Confused about Apostles

Help please.

It is my understanding that the office of apostle is continued in what we now call a bishop. However, we also speak of being in a post-apostolic era when it comes to distinguishing public and private revelation.

Even during the first century people other than the twelve were called apostles, Paul and Barnabbas, for example. How can there be a post-apostolic era if the office was intended to be passed on?

I understand the difference between those who lived with Jesus those three years and apostles who didn’t. I can also justify including Paul with them because of his experience on the Damascus Road. However, Luke, Mark, James, Jude and whoever wrote the Letter to the Hebrews didn’t live with Jesus and their writings are included in public revelation so they had to be apostles in the same sense as the twelve.

Pleasee help me make some sense of this.

EDIT: The This Rock article below explains it better than I could; thanks, Randy.

The Apostolic era ended around the end of the first century when John died. Terms are a bit fluid in this period as the following illustrates:

**Successors of the Apostles **
By Jimmy Akin
catholic.com/thisrock/2001/0107bt.asp

Christ conferred upon his apostles the original task of shepherding the earthly Church in his absence. As the Church grew, the apostles themselves appointed different kinds of ministers to assist them.

Among the apostles there were two groups. The first consisted of the Twelve, who witnessed the whole of Christ’s earthly ministry from his baptism to his Ascension (Acts 1:21-26). The second group of apostles, including Paul and Barnabas (Acts 14:14), was not bound by this condition. Thus Paul had seen and been commissioned as an apostle by the risen Christ (1 Cor. 9:1, Gal. 1:1), though he had not been a disciple of Jesus during his earthly ministry (Acts 9, 1 Cor. 15:8).

Christ could have continued to appear to individuals and appoint them as apostles throughout the Church age. However, he chose not to do so, and so the apostles passed from the scene.

…As the apostles died, the task of shepherding the Church fell by default upon the highest-ranking ministers appointed by them. This group is known today as the bishops, who are the successors of the apostles as the highest shepherds of the earthly Church.

Due to bishops’ role as the successors of the apostles, possession of a valid episcopacy is necessary for a church to claim apostolic succession. Apostolic succession thus involves in the bishops serving as **successors to the apostles, not serving as apostles. **The bishops are not simply a continuation of the office of apostle; they received the governance of the Church when that office ceased.

There is more in the link.

Thanks, I think. The article raises even more questions. :confused:

I thought the office of bishop was the same as apostle. Apparently that is not the case. According to Akin:

Though modern bishops succeed the apostles as the highest shepherds of the Church, and though they belong to unbroken lines of ordination going back to the hands of the apostles themselves, the office of bishop is not identical to the office of apostle. If it were, Christ would not have allowed the apostles to disappear from the scene but would have continued to appear to and commission new apostles for the Church.

He then lists some differences between apostle and bishop.

(Now that I think about it, aren’t two different words used for the offices in the Greek?)

That being the case, how do we justify using apostolic succession to support the office of the papacy? If the two offices are different, and apostles could do things which bishops can’t (or don’t), then apostleship has to be superior to being a bishop and all popes after Peter must be, to some degree, less than Peter in authority. I’ve always thought they were the same.

The Apostles were superior to the Bishops in that they were individually infallible and had universal jurisdiction, etc.

However, the Bishop are the legitimate successors of the Apostles because the Apostles left the Church in their care.

Here’s an analogy: Washington, Madison and Jefferson are all considered to be fathers of our nation. They were also presidents. Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush II and Obama are all US presidents and they have succeeded Washington, but they are not founders.

Does this help?

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