By Darius Jankiewicz
In the Part I, I explored the origin of the word “ordination” and how its pagan undertones began to influence Christian thinking on ministry during the second century of the Christian era. Most importantly, I noted that already by the second part of the second century it is possible to detect growing clericalization of the Church (i.e., separation between clergy and laity), something not present among the early New Testament Christians. At the same time, the Christian minister became a priest. Ironically, this understanding of Christian ministry arose from a sincere desire to protect the church from heresies and guard its unity. In the end, notes historian Pierre Gy, Christian pastors assumed the role of the ancient Roman ordo senatorum. Other developments followed during the third century.
Hippolytus (ca. 170‒ca. 235 AD) and Apostolic Tradition
While no Christian thinker from the first or second century mentions the ministerial laying-on-of-hands ceremony, it is reasonable to assume that Christians practiced the rite during the second century. The first complete description of the Christian ceremony of ordination appears at the beginning of the third century and is found in the Apostolic Tradition, a work attributed to Hippolytus of Rome. In this work, we find a detailed description of early Christian ordinations, complete with a detailed theology of ministry and the liturgy to be followed in the ordination service.
All three orders of ministry— bishop, elder, and deacon—had their own ordination services through the laying-on-of-hands and a separate set of prayers; each order of ministry now required a higher order to place hands upon the lower order. This is probably the root of the common Christian practice, both Catholic and Protestant, of only ordained clergy ordaining candidates for ministry