Search Our Site
Catholicism (Part 3)
Catholicism (Part 1)
Catholicism (Part 2)
Catholicism (Part 3)
Catholicism (Part 4)
Catholicism (Part 5)
Catholicism (Part 6)
Catholicism (Part 7)
Catholicism (Part 8)
Catholicism (Part 9)
Catholicism (Part 10)
Catholicism (Part 11)
Catholicism (Part 12)
In Their Own Words
(Continued from previous section.)
Besides the passages, which we have already examined, the
New Testament provides additional proof that Peter did not
enjoy a place of primacy over the other Apostles. In Matthew
18, after the infamous Matthew 16:15-17 passage, we see that
Jesus is asked directly as to who is the greatest in the kingdom
of heaven. Instead of affirming Peter's position of primacy,
Jesus instead commands us to be as little children.
Matthew 18:1 At the same time came the disciples
unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of
heaven? 2 And Jesus called a little child unto him, and
set him in the midst of them, 3 And said, Verily I say unto
you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children,
ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whosoever
therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same
is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 And whoso shall receive
one such little child in my name receiveth me. 6 But whoso
shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me,
it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about
his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
If just previously Jesus had indicated in Matthew 16 that
Peter was to be the head of the Church it is interesting to
note that Matthew 18:1 may at least indicate that the Apostles
were not clear on Jesus' instructions from that chapter. However,
we must also note that Jesus bypasses the opportunity to clarify
Peter's authority in the kingdom of heaven. The fact that
He does not reiterate Peter's position of authority in response
to this question in Matthew 18 more than begs the question
as to whether or not He ever did grant Peter such a position
as the RCC claims.
As similar question arises in Mark 10, where James and John
approach Jesus about being placed in a position of authority
just subordinate to Jesus' in the kingdom of God.
Mark 10:35 And James and John, the sons of Zebedee,
come unto him, saying, Master, we would that thou shouldest
do for us whatsoever we shall desire. 36 And he said unto
them, What would ye that I should do for you? 37 They said
unto him, Grant unto us that we may sit, one on thy right
hand, and the other on thy left hand, in thy glory. 38
But Jesus said unto them, Ye know not what ye ask: can ye
drink of the cup that I drink of? and be baptized with the
baptism that I am baptized with? 39 And they said unto him,
We can. And Jesus said unto them, Ye shall indeed drink of
the cup that I drink of; and with the baptism that I am baptized
withal shall ye be baptized: 40 But to sit on my right
hand and on my left hand is not mine to give; but it shall
be given to them for whom it is prepared. 41 And when
the ten heard it, they began to be much displeased with James
Again, two things are demonstrated by this passage. First,
apparently the disciples did not understand Peter's primacy
in the Church. Second, in responding to James and John Jesus
does not resist their request by speaking of Peter's supremacy.
Additionally, in verse 40 Jesus affirms that there are two
positions of authority under His own in the kingdom of heaven,
and not the singular spot that the RCC reserves for Peter.
Also, we saw earlier that one of the central points to the
RCC's interpretation of Matthew 16:15-17 comes by way of Jesus
giving the keys of the kingdom of heaven to Peter in verse
Matthew 16:13 When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea
Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say
that I the Son of man am? 14 And they said, Some say that
thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias,
or one of the prophets. 15 He saith unto them, But whom say
ye that I am? 16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art
the Christ, the Son of the living God. 17 And Jesus answered
and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh
and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which
is in heaven. 18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter
(4074), and upon this rock (4073) I will build my church;
and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19 And
I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and
whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven:
and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in
heaven. 20 Then charged he his disciples that they should
tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ.
The RCC claims that Jesus gave these keys only to Peter and
that this verse indicates Peter's authority and place of sovereignty
over the Church.
"The Pope - In the following verse (Matthew 16:19)
He promises to bestow on Peter the keys of the kingdom of
heaven." - Catholic Encyclopedia
"The Pope - In all countries the key is the symbol
of authority. Thus, Christ's words are a promise that He will
confer on Peter supreme power to govern the Church. Peter
is to be His vicegerent, to rule in His place. Further
the character and extent of the power thus bestowed are indicated.
It is a power to 'bind' and to 'loose' -- words which,
as is shown below, denote the grant of legislative and judicial
authority. And this power is granted in its fullest measure.
Whatever Peter binds or looses on earth, his act will receive
the Divine ratification." - Catholic Encyclopedia
Contrary to the Roman Catholic understanding the New Testament
does not support the idea the Peter alone received authority
from Christ over the Church, but instead grants this authority
more broadly at least to all of the Apostles and perhaps even
further to all of His disciples.
