How do we know infallibility gets passed down?

I understand the promises made to Peter in Mathew 16 and to the apostles as a whole in Mathew 18, but what I would like someone to explain is the Church teaching behind this concept: When Jesus tells the apostles he will send the Holy Spirit down to them and prevent them from saying untruths and essentially make them unfallible, how do we know He intended that to be passed down through apostolic succession? Protestants argue He was just talking to the apostles alone and not to the Church itself…So how does the Church react to this? I know Jesus says the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church, but that doesn’t promise infallibility necessarily. There has to be a better argument than just that. Help on this would be much appreciated!

Well, think through it.

How exactly would the Church operate down through time without this charism?

I am not sure I understand your response…Islam has been in existence for well over a thousand years and some branches are still basically the same as when they started…and they obviously do NOT have infallibility on their side. I am not saying the Church isn’t infallible by the way, I just want to know what the theological argument is that opposes the claim I mentioned in the original post. What does the Church say when a Protestant says to them, “Jesus was only talking to apostles, not to the Church”?

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

**1558 **"Episcopal consecration confers, together with the office of sanctifying, also the offices of teaching and ruling. . . . In fact . . . by the imposition of hands and through the words of the consecration, the grace of the Holy Spirit is given, and a sacred character is impressed in such wise that bishops, in an eminent and visible manner, take the place of Christ himself, teacher, shepherd, and priest, and act as his representative (in Eius persona agant)."37 "By virtue, therefore, of the Holy Spirit who has been given to them, bishops have been constituted true and authentic teachers of the faith and have been made pontiffs and pastors."38

Also see 1 Timothy 4:14. In fact, the letters to Timothy demonstrate apostolic succession perfectly.

Protestants argue He was just talking to the apostles alone and not to the Church itself…So how does the Church react to this?

Interestingly, we will also say that Christ spoke to the Apostles alone, while other Protestants argue that anything Jesus said to the Apostles also applies to all members of the Church.

In fact, Christ spoke to and conferred the power upon the Apostles alone, who then working in the person of Christ conferred the power upon others, such as Timothy.

I know Jesus says the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church, but that doesn’t promise infallibility necessarily. There has to be a better argument than just that. Help on this would be much appreciated!

You are right, and I think that interpretation is kind of bogus even though I am Catholic. The Church offers an official interpretation. From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

**552 **Simon Peter holds the first place in the college of the Twelve;283 Jesus entrusted a unique mission to him. Through a revelation from the Father, Peter had confessed: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Our Lord then declared to him: "You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it."284 Christ, the “living Stone”,285 thus assures his Church, built on Peter, of victory over the powers of death. Because of the faith he confessed Peter will remain the unshakable rock of the Church. His mission will be to keep this faith from every lapse and to strengthen his brothers in it.286

And further:

834 Particular Churches are fully catholic through their communion with one of them, the Church of Rome "which presides in charity."315 "For with this church, by reason of its pre-eminence, the whole Church, that is the faithful everywhere, must necessarily be in accord."316 Indeed, "from the incarnate Word’s descent to us, all Christian churches everywhere have held and hold the great Church that is here [at Rome] to be their only basis and foundation since, according to the Savior’s promise, the gates of hell have never prevailed against her."317

Again, think it through.

Islam has Shiite, Sunni, Sufi, and does NOT have universal, unchanged, uniform teaching. In fact, it has conflicting teachings.

Great quotes…although one question I do have is that if bishops are taking the place of Christ, then why do they have to adhere to the Pope? I know it sounds like a foolish question, and in a way it is, but there are many bishops and they clearly do not have the power entrusted in them that Rome does.

Yes I recognize that…but Shiite and Sunni have basically been around since nearly the very beginning…and last I checked, Christianity is not unified either.

You are basically saying that because the Church has survived, they must be infallible…and that is a very poor argument, even if true.

But why would he bother to give the apostles alone infallibility? As you point out, the Muslims haven’t needed it (though I wonder about “basically the same”). So why would the apostles need it for 30 or 40 or 50 years, but then nobody after that for the next 2000/3000/X000? Is that how you would have done it?

No. That is not what I am saying at all. Here is what you propose:

God requires us to keep his commandments. i.e. to know the Truth and follow it. (Jesus is the Way, Truth, and Life)
Yet God provided no way for us to know the Truth today nor anyone beyond the first century.

We have to look to the Old Testament for the basis of teaching on this and remember that the Old Testament is the story of God progressively revealing himself to his chosen people. Jesus is the King of kings, and we learn about what plans God has for his Kingdom from the kingdoms of the Old Testament.

The kings of the Old Testament always had a group of “ministers”, close counselors and people with specific areas of responsiblity, similar to the US President’s cabinet. One of the ministers was a first, or “Prime” minister. The Old Testament refers to these people using terms such as “Lord over the house of the King” and similar titles.

You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people shall dart at your command. Only in respect to the throne shall I outrank you. Herewith," Pharaoh told Joseph, “I place you in charge of the whole land of Egypt.” With that, Pharaoh took off his signet ring and put it on Joseph’s finger. He had him dressed in robes of fine linen and put a gold chain about his neck. He then had him ride in the chariot of his vizier, and they shouted “Abrek!” before him. Thus was Joseph installed over the whole land of Egypt. “I, Pharaoh, proclaim,” he told Joseph, “that without your approval no one shall move hand or foot in all the land of Egypt.” (Genesis 41:40-44)

Joseph was installed as “Prime Minister” to the king of Egypt. We see in the Book of Esther how the office of Prime Minister was transferred from an unworthy servant to a worthy servant.

