I am Catholic
Peter: & The Formation of the Papacy
by Pat Miron
Fundamental to both explaining and defending our Roman Catholic Faith lies the challenge before us to explain the formation of the papacy originating with Jesus Christ himself.
As a God-made pragmatic I find it difficult from several views, understanding why the papacy is such a hot issue. Yes I know if one can disprove it; then it becomes much easier to persuade others that the RCC is NOT the “one true church of Jesus Christ,” which we Catholics insist it is and which seems to be biblically provable. But, there seems to be other reasons, considerations and factors that I simply fail to fully grasp.
From the initial Commission of Peter as the secular head of “the New Way” Heb.10:20 “by the new and living way which he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh,” ….”The Way” was the first name for the fulfillment and competition of the Old Testament, which are to find fullness in the new teachings; the new religion founded by Jesus. Matt.3: 3 “For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare “the way” of the Lord, make his paths straight.” …
The idea, and concept of One Man leadership, responsible directly to God; for God’s “Chosen People” is solidly established in and throughout Jewish History. From Noah, to Abraham, Moses, The Judges, kings David and Solomon, and the Great Prophets; there are numerous examples that effectively mirror the responsibilities, at least in general terms; that are essential to the current Papacy. So why the papacy is suspect seems to have another agenda and purpose of its own.
The fact that the terms “pope” or “papacy” do not appear in the bible is easily and prudently explained by logical formation that this was to come later in church history. One does not find the terms “Trinity, Catholics, dogma or doctrine, Protestant, Eucharist, or the sacraments” either and many other yet to be developed descriptive terms; [often theological application in origin] added as the Church grew in size, stature, form and influence.
Re: When was the term Pope first used?
“According to the original Catholic Encyclopedia on line, the title “pope” has enjoyed continued use in the East to signify priests. In the West, it seems to have designated only bishops. In the fourth century it came to be restricted to the Roman Pontiff.” This makes sense as Constantine permitted the church to freely practice its faith.
Fr. Vincent Serpa … Catholic Answers Apologist
A complete list of Popes; by name and dates of service can be found at:
It is HIGHLY significant that most Popes elected to follow Peter; up to the period of Constantine in the early forth century; knew in advance that they too would very likely be martyred for the Catholic Faith; and still they served.
Mt. 16:18-19 “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock [on you Peter] I will build my church, [notably singular] and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. [And so it continues even today; some 2, 000 years later] I will give you [also singular] 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.”
The significance and importance of these few words cannot be more clear, more important or more critical to understanding God’s own plan and scheme for our salvation. Jesus was well aware that he would soon suffer and die. Further He knew that He had to set up [A] “The Way” for His teachings to continue after His demise. This would logically require a leader be appointed to head this Mission. Peter was the choice of our Lord for this monumental task. John 15:16 “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide; so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you”
Mark.12:14 “And they came and said to him, “Teacher, we know that you are true, and care for no man; for you do not regard the position of men, but truly teach the way of God.” … John 14:6 “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but by me.” … Acts 16:17 “She followed Paul and us, crying, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to you the way of salvation.” … Acts 24:14 “But this I admit to you, that according to the Way, which they call a sect, I worship the God of our fathers, believing everything laid down by the law or written in the prophets,”
When Jesus spoke the precise words that Commissioned Peter to the Role of Leadership of “The Way,” He also necessarily imparted both the Powers and Authority needed to complete the task just assigned. [Mt. 28:19-20 ..] “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.” …[John 20:19-22]
The terms “to loose” and “to bind” were commonly understood by Christ and all of those who heard the proclamation, as passing on and presenting to Peter the unlimited and unrestricted governance of “The Way”; the One-new religion, with its to be obeyed, common set of faith-beliefs, and the single church of Christ, which was to be developed and managed through Peters Leadership. These terms were so common as to be enforceable by Jewish Law at the time. Because many kingdoms were walled in and did have physical gates, and keyed access, [as did Jerusalem itself] it was common practice to appoint a person chosen by the King of the kingdom to actually have possession of the keys to the gates, and handle all of the day-to-day running of the kingdom; this person was answerable to ONLY the king himself. Everyone knew that this was the precise intent of our Lord in regard to Peters Commission. It was accepted fact and no debate ensued, because of the clarity of what was done. This person had unlimited and unrestricted powers to make or change laws; to impose obligations and impose penalties for compliance failures, and was gravely-morally empowered and commanded to teach all of the rules and ways of the kingdom.
