ and " us ?" The narrative gives no account
of any one being present who had seen the Lord, save Peter
himself, and hence, the meaning of these words in the text, is
the same as in this, or any other work of an author, and refers


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siuiply to the speaker himself. Thss secosd point is, who
were the " chosea witnesses" to whom Christ was shown ?
The Apostle tells 4is that " Goo showed him not openly to aU
the people f but to- witnesses chosen before of God.^ Every
per^Qn, therefore^ to whom Christ was shown after his
resurrectioni was a " chosen witness" to his resurrection,
"chosen of God" for this very purpose. It will therefore be
incumbent on the objector to prove^ either iki
seen only by the twelve, or that St Peter wi
else give up this hypothesis in regard to the p<
Apostolic commissiony or else allow that^ere
twelve Apostles. But this can not be done; £
having seen the Saviour after his resurrection
Apostle, the election of Mauhias was unoeeessary, as upon
the principles in question, he was as much an Aposde before,
as after his election.

The foregoing passages, it is claimed by the objector, con-
tain '' cdl that is said in the New Testament of the original
design of the appointment of the Apostolic office." And
surely, our readers will agree with us, that if this be " all of
the peculiarity of the A^stolic office," then there was no pe-
culiarity of tha,t office ; at least, none which can affect the
government of the Church.

AU the other passages referred to, relate to the conversion
of Paul, and the language relied upon is, he wais " ealled to be -
a minister and witness of the things he had seen and heard."
(Acts xxii. 14, 15 ; xxiii. 11 ; xxvi. 16 ; 1 C<Mr; ix. 1, 2 ; xv.
8.) Now the question whether the " wknoesing^ wa» the pe-
culiarity of this Apostle's eommission, depends mainly upon
the fact, whether that was the distinguishing feature of the
Apostolic office,. which we have seen was not the faet. Hence
this could not be the material point in the commission of St.

But because the objectors find no account of an ** Episco-


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pal investoenf of "superiority of ministerial powers and
rights" in what they have been pleased to call " the peculiarity
of their ofjice/' tiiey ask, with an apparent air of triumph,
" why this (Mnissiun ?" It is easy to tell them " why" they
find no such grant of powers ; they have not looked in the
right place ; they have mistaken the record of the appomt*
ment, for the commission itself. They might as well exam-
ine the list of names in the Commissions of the Peace, to
ascertain the authority of the Justices, or the muster roll of a
militia company, to learn the duty of a soldier. .The objec-
tions, therefore, are without force or pertinence.

That the Apostles i^pointed successors to themselves, in
all Churches, is proved by the unanimous voice of all anti-
quity. Thus, Clement of Rome, the disciple^ and associate
of St. Paul, expressly says,* that " they i^ppointed persons
[to the ministerial ofOice] and then gave direction in what
manner, when these should die, other approved men should
succeed in the ministry." And in another place,t he says,
" God hath himself ordained by his supreme will, both where
and hy what persons^oxut offerings and services] are to be per-
formed." The same thing is testified to, by Irenaeus, the dis-
ciple of Polycarp,J and by TertuUian, in the same age.^

Many of the names of the persons so appointed, have been
preserved to the present day. Thus, Hegessipus, who wrote
about 150 or 160, says, that " James received the government
of the Church at Jerusalem, from the Apostles."|| And Cle-
ment of Alexandria, bears witness to the same fact.^ Pol-
YCARP, too, was af^pointed Bishop of Smyrna, by the Apos-
tles.** So LiNTJs was the first Bishop of Rome ;tt Annia-

♦ Ep. Cor. c 44. . f Ep. Cor. c. 4a t Adv. Haer. iii. 3.

$ Praes. Adv. Haer. c. 32. || Com. L. v. in Euseb. Ecc. Hist. ii. 23.
IT Inst. L. vi. in Euseb. Ecc. Hist. i. 1. ** Iren. Adv. Haer. in. 3.

ft Iren. Adv. Haer. iii. 3. Euseb. iii. 2.


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KU8, the ^rst Bishop of AldxandhV^ umI ^todwb^ the &&
Bishop of Anteoch,t

In the age of Ireoeeus and Tertttllian^ this fact was appealed
to, as a test of orthodoxy. Thus TeituUian addresses ike
Heretics^ '* If aey da#e mingle themselves wilh the Ap^*
K^c age, &at thus they may appeal to be haaded down Irom
the Apostles, because they were u^der the Apostks, we may.
^y: Let them show the be^nings of their Churches ; let
Ihem declare the series of their Bishops, so runmug down
from the beginning by successtonsy that the first Bishop mi^
have been one of the Apostles, or Apostolic men who yet
continued with the Apostles^ ^ tbeir author and {Nredecesaor.
For in "this manner the Apostc^cal Churches trace their

