This is a very important issue. Why does it matter what the disciples of the apostles and their disciples taught? If we have the apostles writings and eye witness testimonies of what Jesus did and said, why would their views be important? As you can tell, through history of the church, the writings of the apostles can be misinterpreted and misunderstood. How do we know what the apostles actually meant in their writings? This is what we call The Apostolic Interpretation or The Linage of Apostolic Teachings; or what the Apostles themselves meant and the true understanding of their writings.
The Disciples of the Apostles:
These guys spoke to the disciples themselves. When the Apostles taught something hard to understand, these guys could ask the apostles to elaborate and explain in another way. They can ask more questions and get more insight into what the Apostles were teaching. They had access to more than one apostle to help them fully understand what was actually taught even before the apostles had their eye witness testimony and teachings written down.
The disciples of the apostles could understand what the apostles were teaching, and then, could ask others who witnessed the event or heard the actual teaching. People, since Jesus’ resurrection, miracles of the apostles, were being healed and raised form the dead; first hand sources. These people could be spoken to and interviewed. Their family and friends can be spoken with about the event. They had direct access to other eye witnesses and evidences of the apostles claims.
Pen to Paper
By this time and nearing the end of the age of the Apostles, their witness statements and recording what Jesus taught them and what he did, was being written down. These writings could be equally compared and tested against the spoken teachings and the investigated claims. The Disciples would be there to see, hear, and know first hand the validity and creditably of which writings were from the apostles and which disciple was commissioned to interpret and write down what the Apostles taught directly (Mark for Peter).
The most known Disciples of the Apostles were: Mark, Luke, Clement, Ignatius, Papias, and Polycarp. These first generation disciples recorded what they were directly instructed to by the Apostles or have writings of their own which points back to the authoritative writings from the apostles.
The Disciples of The Disciples of the Apostles:
These guys, the second generation of Disciples still had the ability to ask questions regarding very deep and important interpretations of what the apostles taught. They had direct access to the guys the apostles directly taught and trained. Although they did not have the apostles to help them understand what Jesus did and said; they still had those who the apostles did elaborate things to first hand.
Again, even though the apostles and most other eye witnesses had passed away, they had access to younger family members of the eye witnesses. Children and nieces of those who were raised form the dead and even the apostles family members like the daughters of Phillip, were interviewed. The amount of creditable evidences to validate the apostolic teachings was accessible to the 2nd generation of disciples.
Paper to Paper
By this time the apostles had their testimonies and witness statements about what Jesus did and said recorded, and passed them on to their disciples. Validated by the Disciples of the Apostles, they then passed it on to their disciples. Their disciples would know the document was creditable and still had the ability to test it and validate it for themselves. Then they made copies of what they knew the apostles taught, word for word, and sent it to other churches hungry for what the apostles taught throughout the growing Christian world.
It is easy to accurately transmit documents of the same language, they would be familiar with how the scribes would transmit documents. Word for word and line for line counts. If the counts were not the same, it was not transmitted perfectly.
Some well known Disciples were: Irenaeus, Justin Martyr, Theophilus, Dionysius, Serapion and, Pantænus.
The Apostolic Interpretation
We can know more closely as to how to correctly understand the Apostles writings by seeing how their disciples understood them. The goal of studying the Bible is to correctly understand what is taught and stated in scripture. Because the Apostles were eye witnesses and divinely inspired in their writings we must correctly interpret them to fully understand the truths of God revealed through them.
The Linage of Apostolic Teachings
This is the understanding that it is not based on a church office position that dictates Apostolic Teachings; but the understanding of the source of teachings themselves. History has made it clear that a person holding a certain position does not by default mean they teach what the apostles taught by mere position. The see of Rome according to The Roman Catholic Church is the authoritative position of the true Christian church. The major problem with that is there have been constant non-apostolic teachings come out of that position throughout history. To focus on the position itself, looses sight of the original teaching.
By understanding authentic orthodox teachings from the first and second generation disciples, we then see the linage of apostolic teachings without even looking at any later church position. The focus is on orthodox teachings from the source and not a claimed continued ‘successive’ position later defined generations after the second and third generation of disciples.
The Papal Supremacy and Succession
The claim of this office is that it is a succession from Apostle Peter all the way to the current pope. It is assumed because of the claimed ‘unbroken’ succession; the teachings are also carried on and the apostolic teachings are continued through this office (See) alone. Thus it is this position that is supreme over all other positions in the church. Like all man made doctrines they have problems.
