Who Ran the CC after Jesus Died? by James Akin


Was James, not Peter, the head of the Church after Jesus?

by Jimmy Akin Sunday, June 09, 2013

Was St. James the Just the leader of the early Church–or was St. Peter?

Some claim that it was James, not Peter, who was the leader of the early Church after the time of Christ.

What evidence can they provide for this claim?

And what evidence is there against it?

Which James?

“James” was a common name in first century Judea, and there were several men named James who are mentioned in the New Testament.

Unfortunately, precisely how many Jameses there are many is not clear.

They are described different ways, and it is not clear whether a James described in one passage is the same as the James mentioned in another.

The James who assumed a prominent leadership role in the Jerusalem church after the time of Christ is known as “the brother of the Lord.”

This James is sometimes identified with James the son of Alphaeus, who is also identified with James “the Less.”

However, Benedict XVI noted:

Among experts, the question of the identity of these two figures with the same name, James son of Alphaeus and James “the brother of the Lord”, is disputed [General Audience, Jun. 28, 2006].

Regardless of how this issue is to be settled, there is one James in the New Testament who is clearly not the one in question—James the son of Zebedee, because he was martyred quickly (Acts 12:1-2).

Advocates of the “James not Peter” viewpoint have two major texts that they can appeal to, and neither is very good.

The Galatians 2 Argument

The first is Galatians 2:11-12, where Paul writes:

But when Cephas came to Antioch I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned.

For before certain men came from James, he ate with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party.

This has been taken to display a certain deference on Peter’s part to James.

But James isn’t even there. Peter’s not deferring to him but to the sensibilities of men associated with him (“the circumcision party”).

What’s the explanation for this?

The most logical one is not that James is the man in charge but that Peter is simply trying to keep peace between different groups within the Church.

That is, itself, something leaders often have to do.

Furthermore, the fact that, in Galatians, Paul uses Peter as a test case for the authority of his gospel strongly suggests that Peter is the leader.

Paul wants to show that his gospel is above any man, and using the top man as a test case is an excellent way to show that.

The Acts 15 Argument

The second major passage is Acts 15, where the Jerusalem council is held.

This council is presented as having the following stages:

1. There is “much debate” (v. 7a).

2. Peter gets up and says, “you know that in the early days God made choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe” (v. 7b). He points out that God accepted the gentiles without the Law of Moses and so it should not be imposed on them now (v. 8-11).

3. Barnabas and Paul relate the signs and wonders God has been doing through them as they preached to the gentile (vv. 12).

4. James says, “Simeon has related how God first visited the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name” (v. 14), he cites a corresponding Old Testament proof text (vv. 15-18), endorses the idea of not imposing the Mosaic Law on the gentiles (v. 19), and goes on to make several proposals to keep Jewish Christians from being scandalized by the behavior of gentiles, because “from early generations Moses has had in every city those who preach him” (v. 21).

This text does not show that James was more authoritative than Peter, for several reasons:

· Peter, along with Barnabas, Paul, and James, are viewed together as the debate closers. It is “after much debate” that Peter speaks. He initiates the process of closing the debate and coming to a conclusion.

· Peter reminds people of his unique role in how the question was originally settled.

· James also refers to how the question was originally settled through Peter.

· James makes his comments about not scandalizing Jewish believers as a pastoral way of implementing a decision that he, Peter, and Barnabas and Paul are all in agreement on.

The thing Luke is here concerned to stress for us is that all four of these figures are in agreement. That’s his main message.

Some have tried to claim a special authority for James because, in some translations, he says, in verse 19, “Therefore my judgment is that we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God.”

The fact he uses the phrase “my judgment” is taken to imply that he is acting as a judge, as the final authority, but this is far too much to hang on this single word (Greek, krino), which also means, “I think.”

Indeed, even in English, saying, “In my judgment we ought to do this . . .” in no way implies that the one expressing this view is a judge, much less the final authority on the matter.

If these two arguments are weak, what other evidence is there on the question?

James in Acts

Let’s stick with the book of Acts for the moment.

How often is James mentioned by name in it?

Four times max.

He’s unambiguously mentioned in 12:17, 15:13, and 21:18.

If he is to be identified with James the son of Alphaeus then he’s also mentioned in 1:13.

How does that compare to Peter?

Peter in Acts

By comparison, Peter is mentioned by name 55 times under the name “Peter,” four times under the name “Simon,” and once under the name “Simeon.”

What does that suggest about who was the more prominent leader?

There is a plausible objection to this, which is that Paul is mentioned by name in Acts 124 times under the name “Paul,” and he’s mentioned 23 times under the name “Saul.”

Would that mean that Paul as an even more authoritative leader than Peter?

