Vatican - 1973

This study sets out to throw light on the concept of apostolic succession, on the one hand, because a clear presentation of the Catholic doctrine would seem to be useful to the Catholic Church as a whole, and, on the other hand, because it is demanded by ecumenical dialogue. For some time now ecumenical dialogue has been going on in various parts of the world, and it has a promising future provided the Catholics taking part in it remain faithful to their Catholic identity. (1) So we propose to present the Catholic teaching on apostolic succession in order to strengthen our brothers in the Faith and to contribute to the mature development of ecumenical dialogue.

We begin by listing some of the difficulties that are frequently encountered:

1. What can be deduced, scientifically, from the witness of the New Testament? How can one show the continuity between the New Testament and the Church’s Tradition?
2. What is the place of the imposition of hands in apostolic succession?
3. Is there not a tendency in some quarters to reduce apostolic succession to the apostolicity that is common to the whole Church, or, conversely, to reduce the apostolicity of the Church to apostolic succession?
4. How can one evaluate the ministry of other churches and Christian communities in relation to apostolic succession?

Behind all these questions lies the problem of the relationship between Scripture, Tradition, and the dogmatic pronouncements of the Church. (2)

The dominant note in our thinking is provided by the vision of the Church as willed by the Father, emerging from Christ’s Paschal mystery, animated by the Holy Spirit, and organically structured. We hope to set the specific and essential function of apostolic succession in the context of the whole Church, which confesses its apostolic Faith and bears witness to its Lord. (3)

We rely upon Scripture, which has for us a twofold value as a historical record and an inspired document. Insofar as it is a historical record, Scripture recounts the most important events in the mission of Jesus and the life of the Church of the first century; insofar as it is an inspired document, it bears witness to certain facts and at the same time interprets them and reveals their inner significance and dynamic coherence. As an expression of the thought of God in the words of men, Scripture has a normative value for the thinking of Christ’s Church in every age. (4)

But any interpretation of Scripture that regards it as inspired and therefore normative for all ages is necessarily an interpretation that takes place within the Church’s Tradition, which recognizes Scripture as inspired and normative. The recognition of the normative character of Scripture fundamentally implies a recognition of that Tradition within which Scripture itself was formed and came to be considered and accepted as inspired. The normative status of Scripture and its relationship to Tradition go hand in hand. The result is that any theological considerations about Scripture are at the same time ecclesial considerations. (5)

This, then, is the methodological starting point of the document: any attempt to reconstitute the past by selecting isolated phrases from the New Testament Tradition and separating them from the way they were received in the living Tradition of the Church is contradictory. (6)

The theological approach that sees Scripture as an indivisible whole and that links it with the life and thought of the early community that acknowledges and "recognizes" it as Scripture certainly does not mean that properly historical judgments are eliminated in advance by an ecclesiological a priori, which would make impossible an interpretation in conformity with the demands of historical method. (7)

The method adopted here enables one to grasp the limitations of pure historicism: it admits that the purely historical analysis of a book in isolation from its effects and influence cannot show with certainty that the way Faith actually developed in history was the only possible way. But these limits to historical proof, which one cannot doubt, do not destroy the value and weight of historical knowledge. On the contrary, the fact that the early Church accepted Scripture as constitutive is something to be constantly meditated upon: that is, we have to think out again and again the relationship, the differences, and the unity between the different elements. (8)

That also means that one cannot dissolve Scripture into a series of unrelated sketches, each one of which would be an attempt to express a lifestyle founded on Jesus of Nazareth, but rather that one must understand it as the expression of a historical unfolding path that reveals the unity and the catholicity of the Church. There are three broad stages along this path: the time before Easter, the apostolic period, and the subapostolic period, and each period has its own specific value; it is significant that what the dogmatic constitution "On Divine Revelation", Dei Verbum (18), calls "viri apostolici" should be responsible for some of the New Testament writings. (9)

This helps one to see clearly how the community of Jesus Christ solved the problem of remaining apostolic even though it had become subapostolic. This explains why the subapostolic part of the New Testament has a normative character for the Church at a later period, for it must build on the apostles, who themselves have Christ as their foundation. In the subapostolic writings, Scripture itself bears witness to Tradition and gives evidence of the Magisterium in that it recalls the teaching of the apostles (see Acts 2:42; 2 Pet 1:20). This Magisterium really begins to develop in the second century, at the time when the idea of apostolic succession is made fully explicit. (10)

Scripture and Tradition taken together, pondered upon and authentically interpreted by the Magisterium, faithfully transmit to us the teaching of Christ our Lord and Savior and determine the doctrine that it is the Church’s mission to proclaim to all peoples and to apply to each generation until the end of the world. It is in this theological perspective — fully in accord with the doctrine of Vatican II — that we have written this document on apostolic succession and evaluated the ministries that exist in churches and communities not yet in full communion with the Catholic Church. (11)


