Does the Bible Teach Apostolic Succession?

The Roman Catholic Church, along with other churches, claims to have authority from God because they have an unbroken line of succession dating back to the Apostles in which the teachings and authority of the Apostles was passed on through tradition. Here is one quote from the catholic Catechism that shows their belief on this subject:

In order that the full and living Gospel might always be preserved in the Church the apostles left bishops as their successors. They gave them their own position of teaching authority." Indeed, "the apostolic preaching, which is expressed in a special way in the inspired books, was to be preserved in a continuous line of succession until the end of time." (Catechism of the Catholic Church, Section 1, Chapter 2, Article 2, Paragraph 77).

If the Catholic Church’s claim to have the authority of the apostles, scripture needs to be provided that shows they have such authority. They cannot just make the claim or give themselves such authority. They can’t use their traditions to prove their traditions are from God. They must appeal to the inspired word of God.

Without the Apostolic Authority they claim to have, they would not be able to administer the sacraments with the authority that they claim to have, they would not have the authority to forgive sins that they claim they have, their traditions that they say are directly from the Apostles would be nothing more than just manmade traditions, and the catholic church that claims to have infallibility in their doctrines is a apostate, heretical church. This is the crucial subject that must be met head on to know the truth of where the Catholic church stands before God.

One last point before getting into this article: It is not good enough to provide a list of succession of bishops. This is the case for a few reasons:

  • The Roman Catholic church is not the only church that claims to have such a list
  • Anyone through history could have made or even forged such a list without any evidence
  • A list of names does not prove faithfulness to God. If one man on the list was a heretic, the whole list would be invalidated.
    We need more than an arbitrary, subjective list to prove that someone has authority from God. We need objective evidence, especially evidence from scripture.

 

The Qualifications of Apostle

The Apostles are chosen by God, not by men

  • In Luke 6:12-16, Jesus personally chose 12 men and named them to be apostles.
  • In Acts 1:24, when one was chosen to take Judas’ place and be numbered among the 12, the Lord indicated which man He had chosen to fill the office through the casting of lots after the Apostles prayed.
  • In Acts 9:15, Jesus personally appeared to Paul (v 1-9), then told Ananias to teach and baptize him because Paul was "a chosen vessel" to preach Jesus’ name to Gentiles, etc.
    The Apostles had to be eyewitnesses to the resurrected Christ
  • Apostles repeatedly affirmed that they were eyewitnesses – Acts 2:32; 10:41, etc.
  • Acts 1:15-26 (v 21,22) – The one chosen to replace Judas had to be an eyewitness.
  • Acts 26:16 – Jesus said he appeared to Paul to make him a witness
  • These men had the duty of being witnesses to what they saw, especially their seeing Jesus resurrected. They needed to do this so others could believe through their preaching of the gospel.

    The Apostles had “signs” (miracles) to show they were legitimate Apostles and spoke for God, inspired by the Holy Spirit
  • 2 Corinthians 12:12 – Paul accomplished the signs of an apostle among the Corinthians.
  • Matthew 10:1-4 – Jesus gave the 12 power to perform miracles.
  • These signs showed their authority and confirmed their words to be from God (Mark 16:20, Hebrews 2:4)
    Apostles could lay hands on people, giving them the power to perform miracles
  • Acts 8:14-21 – Apostles went from Jerusalem to Samaria to lay hands on Christians there and give them the Holy Spirit. Philip, though he could preach the gospel and do miracles, was not an apostle and did not bestow these powers on others (v 5-13).
  • Acts 19:6,7 – He laid hands on twelve disciples so the Holy Spirit came on them and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.

Does the Catholic Church, who claims Apostolic Authority show these qualifications of an Apostle?

  • There is no evidence in scripture (which we will see shortly) that any individuals are specifically chosen by God after the Apostles to fill their role
  • No one after the Apostles has been an eyewitness of the resurrected Christ.
  • The Pope, along with Catholic bishops, do not performing miracles like the Apostles did.
  • The Pope, along with his bishops, do not lay hands on anyone to give them the ability to perform miracles like the Apostles did.
    The Catholic church claims not to possess some of these qualifications:

"Peter, it is true, … possessed also the gift of inspiration and the power of working miracles. These two latter gifts are not claimed by the Pope … The Apostles were endowed with the gift of inspiration … No Catholic, on the contrary, claims that the Pope is inspired or endowed with Divine revelation properly so called" (Faith of Our Fathers, pp. 89,99).

