Chair of authority


In the Old Testament, every covenant God gave to man had a covenant mediator who exercised God’s authority. In the New Testament, Christ commands His followers to obey the pharisees because their authority comes from the fact that they sit on the seat of Moses (but do what they preach and not like they do).

Catholics say that when Christ established the new covenant in His Church, that seat of authority was transferred to Simon, whom Christ renamed Rock (Kephas or Peter). All the wrirings of the early church fathers confirms this teaching as having been passed down by the apostles.

  1. What do protestants believe happened to that authority? (Did God assign this authority in all the OT covenants and then change his mind and form a democratic Church?)
  2. What do protestants believe happened to the chair (cathedra)?
  3. When do protestants believe this happened?


The seat of Moses refers to Civil Court in Israel. So, trying to make a connection to an apostolic seat simply does not work for me. The seat of Moses today is occupied ineffect by the legal system in Isreal and by the Jewish Courts in Synagoguge.

Exodus 18

13 The next day Moses took his seat to serve as judge for the people, and they stood around him from morning till evening. 14 When his father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he said, “What is this you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit as judge, while all these people stand around you from morning till evening?”

15 Moses answered him, “Because the people come to me to seek God’s will. 16 Whenever they have a dispute, it is brought to me, and I decide between the parties and inform them of God’s decrees and laws.”

17 Moses’ father-in-law replied, “What you are doing is not good. 18 You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone. 19 Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you. You must be the people’s representative before God and bring their disputes to him. 20 Teach them the decrees and laws, and show them the way to live and the duties they are to perform. 21 But select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. 22 Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, but have them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you. 23 If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied.”

24 Moses listened to his father-in-law and did everything he said. 25 He chose capable men from all Israel and made them leaders of the people, officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. 26 They served as judges for the people at all times. The difficult cases they brought to Moses, but the simple ones they decided themselves.


Matthew 23:1-3

Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples,2 2 saying, "The scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses.3 Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example. For they preach but they do not practice.

Appears to refer to the chair of Moses as a preaching/teaching authority.


Although not a Protestant, I’d like to contribute

a) Peter wasn’t exclusively named 'the rock’
b) there’s more than one ‘chair of Peter’ (it’s not just Rome that’s a ‘chair of Peter’)


a) I know in the Bible there are at least five entities referred to as the rock, or cornerstone, or foundation (God, Jesus, the apostles, Peter). However, are you suggesting that any other than Simon had their proper name changed by God to “Rock”?

b) 'splain Lucy!


I think that in point b he’s referring to the fact that Peter also founded the Church at Antioch (I think). However, it’s not really relevant nor does it diminish the authority of Rome one bit since Peter’s episcopate was established and based there. This is the reason why we say the Bishop of Rome is in the chair of Peter.


Indeed Peter’s name was changed so that he could be the rock. And in following * the example* of Peter we too can, like he, become ‘rock’.

Gregory of Nyssa: ”These men (i.e., Peter, James, & John) are the foundations of the Church, and the pillars and mainstays of truth. They are the perpetual founts of salvation, from whom the copious waters of divine doctrine flow. The prophet bids us go to them when he writes: ‘With joy you will draw water from the founts of the Saviour.’ We celebrate the memory of Peter, who is the chief of the apostles, and together with him the other members of the Church are glorified; for upon him the Church of God is established. Indeed this man, in accordance with the title conferred upon him by the Lord, is the firm and very solid rock upon which the Saviour has built his Church. Finally we celebrate the memory of James and John.

But what effort is required of us to exert ourselves in such a way that our commemoration may be worthy of the virtue of the apostles? The warmth of our praises does not extend to Simon insofar as he was a catcher of fish; rather it extends to his firm faith, which is at the same time the foundation of the whole Church.”

Gregory of Nyssa - From Panegyric on St. Stephen, M.P.G., Vol. 46, Col. 733 quoted at

I would ask you to consider that Antioch was also founded by Peter. I cited a Pope who recognised this. John Chrysostomon, in boasting about Antioch also stated this. You simply seem to pass this information by.

There’s two Catholic days mentioned…

St. Peters Chair at Antioch (February 22)
St. Peters Chair at Rome (January 18)

More info at

“In fact, the Roman Martyrology, before the reform of the calendar, established also a specific celebration of the Chair of Peter at Antioch”

"the Chair of Saint Peter at Antioch, Saint Gregory the Great (on whom De La Salle wrote a meditation for March 12) says that Saint Peter was regarded as the head of the Church in Antioch for seven years prior to his going to Rome. The feast is now called simply the Chair of Peter. It was celebrated as early as the fourth century in Rome itself."

