Before y'all jump on me for using Wikipedia, let me say that I found the following Wiki entry on "presbyter" to be fair. I am of course open to correction.
"The word presbyter derives from Greek πρεσβύτερος (presbyteros), the comparative form of πρέσβυς (presbus), "elder"
The earliest organization of the Christian churches in Judea was similar to that of Jewish synagogues, which were governed by a council of elders (presbyteroi). In Acts 11:30 and 15:22, we see this collegiate system of government in Jerusalem, and, in Acts 14:23, the Apostle Paul ordains elders in the churches he founded. Some modern comentators believe that these presbyters may have been identical to the overseers (episkopoi, i.e., bishops) and cite such passages as Acts 20:17, Titus 1:5,7 and 1 Peter 5:1 to support this claim.
The earliest post-apostolic writings, the Didache and Clement for example, show the church recognized two local church offices—elders (interchangeable term with overseer) and deacon. The beginnings of a single ruling bishop can perhaps be traced to the offices occupied by Timothy and Titus in the New Testament. We are told that Paul had left Timothy in Ephesus and Titus in Crete to oversee the local church (1 Tim. 1:3 and Titus 1:5). Paul commands them to ordain presybters/bishops and to exercise general oversight, telling Titus to "rebuke with all authority" (Titus 2:15). It is certain that the office of bishop and presbyter were clearly distinguished by the second century, as the church was facing the dual pressures of persecution and internal schism, resulting in three distinct local offices: bishop, elder (presbyter) and deacon. This is best seen in the 2nd century writings of St. Ignatius of Antioch.
The bishop was understood mainly as the president of the council of presbyters, and so the bishop came to be distinguished both in honor and in prerogative from the presbyters, who were seen as deriving their authority by means of delegation from the bishop. Each church had its own bishop and his presence was necessary to consecrate any gathering of the church.
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."
In my simplistic way, you could say that:
- Episkopos (Greek)= Bishop (English) = overseer and elder (functionally)
- Presbyteros and Presbus (Greek)= Priest and Elder (English) = deputy overseer or deputy elder (functionally, except that in the monarchical form of governance, the presbyter has much less authority than in a conciliar form)
There are just two more ecclesiastical terms in the Holy Scriptures:
- Royal priesthood: all of us (no functional definition, except that it is a root cause of the differences between monarchical and conciliar forms of church governance)
- Deacon: some churches have permanent deacons who function in consonance with the New Testament Church, while in most others it is a short-lived step to the priesthood.