Jer.3: 15 “And I will give you shepherds [plural] after my own heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.”
AFTER THE COMMISSION JESUS ISSUED A NUMBER OF COMMANDS TO PETER
Mt. 28:19-20 “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.”… This command to teach the entire world clearly demands a structure of leadership after Christ death.
Peter alone among the apostles is exhorted by Jesus to “strengthen your brethren
Luke 22:32 “but I [Jesus] have prayed for you that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren.”
Mark.6: 34 “As he went ashore he saw a great throng, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.”
1Pet.2: 25 “For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.”
John 21:10 -16 Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.”
So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred and fifty-three of them; and although there were so many, the net was not torn. Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” Now none of the disciples dared ask him, “Who are you?” They knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and so with the fish. This was now the third time that Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead. 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.” 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.” 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.”
John 3:5 “Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.
Luke 22: 19-21 “And taking bread, he gave thanks, and brake; and gave to them, saying: This is my body, which is given for you. Do this for a commemoration of me. In like manner the chalice also, after he had supped, saying: This is the chalice, the new testament in my blood, which shall be shed for you.
Matt.19: 17 “…. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.”
John 20:21-23 “Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.”
John 10:16 “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”
These and other commands by Christ to Peter and the Apostles made clear, what the task was that laid ahead of them. . Mt. 28:19-20 “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age.” And all of this followed after they had already been empowered to do much in the name of Jesus. Without a structure and leadership this could be completed.
Please take note of the FACT that Peter is herein singled out and already identified as “The First.” This is highly significant because exegetes [bible experts] claim that Matthews Gospel was the first written. This explains why the issue of Peters Primacy is not an issue in later Gospels. IT WAS ACCEPTED FACT and undisputed. Because the bibles NT authors had no idea of “the bible” and it’s long-life and historic future life, there was no need for further amplification.
And he [Jesus] called to him his twelve disciples and gave them authority over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal every disease and every infirmity. The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zeb’edee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him. These twelve Jesus sent out, charging them, “Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans,
but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And preach as you go, saying, `The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons. You received without paying, give without pay. Take no gold, nor silver, nor copper in your belts, no bag for your journey, nor two tunics, nor sandals, nor a staff; for the laborer deserves his food. And whatever town or village you enter, find out who is worthy in it, and stay with him until you depart. As you enter the house, salute it. And if the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; but if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. And if any one will not receive you or listen to your words, shake off the dust from your feet as you leave that house or town. Truly, I say to you, it shall be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomor’rah than for that town. “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of men; for they will deliver you up to councils, and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear testimony before them and the Gentiles. When they deliver you up, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour”
EVIDENCE THAT THIS WAS BOTH UNDERSTOOD AND ACCEPTED
I have a list of fifty bible first for Peter that firmly and clearly establish his leadership. Please contact me if you’d like to receive a copy of it. In order to shorten this document I will only list a few of these singular accomplishments.
Peter alone among the apostles receives a new name, “Rock“, solemnly conferred (Jn 1:42; Mt 16:18). And personally given the “keys to the kingdom of heaven” by Jesus.
Likewise, Peter is regarded by Jesus as the Chief Shepherd after Himself (Jn 21:15-17), singularly by name, and over the universal Church, even though others have a similar but subordinate role (Acts 20:28; 1 Pet 5:2).
John 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; which translates in Aramaic as “ROCK.”] John 21:15-17 “Feed my sheep, feed my lambs, feed my sheep”
Acts 20:28 “Take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God which he obtained with the blood of his own Son.” 1 Pet. 5:2 “chosen and destined by God the Father and sanctified by the Spirit for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you.”
