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DEFENDING  THE  BRIDE

 

 

 

ANSWERING  QUESTIONS  ABOUT   THE  

PAPACY  AND  THE  KEYS
 

1.  How can Peter be the rock on which the Church is built when 1 Corinthians 10:4 says that Christ is the Rock ?

2.  How can Peter be appointed by Christ to be the leader of the early Church when Christ refers to him as Satan in Matthew 16:23 ?

3.  If Saint Peter is so important in the Church why is he hardly mentioned in the second half of the Book of Acts ?

4.  Does Peter (a.k.a. Kephas)  being mentioned after James in Galatians 2:9 mean that Peter could not have had more authority than James ?

5.  Does Paul’s rebuke of Peter in Galatians 2:11 undermine the Papacy ?

6.  How can Peter have the keys of the kingdom when Revelations 3:7 says that Christ has them ?

7.  Does the Catholic’s use of  Isaiah 22 in support of the Papacy get undermined by the passage in verse in 25 where it says   “In that day … the peg that was fastened in a sure place will give way; and it will be cut down and fall ...  ?

8.  Who had more authority in the Council of Jerusalem, Peter or James ?  Some say that the reference to James’s “judgment in Acts 15:13-21 indicated that he had more authority, but it was Peter.

9.  If Peter was the Bishop of Rome why does St. Paul not mention him in his Letter to the Romans ?



1.  How can Peter be the rock on which the Church is built when 1 Corinthians 10:4 says that Christ is the Rock ?

ANSWER:

Jesus Christ is the Rock.   But it is He, Christ the Rock, that works through Peter making Peter also a rock.  We know this because Christ promised it in Matthew 16:18.   We can see this secondary sense also working out in several other parallel titles of Christ where He works through His Church.

Christ is the One Teacher as declared in
 Matthew 23:8  
“As for you, do not be called ‘Rabbi.’   You have but one teacher …”
Yet, in a secondary sense there are teachers appointed over us in Christ.
Ephesians 4:11   
“And he gave some as apostles, others as prophets, others as evangelists, others as pastors and teachers …”

God alone is Father,  Matthew 23:9.
Yet, in a secondary sense God’s fatherhood is manifested by others.
1 Corinthians 4:15  
“For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel.”  RSV
Cf. Acts 7:1-2,  Romans 4:12-18,  James 2:21,   1 John 2:13-14
Ephesians 3:14-15  
“For this cause I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,  Of whom all paternity in heaven and earth is named”    Rheims N. T.

Christ is the Good Shepherd,  John 10:11. Yet, we see that Peter and others are also shepherds and mediate His protective love and governing care over us.   See  1 Peter 5:2-4,    Acts 20:28,     John 21:15-17.

Likewise, it is Jesus working through Saint Peter that gives Peter his rock like quality.  Christ renames Simon  “Kephas”  which means “Rock”  and which is translated by Saint Matthew as   “Petros”  in the Greek or as “Peter”  in English.  See   Matthew 16:17-19   and   John 1:42 .

We saw above how Christ is the Chief Shepherd, but that does not disqualify humans from being shepherds.  Rather, it is the foundation and source for their own authority as shepherds.  Likewise, it is Peter’s dependence on Christ that makes his role as rock more secure.  Christ works through Saint Peter.  And after his commissioning in John 21 after the resurrection  Christ builds His Church on Peter.

Also see
ONE MEDIATOR
 
 
 



2.  How can Peter be appointed by Christ to be the leader of the early Church when Christ refers to him as Satan in Matthew 16:23 ?

ANSWER:
 

That Peter is rebuked with the reference to Satan does not take away what Christ just said and later manifests even more completely in choosing Peter.  Jesus Christ is God and He knew beforehand that Peter would stumble and that Christ would have to rebuke him.
[ Peter had a misguided compassion of wanting his Savior, his friend, to avoid an extremely painful death.  I wish my faults were so small. ]
 

But, Christ still promised to build His Church on Peter anyway.   He said  “I will build My Church ... ”      Future tense.

Besides, Christ confirms His choice of Peter in several ways.

Luke 22:31-34  
“ ‘Simon, Simon, behold Satan has demanded to sift all of you
 [you plural]
like wheat, but I have prayed that your own
 [ you singular]
faith may not fail; and once you have turned back, you must strength-en your brothers.’   He said to him,  ‘Lord, I am prepared to go to prison and to die with you.’    But he replied,  ‘I tell you, Peter, before the cock crows this day, you will deny three times that you know me.’ ”  [ explanation of the Greek words added.]

It is after the Resurrection that Peter is commissioned.
John 21:15  
“Jesus said …, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?“  … “Feed my lambs.”

Infallibility verses impeccability.  The Catholic Church believes that Bishop of Rome, when he is defining explicitly what truth was passed down to us from Christ and the Apostles, is guided with the charism of infallibility so that we can be certain as to what God’s Word means (oral and written.)  This protection of his teaching office is made possible by the power of the Holy Spirit.  The Catholic Church does not teach that the Pope is impeccable, that is, without sin.

