Apostolic Succsession
Apostolic Succession:
A Roman Invention or Divine Institution?

       The first part of this article will demonstrate the biblical basis for apostolic succession, and thus its necessary purpose as designed and intended by Christ our Lord. The second part will demonstrate that those Christians who were disciples of the Apostles, and those who were taught by those very disciples of the Apostles, and who were leaders of the early Church, all recognized, exercised, and defended the truth that Apostolic succession is both a doctrine revealed by God, taught by Christ and the Apostles, and necessary and foundational to the structure of Christ’s Body on earth, the Church. (Because of the variety of Bible translations, it is expected of the reader to use his own Bible to look up and read the verses cited herein. Verses cited are according to Protestant/modern numberings.)

       The Church, as the body of Christ (Eph.1:22b-23), has Christ as her head and ruler (Col.1:18). Since the Church, as His body, reflects the Incarnate Christ in His divine and human natures, she, then, also has the same two-fold dimension. That is, the Church also has both spiritual/bodily, invisible/visible, eternal/historical elements and nature as Christ did on earth (and does so now in Heaven). This is one of the consequences of the Incarnation: that the Church, as Christ’s body on earth, would have these same characteristics; and since Christ now in heaven is invisible to us down here, and He said He would be with us forever -and Christ would never divorce His humanity from His divinity- then He must have visible representatives on earth. Those representatives can only be found within His body, the Church; hence the visible nature and structure of the Church.

       The Catholic Church teaches, as God has revealed in Sacred Scripture, that the Lord Jesus chose the twelve Apostles to be His visible representatives on earth: "As I have been sent by my Father, so now I send YOU -to make disciples of all nations and teach them all that I have commanded…" (see John 20:21 and Matt. 28:18-20). So, as the Father has sent Christ, so now the Lord sent His Apostles in the same manner. Well, Christ was sent not only to die for us, but to teach us with all authority. The inescapable fact is that Christ sent the Apostles AS THE FATHER SENT HIM, and thus the Apostles were sent to teach with all authority. Christ's chosen representatives were to be no less teachers than He was.

       But if the Lord intended His representatives to teach as He Himself taught(AS the Father sent Me, SO I send YOU), then did He explicitly make clear that whoever hears His chosen representatives would in fact being hearing the Master? The answer is YES! Christ did make this clear and explicit: Our Lord declared, “He who hears you [Christ’s chosen representatives], hears ME; whoever rejects you, rejects ME” (Luke 10:16). This clearly states that to accept Christ’s chosen representatives is the very same as accepting Him; and to reject those same representatives is to reject Christ Himself. There is no avoiding the truth of the plain meaning of these words. Thus, Christ chose specific men to represent Him on earth -with His authority to teach and govern. If this were NOT the case, then anyone who hears or rejects them would NOT be hearing or rejecting the Lord Jesus Christ (that is, when those chosen representatives teach according to the office given them). But Christ declared the very opposite, for to reject them IS to reject Christ. Thus Christ’s authority does have visible representation in men; and this is not limited to the Apostles, since in Luke 10 the Lord was speaking to the seventy-two disciples.

       Because of this truth established by Our Lord Himself, the Church of Christ is not an abstraction or merely a "fellowship of believers" with no visible authority structure. The incarnate nature of Christ’s body demands such a structure (try to find a body without structure!). Christ's Church has always been visible throughout history as having been "built on the foundation of the Apostles and the prophets." These men were historical, and thus visible, personages. As St. Paul says: "how can someone preach unless he is sent?" (Rom.10:15) Sent by whom? Sent by someone with authority from Christ to do so. From this flows the truth of how believers can tell if someone has truly been sent by Christ: i.e., through Christ's designed order of commissioning, which has a visible, "incarnate," character. It is thus, historical, traceable.