    Just based on the qualifications that the Apostles give, no man after the Apostles can fulfill the role or have the authority of an Apostle. If someone did claim to have the authority of an Apostle today, all they would have to do is show the above credentials.

    Did The Apostles Pass Their Authority Down to Other Men?

    As previously stated, if the Apostles did do such a thing, it would be visible. Those who had such authority would show the signs of an Apostle. Nonetheless, the Catholic church uses a few scriptures to prove that the Apostles did such a thing. I would like to examine these one by one.

    Acts 1:15-26: The replacement of Judas

    This is probably the best verse a catholic can give to show Apostolic Succession. But this verse comes up far short of showing that all of the Apostles were to be replaced at their deaths. Here are some important things to note in this text:

    • Peter says he is fulfilling a prophecy that spoke specifically of a replacement of Judas that would be able to join with them in their Apostleship.
    • There is no reason in the context to believe this was to be done beyond Judas. Peter specifically applies it to him.
    • The Apostles had not yet begun their Apostleship. They had not received power themselves yet from God. This would happen on the day of Pentecost. They didn’t have power to give to someone else.
    • Peter states that there are qualifications that must be met to be selected as an Apostle.
    • The Lord chose the one that would fill Judas’ office. It was not voted on by cardinals as it is done today in the Catholic church.
    • The Apostles were not handing down THEIR apostleship to anyone here. God was selecting an Apostle to replace Judas
    • These six points show that Apostolic succession is not being taught in this verse.

    2 Timothy 2:2- The Handing Down of Teaching

    This is another popular verse that Catholics go to in order to show Apostolic Succession.

    “The things which you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses, entrust these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”

    There are many things missing in this verse if it were to prove Apostolic Succession. First, what was it that Timothy is instructed to pass on? He surely did not have the authority of an apostle to give to other men. This is nowhere to be found in scripture. What he is instructed to pass on is the teachings that Paul had given him by the Spirit to other teachers so they can teach. The authority of an Apostle is mentioned nowhere in this context.

    Acts 14:23 – Paul and Barnabas appoint elders

    “When they had appointed elders for them in every church, having prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed.”

    This verse also does not talk about any authority being given to these men that were appointed as elders. They appointed more than one man in each congregation to oversee the flock and to protect it from false teaching (see 1 Tim 3; Titus 1). We do not see Paul appointing anyone as His successor.

    Acts 9:17-19 – Ananias lays hands on Paul

    So Ananias departed and entered the house, and after laying his hands on him said, "Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road by which you were coming, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit."

    Where is it mentioned in this text that Paul was given the authority of an Apostle by Ananias? Ananias is not even an Apostle. Jesus had already made His choice of Paul and appeared to Him. Ananias is sent to heal Paul of his blindness, to baptize Him, and to give him instructions from the Lord. There is no mention of Apostolic Succession in this text.

    Acts 6:3-6 – choosing of seven to serve

    "Therefore, brethren, select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task. "But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word." The statement found approval with the whole congregation; and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch. And these they brought before the apostles; and after praying, they laid their hands on them.”

    The Apostles are not appointing successors in this text either. They are appointing servants (maybe deacons) to fulfill a specific role of caring for the needy widows.

    2 Tim. 4:1-6 – Paul’s final instructions to Timothy

    I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. 5 But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. 6 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come.

    This text is used by Catholics to show that Paul is handing his ministry over to Timothy. It is interesting that Paul never says such a thing in this text. Just a literal reading of the text shows that Paul is instructing Timothy to fulfill not the role of an Apostle, but an evangelist (v5). As an evangelist, he was to proclaim the word of God boldly and faithfully.


