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Particulars of Christianity:
301 Roman Catholicism


Roman Catholicism (Part 5)

Roman Catholicism (Part 1)
Roman Catholicism (Part 2)
Roman Catholicism (Part 3)
Roman Catholicism (Part 4)
Roman Catholicism (Part 5)
Roman Catholicism (Part 6)
Roman Catholicism (Part 7)
Roman Catholicism (Part 8)
Roman Catholicism (Part 9)
Roman Catholicism (Part 10)
Roman Catholicism (Part 11)
Roman Catholicism (Part 12)
Addendum: In Their Own Words



(Continued from previous section.)

Moving on, the second piece of evidence offered by the Catholic Encyclopedia involves Tertullian's contentions with Callistus, another bishop of Rome. This argument is chiefly concerned with establishing that Peter was the bishop of Rome.

"The Pope - In the first quarter of the century (about 220) Tertullian (De Pud. 21) mentions Callistus's claim that Peter's power to forgive sins had descended in a special manner to him. Had the Roman Church been merely founded by Peter and not reckoned him as its first bishop, there could have been no ground for such a contention." - Catholic Encyclopedia

The Catholic Encyclopedia here argues on the basis that Callistus makes a claim that could not have been made if Peter were not, in fact, the first bishop of Rome. This is another highly dubious argument.

Even if this incident provides evidence that Peter was the first bishop of Rome it does not therefore follow that this bishopric had all of the powers that the RCC attributes to it. Additionally, are we to be persuaded of the legitimacy of Roman Catholic teaching because a 3rd century bishop of Rome claimed that Peter was the bishop of Rome?

Again, it is not disputed that the 3rd century bishops of Rome claimed that they sat in the seat of Peter or that they for this reason believed that they inherited supreme authority over the Church. What is disputed is whether or not this claim is legitimately rooted in the original teachings of Jesus Christ or is simply a 3rd century Church development. This dispute is not addressed by this line of evidence, which so far has only shown that a 3rd century bishop of Rome thought himself the successor of Peter and thought this bestowed on him some special privileges.

The Catholic Encyclopedia bolsters their argument by pointing out that Tertullian does not challenge Callistus' claim that Peter was the first Bishop of Rome. Because it would have been useful for Tertullian to refute Callistus' claim by denying that Peter was ever the bishop of Rome, Roman Catholic scholars conclude that Tertullian attests to Peter being bishop of Rome, simply by not challenging it.

"The Pope - Tertullian, like Firmilian, had every motive to deny the claim. Moreover, he had himself resided at Rome, and would have been well aware if the idea of a Roman episcopate of Peter had been, as is contended by its opponents, a novelty dating from the first years of the third century, supplanting the older tradition according to which Peter and Paul were co-founders, and Linus first bishop." - Catholic Encyclopedia

However, it is hard to see how Tertullian's silence equates to Roman Catholic substantiation. It simply does not follow that the absence of a challenge from a dissenting party unequivocally equals the historical establishment of an opposition's claims. Moreover, it also does not follow that because a 3rd century dissenter does not oppose papal claims that therefore papal authority must have been taught and understood by the1st century Church.

It is entirely possible that Tertullian may well have understood that Peter was the first bishop of Rome and therefore refrained from arguing this particular point all the while disputing (as we are free to do today) that the Roman bishop position carried with it any inherent supremacy. In fact, the next quote from the Catholic Encyclopedia shows that while Tertullian through silence may have perhaps acknowledged Peter's bishopric over Rome, he did not in any way agree that this granted the bishops of Rome supreme authority as the RCC claims.