 



3.  If Saint Peter is so important in the Church why is he hardly mentioned in the second half of the Book of Acts ?

ANSWER:

The Book of the Acts of the Apostles was written by Luke.  This is attested to by very early church documents.  (Cf. St. Irenaeus Bishop of Lyon, Against Heresies 3, 15, 1   and the Muratorian Fragment  - 155 to 200 AD).   We also know that Saint Luke was a companion with Saint Paul in some of his travels.  (Cf. St. Irenaeus Bishop of Lyon, Against Heresies 3, 1, 1)

So, it is not at all surprising that Luke records more things about Paul in the second half of his book.   The Muratorian Fragment when it describes why some things are mentioned while other things are not, it states,  “ … The Acts of the Apostles, however, were written by Luke … and … these events took place in his presence, for he omits the passion of Peter, as also the journey of Paul when he went from the city to Spain.”    Since he was Paul’s companion rather than Peter’s we would expect to find more about Paul in the latter part of the book.



4.  Since Peter does not get mentioned (as Kephas) until after James in Galatians 2:9,  does that mean that Peter could not have had more authority than James ?

ANSWER:

Actually Peter is already mentioned twice in that sentence before being listed for the third time in the phrase   “James and Kephas and John.”   And on the contrary, this final listing actually promotes the headship of Peter, or Kephas, over James and John.  Most of the New Testament was written in Greek.   It is custom to list the most important idea between the two mentionings of another idea.  It is a also custom to place the most important person between two other persons of similar status.

For example, consider how the medals are awarded in the Olympics which also come from the Greeks.   The gold medalist stands between the silver and bronze medalists.  A book by Peter Ellis titled The Genius of John, shows over twenty different sequences where the most important idea is in the middle of another idea that is repeated both before and after this central and most important idea. [ I am not endorsing every conclusion listed in this book.  I am just using it because it points out an obvious method in which the Book of John was composed.]    So, this is why Peter, a.k.a. Kephas, is placed in the center with the Sons of Thunder on either side.  (Cf. Mark 3:17)
 
 



5.  Does Paul’s rebuke of Peter in Galatians2:11 undermine the Papacy ?

ANSWER:

Galatians 2:11-14
“And when Kephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face because he clearly was wrong.   … he began to draw back and separated himself, because he was afraid of the circumcised.   And the rest of the Jews (also) acted hypocritically along with him …”

Peter is accused of acting hypocritically.  To act hypocritically is to say one thing and then to act contrary.  This passage necessarily implies that  while Peter’s actions were wrong, his teachings were all the while correct.

For a more detailed answer see
PETER AND PAUL AND GALATIANS = DISSENT ?
 
 



6.  How can Peter have the keys of the kingdom when Revelations 3:7 says that Christ has them?

ANSWER:

It is not an either / or.  The keys are not physical. We cannot use them to unlock some particular gate, if we could ever locate it.  Since they are not physical, but rather symbolic of power, the possession by one does not preclude the possession by another.  It is symbolic of the power to govern the Church and to administer grace, etc.  Since Christ is God, He is always in possession of that power and Christ is the true owner.  Peter also shares in that power because Christ works through him.  But that makes Peter's possession of those keys all the more important.  Christ's authority is exercised through St. Peter.
 
 



7.  Does the Catholic’s use of  Isaiah 22 in support of the Papacy get undermined by the passage in verse in 25 where it says   “In that day … the peg that was fastened in a sure place will give way; and it will be cut down and fall ...“  ?    RSV
 

ANSWER:

We must ask,  “What does  ‘In that day’   and   ‘the peg’   refer to in context ?
What day is being talked about ?”

Answer:  Verses 19 and 20.

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”

The  “peg”  is a reference to Shebna.  The   “in that day”  in verse 25 is a reference to the day when Shebna is being deposed and replaced with Eliakim.  Since this office is only a type of the Papacy, it is an imperfect type as all Old Testament types are.  They find their fulfillment in the New Testament where they are imbued with the manifest grace of Christ.   Sure a bad Pope can be replaced, through death and subsequent election of a new one.  But the Papacy still continues.  The   “sure place“   that is, the Papal office, continues even if a bad Pope needs to be  “replaced.”  But even the bad Popes did not infallibly define truth as error or vice versa.  The successor of Saint Peter has a special charism of infallibility, but not impeccability.
 

Isaiah 22:15-25
“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.25 In that day, says the Lord of hosts, the peg that was fastened in a sure place will give way; and it will be cut down and fall, and the burden that was upon it will be cut off, for the Lord has spoken.”    RSV



8.  Who had more authority in the Council of Jerusalem, Peter or James ?  Some say that the reference to James’s “judgment” in Acts 15:13-21 indicated that he had more authority.

ANSWER:

We read in  Acts 15:2  
“…it was decided that Paul, Barnabas… should go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and presbyters about this question.”  At the Council in Jerusalem it is reported that   Acts 15:7   “After much debate had taken place, Peter got up and said to them, “My brothers, you are well aware that from early days God made his choice among you that through my mouth the Gentiles would hear the word of the gospel and believe...”    Immediately after Peter gives his decision we are told  “The whole assembly fell silent...”
 
