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Cyprian strengthened the authority of the bishop in the administration of the forgiveness of sins because, on account of the controversy over the reconciliation of the lapsed lapsi, he attributed the full power over penance only to the bishop and did not accept the idea that the confessors of the faith appropriated this ability with their letters of peace. Cyprian discerned the foundation of the bishop’s authority, the primary guarantor of ecclesiastical unity, in the promise made by Christ to Peter Ep. 3,1 and 66,8 Hartel and in Christ’s conferring of authority to the apostles Ep. 69,11; 73,7; 75,16 Hartel. The Didascalia, returning to Ignatius of Antioch, bears witness to the heavy influence of the OT in its portrayal of the bishop, who must be honored as if he were God Didasc. 2,20,1, because he occupies his place Didasc. 2,28,9; according to the Didascalia, the episcopal offices were liturgical, disciplinary-penitential and magisterial.

The establishment of the episcopal office under the form of the monepiscopacy, just as its theological foundation and its institutional strengthening, should be considered as one of the most important events of the postapostolic development of the church. The episcopal office established its theological foundation, as one can gather from the literary sources of the 1st, 2nd and 3rd c., on various principles: 1 the principle of succession, because the bishop is considered to be a successor of the apostles, who in turn were instituted by Jesus Christ or by God; 2 the principle of the image, because the bishop is considered to be the image of God, inasmuch as he serves the community in God’s place, or rather as an earthly priest who works as the image of the heavenly high priest Jesus Christ; and 3 the assumption of governing functions as a priest, pastor, teacher, judge in potential questions and director or administrator of charitable works. With respect to the appointment of bishops, the bishop was elected by the community Trad. ap. 2 and subsequently ordained by other bishops through the laying on of hands, or the ceirotoni,a, and the prayer of consecration Trad. ap. 3. At the end of the 2nd c. the custom developed of gathering either local or regional episcopal syndods, something which contributed to the growth of the koinwni,a Lat. communio between the bishops and the local churches. The bishops in the imperial church.

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