Monday, September 16, 2013


Is Saint Peter the First Pope of the Catholic Church? This subject has been discussed countless of times in blogs and forums. Protestants and anti-catholic churches has been attacking the Catholic Church for over 400 years now since the Apostate Catholic Monk Martin Luther started protestantism. 


The Bishop of Rome who, as the Vicar of Christ and the legitimate successor of St Peter, is the visible head of the Church. The title, Pope, is derived from the Greek word papas, meaning father. The pope is elected for life by the College of Cardinals. He has the privilege of resigning if he wishes, in which case a new pope would be elected. Any male Catholic, regardless of race or color, cleric or layman, could be elected. However, if a layman were selected, he would have to be ordained a priest and consecrated a prelate before he could ascend the throne of St. Peter.

Christ declared Peter the primate of His Church at Caesarea Philippi, with these words, "I for my part declare to you , you are the 'Rock,' and on this rock I will build my church, and the jaws of death shall not prevail against it." From the time of Peter the pope's duties are to exercise supreme authority over the faith and morals of the faithful. He can enact laws for the Church, grant dispensations, excommunicate, create dioceses - in fact, take charge of the entire Church, hierarchy, clergy, and laymen. In matters concerning faith and morals, his decisions are infallible.
Matthew 16:18-19  

[18] And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. [19] And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose upon earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven. [20] Then he commanded his disciples, that they should tell no one that he was Jesus the Christ.

[18] Thou art Peter: As St. Peter, by divine revelation, here made a solemn profession of his faith of thedivinity of Christ; so in recompense of this faith and profession, our Lord here declares to him the dignity to which he is pleased to raise him: viz., that he to whom he had already given the name of Peter, signifying a rock, St. John 1. 42, should be a rock indeed, of invincible strength, for the support of the building of the church; in which building he should be, next to Christ himself, the chief foundation stone, in quality of chief pastor, ruler, and governor; and should have accordingly all fulness of ecclesiastical power, signified by the keys of the kingdom of heaven.

[18] Upon this rock: The words of Christ to Peter, spoken in the vulgar language of the Jews which our Lord made use of, were the same as if he had said in English, Thou art a Rock, and upon this rock I will build my church. So that, by the plain course of the words, Peter is here declared to be the rock, upon which the church was to be built: Christ himself being both the principal foundation and founder of the same. Where also note, that Christ, by building his house, that is, his church, upon a rock, has thereby secured it against all storms and floods, like the wise builder, St. Matt. 7. 24, 25.

[18] The gates of hell: That is, the powers of darkness, and whatever Satan can do, either by himself, or his agents. For as the church is here likened to a house, or fortress, built on a rock; so the adverse powers are likened to a contrary house or fortress, the gates of which, that is, the whole strength, and all the efforts it can make, will never be able to prevail over the city or church of Christ. By this promise we are fully assured, that neither idolatry, heresy, nor any pernicious error whatsoever shall at any time prevail over the church of Christ.

[19] Loose upon earth: The loosing the bands of temporal punishments due to sins, is called an indulgence; the power of which is here granted.

The following article I found (pls click the title below or here to link to the original writer) will provide more insights to this very important topic. 

Matthew 16:18-19- “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 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.”

This is a very important audio for people to hear.  It contains irrefutable evidence from the Bible that Jesus made St. Peter the first pope.  Among other things, this audio covers: the change of Peter’s name; the keys of the kingdom – Matthew 16 and Isaias 22; who is the Rock of Matthew 16?  It’s Peter; Peter’s unfailing faith; Jesus entrusts all of His sheep to Peter; the prominence of Peter’s name in Scripture; Peter takes the prime role in the replacement of Judas; Peter’s primacy in the Acts of the Apostles and more.  

This Part 1 contains the Biblical (and some patristic) evidence for the Catholic teaching on the Papacy.  

Part 2 (which is below) demonstrates that the early Church recognized the Bishop of Rome as the successor to St. Peter’s authority.

This audio also covers the following issues: “Was Peter ever in Rome?  If so, how come the Bible doesn’t say so?  Even if Jesus gave great authority to Peter, what does that have to do with Rome? Didn’t St. Paul rebuke St. Peter in Galatians 2:11?  Where does the term Catholic Church come from anyway?”  This section shows that the offices of the Apostles (bishops) and the office of St. Peter (the Papacy) were instituted to continue with successors.  They were founded by Jesus to continue through the history of the Church after the original apostles and Peter had died.  This section demonstrates that St. Peter was in Rome and was its first bishop; it demonstrates that apostolic and papal succession come from the teaching of the Bible; it discusses the origin of the term “Catholic Church,” Gal. 2:11 and more.  

