Papal AuthorityThe Problem: Those who lives according to sola scriptura,along with every other person, believer or no, who has difficulty bowing to concrete authority, refuse to believe the Pope, a self-acknowledged sinner in need of salvation, could possibly carry the authority of Jesus Christ, or be guided infallibly by the Holy Spirit. Yet, the same individual simultaneously tends to believe that he can individually be led by the Holy Spirit and test a teaching against his own apparently infallible conscience, for a sola scriptura believer cannot test the spirit which speaks Scriptural doctrine to him against anything but his own conscience.
The Truth: The teaching office of the bishop of Rome, founded by Christ through Peter, is imbued with the peculiar and specific dignity and authority granted to Peter by Jesus Christ. Specifically, the man who is consecrated to the office first established by Christ in Peter has the special gift and guidance of the Holy Spirit, so that he may never teach to the whole Church from the chair, i.e., with the authority, of Peter on a matter of faith and morals that which is error. God cares for the Body of Christ through the bishop of Rome, who is the temporal head of the Church, Vicar of Christ, guided by the Holy Spirit until such time as Jesus returns to rule.
Acts 1:15-17,20-22 In those days Peter stood up among the brethren (the company of persons was in all about a hundred and twenty), and said, 16 "Brethren, the scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke beforehand by the mouth of David, concerning Judas who was guide to those who arrested Jesus. 17 For he was numbered among us, and was allotted his share in this ministry.... 20 For it is written in the book of Psalms, 'Let his habitation become desolate, and let there be no one to live in it'; and 'His office let another take.' 21 So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 beginning from the baptism of John until the day when he was taken up from usone of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection."
Jn 1:49-51 Nathana-el answered him, "Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!" 50 Jesus answered him, "Because I said to you, I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe? You shall see greater things than these." 51 And he said to him, "Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man."
Mt 16:17-19 And Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."
Note that Nathanael has the same revelation Simon does, but Jesus does not call Nathanael's revelation Rock, he doesn't change Nathanael's name, nor does he bless Nathanael for his revelation. However, when Simon speaks the same idea, Christ responds in a radically different way. Simon says to Jesus, "You are the Messiah," and Jesus replies to Simon "You are the Rock." Each names the other. Furthermore, Christ blesses Simon with a three-part blessing in a manner similar to the Old Testament blessings a father might give his son, each blessing followed by a short explanation of the blessing. Simon is called "blessed," he is given a new name "Rock," and he is given the keys to the kingdom of heaven by the King of the House of David. James Akins' recognition of the three-fold blessing can be found in Pat Madrid's Surprised By Truth, pp. 64-69.
God alone is the Rock upon which everything is founded. But the word "rock" is also used to refer to God's special presence in the life of a faithful follower. With the exception of Is 54:10-17, this next section is a quick summary of several, though not all, of the Scriptural arguments presented in the book "Jesus, Peter, and the Keys,":
1 Pet 2:5 and like living stones be yourselves built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
Is 28:16 therefore thus says the Lord GOD, "Behold, I am laying in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, of a sure foundation: 'He who believes will not be in haste.'
Is 51:1-2 "Hearken to me, you who pursue deliverance, you who seek the Lord; look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the quarry from which you were digged. 2 Look to Abraham your father and to Sarah who bore you; for when he was but one I called him, and I blessed him and made him many.
While Scripture calls faithful followers "living stones," only two people in all of Scripture both had their name changed by God and were called "rock" - Abraham and Peter. Abraham is called the rock from which the Old Covenant people of God were hewn. His name was also changed by God (Gen 17:5). Abraham and Peter - upon each was founded a new people, one in God the Father, the second in Jesus Christ, the second people founded within the first, as the Son is begotten eternally by the Father. It is not their humanity which makes them rocks, but the Holy Spirit working within them in a unique way.
