The Apostolic Authority
5/18/2022 Wednesday Gospel Reflection
Who gave the Apostles the authority to make decisions regarding the manner in which Christians were to practice their faith? We read in Acts that, concerning circumcising Gentile converts, Paul and Barnabas decided to “go up to Jerusalem to the Apostles and presbyters about this question.” (Acts 15:2) When Paul and Barnabas reached Jerusalem, Pharisee converts decided to voice their own opinion and use their former authority to try and influence this decision. However, “the Apostles and the presbyters met together to see about this matter.” (Acts 15:6)
This section of Acts is coupled with the Gospel in which Christ says, “Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.” (Jn 15:5) The Apostles were the ones who walked with Christ, heard his teaching, witnessed his miracles, and who had first-hand knowledge of his direct intention for His Church. Paul and Barnabas gave witness to the Apostles’ authority; because, even though they were given the power of the Holy Spirit, they were not the first witnesses.
To answer the initial question, Jesus gave His authority to the Apostles. This authority has remained under the Apostolic succession since its inception. Just as the converted Pharisees tried to voice their own opinions, so too does this happen in the Church today. But the Pharisees and the voices of our times do not hold authority. We as a Church are to remain in the Apostolic vine which is directly attached to Christ.
For more information on the Church’s teaching on Apostolic Succession click here.