Peter alone among the apostles is mentioned by name as having been prayed for by Jesus Christ in order that his “faith may not fail” (Lk 22:32).
Peter alone is told that he has received divine knowledge by a special revelation (Mt 16:17). “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.”
Peter is regarded by the Jews (Acts 4:1-13) as the leader and spokesman of Christianity. Acts 4:8-12 “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a cripple, by what means this man has been healed, 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. This is the stone which was rejected by you builders, but which has become the head of the corner.
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.”
Peter is specified by an angel as the leader and representative of the apostles (Mk 16:7). “But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him, as he told you.”
Peter’s words are the first recorded and most important in the upper room before Pentecost (Acts 1:15-22).
Peter takes the lead in calling for a replacement for Judas (Acts 1:15-17, 20*21, 23). “In those days Peter stood up among the brethren (the company of persons was in all about a hundred and twenty), and said, “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. For he was numbered among us, and was allotted his share in this ministry. 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.’
So one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, And they put forward two, Joseph called Barsab’bas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthi’as.”
Peter works the first miracle of the Church Age, healing a lame man (Acts 3:6-12).
Peter utters the first anathema (Ananias and Sapphira) emphatically affirmed by God (Acts 5:2-11)!
Peter is the first person after Christ to raise the dead (Acts 9:40).
Cornelius is told by an angel to seek out Peter for instruction in Christianity (Acts 10:1-6).
Peter is the first to receive the Gentiles, after a revelation from God (Acts 10:9-48).
Peter instructs the other apostles on the catholicity (universality) of the Church (Acts 11:5-17).
Peter presides over and opens the first Council of Christianity, and lays down principles afterwards accepted by it (Acts 15:7-11).
Peter is the first to recognize and refute heresy, in Simon Magus (Acts 8:14-24).
Peter is the first to preach Christian repentance and baptism (Acts 2:38).
Peter corrects those who misuse Paul’s writings (2 Pet 3:15-16).
Peter wrote his first epistle from Rome, according to most scholars, as its bishop, and as the universal bishop (or, pope) of the early Church. “Babylon” (1 Pet 5:13) is regarded as code for Rome.
In conclusion, it strains credulity to think that God would present St. Peter with such prominence in the Bible, without some meaning and import for later Christian history; in particular, Church government. The papacy is the most plausible (we believe actual) fulfillment of this
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE PAPACY [Author not known]
Bishops of Rome: from the 1st century AD
“The pope is the bishop of Rome. The name derives from a Greek word pappas, meaning father, and Rome’s bishop is seen as the father figure of the early church because of the link with St Peter. Jesus is believed to have appointed Peter as the rock on which the church will be built; and Peter is believed to have been martyred in Rome. As the capital of the empire, Rome is also a natural centre for the growing church.
Unlike any other Christian see, Rome can put at least a name to every bishop in an unbroken line back to the 1st century of the Christian era and to St Peter himself as the first pope. The papacy, though not recognized as such until later centuries, has impressive credentials.
Many popes in the first three centuries of the Christian era are obscure figures. Several suffer martyrdom along with members of their flock in periods of persecution. Most of them are much involved in theological argument with other bishops, as the young church flexes its doctrinal muscles.
The change to a very different role comes during the brief pontificate of Miltiades (311-314). In 313 he holds a council openly in Rome, at the behest of the emperor, in the Lateran palace. A lasting link, between the papacy and temporal power, has begun. And there are immediate signs of the change.
The first churches: AD 312-337
Concrete evidence of the new status of Christianity is seen in the emergence of the first church buildings. The change is most visible in Rome, the strongest Christian community. Until now, in spite of the size of the congregation of Christians in Rome, worship has been conducted discreetly in private houses. Suddenly churches become public buildings, city landmarks as prominent as the temples of the pagan cult.