Christ's words to Simon, now Peter, recall the Old Testament promise made by God to His people. This promise is echoed to Simon - the Rock who is the Lord would be laid within. God spoke not just of a man, but of a mighty edifice - the Church, whose sons will be taught by God:
Is 54:10-17 For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed, says the Lord, who has compassion on you. 11 "O afflicted one, storm-tossed, and not comforted, behold, I will set your stones in antimony, and lay your foundations with sapphires. 12 I will make your pinnacles of agate, your gates of carbuncles, and all your wall of precious stones. 13 All your sons shall be taught by the Lord, and great shall be the prosperity of your sons. 14 In righteousness you shall be established; you shall be far from oppression, for you shall not fear; and from terror, for it shall not come near you. 15 If any one stirs up strife, it is not from me; whoever stirs up strife with you shall fall because of you. 16 Behold, I have created the smith who blows the fire of coals, and produces a weapon for its purpose. I have also created the ravager to destroy; 17 no weapon that is fashioned against you shall prosper, and you shall confute every tongue that rises against you in judgment. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord and their vindication from me, says the Lord."
Jn 1:42 He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him, and said, "So you are Simon the son of John? You shall be called Cephas" (which means Peter).
Gal 2:7,9 but on the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised... and when they perceived the grace that was given to me, James and Cephas and John, who were reputed to be pillars...
"Kephas" is the Aramaic for rock. Christ spoke primarily Aramaic, not Greek. Greek has feminine and masculine nouns, Aramaic does not. The Greek word for "kephas" is the feminine noun "petra." "Petros" would be the masculanized form of the word. Christ originally said, "You are kephas and upon this kephas I will build my church" while the Greek translation says "You are petros and upon this petra I will build my church" - the word form changes in the Greek because it would be inappropriate to name Peter with a feminine noun. Some say that the use of two different words in the translation demonstrates a difference in Christ's meaning, "petros" meaning "little rock" and "petra" meaning "massive rock." This ignores the fact that first-century Greek did not make such a distinction, except in poetry. If Christ wished to refer to Peter as "little rock," the correct translation from the Aramaic to the Greek would be "lithos," not "petros" (incidentally, Isaiah 28:16 quoted above and 1 Peter 2:6, uses "lithos" when referring to Christ, the cornerstone). Yet even had Christ used "lithos" to refer to Peter (He didn't), it still would have meant nothing. Jesus is called "petra" only three times, but is called "lithos" (little rock) 12 times (e.g. Matthew 21:42,44), and Peter calls all believers lithoi ("stones" ) in 1 Peter 2:5.
Rom 9:33 as it is written, "Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone that will make men stumble, a rock that will make them fall; and he who believes in him will not be put to shame."
1 Cor 10:4 and all drank the same supernatural drink. For they drank from the supernatural Rock which followed them, and the Rock was Christ.
1 Pet 2:5-8 and like living stones be yourselves built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. 6 For it stands in scripture: "Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and he who believes in him will not be put to shame." 7 To you therefore who believe, he is precious, but for those who do not believe, "The very stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner," 8 and "A stone that will make men stumble, a rock that will make them fall"; for they stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.
Early Christians' comments on Peter the Rock
Is 22:15-24 Thus says the Lord GOD of hosts, "Come, go to this steward, to Shebna, who is over the household, and say to him: 16 What have you to do here and whom have you here, that you have hewn here a tomb for yourself, you who hew a tomb on the height, and carve a habitation for yourself in the rock? 17 Behold, the Lord will hurl you away violently, O you strong man. He will seize firm hold on you, 18 and whirl you round and round, and throw you like a ball into a wide land; there you shall die, and there shall be your splendid chariots, you shame of your master's house. 19 I will thrust you from your office, and you will be cast down from your station. 20 In that day I will call my servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, 21 and I will clothe him with your robe, and will bind your girdle on him, and will commit your authority to his hand; and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. 22 And I will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David; he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open. 23 And I will fasten him like a peg in a sure place, and he will become a throne of honor to his father's house. 24 And they will hang on him the whole weight of his father's house, the offspring and issue, every small vessel, from the cups to all the flagons.
