Apostolic authority ended with Apostles?

Why do (some) Protestants believe that Apostolic authority ended with the death of the last Apostle? What is the basis for their position?

Subscribing to this thread to hear answers. Had a friend state the same thing regarding confession being ‘power’ that died with the apostles.

Two things:

  1. Ask them to read the Gospel of John Chapters 14, 15, 16. And explain just why the Holy Spirit - the Advocate - is not with the Church always until Christ returns.

  2. Ask them for their scriptural authority that negates what Christ Himself said in John 14, 15, 16.

Also, Matthias was chosen to take the place of Judas. That shows how the office was to continue.

Matthias was chosen before Pentecost and the coming of the Holy Spirit. As stated in Acts 1:20 Matthias was chosen according to scripture which was in Psalm 69:25 and Psalm 109:8

For me, I can’t really find much support in Scripture for continued Apostolic authority.

They need to do this to justify their existence as a separate Church, and to attempt to erode the authority of the Catholic Church.


What is “apostolic authority”?

Like most Protestants, the Catholic Church also believes that Apostle was a unique position. There are no Apostles in the 12 Apostles sense today.

Many Protestants also consider the church to be one, holy, catholic, and apostolic; although, again, there may be differences in understanding these terms.

And I am not aware of any technical Catholic definition of “apostolic authority”. Do you mean the authority to “bind and loose” or the role of bishop, for example?

So beyond this, there needs to be clarification.

Before Pentecost Peter quoted prophecies from Psalms about Judas:

Acts 1:20 “For,” said Peter, “it is written in the Book of Psalms:
“‘May his place be deserted;
let there be no one to dwell in it,’[e]
“‘May another take his place of leadership.’[f]
21 Therefore it is necessary to choose one of the men who have been with us the whole time the Lord Jesus was living among us, 22 beginning from John’s baptism to the time when Jesus was taken up from us. For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.”
e. Acts 1:20 Psalm 69:25
f. Acts 1:20 Psalm 109:8

Peter uses these prophecies to decide that Judas must be replaced. But when we look at what these passages in Psalms are actually about, we see these verses are not to be applied to the other 11 Apostles.

Psalm 69
19You know how I am scorned, disgraced and shamed;
all my enemies are before you.
20 Scorn has broken my heart
and has left me helpless;
I looked for sympathy, but there was none,
for comforters, but I found none.
21 They put gall in my food
and gave me vinegar for my thirst.
22 May the table set before them become a snare;
may it become retribution and** a trap.
23 May their eyes be darkened so they cannot see,
and their backs be bent forever.
24 Pour out your wrath on them;
let your fierce anger overtake them.
25 May their place be deserted;
let there be no one to dwell in their tents.**
26 For they persecute those you wound
and talk about the pain of those you hurt.
27 Charge them with crime upon crime;
do not let them share in your salvation.
28 May they be blotted out of the book of life
and not be listed with the righteous.


Psalm 109
6 Appoint someone evil to oppose my enemy;
let an accuser stand at his right hand.
7 When he is tried, let him be found guilty,
and may his prayers condemn him.
8 May his days be few;
may another take his place of leadership.
9 May his children be fatherless
and his wife a widow.
10 May his children be wandering beggars;
may they be driven[a] from their ruined homes.
11 May a creditor seize all he has;
may strangers plunder the fruits of his labor.
12 May no one extend kindness to him
or take pity on his fatherless children.
13 May his descendants be cut off,
their names blotted out from the next generation.
14 May the iniquity of his fathers be remembered before the Lord;
may the sin of his mother never be blotted out.
15 May their sins always remain before the Lord,
that he may blot out their name from the earth.

Matthias received the Holy Spirit and whatever Apostolic Authority he had along with the other 11 directly from the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. He did not receive it by a laying on of hands.

In Acts 12:2 the Apostle James is killed. They didn’t appoint anyone to take his place.

Also, Paul is ordained in Acts 13 and there was no Apostle or Bishop present.
1 Now in the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. 2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off.
Where did Paul receive his Apostolic Succession as defined by the procedure within Roman Catholicism? I have seen various answers from Catholics about when that happened, but it is interesting that there are 2 times when Luke writes in Acts about Paul receiving laying on of hands (also Acts 9:17), but never is it by an Apostle. Wouldn’t that have been important to show his qualifications if the 1st century Christians were aware of Apostolic Succession as known in Catholicism? I think Apostolic Succession was an idea that developed over the centuries, but was not something understood in 1st Century Christianity - at least not in a specific formula maintained by Roman Catholicism.

It simply makes no sense that God would begin a church with these “Super Apostles” with more authorty, grace, and spiritual guidance then turn it over to lesser “qualified” indivuals. We all agree we need the HS more now than ever and certainly God would have known that. Why would God create a church with a more qualified crew than the ones that would come later to continue His teachings. If anything, it would make more sense that the ones who have not had 1st hand knowledge of Jesus would be more guided by the HS. John 20:29 comes to mind.


Also consider Matthew 28. Jesus told the apostles He gives them His authority and He will be with them until the end of the time.

Jesus also said to Peter- I give you (Peter) the keys, and the gates of hell will never prevail.

It is like the previous poster said. If you have a protest, you have to find a way to negate all this.

Additionally, Ignatius of Antioch, first century bishop, wrote that nothing should be done without the bishop. He wrote the bishop administers the proper Eucharist and loyalty to the bishop should be maintained.

He was in Antioch at the time of Peter.

1 Tim also describes the type of man to become bishop

The authority from apostolic succession given to bishops was not a development over time.

I imagine that at some point Linus did have a laying on of hands. I don’t know if the details have been recorded.

Are you speaking of Acts 6:5-6? Yes, they were already filled with the Holy Spirit because they were already believers, but they did have hands laid on them. They did not receive the Apostolic Authority as Catholics claim though, because they weren’t Bishops. What did they receive with the laying on of hands?

1 Tim 3 indicates there were bishops

Ignatius of Antioch was a bishop. He died 105 AD.

Before Ignatius was bishop of Antioch, it was Evodius

Of course I agree that there were Bishops (also called Elders at times). I just don’t see a clear protocol for only Bishops being able to ordain clergy and that Bishops have some sort of special Holy Spirit or ‘apostolic powers’ that others don’t.





Have you read the letters of Ignatius of Antioch? He discusses the authority of the bishop quite heavily

Acts 11 says the disciples were first called Christians at Antioch.

When Jesus said I give you my authority and I will be with you until the end of time, who was he talking to? The apostles, not Luther or Calvin.

The Samaritans were believers and they didn’t get the Holy Spirit.

They did eventually.
It says in Acts 6:5 that Stephen was full of the Holy Spirt before he had hands laid on him and the others in verse 6. I think they were being ordained/commissioned, but this wasn’t their initial filling with the Holy Spirit. What did they receive?

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