    These are all of the verses that I know of that the Catholic Church uses to prove that it has Apostolic Authority through succession. If you know of any that I have not dealt with in this text, please share them. I will ad them to the list. I have tried to find all of the references in the New Testament that are used by Catholics so I am not accused of passing over any verses.

     

    I would like to share one verse before concluding:

    Acts 12:1-2 – James, son of Zebedee is killed

    Now about that time Herod the king laid hands on some who belonged to the church in order to mistreat them. 2 And he had James the brother of John put to death with a sword.

    This is an example of one of the twelve being put to death. The question I have regarding this verse is: “Why is it that the Apostles do not appoint a successor for James?” According to the Catholic interpretation of Acts 1 (where Judas is replaced), this is what the Apostles should have done. But the fact is, they did not replace James. The reason? Because they were not instructed to and the Lord did not choose a replacement for him.

    Paul stated the church has been built on the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Christ Jesus being the cornerstone. We still have this foundation today. The Apostles and Prophets still live today through their writings that were handed down to us in the Bible. Why is there a need for Apostles when we have their authoritative teachings in scripture?

    “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim 3:16-17).

    Although within the context Paul is referring mainly to the Old Testament scriptures, this verse applies to “all scripture.” Paul states that the word of God is what the Lord gives us so we can be adequate (perfect, mature) and equipped to do every (or all) good works. This verse doesn’t leave room for traditions based on false claims of Apostolic Succession, which is not taught in scripture.

    Comments

    1. You seem to have a fundamental misunderstanding of what
      apostolic succession is and what it does. It is not about “replacing” the
      Apostles or appointing new apostles. The Apostles, other than Judas, were never
      replaced. The successors of the Apostles are not their successors in
      the office of apostle
      , but in the office of bishop (overseer). The full
      apostolic authority Christ granted to the Apostles was not passed on, and ended
      with their death. What is passed on by apostolic succession to today’s bishops
      (including the pope) is only the apostles’ teaching authority – to
      preserve and pass on apostolic teaching (2 Timothy 2:2) – and their episcopal
      authority
      (authority as overseers of the Church and its Sacraments).

      The Church’s claims about apostolic succession are firmly
      rooted in Scripture, and indisputably supported by history, as I will
      demonstrate.

      First, to address a few of your initial claims:

      The Roman Catholic Church is not the only church that claims to
      have such a list.

      Both the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church,
      the two primary bodies who claim authority by apostolic succession, acknowledge
      that each other’s holy orders and lines of succession are historically and sacramentally
      valid.

      These [Orthodox] Churches,
      although separated from us, possess true sacraments, above all by apostolic
      succession, the priesthood and the Eucharist, whereby they are linked with us
      in closest intimacy. Therefore some worship in common (communicatio in
      sacris
      ), given suitable circumstances and the approval of Church authority,
      is not only possible but to be encouraged. (Second Vatican Council, Unitatis
      Redintegratio
      15 § 2)

      Anyone through history could have made or even forged such a
      list without any evidence.

      This is not the case. Such lists have been presented
      throughout history, and are documentable and historically dateable and provable.
      For example, the Church Father St. Irenaeus of Lyon, whose writings can be
      proved to have been written about A.D. 180, gives a complete list of the
      bishops of Rome (popes) up until that time:

      The blessed apostles,
      then, having founded and built up the Church, committed into the hands of Linus the
      office of the episcopate. Of this Linus, Paul makes mention
      in the Epistles to Timothy. To him succeeded Anacletus; and
      after him, in the third place from the apostles, Clement was
      allotted the bishopric. . . . To this Clement there succeeded Evaristus. Alexander followed Evaristus;
      then, sixth from the apostles, Sixtus was appointed; after him, Telephorus,
      who was gloriously martyred; then Hyginus; after him, Pius; then
      after him, Anicetus. Soter having succeeded Anicetus, Eleutherius does
      now, in the twelfth place from the apostles, hold the inheritance of the episcopate.
      In this order, and by this succession, the ecclesiastical tradition from
      the apostles, and the preaching of the truth, have come down to us.
      And this is most abundant proof that there is one and the same
      vivifying faith, which has been preserved in the Church from the apostles until
      now, and handed down in truth. (Irenaeus of Lyon, Against Heresies
      (III.3.3) (ca. A.D. 180)

      Other
      similar lists were given at other various and documentable points in history,
      including in Hegesippus (second century, a contemporary of Irenaeus), Eusebius
      (third century), Augustine (fourth through fifth centuries), Optatus of Mileve
      (fourth century), various Catalogi of the fourth, fifth, and sixth
      centuries, and the Liber Pontificalis (Book of the Popes) from the sixth
      or seventh century.