       Let us look at this another way: Christ commissioned the Apostles to proclaim the Gospel and make disciples of all nations, to baptize and TEACH ALL that He had commanded them, and He said He would remain with them until the end of time (Mat. 28:20). Ask yourself: What did the Lord mean when He promised to remain with THEM, and do so until the end of time? How could this be fulfilled since surely the Apostles themselves did not, nor could not, reach every nation on every continent in the world? How could this directive and authority, spoken specifically to the Apostles, last until the end of time since they all were dead by the end of the first century? How could Christ remain with them in fulfilling their commission of converting and teaching every nation on earth, until the end of time, EXCEPT by the very fact that they would have successors? Think about it (for you Protestants, pray also about it): there is no other possibility.

       Therefore the continuation of Christ's commission and teaching authority conferred upon the Apostles had to have gone beyond their deaths, and this is "embodied" throughout history in their successors. These successors have always been recognized as the bishops of the Catholic Church. In fact, this is the very way in which the Triune God has intervened into the human affairs of this last age, and Christ continued with this principle when He established His Church. Let me demonstrate this truth:

       - the Father sends Christ into the world (Jn.17:18a, 20:21a);
       - Jesus (with the Father) sends the Holy Spirit (Jn.1:33, 16:7; 2 Cor.1:21-22; 1 Jn.4:13) who is the Soul of the Church - the Divine/spiritual/ invisible element of the Church;
       - Christ also sends the Apostles into the world (Mt.28:18-19; Jn.17:18b, 20: 21) as His stewards, which represents the human/historical/ visible element);
       - the Apostles, guided and directed by the Spirit of truth (Jn.14:16-17, 16:13), appointed and sent their successors to oversee, teach, and shepherd the body of believers (see Ac.14:23, 20:28; 2 Tm.2:1-2; Ti.1:5).

    Thus the Church of Christ in this aspect reflects the very principle by which the Holy Trinity has intervened in history. (God does not work contrary to His own established principles -otherwise, He would be contradicting Himself.)
       Let us go directly to Sacred Scripture and use St. Timothy* as a specific example which gives witness to the truth of Apostolic succession:

       A) St. Timothy was ordained by the Apostle Paul (2 Tim.1:6), and a group of elders (1 Tim.4:14) through the imposition of hands.
       B) He was then sent by St. Paul to teach and lead, just as St. Paul himself taught and led the church at Corinth (1 Cor.4:17) -thus having the very same teaching authority as the Apostle Paul (though he wasn't inspired as St. Paul was; but lack of divine inspiration does not mean a lack of teaching authority).
       C) St. Timothy did the Lord's work just as St. Paul did the Lord's work (1 Cor.16:10).
       D) St. Paul commissions St. Timothy to proclaim the gospel, teach authoritatively, and fulfill his ministry (1 Tim.4:11; 6:11-14; 2 Tm.4:1, 5), just as St. Paul did the same (1 Tim.1:12-13, 2 Tim.1:11).
       E) St. Timothy was in turn to entrust this shepherding and teaching ministry to "faithful men who will be able to teach others"(2 Tim.2:1-2). Thus, it is quite clear that a teaching office was to be passed on.
       F) This ministry with its succession was so important that St. Timothy was not to "lay hands upon anyone too hastily" (1 Tim.5:22), for he who holds the office of a bishop must be above reproach... prudent... able to teach (see 1 Tim.3:1-2), because a bishop is God's steward, that is, His representative (see Titus 1:7).

       So we see that it is a revealed truth that St. Timothy was to teach and govern, and do so authoritatively, just as St. Paul did, and then to pass on the very same teaching authority to other worthy men. It is clear for those who have "eyes to see" that the teaching and governing authority of the Apostles was transmitted and passed on. Here one can clearly see that apostolic succession is displayed for all to see in God's written Word. It is therefore a revealed truth, and a fact of history. It should also be remembered that it is revealed in Sacred Scripture that the authority of the sender is transferred to the ones whom he sends (cf. Lk.9: 48, 10:16; Mt.10:40; Mk.9:37; Jn. 13:20).

