Church Fathers - Peter

Hello everyone.

I came across this article recently:

It shows that the Church Fathers did not believe Peter was a prime apostle, and that all quotes saying that have been taken out of context.

The article worries me… What do you think of it?

Thanks and God bless.

quotes saying that have been taken out of context.

All quotes? That would worry me.

The article worries me… What do you think of it?

What else could you expect from folks who want to set up their own primacy?

This site is replete with info about the primacy of Peter, so dig in and dig deep. Here’s one I like:

I just posted Church fathers and scriptural reasons to believe in Peter’s primacy.

See and and

Thanks for the link, I’ll be happy to read it. I guess I am still confused by the statement that you are “worried” about this. That comes from my continual lack of understanding why some Catholics seem to find their faith is linch pinned onto this requirement. I guess I always assumed Peter was the first pope until it was explained to me that it was not true, but Catholic theologians. It was just a convenient “truth” that helped round out a particular theology by which the RCC could claim a certain primacy in all this in Christendom. But still, why would this being true have an impact on one’s faith such that one would be “worried” that it might not be true? I sincerely have never understood this. As a ex-Catholic, I can say that Peter’s primacy as first pope was declared but certainly was not of any major importance in general Catholic church life.


I’m having trouble understanding the meaning of the bold inset above.

Could you explain?

I’m sorry I was not clear. I attended some years ago, a Catholic college. My professors were all theologians or biblical scholars with doctorates. They disabused us quite quickly of a lot of “Catholic teaching” that attempts to make the RCC somehow the beginning of Christianity. That is certainly not the record established by a thorough examination of the documents. This of course is to be assumed to a degree, the Church desires legitimacy, especially in the face of opposition from various groups who also claimed primacy of theology. They were in the end suppressed as heresy, and eventually the RCC emerged. There is little evidence however that Peter was any such thing as a “pope” or that he spent much of any time in Rome. Paul’s letters reflect that they were certainly at loggerheads and when he wrote his letter to the Romans, most assuredly Peter was not in Rome.

Roman Catholic theologians and biblical scholars live by intellectual and scholarly integrity as we hope all such experts do. Of course, on them occassionally falls the wrath of the Church, who wishes to maintain it’s line of teaching as unbroken.

My remarks about why one would be “worried” about learning this remain. I recall not a single RC, and I was one myself of course, who in any way felt the lesser of my Church or my faith because of it. I continue to wonder why some do. Yet is it most clear on this site that some RC’s do feel that it is essential to their faith that the RCC be first, and the holder of “all truth” to the negation of others. I find that odd. I can understand the belief that the RCC has all truth, but I find it odd that they need to deny this to any other faith tradition. I can’t fathom why faith in Jesus would be based on this. It suggests always to me that faith is more directed to a church, and that I personally find objectionable.

Hope I’ve cleared up my meaning. I’ll be interested in your thoughts of course. :slight_smile:

Dionysius of Corinth
You have also, by your very admonition, brought together the planting that was made by Peter and Paul at Rome and at Corinth; for both of them alike planted in our Corinth and taught us; and both alike, teaching similarly in Italy, suffered martyrdom at the same time (Letter to Soter of Rome [inter A.D. 166 -174] as recorded by Eusebius).
Matthew also issued among the Hebrews a written Gospel in their own language, while Peter and Paul were evangelizing in Rome and laying the foundation of the Church. After their departure, Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, also handed down to us in writing what had been preached by Peter (Against Heresies 3:1:1 [A.D. 189]).
But since it would be too long to enumerate in such a volume as this the successions 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. For with this Church, because of its superior origin, all 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 [A.D. 189]).
Let us see what milk the Corinthians drained from Paul; against what standard the Galatians were measured for correction; what the Philippians, Thessalonians, and Ephesians read; what even the nearby Romans sound forth, to whom both Peter and Paul bequeathed the Gospel and even sealed it with their blood (Against Marcion 4:5:1 [inter A.D. 207-212]).
The Apostle Peter, after he has established the Church in Antioch, is sent to Rome, where he remains bishop of that city, preaching the Gospel for twenty-five years (The Chronicle, Ad An. Dom. 42 [A.D. 303]).
When Peter preached the Word publicly at Rome, and declared the Gospel by the Spirit, many who were present requested that Mark, who had been for a long time his follower and who remembered his sayings, should write down what had been proclaimed. Having composed the Gospel, he gave it to those who had requested it (Ecclesiastical History 6:14:1 [A.D. 325]).
Peter of Alexandria
Peter, the first chosen of the Apostles, having been apprehended often and thrown into prison and treated with ignominy, at last was crucified in Rome (Canonical Letter, canon 9 [A.D. 306]).
When Nero was already reigning Peter came to Rome, where, in virtue of the performance of certain miracles which he worked by that power of God which had been given to him, he converted many to righteousness and established a firm and steadfast temple to God. When this fact was reported to Nero, he noticed that not only at Rome but everywhere great multitudes were daily abandoning the worship of idols, and, condemning their old ways, were going over to the new religion. Being that he was a detestable and pernicious tyrant, he sprang to the task of tearing down the heavenly temple and of destroying righteousness. It was he that first persecuted the servants of God. Peter, he fixed to a cross; and Paul, he slew (The Deaths of the Persecutors 2:5 [inter A.D. 316-320]).
Cyril of Jerusalem
[Simon Magus] so deceived the City of Rome that Claudius erected a statue of him, and wrote beneath it in the language of the Romans Simoni Deo Sancto, which is translated To the Holy God Simon. While the error was extending itself Peter and Paul arrived, a noble pair and the rulers of the Church; and they set the error aright… for Peter was there, he that carries about the keys of heaven (Catechetical Lectures 6:14 [A.D. 350]).
The first see, therefore, is that of Peter the Apostle, that of the Roman Church, which has neither stain nor blemish nor anything like it. The second see, however, is that at Alexandria, consecrated in behalf of blessed Peter by Mark, his disciple and an evangelist, who was sent to Egypt by the Apostle Peter, where he preached the word of truth and finished his glorious martyrdom. The third honorable see, indeed, is that at Antioch, which belonged to the most blessed Apostle Peter, where first he dwelt before he came to Rome, and where the name Christians was first applied, as to a new people (The Decree of Damasus 3 [A.D. 382]).

i have been a cradle Catholic and a cafeteria type until 8 yrs ago when i learned that the Catholic Church carries with it the fullness of Truth; that Jesus founded the Church that no gates of hell will prevail over it, that the Lord handed to Peter the keys of authority and the latter’s 3x confession of his love for Jesus, the Lord commissioning him to tend and feed for his sheep; that whenever the apostles gathered, the Scripture always mentioned Peter first who also was the final arbiter of issues. the early Church fathers preserved the Lord’s teachings not written down and his apostles celebrated his real presence, body and blood through bread and wine which the Lord himself instituted during the last supper which the Catholic Church continued to the present time. i have nothing but goodwill to our brothers and sisters in non-Catholic Christian denominations, my own sister being a fallen away Catholic herself. do i worry for her? i do. if she goes and Jesus himself asks her; “Why did you not believe in my body and blood?” (Jn 6) would she reply; “my new church taught me you were only symbols?” she’s old enough. she has to answer from her heart.
God bless.

Our faith in Jesus includes our faith in everything He said. When He said even the gates of hell shall not prevail against His Church, we believe it. When He said He would be with us until the consummation of the world, we believe it.

He built one Church and it survived from the beginning until today and He is with it. Why is that so hard to understand?

Yes, I know that you faith teaches you these things. It is not necessarily that the correct interpretation is as you say, but it is most correct to say that your church teaches that it’s interpretation of scripture is the correct one. That as you can no doubt see is incredibly self serving. But we have no doubt that you believe it, assuredly we don’t.

No doubt the myriad of Catholic theolgians and biblical experts who disagree with your rendition of what you have been taught, are not good Catholics in your estimation. I think that intellectual integrity requires them to disagree with you, but that is another issue.


Thank you, but would it not be appropriate to site the source from which you copied this? I have seen this exact piece several times now. It is obviously from a Catholic apologetics tract, and deserves to be sited don’t you think?

It’s one thing to reject our interpretation, it’s another to give your own interpretation. Could it be that the same thing can be said about your interpretation being self serving?