This power of binding and loosing, which the RCC identifies
as denoting "the grant of legislative and judicial authority"
"granted in its fullest measure" an act which when employed
"will receive the Divine ratification" is elsewhere given
by Jesus to all of His Apostles and NOT just Peter.
Matthew 18:17 And if he shall neglect to hear them,
tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the
church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican.
18 Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth
shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on
earth shall be loosed in heaven. 19 Again I say unto
you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any
thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my
Father which is in heaven. 20 For where two or three are
gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.
Notice first, that Jesus places judicial power in the Church
and in the agreement of at least two of them and NOT solely
in Peter. This is significant since Matthew 18 follows Matthew
16. If in Matthew 16 Jesus had placed sole authority for legislative
and judicial authority in its fullest measure with divine
ratification in the hands of Peter only, then Matthew 18 is
confusing to say the least and contradictory at the worst.
Instead, what is apparent is that Jesus is bestowing this
authority of binding and loosing upon all of His Apostles
at least and perhaps to a greater extent to all of the Church.
Furthermore, Jesus' statement to Peter in Matthew 16:19 is
predictive. It is rendered in the future tense indicating
that at some future point, rather than the present moment,
Jesus was going to bestow upon Peter the keys and that authority.
Since Matthew 16:19 is predictive of a future event, we can
see that Matthew 18, which is inclusive of all the apostles
not just Peter, is the fulfillment of the predictive promise
in Matthew 16:19. Or, in other words, Jesus promise to give
Peter the keys and authority in Matthew 16:19 is fulfilled
when he grants this authority to all of the Apostles together
in Matthew 18:15-20. Thus, the position of the RCC is again
proved to not be rooted or founded upon the teachings of Jesus
Christ as recorded and proclaimed by the Apostles from the
Likewise, there are several more instances where Jesus' clearly
grants authority to all of the Apostles at least, and NOT
just to Peter. In Matthew 19, Jesus tells Peter that he and
the other eleven Apostles will sit on twelve thrones judging
the tribes of Israel.
Matthew 19:27 Then answered Peter and said unto
him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee;
what shall we have therefore? 28 And Jesus said unto them,
Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me,
in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne
of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging
the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And I appoint unto
you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; 30
That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and
sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
Jesus' comments here again place Peter in a position of equality
with the other disciples and NOT in a place of prominence
over them. In verse 29, Jesus says clearly appoints all of
them over the Kingdom of God, just as God had appointed Him.
Again Peter is placed among the other disciples and not above
them when authority in the kingdom of God is discussed.
And finally, just before He ascends into heaven Jesus also
speaks of the authority that He has over heaven and earth.
Matthew 28:16 Then the eleven disciples went away
into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them.
17 And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted.
18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power
is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go ye therefore,
and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father,
and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20 Teaching them
to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you:
and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.
Contrary to the Roman Catholic interpretation of John 21,
wherein they claim that Jesus affirms Peter's primacy over
the other disciples just before the ascension, Matthew 28
informs us that Jesus' instead commissioned all of the Apostles
to proclaim His teachings in the authority of the Father,
the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Again, it is significant that
Peter is not singled out, but that all of the Apostles are
given the same treatment by Jesus.
And not only do we see an absence of special treatment given
to Peter in the New Testament as well as where Peter is merely
treated with equal status to the other Apostles, but there
are several passages in the New Testament which display Peter
submitting to other Apostles.
In Acts 15, we see that a council is brought together at Jerusalem
to decide on how much of the Mosaic Law Gentile converts were
to adhere to.
Acts 15:1 And certain men which came down from Judaea
taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after
the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. 2 When therefore
Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation
with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain
other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles
and elders about this question. 3 And being brought on
their way by the church, they passed through Phenice and Samaria,
declaring the conversion of the Gentiles: and they caused
great joy unto all the brethren. 4 And when they were come
to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the
apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God
had done with them. 5 But there rose up certain of the
sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was
needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the
law of Moses. 6 And the apostles and elders came together
for to consider of this matter. 7 And when there had been
much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men
and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice
among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word
of the gospel, and believe. 8 And God, which knoweth the
hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even
as he did unto us; 9 And put no difference between us and
them, purifying their hearts by faith. 10 Now therefore why
tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples,
which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? 11 But
we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ
we shall be saved, even as they. 12 Then all the multitude
kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring
what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles
by them. 13 And after they had held their peace, James
answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me: 14
Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the
Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. 15
And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written,
16 After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle
of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the
ruins thereof, and I will set it up: 17 That the residue of
men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon
whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these
things. 18 Known unto God are all his works from the beginning
of the world. 19 Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble
not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God:
20 But that we write unto them, that they abstain from
pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things
strangled, and from blood. 21 For Moses of old time hath in
every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues
every sabbath day. 22 Then pleased it the apostles and
elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their
own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas
surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren:
23 And they wrote letters by them after this manner; The
apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren
which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia:
24 Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out
from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls,
saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom
we gave no such commandment: 25 It seemed good unto us,
being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto
you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, 26 Men that have hazarded
their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 We have
sent therefore Judas and Silas, who shall also tell you the
same things by mouth. 28 For it seemed good to the Holy
Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than
these necessary things; 29 That ye abstain from meats offered
to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from
fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do
well. Fare ye well. 30 So when they were dismissed, they came
to Antioch: and when they had gathered the multitude together,
they delivered the epistle: 31 Which when they had read, they
rejoiced for the consolation.
