Apostolic Sucession and Acts 1:21-22


Hey folks, just looking for a better explaination than I have.

I have an anti-Catholic radio show here in Green Bay, that is putting forward a book about how Apostolic Sucession is false because for anyone to become an Apostle they had to have been ‘with us from the beginning’ and ‘accompanied us all the time’. Therefore, according to their logic, once the first generation was dead, the powers Christ gave to the Apostles died with them… i.e. no Apostolic Sucession. “Coincidentally” they just started put this out last Monday… they day the Holy Father announced his renouncement. (the book’s been out for a while, they just started advertising for it though…)

My first thought was doesn’t that elmininate Paul as being an Apostle?

After that, though, I’m pretty hazy.

Could I get an explaination (with Biblical refferences of course) of Apostolic Sucession especially in light of Acts 1:21-22?

Thank you and God Bless :signofcross:


Catholic Answers has a tract on Apostolic Succession.


First off, there are several ways the term "apostle" is used in Scripture; the Twelve are called the Apostles, and the term is also used to describe those who have seen the Risen Christ.

Second, "apostolic succession" doesn't mean that the person upon whom hands are laid (which is also undeniably contained in the text of Scripture as a means of handing on office, since the Apostles lay hands on Matthias as a way of handing on the office of Judas--"let another take his place") becomes an apostle, but the successor of the apostles. By the logic of that particular radio commentator, the Apostles were wrong to try to name Matthias a successor.



Here are some of the CCC references:


A. Founded upon the apostles in 3 ways, including continued guidance by the apostles through their successors, the bishops, priests, and pope (CCC 857).

B. Based on the promise to remain with them always, Matt. 28:20 (CCC 860)

C. Bishops are successors of the apostles (CCC 861)

D. Bishops take the place of the apostles as pastors (CCC 862)

E. History of the Theory of Apostolic Succession: began as a 3rd c. response to gnostic heresy.

  1. The debate finally came down to the authority of the church. Against the gnostics, their claim to secret messages and teachers, the church claimed to be in possession of the original gospel and the true teachings of Jesus.

2.They argued that if Jesus had had any secret teaching, He would have passed it through His apostles, or the successors of the apostles. The doctrine arose that the bishops were the successors--"apostolic succession." Since all the bishops unanimously denied any such secret teaching, the gnostic claim must be false.

  1. Apostolic succession strengthened by claim of some of the most ancient churches that they had lists of bishops linking them with the apostles. (Rome, Antioch, Ephesus, et al). Every church did not need such apostolic connections, since they all were in agreement on the one faith.

4.The development of episcopacy went through several stages.

a) At first, a plurality of bishops (presbyters, pastors) in each church (autonomous).

b) Early in 2nd century, Clement and Ignatius refer to bishops, etc. Clement seems still to recognize "bishops and deacons" in the churches. Also in the Didache.

c) Ignatius first to distinguish between bishop (one), the presbyters, and the deacons. Perhaps still a college of leaders seen as equals, but still distinguished.

d)By end of 2nd century, the bishop presides over the body of presbyters. This is called the monarchical episcopate. Irenaeus argues in Against Heresies that the bishop in each church is a successor to the apostles. Thus, to be in the true Christian fellowship in that place, must be right with the bishop. He also appealed to the church in Rome as established by Peter and Paul. Was the first to give a list of bishops of Rome (does not list Peter).

e) Tertullian is an example of two extremes. First he supported episcopacy, and unwittingly contributed to the tradition surrounding Rome. Then, reacting against growing formalism and reliance on human leadership, he joined the Montanists. Now was opposed to the importance of bishops. the church not guided by apostolic writings but by direct guidance of the HS.

f) Growth of episcopacy and heirarachy as bishops of large city churches gained prominence. They often assisted in starting new congregations, which came under their authority. AFter ca. 150, there were synods (meetings) of bishops. City bishops were prominent. Thus city bishops came to oversee the work of country bishops, which began to disappear.


That argument doesn't even pass the smell test. Think of it this way, especially regarding the Gospel of John. The gospels were all written after a considerable time that the Church had been established, and the authority of the Apostles was not in question. So why spend so much precious space detailing the authority they had and no one questioned? Spend space writing about things that will continue on. Especially with the Gospel of John. John speaks about forgiveness authority given to the Apostles. If it only stays with the Apostles, then WHY would John bother writing about it? He was the only one left.

John admits that there is much more that wasn't written, so why would he bother writing about it?

Also, they need to explain how Paul instructs/commands Timothy to ordain men, and instruct, correct, and rebuke these men in the Faith, so that they can do the same to other men and also correct, instruct and rebuke these other men. That details 4 "generations" of Apostolic succession right in Scripture.


[quote="PoorKnight, post:1, topic:315443"]
Apostolic Sucession is false because for anyone to become an Apostle they had to have been 'with us from the beginning' and 'accompanied us all the time'.


Since the bishops aren't apostles, the argument doesn't apply. Right?

Plus, what do they do with all the mentions in the New Testament of bishops? (episcopoi in Greek)

See Bishop, Priest, and Deacon from Catholic Answers.



Speaking of replacing the apostle Judas, in the King James Version of Acts 1:20 Peter says:

For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishoprick let another take.



Thanks folks this helps

God Bless, :signofcross:


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