Draper, Jonathan A. "Chapter Seven: Apostles, Teachers, and Evangelists: Stability and Movement of Functionaries in Matthew, James, and the Didache." in Van de Sandt, Huub & Zangenberg, Jürgen K. (editors). Matthew, James, and Didache: Three Related Documents in their Jewish and Christian Settings." Atlanta, GA: Society of Biblical Literature, 2008, 139-176.
Draper notes the significant discussion regarding the roles of bishops and deacons in early Christianity and how their roles may have grown to the present roles. The appearance of bishops and deacons along with apostles, prophets, and teachers in the Didache is of interest (Draper 2008, 139). At issue is the authority inherent in the different offices (Draper 2008, 140).
Matthew's Gospel, as it is not a church order, does not speak specifically about organization. Yet Draper does find some evidence of such an outlook (Draper 2008, 142). In Matthew the apostles are often the primary recipients of Jesus' teaching. Draper sees them as responsible for "mediating the teaching and ministry of Jesus" in the post resurrection period (Draper 2008, 143). They thus provide continuity in terms of ministry, following on the heels of the prophets. In contrast, the false prophets, noted in Matthew 7:15-23, are wolves who will cause harm to the people of God (Draper 2008, 144-145). The false prophets come from outside the community and work miracles in Jesus' name (Matthew 7:22). Yet Jesus describes them as "lawless." This is a similar expression of the situation to that in the Didache (Draper 2008, 146).
The passage in Matthew immediately following the Sermon on the Mount emphasizes the itinerant nature of Jesus and his lack of possessions (Draper 2008, 147). This appears to serve as a paradigm for the lifestyle which would be expected of the leaders who would follow Jesus. Likewise, those who follow Jesus are not to seek out power and authority. Draper notes that in Matthew it is only Jesus who should be recognized as the teacher (Draper 2008, 148). The Twelve, designated as "apostles" only in 10:4, are to function as Jesus' emissaries. Within the culture, this would imply only a delegated authority, rather than any personal authority (Draper 2008, 149). This is the opposite of the false prophets, who exalt themselves, and use their own authority. Draper describes this in some detail (Draper 2008, 150-151). As an illustration of the nature of the true apostles, Draper notes in Matthew 16:18-19 that Peter is addressed as the one who repeats the word of the Father and upon whom the church will be built (Draper 2008, 153). The church is to be a place of conciliatory care (18;14-20) and of humble service (20:26-28). While Draper sees a structure of leadership, then, he sees it as different in nature from the authority as expected from Gentile rulers (Draper 2008, 154).
The Didache, at least from its title, seems to suggest a more clear and formal structure, with governance coming from the apostolic group (Draper 2008, 155). By Didache 11:4-6 there seems to be a larger group of apostles in mind (Draper 2008, 156). This larger group. however, is urged to move on to another location quickly and with minimal provision. Draper suggests that apostolic travel, for instance, that described in Acts 15:22-35, could still take place. At the actual destination the apostle(s) would show letters introducing them and their mission, then be considered less itinerant. The process in the Didache would apply to the journey, which should have minimal delay (Draper 2008, 157). Draper notes that the Didache may allow apostles to be considered prophets and vice versa.
The prophet is considered to be speaking from God, so is not to be tested or judged (Didache 11:7) (Draper 2008, 158). There is an assumption, rather, that evaluation is to be made based on lifestyle rather than words. If the prophet follows the "ways of the Lord" (11:8b), he is accepted as a prophet (Draper 2008, 159). What these ways are is a matter of some debate. Draper also notes that Didache 11:9-12 is difficult to interpret in terms of the prophet and participation at "a table." It is not clear if this refers to a eucharistic celebration or some other occasion of eating (Draper 2008, 160). Draper takes the statements about prophets to show redactional development, with the status of a prophet increasing to one of considerable respect later in the text (Draper 2008, 161-162). Yet, the community is to watch out for false prophets, who come from within and turn to evil purposes.
Draper further notes that Didache 13 and 15 associate prophets with teachers (Draper 2008, 162). While the apostles are never classified with the teachers, prophets are. Draper considers whether the teachers are considered charismatic figures, as apostles apparently are, and whether teachers are itinerant or resident in the community. He observes that the teacher can be evaluated in terms of words and work, which likely signals a resident role (Draper 2008, 163). The teacher is assumed to receive some support. If, in fact, the community came together on possibly even a daily basis, and depended on the work of the teacher, that person would need support (Draper 2008, 164).
Bishops and deacons are mentioned together in Didache 15:1-2. They have the same qualifications as each other for office (Draper 2008, 166). Draper observes that what we know of a distinction is implicit in their title - an overseer as compared with a servant of the community. In some way they have been recognized and appointed by the community.
Draper next evaluates functionaries as seen in James. The letter tells little about community officials, mentioning elders and teachers (Draper 2008, 168). Prophets are adduced in vague terms as examples of those who endure suffering. The author makes no claim to apostleship, but merely to being a slave of Jesus. However, Draper notes he clearly expects the recipients of the letter will recognize him as an authority. Teachers, those in the role the author includes himself, are considered to face a higher standard of judgment than others (Draper 2008, 169). Teachers can lead people rightly or they can lead people astray. They are therefore capable of good or evil. The teacher, in James, is judged, as in the Didache, based on the content, which is inherent in the words and the lifestyle (Draper 2008, 170). Aside from his focus on teachers, James speaks of a body of elders, whose function is to pray for people. Draper observes these people would "necessarily[,] be resident and settled in local communities" (Draper 2008, 172).
Draper concludes that there are significant points of commonality around Matthew, James, and the Didache as far as recognized functionaries (Draper 2008, 173). Apostles and prophets tend to be classed together, possibly due to some level of charismatic gifts. Prophets are also associated with teachers, but teachers tend to have a more localized role in the community (Draper 2008, 174). There is an authority assumed of teachers.