Our apostles also knew, through our Lord Jesus Christ, and there would be strife on account of the office 189 of the episcopate. For this reason, therefore, inasmuch as they had obtained a perfect fore-knowledge of this, they appointed those [ministers] already mentioned, and afterwards gave instructions, 190 that when these should fall asleep, other approved men should succeed them in their ministry. We are of opinion, therefore, that those appointed by them, 191 or afterwards by other eminent men, with the consent of the whole Church, and who have blamelessly served the flock of Christ in a humble, peaceable, and disinterested spirit, and have for a long time possessed the good opinion of all, cannot be justly dismissed from the ministry. For our sin will not be small, if we eject from the episcopate 192 those who have blamelessly and holily fulfilled its duties. 193 Blessed are those presbyters who, having finished their course before now, have obtained a fruitful and perfect departure [from this world]; for they have no fear lest any one deprive them of the place now appointed them. But we see that ye have removed some men of excellent behaviour from the ministry, which they fulfilled blamelessly and with honour.
The meaning of this passage is much controverted. Some render, “left a list of other approved persons;” while others translate the unusual word ἐπινομή, which causes the difficulty, by “testamentary direction,” and many others deem the text corrupt. We have given what seems the simplest version of the text as it stands. [Comp. the versions of Wake, Chevallier, and others.]17:191 17:192 17:193