 

Acts 15:13-14, 19-21 
“After they had fallen silent, James responded, ‘My brothers, listen to me.  Symeon has described how God first concerned himself with acquiring from among the Gentiles a people for his name…   19 It is my judgment, therefore, that we ought to stop troubling the Gentiles who turn to God, but tell them by letter to avoid pollution from idols, unlawful marriage, the meat of strangled animals, and blood.   For Moses, for generations now, has had those who proclaim him in every town, as he has been read in the synagogues every sabbath.”

However, it should be noted that James begins his discourse with a specific reference to Peter and his declaration.  James accepts what Peter proclaimed, and then he just offers his best pastoral judgment on how to implement Peter’s decision.

Also, Peter’s voice was not just one of many because we are told that he gave his decision  “after  much  debate”  which implies that the debate was over when Peter took the floor. Furthermore, Peter doesn’t just voice his decision, we are told that he rose up to do so.   Standing demonstrates a posture of affirmation and enforcement.  The fact that the “whole assembly fell silent” after Peter had spoken showed the attitude of the Church after the Rock  had issued his judgment.  The attitude of the Council might well have been characterized by Saint Augustine’s famous quote a few centuries later “Rome has spoken, the cause is finished.”  (Sermo 131,  6:10 in 417 AD.)

Another observation comes to light when we compare the above text of Acts 15 with Galatians.   It is worth noting that it was the people who  “came from James”   that had difficulty accepting the Gentiles in Galatians 2: 12. (see above.)   Cf. Acts 11:2-4.   Since it was the members of James’ own community that had the trouble of accepting the Gentiles, it would have been significant to them that Luke recorded that even James, their most immediate leader, had made his decision to follow Peter.   Presumably, James’ community would have been left with no other reasonable choice but to go ahead and make the similar decision to get in line behind Peter as well.  We all have our own decision to make, but if we want to get through the pearly gates of heaven we need to decide to follow the one who holds the keys of the kingdom, the vicar of Christ, Peter and his successors.

It seems that Peter had previously left Jerusalem to do missionary work in Galatia and other places leaving James behind to lead the community there at Jerusalem.  However, Peter was still the earthly head of the whole Church.  He alone was given the keys.

All of these points show that is was Peter who had the supreme authority at that first Council.



 

9.  If Peter was the Bishop of Rome why does St. Paul not mention him in his Letter to the Romans ?

This can be easily explained by either of two reasons.

First, Peter could have been away on a missionary trip.  Paul obviously traveled extensively, so it is reasonable to think that Peter could have traveled as well. 
Second,
history records that both Saints Peter and Paul were martyred in Rome around 67AD by the authorities there.  Surely, Saint Paul would not have wanted to zero in on the whereabouts of such an important leader as Saint Peter. 

Rod Bennett, a convert to Catholicism, points out that it is important not to reduce Peter to being just a character in a play.  He is a real person and our knowledge about him is not restricted to just what is in the Bible.  We should not demand any more evidence to prove that Peter was in Rome than what we require to assert that Caesar was in Rome.
 

Historical Evidence

Fathers: Peter was in Rome
 

Archeological  Evidence of Peter being in Rome

 
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Biblical Evidence

Admittedly the Biblical evidence is scant, but it is there.

Was Peter in Rome?

There is, in the greeting at the end of the first epistle: “The Church here in Babylon, united with you by God’s election, sends you her greeting, and so does my son, Mark” (1 Pet. 5:13, Knox). Babylon is a code-word for Rome. It is used that way multiple times in works like the Sibylline Oracles (5:159f), the Apocalypse of Baruch (2:1), and 4 Esdras (3:1). Eusebius Pamphilius, in The Chronicle, composed about A.D. 303, noted that “It is said that Peter’s first epistle, in which he makes mention of Mark, was composed at Rome itself; and that he himself indicates this, referring to the city figuratively as Babylon.”

 

The Historical evidence that Sts. Peter and Paul founded Rome is overwhelming. Also see.  So, one might ask who was there first ? Paul makes it clear in his letter to the Romans that it was not him.

St. Paul in writing his Letter to the Romans is writing to followers who have already been brought into the Christian faith.  [See Rom 15: 14, 30-32, and  16:19 ]  In Romans 15: 20-24 Saint Paul reveals that he was not the initial or primary founder of the Church in Rome, and so, he not wanting to build on another man's foundation.  So, he plans not to remain in that city.  He hopes to see them in passing and solicit their help in sending him on his way to Spain where he can evangelize to those who have not yet heard the Gospel.

Romans 15:20-24
“Thus I aspire to proclaim the gospel not where Christ has already been named, so that I do not build on another’s foundation, but as it is written:
‘Those who have never been told of him shall see, and those who have never heard of him shall understand.’ That is why I have so often been prevented from coming to you.  But now, since I no longer have any opportunity in these regions and since I have desired to come to you for many years, I hope to see you in passing as I go to Spain and to be sent on my way there by you, after I have enjoyed being with you for a time.”

Therefore, the only logical conclusion is that Saint Peter was the principal founder of Rome.

.


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