What is Apostolic Succession?

ElderDad's picture

14 Apostles


If, indeed, Paul was supposed to have been the 12th apostle, then we must conclude that Peter was way off base when he said the 12 must be together before the Holy Spirit would come. I'll have to ask him someday if he ever regretted that decision and conclusion. There is no Scriptural evidence that he regretted or renounced his view. It is hard to imagine that there is nothing in the book of Acts correcting the "mistake," if it was one. Why, when Paul showed up in Jerusalem, did he not say, "I'm the 12th apostle; Matthias, please leave"?

The second problem we have with excluding Matthias on a "12 apostle" basis is that it strips Barnabas of his title as an apostle (for example, Acts 14:14). With the overall direction of apostolic activity and claims made by Paul, I think we might not be too far offtrack in concluding that there were the 12 apostles to the Jews, present at the arrival of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, and 2 apostles to the Gentiles.

As far as Peter was concerned, Matthias was chosen by God through the method Peter used (Peter assumed God controlled the event in response to a prayer of faith and trust). Please notice the words, "Show us the one you have chosen." Luke seems to have agreed, or he would certainly have said something to correct the "error." So, was Luke not inspired and without error after all? At the time Matthias was chosen, Paul was still Saul and wasn't eligible.

Folks from many Christian backgrounds want Paul instead of Matthias among the twelve. But over the years, I have concluded that it is extremely hard to accept:
1. God didn't answer the pray in vv. 24 and 25;
2. Peter lacked wisdom to understand what must occur before the Holy Spirit would descend;
3. Luke misrepresented the status of Barnabas when he called him an apostle;
3. Peter was wrong that the 12th apostle had to have been among Jesus' followers; and
5. The Holy Spirit didn't care enough about the truth to make sure the errors in the first 4 things were cleared up in Scripture.

In all honesty, however, I must admit this viewpoint doesn't help the "Apostolic Succession" teaching, because the Church has been basically a ministry to the Gentiles, having very little impact on the Jews. That would make the succession have to come down from Paul and Barnabas, not Peter and the other 11.

Submitted as a poster,

Dave S.
Senior Moderator, Volunteers for Proofreading
2 Tim. 3:16--All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable
for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.