Old Testament

       The revealed (and biblical) truth of the passing on of an office of authority –that is, apostolic succession- was set up and prepared by God in how He structured the people of the Old Covenant. We see in Scripture that the succession of God's appointed shepherds, and those who were in charge "over the household," was prefigured in the Old Testament (see 2 Sam.7:8, 11-16 1 Kgs.18:3; 2 Kgs.18:18).

       We see this succession present in the ruling dynastic succession (Ps.89:29-37; 132:11-12), and the royal officers (see Is.22:20-22). By the time the prophet Isaiah was speaking the Lord's Word, the office of the master of the palace (that is, those who were "over the household"-RSV), was three centuries old and was the highest of the royal administration which Solomon organized.

       The master of the palace, who represented the king of Israel, was placed first in the list of royal officials (2 Kgs.18:18), and it is he alone who appears with the king himself (1 Kgs. 18:2-4). The high significance of the office is apparent when Yotham (or Jotham-KJV; RSV; NIV) assumes it in his capacity and as his duty to rule the king’s palace and his very kingdom as his father was dying (2 Kgs.15:5), and it is presented as the right and proper thing to do. In other words, God is revealing His approval of this because it is part of His plan.

       The Apostles, as devout Israelites, were well aware of this succession and that God's promises to David were fulfilled in Jesus Christ, the Son of David (see Is.9:7; Ez. 34:23 Mat.1:1; and Jn.12: 13). Biblically speaking, when something is fulfilled it does not mean that it is ended in its essence, but that it is transformed. Fulfillment means that which was foreshadowed or prefigured in the Old Testament is now in its truest state, or rather, its new and perfected state as God meant it to be. It is Christ who fulfills everything, and it is His Church which participates in this fulfillment.

       The Apostles knew that just as the master of the palace and his successors, who were "over the household", represented the king as his steward, so did they, and their appointed successors, represent the King (Christ) as His steward in proclaiming the Gospel and teaching the whole truth with Christ’s authority: "For you know what commandments we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus... for the bishop (episcopos) must be above reproach as God's steward..." (see 1 Thes.4:2 with Ti.1:7). They were, as Christ's representatives/stewards, the watchmen for the house of the new Israel (cf. Ez.3:17; Heb.13:17). And so the Apostles, having been appointed and authorized by Christ, and having been assigned to shepherd and to govern His kingdom throughout the world, and till the end of time (see Lk.22:28-30; Mat.28:16-20; Mk.16:15; Jn.20:21-23), appointed successors so that Christ's Kingdom would be established among men and nations throughout the whole world and down through history. We just saw this very fact exercised and fulfilled by the Apostle Paul to St. Timothy. These successors are the bishops, who, as God has revealed, are to shepherd, that is govern, the Church of God (Acts 20:28).

       How can we know the Apostles recognized this? Well, aside from the fact that we just saw this with what the Apostle Paul conferred upon St. Timothy, we have St. Peter presuming the transference-succession of the apostolic office to another. In Acts 1:20, the Apostle Peter took on the responsibility of finding someone to fill the office of an apostle as a replacement for Judas. Proving the point above, that the Apostles were aware of the succession of those who held the office “over the household,” we see St. Peter quoting from Psalm 109 [108 -DRV]: 8, which reads: “The office of him let another take.” This is another OT verse that reveals that the succession of an office was already established, and was recognized by the Apostles. St. Peter takes this verse as an actual directive.
    Now, since St. Paul was not one of the twelve, yet called an apostle, and since the man who took on Judas’ apostolic office was not one of the twelve (St. Matthias, one of the original 72 disciples), it is clear that the apostolic “office” and its succession goes beyond the twelve Apostles. This truth becomes clearer, and more damaging to those who deny it, when one discovers that the word St. Peter was inspired to use for “office” in Acts 1:20 is the very same word employed only one other time in the New Testament, and it is in regards to the office of bishop in 1 Timothy 3:1 (“… if a man aspires to the office of bishop…”). God’s Word confirms that the office of bishop is the proper translation here because in the very next verse St. Paul is inspired to write: “It is necessary for a bishop to be without reproach…” It necessarily follows, then, that “office” in 1 Tim.3:1 is directly connected to the office mentioned in Acts 1:20, which itself was connected to the succession of the office mandated in Psalm 109:8; which St. Peter used to validate his directive that the apostolic office be filled. Thus, this “office” of an apostle is the very same “office” of bishop, which is to be succeeded.