Some of the churches evolve from the private houses already in use for worship; one such example is SS. Giovanni e Paolo in Rome. Others in the capital city are new and more striking foundations.
Constantine establishes three important churches in Rome. One, intended to be the city’s cathedral, is sited immediately beside his own Lateran palace – already presented to the Christians as a residence for the pope. This church is St John Lateran.
The other two churches of Constantine in Rome are built in honour of the city’s two martyrs, Peter and Paul, on the supposed sites of their graves. One is outside the old city and is called S. Paolo fuori le Mura (St Paul Outside the Walls). The other, in the Vatican, is St Peter’s. Both have since been rebuilt.
Leo the Great: AD 440-461
The first pope to indicate the real potential of the papacy is Leo I, who has an unusual span of twenty-one years in office. He uses his time well, not only in the papal duty of restraining heretics but also in rehearsing other roles to be played by Rome.
These include defining Catholic orthodoxy (his epistle called Tome is widely accepted by his contemporaries in this context), and the assertion of the pope’s authority over other bishops by the power of the keys, granted by Jesus to Peter and supposedly passed on to his successors: ‘I will give you the keys of the kingdom of Heaven. What you forbid on earth shall be forbidden in heaven, and what you allow on earth shall be allowed in heaven.’
With the collapse of imperial authority in the western empire, as Visigoths, Vandals and Huns move around almost at will, the papacy finds itself well placed to take a lead in temporal affairs. Ambrose in Milan has already demonstrated how a bishop can exert spiritual authority over an emperor. Leo confronts two dangerous men on a more purely diplomatic basis.
During Leo’s pontificate Rome is threatened by Attila the Hun (in 452) and Gaiseric the Vandal (455). He negotiates with both, and is traditionally credited with persuading Attila to turn back short of Rome and with convincing Gaiseric that the city should not be utterly destroyed. Whatever the exact truth of his achievement, his actions predict a broader role for the papacy.
Gregory the Great: AD 590-604
Gregory I, in the late 6th century, reveals in a similar way the future direction of Rome and of the papacy. It can be seen in two significant events. In 592, two years after his election as pope, the Lombards are at the gates of Rome; Gregory accepts papal responsibility for the city, negotiates with the barbarians and persuades them to withdraw (admittedly at the price of an annual tribute). Four years later, in 596, he despatches a mission of forty men to England. Like Gregory himself, until his election as pope, these missionaries are monks.
A temporal ruler of Rome, using monastic establishments to spread spiritual rule throughout Europe – the pattern for the medieval papacy is in place.” The End of quoted article
The Early Church Fathers on
The Primacy of Peter/Rome
The Early Church Fathers understood from the beginning that Peter and his successors held a place of primacy in the Church.
Clement of Rome
Accept our counsel and you will have nothing to regret. . . . If anyone disobeys the things which have been said by him [Jesus] through us, let them know that they will involve themselves in no small danger. We, however, shall be innocent of this sin and will pray with entreaty and supplication that the Creator of all may keep unharmed the number of his elect (Letter to the Corinthians 58:2, 59:1[A.D. 95]).
Ignatius of Antioch
You [the See of Rome] have envied no one, but others have you taught. I desire only that what you have enjoined in your instructions may remain in force (Epistle to the Romans 3:1 [A.D. 110]).
But since it would be too long to enumerate in such a volume as this the succession of all the churches, we shall confound all those who, in whatever manner, whether through self-satisfaction or vainglory, or through blindness and wicked opinion, assemble other than where it is proper, by pointing out here the successions of the bishops of the greatest and most ancient church known to all, founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles. Peter and Paul, that church which has the tradition and the faith which comes down to us after having been announced to men by the apostles. With that church, because of its superior origin, all the churches must agree, that is, all the faithful in the whole world, and it is in her that the faithful everywhere have maintained the apostolic tradition (Against Heresies 3:3:2 [inter A.D. 180-190]).
