Jewish-Christians, the Gnostics and the group that finally won the battle, whom we shall call the proto-orthodox. This last group ultimately became normative Christianity and the right to call itself "orthodox" and to brand everyone else as "heretics" in history. The Christian church which sprang from this group (which ultimately split into the Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Protestant churches) have always claimed an apostolic faith. This means that they alone have the authentic teachings of the apostles guaranteed by the apostolic scripture and a church leadership based on apostolic succession.
In their battle with heretics during the second century CE, the early church fathers heavily relied on the concept of apostolic succession. To these proto-orthodox Christians, theirs was the true faith because their theologies came from the apostles themselves, guaranteed by the succession of bishops who were themselves appointed by the apostles. Two prominent examples are given below from the works of Irenaeus (c120-c200) (Against Heresies) and Tertullian (c160-c225) (Prescription Against Heretics):
However, the claim that of the proto-orthodox bishops and apostolic fathers of having their authority and theology coming through an unbroken succession from the apostles of Jesus is not unique. All the disputing parties claimed the same thing!
The Jewish Christians, of course, made claims to the apostles. In the Pseudo-Clementines, we find the apostle Peter being presented as a bastion of Jewish Christian orthodoxy fighting the battle against the onslaught of "Lawless" Christianity:
The Montanists, a heretical apocalyptic sect from Phyrgia in Asia Minor, claimed the legacy of the apostle John. They made such extensive use of the gospel of John and the book of Revelation (both purportedly written by the apostle of that name), that when the movement reached Rome around 170-180 CE, an orthodox Roman presbyter and scholar, Gauis actually tried combating the heresy by repudiating the apostolic origins of these two books. 
Gnosticism too made use of the apostles, although here there are more variations to the theme. Some apostles are presented as having "deeper" knowledge than others. The Gnostic writings found at Nag Hammadi [a] boasts of such titles as The Apocalypse of Peter, The Apocryphon of John, The Gospel of Thomas and The Gospel of Philip. All obviously claiming apostolic authority. The Apocalypse of Peter, for instance, presents the apostle of that name as the keeper of the mysteries which is to be revealed only to the elect. Other Gnostic writings present Peter as the defender of true Christianity (i.e. Gnosticism) against the "heretical" ecclesiastical Christianity. Clement of Alexandria (c150-c215), in his treatise Stromata (or Miscellanies), reported that the Gnostics too boasts of apostolic succession; Basilides was the pupil of Glaukia who was "the interpreter of Peter" while Valentinus was a disciple of Theudas, a follower of Paul. (Stromata 7:17). 
At the moment we are not concerned with the veracity of these claims. The main point is that the claim of apostolic authority for the teachings of what ultimately became "orthodox", "catholic" or "ecclesiastical" (choose your favorite adjective!) Christianity is not unique. In other words, everyone (heretics, orthodox, heterodox or what have you) was making similar claims.
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