       The teaching of Scripture clearly testifies to this divinely ordained arrangement. The claim of apostolic succession, then, is not an invention. It is thoroughly biblical and apostolic. It is the rejection of it that is the invention, and thus is a contradiction to both God's Word and the facts of history.

       Another, if not the most important, factor that apostolic appointment and succession must be visible is found in the gospels where Jesus' own commissioning by the Father is made visible and tangible for people to witness at the time. St. Luke writes, "and the Holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove, and a voice came out of heaven, `Thou art My beloved Son, in you I am well pleased'" (Lk.3:22). Thus, Christ's commissioning had both audible and visible elements, and it is the very same for His representatives: "AS the Father sent Me, SO I SEND YOU." The Church of Christ, embodied in her shepherds -the bishops- reflects this same reality –it must be visible, and thus the commissioning (i.e. passing down) of authority must also be visible. We infact can see this when St. Paul and other elders laid hands on Timothy for him to receive his commission and authority: it was a VISIBLE act (1 Tim. 4:14; 2 Tim. 1:6). To reject this truth is to be a nominalist, which ultimately is dividing and separating Christ’s humanity from His divinity.
       This "mark" of apostolic origin and continuity is a sign for "eyes to see" and identify the One True Church which Jesus Christ established. Otherwise we get -as we have witnessed throughout history from those who reject this!- preachers and teachers starting their own churches, forming their own doctrines, establishing their own authority, interpreting the Scriptures according to how they subjectively think God's Spirit is leading them, and thus all of them losing unity, universality, and apostolic continuity, validity and authority (i.e., non-Catholic churches).

* St. Timothy ended up being the first Bishop of Ephesus (1 Tim.1:3). He was bishop there until his probable martyrdom at the end of the Domitian persecutions ca. AD.96-97.

Early Church Witness to Apostolic Succession

    We now turn to those who received the teachings of Christ firsthand from the human authors of the Scriptures -the Apostles and their contemporaries- to see if, first: the ancient Church considered her bishops as actual successors of the Apostles, and second: if the early Church understood this apostolic identity through the succession of Christ's appointed pastors as essential to her existence here on earth.
    On the matter of apostolic succession we will quote from the third bishop of Rome after St. Peter, who sent an authoritative letter to the Church in Corinth to settle a scandal. This bishop, who was sent into exile by the Roman Emperor Domitian, is St. Clement of Rome (ca.30-101). When he was younger, he was a "fellow worker" for the "cause of the Gospel" with St.Paul in Rome (see Phil.4:3 -ancient historical testimony identifies this Clement with St. Clement of Rome). St. Clement declared:

The Apostles received the gospel for us from the Lord Jesus Christ: Jesus, the Christ was sent from God. Thus Christ is from God and the Apostles from Christ: in both cases the process was orderly, and derived from the will of God. The Apostles received their in structions... they preached in country and town, and appointed their first fruits, after testing them by the Spirit, to be bishops...And this was no novelty, for indeed long ago the Scripture had mentioned bishops and deacons; for there is somewhere this passage:'I will set up their bishops[overseers] in righteousness and their deacons[ministers]in faith`(Is.60:17 according to the Septuagint). (Letter to the Corinthians, ch. 42:1-2,4-5)

    St. Clement goes on to say:

Our Apostles also knew, through our Lord Jesus Christ, that there would be strife on the question of the bishop's office. Therefore, for this reason, since they had foreknowledge, they appointed the aforesaid persons and later made further provision that if they should die, other tested men should succeed to their ministry. (Cor.44:1-3)
    If the reality of succession was not received from the Apostles who taught with Christ's authority, why didn't the Apostle John, who was still alive and writing at the time of this letter, oppose what Clement had written? For surely he was aware of the problems at Corinth which were akin to the problems of order and authority that church was having since Paul wrote to them in the mid to late fifties. If Rome, in the year 96, had heard of problems in Corinth, surely the last of the Apostles, living in Ephesus or Patmos (both of which are closer to Corinth than Rome) would have been informed of them. Why didn’t anyone else complain, IF what St. Clement wrote and thus believed was a novelty and not received directly from the Apostles? The answer is no. No one complained, because this teaching was taught by the Apostles and received from them.

