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unruly. For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not self-willed, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre." Language could not be plainer. Paul left Titus in Crete to ordain elders in every city. He says, “If any be blameless,'' “for a bishop must be blameless.” When Paul sent to Ephesus, he did not call the bishop and his presbytery, but simply called “the elders of the church” (Acts 20:17). All the ministers in that assembly were simply elders, made overseers by the Holy Ghost (Acts 20:28). When the apostles set churches in order, they did not ordain one bishop, and his presbytery, but simply “ordained elders in every church” (Acts 14:23). Paul did not instruct Titus to ordain one bishop and a presbytery of elders for his sanhedrin in every city in Crete, but left him to simply “ordain elders in every city.”

At Philippi there was no such thing as a single bishop, and a lower class called elders, and a still lower class called deacons; but there were only two classes of officers-bishops and deacons (Phil. 1:1). Did the church at Antioch send Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem to consult the bishop, the apostles, and the elders about circumcision? No; they simply sent them "to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question” (Acts 15:2). Nothing is said of the bishop. When they reached Jerusalem, “they were received of the church and of the apostles and elders" (verse 4). The bishop was left out. Why? They did not have such a high officer over them. That church was pure from the mystery of iniquity. “But," says one, “James was a bishop." James was an apostle (Gal. 1:19); bence he was no more a bishop than was Peter or any other of the apostles. Who came together to consider the matter? The bishop (James), the apostles, and the elders? No; it does not read that way. “And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter." Acts 15: 6. No mention is made of a bishop presiding in this apostolic assembly. Only apostles and elders are mentioned. As before proved, all the apostles were bishops, and all the elders were bishops. The apostles were the traveling elders or bishops, while the others were the local elders or bishops. Peter and James spoke in this assembly, as they were looked upon by the church as "pillars" (Gal. 2:9). But James was only an apostle or elder in the church at Jerusalem. He probably was a senior elder, as is inferred from Acts 21:18.

“But,” says one, “was not the angel of the church at Ephesus, a bishop over the rest?” (Rev. 2:1.) No; for had they had an officer above the common elders, called the bishop, when Paul called them together, as recorded in Acts 20:17 he would have mentioned the bishop. But he simply called “the elders.” They were all elders-overseers. No doubt there was, however, one who was a senior elder, or one among the elders who especially ministered the Word and took the special care of the church upon himself or herself. There was not a bishop above the rest, for they were all on the same level-all elders (Acts 20:17, 28). This humble equality of the early ministry lasted but a very short time.

The Great Apostasy Foretold.

The clear morning glory of the church did not last long. It was foreseen that a great apostasy would come. The early ministers went forth with the knowledge that a long dark night of superstition, error, and persecution lay before them.

Jesus foretold this reign of deception and warned the church. “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits.” Matt. 7:15, 16. “For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ, and shall deceive many." Matt. 24:5. As you see, this reign of deception was not to be merely local but universal. “Many false prophets shall arise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.” Matt. 24: 11, 12. “If it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect." Verse 24.

Paul gave to the church the following warning and prediction of this great apostasy: “For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock: also of your own selves shall men arise speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.” Acts 20: 29-31. “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter days some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth." 1 Tim. 4: 1-3. “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” 2 Tim. 4:3, 4.

Peter foretold this time in the following language: “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift

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