, in the [[ Bible]] , a synonym for ''[[ bishop]] '' (''episkopos''), referring to a leader in local Church congregations. In modern usage, it is distinct from ''bishop '' and synonymous with ''priest''. Its literal meaning in Greek (''presbyteros'') is "elder. "
== History ==
Initially, each local congregation in the Church had its own bishop. Eventually, as the Church grew, individual congregations no longer were served directly by a bishop. The bishop in a large city would appoint a presbyter to pastor the flock in each congregation, acting as his delegate.
Modern usage ==
The [[Orthodox Church]] often refers to presbyters in English as ''priests'' (''priest'' is etymologically derived from the Greek ''presbyteros'' via the Latin ''presbyter''). This usage is seen by some Protestant Christians as stripping the [[laity]] of its rightful priestly status, while those who use the term defend its usage by saying that, while they do believe in the ''priesthood'' of all believers, they do not believe in the ''eldership'' of all believers.
Presbyters are often referred to as ''Father'', though that is not an official title. Rather, it is a term of affection used by Christians for their ordained elders .
== Sources ==
*''The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (3rd ed.)'', p. 1322