There are several things to note about this council. First,
Peter did not call for the council. Second, Peter is in attendance
at the council. Third, Peter does speak at the council. Fourth,
while Peter is present and does speak, it is not Peter who
decides the matter. In fact, the record of Acts 15 is that
all of the Apostles and elders came together to decide the
matter. Additionally, James is shown to carry a great deal
of the weight in the proceedings. After all it is after James
gives his thoughts that the council makes a decision. And
the council's decision follows James' recommendation completely.
In fact, Acts 15 records that after Peter, Paul, and the others
spoke James stood up, addressed the council, proclaimed his
judgment on the matter and then immediately afterwards the
council takes action in complete accord with James' decision.
It seems that if anyone is playing a papal role here it is
James and not Peter. However, we need not go that far. All
we need to note is that Acts 15 undermines the Roman Catholic
claim of Peter's priority within the Church. At the best Peter
is one of several people who have authority to decide important
matters of faith. At the worst, Peter is subordinate to James.
In his letter to the Galatians, Paul also presents Peter in
a manner contradictory of Roman Catholic papal doctrines.
In the beginning of the second chapter of this book, Paul
does NOT ascribe to Peter a place of eminence within the Church,
but instead mentions him alongside James and John as the pillars
of the Church, even listing him second in the order after
Galatians 2:9 And when James, Cephas, and John,
who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was
given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands
of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they
unto the circumcision.
Later in this same chapter, Paul describes an encounter in
which Peter is clearly not treated with the papal authority
that Roman Catholics insist he was granted.
Galatians 2:11 But when Peter was come to Antioch,
I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.
12 For before that certain came from James, he did
eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew
and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision.
13 And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch
that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation.
14 But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according
to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them
all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles,
and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to
live as do the Jews?
In this passage Paul describes that while Peter was visiting
Antioch he was eating with the Gentile believers in accordance
with the truth of the Gospel. However, after men arrived from
James, Peter withdrew himself from the Gentile believers in
order to please those who came from James. Paul's response
is to rebuke Peter to his face before those gathered.
So, we see Peter acquiescing to those who came from James
out of fear. And we see Paul rebuking Peter's hypocrisy and
poor judgment. Clearly, Peter is not acting like or being
treated like THE unequivocal supreme and authoritative leader
of the Church, but simply one man among others in the Church
leadership with no more God-given authority or wisdom than
the other Apostles, including Paul.
We might also do well to consider that while the Roman Catholic
pope presides over an almost exclusively Gentile body of believers,
the New Testament records that Peter was called by God, not
to the Gentiles, but especially to the Jews. In fact, Galatians
2:7-9 repeats this point at least three times.
Galatians 2:7 But contrariwise, when they saw that
the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as
the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter; 8 (For
he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of
the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:
) 9 And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be
pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they
gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that
we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.
This passage informs us that the early Church leaders including
James, Peter, and John all understood that God had given Paul
a special ministry and calling to the Gentile believers, which
they contrasted with their calling to the Jews. And yet the
Roman Catholic popes, which view themselves as the successors
of Peter, minister almost exclusively to Gentiles. In this
respect the RCC seems to follow in the footsteps of Paul more
than Peter. The relationship of Paul to the Church of Rome
will be discussed further a little later on in this study.
While we are speaking of special appointments being given
by God over the Church we do well to compare the lack of apparent
clarity in Matthew 16:15-19, which Roman Catholics claim contains
Peter's appointment with Jesus' calling of Paul in Acts 9.
Acts 9:1 And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and
slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the
high priest, 2 And desired of him letters to Damascus to the
synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they
were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.
