Bishops, today's Apostles

I was listening to an evangelical radio station yesterday when the speaker admitted that he was not an apostle, and that no one is an apostle today.

This is an error.

The Bishops of the Catholic Church are CHRIST’S apostles today in the church which HE organized and created. They can all trace the roots of their ordination as priests and Bishops back through Peter and the other apostles who laid hands on the chosen to anoint them into the priestly service.

Well… to be fair, the bishops today are the successors to the Apostles. But I would disagree with your radio host by saying there might still be apostles today. In the sense that the apostle is the “the first successful Christian missionary in a country or to a people.”

No, this is not how we phrase things. The Bishops are the successors to the apostles, but they are not apostles themselves. We clearly delineate the end of public revelation with the death of the last apostle, St. John.

Does this mean Matthias was not an apostle but a successor?


No. There were more than 12 Apostles. Paul, Matthias, etc were also Apostles. However, there were no more Apostles once St. John died, who was the last of the org 12 Apostles.

God Bless

Matthias was an apostle, as were St. Paul and St. Barnabas. St. John is considered the last apostle because he was the last to die. At that point, public revelation closed, and there will be no more.

Hi, Ambrose!
I have heard/read that expression several times… somehow, the term “apostle” seems to comprehend only the Twelve Apostles… yet, it is not “Biblical” (a term on which non-Catholic Christians tend to base their arguments):

For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. (1 Corinthians 15:9)

I have made a fool of myself, but you drove me to it. I ought to have been commended by you, for I am not in the least inferior to the “super-apostles,” even though I am nothing. (2 Corinthians 12:11)

5 and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. 6 After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. (1 Corinthians 15:5-8)

In the above passages we have St. Paul: a) designate himself as an apostle, b) demonstrates that there are indeed ranks (at least from people’s perspectives–as it happens with today’s “super-evangelists/preachers”) amongst apostles to which he has been relegated to an inferior class, and c) he distinguishes between the Twelve and all of the apostles (which implicitly tells us that there are more than Twelve/Thirteen).

Clearly, Apostle is a specific title designating the Twelve or one of the Twelve:

•The name Apostle denotes principally one of the twelve disciples who, on a solemn occasion, were called by Christ to a special mission. In the Gospels, however, those disciples are often designated by the expressions of mathetai (the disciples) or dodeka (the Twelve) and, after the treason and death of Judas, even of hendeka (the Eleven). (

Yet, “apostle” was also a title given/used to demonstrate intimate Fellowship with the Church:

•The word Apostle has also in the New Testament a larger meaning, and denotes some inferior disciples who, under the direction of the Apostles, preached the Gospel, or contributed to its diffusion; thus Barnabas (Acts 14:4, 14), probably Andronicus and Junias (Romans 16:7), Epaphroditus (Philippians 2:25), two unknown Christians who were delegated for the collection in Corinth (2 Corinthians 8:23). We know not why the honourable name of Apostle is not given to such illustrious missionaries as Timothy, Titus, and others who would equally merit it. (

Conversely, what I truly find puzzling is how non-Catholics can claim the right to ordain/commission Priests/Pastors/Bishops when they broke from the Church, with Luther’s schism, and do not share her History nor her Doctrine–yet, they insist on seeking ways to reject the Catholic Church and Sacred Traditions (Oral and Written).

Maran atha!


Hi, Porthos!
Funny thing is that the term “apostle” does not mean twelve or revelation. Since the Apostles did not believe so, I wonder where did this fallacy originated.

I concur with you fully, the death of St. John (or the Inspiration of the book of Apocalypse/Revelation) does end public revelation.

Maran atha!


I know this is the teaching but it leaves much to be pondered.

If Matthias was an apostle, not originally chosen by Jesus, and other “successors”, not chosen by Jesus are not apostles, what is the death of one John have to do with it. How is this “death” eperence phenomenon that immediately permeates through Christianity explained?


My understanding would be:
1.) The Twelve Apostles (which would include Matthias)
2.) Biblically ordained Missionary Apostles, chief of which were St. Paul & St. Barnabas
3.) Latter day Apostles: viz: St. Patrick the Apostle of Ireland, St. Augustine the Apostle of England, St. Boniface the Apostle of Germany etc.

I agree but this does not explain why Matthias is considered “one of the twelve” but Matthias’ successor is not.

Wasnt Peter’s successor (Linus) named before John died? Why is Matthias considered an “apostle” and Linus considered “a successor”?


Those are good points of course.

Re: Matthias: He was chosen by the 11 to take the place of Judas as prophesied in SS. IOW, he is not anyone’s successor, but has taken the place left vacant by Judas. This was the actual reason for his election, to complete the Apostolic college to 12 again. Therefore he is numbered as one of the 12 Apostles.

Peter’s successor Linus was a successor as you have stated. However, unlike a regular bishop, he was the successor of the Petrine Office. IOW, his authority outweighed St. John the Apostle’s!

There are things not fully explained in Scriptures; yet, I venture to conclude that it has to do with the Election of the Twelve:

29 And I dispose to you, as my Father hath disposed to me, a kingdom; 30 That you may eat and drink at my table, in my kingdom: and may sit upon thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (St. Luke 22:29-30)

18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” 20 Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah. (St. Matthew 16:18-20)

16 And I will ask the Father, and he shall give you another Paraclete, that he may abide with you for ever. 17 The spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, nor knoweth him: but you shall know him; because he shall abide with you, and shall be in you. (St. John 14:16-17)

1 Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. 2 With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet. 3 Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? 4 Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.” 5 When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened… 9 Peter said to her, “How could you conspire to test the Spirit of the Lord? Listen! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.” 10 At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11 Great fear seized the whole church and all who heard about these events. (Acts 5:1-10)

Yes, we are all called to take part in Christ’s Priestly Kingdom but not all of us hold the Ministry of the Priesthood. We are all called and are sent (by Jesus) but only the Twelve (with the inclusion of Judas, who by default abandoned his post/Ministry as he betrayed Jesus, and of Matthias who filled the abandoned Seat) were singled out by Jesus with Commandment and Delegation.

Maran atha!



Here’s the reason:

15 In those days Peter stood up among the believers (a group numbering about a hundred and twenty) 16 and said, “Brothers and sisters, the Scripture had to be fulfilled in which the Holy Spirit spoke long ago through David concerning Judas, who served as guide for those who arrested Jesus. 17 He was one of our number and shared in our ministry.” 18 (With the payment he received for his wickedness, Judas bought a field; there he fell headlong, his body burst open and all his intestines spilled out. 19 Everyone in Jerusalem heard about this, so they called that field in their language Akeldama, that is, Field of Blood.)
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,’
“‘May another take his place of leadership.’
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.”23 So they nominated two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. 24 Then they prayed, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen 25 to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs.” 26 Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles. (Acts 1;15-26)

It is God’s Determination that there be Twelve (Israel’s Tribes); still, there are issues since Saul as also Elected… yet, not for the tribes but for the other sheep (Gentiles).

Maran atha!


My understanding was that the Apostles were taught directly by Jesus.

Hi, Mary!
…still, the choosing of Matthias (or rather the replacement of Judas Iscariot) was foretold in prophecy and took place by Inspiration of the Holy Spirit. While Saul was another matter, he indeed had a one to One with Jesus! :wink:

Maran atha!


You forgot the 72. :smiley:

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