This objection also has a plausible rejoinder. In fact, it has two of them.

The Story of Paul

The first is that Luke is a travelling companion of Paul, and he’s writing substantially about their experiences together.

In particular, he’s writing to explain how Paul got to Rome, where he was under house arrest at the time the book was apparently finished (Acts 28:30-31).

Basically everything from chapter 13 on is the story of Paul, as told by one of his companions.

This means that Paul will have a more prominent role in the book of Acts than he did in the early Christian community as a whole.

Luke is leaving out virtually any discussion of the other apostles—with the exception of Peter.

So why is Peter the exception?

The Role of Peter

The second rejoinder is that it’s not simply a matter of numbers. You also have to look at Peter’s role in the stories where he appears.

At best, you have a single story lending weak support for the idea that James held the more prominent role.

But we have multiple stories unmistakably showing Peter’s leadership role.

These occur in the first 12 chapters of the book, before the Paul narrative begins.

Peter is the one who calls for Judas Iscariot to be replaced, leading to the election of the Apostle Matthias (Acts 1:15-26).

Peter is the one who preaches the sermon on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:14-40).

Peter is the one who heals a lame man and, when this attracts the attention of the crowd, he is the one who preaches to them (Acts 3:1-26).

When they are called before the Jewish authorities, Peter is the one who gives the speech in their defense (Acts 4:8-12).

Peter is the one who confronts Annanias and Sapphira about their lie (Acts 5:3-9).

The people of Jerusalem place the sick in the streets so that Peter’s shadow might fall on them (Acts 5:15).

When the apostles are imprisoned as a group, miraculously freed, and then appear before the authorities, Peter speaks for them, saying that they must obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29-32).

Peter confronts Simon Magus (Acts 8:20-23).

Peter heals the paralyzed Aeneas (Acts 9:32-34).

Peter raises Dorcas from the dead (Acts 9:37-41).

At God’s behest, Peter admits the first gentiles to the Church (Acts 10-11).

And Peter (unlike James son of Zebedee) is miraculously delivered from prison and martyrdom (Acts 12:1-18).

In some of these events, Peter’s leadership role is shown when he speaks on behalf of the apostles–or for the Christian community in general. This happens when he gives the sermon on Pentecost or when he represents the apostles before the authorities.

This unique leadership role is also shown when he calls for Judas’s replacement.

Outsiders recognize Peter’s unique role, and they place the sick on the streets so that Peter’s shadow might fall on them.

Some of these events are miracles that could have been performed by other apostles, but the concentration of them here reveals Peter’s special prominence.

Throughout Acts, the other members of the Twelve are barely mentioned.

A few people who were not members of the Twelve, like Stephen and Philip, have stories devoted to them, but none of the other members of the Twelve have their own stories. They’re only mentioned in passing.

Peter is clearly the focus.

If the book stopped here, and did not include the extended travel narratives of St. Paul, it might have been called the Acts of Peter rather than the Acts of the Apostles.

What Role Did James Have?

In saying this, we are not claiming that James did not have a prominent role in the early Church.

Indeed, he did! But what role was it?

The early Church Fathers speak of him as having been the first bishop of Jerusalem.

Thus Eusebius records:

Then James, whom the ancients surnamed the Just on account of the excellence of his virtue, is recorded to have been the first to be made bishop of the church of Jerusalem [Ecclesiastical History II:1:2].

There is no reason to doubt that James functioned as bishop of Jerusalem.

Was James also an apostle?

James the Apostle?

It’s possible that he was. In Galatians, Paul writes:

Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas, and remained with him fifteen days. But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord’s brother [1:18-19].

In this passage, St. Paul appears to rank our James alongside the other apostles.

This would certainly be the case if James “the brother of the Lord” is to be identified with James the son of Alphaeus, who is clearly an apostle, being found in the lists of the twelve apostles in the Gospels and Acts.

Even if James was not among the Twelve, this would not mean that he didn’t function as an apostle, for there were apostles who were not members of the Twelve—such as Barnabas and St. Paul himself (Acts 14:14).

It thus seems clear that James functioned both as an apostle (if not a member of the Twelve) and as bishop of Jerusalem.

He also appears to have been an especially influential individual, as Jewish Christians used him as a point of reference for centuries.

But did that make him head of the universal Church in Jesus’ absence?

No It does not.

The Gospels suggest that “the brothers of the Lord” were not believers in him during his life (Mark 3:21), and that would seem to include our James, if he is not to be identified with James son of Alphaeus.

If he is to be identified with James son of Alphaeus, then he is clearly a “third-rank” apostle.

If you study the lists of the apostles found in the Gospels and Acts, they are all divided into three groups of four names.

Peter heads the first list in every case, and James the son of Alphaeus heads the third list in every case.

