Apostolic Succession is Extra-Biblical


If Jesus did not send His Apostles with His own Authority, then what did He mean when He said " As the Father has sent me, even so I send you." John 20:21?


The OP says,

So I must conclude that Jesus had in mind all true believers throughout all subsequent generations until the "end of the age.

I would assume that he believes that both authority and the command to evangelize all nations were given to “all true believers”.

So, apparently, all true believers were empowered to authoritatively interpret scripture, authoritatively teach on morals and faith, and authoritatively “bind and loose” things both in heaven and on earth.




And what was Paul doing when he told TImothy and Titus to appoint elders?

And what did they do in Acts 1 when Matthew became an apostle?

And did Jesus really mean that the apostles had authority to teach and forgive but that would die out in their generation?

And was Jesus only joking when he told the disciples to teach others everything He taught them?

And when He said

"Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you."
22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, "Receive the Holy Spirit.
23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.

this was to only the twelve? Or to those they would appoint after them? Or to those some congregation would elect someday? Or someone who decided they have the anointing? I don’t see Jesus calling the church together here to “call” a pastor, or elect elders. This is hierarchial. How could anyone miss this? How could they not see it in Scripture?

Those who propose another model of Church government than hierarchial but deny what Scripture says are not living by Sola Scriptura. There is an inconsistency in rejecting what plainly happened and was agreed to in Scripture and early church history for something that can only be forced on the Scriptures.


For apostolic succession, see also…

2 Tim 2:2 “what you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.”


What provisions were made for replacing these Apostles after their deaths? Let’s consider what the Bible tells us about Apostolic Succession:

“During those days Peter stood up in the midst of the brothers (there was a group of about one hundred and twenty persons in the one place). He said, “My brothers, the scripture had to be fulfilled which the holy Spirit spoke beforehand through the mouth of David, concerning Judas, who was the guide for those who arrested Jesus. He was numbered among us and was allotted a share in this ministry. He bought a parcel of land with the wages of his iniquity, and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle, and all his insides spilled out. This became known to everyone who lived in Jerusalem, so that the parcel of land was called in their language ‘Akeldama,’ that is, Field of Blood. For it is written in the Book of Psalms: ‘Let his encampment become desolate, and may no one dwell in it.’ And: ‘May another take his office.’ Therefore, it is necessary that one of the men who accompanied us the whole time the Lord Jesus came and went among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day on which he was taken up from us, become with us a witness to his resurrection.” So they proposed two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also known as Justus, and Matthias. Then they prayed, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this apostolic ministry from which Judas turned away to go to his own place.” Then they gave lots to them, and the lot fell upon Matthias, and he was counted with the eleven apostles.” (Acts 1:15-26)

In this passage, we see that the original eleven Apostles acted to fill the vacant position or office that was held previously by Judas. Thus, when the office-holder died, he was replaced. This process of replacement explains one aspect of Apostolic Succession. Already within the early Church, we can see that there were 13 Apostles – not just the original Twelve.

“But wait,” some will object. “There were still only 12 offices; Matthias replaced Judas Iscariot. He did not add another office. I don’t see where the church should have more than 12 Apostles based on this passage.” For the answer to this question, we must look to another passage from the Book of Acts:

“The priest of Zeus, whose temple was just outside the city, brought bulls and wreaths to the city gates because he and the crowd wanted to offer sacrifices to them. But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of this, they tore their clothes and rushed out into the crowd, shouting: "Men, why are you doing this? We too are only men, human like you.” (Acts 14:13-15)

From this passage, we can see that the number of Apostles had expanded beyond the original Twelve; there were now 15 men who had held the office of Apostle. From these men, the authority of Jesus given to the original Twelve was passed on to other men who passed on that authority to still other men who followed them. The Apostles were the first Bishops; they appointed or ordained others, as well. As the Church grew, so too did the number of Bishops who served the needs of the Church. The leadership of the church can be seen to expand in several passages:

“This saying is trustworthy: whoever aspires to the office of bishop desires a noble task.” (1 Timothy 3:1)

The Bishops also appointed presbyters (or priests) and deacons as helpers in the service of the Church.