1. The creeds confess their Faith in the apostolicity of the Church. That means not simply that the Church continues to hold the apostolic Faith but that it is determined to live according to the norm of the primitive Church, which derived from the first witnesses of Christ and was guided by the Holy Spirit, who was given to the Church by Christ after his Resurrection. The Epistles and the Acts of the Apostles show how effective was this presence of the Spirit in the whole Church, and that he ensured not only its diffusion but also and more importantly the transformation of hearts: the Spirit assimilates them to Christ and his feelings. Stephen, the first martyr, repeats the words of forgiveness of his dying Lord; Peter and John are beaten and rejoice that they should be found worthy to suffer with him; Paul bears in his body the marks of Christ (Gal 6:17), wants to be conformed to the death of Christ (Phil 3:10), to know nothing save the crucified One (1 Cor 1:23; 2:2), and he considers his whole life as an assimilation to the expiating sacrifice of the Cross (Phil 2:17; Col 1:24). (12)

2. This assimilation to the "thoughts" of Christ and above all to his sacrificial death for the world gives ultimate meaning to the lives of those who want to lead a Christian, spiritual, and apostolic life. (13)

That is why the early Church adapted the priestly vocabulary of the Old Testament to Christ, the Paschal Lamb of the New Covenant (1 Cor 5:7), and then to Christians whose lives are defined in relation to the Paschal mystery of Christ. Converted by the preaching of the Gospel, they are convinced that they are living out a holy and royal priesthood that is a spiritual transposition of the priesthood of the Old Testament (1 Pet 2:5-9; see Ex 19:6; Is 61:6) and that was made possible by the sacrificial offering of him who recapitulates in himself all the sacrifices of the Old Law and opens the way for the complete and eschatological sacrifice of the Church (see St. Augustine, De civitate Dei 10, 6). (14)

Christians as living stones in the new building that is the Church founded on Christ offer to God worship in the Spirit who has made them new; their cult is both personal, since they have to "present their bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God" (Rom 12:1; see 1 Pet 2:5), and communal, since together they make up the "spiritual house", the "royal priesthood" and "holy nation" (1 Pet 2:9), whose purpose is to offer "spiritual sacrifices that Jesus Christ has made acceptable to God", (1 Pet 2:8). (15)

This priesthood has a moral dimension—since it must be exercised every day and in ordinary situations—and an eschatological dimension, since it is, in eternity to come that Christ has promised to make of us "a line of kings, priests to serve his God and Father" (Rev 1:6; see 5:10; 20:6); but it has also a cultural dimension, since the Eucharist by which they live is compared by Saint Paul to the sacrifices of the Old Law and even - though only to make a sharp contrast - to pagan sacrifices (1 Cor 10:16-21). (16)

3. Now Christ instituted a ministry for the establishment, animation, and maintenance of this priesthood of Christians. This ministry was to be the sign and the instrument by which he would communicate to his people in the course of history the fruits of his life, death, and Resurrection. The first foundations of this ministry were laid when he called the Twelve, who at the same time represent the new Israel as a whole and, after Easter, will be the privileged eyewitnesses sent out to proclaim the Gospel of salvation and the leaders of the new people, "fellow workers with God for the building of his temple" (see 1 Cor 3:9). (17) This ministry has an essential function to fulfill toward each generation of Christians. It must therefore be transmitted from the apostles by an unbroken line of succession. If one can say that the Church as a whole is established upon the foundation of the apostles (Eph 2:20; Rev 21:14), one has to add that this apostolicity, which is common to the whole Church, is linked with the ministerial apostolic succession, and that this is an inalienable ecclesial structure at the service of all Christians. (18)


The apostolic foundation has this special characteristic: it is both historical and spiritual.

It is historical in the sense that it comes into being through an act of Christ during his earthly existence: the call of the Twelve at the start of his public ministry, their commission to represent the new Israel and to be involved ever more closely with his Paschal journey, which is consummated in the Cross and Resurrection (Mk 1:17; 3:14; Lk 22:28; Jn 15:16). Far from destroying the pre-Easter structure, the Resurrection confirms it. In a special manner Christ makes the Twelve the witnesses of his Resurrection, and they head the list that he had ordered before his death: the earliest confession of Faith in the Risen One includes Peter and the Twelve as the privileged witnesses of his Resurrection (1 Cor). (19)