3 And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly
there shined round about him a light from heaven: 4 And
he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul,
Saul, why persecutest thou me? 5 And he said, Who art
thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest:
it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. 6 And
he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have
me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the
city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do. 7 And
the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing
a voice, but seeing no man. 8 And Saul arose from the earth;
and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led
him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus. 9 And he was
three days without sight, and neither did eat nor drink. 10
And there was a certain disciple at Damascus, named Ananias;
and to him said the Lord in a vision, Ananias. And he said,
Behold, I am here, Lord. 11 And the Lord said unto
him, Arise, and go into the street which is called Straight,
and enquire in the house of Judas for one called Saul, of
Tarsus: for, behold, he prayeth, 12 And hath seen in a
vision a man named Ananias coming in, and putting his hand
on him, that he might receive his sight. 13 Then Ananias answered,
Lord, I have heard by many of this man, how much evil he hath
done to thy saints at Jerusalem: 14 And here he hath authority
from the chief priests to bind all that call on thy name.
15 But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a
chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles,
and kings, and the children of Israel: 16 For I will
shew him how great things he must suffer for my name's sake.
17 And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and
putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even
Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest,
hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be
filled with the Holy Ghost. 18 And immediately there fell
from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight
forthwith, and arose, and was baptized. 19 And when he had
received meat, he was strengthened. Then was Saul certain
days with the disciples which were at Damascus. 20 And
straightway he preached Christ in the synagogues, that he
is the Son of God.
Notice the abundant clarity with which the New Testament describes
Jesus' appointing Paul to the minister to the Gentiles (and
the Jews, verse 15). Unlike, Peter's supposed appointment
in Matthew 16:15-17, Paul's appoint is unmistakable leaving
no doubt that God had called Paul unto this important task.
Also, we should note that though we have a great deal of Church
writings from the first century, which provide to us insight
of Apostolic teaching from the earliest times, we have very
little writing from Peter. The bulk of the first century writing
comes from the Scripture and Peter's only contribution is
two small epistles. Several other authors contributed more
than Peter including Paul, John, Luke, and Matthew. This disproportion
indicates that God used Peter much less than these other early
Church leaders in order to record Christian doctrine in writing.
One would expect much more of a contribution from Peter if
indeed he did occupy the position of the first pope as the
Likewise, we should also mention 2 Timothy 2, which some Roman
Catholics have offered as evidence of papal succession.
2 Timothy 2:2 And the things that thou hast heard of
me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful
men, who shall be able to teach others also.
Clearly, in this passage Paul is commissioning Timothy to
pass the doctrine that Paul and other Church leaders had taught
to other faithful men, who would in turn teach it to others.
This then is evidence that the early Church understood the
need for a succession of Church leaders who would faithfully
pass on the teachings of Jesus Christ. It is not however evidence
of papal succession. There are several reasons for this.
First of all the idea of a singular, authoritative Church
leader is nowhere to be found in Paul's comments here. Second,
the Apostle Peter, whom Roman Catholics claim was the first
pope is also not mentioned in this passage. If papal succession
is in view here then it is Paul and NOT Peter who is seen
as passing on the mantle of authority to his disciple, Timothy.
On the contrary, the idea of Peter passing on the mantle of
his authority is nowhere found in Scripture.
Consider that the first chapter of his second epistle Peter
expresses that he knew that his death was near.
2 Peter 1:12 Wherefore I will not be negligent to put
you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know
them, and be established in the present truth. 13 Yea,
I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir
you up by putting you in remembrance; 14 Knowing that
shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our
Lord Jesus Christ hath shewed me. 15 Moreover I will endeavour
that ye may be able after my decease to have these
things always in remembrance.
Though Peter writes this epistle just before his death, knowing
that he would soon pass he does not take the opportunity to
inform his audience that his papal authority would pass to
some other man and to name that man so that the Church would
know who to follow as their new pope. If Peter was the pope,
as Roman Catholics contend, and knew he was about to die,
as 2 Peter 1 demonstrates, why does Peter not mention or introduce
his papal successor. Such an introduction would have been
of the utmost importance, and yet Peter mentions no such thing.
The lack of attention paid to this topic by Peter in this
epistle at the end of his life begs the question as to whether
or not Peter did, in fact, occupy any papal office, as the
And finally, we must note that the New Testament record displays
both Paul and Peter as living, ministering, and writing from
the city of Rome. For one, we know that Paul wrote an epistle
to the Christians there, in which no mention is made of Peter
as either dwelling in that city or operating in a supreme
office of Church authority from there. Also, Peter, in his
first epistle, indicates that he is writing from Rome through
use of the metaphorical reference to Rome as Babylon. Likewise,
the book of Acts reports that Paul ultimately arrived in Rome.