Thus to Fuerza; why Rome alone as Peter founded several Sees?


Well, duh…He founded several sees and ordained and appointed bishops to whom he transferred authority. These sees of authority then became theirs. However, it was in his see at Rome that Peter died. Rome is the only place where his particular office required succession.


…and don’t selectively proof-text the Father’s remarks about the apostles. It is not either/or. The Church has always recognized the Biblical references to God, Christ, the apostles and Peter as rocks or foundations or cornerstones. Don’t ignore, for instance, Gregory of Nyssa’s statements of Peter’s primacy and use other quotes of his to attempt to oppose the idea.


I note that you only have your say-so that I’ve done this.

All the Apostles got given the keys…
John Chrysostomon
”For the Son of thunder, the beloved of Christ, the pillar of the Churches throughout the world, who holds the keys of heaven”
John Chrysostom, “Homilies on the Gospel of John, Homily 1.1”
Commentaries on the Gospel of Matthew: Book XI.
Hilary of Poitiers
37. This faith it is which is the foundation of the Church; through this faith the gates of hell cannot prevail against her. This is the faith which has the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Whatsoever this faith shall have loosed or bound on earth shall be loosed or bound in heaven. This faith is the Father’s gift by revelation; even the knowledge that we must not imagine a false Christ, a creature made out of nothing, but must confess Him the Son of God, truly possessed of the Divine nature
"On the Trinity" Book VI.

Note Hilary says that the church as a whole has the keys, following Peters confession, but…
39. Let us therefore cite every example of a statement of the faith made by an Apostle. All of them, when they confess the Son of God, confess Him not as a nominal and adoptive Son, but as Son by possession of the Divine nature
That is all of use who confess the same confession of faith share in this, and we become possessed of the Divine Nature, which is, as we know like a ‘rock’.
"He has given, therefore, the keys to His Church, that whatsoever it should bind on earth might be bound in heaven, and whatsoever it should loose on earth might be, loosed in heaven"
"On Christian Doctrine"
Book I, Chapter 18.17

"…the keys that were given to the Church,"
A Treatise Concerning the Correction of the Donatists
Chapter 10.45

"How the Church? Why, to her it was said, “To thee I will give the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatsoever thou shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven, and whatsoever thou shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven.”
"Ten Homilies on the First Epistle of John"
Homily X.10
Cyprian acknowledges, of course, that Peter was the first to get the keys, but then adds
"Assuredly the rest of the apostles were also the same as was Peter, endowed with a like partnership both of honour and power; but the beginning proceeds from unity."
On the Unity of the Church Treatise I.4


John Cassian
But what are the other words which follow that saying of the Lord’s, with which He commends Peter? “And I,” said He, “say unto thee, that thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build My Church.” Do you see how the saying of Peter is the faith of the Church? He then must of course be outside the Church, who does not hold the faith of the Church. “And to thee,” saith the Lord, “I will give the keys of the kingdom of heaven.” This faith deserved heaven: this faith received the keys of the heavenly kingdom. See what awaits you. You cannot enter the gate to which this key belongs, if you have denied the faith of this key. “And the gate,” He adds, “of hell shall not prevail against thee.” The gates of hell are the belief or rather the misbelief of heretics. For widely as hell is separated from heaven, so widely is he who denies from him who confessed that Christ is God. “Whatsoever,” He proceeds, “thou shalt bind on earth, shalt be bound in heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, shalt be loosed also in heaven.” The perfect faith of the Apostle somehow is given the power of Deity, that what it should bind or loose on earth, might be bound or loosed in heaven. For you then, who come against the Apostle’s faith, as you see that already you are bound on earth, it only remains that you should know that you are bound also in heaven. But it would take too long to go into details which are so numerous as to make a long and wearisome story, even if they are related with brevity and conciseness."
"On the Incarnation of the Lord, Against Nestorius"
Book III
Chapter XIV "How the confession of the blessed Peter is the faith of the whole Church."
Even if Peter was exclusively given them there’s no reason that they devolved to Rome, other than the assumption that they must have, because the Catholic Church has the authority to say that they did, because it was given the keys, because it says that it was given the authority… circular reasoning.


However they were ALL known as Chairs of Peter. How did Antioch continue to be his chair, if he wasn’t sitting there and taken all his super-powers off only to Rome?

How was it transferred only to Rome? Did he appoint a successor there before he died? If not, then someone else had the authority to bestow this power onto his successor in Rome, and may therefore have had the potential to bestow it somewhere else. And as noted above, he didn’t posess the keys, alone.

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