Those who had been associated with Jesus from the beginning of his ministry to the eve of his Paschal death are able to bear public witness to the fact that it is the same Jesus who is risen (Jn 15:27). After Judas’ defection and even before Pentecost, the first concern of the Eleven is to replace him in their apostolic ministry with one of the disciples who had been with Jesus since his baptism, so that with them he could be a witness of his Resurrection (Acts 1:17-22). Moreover Paul, who was called to the apostolate by the risen Lord himself and thus became part of the Church’s foundation, is aware of the need to be in communion with the Twelve. (20)

This foundation is not only historical; it is also spiritual. Christ’s pass-over, anticipated at the Last Supper, establishes the New Covenant and thus embraces the whole of human history. The mission and task of preaching the Gospel, governing, reconciling, and sanctifying that are entrusted to the first witnesses cannot be restricted to their lifetime. As far as the Eucharist is concerned, Tradition—whose broad lines are already laid down from the first century (see Lk and Jn)—declares that the apostles’ participation in the Last Supper conferred on them the power to preside at the eucharistic celebration. (21)

Thus the apostolic ministry is an eschatological institution. Its spiritual origins appear in Christ’s prayer, inspired by the Holy Spirit, in which he discerns, as in all the great moments of his life, the will of the Father (Lk 6:12). The spiritual participation of the apostles in the mystery of Christ is completed fully by the gift of the Holy Spirit after Easter (Jn 20:22; Lk 24:44-49). The Spirit brings to their minds all that Jesus had said (Jn 14:26) and leads them to a fuller understanding of his mystery (Jn 16:13-15). (22)

The kerygma (preaching), if it is to be properly understood, must not be separated or treated in abstraction from the Faith to which the Twelve and Paul came by their conversion to the Lord Jesus or from the witness to him manifested in their lives. (23)


The documents of the New Testament show that in the early days of the Church and in the lifetime of the apostles there was diversity in the way communities were organized, but also that there was, in the period immediately following, a tendency to assert and strengthen the ministry of teaching and leadership. (24)

Those who directed communities in the lifetime of the apostles or after their death have different names in the New Testament texts: the presbyteroi-episkopoi are described as poimenes, hegoumenoi, proistamenoi, kyberneseis. In comparison with the rest of the Church, the feature of the presbyteroi-episkopoi is their apostolic ministry of teaching and governing. Whatever the method by which they are chosen, whether through the authority of the Twelve or Paul or some link with them, they share in the authority of the apostles who were instituted by Christ and who maintain for all time their unique character. (25)

In the course of time this ministry underwent a development. This development happened by internal necessity. It was encouraged by external factors, and above all by the need to maintain unity in communities and to defend them against errors. When communities were deprived of the actual presence of apostles and yet still wanted to refer to the authority, there had to be some way of continuing to exercise adequately the functions that the apostles had exercised in and in relation to them. (26)

Already in the New Testament texts there are echoes of the transition from the apostolic period to the subapostolic age, and one begins to see signs of the development that in the second century led to the stabilization and general recognition of the episcopal ministry. The stages of this development can be glimpsed in the last writings of the Pauline Tradition and in other texts linked with the authority of the apostles. (27)

The significance of the apostles at the time of the foundation of the earliest Christian communities was held to be essential for the structure of the Church and local communities in the thinking of the subapostolic period. The principle of the apostolicity of the Church elaborated in this reflection led to the recognition of the ministry of teaching and governing as an institution derived from Christ by and through the mediation of the apostles. The Church lived in the certain conviction that Jesus, before he left this world, sent the Twelve on a universal mission and promised that he would be with them at all times until the end of the world (Mt 28:18-20). (28)

The time of the Church, which is the time of this universal mission, is therefore contained within the presence of Christ, which is the same in the apostolic period and later and which takes the form of a single apostolic ministry. (29)

As one can see from the New Testament writings, conflicts could not always be avoided between individuals and communities and the authority of the ministry. Paul, on the one hand, strove to understand the Gospel with and in the community and so to work out with them norms for Christian life, but, on the other hand, he appealed to his apostolic authority whenever it was a matter of the truth of the Gospel (see Gal) or unyielding principles of Christian life (see 1 Cor 7 and so on). (30)

Likewise, the ministry of governing should never be separated from the community in such a way as to place itself above it: its role is one of service in and for the community. But when the New Testament communities accept apostolic government, whether from the apostles themselves or their successors, then they obey and relate the authority of the ministry to that of Christ himself. (31)

The absence of documents makes it difficult to say precisely how these transitions came about. By the end of the first century the situation was that the apostles or their closest helpers or eventually their successors directed the local colleges of episkopoi and presbyteroi. By the beginning of the second century the figure of a single bishop who is the head of the communities appears very clearly in the letters of Saint Ignatius of Antioch, who further claims that this institution is established "unto the ends of the earth" (Ad Epk. 3, 2). (32)