"The Pope - Tertullian's bitter polemic, "De Pudicitia" (about 220), was called forth by an exercise of papal prerogative. Pope Callistus had decided that the rigid discipline which had hitherto prevailed in many Churches must be in large measure relaxed. Tertullian, now lapsed into heresy, fiercely attacks "the peremptory edict", which "the supreme pontiff, the bishop of bishops", has sent forth. The words are intended as sarcasm: but none the less they indicate clearly the position of authority claimed by Rome. And the opposition comes, not from a Catholic bishop, but from a Montanist heretic." - Catholic Encyclopedia

So, we see that while Tertullian is silent on the matter of Peter's being bishop of Rome, he does feel the need to comment on the bishop of Rome's claim of supremacy and primacy over the other bishops. And unfortunately for Roman Catholics it simply does not follow that because a 3rd century heretic sarcastically disputes the authority of the bishop of Rome, that therefore the bishop of Rome actually did have supreme authority. In all fairness, Tertullian's comments on these matters can only attest to his awareness and disagreement with the claim of the Roman bishops to supreme authority over the Church. They cannot be used as proof that those bishops were legitimately given that authority by God.

And again, it should be stressed that the only thing 3rd century writers can conclusively attest to is the beliefs of the 3rd century Church. The comments of Tertullian and Callistus only really inform us of the beliefs of the 3rd century Church. If we want to understand the beliefs and teachings of the 1st century Church we will have to examine writings from that period. Or more to the point, if we want to determine if the doctrine of the papacy originates from Jesus and his apostles in the first century, we are going to have to establish that idea from writings earlier than the third century. This we have done, in part, though our investigation of the New Testament Scriptures. This task will be completed as we later cover the non-canonical writings of the 1st and 2nd century. For now we will continue with the two more pieces of evidence offered by the Catholic Encyclopedia in favor of the legitimacy of their papal doctrines.

"The Pope - About the same period, Hippolytus (for Lightfoot is surely right in holding him to be the author of the first part of the "Liberian Catalogue" -- "Clement of Rome", 1:259) reckons Peter in the list of Roman bishops." - Catholic Encyclopedia

"The Pope - We have moreover a poem, "Adversus Marcionem", written apparently at the same period, in which Peter is said to have passed on to Linus "the chair on which he himself had sat" (P.L., II 1077). These witnesses bring us to the beginning of the third century." - Catholic Encyclopedia

As we said earlier in this study, Peter's being bishop of Rome does not demonstrate that he was also the supreme head of the Church. In order for Roman Catholics to prove that their doctrine of papal authority is legitimately derived from the teachings of Jesus Christ and His Apostles, they must also show the bishop of Rome was understood to hold a position of supreme authority over the Church. These two references do not speak to the matter of the supremacy of the Roman bishop, but merely to Peter's holding the office of Roman bishop, and so they lend no weight to the Roman Catholic claim of papal authority.

What we really need is 1st and 2nd century Christians saying that Peter (and/or the bishopric of Rome) was the supreme authority in the Church, not just that Peter was bishop of Rome. What we have seen so far is 3rd century evidence, which is inadequate for establishing that claim. Therefore, we now continue with the 2nd century evidence that is offered in support of the papal doctrines of the RCC.

Earlier in this section of our study we noted that in seeking to demonstrate that the doctrine of papal authority originated with Jesus Christ and His Apostles, the Catholic Encyclopedia took an odd approach and instead of starting in the 1st century as one might expect, they began with the 3rd century documents because, according to them, that is when references to this doctrine become frequent. The obvious implication of this statement is that, before the 3rd century, references to the RCC's doctrine of papal authority are hard to come by. This, of course, fits with the observations made by Britannica.com and the Columbia Encyclopedia, which both concluded that evidence for the Roman Catholic doctrine of papal authority from the first three centuries is inconclusive.

"Apostolic Succession - The origins of the doctrine are obscure, and the New Testament records are variously interpreted." - Britannica.com

"Christianity - For the first three centuries of Christianity, history is dependent on apologetic and religious writings; there are no chronicles (see patristic literature). Historians differ greatly on how far back the 4th-century picture of the church (which is quite clear) can be projected, especially respecting organization by bishops (each bishop a monarch in the church of his city), celebration of a liturgy entailing a sacrament and a sacrifice, and claims by the bishop of Rome to be head of all the churches (see papacy)." - The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001.

