Successorship in the Bible

Is divinely appointed leadership important in Judaism and Christianity?

The necessity of a vicegerent or divinely appointed guide is one of the central tenets of the Ahmadi Religion of Peace and Light. An important word to define is “vicegerent,” a person exercising delegated power on behalf of a sovereign or ruler or a person regarded as an earthly representative of God. The Ahmadi Religion of Peace and Light is guided by the spiritual leader whom God has chosen, Imam Ahmad Al-Hassan (fhip). 

Scriptures show that successorship has been an integral part of God’s religion from the very beginning of humanity. From the time of Adam, leading until today, an unbroken chain of divinely appointed guides has upheld God’s religion on earth.

The Vicegerency of Jesus 

A great starting point to understand the importance of vicegerency in religion is Jesus. Was Jesus a vicegerent? How did the people know or understand that he was a vicegerent?

  1. Jesus’ predecessor blessed him. The moment when John the Baptist baptised Jesus (Matthew 3) represented the passing on of vicegerency from John to Jesus. The Holy Spirit descended on Jesus and imbued him with power.
  2. Jesus fulfilled prophecies recorded by his predecessors. For example, his lineage is such that he is a descendant of David (2 Samuel 7:12-16) from the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:10). 
  3. Jesus claimed the vicegerency. One day he entered a synagogue on the Sabbath, read from the scroll of Isaiah and declared that the prophecy it held had been fulfilled in him (Luke 4:16-20).

These points clearly show that Jesus was not a random claimant. He claimed his position based on evidence.

Do we have other Biblical examples of vicegerents appointing their successors?

Divinely Appointed Successors in the Bible

1. Moses appointed Joshua as his successor in Numbers 27:

So the Lord said to Moses, “Take Joshua son of Nun, a man in whom is the spirit of leadership, and lay your hand on him…Give him some of your authority so the whole Israelite community will obey him

– Holy Bible: Numbers 27:18,20

2. Elisha anointed Elijah by casting his cloak upon him. (1 Kings 19:19)

3. Samuel anointed David as God’s vicegerent:

…I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king.”…

So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David. 

– Holy Bible: 1 Samuel 16:1,13

4. David anointed Solomon as his successor: 

Blow the trumpet and shout, ‘Long live King Solomon!’ Then you are to go up with him, and he is to come and sit on my throne and reign in my place. I have appointed him ruler over Israel and Judah.

– Holy Bible: 1 Kings:1:34-35

5. Even Genesis 5 lists the generations between Adam and Noah but lists just one son, the successor. (Adam, Seth, Enosh, Kenan, Mahalalel, Jared, Enoch, Methuselah, Lamech, Noah)

So now we established that up until Jesus, a leader appointed by God was always present. Now we must ask: Did Jesus name a successor?

Jesus Appointed Simon Peter as His Successor

In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus named Simon Peter as his successor:

Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” 

– Holy Bible: Matthew 16:17-19

This passage contains several significant points:

1. “The Rock” 

“Peter” is the Greek word for “rock,” which in Aramaic was “Cephas”. Jesus gave this person, whose real name was Simon—a nickname, ‘the Rock.’ In Jewish literature, the term “rock” signifies an everlasting, reliable foundation. Peter is called “the rock” by Jesus and this is the title given to him alone. The typology of “the rock” is used for other prophets and messengers, namely Abraham.

The usual interpretation of Isaiah 51:1 in the haggadic texts refers to Abraham the patriarch. He was seceded from Mesopotamia, and was part of the pact with yahveh…The rock is Abraham, as it is said, “Look to the rock from which you were hewn.” (Isa. 51:1) It is he who went out from his place, as it is said: “And Abraham journeyed from there.” (Gen. 20:1)

– “A Rock in the Path: Possible Jewish Readings of Matthew 16:18” by Victor M. Armenteros

2. “Binding and loosing”

The phrase comes from the rabbis. It refers to the authority to make decisions binding on the people of God, for example, interpreting and applying the Word of God or admitting people in and out of the community of faith. 

3. “Keys to the kingdom”

Jesus says, “I will entrust to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven” as a sign of his position, the person holding the keys represents the king, acts with his authority, and has to act in accord with the king’s mind. Therefore, Peter and each of his successors represent God on this earth as the leader of the faithful.

This typology can be found in the Old Testament in the book of Isaiah.

I will clothe him with your robe and tie your sash around him. I will put your authority in his hand, and he will be a father to the dwellers of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. I will place on his shoulder the key to the house of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.

– Holy Bible: Isaiah 22:21-22

Peter, then, is given the keys to the kingdom by Jesus. And these keys are mentioned as still being inherited during the time of Jesus’ second coming.

To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: These are the words of the One who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What He opens no one can shut, and what He shuts no one can open. 

– Holy Bible: Revelation 3:7

Holding the “keys to the kingdom” is a descriptor for the divinely appointed guide, the one anointed with the holy spirit.

Why does God place a vicegerent on earth?

Divinely appointed leadership is present throughout the Bible but often overlooked. However, the chain of successors can be traced from the time of Adam up until Jesus and beyond. Why a representative of God needed? A vicegerent is a guide. He is the chosen shepherd, the Father, the person who ensures the safety and guidance of his sheep. A vicegerent acts as God’s translator for the people. Without a person holding the keys, the flock of the faithful is scattered and may go astray. Jesus valued unity, as we can see from his words. He once prayed for the believers to be as one in God.  

“My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. 

– Holy Bible: John 17:20-23 

Considering all of this, isn’t it clear that there must be a divinely appointed God in this day and age? We urge every truth seeker to research the evidence that Imam Ahmad Al-Hassan (fhip) has come with to prove his station as God’s vicegerent today.

Read More:

The Law of Knowing God’s Vicegerent

The Holy Will of Prophet Muhammad 

Who is Imam Ahmad Al-Hassan (fhip)?

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