Presbyters Uniwersytet Warszawski
ER 1828
Pope Celestine I denounces the presbyters who oppose their bishops and question the doctrine of Augustine concerning the grace. Letter 21 of Pope Celestine I, "Apostolici verba", Rome, AD 431.
Letter 21
I,2. Filii nostri praesentes Prosper et Hilarius, quorum circa Deum nostrum sollicitudo laudanda est, tantum nescio quibus presbyteris illic licere qui dissensioni Ecclesiarum studeant, sunt apud nos prosecuti, ut indisciplinatas quaestiones vocantes in medium, pertinaciter eos dicant praedicare adversantia veritati. Sed vestrae dilectioni iustius imputamus, quando illi supra vos habent copiam disputandi. Legimus supra magistrum non esse discipulum, hoc est, non sibi debere quem quam in iniuriam doctorum vindicare doctrinam. Nam et hos ipsos a Deo nostro positos novimus ad docendum; cum sit, dicente Apostolo, eis tertius locus intra Ecclesiam deputandus. Quid illic spei est, ubi, magistris tacentibus, ii loquuntur qui, si ita est, eorum discipuli non fuerunt? [...]
Non sit his liberum habere pro voluntate sermonem. [...]
Sciant se, si tamen censentur presbyteri, dignitate vobis esse subjectos. Sciant quod sibi omnes qui male docent, discere magis ac magis competat quam docere. Nam quid in ecclesiis vos agitis, si illi summam teneant praedicandi? [...]
(ed. Coustant 1846: 528-529)
Letter 21
I,2.  Our brothers Prosper and Hilarius, whose solicitude towards our God is praiseworthy, came to us because of certain presbyters from their region who strive for conflicts in the Church and preach what is against the truth. We are right, however, to ask Your Charity, "When do they happen to have opportunity to discuss it above your heads?" We read that the disciple should not be above the teacher [cf Luke 6:40], that is he should not claim the doctrine for himself with the disrespect of the doctors. We know that they, too, were appointed by our God to teach, but, as the Apostle said, in the third place in the Church [1 Cor 12:28]. What hope can be left if (provided it is true) the teachers are silent and those who had not been their disciples are speaking? [...]
Let them not have free right to preach as they wish.[...]
Let them know that even if they are considered to be presbyters, they are subject to you in dignity. Let them know that those who teach badly should rather learn more and more, and not teach. But what are you doing in the Churches, if they arrive at preaching?
(trans. S. Adamiak)


The letter was addressed to the bishops of Gaul. It is an answer to the pleas of Bishops Prosper and Hilarius, who were asked by Presbyters Theodore and Camillus about the Augustinian doctrine of grace and predestination. Prosper answered them separately ("Pro Augustino responsiones ad excerpta Genuensium").
Celestine's letter defends the doctrine of Augustine and rebukes the Gaulish bishops for allowing presbyters too much freedom in preaching.
It is interesting to see the parallel made by the pope between the presbyters and the "doctors" from 1 Cor 12, the third of the groups of the Church ministers mentioned by St Paul in the passage (after the apostles and prophets).

Place of event:

  • Rome
  • Gaul

About the source:

Author: Celestine I
Title: Letters, Epistulae
Origin: Rome (Rome)
Denomination: Catholic/Nicene/Chalcedonian
Celestine I was the bishop of Rome between AD 422 and 432.
P. Coustant ed., S. Coelestini I Papae Epistolae et Decreta, Patrologia Latina 50, Paris 1846, 417-558.
A.Y. Hwang, "Pauci pefectae gratiae intrepidi amatores: The Augustinians in Marseilles”, [in :] Grace for Grace: The Debates after Augustine and Pelagius, ed. B. Matz, A. Casiday, Washington, D.C 2014, 35–50.


Described by a title - Presbyter/πρεσβύτερος
    Relation with - Bishop/Monastic superior
      Described by a title - Doctor
        Equal prerogatives of presbyters and bishops
          Education - Theological interest
          Pastoral activity - Preaching
            Please quote this record referring to its author, database name, number, and, if possible, stable URL: S. Adamiak, Presbyters in the Late Antique West, ER1828,