During the second century and after the Letter of Clement this institution is explicitly acknowledged to carry with it the apostolic succession. Ordination with imposition of hands, already witnessed to in the pastoral Epistles, appears in the process of clarification to be an important step in preserving the apostolic Tradition and guaranteeing succession in the ministry. The documents of the third century (Tradition of Hippolytus) show that this conviction was arrived at peacefully and was considered to be a necessary institution. (33)

Clement and Irenaeus develop a doctrine on pastoral government and on the word in which they derive the idea of apostolic succession from the unity of the word, the unity of the mission, and the unity of the ministry of the Church; thus apostolic succession became the permanent ground from which the Catholic Church understood its own nature. (34)


If after this historic survey we try to understand the spiritual dimensions of apostolic succession, we will have to stress first of all that the ordained ministry, although it represents the Gospel with authority and is essentially a service toward the whole Church, nevertheless demands that the minister should make Christ present in his humility (2 Cor 4:5) and make present Christ crucified (see Gal 2:19ff.; 16:14; 1 Cor 4:9ff.). (35)

The Church that it serves is informed and moved by the Spirit, and "Church" here means the Church as a whole and in its members, for everyone who is baptized is "taught by the Spirit" (1 Thess 4:9; see Heb 8:11; Jer 31:33ff.; 1 Jn 2:20; Jn 6:45). The role of the priestly ministry is therefore to bring to mind authoritatively what is already embryonically included in baptismal Faith but can never be fully realized here below. Likewise the believer should nourish his Faith and his Christian life through the sacramental mediation of the divine life. The norm of Faith - which is formally known as the regula fidei - becomes immanent in Christian life thanks to the Spirit while it remains transcendent in relation to men, since it can never be purely an individual matter but is rather by its very nature ecclesial and catholic. (36)

Thus in the rule of Faith the immediacy of the divine Spirit in each individual is necessarily linked to the communitarian form of this Faith. Paul’s statement is still valid: "No one can say ‘Jesus is the Lord’ except in the Holy Spirit" (1 Cor 2:3)—without the conversion that the Spirit is always ready to grant to human hearts, no one can recognize Jesus as the Son of God, and only those who know him as the Son will know the one whom Jesus calls "Father" (see Jn 14:7; 8:19; and so on). Since, therefore, it is the Spirit who brings us knowledge of the Father through Jesus, Christian Faith is trinitarian: its pneumatic or spiritual formnecessarily implies the content that is realized sacramentally in baptism in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. (37)

The regula fidei, that is, the sort of baptismal catechesis in which the trinitarian content of Faith is developed, constitutes in its form and content the permanent basis for the apostolicity and catholicity of the Church. It realizes apostolicity because it binds those who preach the Faith to the christopneumatological norm: they do not speak in their own name but bear witness to what they have heard (see Jn 7:18; 16:13ff.). (38)

Jesus Christ shows that he is the Son in that he proclaims that he comes from the Father. The Spirit shows that he is the Spirit of the Father and the Son, because he does not devise something of his own but reveals and recalls what comes from the Son (Jn 16:13). This prolongation of the work of Christ and of his Spirit gives apostolic succession its distinctive character and makes the Church’s Magisterium distinct from both the teaching authority of scholars and the rule of authoritarian power. (39)

If the teaching authority were to fall into the hands of professors, Faith would depend upon the lights of individuals and would be thereby exposed to influence from the Zeitgeist, the spirit of the age. And where Faith depends upon the despotic power of certain individuals or groups, who themselves would decide what the norm was, then truth is replaced by arbitrary power. The true Magisterium, on the contrary, is bound by the word of the Lord and thus ushers those who listen to it into the realm of liberty. (40)

Nothing in the Church can forego this need to refer to the apostles. Pastors and their flocks cannot avoid it; statements of Faith and moral precepts must be measured by it. The ordained ministry is bound to this apostolic mediation in a double way, since on the one hand it must submit to the norm of Christian origins and on the other hand it has the duty of learning from the community of believers, who themselves have the duty to instruct it. (41)

We draw two conclusions from what has just been said:

1. No preacher of the Gospel has the right to proclaim the Gospel according to personal theories he may happen to have. He proclaims the Faith of the apostolic Church and not his own personality or his own religious experience. (42)

This implies that we must add a third element to those we have already mentioned as belonging to the rule of Faith - form and content: the rule of Faith presupposes a witness who has been entrusted with a mission, who does not authorize him to speak, and that no individual community can authorize him to speak; and this comes about in virtue of the transcendence of the word. Authorization can only be given sacramentally through those who have already received the mission. It is true that the Spirit can freely arouse in the Church various charisms of evangelization and service and inspire all Christians to bear witness to their Faith, but these activities should be exercised with reference to the three elements mentioned in the regula fidei (see LG 12). (43)