Clement of Alexandria
[T]he blessed Peter, the chosen, the preeminent, the first among the disciples, for whom alone with himself the Savior paid the tribute [Matt. 17:27], quickly grasped and understood their meaning. And what does he say? “Behold, we have left all and have followed you” [Matt. 19:2 7, Mark 10:28] (Who is the Rich Man That is Saved? 21:3-5 [A.D. 200]).
[T]he Lord said to Peter, “On this rock I will build my Church, I have given you the keys of the kingdom of heaven [and] whatever you shall have bound or loosed on earth will be bound or loosed in heaven” [Matt. 16:18-19]. … Upon you, he says, I will build my Church; and I will give to you the keys, not to the Church; and whatever you shall have bound or you shall have loose
and, not what they shall have bound or they shall have loosed (Modesty 21:9-10 [A.D. 220]).
Letter of Clement to James
Be it known to you, my lord, that Simon [Peter], who, for the sake of the true faith, and the most sure foundation of his doctrine, was set apart to be the foundation of the Church, and for this end was by Jesus himself, with his truthful mouth, named Peter, the first-fruits of our Lord, the first of the apostles; to whom first the Father revealed the Son; whom the Christ, with good reason, blessed; the called, and elect (Letter of Clement to James 2 [A.D, 221]).
With a false bishop appointed for themselves by heretics, they dare even to set sail and carry letters from schismatics and blasphemers to the Chair of Peter and to the principal church [at Rome], in which sacerdotal unity has its source” (Epistle to Cornelius [Bishop of Rome] 59:14 [A.D. 252]).
The Lord says to Peter: “I say to you,” he says, “that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church” . . . On him he builds the Church, and to him he gives the command to feed the sheep John 21:17], and although he assigns a like power to all the apostles, yet he founded a single chair [cathedra], and he established by his own authority a source and an intrinsic reason for that unity. Indeed, the others were that also which Peter was [i.e., apostles], but a primacy is given to Peter, whereby it is made clear that there is but one Church and one chair. So too, all [the apostles] are shepherds, and the flock is shown to be one, fed by all the apostles in single-minded accord. If someone does not hold fast to this unity of Peter, can he imagine that he still holds the faith? If he [should] desert the chair of Peter upon whom the Church was built, can he still be confident that he is in the Church? (The Unity of the Catholic Church 4 [A.D. 251]).
Cyril of Jerusalem
In the power of the same Holy Spirit, Peter, both the chief of the apostles and the keeper of the keys of the kingdom of heaven, in the name of Christ healed Aeneas the paralytic at Lydda, which is now called Diospolis [Acts 9 ;3 2-3 4] (Catechetical Lectures 17;27 [A.D. 350]).
In the city of Rome the Episcopal chair was given first to Peter, the chair in which Peter sat, the same who was head — that is why he is also called Cephas — of all the apostles, the one chair in which unity is maintained by all. Neither do the apostles proceed individually on their own, and anyone who would [presume to] set up another chair in opposition to that single chair would, by that very fact, be a schismatic and a sinner. . . . Recall, then, the origins of your chair, those of you who wish to claim for yourselves the title of holy Church” (The Schism of the Donatists 2:2 [circa A.D. 367]).
Ambrose of Milan
[Christ] made answer: “You are Peter, and upon this rock will I build my Church . . .” Could he not, then, strengthen the faith of the man to whom, acting on his own authority, he gave the kingdom, whom he called the rock, thereby declaring him to be the foundation of the Church [Matt. 16:18]? (The Faith 4:5 [A.D. 379]).
Among these [apostles] Peter alone almost everywhere deserved to represent the whole Church. Because of that representation of the Church, which only he bore, he deserved to hear “I will give to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven” (Sermons 295:2 [A.D. 411]).
Who is ignorant that the first of the apostles is the most blessed Peter? (Commentary on John 56:1 [A.D. 416]).
So my friends, you now have the evidence one needs to explain with clarity, the history and the reason for the papacy. It was and remains the choice of our God. AMEN!
God’s continued Blessings,
Love and Prayers,