Presumably all the original apostles received holy orders directly from Christ at some point (as far as I'm aware this is not explicitly recorded in the new testament).

However Paul converted to Christianity after Jesus had ascended into heaven. He also claims to be an apostle. But to truly be an apostle he needs to have received holy orders so that he is placed in the apostolic succession. It doesn't seem possible that he received holy orders directly from Christ, because Christ was chilling up in heaven at the time and so was unavailable to lay hands on Paul.

Did Peter or one of the other twelve give Paul holy orders? When did it happen?

Scoping to everyone except for Protestants: Catholicism, Orthodoxy, and any other church which recognises the sacrament of Holy Orders and the concept of apostolic succession are welcome to answer, Protestants please remain silent.

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    So, do you dismiss the narrative in Acts 9, where Jesus appeared directly to Saul on the road to Damascus? Is not Acts 9:6 the conferring of Holy Orders, direct from Jesus, when Saul is commanded to "rise, go into the city, and you will be told what to do."? Does this not seem to be the same type of order he gave to to Levi in Luke 5, when he said, "Follow me."?
    – brasshat
    Mar 13, 2017 at 7:48
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    For what reason do you consider the narrative in Act 9 faulty? Mar 15, 2017 at 1:15
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    It's just not clear to me how Acts9 demonstrates that Paul recieved holy orders Mar 15, 2017 at 4:22

2 Answers 2


Paul says that he received his calling direct from God and not from man (flesh and blood), then went to Arabia, then Damascus and met Peter only after a further three years, in which he had already taken on the role of the apostle to the gentiles:

Galatians 1:15-18: But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace, To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days.

Some prefer the somewhat different account in Acts of the Apostles, which says that Paul had a miraculous vision of Jesus and was taken to Damascus. According to this account, he was taught the gospel in Damascus by Ananias and other disciples, then preached, not to gentiles but to Jews. After escaping from Damascus he was taken to Jerusalem but it is unclear in this account just when he met Peter and the other apostles.


Within the Eastern Orthodox Church, what you refer to as "Holy Orders" I think would be referred to as Cheirotonia, which in the ancient Church was accomplished by the laying on of hands (Acts 6:2-6, Acts 14:23).

Cheirotonia applied, however, to presbyters and bishops (or, as others prefer to call them, "elders" and "overseers"). The eleven Apostles that remained after Judas' death would not have needed to receive cheirotonia ("Holy Orders"), as they comprised a special ministry and were "ordained", so to speak, by Christ Himself, as described in John 20:21-23 and Matthew 28:19-20.

I think the points raised in the comments were valid - Paul, although not part of the original band of Apostles - also received his commission as an Apostle directly from Christ in Acts 9 and refers to himself as an "Apostle" in his Epistles. His situation was somewhat unique, however, in that he was restrained for a time from preaching and was put for a short time put under the direction of Ananias, whom Church tradition holds had been appointed bishop of Damascus.

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