Study therefore to be established in the doctrines of the Lord and the apostles, so that whatsoever you do may prosper in the flesh, as well as in the spirit; in the Son, and in the Father, and in the Spirit; in the beginning and in the end; with your most admirable Bishop, with the spiritual crown which is the Presbytery, and with the Deacons who are according to God. (Igantius to the Magnesians, 30-107 AD)
Ignatius was a student of the apostle John, and a peer of Polycarp. His writings are about as early as we can go in the writings of the church Fathers. It is even conceivable that John was alive when this letter was written. It is with that piece of background that we look into the early church exhortations and encouragements to its congregants. In typical patristic form he tells the recipient of this letter “be established in the doctrines of the Lord and the apostles.” In our language it means “know your bible, and the theology that is in it.” Then he tells them that the reason that this knowledge is needed is so that they may profit along with the Triune Lord and his Episcopacy. Yes, that’s right; Bishops, Presbyters, and Deacons. Right from the first century we find the threefold office of Holy Orders. It could it very well be that the apostle John took part in this ecclesiatical system.