Apostolic SuccessionThe Problem: Many Christian churches deny Apostolic succession. Either the Apostles had no special authority ("we are all apostles") or the special authority they may have had died with them.
The Truth: Jesus Christ vested in the Apostles special authority. This special apostolic authority has been passed down in unbroken succession through the bishops of the Church for two millenia, so that the bishops of the Church truly teach with the voice of the Apostles.
The following exegesis is based on a series of class lectures given by Barbara Morgan, director of catechetics, Franciscan University:
Jn 5:19 Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing; for whatever he does, that the Son does likewise."
What Christ witnesses...
Lk 24:48 You are witnesses of these things.
The Apostles witness.
Mk 2:10 But that you may know that the Son of man has authority on earth to forgive sins"
Christ has the power to forgive sins...
Jn 20:21 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained."
And the Apostles are given the same power.
Jn 7:16 So Jesus answered them, "My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me...
Jn 5:30 "I can do nothing on my own authority; as I hear, I judge; and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me."
Jn 8:28-29 "When you have lifted up the Son of man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority but speak thus as the Father taught me.
Jn 12:49 For I have not spoken on my own authority; the Father who sent me has himself given me commandment what to say and what to speak.
Mt 28:18 And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me..."
Christ teaches a teaching not his own with all authority and power, authority given by the Father's command, derived from His own just judgment because it echoes what the Father wills and teaches...
Jn 16:11 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.
Lk 24:49 And behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in the city, until you are clothed with power from on high."
Mt 28:19-20 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you...
The Apostles are to teach a teaching not their own with all authority and power, authority given by Christ's command, derived from His own just judgement because it echoes what the Father wills and teaches.
Jn 20:21 Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you."
Christ sends the Apostles EXACTLY as He was sent.
Heb 3:1 Therefore, holy brethren, who share in a heavenly call, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession...
The Father commanded Him, Christ commands them, Christ was clothed with power from on high, so will they be. They are to echo the teaching of Christ, who gave them nothing of His own, but only what the Father told Him. They will be guided into all truth by the Spirit of truth, who also speaks only on the Father's authority.
Jn 28:29 And he who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what is pleasing to him."
Just as the Father never leaves Jesus...
Mt 28:20 and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age."
So Christ will never leave the Apostles.
Lk 6:13 And when it was day, he called his disciples, and chose from them twelve, whom he named apostles...
Mk 3:13 And he appointed twelve, to be with him, and to be sent out to preach 15 and have authority to cast out demons...
Mt 10:1 And he called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every infirmity.
Thus, when Christ chose twelve apostles from among the disciples and gave them special power...
Acts 14:22-23 strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God. 23 And when they had appointed elders for them in every church, with prayer and fasting they committed them to the Lord in whom they believed.
1 Tim 4:14 Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophetic utterance when the council of elders laid their hands upon you.
Tit 2:15 Declare these things; exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you.
those Twelve, to whom He has given unique authority, also have not only the authority, but the duty, to imitate Christ and choose successors from among the believers. These successors are to do the will of the Father just as the Apostles did, and just as Christ did before them.
1 Cor 12:28 And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, then healers, helpers, administrators, speakers in various kinds of tongues.
God's designation, made within the church, is what makes someone an apostle.
Lk 22:29-30 and I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom, 30 that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
Lk 10:16 "He who hears you hears me, and he who rejects you rejects me, and he who rejects me rejects him who sent me."
That is why Christ could say this to the Apostles. The Apostles rule over a kingdom, the kingdom of God, the Church. The Church is the Bride of Christ, Christ's Body, with Christ at Her head.
1 Thess 2:7,11 But we were gentle among you, like a nurse taking care of her children... for you know how, like a father with his children, we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you...
1 Thess 5:12-13 But we beseech you, brethren, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, 13 and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves.
The following five Scripture passages and their exegesis summarizes "Replacing Judas: A Lot More than Meets the Eye?", Timothy Gray, Lay Witness magazine, September 1997, p. 4-5.
1 Chron 24:5 They organized them by lot, all alike, for there were officers of the sanctuary and officers of God among both the sons of Eleazar and the sons of Ithamar.
1 Chron 25:8 And they cast lots for their duties, small and great, teacher and pupil alike.
1 Chron 24:31 These also, the head of each father's house and his younger brother alike, cast lots, just as their brethren the sons of Aaron, in the presence of King David, Zadok, Ahimelech, and the heads of fathers' houses of the priests and of the Levites.
Lk 1:8-9 Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty, 9 according to the custom of the priesthood, it fell to him by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense.
The priestly office was filled by lot in Judaic tradition.
Acts 1:15,20-26 In those days Peter stood up among the brethren (the company of persons was in all about a hundred and twenty), and said For it is written in the book of Psalms, 'Let his habitation become desolate, and let there be no one to live in it'; and 'His office let another take.' 21 So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from usone of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection." 23 And they put forward two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. 24 And they prayed and said, "Lord, who knowest the hearts of all men, show which one of these two thou hast chosen 25 to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside, to go to his own place." 26 And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias; and he was enrolled with the eleven apostles.
Peter, first among the Apostles, declared the problem and the solution. He decided what conditions were necessary for the consecration of one who would "take an office" in the church. The decision on whom to choose for the priestly office was established by lot - the followers of the Jew, Jesus Christ, were Jews who knew the traditions for filling priestly office. But Christ had taught them something else - how to establish the successors of the Apostles in their office, once chosen.
Acts 6:6 These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands upon them.
Acts 13:3 Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.
2 Tim 1:6 Hence I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands
Through the laying on of hands the office is filled.
Col 1:24-26 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, 25 of which I became a minister according to the divine office which was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, 26 the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now made manifest to his saints.
2 Tim 2:2 and what you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.
2 Tim 3:14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it...
Paul asserts that he is not "the" minister, but only "a" minister, one of those given stewardship. Timothy received it from Paul and the council of elders, who had themselves received the authority from the Apostles. Timothy is to pass this stewardship on to others, those who are faithful, in due course. This stewardship comes from the ministry of the Body of Christ, the Church.
Mt 16:16-19 Simon Peter replied, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." 17 And Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."
The Church, in Peter, is alone given the keys to the kingdom of heaven.
Jude 1:8,11 Yet in like manner these men in their dreamings defile the flesh, reject authority, and revile the glorious ones... Woe to them! For they walk in the way of Cain, and abandon themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam's error, and perish in Korah's rebellion.
Mt 18:17-18 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 18 Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.
The Church, alive in the Christ-given authority of the Apostles, has ultimate authority to judge the truth or falsehood of a situation, because they have the authority Christ has. She alone guards the full deposit of faith, for Christ is One with His Bride, whose ministers have divine authority.
Acts 5:1-4 But a man named Ananias with his wife Sapphira sold a piece of property, 2 and with his wife's knowledge he kept back some of the proceeds, and brought only a part and laid it at the apostles' feet. 3 But Peter said, "Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back part of the proceeds of the land? 4 While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? How is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God."5 When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and died. And great fear came upon all who heard of it.
Ananias and Sapphira lied to the Apostles, yet Peter says they lied to the Holy Spirit, to God Himself. This sin against the apostles was a deadly sin against God.
Jn 14:15-17 "If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you for ever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him; you know him, for he dwells with you, and will be in you.
1 Cor 11:2 I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I have delivered them to you.
2 Tim 1:13 Follow the pattern of the sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus;
Jn 16:23 In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask anything of the Father, he will give it to you in my name.
Early Christians' comments on the Apostolic Succession