TEACHING AUTHORITY IN THE EARLY CHRISTIAN
COMMUNITIES : 2nd. and 3rd. Century AD.
Already within the Pauline community tensions had became apparent
between the Church's leadership and certain charismatic individuals. With
emphasis Paul had once written:"...for God has not called us to be
disorderly, but peaceful" (1 Cor 14:33).
He definitely defended his own teaching authority, and would stand
no opposition to this interpretations. Sharply he says: "even if an
angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel that is different from the
one we preached to you, may he be damned!" (Gal 1:8). Towards the end
of the first century it became more important to reaffirm the need for believers
to maintain fidelity to the teachings of "true teachers" (1 Tim
1:10; 2 Tim 4:3) though the belief was still strong that the end-times were
upon them, and that the imminent return of Jesus necessitated an urgent
and fervent preaching of the Good News (2 Tim 4:2).
As this message was received by more and more people, it became necessary
to structure the community in such a way that the needs of the group could
be satisfactorily met. Various ministries were instituted, with authority
granted, to exercise services of alms-giving and caring for the poor, the
widowed, and the less fortunate. Taking the example that Jesus had given
in his love for the sinner and the poor, the Apostolic fellowship was confronted
by practical issues that demanded leadership and internal re-organization.
The people of God began to have a organic identity: "look at these
Christians; see how they love one another."
After the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., and the dispersal
of the Judeo-Christian Church, the early Christian community began to identify
more and more with the city which witnessed the martyrdom of Peter and Paul:
Rome itself. Ignatius of Antioch at the beginning of the second century
called the Roman Church "the protectors and dispenser of love."
Irenaeus of Lyon (c 115- 202 A.D.) referred to the Roman Church as being
superior and pre-eminent in relation to all other sister Churches (propter
potiorem principalitatem). Cyprian of Carthage (200-258) spoke of a necessary
union of faith with Rome: "To be bound to the Catholic faith, means
to be bound to the Roman bishop".