"Papacy - There is no unequivocal evidence about the status of the pope in the earliest days of the church." - The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001.

Having demonstrated that the Catholic Encyclopedia's evidence from the 3rd century is inconclusive at best, despite their claim that this time period contained frequent support for their papal doctrine, we find the following statement is made by the Catholic Encyclopedia regarding 2nd century evidence.

"The Pope - In the second century we cannot look for much evidence. With the exception of Ignatius, Polycarp, and Clement of Alexandria, all the writers whose works we possess are apologists against either Jews or pagans. In works of such a character there was no reason to refer to such a matter as Peter's Roman episcopate. Irenaeus, however, supplies us with a cogent argument." - Catholic Encyclopedia

This admission that the 2nd century does not bear much evidence supporting their teaching is not unexpected, however, given their previous acknowledgment that evidence for this doctrine is less than frequent before the 3rd century. If then, the 3rd century evidence, which we were led to believe would readily support the Roman Catholic doctrine of papal authority was less than sufficient, we might suspect that 2nd and 1st century evidence will be all the more ineffective for establishing Roman Catholic claims.

Since the Catholic Encyclopedia has chosen to proceed backwards from the third century our examination will resume with 2nd century Christian writings of Irenaeus.

Irenaeus, a disciple of Polycarp, the disciple of John and bishop of Ephesus, was himself the bishop of Lyons. He lived and wrote defending Christian doctrines between 120-202 A.D.

"Irenaeus, Saint - c.125-c.202, Greek theologian, bishop of Lyons, and Father of the Church. Born in Asia Minor, he was a disciple of St. Polycarp." - The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition. 2001.

The Catholic Encyclopedia points to Irenaeus in support of both of its previously identified claims. First, the Catholic Encyclopedia appeals to Irenaeus as supporting that Peter was bishop of Rome. However, as we have repeatedly pointed out before, this fact does nothing to indicate papal authority. A second claim must be demonstrated that Peter's and his successors, as the bishops of Rome, occupied a position of supreme authority in the Church over the other bishops in affairs of faith and morals (doctrine and practice).

Here then is the first argument offered by the Catholic Encyclopedia to support their claim that Peter was the first bishop of Rome.

"The Pope - In the second century we cannot look for much evidence. With the exception of Ignatius, Polycarp, and Clement of Alexandria, all the writers whose works we possess are apologists against either Jews or pagans. In works of such a character there was no reason to refer to such a matter as Peter's Roman episcopate. Irenaeus, however, supplies us with a cogent argument. In two passages (Adv. haer. 1:27:1, and 3:4:3) he speaks of Hyginus as ninth Bishop of Rome, thus employing an enumeration which involves the inclusion of Peter as first bishop (Lightfoot was undoubtedly wrong in supposing that there was any doubt as to the correctness of the reading in the first of these passages. In 3:4:3, the Latin version, it is true, gives 'octavus'; but the Greek text as cited by Eusebius reads enatos. Irenaeus we know visited Rome in 177. At this date, scarcely more than a century after the death of St. Peter, he may well have come in contact with men whose fathers had themselves spoken to the Apostle. The tradition thus supported must be regarded as beyond all legitimate doubt." - Catholic Encyclopedia

By pointing out that Irenaeus numbers Hyginus as a bishop of Rome, the Catholic Encyclopedia argues that Irenaeus therefore is indicating that Peter was the first bishop of Rome. However, it must be noted that Irenaeus himself does nowhere number Peter as the first bishop in this succession of bishops of Rome. So, while it stands to reason that there must have been someone whom Irenaeus was reckoning as the first bishop of Rome, it can only be assumed that this person is Peter. The Catholic Encyclopedia does assume this to be the case and then offers their presumption as a conclusive argument. However, this is merely circular reasoning and so cannot be accepted as a sound argument for the claim that Peter was the first bishop of Rome.