2. This mission (trinitarian in its basis) enters into the rule of Faith and implies a reference to the catholicity of Faith, which is at once a consequence of apostolicity and a condition of its permanence. For no individual and no community by itself has this power to send on a mission. It is only in relation with the whole - kath’holon, catholicity in time and in space - that permanence in mission can be guaranteed. In this way catholicity explains why the believer, as a member of the Church, is introduced into an immediate participation in the trinitarian life through the mediation not only of the God-Man but of the Church who is intimately associated with him. (44)

Because of the catholic dimension of its truth and its life, the mediation of the Church has to be achieved in an ordered way, through a ministry that is given to the Church as one of its constitutive elements. This ministry does not have as its only point of reference a historical period that is now no more (and that is represented by a series of documents); given this reference back, it must be endowed with the power of representing in itself its Source, the living Christ, through an officially authorized proclamation of the Gospel and by authoritative celebration of sacramental acts, above all the Eucharist. (45)


Just as the divine Word made Flesh is itself both proclamation and the communicating principle of the divine life into which it brings us, so the ministry of the word in its fullness and the sacraments of Faith, especially the Eucharist, are the means by which Christ continues to be for mankind the ever-present event of salvation. Pastoral authority is simply the responsibility that the apostolic ministry has for the unity of the Church and its development, while the word is the source of salvation and the sacraments are both the manifestation and the locus of its realization. (46)

Thus apostolic succession is that aspect of the nature and life of the Church that shows the dependence of our present-day community on Christ through those whom he has sent. The apostolic ministry is, therefore, the sacrament of the effective presence of Christ and of his Spirit in the midst of the people of God, and this view in no way underestimates the immediate influence of Christ and his Spirit on each believer. (47)

The charism of apostolic succession is received in the visible community of the Church. It presupposes that someone who is to enter the ministry has the Faith of the Church. The gift of ministry is granted in an act that is the visible and efficacious symbol of the gift of the Spirit, and this act has as its instrument one or several of those ministers who have themselves entered the apostolic succession. (48)

Thus the transmission of the apostolic ministry is achieved through ordination, including a rite with a visible sign and the invocation of God (epiklesis) to grant to the ordinand the gift of his Holy Spirit and the powers that are needed for the accomplishment of his task. This visible sign, from the New Testament onward, is the imposition of hands (see LG 21). The rite of ordination expresses the truth that what happens to the ordinand does not come from human origin and that the Church cannot do what it likes with the gift of the Spirit. (49)

The Church is fully aware that its nature is bound up with apostolicity and that the ministry handed on by ordination establishes the one who has been ordained in the apostolic confession of the truth of the Father. The Church, therefore, has judged that ordination, given and received in the understanding she herself has of it, is necessary to apostolic succession in the strict sense of the word. (50)

The apostolic succession of the ministry concerns the whole Church, but it is not something that derives from the Church taken as a whole but rather from Christ to the apostles and from the apostles to all bishops to the end of time. (51)


The preceding sketch of the Catholic understanding of apostolic succession now enables us to give in broad outline an evaluation of non-Catholic ministries. In this context it is indispensable to keep firmly in mind the differences that have existed in the origins and in the subsequent development of these churches and communities, as also their own self-understanding. (52)

1. In spite of a difference in their appreciation of the office of Peter, the Catholic Church, the Orthodox church, and the other churches that have retained the reality of apostolic succession are at one in sharing a basic understanding of the sacramentality of the Church, which developed from the New Testament and through the Fathers, notably through Irenaeus. These churches hold that the sacramental entry into the ministry comes about through the imposition of hands with the invocation of the Holy Spirit, and that this is the indispensable form for the transmission of the apostolic succession, which alone enables the Church to remain constant in its doctrine and communion. It is this unanimity concerning the unbroken coherence of Scripture, Tradition, and sacrament that explains why communion between these churches and the Catholic Church has never completely ceased and could today be revived. (53)

2. Fruitful dialogues have taken place with Anglican communions, which have retained the imposition of hands, the interpretation of which has varied. We cannot here anticipate the eventual results of this dialogue, which has as its object to inquire how far factors constitutive of unity are included in the maintenance of the imposition of hands and accompanying prayers.

