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Derrick Feinman wrote:

Sirs,

  • What does Luke 9:49 mean in the context of Apostolic Succession?

49 "Master, said John, we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us."

Luke 9:49

Derrick Feinman

  { What does Luke 9:49 mean in the context of Apostolic Succession? }

Mike replied:

Hi, Derrick —

Thanks for the question.

I see no relationship between the Scripture passage you quoted:

49 "Master, said John, we saw someone driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us."

Luke 9:49

and Apostolic Succession.

There are many people who have been baptized into the Body of Christ who do wonderful works, yet they still lack that fullness of faith and leadership, via Apostolic Succession, only the Catholic Church can provide.

Nevertheless we celebrate the good works they do in spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ to those who have never heard about Our Blessed Lord.

I hope this helps,

Mike

John replied:

Derrick —

Mike is absolutely correct here. I'd just like to add a couple points about Apostolic Succession.

With Apostolic Succession comes:

  1. the Church's Teaching authority and
  2. the authority and power to administer the Sacraments.

The fullness of Apostolic Succession only exists in the Catholic Church.

Other Churches such as:

  • the Orthodox Church
  • certain ancient Churches from the East, and
  • some other schismatic Western Churches have partial Apostolic Succession (for lack of a better term). By that I mean they have a valid [priesthood/Episcopate] and therefore valid sacraments but they don't have the same Teaching Authority because they aren't in full communion with Bishop of Rome, the Successor of Peter.

But let me address the spiritual authority of the ordinary Christian. All Christians have authority to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They can also baptize if a priest or deacon is not available. Actually anyone, even an atheist, can baptize so long as the formula is correct and they intend to perform a Christian baptism. A baptism is actually a type of exorcism. I'm not saying an unbaptized person or infant is possessed by a demon but baptism is a rejection of Satan so it is a type of exorcism.

Beyond that Jesus told the Apostles in Mark 16:17-18:

"These signs shall follow them that believe...."

Among those signs was the casting out of demons. Notice he didn't say these signs shallow follow only validly ordained bishops, priests, and deacons so spiritual warfare can be conducted in the name of Jesus because each believer is a priest by his baptism. Normally casting out demons or exorcisms should be performed by exorcists but that's not always the case.

As for the particulars of Luke 9:49, we have no evidence that those John mentions were casting out demons, were ordained, or given the mission to do so by Christ. In fact, the text seems to indicate that they weren't. Although they were believers, the Church at that time had not actually been born. That didn't happen until the day of Pentecost. While this person or these people weren't direct disciples or Apostles of our Lord, they were still believers and part what we can loosely call the one Church. There was only one Church. There really is no evidence that they were a different sect. They may have heard the Gospel from Our Lord directly, after all the Lord preached to huge multitudes yet not everyone followed Jesus around. Not everyone would have been personally known to the Apostles or they might have heard the Gospel from an neighbor, family member, or one of the 72 disciples that the Lord sent out to preach. So the comparison to non-Catholic Christians, which some try to make in this text, sort of breaks down.

While the general principle that the Lord sets forth Those aren't against us, are for us is applicable, we have to be careful not to conclude that these people somehow were part of a different church, sect, or denomination. These folks were more than likely all Jews who had come to believe in Jesus. That's what the early Church consisted of for years, if not decades. The Church was actually considered a Jewish sect probably up until 70 A.D. and that's even after non-Jews were admitted but again, we have differentiate between:

  • the specific Teaching authority given to original Apostles, that was handed down to their successors
  • with the authority we all have as Christians by our Baptism in Christ.

John

Derrick replied:

Thank you all very much for this very well reasoned response.

Derrick

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