***The king removed his signet ring from Haman, and transferred it into the keeping of Mordecai; and Esther put Mordecai in charge of the house of Haman. *(Esther 8:2)

This is God’s revelation of how his own kingdom would be organized. We see it again the prophecy of Isaiah.

***I will thrust you from your office
and pull you down from your station.
On that day I will summon my servant
Eliakim, son of Hilkiah;
I will clothe him with your robe,
gird him with your sash,
confer on him your authority.
He shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem,
and to the house of Judah.f
I will place the key of the House of David on his shoulder;
what he opens, no one will shut,
what he shuts, no one will open.
*(Isaiah 22:19-22)

This is a text which every Catholic should be familiar with because Jesus references this exact passage when he gives the keys of the kingdom to Peter.

***I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” *(Matthew 16:19)

Infallibilty when teaching on matters of faith and morals belongs to the Holy Father by virtue of his office as Prime Minister of the Church, which is handed down. The fact that it was intenteded as an office to be handed down is revealed to us in scripture.

Catholics believe that infallibility is part of the office of the Pope. Non-Catholics can argue about whether that is true or not but Catholics believe that it is. The fact that the Prime Minister who is in charge of God’s Kingdom is an office established by God to be handed down - that is not debatable because it is revealed to us in scripture.

Catholics believe infallibility when teaching on matters of faith and morals is a virtue of the office of the Pope, not a virtue of the man who hold’s that office himself.


Infallibility was a gift given by Christ to his closest disciples, his inner circle, the 12 Apostles.

Because knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven has been granted to you, but to them it has not been granted. (Matthew 12:11)


I am not saying that at all…I don’t know, that’s why I asked. But to answer your question: Honestly, would it be so ridiculous if we were all just supposed to live the way Jesus said, the way the apostles said, and then when an issue arises that they didn’t address, the Church can address that issue but do it without saying their ruling is infallible? Why is it assumed the Church MUST have all the answers to every question that arises when they admit there are many questions they cannot answer…many mysteries of faith. If they have infallibility, there should be NO mysteries.

Great quote, but who is “Eliakim, son of Hilkiah”?


What you are saying is that the Church’s teaching can be wrong. That is the opposite of TRUE.

Objective Truth exists, God says we can know it, therefore we must have a WAY to know it.

Because those apostles said so, and they could speak infallibly in the matter.

He is one of the players in 2 Kings who took the place of Shebna. Shebna was “Master of the palace” but King Hezikiah removed Shebna from that office and put Eliakim in his place. Shebna was demoted to the position of scribe or secretary.

“Eliakim” means “One whom God will raise up.”

If I remember correctly, the prophet Isaiah had called on the Israelites to fast and put on sackcloth and ashes to show contrition and petition God for help in battle. I believe that Shebna started fortifying the city instead, tearing down houses to build up the defenses, and in so doing relied on himself and his own strength instead of relying on God. I think he even partied before the battle and may have coined the phrase, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” God wasn’t too happy about this and let Shebna know about it through the prophet Isaiah.

I don’t think there is much information about Eliakim prior to his being appointed Master of the Palace, but I could have missed it or forgotten.

2 Kings 18, 19 and a few other chapters prior and after are the story of King Hezikiah and include Shebna and Eliakim as characters. It reads like a good John Wayne war movie. I was in a men’s bible study once and all the guys loved it.

1 and 2 Kings are great books. They show how the Mother of the King was the Queen and therefor why Mary is a Queen and teach us much about how the Kingdom’s of the Old Testament were prototypes for his true kingdom to come.


Howdy Tim .Who is the “them” in Matt13:11 ? I believe the truth shall set you free and that he came for us to have life ,and more abundantly. Protestantism and Catholicism had fascinating beginnings in the New World, each with its own geographic “boundaries “,with some” mixing” . Each having their own distinct “truth” on what is man and his role on earth ,and governance and industry-shaping the “culture” in every aspect .I would suggest the outcomes are pronounced enough in their differences to ask why. It seems it may be tied to your assertion above, as to whom the mysteries, the Holy Spirit, infallibility, etc., are granted to.

When did the apostles say this? According to the Eastern Rites, Rome does not have infallibility, and they actually have valid apostolic succession as well dating back to apostles who were also promised the same authority as Peter.

With all due respect, Protestantism had is beginnings in Germany in 1520.

Catholicism however has Jewish Temple worship given to Israel by God at it’s very roots. Catholicism was born sacramentally when blood and water flowed from Christ’s side. The Catholic Church was born materially and visibly at Pentacost, fifty days after Christ’s ressurection. Catholicism and Christianity were synonymous from AD33 until 1520.

Matthew in general, does not differentiate between the larger group of “Disciples” and the 12 Apostles. Matthew does however, specify “The twelve” five times. Surely, as a disciple of Christ, you don’t claim to be infallible?

I’m unsure of the outcomes of which you speak. Do you mean Catholic French Canada, the entire continent of South America, and Western North America which was mostly, if not totally Catholic? Or do you mean the thirteen colonies of mostly Protestant origin, founded by Unitarian Universalists like John Adams and Freemasons like George Washington? Do your outcomes include legalized murder of unborn infants and fifty million butchered babies?


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