Acts 28:16 And when we came to Rome, the centurion
delivered the prisoners to the captain of the guard: but Paul
was suffered to dwell by himself with a soldier that kept
However, we must also note that while Peter's presence in
Rome must be acknowledged, it is Paul who is called by God
to proclaim the gospel in Rome. We have no evidence of any
similar appointment bid by the Lord to Peter.
Acts 23:11 And the night following the Lord stood
by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou
hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness
also at Rome.
By this we see that although both Paul and Peter lived and
taught in Rome no place of primacy is given to Peter's position
in that city by the Scripture.
It is not necessary to go any further with our Scriptural
investigation. From all of these passages we can clearly see
that the position of the RCC is anything but explicitly given
in the earliest teachings of Jesus Christ and His disciples.
Instead, the Roman Catholic doctrine of the papal authority
of Peter is sketchy at best from a Scriptural point of view
and requires additional, non-Biblical support if it is to
be substantiated as truly Christian teaching. We will now
take a look at the writings of the 1st and 2nd century Church
to see if they bear out the Roman Catholic position. For now,
we must note that the Biblical record, which represents almost
all of the 1st century Church writing (including Tradition)
does not provide support for Roman Catholic doctrine, and
in all reasonableness actually contradicts and prohibits the
view of the RCC regarding Peter and papal authority.
Analysis of Evidence from the Writings of Sacred Tradition
Now, that we have examined the New Testament record and found
little support for the Roman Catholic doctrine of papal authority
we will turn our examination of the non-canonical Church writings
of the 1st and 2nd century to see if they provide evidence
in support of this doctrine. As we do we take note that our
study of the New Testament has for the most part covered the
1st century Church record of the teachings of Christ. Though
there are a few non-canonical documents of the 1st century,
which the RCC considers to be a part of Tradition, these documents
are insignificant in size by comparison to the size of the
New Testament and its importance as the record of the earliest
Nevertheless, we will examine these 1st century documents
along with those of the 2nd century to see if the RCC's papal
doctrine can be supported by them. Since, our examination
of the Scriptural evidence was questionable at best regarding
this Roman Catholic teaching and prohibitive at worst, it
becomes absolutely crucial that these 1st and 2nd century
Church writings clearly articulate the RCC's doctrine of the
papacy. If they do not then it will be extremely difficult
to justify the Roman Catholic claim that this teaching originated
with Jesus Christ and His Apostles and we will have to search
for other factors, which contributed to the development of
Keep in mind as we continue the substance and significance
of the Roman Catholic position. The RCC claims to be the true
church of Jesus Christ and the sole possessor of authentic
Christian teaching. One of the fundamental and essential teachings
of the RCC is that the Apostle Peter was placed by Jesus in
a position of sole authority as the first pope.
Here again is the Catholic Encyclopedia quote expressing the
crucial importance of this doctrine.
"The Pope - The position of St. Peter after the Ascension,
as shown in the Acts of the Apostles, realizes to the full
the great commission bestowed upon him. He is from the first
the chief of the Apostolic band -- not primus inter pares,
but the undisputed head of the Church (see CHURCH, THE, III).
If then Christ, as we have seen, established His Church
as a society subordinated to a single supreme head, it follows
from the very nature of the case that this office is perpetual,
and cannot have been a mere transitory feature of ecclesiastical
life. For the Church must endure to the end the very same
organization which Christ established. But in an organized
society it is precisely the constitution which is the essential
feature. A change in constitution transforms it into a society
of a different kind. If then the Church should adopt a
constitution other than Christ gave it, it would no longer
be His handiwork. It would no longer be the Divine kingdom
established by Him. As a society it would have passed through
essential modifications, and thereby would have become a human,
not a Divine institution. None who believe that Christ came
on earth to found a Church, an organized society destined
to endure for ever, can admit the possibility of a change
in the organization given to it by its Founder. The same conclusion
also follows from a consideration of the end which, by Christ's
declaration, the supremacy of Peter was intended to effect.
He was to give the Church strength to resist her foes, so
that the gates of hell should not prevail against her. The
contest with the powers of evil does not belong to the Apostolic
age alone. It is a permanent feature of the Church's life.
Hence, throughout the centuries the office of Peter must
be realized in the Church, in order that she may prevail
in her age-long struggle. Thus an analysis of Christ's
words shows us that the perpetuity of the office of supreme
head is to be reckoned among the truths revealed in Scripture.
His promise to Peter conveyed not merely a personal prerogative,
but established a permanent office in the Church. And
in this sense, as will appear in the next section, His
words were understood by Latin and Greek Fathers alike."
- Catholic Encyclopedia
(Continued in next section.)