What Biblical Authority Do Catholics Have for Heirarchy?



Q. Also, I don’t see any biblical evidence for apostles handing down their authority to guard and dispense the truth, to have popes, bishops etc.

A. There is historical evidence about the growth and development of the Christian Church. But if you mean biblical evidence:

In the early Church there were all three ordained offices of the Catholic Church that we have today (Deacons, Priests, Bishops). They were called by different names but the offices were in existence and are designated in Acts 6:5 and Acts 15 at the first Church Council and elsewhere in the New Testament.

First, we have Peter at the council who stood up and settled the dispute brought to the First Church Council in Jerusalem by Paul and Barnabus regarding what to require of Gentile Christians. Jesus made Peter the leader of His ChurchPOPE or Vicar of Christ in Matthew 16:17-19. Jesus gave Peter the Keys of the Kingdom, the authority to rule.

ACTS 15:6 The apostles and the elders came together to look into this matter.

Then, also present at the first Church Council were the apostles who became the first BISHOPS ( Gr. Episkopos) in the Church. There are many other New Testament passages that mention the office of bishop or overseer.

Next we see PRIESTS, called elders in the New Testament because this is the strict English and Protestant translation of the Greek presbuteros. However, our English word Priest is etymologically derived from the Greek word presbuteros.

And finally we have DEACONS:Stephen and others in Acts 6 and qualifications of deacons in I Timothy 3:8-12. There are many other NT passages also that talk about deacons.

Also, Peter does away with the sign of the covenant, centuries of Jewish circumcision in Acts 15:5ff. He also, gets rid of the Jewish dietary laws given to the Jews by God through Moses. They stopped the Jewish sacrifices. Peter authoritatively stopped all these seemingly perpetual practices of the Jews, the people of God.

There is nothing in Scripture alone that explicitly authorizes Peter to do this. There are implications but nothing clear and unequivocal. That is because the Christians in the infant Church were NOT Sola Scriptura. But the Jews were.

John 5:39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; 40and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life.

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