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.
- 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.
- 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.