Bishop

A bishop (English derivation from the New Testament Greek ἐπίσκοπος, epískopos, "overseer", "guardian") is an ordained or consecrated member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic Church, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Anglican, Old Catholic, Independent Catholic Churches, and in the Assyrian Church of the East, bishops claim apostolic succession, a direct historical lineage dating back to the original Twelve Apostles. Within these churches, bishops are seen as those who posess the full priesthood and can ordain clergy including other bishops. 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. It is the one ordained deacon, priest and then bishop who is understood to hold the fullness of the (ministerial) priesthood, given responsibility by Christ to govern, teach and sanctify the Body of Christ, members of the Faithful. Priests, deacons, and lay ministers cooperate and assist their bishop(s) in shepherding a flock.

The term epískopos was not from the earliest times clearly distinguished from the term presbýteros ("elder", "senior", nowadays used to signify a priest), but the term was already clearly used in the sense of the order or office of bishop, distinct from that of priest in the writings of Ignatius of Antioch (died c. 108), and sources from the middle of the 2nd century undoubtedly set forth that all the chief centres of Christianity recognized and had the office of bishop, using a form of organization that remained universal until the Protestant Reformation. During the early centuries of Christianity the title "pope" was applied generally to all bishops; it now has more specific meanings that vary between churches.

Read more about Bishop:  History, Bishops and Civil Government, Dress and Insignia

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