Shebna was master of the palace, but Eliakim will replace him, Eliakim will be given the key to the House of David. Being given the keys makes one a master of the household. Did such an office exist in Hebrew or other ancient kingdoms? Yes.
1 Kings 18:3 And Ahab called Obadiah, who was over the household. (Now Obadiah revered the Lord greatly;
2 Kings 18:18 And when they called for the king, there came out to them Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, who was over the household,
2 Kings 15:5 And Jotham the king's son was over the household, governing the people of the land.
How great was their authority?
Gen 41:40-44 "...you shall be over my house, and all my people shall order themselves as you command; only as regards the throne will I be greater than you." 41 And Pharaoh said to Joseph, "Behold, I have set you over all the land of Egypt." 42 Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his hand and put it on Joseph's hand, and arrayed him in garments of fine linen, and put a gold chain about his neck; 43 and he made him to ride in his second chariot; and they cried before him, "Bow the knee!" Thus he set him over all the land of Egypt. 44 Moreover Pharaoh said to Joseph, "I am Pharaoh, and without your consent no man shall lift up hand or foot in all the land of Egypt."
Joseph had the power to bind and loose in Egypt. He commanded the respect commanded by Pharoah. But keys not only signified the master of the palace, a key was also given to a scribe upon his investiture, to show that he had authority to interpret Scripture.
Lk 11:52 Woe to you lawyers! for you have taken away the key of knowledge; you did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering.
Early Christians' comments on Papal Authority I
Early Christians' comments on Papal Authority II
Thus, the keys themselves have a two-fold meaning and power. What other evidence do we have that Peter was held in special regard?
Lk 22:31-32 "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, 32 but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren."
Jn 10:11,16 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep... And I have other sheep, that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will heed my voice. So there shall be one flock, one shepherd.
Jn 21:15-19 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." He said to him, "Feed my lambs." 16 A second time he said to him, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." He said to him, "Tend my sheep." 17 He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, "Do you love me?" And he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep. 18 Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you girded yourself and walked where you would; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish to go." 19 (This he said to show by what death he was to glorify God.) And after this he said to him, "Follow me."
Kings were often referred to as "shepherds of the people" by sources ranging from Homer (7th century BC) through Hesychius (5th century AD) and Holy Scripture follows this tradition. It is claimed that here Christ was merely allowing Peter to make up for his three-fold rejection, and Christ was certainly doing that. However, He was also giving Peter a command to spread the Gospel as a shepherd, a command whose emphasis is uniquely directed to Peter.
Num 27:16-17 "Let the Lord, the God of the spirits of all flesh, appoint a man over the congregation, 17 who shall go out before them and come in before them, who shall lead them out and bring them in; that the congregation of the Lord may not be as sheep which have no shepherd."
2 Sam 5:2 In times past, when Saul was king over us, it was you that led out and brought in Israel; and the Lord said to you, 'You shall be shepherd of my people Israel, and you shall be prince over Israel.'"
Jer 31:10 "Hear the word of the Lord, O nations, and declare it in the coastlands afar off; say, 'He who scattered Israel will gather him, and will keep him as a shepherd keeps his flock.'
Ezek 34:23-24 And I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd. 24 And I, the Lord, will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince among them; I, the Lord, have spoken.
Zech 10:2-3 For the teraphim utter nonsense, and the diviners see lies;
the dreamers tell false dreams, and give empty consolation. Therefore the people wander like sheep; they are afflicted for want of a shepherd. 3 "My anger is hot against the shepherds, and I will punish the leaders; for the Lord of hosts cares for his flock, the house of Judah, and will make them like his proud steed in battle.
But the command to shepherd is not all:
Rev 2:26-27 He who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, I will give him power over the nations, 27 and he shall rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received power from my Father...