      A list of names does not prove faithfulness to God. If one man
      on the list was a heretic, the whole list would be invalidated.

      This, among other reasons, is why there are always (and
      always have been) at least three bishops present at the consecration of new
      bishops
      : in order that if, for whatever reason, any one of those bishops
      had been invalidly consecrated, the consecration of the new bishop would still
      be valid, thus ensuring the line of succession. For example:

      Unless the Apostolic See has
      granted a dispensation, the principal bishop consecrator in an episcopal
      consecration is to be joined by at least two consecrating bishops; it is
      especially appropriate, however, that all the bishops present consecrate the
      elect together with the bishops mentioned. (Code of Canon Law, Canon
      1014)

      The Qualifications of Apostles

      The Apostles are chosen by God, not by men

      The Apostles had to be eyewitnesses to the resurrected Christ

      The Apostles had “signs” (miracles) to show they were legitimate Apostles
      and spoke for God, inspired by the Holy Spirit

      The Church does not claim that bishops, the successors
      of the Apostles, are Apostles or have the same authority as Apostles.
      The
      Apostles were the first bishops: Today’s bishops are successors of the Apostles
      in the office of bishop, not in the office of Apostle. The Apostles certainly
      had much God-given and unique authority that is not continued to this day: with
      the death of the last Apostle, the public revelation of God was closed. What
      the Apostles imparted to their successors was only their teaching authority and
      their episcopal authority, to insure the handing down of the faith:

      But in order to keep the Gospel
      forever whole and alive within the Church, the Apostles left bishops as their
      successors, “handing over” to them “the authority to teach in their own place.”
      . . . And so the apostolic preaching, which is expressed in a special way in
      the inspired books, was to be preserved by an unending succession of preachers
      until the end of time. Therefore the Apostles, handing on what they themselves
      had received, warn the faithful to hold fast to the traditions which they have
      learned either by word of mouth or by letter (see 2 Thess. 2:15), and to fight
      in defense of the faith handed on once and for all (see Jude 1:3; cf. Second
      Council of Nicaea). Now what was handed on by the Apostles includes everything
      which contributes toward the holiness of life and increase in faith of the
      peoples of God; and so the Church, in her teaching, life and worship,
      perpetuates and hands on to all generations all that she herself is, all that
      she believes. (Second Vatican Council, Dei Verbum 7–8)

      Apostles could lay hands on people, giving them the power to perform
      miracles

      You may not realize it, but you just proved apostolic
      succession. If the Apostles had the power to lay their hands on people (the
      laying on of hands is the mode of apostolic succession) and grant them their
      own authority to perform miracles, then they could also impart to others other
      aspects of their own authority, including the authority to conduct the miracles
      of the Sacraments, and the authority to teach
      – which is all the Church
      claims about apostolic succession.

      To fulfil their exalted mission,
      “the apostles were endowed by Christ with a special outpouring of the Holy
      Spirit coming upon them, and by the imposition of hands they passed on to their
      auxiliaries the gift of the Spirit, which is transmitted down to our day
      through episcopal consecration” (CCC 1556, from Second Vatican Council, Lumen
      Gentium
      21; cf. Acts 1:8, 2:4, Jn 20:22–23, 1 Tim 4:14, 2 Tim 1:6–7).

      Does the Catholic Church, who claims Apostolic Authority show these
      qualifications of an Apostle?

      As above, the Church does not claim that bishops are
      Apostles
      or that they have the full authority of the Apostles.

      Did The Apostles Pass Their Authority Down to Other Men?