    We come next to St.Ignatius of Antioch, who was martyred around the year 107. The ancient historical testimony concerning this saintly bishop of Antioch was that he was ordained a priest by St. Peter himself. He wrote numerous letters of which seven are extant. St. Ignatius recognized that since the Church, as a spiritual reality, was nonetheless "incarnate" in the world, her members must stay united to the Apostles' successors, the bishops or otherwise there would be corruption. He says:

Be submissive to the bishop, as Jesus Christ was to the Father, and the Apostles to Christ and the Father, that there may be a union of both flesh and spirit (Epistle to Magnesians, 13:2)... for where the bishop is, there let the multitude of believers be; even as where Jesus Christ is, there is the Catholic Church. (To the Smyrnians, 8)
    Again, the saintly bishop of Antioch declared:
...let everyone respect the deacons as they would respect Jesus Christ, and just as they respect the bishop as a type of the father, and the priests as the council of God and college of Apostles. Without these, it cannot be called a Church. (Tral.3:1)
    Here again, we have a witness to the early Church's belief that union with the visible successors of the Apostles is a sign of one's union with the Lord. (Remember, Luke 10:16!) This union, once again, flows from Christ's Incarnate nature in which His Body on earth, the Church, participates.

    Around the middle of the second century a work known as, "The Letter To Diognetus", appeared in defense of the Christian faith to a Roman named Diognetus (hence the title). The work was written by a pastor of a local congregation. In it he considers the bishop(s), from whom he learned the faith, as equal to the Apostles. Though the word "succession" is not mentioned(because he was not arguing with a schismatic or a heretic), he nonetheless reveals his assumption of this ancient belief by considering his teacher(s) as equal in authority as the Apostles. In fact, he makes no distinction between them when he says:

I have no strange doctrines to preach, nor any queer questions to ask, but, having been a disciple of the Apostles, I have become a teacher of the Gentiles. (Diog. 11)

    Around the year 170 there was a letter written by a Palestinian Christian named Hegesippus, who, as mentioned before, was concerned with the damaging effect that the Gnostic heresies were having in his region. So he decided to visit all the apostolic churches to find out the "true apostolic teaching". In this letter he remarked how, during his Mediterranean journeys, he associated with many bishops and that he had received the same teaching from them all. He said that "in every succession (of bishops) the teaching of the Church was consistent". What wonderful evidence this is which shows the work of the Spirit in keeping unity of doctrine and structure through His appointed shepherds. This fact is more amazing when we recognize that the writings that were to become our New Testament weren't as yet totally agreed upon, let alone compiled into one book! Yet we see in an age of no mass communication (and in an age where letter carriers were constantly robbed and intercepted), that there was unity in doctrine and belief because of the unity of authority and structure which the early Church displayed.

       A decade or so later, St. Irenaeus (ca. 130-202), a bishop in southern France, addresses certain Gnostics who claim to have received a secret or "hidden" tradition from the Apostles to justify their heretical beliefs. St. Irenaeus makes it clear that since the Church is visible, the "handing on" of apostolic truth is also visible through the Apostles successors -the bishops. He says:

It is possible, then, for everyone in every church, who may wish to know the truth, to contemplate the tradition of the apostles which has been made known throughout the whole world. We can enumerate those who were established by the apostles as bishops in the churches, and their successors down to our own time, none of whom taught or thought of anything like their(the Gnostics) mad ideas. (Against Her.III,3:1)

Again he says:

