Why Bishops Should Be Trusted
It is not right to say that [the apostles] preached before they had come to perfect knowledge, as some dare to say, boasting that they are the correctors of the apostles. For after our Lord had risen from the dead, and they were clothed with the power from on high when the Holy Spirit came upon them, they were filled with all things and had perfect knowledge. They went out to the ends of the earth, preaching the good things that come to us from God.
The tradition of the apostles can be clearly seen in every church by those who wish to behold the truth. We can enumerate those who were established by the apostles (and their successors) in the churches down to our time—none of whom taught or thought of anything like the heretics’ mad ideas. Even if the apostles had known of “hidden mysteries” (which they had taught to the “perfect” secretly and apart from others), they would have handed them down especially to those to whom they were entrusting the churches themselves. For they certainly wished those whom they were leaving as their successors to be perfect and irreproachable.
[Take] the very great, oldest, and well-known church, founded and established at Rome by those two most glorious apostles Peter and Paul. When the blessed apostles had founded and built up the church, they handed over the episcopate to Linus. (Paul mentions this Linus in his epistles to Timothy.) Anencletus succeeded him. After him, Clement received the lot of the episcopate. He had seen the apostles and associated with them and still had their preaching sounding in his ears and their tradition before his eyes. (And not he alone, for there were many still left in his time who had been taught by the apostles.)
Similarly Polycarp, who not ...