They are writings from the early Church fathers. I have their writings in my computer and copied and pasted them from there.

I hope I’m not speaking out of turn,but I kind of understand were Spirit Meadow is coming from. Theologians and scholars can be confusing at times look at the debate on this thread. One’s faith should not be based on a single Scripture, it should be based on what God has shown to that person. I’m a Thomas who has my human doubts, “Blessed is he who has not seen yet believes”. There are many people on both sides of the fence that are not Apologist, yet the believe in their faith through Jesus Christ.For me to be in the Catholic Church would not depend on the Primacy of Peter( I understand it is Churches teaching) it would be my love for Jesus Christ in the Sacraments, Mass,and the Scriptures.To get to the point of not seeing,but yet I would still believe.

Prodigal son, please don’t get me wrong. I am in no sense attempting to be rude or unkind in my remarks. Let me make things as clear as I can. You accept the interpretation given by the RCC. That is proper and fine. I would expect you to. If you have studied the matter thoroughly, meaning that you have investigated other interpretations from impartial sources and have come to conclude that the RCC version is accurate, then i expect you to stay with that. However, that is not the case with most. They get a different point of view and then search the apologetics for the “best retort”. That may be accurate, but often is not, it is but an attempt to make the “best case” for the Church.

So it may be “your” interpretation, but more commonly it is the “my church’s” interpretation which I accept without much question.

I have no personal interpretation whatsoever. I am very far from being a biblical expert. I can read neither Greek nor Hebrew for starters. I read widely, both those I agree with and those I don’t. I read what is considered to be the “majority view.” I adopt that if I am persuaded that the reasoning seems sound to me, If it does not, I continue searching.

I cannot conclude that my conclusions that Peter was never a “pope” in a real sense of the word, is my own, but that of theologians and experts I trust.

It is not self-serving as far as I can tell, because my faith doesn’t in any way hinge on my church being the first, or “true” or best in any sense. That seems the baliwick of some RC’s and some fundamentalists denominations. The rest of us pretty much are feeling that we are getting truth from our faith communities and that is that. I in no way need to reduce Peter to less than Pope in order for my faith tradition to “work” as it were. It would change nothing if Peter were in fact the first pope.

I have read the Church fathers extensively. I thought you had cut this from an apologists tract since, it seemed a rendition of a particular point of view on a singular subject. I tend to read the ECF in their individual entirety. Cudos for you having synthesized all this information on Peter from so many on your own. You have done a remarkable job of collecting so much information from so many sources. You must be a serious scholar.

I think you understood me perfectly. My issue or question has always been, why the need for being "first, best, and “truth”. So many here just run this litany of “facts”

“The RCC is the church started by Jesus. He said the gates of hell would never prevail against it. Peter was the rock upon whom the Church was built. We have complete and total apostolic succession. Only the RCC has the Holy Spirit to guide it to unerring truth. Only the Church has been given the right to define scripture as to meaning. The church cannot error because that would make Jesus a liar.”

This is all interpretation by the RCC which serves itself to make itself the ruler of all Christendom. It is also of course quite circular. We are the truth because we define scripture to prove that we are. It leads to being always right, while everyone else must be wrong. It leads to silly statements such as “We would ordain women as priests, but Jesus said we can’t.” Which really means the church has said we can’t and since it claims it cannot error, because it claims that Jesus told it it could not, it cannot and it then speaks for Jesus, so jesus said no women priests.

That was my point. I don’t believe Peter was Pope of Rome, but if he was, it wouldn’t have any impact whatsoever on my faith. It is still a house of stacking one possible interpretation onto another to reach any conclusion that the RCC is the only viable church in Christendom. Any one piece if wrongly interpreted means, it falls, and becomes nothing more than the rest of us, a Christian denomination. A fine one to be sure, but only one of many.

We are all of us, as denominations fraught with our own evils, witness the latest reports out of Ireland I believe of decades of hushed up abuse by nuns and priests against children. Every denomination has its problems. So I suggest that the Holy Spirit works non-stop in all faiths to encourage the best, but humans seem to not be always listening well.

