All Questions
Previous:2.20 What changed with Emperor Constantine?
Next:2.22 What is a Church Council?

2.21 How was the early Church organised?

Romans, Councils, and Church Fathers

In the first century AD, the Apostles and other disciples of Jesus preached his message in many cities in the Middle East and Southern Europe. The first leaders of the local communities were the Apostles. Their successors are the bishops.

The Apostles were assisted by priests and deacons. The other faithful in the communities each had their own task (I Cor. 12:28) I Cor. 12:28: God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, then healers, helpers, administrators, speakers in various kinds of tongues.. Also today, bishops, as successors to the Apostles, lead the Church, assisted by priests and deacons. The large number of lay faithful all contribute in their own way to the Church.

From the beginning, the Church consisted of the faithful, led by apostles and later bishops. Everyone had a role in the community.
This is what the Church Fathers say

I exhort you to be careful to do all things in the harmony of God, the bishops having the primacy after the model of God and the priests after the model of the council of the Apostles, and the deacons (who are so dear to me) having entrusted to them the ministry of Jesus Christ - who from eternity was with the Father and at last appeared to us. [St. Ignatius of Antioch, Letter to the Magnesians, Chap. 6 (MG 5, 668)]