The true knowledge is the doctrine of the Apostles, and the ancient organization of the Church throughout the whole world, and the manifestation of the body of Christ according to the succession of bishops , by which successions of bishops have handed down the Church which is found everywhere. (Ibid IV,33:8)

    St. Irenaeus then points out that churches without apostolic succession by "necessity" will lose both unity and truth. He says:

For all these [gnostic heretics] are of much later date than are the bishops to whom the Apostles handed over the Churches; and this fact I pointed out most carefully in the third book[Against Heresies]. It is of necessity, then, that these aforementioned heretics, because they are blind to the truth, walk in various paths; and on this account the vestiges of their doctrine are scattered about without agreement or connection. (Ibid V,20:1)
    Look at all this historical evidence of apostolic succession before the year 200! These were all men who were either disciples of the Apostles themselves, or were disciples/associates of those who were actual disciples of the Apostles. IF each of these Church Fathers were wrong in not only what they wrote and taught, but lived (Sts. Clement, Ignatius & Irenaeus were all bishops), then the Church before the last Apostle died (St. John in year 100) was already in a general apostasy. If this were the case, then there would be a record of St. John, or at least ONE of the Apostles' disciples, declaring the falsity of apostolic succession and that there was no such thing as ordained bishops. But there is none. IF the entire Church was apostate (remember, Hegesippus traveled around the entire Mediterranean region and bishops with apostolic succession were present at each local church), then Christ's promise that He would remain with them until the end of time was a lie; and this means that His promise that the gates of hell would not prevail against the Church was also a lie. Thus, IF apostolic succession is not true, THEN, the Lord Jesus Christ is a liar. There is no way around this conclusion.

    Nevertheless, we will continue with the witness to the truth of the doctrine (and practice) of apostolic succession.
    An early Christian lawyer, Tertullian (ca.155-240), around the year 200, responded to the numerous groups of heretics in his work, "On The Prescription Of Heretics":

We are in communion with the apostolic churches because there is no difference of doctrine...But if any of these heresies are so bold as to insert themselves into the apostolic age that they may therefore appear to have been handed down from the Apostles...we can say: 'Let them display the origins of their churches; let them unroll the lists of their bishops, in unbroken succession from the beginning...' (Presr.Her. 21)

    Tertullian then goes on to name those cities where the Church does have apostolic origins with the bishops whom the Apostles themselves appointed, while the heretics can do no such thing (# 32-36).
    St. Clement of Alexandria (ca. 150-216), who was bishop of that ancient city, pointed out that:

on the tyrant's death (Domitian d.ca.95), he (John the Apostle) returned to Ephesus from the isle of Patmos, he went away, being invited, to the contiguous territories of the nations, here to appoint bishops, there to set in order whole Churches, there to ordain such as were marked out by the Spirit. (Who Is The Rich Man Who Shall Be Saved?,42)

    In two separate letters, St. Cyprian (ca.200-258), bishop of Carthage (249-258), points out that as Christ appointed the Apostles, so the Apostles appointed bishops as their successors(Epis. 3:3 and 67:4). Elsewhere he says:

Our Lord, whose precepts it is our duty to fear and to follow, regulates the dignity of His bishops and the structure of His Church...From this source flows the appointment of bishops and the organization of the Church, with bishop succeeding bishop down through the course of time...every act of the Church is governed through these same appointed leaders. (Epis.33:1)

    It is interesting to note that apostolic succession, as proof of Christ's commissioning and exercising of His authority down through human history, was such a given that even schismatics of the early centuries tried to claim it for themselves. St. Cyprian, in response to these says:

But to those who are hostile to the one, Catholic Church, in which we are, and those who oppose us, the successors of the apostles, are laying claim against us, to priesthoods that are unlawful to them and they set up altars that are unholy. (Epis.75:16)