Thanks for your compliment, but I’m not a scholar. I do, however, love to read and research as much as I can. When I find something that has answered my own questions, I copy it and put it where I can find it again.

If another Church rejects the Catholic Church as being the first Church that Christ Himself started, wouldn’t it be self serving for the other Church to accept an interpretation as a means of justification for being separated from the Catholic Church? I don’t mean this question to be offensive. I am merely trying to show how I can see it is self serving interpretations, no matter which Church we are discussing. As you say, any Church member is going to make the best case for the Church they have chosen. It’s not a one side or the other, it’s true for all Churches.

I was raised as a Protestant. It was contradictions between Protestant Churches that made me research Church history, Bible history and scriptures themselves. Because of my own research, I converted to Catholicism.

The early Church fathers have played a major impact on that decision. If we compared current traditions against the early Church fathers, we should be able to recognize which Church of today is the Church that is practicing Christianity as it was practiced by the first Christians. This is one reason I feel so many Protestants reject the writings of the early Church fathers.

Of course if interpretations of scriptures is self serving, according to one’s interpretations, the same will hold true for interpreting the writings of the early Church fathers.

Everyone’s objective should be to fit their theology to scriptures and not the other way around. That’s what led me to the Catholic Church, the scriptures themself. Why people cannot see Peter’s primacy from scriptures alone is beyond me. :shrug:

I am curious to learn what documents you examined so carefully.

This is a false statement. If this is what your Catholic theologian professors taught you, I am sorry.

Really? So, are you among those that believe the he and Paul did not work together to establish and build up the church there?

I have two questions about this. One, what makes you say they were “at loggerheads” when Paul wrote the letter to Rome.

The other is, to whom to do think Paul was referring when he wrote to the Romans that he did not visit them yet because he did not want to labor in another’s field?

I don’t think this is true all the time, especially if you were taught as you claim. Besided, intellectual and scholarly integrity don’t go very far if you deny the divine deposit of faith commmitted to the Church. As Fr. Corapi says, one can be educated into imbecility.

Only if they continue to claim they are Catholic. the Church has a duty to point out error in her own members, and to discipline them.

It was Jesus who identified Himself completely with His bride,the Church. That is why it is said that there is no salvation outside the Church.

An intellect not submitted to the Revelation that God has given to man is of very limited value. We see what happened to Adam and Eve, when they placed their intellect above what He had revealed.

Thanks for clearing that up.

Hope I’ve cleared up my meaning. I’ll be interested in your thoughts of course. :slight_smile:

I’m a Catholic, so you pretty much know my thoughts.

Yet is it most clear on this site that some RC’s do feel that it is essential to their faith that the RCC be first, and the holder of “all truth” to the negation of others. I find that odd.

But the Catholic Church does not claim to have “all truth”. All truth has not been revealed. Pope Benedict himself has said that the Catholic Church does not have a monopoly on truth. The best that the Church can do is claim that if she says something is true, then that something is true. The Church’s moral teachings bear this out, but the Church does not dogmatically define everything and in fact dogmatically defines very little.

I’m sure you’ve heard of Protestants who say, “we all agree on essentials”. This is true for all Christian Churches. It is my belief that “essentials” are from the Holy Spirit, as the Holy Spirit cannot lie, nor can it tell two truths that oppose each other. This shows, I do believe the Holy Spirit can work in ALL Christian Churches.

Non-essentials are examples of an individual’s interpretation, in my opinion. Now the question comes, which Church has the “fulness” of truth, or the essentials and the correct “non-essentials”? History, both Church and secular, show that there was one Church until the great schism of 1054 and then we had two Churches following Catholic doctrine. Then the next splits came with the Protestant reformation and the splits have grown more and more numerous, even into the present day.

I don’t mean to come off as if I have an attitude, but I come to a Catholic forum for fellowship and find myself having to defend my faith, more than sharing through fellowship, because of all the non-Catholics and the accusations and assertions made against the Catholic Church. Why do people do this? Because one of the “essentials” is evangelizing. But is that essential being interpreted correctly? What I mean is, can a Christian be evangelized to Christianity? No, people are seeking conversions to their idea of truth. Of course that truth cannot be told here, because of the forum rules…

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