The word "poimainein" used in John 21:16 is also used here in Revelation 2:27, where it means "rule". Note that of the 11 times "poimanao" is used in the New Testament, it means "rule" or "rule and feed" in ten of them. This is also true in the Old Testament, where the verb is used 50 times. In every occurrence, it replaces the Hebrew word "raah", which mean "feed, tend, or rule". For instance, the word translated "shepherd" below is "poimainein" in the original.
Psalm 2:9 You shall break them with a rod of iron, and dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel."
Thus, Christ's use of verbs reinforces the image of a ruling "shepherd".
It should be noted that while Peter was not the first to notice Christ on the seashore prior to this scene, he was the first to leap towards Christ, by diving into the sea.
Mt 10:2-4 The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; 3 Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; 4 Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him.
Acts 5:29 But Peter and the apostles answered, "We must obey God rather than men..."
Gal 2:7 but on the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised
Peter is first in rank among the Apostles - the first-born has privileges.
Early Christians' comments on Petrine Primacy
Gal 1:15-20 But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and had called me through his grace, 16 was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not confer with flesh and blood, 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me, but I went away into Arabia; and again I returned to Damascus. 18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas, and remained with him fifteen days. 19 But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord's brother. 20 (In what I am writing to you, before God, I do not lie!)
Jude 3 contend for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.
Peter ranks at the head of the Apostles in the list of the saints. But can anyone have the authority claimed for the Pope?
Mt 23:1-3 Then said Jesus to the crowds and to his disciples, 2 "The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses' seat; 3 so practice and observe whatever they tell you, but not what they do; for they preach, but do not practice..."
Early Christians' comments on Peter Successors
Even though the scribes and Pharisees are called "fools," "hypocrites," "blind guides," "vipers" and "whitewashed tombs" in Matthew 23, Christ uses the imperative tense to command his disciples to do what they say. They occupy "the seat of Moses," an authoritative position of power whose establishment is not described in Scripture, but is established, known and acknowledged through long Jewish oral tradition. The authority and validity of this position is explicitly supported by Christ. The same person who disputed with the Pharisees and scribes on cleanliness laws, Sabbath laws, and fasting laws told the people to obey those who occupied positions of theological authority.
Acts 5:1-4 1 But a man named Ananias with his wife Sapphira sold a piece of property, 2 and with his wife's knowledge he kept back some of the proceeds, and brought only a part and laid it at the apostles' feet. 3 But Peter said, "Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back part of the proceeds of the land? 4 While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? How is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God."5 When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and died. And great fear came upon all who heard of it.
Ananias and Sapphira paid the ultimate penalty upon Peter's authority. Their lie to the Apostles was judged by Peter to be a lie against God, literally a mortal sin.
Acts 2:14-15 ff But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them, "Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. 15 For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day;
Peter preaches the first sermon in Jerusalem.
Acts 3:4-6 And Peter directed his gaze at him, with John, and said, "Look at us." 5 And he fixed his attention upon them, expecting to receive something from them. 6 But Peter said, "I have no silver and gold, but I give you what I have; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk."
Peter performs the first miracle after Christ's resurrection.
Acts 4:8-13 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, "Rulers of the people and elders, 9 if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a cripple, by what means this man has been healed, 10 be it known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by him this man is standing before you well. 11 This is the stone which was rejected by you builders, but which has become the head of the corner. 12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." 13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they wondered; and they recognized that they had been with Jesus.
Peter puts the Sanhedrin on trial for crucifying the Lord. He has the power they formerly wielded.
Acts 8:14-17 Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, 15 who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit; 16 for it had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit.
Peter confirms the Samaritans, the descendents of Jews who married outside Judaism, into the Christian faith.
Acts 10:25-28,34-35 When Peter entered, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him. 26 But Peter lifted him up, saying, "Stand up; I too am a man." 27 And as he talked with him, he went in and found many persons gathered; 28 and he said to them, "You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit any one of another nation; but God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean... And Peter opened his mouth and said: "Truly I perceive that God shows no partiality, 35 but in every nation any one who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.