      Acts 1:15-26: The replacement of Judas

      Peter says he is fulfilling a prophecy that spoke specifically of a replacement of Judas that
      would be able to join with them in their Apostleship.

      There is no reason in the context to believe this was to be done beyond Judas. Peter specifically
      applies it to him.

      In the context:

      In those days Peter stood up
      among the brothers (the company of persons was in all about 120) and said,
      “Brothers, the Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke
      beforehand by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those
      who arrested Jesus. For he was numbered among us and was allotted his share in
      this ministry. . . . For it is written in the Book of Psalms,

      “‘May his camp become desolate,
      and let there be no one to dwell in it’;

      and

      “‘Let another take his office.’

      So one of the men who have
      accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among
      us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from
      us—one of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection.” And
      they put forward two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also called Justus, and
      Matthias. And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all,
      show which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this ministry
      and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” And they
      cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the
      eleven apostles. (Acts 1:15–26 ESV)

      The prophecy foretold, Peter
      affirms, that Judas would abandon his position. And as you say, this was a
      unique situation: as the prophecy declares, Judas’s apostolic office must be
      filled by another. This is the only time this ever happened: Matthias was a replacement
      for Judas, not a successor. Judas did not impart his apostolic authority
      to Matthias; Judas abandoned his post and the apostles filled it. None of the
      Apostles would ever be replaced again. As I demonstrated above, successors
      of the Apostles, through apostolic succession, are not Apostles –
      they are
      successors in the office of bishop, not apostle.

      What this passage does illustrate is that Jesus imparted a “share”
      of the ministry to Judas, which was then passed on to Matthias. And the
      Apostles believed, rightly, that this participation in the ministry should not
      end, but continue. Other passages (see below) better illustrate the idea that
      the teachings of Jesus should be entrusted to faithful men to ensure the
      tradition (handing down) of the faith.

      The Apostles had not yet begun their Apostleship. They had not received power themselves yet from
      God. This would happen on the day of Pentecost. They didn’t have power to give
      to someone else.

      The Church – all the followers of Jesus, not just the
      Apostles – received the fullness of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, empowering
      them and equipping them for ministry (Acts 2). An apostle (Gk. apostolos)
      is literally someone who has been sent; an apostleship or apostolate (Gk. apostole)
      is a sending. Jesus had already sent the Apostles and imparted to
      them His authority
      :

      And He called the Twelve together
      and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he
      sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. (Luke 9:1–2, and
      parallel passages)

      And Jesus came and said to them,
      “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and
      make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of
      the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have
      commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew
      28:18–20 ESV)

      And he said to them, “Go into all
      the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and
      is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And
      these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out
      demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents with their
      hands; and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will
      lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.” (Mark 16:15–18 ESV)

      Jesus said to them again, “Peace
      be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you.” And when he
      had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.
      If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold
      forgiveness from any, it is withheld.” (John 20:21–23 ESV)

      Among other passages I could cite.
      Jesus clearly had imparted the Apostles with authority and sent them on
      a mission. Even with all of this said – the plain fact is that the Apostles
      themselves in Acts 1 thought they had an authoritative place in the apostolic ministry
      and that Judas’s place needed to be filled.

      Peter states that there are qualifications that must be met to be selected as an Apostle.

      The Apostles were not handing down THEIR apostleship to anyone here.
      God was selecting an Apostle to replace Judas.

      You are exactly right, as above.

      The Lord chose the one
      that would fill Judas’ office. It was not voted on by cardinals as it is done
      today in the Catholic church.

      Since the very beginning – since the election of Matthias –
      bishops have been selected by the clergy and people of their diocese,
      prayerfully and with the guidance of the Holy Spirit. In the same way that God
      chose Matthias through the Apostles by the casting of lots, He chooses
      successor bishops through the Holy Spirit. Election of popes by the college of
      cardinals, which was formally defined in the eleventh century, is the same
      principle: it merely acknowledges that the pope’s jurisdiction is worldwide,
      and that his “clergy and people” are the entire Church.