Again, we are completely comfortable with accepting Peter as a bishop of Rome, even the first bishop of Rome, however, we must point out that the Catholic Encyclopedia cannot simply assume this to be the case and then offer that assumption as historical evidence in support of their conclusion.

In fact, while the Catholic Encyclopedia confidently bestows this position upon Peter alone, Irenaeus repeatedly identifies both Peter and Paul as founding the Church at Rome and together appointing Linus to succeed them as bishop of Rome, a point that the Catholic Encyclopedia understandably leaves out.

"Matthew also issued a written Gospel among the Hebrews(3) in their own dialect, while Peter and Paul were preaching at Rome, and laying the foundations of the Church. After their departure, Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, did also hand down to us in writing what had been preached by Peter. Luke also, the companion of Paul, recorded in a book the Gospel preached by him. Afterwards, John, the disciple of the Lord, who also had leaned upon His breast, did himself publish a Gospel during his residence at Ephesus in Asia." - Irenaeus, CHAP. I.--THE APOSTLES DID NOT COMMENCE TO PREACH THE GOSPEL, OR TO PLACE ANYTHING ON RECORD, UNTIL THEY WERE ENDOWED WITH THE GIFTS AND POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. THEY PREACHED ONE GOD ALONE, MAKER OF HEAVEN AND EARTH.

"Since, however, it would be very tedious, in such a volume as this, to reckon up the successions of all the Churches, we do put to confusion all those who, in whatever manner, whether by an evil self-pleasing, by vainglory, or by blindness and perverse opinion, assemble in unauthorized meetings; [we do this, I say,] by indicating that tradition derived from the apostles, of the very great, the very ancient, and universally known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul; as also [by pointing out] the faith preached to men, which comes down to our time by means of the successions of the bishops. For it is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church, on account of its pre- eminent authority,(3) that is, the faithful every-416 where, inasmuch as the apostolical tradition has been preserved continuously by those [faithful men] who exist everywhere." - Irenaeus, CHAP. III.--A REFUTATION OF THE HERETICS, FROM THE FACT THAT, IN THE VARIOUS CHURCHES, A PERPETUAL SUCCESSION OF BISHOPS WAS KEPT UP.

"3. The blessed apostles, then, having founded and built up the Church, committed into the hands of Linus the office of the episcopate." - Irenaeus, CHAP. III.--A REFUTATION OF THE HERETICS, FROM THE FACT THAT, IN THE VARIOUS CHURCHES, A PERPETUAL SUCCESSION OF BISHOPS WAS KEPT UP.

Below is the Catholic Encyclopedia's interpretation of the above quoted remarks of Irenaeus.

"The Pope - Nor is there the slightest ground for the assertion that the language of Irenaeus, 3:3:3, implies that Peter and Paul enjoyed a divided episcopate at Rome -- an arrangement utterly unknown to the Church at any period. He does, it is true, speak of the two Apostles as together handing on the episcopate to Linus. But this expression is explained by the purpose of his argument, which is to vindicate against the Gnostics the validity of the doctrine taught in the Roman Church. Hence he is naturally led to lay stress on the fact that that Church inherited the teaching of both the great Apostles. Epiphanius ("Haer." 27:6) would indeed seem to suggest the divided episcopate; but he has apparently merely misunderstood the words of Irenaeus." - Catholic Encyclopedia

When reading Irenaeus, the Catholic Encyclopedia simply assumes that Peter is the first Bishop, although Irenaeus does not specifically say so. And when confronted with the fact the Irenaeus repeatedly lists Peter and Paul side by side as the founders of the Roman church who together handed the bishopric to Linus, the Catholic Encyclopedia again simply makes another assumption to provide an alternate motive for Irenaeus' listing of Paul side by side with Peter. While these assumptions might be convenient maneuvers necessary to save the RCC's doctrine from deconstruction at the hands of Irenaeus, such assumptions do nothing to provide support or proof for the RCC's claims. Truly, one can "prove" almost anything by stringing together assumptions.