Elder/Bishop and Deacon are mentioned in scripture as ordained church positions; “Pope” is not. It is not given a name, title, or defined until 300 years after the apostles. A concept completely foreign to the Apostles, their disciples, and the disciples of theirs. If it is such an important position, why was it not named by the apostles and disciples like Elder and Deacon were? John Chrysostom and St. Augustine (Catholics) wrote: “On this rock,
therefore, He said, which thou hast confessed. I will build my Church.
For the Rock (petra) is Christ; and on this foundation was Peter himself built.”. Even the foremost early Catholics understand “the rock” to be Christ, not Peter. Secondly the ‘keys’ were given to all the apostles, not just Peter. We see the interpretation of apostolic teachings is later lost as seen in this current teaching.
Some will argue that because persons who were in that position (before it was given the name) were already understood to be The Christian authority. Again, it is a failure to look past things of this world and man-made doctrines. It is the succession of truth and not position, that gave them authority to settle deputes in the early church. Linus, Clement, and Victor carried with them the Apostolic Interpretation and Linage of understanding, not a man-made undefined seat of power. The doctrine of Papal Supremacy was not organized and applied until 400 years after the church had already been established. Thus the doctrine of Papal Supremacy was not part of Apostolic Linage.
The claim of an ‘unbroken’ succession from Peter to the current pope is another claim that is not a proven claim. It is just assumed to be true by most devout followers of the pope. Some Popes attained their seat of power though buying it and political maneuvering; not by merit of apostolic understanding. This is known as a form of simony. Pope Benedict IX was recorded as buying his Papal election according to the catholic encyclopedia. Pope Sergius III was controlled by a prostitute which influenced his papal election and all his “infallible papal” church decisions according to the catholic encyclopedia. 4th to 11th century the papal influences and elections were by force. The claim of apostolic succession is unreliable even to the catholic encyclopedia. Different Catholic sources give a different number of successor popes at different times of history. Thus, Papal Succession is untrue. This also goes right into the later doctrinal creation of Papal Infallibility.
This Catholic doctrine teaches that the Pope is infallible and makes pronouncements without error. Due to the problematic ideologies in the Catholic church, problems with apostolic succession and inadequate supremacy, another doctrine was needed to force followers to accept man-made doctrines as truths from the apostles. It was defined in 1870, almost 1,800 years after the apostles!
The absolute proof of the fallacy of this doctrine is some Popes were heretics and taught heresies. Pope Honorius I (A.D. 625-638) was condemned by the Sixth General
Council for teaching the monothelite heresy (that there was only one
will in Christ). Even Roman Catholic expert, Ludwig Ott, admits that “Pope Leo II (682-683) confirmed his anathematization…”. If Popes are only ‘sometimes’ infallibile; when? How does anyone know when they are teaching without error? There is no infallible list of which are the infallible pronouncements and which are not. Ludwig Ott states that Pope Leo did not condemn Pope Honorius with heresy but with “negligence
in the suppression of error” is ineffective as a defense. How is negligence in itself not an error? Thus, pope Leo and Honorius were both in error and not infallible. These are only 2 examples.
Papal Infallibility is not even necessary because the revelation of God’s word through the Apostles was infallibly given. The fallible interpretations is where error comes. Even the ‘infallible’ decrees from the Pope can be misinterpretation by his hearers. Again, rendering the need of this recently created doctrine pointless. Beside the utter uselessness of this man-focused doctrine, Popes themselves have proven its fallacy.
The Revelation of God’s Word to the Apostles is infallible. Even the apostles had difficulties correctly applying the infallible revelation as Paul points out when he corrects “Pope” Peter as Peter was in error (Gal 2:11-21).
The disciples of the Apostles were given the infallible recorded words of God. They were able to inquire deeper in what the revealed words meant and how they should apply to every day life. They were able to know for sure what recorded document was authentic and which was not by direct access to the apostles and other first hand evidences. They were able to correctly understand Apostolic Interpretations of God’s Word.
The disciples of the disciples from the Apostles had the correct Apostolic Interpretations of the infallible recorded words of God. Through these reliably transmitted Apostolic Interpretations of scripture, we have to this date the creditable and authentic Apostolic Linage of their correct teachings and interpretations.
The disciples and their disciples wrote down what was explained and taught to them; thus we have today the ability to correctly interpret scripture the way the Apostles meant it to be understood; because of the authentic Apostolic Linage of their teachings recorded and accessible for us today. The proof and validity is not in some late defined church office, or later created problematic doctrine, but is proven by the succession of apostolic interpretations continued by their disciples of which we can read and continue today.