This establishes Peter as a first rank apostle and James son of Alphaeus as a third rank apostle.

Thus, however one reads the data, Peter has a more prominent rank than James.

After all, it was to Peter that Jesus said:

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 [Mt. 16:18].

He did not say this to James.

Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/blog/jimmy-akin/was-james-not-peter-the-head-of-the-church-after-jesus/#ixzz2VprhrNw1


One comment on “Who Ran the CC after Jesus Died? by James Akin

  1. billy says:

    Who died– and made patrick the new prophet

    A Catholic reply to Protestant “[mis]- Understandings” Part 1

    “I Am Catholic” by Pat Miron

    A Catholic reply to Protestant “[mis]- Understandings” Part 1
    “I Am Catholic” by Pat Miron

    A message to our non-Catholic Friends
    Psalm 95:8 “If today You Hear His Voice; Harden Not Your Hearts”

    Deuteronomy 18: 15 – 20
    “The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brethren — him you shall heed — just as you desired of the LORD your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, `Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God, or see this great fire any more, lest I die.’ And the LORD said to me, `They have rightly said all that they have spoken.

    I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brethren; and I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. And whoever will not give heed to my words which he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him.

    But the prophet [person] who presumes to speak a word in my name which I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die…

    Yahweh; the God of the OT is the same God as Jesus in the NT. What was good for souls then is even more important in the Secular; Devil driven times of today.

    . 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.”

    Isaiah 55:8 -9 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD. As high as the heavens are above the earth, so high are my ways above your ways and my thoughts above your thoughts.”

    Although it is written by a Protestant Theologian, I must confess that I am delighted to be able to report that the booklet is well thought out and presented with true Christian charity.

    Thomas makes his case plain, and to the unknowing, or unsuspecting; convincingly

    . Mr. Heinze has a Masters Degree in Theology from the DALLAS THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY.

    What became immediately apparent is the sincerity of the positions held by Mr. Heinze., and his evident desire to be factual and true.

    Which only affirms my own opinion

    that God Himself has a role in

    these well-intended Protestant positions

    , reflect serious-errant misunderstandings of Catholic Doctrines and Dogma,

    along with an in ability to separate “church-practices,” which can change, from doctrine and dogma which cannot be changed.

    God Himself limits their ability to understand the bible by imposing upon them the plague of Ignorance.

    This will be proven and become very evident as we proceed

    and which, God willing, we shall prove and provide biblical evidence of that explains and supports the Catholic Positions.

    I have for sometime now been Blessed by God,

    and able to recognize God’s hand

    in the lack of RIGHT understanding of what the bible

    really says as a rather common Protestant trait.

    In fact; it seems to be one thing many of the denominations have in common.

    This ought not be a surprise to any of us who are “bible-savvy,”

    as clear warning is given by God through the bible itself., in a variety of ways.

    Thus, all references in the bible to “church” or “churches” are a direct reference to today’s Catholic Church. And the final point, is that it is Jesus Himself who first introduced the term “church”

    First of all you must understand this, that no prophecy of scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, because no prophecy ever came by the impulse of man, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.”

    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 [SINGULAR] which he obtained with the blood of his own Son.”

    John 10: 1-3 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door [I Christ choose] but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber but he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens; the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.

    1Tim. 3: 15 “if I am delayed, you may know how one ought to behave in the [SINGULAR] household of God, which is the church [SINGULAR] of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth [SINGULAR]”

    Matt.13:9-12 “He who has ears, let him hear.” Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.” For to him who has will more be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away. “

    2nd. Peter 3: 14-17 “Therefore, beloved, since you wait for these, be zealous to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. And count the forbearance of our Lord as salvation. So also our beloved brother Paul wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, speaking of this as he does in all his letters. There are some things in them hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other scriptures. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, beware lest you be carried away with the error of lawless men and lose your own stability”

    Even all of this is not the complete set of warnings presented in the Bible;

    but these ought to verify my position, that it is nearly impossible for anyone not to be warned about the high probability of incorrect understanding of what God really taught and what he means and commands, without the chosen-guides that he himself has commanded.

    Those guides being exclusively of the Catholic Church.

    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.” …Matt. 16: 18-19 “And I [JESUS] tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. 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.”

    Matt. 28:16-20 “Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. And when they saw him they worshiped him; but some doubted. [THOMAS] And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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.”

    Having identified the underlying cause of the problem as an apparent inability to consistently understand correctly and fully, the Written Words of God,

    I am now obligated to explain just why it happens

    The underlying cause is a God imposed penalty for NOT doing what He say’s and NOT fully following ALL of His teachings,

    as will be clearly demonstrated. Exactly how God accomplishes this remains a mystery.