    Notice, we have not yet reached the end of the third century, yet many Protestants claim that the Catholic Church, as it is known today, did not begin until the reign of Constantine (312-337). One can see that this is clearly false. Again, we must ask: If the idea of apostolic succession was an invention by those who wanted to gain power over others, and thus was not something that Christ passed on to His Apostles and they to others, then why was there no complaint from the supposed 'true" teaches of the Christian Faith? Why was there no opposition to this if it wasn't handed down by the Apostles? If these bishops and pastors, many of whom were martyred for the one True Faith in Christ Jesus, did not represent the one True Church that Christ founded, where were those who did? And why didn't they speak up to defend the truth for which our Lord shed His very blood? The fact is this: There wasn't any opposition and there were no others who represented the Church, because this truth and office has been handed down by the Apostles as part and parcel of Christian faith: and the correlating Scripture passages have been understood as such since the beginning.

       Therefore, IF you want to find out which one of the many churches today that claim to be the Church of Christ is in truth the One True Church of Christ, THEN look for the one church that goes all the back to the Apostolic Age -to Christ Himself. The true Church of Jesus Christ did not start with any Metropolitan seeking autonomy from the west; it did not start, nor was it rediscovered, by some fallible man seeking to reform it; it was founded by Jesus Christ our Lord, and given over to the Apostles to teach and govern with all authority all the way down through time. So, IF you search for that church which alone goes back to the time of Christ and the Apostles, THEN you will find that it is the Roman Catholic Church, and no other. Every other "church" has been founded by fallible and sinful men, and thus are false.

Therefore we will refute those who hold unauthorized assemblies by pointing to the tradition of that greatest and eldest Church, a church known to all, founded and established at Rome by the most renowned Apostles Peter and Paul... For this Church has a position of leadership and authority; and therefore EVERY church, that is, the faithful everywhere, must agree with this Church [Rome].
       No, these are not my words; nor are they the words of some Medieval Pope of Rome. They are the words of a great defender of the Christian Faith from the second century (written around the year 180), who was a disciple of St. Polycarp, himself a disciple of the Apostle John. They are the words of St. Irenaeus from his work, "Against Heresies"(Bk III, 3:2).
       In the same work he states that those who wish to know the truth (i.e., which churches are apostolic) can find it by learning who were instituted bishops by the Apostles. He picks the Church of Rome, "that greatest and eldest Church," as his example and lists who was appointed bishop by the Apostles and the successors down to his own time, which was around the year 180 AD when he composed his work, "Against Heresies."
The blessed Apostles [Peter and Paul], having founded and built up the Church [of Rome], they handed over the office of the episcopate to Linus. Paul makes mention of this Linus in the Epistle to Timothy [2 Tim.4:21; Paul wrote this epistle while in Rome]. To him succeeded Anencletus; and after him, in the third place from the Apostles, Clement was chosen for the episcopate. To this Clement, Evaristus succeeded;; and Alexander succeeded Evaristus; Then, sixth after the Apostles, Sixtus was appointed; after him, Telesphorus, who was gloriously martyred. Then Hyginus; after him Pius; and after him, Anicetus. Soter succeeded Anicitus, and now, in the twelfth place after the Apostles, the lot of the episcopate has fallen to Eleutherus [reigned until 189]. In this order, and by the teaching of the Apostles handed down in the Church, the preaching of the truth has come down to us (Ag. Her. III, 3:3).
An Invitation

       Thus, each and every Christian denomination which either rejects the doctrine of Apostolic succession or cannot visibly/historically trace its leadership back to the Apostles and Christ, is a false church. So, IF you profess to believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, yet deny the divinely revealed doctrine of apostolic succession embodied in the bishops of the Catholic Church, and, IF you wish to be saved from eternal damnation and make it to Heaven, THEN you must repent of your heresy and join yourself to the Body of Christ on earth, which is the Catholic Church, whose bishops are the very successors of the Apostles, for he who rejects them and their teaching office, rejects Christ.

                                                                                                                                     -Adam S. Miller

(For further biblical and historical proof demonstrating that the Roman Catholic Church is the One True Church of Christ, see The Roman Catholic Church: A Human Invention or A Divine Institution?)

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