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Apostolic Succession and Church Organization

By Aaron Shafovaloff

Apostolic Succession


See Acts 1:12-26.

  • Judas is replaced for having apostatized, not for simply having died.
  • Having twelve apostles was important for Pentecost.
  • The larger group pick the candidates.
  • The apostles intentionally take themselves out of the decision-making process.
  • They essentially roll dice to see who Jesus has chosen.
  • All things considered, the apostles did not choose or ordain a replacement for Judas.


See Galatians 1:1,11-24, 2:1-14.

When Paul’s apostolic credentials were questioned, he had the perfect opportunity to simply appeal to the fact that the other apostles had ordained him. But he goes out of his way to state the opposite. He appeals instead to Christ’s appearance and words as the basis for his apostleship.

Early Church Offices Restored?

“And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,  until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.” (Ephesians 4:11-14)

“We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth” (Articles of Faith 6).

  • Teachers
  • Seventies
  • Deacons
  • Stake presidents
  • Pastors
  • Evangelists

What is the “Church”?

What kind of unity organically connects the Church?


  • “John’s departure was the end of the Lord’s Church in the Old World. The withdrawal of apostolic power did not take place by accident. Had it been God’s will, he would have chosen others to hold the keys and to continue the succession of the Twelve. But it appears that the rejection of true doctrine and authority was so widespread the Church could not continue.” – Kent P. Jackson, From Apostasy to Restoration, ch. 3
  • “The apostasy did not happen because the Apostles were gone; the Apostles were taken because the apostasy had occurred” (BYU Professor Kent P. Jackson, “Early Signs of the Apostasy,” Ensign, December 1984, p. 16).

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