      2 Timothy 2:2 – The Handing Down of Teaching

      Your argument here again confirms and agrees with the Catholic
      understanding of apostolic succession rather than rejects it. As you say:

      1.       Timothy
      did not have the authority of an Apostle: As I have said above, the successors
      of the Apostles – bishops – are not Apostles and do not have the full authority
      of Apostles.

      2.      What
      he is instructed to pass on is the teachings that Paul had given him by
      the Spirit, to teach others who will be able to teach: This is a
      passing on of the teaching authority of the Apostles – in order
      to preserve and pass on the teachings of Jesus and of the Apostles. This is the
      nature and the heart of apostolic succession.

      3.      According
      to the role and responsibilities within the Church that Timothy seems to have,
      per Paul’s direction (the selection of deacons and presbyters, the passing on
      of teachings), the internal evidence of Paul’s letters suggests that Timothy
      was an overseer (bishop). Very early tradition in both the East and the West,
      recorded, for example, in Eusebius’s Church History (III.4.6), is that
      Paul consecrated Timothy as the first bishop of Ephesus. Scripture confirms
      Timothy’s presence and association with the Church at Ephesus (1 Timothy 1:3).

      Acts 14:23 – Paul and Barnabas appoint elders

      Precisely what you say – that these men were appointed to pastor
      the flock and protect it from false teaching – is the authority with which Paul
      entrusted these elders (presbyters).

      Acts 9:17-19 – Ananias lays hands on Paul

      The laying on of hands is not a sign restricted only to the
      ordination of ministers. It also belongs to the rite of Confirmation or
      Chrismation (Hebrew 6:12,
      Acts 8:1417, Acts
      19:17; see my
      post on Confirmation
      ), to blessings (Mark 10:16), and to the healing of the
      sick (Matthew 9:18, Mark 7:32, Acts 28:8). The last case is primarily the
      situation here: Paul had been blinded, and Ananias was sent to heal him “that
      he might regain his sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” That he also
      received the Holy Spirit is but another sign that our God ministers His grace
      where and how He wills it. No one supposes that Paul received his authority as
      an Apostle from Ananias, but from God!

      Acts 6:3-6 – Choosing of seven to serve

      You are correct that this describes the ordination of the
      first deacons. They were not apostles, but deacons (servants).

      2 Tim. 4:1-6 – Paul’s final instructions to Timothy

      This text is used by Catholics to show that Paul is handing his ministry over to
      Timothy . . . .

      I have never heard that interpretation before, and
      certainly that’s not the teaching of the Church.

      Acts 12:1-2 – James, son of Zebedee is killed

      This is an example of one of the twelve being put to death. The question I have
      regarding this verse is: “Why is it that the Apostles do not appoint a
      successor for James?”

      As I said above, no other Apostles other than Judas were
      ever replaced. Apostolic succession is not about replacing
      apostles, but about passing on their teachings and ministry as overseers
      (bishops) of the Church.

      Other Scriptures

      You did miss a couple of important ones. I quote this one
      at length because it’s so good:

      [Paul, to Timothy:] Command and
      teach these things. Let no one despise your youth, but set the believers an
      example in speech and conduct, in love, in faith, in purity. Till I come,
      attend to the public reading of scripture, to preaching, to teaching. Do
      not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophetic utterance
      when the council of elders laid their hands upon you
      . Practice
      these duties, devote yourself to them, so that all may see your progress. Take
      heed to yourself and to your teaching; hold to that, for by so doing you
      will save both yourself and your hearers
      . (1 Timothy 4:11–16)

      Hence I remind you to rekindle the
      gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands
      ; for
      God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power and love and
      self-control. (2 Timothy 1:6–8)

      1.       These
      duties – the public reading of Scripture, preaching, teaching, “saving both
      himself and his hearers” – as well as the mode by which Timothy was ordained –
      by the laying on of hands by a council of elders – indicates strongly that
      Timothy was over some particular church – that he was an overseer,
      or bishop.

      2.      The
      gift which Timothy was given – his calling and empowerment for ministry through
      the Holy Spirit – was given to him “by prophetic utterance when the council of
      elders laid their hands upon [him]” – a clear demonstration of the practice of
      ordination, and of the investment of authority to teach and minister.