And Irenaeus adso says,^ ^* It is vasy^i therefore,, (at all in
the whole Church, if they desire to know what is truth, td
ascertain it, the tradition of the Apostles having been msBAk*^
iested to the whole world. And we are able to eammeraie
those who were appointed by the Apostles, Bishc^ in ijs^
Churches, and tl^ir successors, in a c^tinued coiu^se tot us,
who have taught nothing cyf this, neither have they kxrown
(any thing) of what is idly tsdked of by them, (i. e. herefios.)^
For if the Apostles had known hMden mysteries, which th^
taught secretly to the perfect, separate from the rest, tkey
would most assuredly have taught it to these to whom they
also committed the Chii&chea, For they desdred those le be
very highly perfect and irreproachable in all things, whom
they left their successors — ^giving (to them) &eir own office
of governing ; as great osefiedness would resiidt (t^m ilaeir act
ing correctly ; but the greatest evils from their falling."
2. To the Apostles and those to whom they had conmiitted
-'" - - 1 - ' ..,■,,.-. 1. .■■■ ■

* Euseb. iii. 14. f Euseb iii. 22. J Praes. Adv. Hfer. c. Stt.

SAdv. HsBT. iii. 3.



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apostolic authority, belonged the exclusiTO rigkt of appohitmg
or ordaining Presbyters and Deacons. It is sufficient proof
of this, that there is no mention of an appointment or orf^na-
tion to such an office, by any one but an Apostle ; for it ia
agreed that the Apostolic history and epistles contain allu-
sions to the organization of the Apostolic Church, sufficiency
distinct to enable us to determine what it was. We are not
permitted, therefore, to infer cnr presume any thing in regard to
the organization of that Church, except from statements made
concerning it, .or references to it, contained in the Apostolic
writings. Hence, to assume that the exclusive right of or-
daining Presbyters and Deacons was not vested in the
Apostles, because it is not expressly alledged in Scripture to
be so, is to give up every principle of argument upon which
these inquiries must necessarily proceed. If, then, the Apos-
tles did ordain, they had a right to ordain ; and if no one else
ordained, then no one else had a right to ordain. To take any
other ground, is to deny that we can ascertain from the Bible,
what was the (organization of the Apostolic Church. And if
this be the fact, then there Is no use in inquiring about it. If
then we can prove, that the Apostles, and those up<m whom
they had conferred Apostolic authority, did ordain, we are au-
thorized to say, that they only had the right to ordain ; unless
it can be clearly shown that others also ordained.

That the Apostles did ordain, is conceded by all, and testi-
fied to by the whole body of ancient writers in the primi-
tive Church. Thus we have the record in numerous ordi-
nations by the Apostles, of particular Churches, which will
be considered elsewhere, to which we add a quotation from
Clement, of Alexandria, A. D. 175. He says, after the
death of the Roman Emperor, the Apostle St. John returned
" from the isle of Patmos to Ephesus, He went also to the
neighboring regions of the Ge^itiles ; in some to appoint Bish-
ops, in some to institute entire new Churches, and in oUiers


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to appoint to the mmis^ thosd that were pointed out by die
Holy Ghost."*

In order, however, to place the subject beyond doubt, we
shall briefly consider the various instances in the New Tes-
tament, where an ordination or appointment to such an office is
spoken of. The first account of this kind is that of the seven
Deacons, (Acts vi.,) which has been claimed by those who
deny the official character of the Apostles, as an election by
the people, instead of an Apostolic ordination. But we have
before shown, that the act of the Church was not an election
or an appointment to office, biit a testimony to the character of
those the Apostles were to app<»Ht.t The next case relates
to the " ordination of Presbj^rs in every Church," (Acts xiv.
23 ;) which has al«o been Claimed by the same class of per-
sons, as an election to office by the votes of the members of
the Church ; but which we have shown could not have been
the fact, and that the ooBcttrrence of the brethren, if any, con-
sisted only in bearing testimony to the unblemished and Christ-
ian character of those the Apostles were about to ordain.:^

The next case claimed as an ordination by others than Apos-
tles, is that of Timothy ; and the proof cited is the language
of Paul, (1 Tim^ iv. 14,) "Neglect not the gift which was
given thee by prophecy, wUh the laying en of the hands of the
Preebptery" In connection with this, however, we must c<hi-
•ider what the same Apostle says to the same person, (2 Tim.
i. 6») " Wherefore I put thee in remembrance, that thou stir
up the giji of God which is in thee, by the putting on of mt
hands J^ Now these are distinct, independent statements of a
matter of fact, and are both universally admitted to have ref-
erence to an ordination. Hence, then, ei&er Timothy was
ordained, first, by the Presbytery, and subsequently by an Aposo
tie, or else both refer to the same ordination. But the most

* Quit Dives Sahr. in Eusb. iii. 23. f Ante. p. 144. t Ante. p. 157,


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gtreiraous of^pone^ts of tb« exeiosivo rigbt of the Aposdes to
ordain, do not contend for two ordinations, but ali agree in re*
ferring both to 4lie aame iransaetion. To refer this to ttvo
traiftsactlonB, woidd be to make two ordinatioss ; one by tke
Presbytery, and a subsequent one by St. Paul, which would
lead us to suspect that the first was insufficient. We must
^lefefore put such a oonstniction on' both accounts, as wfll
niake diem harmonize. Putthig the independent parts of the
two passages together, and it will read thus : " Neglect not
the gift of God which is in thee, by the putting en of my
hands, with the laying on of the hands of the Pre8b3rtery."
Nothing ccufi be plainer than this. The wdination was bt
an Apostle, fjoith the concurrence of the Presbytery. And
yet, {^ain as it af^pears, a thousand shifts have been made, a
thousand subterfuges l«kid hold of, in order to evade the force
of this most evident conclusioui This fact must be our apol-
ogy fbp devoting more time taa co n a id er a t ic wa of these paesc^
ges, than otherwise would be necessary.