    The fact that He is behind it, is not.

    I suspect it is accomplished by withholding Devine guidance, as is His Right. There is evidence of an unintentional selective application of passages elected and chosen to solidify the positions expressed by Brother Heinze, that I have seen quite often by his contemporaries.

    At first I thought it might be intentional; but have come to understand that it is God who limits their understanding; making it still possible, but far more difficult for them to uncover and discover God’s Fullness of Truth

    . It’s a battle between Pride and Humility; Good and Evil; Partial truths and the Fullness of Gods Own Truth.

    This “hidden messages” is God’s way of formulating a particular cross for non-Catholics to carry. Because God can ONLY be a “Good and Fair” God [anything less would deny His Divinity], this burden is imposed to make clear His displeasure with what is going on, and

    the fact that never once in the entire Bible, did or has God permitted a belief in more than one God [Triune], or more than Only One set of Faith-beliefs, or ever guide, guard and protect more than one “church” [or one chosen people.] This FACT alone ought to put everyone on the “same page.”

    doctrine, and do not even accept offerings [THANK YOU!] for the mass in these conditions, others bring to mind the admonition of Christ in the scriptures…

    Mark 12-38-40 [Mr. Heinze went so far as to even be quoting the Catholic New American Bible… again THANK YOU!]. “And in his teaching he said,

    “Beware of the scribes, who like to go about in long robes, and to have salutations in the market places and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at feasts, who devour widows’ houses and for a pretense make long prayers. They will receive the greater condemnation.”

    In Italy, the very heart of Roman Catholism, there is a saying which is often used when someone wants to say “you only get what you pay for.” Translated word for word it is “Without money, they don’t sing the mass.” [10]

    John 20:19-23 “On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord. 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.”

    All of the following took place in this brief passage.

    1. The official formation of today’s Roman Catholic Church

    2. The First Pentecost celebration

    3. The Institution of the sacrament of Confirmation

    4. Jesus passes along His OWN Powers and Authority as God to the Apostles, and through them to there successors. If you doubt this consider the following:

    Matt. 10: 1-8 “And he 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” …. This is later expanded to the entire world as the Hebrews as a Nation; reject the Messiah. [Luke 19:41 …. Matt. 28:16-20].

    5. The necessary and essential Sacrament of Known Forgiveness of sins [the ONLY acceptable method as Ordained and commanded by God himself.] The PATH to the “Peace” that Jesus desires for each of us.

    [6] “have been taught that after death in the family they must give”

    Like a great many Protestants,

    Thomas seems to find great difficulty is discerning the significance of doctrines, dogma’s from what are merely “church practices.”

    Thomas’ remarks on this topic seem to indicate an important VOID IN HIS EDUCATION.. This has never been NEVER been a mandatory practice but does have some Tradition behind it.

    Church doctrines and dogma are unchangeable; while “church practices”, can and even must change to keep current with the changes in the times. After all today’s Catholic Church is some 2,000 years old. One ought not expect practices of 2,000 years ago to necessarily apply today, exactly as they did when developed.

    [7] “more or less and unending offering to priest for masses to shorten their loved one’s time in purgatory.” … Keep in mind that Mr. Heinze is one who holds to the OSAS theology of many Protestant denominations. So He would then naturally find Catholic doctrine of Purgatory and Merits of prayer and sacrifices for the deceased to be completely unnecessary; even foolish.

    [8 through 10] Make the point that this changing is both unbiblical and un-Christ-Like

    This a issue of practice. It is not mandatory; many parishes do not do it; and I rather doubt that ANY priest would take “food off the table” of a poor widow.

    CCC #2122 The minister should ask nothing for the administration of the sacraments beyond the offerings defined by the competent authority, always being careful that the needy are not deprived of the help of the sacraments because of their poverty.” The competent authority determines these “offerings” in accordance with the principle that the Christian people ought to contribute to the support of the Church’s ministers. “The laborer deserves his food.”

    Matt. 10: 8-10 “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

    Because Protestant ministers are often Full time and Married, they expect and get a MUCH larger fee “for services rendered” than do our catholic priest.

    • 1 Timothy 5:18 For Scripture says, “Do not muzzle an ox while it is …
    For the Scripture says, “You must not muzzle an ox to keep it from eating as it treads out the grain.” And in another place, “Those who work deserve their pay!”.
    • Deuteronomy 25:4 Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the …
    Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain. New Living Translation (©2007) “You must not muzzle an ox to keep it from eating as it treads out the grain.
    • 1 Corinthians 9:9 For it is written in the Law of Moses: “Do not … – Bible
    For it is written in the Law of Moses: “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out … For the law of Moses says, “You must not muzzle an ox to keep it from eating …


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