3. The communities that emerged from the sixteenth-century Reformation differ among themselves to such an extent that a description of their relationship to the Catholic Church has to take account of the many individual cases. However, some general lines are beginning to emerge. In general it was a feature of the Reformation to deny the link between Scripture and Tradition and to advocate the view that Scripture alone was normative. Even if later on some sort of place for Tradition is recognized, it is never given the same position and dignity as in the ancient Church. But since the sacrament of orders is the indispensable sacramental expression of communion in the Tradition, the proclamation of sola scriptura led inevitably to an obscuring of the older idea of the Church and its priesthood. (54)

Thus through the centuries, the imposition of hands either by men already ordained or by others was often in practice abandoned. Where it did take place, it did not have the same meaning as in the Church of Tradition. This divergence in the mode of entry into the ministry and its interpretation is only the most noteworthy symptom of the different understandings of Church and Tradition. There have already been a number of promising contacts that have sought to reestablish links with the Tradition, although the break has so far not been successfully overcome. (55)

In such circumstances, intercommunion remains impossible for the time being, because sacramental continuity in apostolic succession from the beginning is an indispensable element of ecclesial communion for both the Catholic Church and the Orthodox churches. (56)

To say this is not to say that the ecclesial and spiritual qualities of the Protestant ministers and communities are thereby negligible. Their ministers have edified and nourished their communities. By baptism, by the study and the preaching of the word, by their prayer together and celebration of the Last Supper, and by their zeal they have guided men toward faith in the Lord and thus helped them to find the way of salvation. There are thus in such communities elements that certainly belong to the apostolicity of the unique Church of Christ. (57)


1) Christians will identify with Jesus Christ instead of an apostle or church.
Now I say this, that each of you says, “I am of Paul,” or “I am of Apollos,” or “I am of Cephas,” or “I am of Christ.” Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? 1 Corinthians 1:12-13.

2) Christians will use Scripture instead of traditions of men.
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17.

3) Christians will confess Jesus Christ instead of a church.
But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart”  (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.”  Romans 10:8-11.

4) Christians will rely on Scripture instead of traditions of men.
He answered and said to them, “Why do you also transgress the commandment of God because of your tradition? For God commanded, saying, ‘Honor your father and your mother’;  and, ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.’  But you say, ‘Whoever says to his father or mother, “Whatever profit you might have received from me is a gift to God”— then he need not honor his father or mother.’ Thus you have made the commandment of God of no effect by your tradition. Matthew 15:3-6.

5) Christians will not rely on church traditions for guidance on faith in Jesus Christ.
And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear; knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. 1 Peter 1:17-19.

6) Jesus Christ renounced the traditions of men that conflicted with Scripture.
Then the Pharisees and scribes asked Him, “Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashed hands?” He answered and said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. And in vain they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ Mark 7:5-7.

7) False interpretations of Scripture from history must be rejected.
For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men— the washing of pitchers and cups, and many other such things you do.”
He said to them, “All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition.” Mark 7:8-9.

8) Faith in Jesus Christ did not develop over centuries within a specific church.
But the Scripture has confined all under sin, that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. Galatians 3:22.

9) Bad dark-age interpretations and traditions must be rejected.
For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears. Acts 20:29-31.

10) Believers have tested teachings by referring back to Scripture themselves.
Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. Therefore many of them believed, and also not a few of the Greeks, prominent women as well as men. Acts 17:10-12.

11) Pope Alexander VI is in the line of the Roman Catholic “Apostolic Succession”.
He is one of the most controversial of the Renaissance popes, partly because he acknowledged fathering several children by his mistresses. Therefore his Italianized Valencian surname, Borgia, became a byword for libertinism and nepotism, which are traditionally considered as characterizing his pontificate. Two of Alexander's successors, the controversial pontiffs Sixtus V and Urban VIII, described him as one of the most outstanding popes since Saint Peter. Wikipedia Encyclopedia.

12) Pope Leo X is in the line of the Roman Catholic “Apostolic Succession”.
Leo is probably best remembered for granting indulgences for those who donated to reconstruct St. Peter's Basilica, which practice was challenged by Martin Luther's 95 Theses. He seems not to have taken seriously the array of demands for church reform that would quickly grow into the Protestant Reformation. He borrowed and spent heavily. A significant patron of the arts, upon election Leo is alleged to have said, "Since God has given us the papacy, let us enjoy it." Wikipedia Encyclopedia.

13) Scripture clearly proclaims the death of Jesus Christ for salvation.
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. Romans 5:8-10.

14) Scripture clearly proclaims Jesus Christ as the sacrificial Lamb of God.
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! John 1:29.

15) According to Scripture there is no one “True Church.”
Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied. Acts 9:31.

16) Christians remember the death of Jesus Christ during Holy Communion.
For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to you: that the Lord Jesus on the same night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is My body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” In the same manner He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood. This do, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death till He comes. 1 Corinthians 11:23-26.
Note: The Eucharist is symbolic as you eat bread per Protestant Paul.

17) All Christians should proclaim Jesus Christ according to Scripture.
Therefore those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word. Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria and preached Christ to them. Acts 8:4-5.