Again, we note that the Catholic Encyclopedia is content to merely make conclusions about Irenaeus' writing for their reader, but avoids actually quoting him in order to demonstrate the validity of their interpretations. Having read the actual text of Irenaeus remarks, we understand why the Catholic Encyclopedia omitted his commentary in favor of simply voicing their conclusions on the matter. The reason is quite simple. If the readers are given the opportunity to read Irenaeus' words themselves they will no doubt clearly see that the arguments offered by the Catholic Encyclopedia on these matters are misleading at best and dishonest scholarship at worst. Having taken note of this we move on to the actual argument offered by the Catholic Encyclopedia in order to explain Ireneaus' statements.

The Catholic Encyclopedia argues that the reason that Irenaeus attributes the Roman Church to both Peter and Paul is because Irenaeus intends to "to lay stress on the fact that that Church inherited the teaching of both the great Apostles." One must ask, if Irenaeus understood Peter to hold the place of supreme authority over the Church and its doctrines, why would he feel led to stress Paul's contributions to the teachings held by the Roman Church? If Peter was the pope, by commission from Jesus Christ, and held all of the supreme authority that Roman Catholics ascribe to that position, what difference would it make that Paul contributed to the teachings of the Church at Rome? What benefit or weight could Paul possibly add to Irenaeus' argument if Peter were invested with all the supreme authority of the RCC pope?

Indeed, the very fact that Irenaeus felt it helpful "to lay stress on the fact that that Church inherited the teaching of both the great Apostles" at least undermines the Roman Catholic claim that Peter held superiority in the Church. If Peter had, there would have been no need for Irenaeus to stress Paul's contributions in order to add weight to the authenticity of the teachings of the Roman Church. For if Peter had supreme authority as the pope, then Peter himself would have been sufficient weight without Paul. Appealing to Paul in any way only undermines the exclusive sufficiency of Peter as the RCC pope.

So, the Roman Catholic view can in no way claim support for their position that Peter occupied a position of supreme authority from Irenaeus, whom they admit felt the need to stress Paul's involvement alongside Peter in forming the doctrines of the Roman Church. Furthermore, the arguments of the Catholic Encyclopedia do not explain the first quote from Irenaeus, which has nothing to do with establishing the authenticity or orthodoxy of the teachings exhibited in the Roman Church.

"Matthew also issued a written Gospel among the Hebrews(3) in their own dialect, while Peter and Paul were preaching at Rome, and laying the foundations of the Church." - Irenaeus, CHAP. I.--THE APOSTLES DID NOT COMMENCE TO PREACH THE GOSPEL, OR TO PLACE ANYTHING ON RECORD, UNTIL THEY WERE ENDOWED WITH THE GIFTS AND POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT. THEY PREACHED ONE GOD ALONE, MAKER OF HEAVEN AND EARTH.

Regardless of his defense against Gnostic heresies, Irenaeus clearly held that Peter and Paul together provided the foundation of the Roman church, which effectively strips Peter from any hint of exclusive authority as the foundation stone of the Roman church.

Nor, can Roman Catholic explain Irenaeus' other statement when listing the bishops of Rome.

"3. The blessed apostles, then, having founded and built up the Church, committed into the hands of Linus the office of the episcopate." - Irenaeus, CHAP. III.--A REFUTATION OF THE HERETICS, FROM THE FACT THAT, IN THE VARIOUS CHURCHES, A PERPETUAL SUCCESSION OF BISHOPS WAS KEPT UP.

The Catholic Encyclopedia acknowledges this quote, but does not provide an adequate explanation for why Irenaeus would have recorded that Peter and Paul together appointed Linus to be the bishop of Rome.