In 2 Tim. (i. 6,) the gift is ^id to have been given (dia) by
die putting on of my hands, and in 1 Tim. (iv. 14,) {metaj)
with the laying on of the hands of the Presbytery. The force
of the language here used, depends much on the signification
of dia and meta, by and withy and mueh time and labor has
been expended to show that both were the same thing ; that
the Apostle merely used by, for the sake of euphony. This
notkm, however, is as fallacious as it is contrary to the evi-
dent language of Scripture.

Dia, says Pwrf. Robinson,*^ " is a prepositi<m with the pri-
mary signification, through, throughout, governing the genitive
and accusative ; with the genitive (as in this case) through.
When the instrument or immediate cause, that which inter-
yenes between the act of the will and the effect, through

♦ P. 178.


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liducli ^ efbei fMTOoeddfl, is spfobea of^ tkrmighj by mmtm tf;
and yfhm ^ipi^aA. to persoas tiirdugh wbose kands any tbmg^
as it were, p^ses ^ough, or fcy whose agency or raiai^ry
im effect takes j^ace or is produced, denotes $k0 tficienfetmse,^
** ^ tlie laying^ on of PaulW Imads," denotes, th^efiMre, that
the ^giftof Gob" passed t^Bugh Paul, and was conveyed to
Timothy, by the imposition of the Apostle's hands, Ae-being
*' the efficient cause, by wiiose agency the effect was pvo^

MetayS^9 ^^ToL Robinson,* 'Ms a preposition governing
th^ genitive and acousaCtre ; in poets also ^le da^e, with the
pdmary signification, mid, a$md, i. e. m ^ mdstj wiih, among
implying accompaniment, and thus differing fsom stme, which
expresses coi^unction, union. W^h the genitive (as is this
case) implies, compaaionshtp, fellowship; signifying wUh,
i e. togttker mth, and with the genitive of a thing, desig-
nates the state or emotion <^ mind which accompanies the
doing of any thing, with which one acts ; or, (as here,) desig-
nates an extemed action, ciremnstance, or condition with
which another action or event is accompanied/' The ordi*
nation of Timothy was, therefoia, by Panl, wUh the concur-
rence of the Presb3rtery. And ^us oonenrrence was, no
doubt, manifested in the same manner as the concurrence of
the people, in the s^ectionof Deacons. Suoh a concurrence
couki not have been necessary f(nr the Apostle, suod conse-
quently must have been designed as a precedent to j^de the
Church in after ages.

We have pursued this question thus far, as ^ough the
meaning of Presbytery had been settled, and that it signified
a council composed solely of ^e order of ministers in the
Apostc^c Church, called Presbyters. This however has not

♦P. 509*


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been shown, nor can it be p^coved. The word iVwiti^efw ,
(Presb3rtery,) is used in Lake, (xxii. 66,) to denote the eiders
of the people, or eouneil before which Jbsus was arraigned'
and in Acts, (xxii. 5,) to signify the estate of the elders, or the
council befc»:e which Panl was arraigned^ and in 1 Tim. (iv. 14,)
to signify the body, (if any,) that concwred with Paul in the
ordination of Timo^y. Now as Presbytery literally signifies
a eoundl of elders,* and as we have seen that a name does
not determine the nature of an office in the Church, and as
this is the only place in the New Testament where this wbrd
is used in this sense, we are not auUiorized to infer tl^ na-
ture of this body from the name by which it is called. There
are various ways in which this body might have been made
up, entirely consistent with the meaning of the word, whether
it is determined by Scripture or other authority. (1,) Itmi^
have been composed of Aposdes alone ; (2,) of Presbyters
alone; (3,) of Aposdes and Presbyters togeAer; or (4) of
Apostles, PresbytOTs, and peojde. Amid such uncertainty, it
is altogether illogical, as well as unauthoriaed, to assume that
the second of these meanings is the true one, and to make
that the foundation of an argument, whereon to rest the author*
ity of the ministry in any Church, as those who assert the
authority of ordination by Presbyters are obliged to do.

But further, if Presbytery here denotes an ecclesiastical
council, the a<hnitted uniformity of the Apostolic Cburehes

Online LibraryA. B. (Alonzo Bowen) ChapinA view of the organization and order of the primitive church: containing a Scriptural plan of the Apostolic church; with a historical outline of the church to the end of the second century: to which is added, the Apostolic succession, connecting it with the church of the present day → online text (page 15 of 32)