On the Functions of the Priesthood

St. Macarius of Jerusalem died ca. 335

And how are the (hierarchical) orders of the holy Church regulated?

Let overseers at established posts be given authority to guide into goodness those for whose supervision they have been called. And let those receiving (guidance) from them be not puffed up with haughtiness, holding themselves to be wise while lapsing into foolishness, lapsing into wickedness. For although the spiritual gifts are commonly given to believers, still, they are not all of equal honor. And although the Infinite made Himself little, yet He lost not the glory of the Deity thereby; and (although) the Giver of Life manifested Himself to all the Apostles after His resurrection, yet some He ranks above the rest. And the same principle has been established among us. Accordingly, Paul does not allow (us) to climb over one another, saying: “Let each one to whatever calling he was called, abide in the same” (I Cor 7:20).

And how is each to be commanded to be content with his assigned rank?

Now, in meeting together with the clergy, we bishops and priests and deacons, I, Macarius, Archbishop of the holy city Jerusalem, hand down to you these regulations that have been learned from the accounts of the Apostles and firmly established for us through the tradition of the Fathers, namely, as we said above, the laying on of hands in the holy baptism is for bishops and priests alone to administer, and the chief-bishop (alone) shall bless the oil of holiness. But by reason of distance and weighty circumstances, at the command of the archbishop, two or three bishops may meet together (to bless it). As for deacons, they are attendants to the Sacrament. And the oil of anointing for the dead and the sick and for those to be baptized, the priests and the bishops shall individually bless. This our holy Fathers ruled, and let no one decree to change the rule rightly laid down, lest the binding of their anathemas be upon him, which shall be determined by God. (Canonical Letter to the Armenians)