Understanding Archiepiscopal and Episcopal Grades by Archbishop Mar Derrick L. Young D.D., D.Min.
Over the years, I have observed men and women of God in the Episcopacy, who clearly did not understand the different Episcopal Grade. I was led by the Lord to make up this teaching instruction on the Archiepiscopal and Episcopal Grades a few years ago. I pray that this instruction will help bring a better understanding to the men and women of God that serve as an Episcopate in the Lord Church. Also feel free to leave a comment on this blog. God bless you!
I. Define Apostolic Succession– In Christian theology, the doctrine asserting that the chosen successors of the apostles enjoyed through God’s grace the same authority, power, and responsibility as was conferred upon the apostles by Jesus. Therefore present-day bishops, as the successors of previous bishops, going back to the apostles, have this power by virtue of this unbroken chain. This succession gives bishops special powers, including the right to confirm church members, ordain priests, consecrate bishops, and rule over the clergy and church members of a diocese. Clement, bishop of Rome stated the doctrine as early as AD 95.
II. When was this God given Office established? The Office of Bishops was established by the Lord around the year 64 A.D. Bishop is the English version of the Greek word επισκοπος (episkopos), which means overseer or supervisor. The qualifications for bishops are given in 1Timothy 3. In the first century, the local church was headed by a bishop and the elders served as a board of advisors who also functioned as clergy under the bishop’s direction. By the time of Ignatius at the end of the first century, the Church had grown. By that time, bishops had territorial supervision over several churches, while the presbyters were responsible for pastoral care of individual churches. Ignatius describes a system identical to the modern practice, well in accord with Titus 1:6-9 and the situation in the seven letters in Revelation.
III. How does someone become a Bishop in the Lord’s Church? First of all you can not be a self proclaimed Bishop. A candidate for the Office of Bishop must be elected or appointed by an organization or reformation. Once they are elect or appointed the candidate for the Office of Bishop, they will be given a consecration date. Then they will be properly trained by the Presiding Bishop or Archbishop of their particular reformation or organization. During the consecration service usually the candidate for the Office of Bishop will be consecrated into the office by three or Bishops that have Apostolic Succession. Also they make be appointed by Apostolic Dispensation like Suffragan Bishops.
IV. What the different Episcopal Grades of Bishops.
1) Presiding Bishop– Are the head Bishop over an organization or reformation. They are responsible for all over all care of the members of their organization or reformation. Their Diocese is all of the churches under their care.
2) CoAdjutor Bishop– The word Coadjutor is a Latin word that means co-assistor.
They have immediate rite to succession.
3) Diocesan Bishop (Regional Bishop) – Diocesan Bishops have supervision over a diocese or region. A region consists of several states.
4) Provincial Bishop (State Bishop) – Provincial Bishops are over a geographic province. The province usually consists of a state.
5) Auxiliary Bishop- Auxiliary Bishops will fill in from time to time when there is no Diocesan.
6) Suffragan Bishop- Suffragan Bishops are administrative Bishops that assist the Presiding Bishop or Diocesan with their administrative duties.
7) Titular Bishop- A Titular Bishop is a Bishop with out diocese. This title is normally an honorary title.
8 District Overseer- The District Overseer serves as a liaison between the churches and the Provincial Bishop.
V. What is an Archbishop? An Archbishop is the first or Chief Bishop or a reformation. The word Arch means First or Chief. It is true that metropolitans are mentioned as a well-known institution in the Church by the Council of Nicea (325) in its fourth, fifth and sixth canons, and by the Council of Antioch (341) whose seventh canon is a classical passage in this matter. It reads: “The bishops of every province must be aware that the bishop presiding in the metropolis has charge of the whole province; because all who have business come together from all quarters to the metropolis.
VI. The Different Archiepiscopal Grades
1) Patriarch- A Patriarch is the highest Archbishop. A Patriarch is the founding Father of a Religious Movement. The Patriarch’s jurisdiction is called the patriarchate. His jurisdiction is includes all Archdioceses, Dioceses, and Provinces that are under his spiritual care. A Patriarch’s jurisdiction is unforceable. He is the only person that can give Apostolic Succession to members under his care.
3) Major Archbishop -Major archbishops are the heads of some of the Eastern Catholic Churches. Their authority within their sui juris church is equal to that of a patriarch, but they receive fewer ceremonial honors.
4) Metropolitan Archbishop A Metropolitan Archbishop is an archbishop in charge of an ecclesiastical province, or group of dioceses, and in addition to having immediate jurisdiction over his own archdiocese, also exercises some oversight over the other dioceses within that province. Sometimes a metropolitan may also be the head of an autocephalous, sui juris, or autonomous church when the number of adherents of that tradition are small. In the Latin Rite, metropolitans are always archbishops; in many Eastern churches, the title is “metropolitan,” with some of these churches using “archbishop” as a separate office.
5) Titular Archbishop- A Titular Archbishop is a Archbishop with out Archdiocese. This title is normally an honorary title. Titular Archbishops primary serve as advisors to the Patriarch.
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