      The Church Fathers

      The practice of apostolic succession, the foundations of
      which are demonstrated in Scripture, when many of the Apostles were still alive
      and active in ministry, was fully in effect within a decade or two of the
      deaths of Peter and Paul. Clement of Rome, whose letter can be dated to as
      early as A.D. 70 or as late as A.D. 95, writes:

      Through countryside and city [the
      Apostles] preached, and they appointed their earliest converts, testing them
      by the Spirit, to be the bishops and deacons of future believers
      . Nor
      was this a novelty
      , for bishops and deacons had been written about a long
      time earlier. . . . Our Apostles knew through our Lord Jesus Christ that there
      would be strife for the office of bishop. For this reason, therefore, having
      received perfect foreknowledge, they appointed those who have already been
      mentioned and afterwards added the further provision that, if they should die,
      other approved men should succeed to their ministry.
      (Clement of Rome, Epistle
      to the Corinthians
      [1 Clement] 42, 44).

      Ignatius of Antioch, writing about A.D. 107, writes firmly
      and absolutely regarding the authority of the bishop in and over the Church:

      See that you all follow the
      bishop, even as Jesus Christ does the Father, and the presbytery [i.e. the priests]
      as you would the apostles; and reverence the deacons, as being the institution
      of God.
      Let no man do anything connected with the Church without the
      bishop. Let that be deemed a proper Eucharist, which is [administered] either
      by the bishop, or by one to whom he has entrusted it. Wherever the bishop
      shall appear, there let the multitude [of the people] also be; even as,
      wherever Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church
      . It is not lawful
      without the bishop either to baptize or to celebrate a love-feast; but
      whatsoever he shall approve of, that is also pleasing to God, so that
      everything that is done may be secure and valid. (Ignatius of Antioch, Epistle
      to the Smyrnaeans
       8)

      Irenaeus of Lyon (see also the passage above) writing about
      A.D. 180, writes at length on the topic of apostolic succession, which
      according to him (and also according to you above), was the only way to protect
      the flock from false teaching: by entrusting the truth to trusted and faithful
      men, who would safeguard it and in turn pass it on to the next generation of Christians:

      It is within the power of all,
      therefore, in every Church, who may wish to see the truth, to contemplate
      clearly the tradition of the apostles manifested throughout the whole world;
      and we are in a position to reckon up those who were by the apostles instituted
      bishops in the Churches, and [to demonstrate] the succession of these men to
      our own times; . . . [We refute the heretics] by indicating that tradition
      derived from the apostles, of the very great, the very ancient, and universally
      known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles,
      Peter and Paul; as also [by pointing out] the faith preached to men, which
      comes down to our time by means of the successions of the bishops. For it is a
      matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church, on account
      of its preeminent authority, that is, the faithful everywhere, inasmuch as the
      tradition has been preserved continuously by those [faithful men] who exist
      everywhere.
      (Irenaeus of Lyon, Against Heresies, III.3.1–2)

      True knowledge is [that which
      consists in] the doctrine of the apostles, and the ancient constitution of the
      Church throughout all the world, and the distinctive manifestation of the body
      of Christ according to the successions of the bishops, by which they have
      handed down that Church which exists in every place, and has come even unto us,
      being guarded and preserved without any forging of Scriptures, by a very
      complete system of doctrine
      , and neither receiving addition nor [suffering]
      curtailment [in the truths which she believes]; and [it consists in] reading
      [the word of God] without falsification, and a lawful and diligent exposition
      in harmony with the Scriptures, both without danger and without blasphemy; and
      [above all, it consists in] the pre-eminent gift of love (2 Corinthians 8:1; 1
      Corinthians 13), which is more precious than knowledge, more glorious than
      prophecy, and which excels all the other gifts [of God] (Irenaeus of Lyon, Against
      Heresies
       IV.33.8).

      I believe this evidence, from Scripture and from the
      historic writings of the Church Fathers, speaks convincingly to the fact that
      apostolic succession was a practice and belief of the Early Christian Church.

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