"The Pope - He does, it is true, speak of the two Apostles as together handing on the episcopate to Linus." - Catholic Encyclopedia

Again, we must note that the Catholic Encyclopedia does not allow their readers to read the text for themselves as we have done here, but instead only provides their own conclusions. One can understand why they do this in light of Irenaeus' words. For, if Peter was indeed the one and only first bishop of Rome, as Roman Catholics claim, then Irenaeus' words cannot simply be explained as an additional support for the orthodoxy of the Roman Church's doctrine. For if Peter was truly the one and only first bishop of Rome, then for Irenaeus to describe both Peter and Paul appointing Linus to be bishop of Rome would be either a serious historical inaccuracy or a very misleading argument. By contrast it is much simpler and more natural to understand Irenaeus' words as they plainly indicate - the Roman Church was founded by Peter and Paul who together appointed Linus. Thus, when interpreted reasonably and without a Roman Catholic bias, Irenaeus does not provide any support for even the initial claim that Peter alone was the first bishop of Rome.

Although there seems no objective reason to deny a dual-episcopate shared by both Peter and Paul, we need not speculate that both men were counted as bishops of Rome. Irenaeus nowhere states that Peter was a bishop. Only the Roman Catholic position requires a categorical identification of Peter as a bishop. It is possible that because both men were apostles that neither would have been identified by the lesser designation or title of bishop. Though they indeed did found and oversee the Church at Rome, as apostles their role in the Church is more universal and would not fit as well with the title bishop, which denoted a local Church leader.

It may, in fact, be the case that while Peter and Paul both lived, there was no bishop of Rome. No need would have existed for one since these two men would have fulfilled all the duties and met all of the needs that a bishop is meant to fill. This may explain the discrepancy noted by the Catholic Encyclopedia regarding exactly which place Hyginus occupied as bishop of Rome - eighth or ninth.

If neither Peter or Paul is identified as bishop of Rome, then Linus would be counted as the first bishop of Rome. In this scheme, Hyginus would be the eighth bishop of Rome.

"3. The blessed apostles, then, having founded and built up the Church, committed into the hands of Linus the office of the episcopate. Of this Linus, Paul makes mention in the Epistles to Timothy. To him succeeded Anacletus; and after him, in the third place from the apostles, Clement was allotted the bishopric…To this Clement there succeeded Evaristus. Alexander followed Evaristus; then, sixth from the apostles, Sixtus was appointed; after him, Telephorus, who was gloriously martyred; then Hyginus; after him, Pius; then after him, Anicetus. Sorer having succeeded Anicetus, Eleutherius does now, in the twelfth place from the apostles, hold the inheritance of the episcopate. In this order, and by this succession, the ecclesiastical tradition from the apostles, and the preaching of the truth, have come down to us. And this is most abundant proof that there is one and the same vivifying faith, which has been preserved in the Church from the apostles until now, and handed down in truth." - Irenaeus, CHAP. III.--A REFUTATION OF THE HERETICS, FROM THE FACT THAT, IN THE VARIOUS CHURCHES, A PERPETUAL SUCCESSION OF BISHOPS WAS KEPT UP.

Notice how Irenaeus uses the designation "from the apostles" in order to number the bishops of Rome. This phrase, used four times by Irenaeus, again indicates that he understood both Peter and Paul to rule the Church of Rome before Linus. Likewise, we see Irenaeus numbers the succession of Roman bishops in this order according to their distance from the apostles Peter and Paul: 1) Linus, 2) Anacletus, 3) Clement, 4) Evaristus, 5) Alexander, 6) Sixtus, 7) Telephorus, then 8) Hyginus, 9) Pius, 10) Anicetus, 11) Sorer, 12) Eleutherius.

