He, then, who has first moderated his passions and trained himself for impassibility, and developed to the beneficence of gnostic perfection, is here equal to the angels. Luminous already, and like the sun shining in the exercise of beneficence, he speeds by righteous knowledge through the love of God to the sacred abode, like as the apostles. Not that they became apostles through being chosen for some distinguished peculiarity 3379 of nature, since also Judas was chosen along with them. But they were capable of becoming apostles on being chosen by Him who foresees even ultimate issues. Matthias, accordingly, who was not chosen along with them, on showing himself worthy of becoming an apostle, is substituted for Judas.
Those, then, also now, who have exercised themselves in the Lords commandments, and lived perfectly and gnostically according to the Gospel, may be enrolled in the chosen body of the apostles. Such an one is in reality a presbyter of the Church, and a true minister (deacon) of the will of God, if he do and teach what is the Lords; not as being ordained 3380 by men, nor regarded righteous because a presbyter, but enrolled in the presbyterate 3381 because righteous. And although here upon earth he be not honoured with the chief seat, 3382 he will sit down on the four-and-twenty thrones, 3383 judging the people, as John says in the Apocalypse.
For, in truth, the covenant of salvation, reaching down to us from the foundation of the world, through different generations and times, is one, though conceived as different in respect of gift. For it follows that there is one unchangeable gift of salvation given by one God, through one Lord, benefiting in many ways. For which cause the middle wall 3384 which separated the Greek from the Jew is taken away, in order that there might be a peculiar people. And so both meet in the one unity of faith; and the selection out of both is one. And the chosen of the chosen are those who by reason of perfect knowledge are called [as the best] from the p. 505 Church itself, and honoured with the most august glory—the judges and rulers—four-and-twenty (the grace being doubled) equally from Jews and Greeks. Since, according to my opinion, the grades 3385 here in the Church, of bishops, presbyters, deacons, are imitations of the angelic glory, and of that economy which, the Scriptures say, awaits those who, following the footsteps of the apostles, have lived in perfection of righteousness according to the Gospel. For these taken up in the clouds, the apostle 3386 writes, will first minister [as deacons], then be classed in the presbyterate, by promotion in glory (for glory differs 3387 from glory) till they grow into “a perfect man.” 3388
In opposition to the heretical opinion, that those who are saved have an innate original excellence, on account of which they are saved. [Elucidation VIII.]504:3380
Or, “elected”—χειροτονούμενος. Acts xiv. 23, “And when they had ordained (χειροτονήσαντες) them elders in every church.” A different verb (καθίστημι) is used in Tit. i. 5.504:3381
Presbytery or eldership.504:3382
πσωτοκαθεδρία, Mark xii. 39, Luke xx. 46.504:3383
Rev. iv. 4, xi. 16.504:3384
Eph. 2:14, 15, 16, iv. 13.505:3385
προκοπαί. [Book vii. cap. i, infra.]505:3386
1 Thess. iv. 17.505:3387
1 Cor. xv. 41.505:3388
Eph. iv. 13.