Unfortunately, the Catholic church justifies its hierarchal claim concerning “apostolic succession” by using just enough scripture to confuse people into thinking the practice is “scripturally” endorsed. If asked about “apostolic succession”, one will be referred to a section in Acts 1 which says:
“And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples (altogether the number of names was about a hundred and twenty), and said, “Men and brethren, this Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke before by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus; for he was numbered with us and obtained a part in this ministry.” (Now this man purchased a field with the wages of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his entrails gushed out. And it became known to all those dwelling in Jerusalem; so that field is called in their own language, Akel Dama, that is, Field of Blood.) “For it is written in the Book of Psalms: ‘Let his dwelling place be desolate, And let no one live in it’; and, ‘Let another take his office.’ “Therefore, of these men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John to that day when He was taken up from us, one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.” And they proposed two: Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. And they prayed and said, “You, O Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which of these two You have chosen to take part in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.” And they cast their lots, and the lot fell on Matthias. And he was numbered with the eleven apostles.” (Acts 1:15-26 NKJV)
There is no question as to whether or not Matthias replaced Judas, but to make the leap from a replaced apostle to apostolic succession rightly deserves to be questioned.
To put it simply, Acts 1 endorses no such doctrine as “apostolic succession.”
To put it with more details, the “endorsement” of the previously highlighted section of scripture focuses on one vacated position of the chosen twelve apostles due to betrayal – not every vacated position of the chosen twelve that would take place due to death (notice the absolute silence of the scriptures concerning a replacement for the apostle James after his recorded death in Acts 12:1-2).
It was prophesied that Judas, the personally chosen apostle, would betray Jesus, the Messiah (John 13:18-26, Psalm 41:9). In turn, it was also prophesied that the overseeing office of the betrayer would be replaced (Psalm 109:8). Such is why Peter, and the others in the upper-room, prayed and said, “You, O Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which of these two You have chosen to take part in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.” (Acts 1:24-25 NKJV) Notice carefully, this replacement was due to a specifically prophesied apostatized individual of the past – it was not due to the version of “apostolic succession” the Catholic Church refers to today.
Furthermore, notice one of the non-negotiable requirements of the apostle-replacing individual – “Therefore, of these men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John to that day when He was taken up from us, one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.” (Acts 1:21-22 NKJV)
Of whom can this be said today? Or of whom can it be said of the last 1,900 years for that matter?
Judas was replaced due to his betrayal, not “succeeded” in the way the Catholic church uses the term … individually replaced due to prophesy, and replaced by an individual who not only had been among the disciples personally hearing the teachings of Jesus from the days of John the baptizer, but also a man who would become an eye-witness to the resurrected state of Jesus Christ.
An individual may point to Acts 1 as a “scriptural justification” for “apostolic succession”, but if one points close enough they will find that a one-time scripturally replaced apostle is not the same as Catholicism’s “apostolic succession.”