Origen's fullest statement on the selection of church officers occurs in his Homily in Numbers 13.4. The following is a fairly literal translation of the passage:
At the end of his life he prayed to God that He would provide a leader for the people. What are you doing, O Moses? Are not Gersom and Eleazar your sons? Or if you distrust any one of these, are not the sons of your brother great and distinguished men? Why do you not pray to God for them so that He might appoint them leaders of the people? But the leaders in office of the churches should learn not to designate by testimony nor to deliver the leadership of the churches as an inheritance to those who are related to them by blood or are associated with them by fleshly closeness, but to submit to the choice of God and not to choose that one whom human affection commends but to grant entirely to the judgment of God the choice of a successor. Was not Moses able to choose a ruler for the people by a true judgment and to make choice by a correct and just sentence, to whom God had said, “Choose elders for the people, whom you know to be the elders,” and he chose such in whom immediately God's “spirit rested, and they all prophesied.” who therefore is able to choose a leader of the people unless Moses was able? But he did not do it, did not choose, did not dare it. Why did he not dare? That he would not leave to posterity an example of presumption. But listen to what he says, “Let the Lord, the God of spirits and all flesh, provide a man over this congregation, who shall go out and come in before them and who shall lead them forth and lead them back.” If therefore such a one as Moses gives not his judgment in choosing a leader of the people, in appointing a successor, what man would be he who dares to do so, whether of the people who are always accustomed to be moved by shouts for favor or perhaps excited for money, or of the priests themselves who will there be who would judge himself equal to this task, except only him to whom through prayers and petitions it is revealed by God? And just as God says to Moses, “Take to yourself Joshua the son of Nun, a man who has the spirit in him, and lay your hands upon him; and stand him before Eleazar the priest, and command him in the presence of the whole congregation and commission him from yourself before them; and give your honor to him that the children of Israel may hear him.” You hear obviously the ordination of a leader of the people clearly described, so that there is almost no need of exposition. Here there was held no acclamation of the people, no regard of kinship, no consideration of friendship.… The government of the people is delivered to him whom God chose.