Peter admits the Gentiles to the faith. In Pope St. Clement's letter to the church at Corinth AD 96 (5:3-7), Clement appeals to the memory of the two martyrs, Peter and Paul, and explicitly states that the Apostles appointed bishops and made provisions for their succession, adding that "our sin is not small if we eject from the episcopate those who have blamelessly and holily offered its sacrifices [i.e. the Eucharist]" (44:4) He then exhorts the Corinthians to re-instate the clergy they had ejected from their ministry on the basis that the priesthood, like the Gospel itself, is something established by Christ and handed down from the Apostles. "But if some be disobedient to the words which have been spoken by him [Christ] through us, let them know that they will entangle themselves in transgression and no little danger... So you will afford us great joy and happiness if you are obedient to what we have written through the Holy Spirit (59:1, 63:2) Eusebius (AD 260-339) "I have evidence that in many churches this epistle [Clement to the Corinthians] was read loud to the assembled worshippers in early days, as it is in our own."
The Apostle John was alive at the time of the writing of this letter. Even though John, a living witness to, and the beloved disciple of, Jesus Christ was available and closer to Corinth than was Clement, Bishop of Rome, yet the Corinthians did not ask the Apostle to settle their dispute, they sent to Rome for Clement's opinion. And they obeyed Clement's ruling.
The following story should give pause to anyone who claims greater authority than the Bride of Christ, the Body of Christ, who is the household of truth, the Church of the Living God:
Num 16:1-3 Now Korah the son of Izhar, son of Kohath, son of Levi, and Dathan and Abiram the sons of Eliab, and On the son of Peleth, sons of Reuben, 2 took men; and they rose up before Moses, with a number of the people of Israel, two hundred and fifty leaders of the congregation, chosen from the assembly, well-known men; 3 and they assembled themselves together against Moses and against Aaron, and said to them, "You have gone too far! For all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them; why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the Lord?"
Korah pronounces words eerily similar to the words which came forth from Luther's mouth against the Pope. It should be noted how the rebellion against Moses and Aaron was ended:
Num 16:19-35 Then Korah assembled all the congregation against them at the entrance of the tent of meeting. And the glory of the Lord appeared to all the congregation.
20 And the Lord said to Moses and to Aaron, 21 "Separate yourselves from among this congregation, that I may consume them in a moment." 22 And they fell on their faces, and said, "O God, the God of the spirits of all flesh, shall one man sin, and wilt thou be angry with all the congregation?" 23 And the Lord said to Moses, 24 "Say to the congregation, Get away from about the dwelling of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram."
25 Then Moses rose and went to Dathan and Abiram; and the elders of Israel followed him. 26 And he said to the congregation, "Depart, I pray you, from the tents of these wicked men, and touch nothing of theirs, lest you be swept away with all their sins." 27 So they got away from about the dwelling of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram; and Dathan and Abiram came out and stood at the door of their tents, together with their wives, their sons, and their little ones. 28 And Moses said, "Hereby you shall know that the Lord has sent me to do all these works, and that it has not been of my own accord. 29 If these men die the common death of all men, or if they are visited by the fate of all men, then the Lord has not sent me. 30 But if the Lord creates something new, and the ground opens its mouth, and swallows them up, with all that belongs to them, and they go down alive into Sheol, then you shall know that these men have despised the Lord."
31 And as he finished speaking all these words, the ground under them split asunder; 32 and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, with their households and all the men that belonged to Korah and all their goods. 33 So they and all that belonged to them went down alive into Sheol; and the earth closed over them, and they perished from the midst of the assembly. 34 And all Israel that were round about them fled at their cry; for they said, "Lest the earth swallow us up!" 35 And fire came forth from the Lord, and consumed the two hundred and fifty men offering the incense.
God has given those who wanted a different church their wish - they now have more churches than they can count. Let us pray the punishment is sufficient.