Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol II. Clement of Alexandria, Chapter XIII. - Degrees of Glory in Heaven Corresponding with the Dignities of the Church Below
He, then, who has first moderated his passions and trained himself for impassibility, and developed to the beneficence of gnostic perfection, is here equal to the angels. Luminous already, and like the sun shining in the exercise of beneficence, he speeds by righteous knowledge through the love of God to the sacred abode, like as the apostles. Not that they became apostles through being chosen for some distinguished peculiarity109 of nature, since also Judas was chosen along with them. But they were capable of becoming apostles on being chosen by Him who foresees even ultimate issues. Matthias, accordingly, who was not chosen along with them, on showing himself worthy of becoming an apostle, is substituted for Judas.
Those, then, also now, who have exercised themselves in the Lord’s commandments, and lived perfectly and gnostically according to the Gospel, may be enrolled in the chosen body of the apostles. Such an one is in reality a presbyter of the Church, and a true minister (deacon) of the will of God, if he do and teach what is the Lord’s; not as being ordained110 by men, nor regarded righteous because a presbyter, but enrolled in the presbyterate111 because righteous. And although here upon earth he be not honoured with the chief seat,112 he will sit down on the four-and-twenty thrones, (Rev_4:4, Rev_11:16) judging the people, as John says in the Apocalypse.
For, in truth, the covenant of salvation, reaching down to us from the foundation of the world, through different generations and times, is one, though conceived as different in respect of gift. For it follows that there is one unchangeable gift of salvation given by one God, through one Lord, benefiting in many ways. For which cause the middle wall (Eph_2:14, Eph_2:15, Eph_2:16, Eph_4:13) which separated the Greek from the Jew is taken away, in order that there might be a peculiar people. And so both meet in the one unity of faith; and the selection out of both is one. And the chosen of the chosen are those who by reason of perfect knowledge are called [as the best] from the Church itself, and honoured with the most august glory - the judges and rulers - four-and-twenty (the grace being doubled) equally from Jews and Greeks. Since, according to my opinion, the grades113 here in the Church, of bishops, presbyters, deacons, are imitations of the angelic glory, and of that economy which, the Scriptures say, awaits those who, following the footsteps of the apostles, have lived in perfection of righteousness according to the Gospel. For these taken up in the clouds, the apostle (1Th_4:17) writes, will first minister [as deacons], then be classed in the presbyterate, by promotion in glory (for glory differs (1Co_15:41) from glory) till they grow into “a perfect man.” (Eph_4:13)