18) Pope Sixtus V is in the line of the Roman Catholic “Apostolic Succession”.
As Pope, he energetically rooted out corruption and lawlessness across Rome, and launched a far-sighted rebuilding programme that continues to provoke controversy, as it involved the destruction of antiquities. The cost of these works was met by heavy taxation that caused much suffering. His foreign policy was regarded as over-ambitious, and he excommunicated both Elizabeth I of England and Henry IV of France. He is recognized as a significant figure of the Counter-Reformation. Wikipedia Encyclopedia.

19) Protestant Paul was ordained by a common Christian and not an apostle.
Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and to him the Lord said in a vision, “Ananias.” And he said, “Here I am, Lord.” So the Lord said to him, “Arise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying. And in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hand on him, so that he might receive his sight.” Acts 9:10-12.

20) Protestant Paul was generally not in communion with the original disciples.
And when Saul had come to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, and did not believe that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. And he declared to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. So he was with them at Jerusalem, coming in and going out. And he spoke boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus and disputed against the Hellenists, but they attempted to kill him. When the brethren found out, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him out to Tarsus. Acts 9:26-30.

21) The original disciples were soon not presiding over the community of believers.
Then all the multitude kept silent and listened to Barnabas and Paul declaring how many miracles and wonders God had worked through them among the Gentiles. And after they had become silent, James answered, saying, “Men and brethren, listen to me: Simon has declared how God at the first visited the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name. Acts 15:12-14.

22) The will of God is not an eschatological institution but the salvation of mankind.
“And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day.” John 6:40.

23) Christian preaching will be centered upon Jesus Christ.
For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 1 Corinthians 1:22-24.

24) Sound Christian leadership today guards against heresies from the dark ages.
As I urged you when I went into Macedonia—remain in Ephesus that you may charge some that they teach no other doctrine, nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith. Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith, from which some, having strayed, have turned aside to idle talk, desiring to be teachers of the law, understanding neither what they say nor the things which they affirm. 1 Timothy 1:3-7.

25) Protestant Paul focused on the Gospel of Christ not his authority.
For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel! For if I do this willingly, I have a reward; but if against my will, I have been entrusted with a stewardship. What is my reward then? That when I preach the gospel, I may present the gospel of Christ without charge, that I may not abuse my authority in the gospel. 1 Corinthians 9:16-18.

26) Jesus Christ intervenes directly with His churches through His written word.
Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this. The mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands which you saw are the seven churches. Revelation 1:19-20.

27) Jesus Christ wants all Christians to be responsible for their faith in Him.
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Revelation 3:20-22.

28) There were only eleven disciples to witness the ascension of Jesus Christ.
Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, to the mountain which Jesus had appointed for them. When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some doubted. And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. Matthew 28:16-20.

29) The mission of Christians is not to be afraid to be a witness for Jesus Christ.
Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, to which I was appointed a preacher, an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles. 2 Timothy 1:8-11.

30) Protestant Paul asserted his authority over Pope Peter.
Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed; for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision. And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy. Galatians 2:11-13.

31) Protestant Paul wants all Christians to be personally responsible themselves.
Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified. But I trust that you will know that we are not disqualified. 2 Corinthians 13:5-6.

32) Protestant Paul wants all Christians to be personally responsible themselves.
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. Philippians 2:12-13.

33) Protestant Paul was ordained by a common Christian and not by an apostle.
Then Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests tobind all who call on Your name.” But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.” Acts 9:13-16.

34) Jesus Christ intervenes directly with His churches through His written word.
I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet, saying,  “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last,” and, “What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia: to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamos, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea.” Revelation 1:9-11.

35) Pope Urban VIII was demonically inspired through greed.
Urban VIII practiced nepotism on a grand scale; various members of his family were enormously enriched by him, so that it seemed to contemporaries as if were establishing a Barberini dynasty. He elevated his brother Antonio Marcello Barberini (Antonio the Elder) and then his nephews Francesco Barberini and Antonio Barberini (Antonio the Younger) to Cardinal. He also bestowed upon their brother, Taddeo Barberini, the titles Prince of Palestrina, Gonfalonier of the Church, Prefect of Rome and Commander of Sant'Angelo. Historian Leopold von Ranke estimated that during his reign, Urban VIII's immediate family amassed 105 million scudi in personal wealth. Wikipedia Encyclopedia.

36) Baptism is not the Christian message or Gospel.
For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of noeffect. For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:17-18.

37) The Holy Spirit will bear witness of Jesus Christ not a church based in Italy.
“But when the Helper comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning.” John 15:26-27.