This section moves into the evidence that the Bishop of Rome/the Church of Rome was recognized as supreme in the primitive Christian Church (precisely because it inherited the authority of St. Peter).  This section covers the famous epistle of Clement of Rome to the Corinthians (A.D. 90-100) and the famous epistle of Ignatius of Antioch to the Romans (circa A.D. 110).  Learn what you probably didn’t know about these most famous documents of early Christianity.  These documents are some of the most important in the history of Christianity and they are regarded with great respect by essentially all students and scholars of the early Church, regardless of denomination.  Learn how they demonstrate Catholic teaching on the Papacy.  Hear the very interesting admissions about these documents from an Eastern “Orthodox” scholar, and how such admissions serve to refute the Protestant and Eastern “Orthodox” position.  (Section C of Part 2 will be posted in the future.)

This section covers the evidence for the Papacy from the second and third centuries.  It covers HermasAnicetus and Victor in the Easter Controversy, Irenaeus, Cyprian and the rebaptism controversy.  It shows how, at this early stage of the primitive Christian Church, the supreme authority of the Bishop of Rome was recognized.  The primitive Christian Church recognized the unique authority and primacy of the Bishop of Rome because he held the universal jurisdiction which was given by Jesus Christ to St. Peter.

This section finishes up the evidence for the primacy of the Roman Pontiff in the third century and moves into the fourth.  It covers the case of Paul of Samosata; the Councils of Nicea and Sardica; Athanasius and Julius; the Emperors Gratian and Theodosius; and Pope Damasus

This section covers the evidence for the primacy of the Roman Pontiff at the second, third and fourth ecumenical councils (Constantinople, Ephesus and Chalcedon).  It also covers St. Jerome.  This evidence from the councils is especially important because the “Eastern Orthodox” and many Protestants accept the first seven ecumenical councils.  This section also responds to objections from certain canons of Constantinople and Chalcedon.  These objections are frequently raised by critics of Catholic teaching.  The section ends with more evidence from the early Church historians Socrates and Sozomen

The Primacy of Peter
Fr. William P. Saunders, Ph.D.

A Protestant friend of mine and I recently had a debate over whether Jesus actually made St. Peter the first pope. Although I cited Matthew 16, my friend had some other interpretation of it. What is a good answer to this question?

In Catholic tradition, the foundation for the office of the pope is indeed found primarily in Matthew 16:13-20. Here Jesus asked the question, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" The apostles responded, "Some say John the Baptizer, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." Our Lord then turned to them and point-blank asked them, "And you, who do you say that I am?"

St. Peter, still officially known as Simon, replied, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God." Our Lord recognized that this answer was grace motivated: "No mere man has revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father."

Because of this response, our Lord said to St. Peter first, "You are 'Rock,' and on this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." The name change itself from Simon to Peter indicates the apostle being called to a special role of leadership; recall how Abram's name was changed to Abraham, or Jacob's to Israel, or Saul's to Paul when each of them was called to assume a special role of leadership among God's people.
Peter the Rock

The word rock also has special significance. On one hand, to be called "rock" was a Semitic expression designating the solid foundation upon which a community would be built. For instance, Abraham was considered "rock" because he was the father of the Jewish people (and we too refer to him as our father in faith) and the one with whom the covenant was first made.

 On the other hand, no one except God was called specifically "rock," nor was it ever used as a proper name except for God. For instance, in Psalm 62, we pray, "Only in God is my soul at rest; from Him comes my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation". To give the name "rock" to St. Peter indicates that our Lord entrusted to the apostle a special authority, an authority which shares in and represents His own.

Some anti-papal parties try to play linguistic games with the original Greek gospel text where the masculine gender word petros, meaning "a small, moveable rock," refers to St. Peter while the feminine gender word petra, meaning "a massive, immoveable rock," refers to the foundation of the Church. However, in the Aramaic language, which is what Jesus spoke and which is believed to be the original language of St. Matthew's gospel, the word Kepha meaning "rock," would be used in both places without gender distinction or difference in meaning. The gender problem arises when translating from Aramaic to Greek and using the proper form to modify the masculine word Peter or feminine word Church.
The Gates of Hell
The Gates of Hell is also an interesting Semitic expression. The heaviest forces were positioned at the
gates; so this expression captures the great war-making power of a nation. Here this expression refers to the powers opposed to what our Lord is establishing– the Church. Jesus associated St. Peter and his office so closely with Himself that he became a visible force for protecting the Church and keeping back the power of Hell.

 Second, Jesus says, "I will entrust to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven." In the Old Testament, the "number two" person in the Kingdom literally held the keys. In Isaiah 22:19-22 we find a reference to Eliakim, the master of the palace of King Hezekiah and keeper of the keys. As a sign of his position, the one who held the keys represented the king, acted with his authority, and had to act in accord with the king's mind.

 Moreover, in the New Testament in the Book of Revelation, Jesus holds the keys of Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory: "The holy One, the true, who wields David’s key, who opens and no one can close, who closes and no ones can open..." (Revelation 3:7) and "I am the First and the Last, and the One who lives. Once I was dead but now I live– forever and ever. I hold the keys of death and the nether world" (Revelation 1:17-18). St. Peter shares in an authority that penetrates to the other world.

