Apostolic Succession…

Open Bible
Photo by Aaron Burden

… What Is It?

…  Is The Office Of Apostleship Valid For Today?

The doctrine of Apostolic Succession is the belief that the 12 Apostles passed on their authority to successors, who then passed the apostolic authority on to their successors, continuing throughout the centuries even unto today.

The Roman Catholic Church sees Peter as the leader of the apostles with great authority; therefore, his successors carry on this greatest authority. The Roman Catholic Church combines this belief with the concept that Peter became the first bishop of Rome, and that the Roman bishops that followed Peter were accepted by the early church as the central authority among the churches.

Apostolic succession, combined with Peter’s supremacy among the apostles, resulted in Roman bishops being the supreme authority of the Catholic Church – the Pope.

Nowhere in Scripture did Jesus, the Apostles, or any other New Testament writer set forth the idea of “Apostolic Succession”. Further, neither was Peter presented as “Supreme” over the other Apostles. Peter played an awesome role during the ministry of Christ on earth, yet the Scriptures are clear that Peter’s role was no more regarded as supreme than the others.

The Roman Catholic Church points to Acts 1:12-26 (Which deals with Matthias replacing Judas as the twelfth apostle) as an example of Apostolic Succession. While Matthias did succeed Judas as an apostle, this is in no sense an argument for continuing Apostolic Succession.

Matthias being chosen to replace Judas is only an argument for the church replacing ungodly and unfaithful leaders (Judas) with godly and faithful leaders (Matthias). Nowhere in Scripture are any of the twelve apostles recorded as passing on their apostolic authority to successors.

Jesus ordained the apostles to build the foundation of the church (Ephesians 2:20). The church does not need Apostolic Successors. The church needs the teachings of the apostles accurately recorded and preserved. And that is exactly what God has provided in His Word (Ephesians 1:13; Colossians 1:5; 2 Timothy 2:15; 4:2)

Throughout the Christian world today, there are still many who hold to the doctrine of “Apostolic Succession”, but there are many arguments against the possibility of any modern apostles today.

  1. The qualifications for the office cannot be met (E.g. they never saw Jesus after His resurrection).
  2. The ability to perform sign gifts, the accompanying credentials of the apostles, is no longer in operation today. They ceased (1 Corinthians chapter 13).
  3. The nature of their work prohibits their continuance – they were foundational with a revelatory ministry: The church has been planted and the completed canon is now being phased into the structure, revelations have ceased (1 Corinthians chapter 13).
  4. Paul was the last apostle.

Apostleship was a temporary and very important gift, but only a few received it. No one today is called gifted, nor can anyone meet the necessary qualifications.

May the Lord Jesus conclude this study with His Blessings.

%d bloggers like this: