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Within these churches, bishops are seen as those who possess the full priesthood and can ordain clergy – including another bishop.Some Protestant churches including the Lutheran and Methodist churches have bishops serving similar functions as well, though not always understood to be within apostolic succession in the same way.Eventually, as Christendom grew, bishops no longer directly served individual congregations.Instead, the Metropolitan bishop (the bishop in a large city) appointed priests to minister each congregation, acting as the bishop's delegate.In Timothy and Titus in the New Testament a more clearly defined episcopate can be seen.We are told that Paul had left Timothy in Ephesus and Titus in Crete to oversee the local church (1Tim 1:3 and Titus 1:5).Other contemporary Christian writers do not describe monarchial bishops, either continuing to equate them with the presbyters or speaking of episkopoi (bishops, plural) in a city."Plainly therefore we ought to regard the bishop as the Lord Himself" — Epistle of Ignatius to the Ephesians 6:1.
In (Acts and Acts ), we see a collegiate system of government in Jerusalem chaired by James the Just, according to tradition the first bishop of the city.The efficient organization of the Roman Empire became the template for the organisation of the church in the 4th century, particularly after Constantine's Edict of Milan.As the church moved from the shadows of privacy into the public forum it acquired land for churches, burials and clergy.Around the end of the 1st century, the church's organization became clearer in historical documents.
In the works of the Apostolic Fathers, and Ignatius of Antioch in particular, the role of the episkopos, or bishop, became more important or, rather, already was very important and being clearly defined.While Ignatius of Antioch offers the earliest clear description of monarchial bishops (a single bishop over all house churches in a city) he is an advocate of monepiscopal structure rather than describing an accepted reality.