When did number of bishops grow beyond 12?


Back in Acts of the Apostles, they cast lots to select the successor of Judas. This seem to imply that the number 12 was significant. At what point did the number grow beyond the original 12, since today we have many Bishops?

As a secondary question, how many Bishops does the Church have?



We see already in the book of Acts and other NT writings where Bishops were being Ordained and placed in charge of various churches. The Election of Judas was to replace an Apostle, Bishops were apointed from local Christian communities. Today the Church has in round numbers 3000 +/- a few Bishops.


Thanks for the reply. The bishops were originally ordained by one of the twelve?



Yes. Todays Catholic Bishops are successors of the apostles, in that they have Apostolic succession back to one of the apostles.


Very early. The tradition of having only 12 in the second tier of the Church hierarchy was quickly abandoned, almost certianly before St Paul started his missions. We don’t know why or whether there was any debate about this.


Where did you think they came from, if not directly in line from the Apostles?


I’m probably going to be flamed for this, but, oh well

The Apostolic Ministry consists of several parts:

Ordination of Bishops and the Like

Testifying to the Resurrection of the Christ

Teaching the Christians about the true doctrine of the Faith

Spreading the Gospel

Every aspect of the Apostolic Ministry has passed into another form:

Ordination of Bishops is now done by other Bishops

Testifying to the Resurrection was written down as the NT

Teaching, well, I say this is also accomplished by the NT, Catholics say this is now done by the bishops, magisterium and tradition

Spreading the Gospel is now the charge, duty, and high privilege of all who claim Jesus as Lord

Of course, I left out the Pope…for obvious personal reasons


I think very simply it would have soon become apparent that 12 bishops were not enough to minister to the people.



You do realize that the word “pope” comes from the Latin word meaning “papa”

And that the pope is the head bishop.

And as such we can trace his ordination back to the first head bishop St. Peter.



St. Paul tells Timothy

1 Timothy 4:14
Do not neglect the spiritual gift within you, which was bestowed on you through prophetic utterance with the laying on of hands by the presbytery.

1 Timothy 5:22
Do not lay hands upon anyone too hastily and thereby share responsibility for the sins of others; keep yourself free from sin.

2 Timothy 1:6
For this reason I remind you to kindle afresh the gift of God which is in you through** the laying on of my hands.**


I understand that we have a clear understanding as to who all the Popes were.

But do we know exactly who all the Bishops were? Is there official documents that trace all the way back to the Apostles? Or is it a tradition that we accept with faith?


Is it possible to trace through contemporary written records the complete line of descent from the Apostles of every Bishop who has ever lived? No.

Can we be confident that every Catholic Bishop today is descended from the Apostles? Yes. We can trace all of them back through contemporary written records to a Pope or at least to a 15th-century bishop who was in union with the pope. Before the 15th century (when the printing press was invented) contemporary written records are much scarcer, though we do have very reliable contemporary written records of the succession of the Popes back to St Peter. So as we know the Pope has true apostolic succession, we know that at least any bishop who is in communion with (i.e. teaches the same doctrine as and is part of the same visible Church as) the Pope, and whom the Pope recognises as having Apostolic succession, is also descended from the apostles.

Many written records were destroyed in the Moslem assaults (which conquered 3/4 of Christendom and attacked and pillaged much of the rest) and in the conflagrations brought on by the Protestant revolts. When in the 16th century some of the protestant groups in Britain and Germany began to appoint their own “bishops” who were not ordained by any valid bishop, the Church saw the importance of sorting out and showing clearly the succession of valid bishops since that time.


The Pope is obviously Peters successor as head of the Apostles and Bishop of Rome.

Teaching according to Catholics is from Scripture and Apostolic Tradition which is entrusted to the Bishops.

Spreading the Gospel is now the responsibility of all Baptized Christians.


Also remember that an Ordinarion of a Bishop has required when possible (it was rare not to) that three valid Bishops Lay hands on the new Bishop, just in case.


:confused: Which part did you think was possibly flameworthy? Gee, we’re not THAT volatile here. You’re allowed to disagree with us!



Probably, one could answer this question by determining what was the 13th diocese to be founded. :slight_smile:



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