That this is the case is proven by Irenaeus reference to Clement being "in the third place from the apostles." Clement is said to follow Linus and Anacletus as the bishop of Rome. If, therefore, Clement is the third, Linus would be the first bishop, and Anacletus, the second bishop. Similarly, Sixtus is the "sixth from the apostles." He is preceded in descending order by five bishops of Rome: 5) Alexander, 4) Evaristus, 3) Clement, 2) Anacletus, and 1) Linus. And again, Eleutherius, Irenaeus' contemporary is noted as being "in the twelfth place from the apostles." Eleutherius is preceded in descending order by eleven bishops of Rome: 11) Sorer, 10) Anicetus, 9) Pius, 8) Hyginus, 7) Telephorus, 6) Sixtus, 5) Alexander, 4) Evaristus, 3) Clement, 2) Anacletus, and 1) Linus. Irenaeus numbers these men as bishops of Rome, but applies no number to either Apostle, but instead making Linus the first bishop of Rome. No place is left by Irenaeus for Peter as the first bishop.

Alternatively, if one were inclined to count Linus as the second bishop of Rome following a period in which the position was first fulfilled by an Apostle or both Apostles, then Hyginus could, in fact, be reckoned as the ninth bishop of Rome.

Having undermined the Roman Catholic argument that Irenaeus attests to Peter being the sole bishop of Rome there is little need to continue with their second claim that the Roman bishopric occupied a position supreme authority over the Church except to demonstrate the total deficiency of the RCC's position. This we will do momentarily. However, since Irenaeus' words indicate that Peter and Paul shared in the founding and administration of the Church at Rome, any supremacy attributed to that Church by Irenaeus cannot be taken to indicate Peter's papal authority. Since Irenaeus equally credits Paul in these matters an indication of Roman primacy by Irenaeus would equally apply to Paul and Peter and not solely to Peter as the RCC contends and, which would need to be the case in order to validate RCC's teaching.

Nevertheless, here is the argument offered by the Catholic Encyclopedia that Irenaeus' supports their teaching of Roman primacy.

"The Pope - The same century gives us the witness of St. Irenaeus -- a man who stands in the closest connexion with the age of the Apostles, since he was a disciple of St. Polycarp, who had been appointed. Bishop of Smyrna by St. John. In his work 'Adversus Haereses' (3:3:2) he brings against the Gnostic sects of his day the argument that their doctrines have no support in the Apostolic tradition faithfully preserved by the Churches, which could trace the succession of their bishops back to the Twelve. He writes: 'Because it would be too long in such a volume as this to enumerate the successions of all the churches, we point to the tradition of that very great and very ancient and universally known Church, which was founded and established at Rome, by the two most glorious Apostles, Peter and Paul: we point I say, to the tradition which this Church has from the Apostles, and to her faith proclaimed to men which comes down to our time through the succession of her bishops, and so we put to shame . . . all who assemble in unauthorized meetings. For with this Church, because of its superior authority, every Church must agree -- that is the faithful everywhere -- in communion with which Church the tradition of the Apostles has been always preserved by those who are everywhere [Ad hanc enim eoclesiam propter potentiorem principalitatem necesse est omnem convenire ecclesiam, hoc est eos qui sunt undique fideles, in qua semper ab his qui sunt undique, conservata est ea quâ est ab apostolis traditio]'. He then proceeds to enumerate the Roman succession from Linus to Eleutherius, the twelfth after the Apostles, who then occupied the see." - Catholic Encyclopedia

First, notice that the reason Irenaeus is appealing to Rome is on the basis that it preserves the teaching of the apostles in contrast to the Gnostics who deviate from apostolic teaching. This is the main theme of Irenaeus' argument here. This perfectly confirms our analysis of Matthew 16, in which any commendation to Peter is dependent upon his own faithfulness of the previous revelations given through both John the Baptist and Andrew in John 1:29-42. Both Irenaeus and Matthew 16 strongly indicate that preservation of previous divine teaching was the basis of divine approval and authority, not any supposed Roman papal authority.

(Continued in next section.)