If this is the case, it is necessary that those who are called together to the conformity of the ecclesiastical creed distinguish themselves from those outside and from those who are inside but wrongly: the heretics. But how can this be done? How can you find out whether a doctrine may or may not be an introduction of barbarian, Greek or Jewish doctrines which do not fit into the conformity of the Church? The answer was: this can be done only by the bishop who is the “overseer” of the congregation, and who represents the Spirit, who is supposed to be in the whole congregation. In the fight against pagans, Jews, barbarians and heretics, the bishops become more and more important. Ignatius writes, in his letter to the Smyrnians: “Where the bishop is, there the congregation should be. Even if assumed prophets appear, they may be wrong or right. But the bishop is right.” The bishops are the r:epresentatives of the true doctrine. The bishops themselves were not originally distinguished from the presbyters (the elders). Then slowly the bishop became a monarch among the elders and a monarchic episcopate developed. This is of course a consistent development. If the authority which guarantees truth is embodied in human beings, then the tendency towards one human being who has the final decision is almost unavoidable.

In Clement of Rome – one of the Apostolic Fathers, to be distinguished from Clement of Alexandria, a few hundred years later..–..we already find the first traces of apostolic succession: the bishop represents the apostles. So this is the first thing we must say: the doctrine of the authorities. And this is fundamental, showing how early the problem of authority was decisive in the early Church; how early what came to full development in the Roman Church developed already in early Christianity.