ANSWERING QUESTIONS ABOUT THE
PAPACY AND THE KEYS
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 ...” ?
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
God alone is Father, Matthew 23:9.
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.
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.
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.
It is after the Resurrection that Peter is commissioned.
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.
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.
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)
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
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.
We must ask, “What does ‘In that day’ and
‘the peg’ refer to in context ?
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.
We read in
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.
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.
Archeological Evidence of Peter being in Rome
THE BONES OF ST. PETER
Admittedly the Biblical evidence is scant, but it is there.
St. Paul in writing his Letter to the Romans is writing
to followers who have already been brought into the Christian faith. [See
One of the earliest records of Peter, along with St. Paul’s help, of founding the Church in Rome is in the words of Dionysius, Bishop of Corinth, about AD 178.
They are recorded in Eusebius’ Church History,
See more Articles on the Papacy