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The Position Of The Roman Commun





The Roman Church took very early a leading place in the Christian Church,
even before the rise of the Petrine tradition, and its importance was
generally recognized. Its charity was very widely known and extolled. It
was a part of its care for Christians everywhere, a care which found
expression later in the obligation of maintaining the faith in the great
theological controversies. On the position of the Roman Church in this
period, see the address of the Epistle of Ignatius to the Romans (ANF, I,
73), as also the relation of Polycarp to the Roman Church in connection
with the question of the date of Easter (see 38, below).


Dionysius of Corinth, "Epistle to the Roman Church," in Eusebius, Hist.
Ec., IV, 23. (MSG, 20:388.) For text, see Kirch, n. 49 f.


Moreover, there is still current an Epistle of Dionysius to the Romans,
addressed to Soter, bishop at that time. But there is nothing like quoting
its words in which, in approval of the custom of the Romans maintained
until the persecution in our own time, he writes as follows: "For you have
from the beginning this custom of doing good in different ways to all the
brethren, and of sending supplies to many churches in all the cities, in
this way refreshing the poverty of those in need, and helping brethren in
the mines with the supplies which you have sent from the beginning,
maintaining as Romans the customs of the Romans handed down from the
fathers, which your blessed bishop Soter has not only kept up, but also
increased, helping the saints with the abundant supply he sends from time
to time, and with blessed words exhorting, as a loving father his
children, the brethren who come up to the city." In this same epistle he
also mentions the Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians, showing that from
the first it was read by ancient custom before the Church. He says,
therefore: "To-day, then, being the Lord's day we kept holy; in which we
read your letter; for reading it we shall always have admonition, as also
from the former one written to us through Clement." Moreover, the same
writer speaks of his own epistles as having been falsified, as follows:
"For when the brethren asked me to write letters, I wrote them. And these
the apostles of the devil have filled with tares, taking away some things
and adding others. For them there is woe in store. So it is not marvellous
that some have tried to falsify even the dominical scriptures [i.e., the
Holy Scriptures], when they have conspired against writings of another
sort."





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