On Tradition and the Hierarchy

St. Sophronius of Jerusalem ca. 560-638

An apostolic and ancient tradition has prevailed in the holy churches of God throughout the whole world, whereby those acceding to the hierarchy frankly refer in all respects to those who have administered the high-priesthood before them, as to how they should think and maintain faith which the most wise Paul has handed on to them with the utmost safeguards, lest they run their course in vain (Gal. 2:2), for their entire course becomes vain if the faith is harmed in any respect. For that prophetic man, who listened to God’s utterances and had heaven itself as his school, and became a beholder of Paradise before his time, and heard things that should not be told (2 Cor. 12:4) to other human beings, was in dread and trepidation, and, as he says himself, was thoroughly afraid lest, after announcing to others the saving message of Christ, he himself should be disqualified (1 Cor. 9:27). Hence Christ’s heavenly disciple also went up to Jerusalem and submitted himself to the divine disciples who were before him, and made known the Gospel teaching which he preached to those who seemed to be superior to others,  and made them party to his doctrine, ensuring a safeguard for himself and those after him who receive his teachings, becoming an excellent model of salvation for all those who wished to follow in his footsteps. (Synodical Letter, 2.6)

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