This blog gains its name from the book Steele's Answers published in 1912. It began as an effort to blog through that book, posting each of the Questions and Answers in the book in the order in which they appeared. I started this on Dec. 10, 2011. I completed blogging from that book on July 11, 2015. Along the way, I began to also post snippets from Dr. Steele's other writings — and from some other holiness writers of his times. Since then, I have begun adding material from his Bible commentaries. I also re-blog many of the old posts.

Wednesday, July 5, 2023

Apostolic Succession

QUESTION: Does the election of Matthias to be an apostle prove the so-called apostolic succession claimed by prelatical churches?

ANSWER: It does not. It rather was a human attempt at substitution, for the apostles were still in condition of pupils. They had not yet begun their work. The apostles had no successors. When James, the brother of John, was killed quite early in the history of the church, when he was most needed, no one was chosen as his successor. To choose apostles is the exclusive prerogative of the head of the church, whether he is on earth or in heaven. In the account of Acts 1:15-26 there is no intimation that the Holy Spirit inspired Peter to do the work which properly belonged to his Lord and Master. He certainly was not inspired to change his boarding house as he did in Gal. 2:11-14, nor to "go a fishing" when they did not catch so much as a smelt till Christ appeared on the scene after their all night's toil. It does not look like heavenly wisdom to inspire men to limit God's choice to one of two. It looks very human for two parties to nominate two candidates, and failing to secure an election, to resort to the lot to decide. This putting forward two candidates is the only instance of a competitive ecclesiastical election or nomination in the New Testament. We could wish it had been the last in church history. Matthias was probably an excellent man, but he is not mentioned again n the New Testament. This may be because he was a man-made apostle. Paul was not such; he was the real twelfth apostle, see Gal. 1:1. He is thus counted in the twelve foundations of the New Jerusalem and twelve apostles of the lamb spoken of in Revelation. The claim that the presbyters, elders, sometimes called episcopoi or bishops, are the successors to the twelve apostles is true chronologically, but not officially. All preachers of the Gospel are successors to the apostles in time.

— From: Steele's Answers.


  1. Hmm.I should have included "lame" in the "Reactions" options above. This is how the series of Q&A begins in the book Steele's Answers. This does not bode well for the rest of the book. We'll see....

  2. Bishop Earl Hunt made a claim that I prefer. The "apostolic succession" is continued by the power of the Holy Spirit.

  3. Yeah. Nice. I like where Steele is going with this, I just don't like the way he gets there. We shouldn't devalue Matthias' apostleship simply because he isn't mentioned again in the NT. And, I think there were more apostles during the time of the early Church than Steele is imagining.