Finally, Jesus says, "Whatever you declare bound on earth shall be bound in heaven; whatever you declare loosed on earth shall be loosed in heaven." This is rabbinic terminology. A rabbi could bind, declaring an act forbidden or excommunicating a person for serious sin; or, a rabbi could loose declaring an act permissible or reconciling an excommunicated sinner to the community. Here Christ entrusted a special authority to St. Peter to preserve, interpret, and teach His truth.

Therefore, St. Peter and each of his successors represent our Lord on this earth as His Vicar and lead the faithful flock of the Church to the Kingdom of Heaven. This understanding of Matthew 16 was unchallenged until the Protestant leaders wanted to legitimize their rejection of papal authority and the office of the Pope. Even the Orthodox Churches recognize the Pope as the successor of St. Peter; however, they do not honor his binding jurisdiction over the whole Church but only grant him a position of "first among equals."

St. Peter's role in the New Testament further substantiates the Catholic belief concerning the papacy and what Jesus said in Matthew 16. St. Peter held a preeminent position among the apostles. He is always listed first (MT 10:1-4; MK 3:16-19; LK 6:14-16; Acts 1:13) and sometimes the only one mentioned (LK 9:32). He speaks for the apostles (MT 18:21; MK 8:28; LK 12:41; JN 6:68). When our Lord selects a group of three for some special event, such as the Transfiguration, St. Peter is in the first position. Our Lord chose St. Peter's boat to teach. At Pentecost, St. Peter preached to the crowds and told of the mission of the Church (Acts 2:14-40). He performed the first miraculous healing (Acts 3:6-7). St. Peter also received the revelation that Gentiles were to be baptized (Acts 10:9-48) and sided with St. Paul against the need for circumcision (Acts 15: 6-11). At the end of his life, St. Peter was crucified, but in his humility asked to be crucified upside down.

 As Catholics, we believe that the authority given to St. Peter did not end with his life, but was handed on to his successors. The earliest writings attest to this belief. St. Irenaeus (d. 202) in his Adversus haereses described how the Church at Rome was founded by St. Peter and St. Paul and traced the handing on of the office of St. Peter through Linus, Cletus (also called Anacletus), and so on through twelve successors to his own present day, Pope Eleutherius. Tertullian (d. 250) in De praescriptione haereticorum asserted the same point, as did Origen (d. 254) in his Commentaries on John, St. Cyprian of Carthage (d. 258) in his The Unity of the Catholic Church, and many others.

 Granted, the expression of papal authority becomes magnified after the legalization of Christianity, and especially after the Fall of the Roman Empire and the ensuing political chaos. Nevertheless, our Church boasts of an unbroken line of legitimate successors of St. Peter who stand in the stead of Christ. We must always remember that one of the official titles of the Pope, first taken by Pope Gregory I, the Great (d. 604), is "Servant of the Servants of God." As we think of this answer, may we be mindful of our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, and pray for his intentions. 

Pope John Paul II Society of Evangelists
P.O. Box 5584, Bakersfield, California 93388
e-mail: Phone: 661 393-3239

Some Christians deny that the Pope, as successor of St. Peter, has any special authoritative role in the Church founded by Christ. Some claim that according to the Bible, St. Peter never served as the leader of the Church. Others may recognize his special authority, but deny Apostolic Succession, the passing on of this office by the Church. 

Peter's Denial of Jesus
It should be noted that Jesus in Matt.16:18-19 speaks in the future tense, as in a promise. Jesus at this point does not confer authority to St. Peter, so his later denial of Christ does not render it void. Christ actually prays for St. Peter before his denial: "Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren." [Luke 22:31-32] 

It is only after this trial that Christ confers authority onto St. Peter in John 21. The imagery in John 21 is different. Jesus is not referred to as King but as the Good Shepherd. In John 10:16 Jesus speaks of "one flock and one shepherd." From the text it is obvious that the flock is the Church, while Jesus is the shepherd. Now in John 21:15-19, Jesus gives His earthly authority to St. Peter by telling him: "Simon, son of John...Feed my lambs...Tend my sheep...Feed my sheep." Jesus is not telling St. Peter to literally feed a flock of sheep but to guide and care for His Church on earth. 

A common objection against Peter's primacy is based on Gal. 2:11-14 where St. Paul rebukes St. Peter (Cephas) for acting insincerely. This rebuke from St. Paul does not undermine St. Peter's teaching authority, since St. Paul did not rebuke him for false teaching but for setting a bad example. (As an aside, St. Paul also set a bad example in Acts 16:3.) It must be remembered that St. Peter was a sinner like the rest of us (Luke 5:8,10). Likewise Nathan's condemnation of King David in 2 Sam. 12 did not undermine David's ruling authority but brought him to repentance. Finally, if St. Paul did not recognize St. Peter's teaching authority, then why did he spend fifteen days with Peter (Cephas) during his early ministry (Gal. 1:18)

Fundamentalists are not really looking for answers. They believe they already have one – the Bible.

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