What is apostolic succession? Is it Biblical?


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The doctrine of apostolic succession is the belief that the twelve apostles passed on their authority to successors, who then passed the apostolic authority on to their successors and continuing throughout the ages to this day.

However, nowhere in the New Testament are any of the twelve apostles recorded as passing on their apostolic authority to successors. Jesus ordained the apostles to build the foundation of the church (Ephesians 2:20). The church does not need apostolic successors to continue but rather it needs the teachings of the apostles accurately recorded and preserved. And that is exactly what God has provided in His Word (Ephesians 1:13; Colossians 1:5; 2 Timothy 2:15; 4:2).

Some believe that there is no legitimacy to any church that cannot trace its lineage back to the apostles. But a true church is not based on the apostolic succession but rather on following the doctrines of God’s Word. And doctrinal differences are a result of some Christians refusing to agree with what the scripture says (Acts 20:32; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; Acts 17:10-12) –  and not a result of there being no “supreme authority” to interpret Scripture.

The Bible is very clear that the Lord adopts people into His church who may not have any apostolic succession.  For instance, the apostle Paul, was not trained by Jesus or the apostles directly, and yet was called by the Lord to lead in the church.  Also, Martin Luther, is another example of a Christian leader who received the calling of God through the study of the Word not through the apostolic succession. And there are many other examples through the history of the Christian Church.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team


This answer is also available in: हिन्दी

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