38) Faith comes by the Word of God not baptism.
But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our report?”  So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Romans 10:16-17.
Note: The Roman Catholic Church is in disobedience to the Christian Gospel.

39) Will you obey God or men based in Italy?
But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree. Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him.” Acts 5:29-32.

40) Beware of getting entangled in ecumenical dialogue with a corrupt Italy church.
For when they speak great swelling words of emptiness, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through lewdness, the ones who have actually escaped from those who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage. For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. 2 Peter 2:18-20.

41) Christians have come to Jesus Christ not a church based in Italy.
“You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life.” John 5:39-40.

42) The Christian Gospel proclaims Jesus Christ.
Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you-unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures. 1 Corinthians 15:1-4.

43) Being empowered to be a witness comes from the Word of God not sacraments.
And you became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became examples to all in Macedonia and Achaia who believe. For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place. Your faith toward God has gone out, so that we do not need to say anything. 1 Thessalonians 1:6-8.

44) The Word of God has proclaimed the plurality of God from the beginning.
Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Genesis 1:26-27.

45) Christians are empowered witnesses through sincere belief not sacraments.
Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13.

46) The Holy Spirit is the means that Jesus Christ is with Christians today.
“Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.” John 16:7-11.

47) Pope Stephen VI was not sent by Jesus Christ.
Stephen is chiefly remembered in connection with his conduct towards the remains of Pope Formosus, his penultimate predecessor. The rotting corpse of Formosus was exhumed and put on trial, before an unwilling synod of the Roman clergy, in the so-called Cadaver Synod (or Synodus Horrenda) in January 897. Pressure from the Spoleto contingent and Stephen's fury with his predecessor probably precipitated this extraordinary event. Wikipedia Encyclopedia.

48) Pope Sergius III was not a minster of Jesus Christ.
Pope Sergius III (c. 860 − 14 April 911) was Pope from 29 January 904 to his death in 911. He was pope during a period of feudal violence and disorder in central Italy, when warring aristocratic factions sought to use the material and military resources of the Papacy. Because Sergius III had reputedly ordered the murder of his two immediate predecessors, Leo V and Christopher, and was the only pope to have allegedly fathered an illegitimate son who later became pope (John XI), his pontificate has been variously described as "dismal and disgraceful", and "efficient and ruthless". Wikipedia Encyclopedia.

49) Pope Anastasius III was not empowered by the Holy Spirit.
Pope Anastasius III (died June 913) was Pope from April 911 to his death in 913. He was a Roman by birth. A Roman nobleman, Lucian, is sometimes recognized as his father, although other sources assert that he was the illegitimate son of his predecessor Pope Sergius III (904–911). Almost nothing is recorded of Pope Anastasius III, his pontificate falling in the period when Rome and the Papacy were in the power of Theophylact, Count of Tusculum, and his wife Theodora, who approved Anastasius III's candidacy. Wikipedia Encyclopedia.

50) Pope John X did not receive his ordination from Jesus Christ.
Thus according to John Foxe, John X was the son of Pope Lando and the lover of the Roman “harlot” Theodora, who had John overthrow his supposed father, and set John up in his place. While according to Louis Marie DeCormenin, John was: ”The son of a nun and a priest... more occupied with his lusts and debauchery than with the affairs of Christendom... he was ambitious, avaricious, an apostate, destitute of shame, faith and honour, and sacrificed everything to his passions; he held the Holy See about sixteen years, to the disgrace of humanity.” Wikipedia Encyclopedia.

51) Pope John XII did not come from Jesus Christ.
John’s dual role as the secular prince of Rome and the spiritual head of the church saw his behaviour lean towards the former rather than the latter. He was depicted as a coarse, immoral man in the writings which remain about his papacy, whose life was such that the Lateran Palace was spoken of as a brothel, and the moral corruption in Rome became the subject of general disgrace. Wikipedia Encyclopedia.

52) There can be no Christian unity with a church that amires anti-Christ popes.
If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness, he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself. 1 Timothy 6:3-5.

53) Jesus Christ imparted the Holy Spirit through His breath to His disciples.
So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” John 20:21-23.

54) All Christians are a royal priesthood unto God.
But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy. 1 Peter 2:9-10.

55) Protestant Paul was not called according to the traditions of men.
Paul, an apostle (not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead), and all the brethren who are with me, to the churches of Galatia:  Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. Galatians 1:1-5.

56) Christian communion is centered upon Jesus Christ not church rituals.
For I want you to know what a great conflict I have for you and those in Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit
together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Now this I say lest anyone should deceive you with persuasive words. For though I am absent in the flesh, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ. Colossians 2:1-5.

57) Christian ministers will preach Jesus Christ not apostolic succession fables.
I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, dothe work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. 2 Timothy 4:1-5.