ORTHODOX OFFICE OF THE EPISKOPOS

My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,

CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.

ORTHODOX OFFICE OF THE EPISKOPOS ("OVERSEER")

Qualifications for Bishops (1 Timothy 3:1-7)

This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop,
he desires a good work.
A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate,
sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach, not given to
wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not
covetous; one who rules his own house well, having his children in
submission with all reverence (for if a man does not know how to rule his
own house, how will he take care of the church of God?); not a novice, lest
being puffed up with pride he falls into the same condemnation as the devil.
Moreover, he must have a good testimony among those who are outside,
lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil."

[see Titus 1:6-9 Ordination of Sound Elders)

"A Bishop must be ordained ("consecrated") by two or three other Bishops."

All Orthodox Christians comprise a single flock of God and all are equal before the judgment of God. However, just as parts of the body have different functions in the life of the organism, so also in the Church there exist different ministries. "For as we have many members in one body, but ALL THE MEMBERS DO NOT HAVE THE SAME FUNCTION" (Romans 12:4).

The hierarchy was established by Our Lord Jesus Christ, "He gave some, apostles and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some pastors and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the Body of Christ; till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" (Ephesians 4:11-13).

The Holy Apostles by a special rite that the Apostle Matthias was joined to the ranks of the Twelve in place of Judas who had betrayed the Lord. This rite was the choosing of worthy persons, followed by prayer and THE DRAWING OF LOTS. The Greek word, "κλήρωσις," means drawing lots and therefore the word for clergy comes from the Greek word κλήρος (cleros). The Holy Apostles themselves chose SUCCESSORS ("Apostolic Succession") for themselves through ORDINATION. These successors were the bishops.

The Holy Apostle Paul says, "Neglect not the gift that is in you, which was given by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery" (1 Timothy 4:15). And in 2 Timothy 1:6, he writes, "Therefore I remind you, to stir up the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of my hands." To the Holy Apostles Timothy and Titus, Bishops of Ephesus and Crete is given the right to ordaine presbyters, "For this reason, I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking and appoint elders (presbyters) in every city as I commanded you" (Titus 1:5).

The bishop is primarily the guardian of the faith and, as such, the center of the Mysteriaki Zoe (Sacramental life) of the community. Our Holy Orthodox Church remains steadfast in the doctrine of Apostolic succession. In other words, the diakonia of the bishop must be direct continuity with the Holy Apostles. A bishop cannot be consecrated or exercise his ministry without being in unity with his brothrers in Christ, i.e., being a member of an episcopal council or synod.

The bishop presides in all the divine services, especially in the Divine Liturgy. The omophorion-the episcopal stole that represents THE LOST SHEEP carried: "Rejoice with Me, for I have found My sheep which was lost" (St. Luke 15:6). The crown, a late accretion but a reference of the Kingship of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The saccos, a vestment of the Byzantine Emperors, share first with the Ecumenical Patriarch and then with all bishops to honor their office. The staff, that of a shepherd and the brass serpent that of Moses the Prophet raised in the desert as mentione in the Old Testament Book Numbers 21: 8-9-symbols of healing. "Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Make a serpent for yourself and put it on a signal pole; and it shall be, if a serpent should bite someone, when the one bitten looks at it, he shall live.’ So Moses made a copper serpent and put it on a signal pole; and it happened when a serpent bit anyone and he looked at the copper serpent, he lived." The dikerotrikera-the set of candles in two candle holders which he blesses the faithful symbolize the Holy Trinity and the Two Natures of Jesus Christ, the Divine and human.

The hierarchs of the Church, a living symbol of the High Priest our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, "binds together" the People of God to the Divine, that they may participate fully in "the greatest possible assimilation and union with God..to become like Him."

The Episkopos ("overseer"), who leads the flock of Christ as a shepherd, is in holy imitation of the Good Shepherd Himself Who sacrificed His life for all of our sakes. In imitation of Jesus Christ, the Head of the Church, the bishop leads the faithful "that they may be partakers of the divine nature" (2 Peter 1:4) in the Holy Communion of the Precious and Sacred Body and Blood of Our Savior.

The authentic nature of the hierarchy is described clearly in the Epistles of Saint Paul to Timothy and Titus and therefore there is nothing more to add. One can easily see that the hierarch is meant to be a man filled with love, with dignity, with humility, with deep affection for his spiritual children and fellow clergy, who a "his hands." It is not so much about governance, rule, or authority. All the faithful look up to him always to be their inspiration by his commitment to the Lord God and by his sincere concern and compassion for the many souls entrusted to him by the Savior.

All faithful Orthodox Christians pray for the welfare of their bishop and for a long life. At every Divine Liturgy we pray, "Among the first be mindful, O Lord, of our Archbishop whom do Thou grant to Thy Holy Churches in peace, safety, honor, health and length of days, and rightly preaching of the word of Thy Truth."

___________________

"Glory Be To GOD
For
All Things!"

– Saint John Chrysostomos

+ + +

With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+ Father Geoge

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