In several passages in Paul’s letters to Timothy and Titus, we can see that Paul acted as a “spiritual father” passing on his Apostolic Authority to his “sons” as an “inheritance”. There are numerous examples of this language in these letters, but one should suffice:

“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by command of God our savior and of Christ Jesus our hope, to Timothy, my true child in faith” (1 Timothy 1:1-2)



Other examples can be found in 2 Timothy 1:2 and 2:1, 1 Timothy 1:18 and Titus 1:4. Similarly, in his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul highlighted the authority with which they should receive Timothy when he wrote:

“For this reason I am sending you Timothy, who is my beloved and faithful son in the Lord; he will remind you of my ways in Christ (Jesus), just as I teach them everywhere in every church.” (1 Corinthians 4:17)

Timothy was sent to Corinth with the Authority of Paul to teach and remind them of the things Paul had taught them personally. Again, Paul instructed Timothy concerning the handing on of his teachings:

“And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others.” (2 Timothy 2:2)

In this one passage, we see four generations in the line of Apostolic Succession: 1) Paul, 2) Timothy, 3) those to whom Timothy would pass on Paul’s teachings, and 4) those whom they in turn would teach. Remember, the mission of the Church is to teach, and one office in the Church is that of teacher. Thus, Paul is instructing Timothy about the handing on of teachings of Christ which is the function of a Bishop. This is Apostolic Succession at work. Paul also told Titus:

“The reason I left you in Crete was that you might straighten out what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you. An elder must be blameless, the husband of but one wife, a man whose children believe and are not open to the charge of being wild and disobedient. Since an overseer [or bishop] is entrusted with God’s work, he must be blameless” (Titus 1:5-7)

Paul, tells Titus to appoint Bishops in every town; the consecration of Bishops is something that only another bishop can do, so here we see another example of Apostolic Authority and Apostolic Succession at work: Paul has ordained Titus and given him the authority to ordain others. The expanding church needed an expanding leadership.

In keeping with the mission of the Church which is to teach, Paul told Timothy:

“As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies.” (1 Timothy 1:3)

“Command and teach these things. Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity. Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching.” (1 Timothy 4:11-13)

Preaching, teaching, commanding others, appointing Bishops: these are the things that Paul has given Timothy and Titus the authority to do. But how was this Apostolic Authority handed on? By a formal ceremony known as “laying on of hands” as we see in the following passages:

“For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.” (2 Tim 1:6)

“Do not neglect your gift, which was given you through a prophetic message when the body of elders [or bishops] laid their hands on you.” (1 Timothy 4:14)

Paul also cautions Timothy:

“Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands” (1 Timothy 5:22)

So we see that the ordaining of Bishops is not something to be taken lightly or done spuriously. The mission of the teaching Church must be entrusted to reliable men.

Do these passages give us any impression that the early Church taught that anyone and everyone could pick up a Bible, interpret it for themselves, and then begin to exercise true, Apostolic Authority in the course of fulfilling the teaching mission of the Church of God infallibly? No! The Apostles, who were chosen and sent by Jesus and led by the promised Holy Spirit, have passed on not only the teaching that they received from Jesus, but also their God-given authority through the formal “laying on of hands” upon other men from one generation to the next from their day all the way down to our own time.

Hope this helps. :tiphat:


This was exactly what I needed. I’ve been doubting apos. succes. and whether or not to trust the RCC, this really helps. Thank you!


2 Timothy 1:6 says it in clear language:

Hence I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands;

Timothy receives the gift of God through the laying on of hands. What is that gift for? “God did not give us a spirit of timidity but a spirit of power and love and self-control.” Reading further we see that Paul is referring to Timothy’s share in Paul’s mission as “preacher and apostle and teacher.”


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