Early Church Fathers Agree: Peter has Supremacy

Early Church Fathers Agree: Peter has Supremacy

Cyprian of Carthage

“Upon on He (Christ) builds His Church, and though to all the Apostles, after His Resurrection, He gives a like power…yet in order that He might make clear the unity, by His authority, He has placed the source of the same unity, as beginning from one. Certainly, the other Apostles were what Peter was, endowed with equal fellowship both of honor and power, but a beginning is made from unity, that one Church of Christ may be shown.” (No. 4)

Ephraim the Syrian

“Simon, My follower, I have made you the foundation of the Holy Church. I betimes called you Peter [Kefa, or Rock, in the original text], because you will support all its buildings. You are the inspector of those who will build on earth a Church for Me. If they would wish to build upon what is false, you, the foundation, will condemn them. You are the head of the fountain from which My teaching flows, you are the chief of My disciples. Through you I will give drink to all peoples. Yours is that life-giving sweetness which I dispense. I have chosen you to be, as it were, the first-born in My institution, and so that, as the heir, you may be executor of my treasures. I have given you the keys of the kingdom. Behold, I have given you authority over all my treasures.”

John Chrysostom

He saith to him, “Feed my sheep”. Why does He pass over the others and speak of the sheep to Peter? He was the chosen one of the Apostles, the mouth of the disciples, the head of the choir. For this reason Paul went up to see him rather than the others. And also to show him that he must have confidence now that his denial had been purged away. He entrusts him with the rule [prostasia] over the brethren. . . . If anyone should say “Why then was it James who received the See of Jerusalem?”, I should reply that He made Peter the teacher not of that see but of the whole world. [St. John Chrysostom, Homily 88 on John, 1. Cf. Origen, “In Ep. ad Rom.”, 5:10; Ephraem Syrus “Hymn. in B. Petr.” in “Bibl. Orient. Assemani”, 1:95; Leo I, “Serm. iv de natal.”, 2].

Pope Leo I

“Although bishops have a common dignity, they are not all of the same rank. Even among the most blessed apostles, though they were alike in honor, there was a certain distinction of power. All were equal in being chosen, but it was given to one to be preeminent over the others. . . . [So today through the bishops] the care of the universal Church would converge in the one See of Peter, and nothing should ever be at odds with this head” (ibid., 14:11).

Cyprian of Carthage (251 A.D.)

“The Lord says to Peter: ‘I say to you,’ He says, ‘that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will not overcome it. And to you I will give the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatever things you bind on earth shall be bound also in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth, they shall be loosed also in heaven.’ And again He says to him after His resurrection: ‘Feed my sheep.’ On him He builds the Church, and to him He gives the command to feed the sheep; and although He assigns a like power to all the Apostles, yet He founded a single chair, 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; but a primacy is given to Peter, whereby it is made clear that there is but one Church and one chair. So too, all 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 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]).


“*f we were to attend carefully to the Gospels, we should also find, in relation to those things which seem to be common to Peter . . . a great difference and a preeminence in the things [Jesus] said to Peter, compared with the second class [of apostles]. For it is no small difference that Peter received the keys not of one heaven but of more, and in order that whatsoever things he binds on earth may be bound not in one heaven but in them all, as compared with the many who bind on earth and loose on earth, so that these things are bound and loosed not in [all] the heavens, as in the case of Peter, but in one only; for they do not reach so high a stage with power as Peter to bind and loose in all the heavens” (Commentary on Matthew 13:31 [A.D. 248]).

Cyril of Jerusalem

“[Simon Magus] so deceived the city of Rome that Claudius erected a statue of him. . . . 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. . . . [T]hey launched the weapon of their like-mindedness in prayer against the Magus, and struck him down to earth. It was marvelous enough, and yet no marvel at all, for Peter was there—he that carries about the keys of heaven [Matt. 16:19]” (Catechetical Lectures 6:14) [A.D. 350]).*

There is a lot of more witings by Early Church Fathers about this particular topic, jimmy Akin book on the Early Church Fathers I belive goes into detail about it.

Optatus of Milevus

“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 ‘Rock’]—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 Donatists2:2 [A.D. 367]).

Yes, I have that, and it is an excellent resource. :thumbsup:

Eucherius, Bishop of Lyons (ca. 440)

“First He committed to him [Peter] the lanbs, then the sheep,; because H constituted him not only shepherd, but the shepherd of shepherds. Therefore, Peter feeds the lambs, he feeds also the sheep; he feeds the offspring, he feeds also the mothers; he rules both subjects and prelates. He is the shepherd, therefore, of all, because, besides lambs and sheep, there is nothing in the Church.” (Serm. De Natal. SS. Apost. Petri et Pauli) in Charles F.B. Allnatt, ed., Cathedra Petri – The Titles and Prerogatives of St. Peter, (London: Burns & Oates, 1879), 45-46.

Theirs a lot of good writings by these men that I wished people took seriously.

I wish people would read them in context

Someone obviously did. That’s how these things are usually identified. :wink:

That isn’t the case with most of these.

Who is this “someone”? In another thread you admit you’ve never read the source documents, merely other people’s “summaries”. I don’t believe anyone gets a church history degree by reading/sourcing CliffsNotes.

How could you possibly know whether the folks who have located these quotes have read the full documents?

Normally I come over to this board three or four times a week to catch up on the discussions going on and learn a thing or two. It seems that the Non-Catholic Religions portion of the board is becoming a pulpit to proselytize and talk about how early church fathers and councils endorsed the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

It’s true…there is a group discussion that is ranging across several threads.

I suspect if you read them, you’ll still have an opportunity to “learn a thing or two”, and if you join in the conversation, we can learn from you! :slight_smile:

BTW - I did post this for you yesterday:

Trevor G. Jalland, PhD (Anglican)

“The solemn words…proclaim in effect that the eponym now bestowed upon Simon is no mere nickname like Boanerges (son of thunder), ‘Petra’ (Kepha) literally denotes the apostle himself as ‘Rock”, and it is on Peter as on rock that the foundations of the new ekklesia, described in the metaphor of a building, are to be laid. Against that building so erected, in virtue of the immovable nature of the substance on which its foundations rest, neither the forces of evil nor of death can ultimately prevail.” (Jalland, Trevor G., The Church and the Papacy, London: SPCK, 1946, page 55)

Ibid sure is a curious source when no source is given which precedes it. I assume though that ibid probably refers to a collection of Pope Leo’s letters. This one is taken out of context though. When one consults the translation given by Jurgens, it becomes less of a slam dunk prooftext, because Pope St. Leo implies that the formality of having Peter as the first among the apostles is what gave rise to the institution of regional primacy, through which primacy then converges in the See of Rome. That actually supports rather well the Orthodox position that all who exercise primacy in the Church inherit Peter’s primacy, as well as the Orthodox contention that a universal primacy can and should be subject to the patterning of regional primacy along the lines of Apostolic Canon 34, Canons 4 and 6 of Nicaea, etc.

Actually, I have several passages from Leo, and I failed to copy the full reference in the portion I posted. You are correct; it was from his Letters.

Here is the passage in context:

But if in that which you believed necessary to be discussed and settled with the brethren, their opinion differs from your own wishes, let all be referred to us, with the minutes of your proceedings attested, that all ambiguities may be removed, and what is pleasing to God decided. For to this end we direct all our desires and pains, that what conduces to our harmonious unity and to the protection of discipline may be marred by no dissension and neglected by no slothfulness. Therefore, dearly beloved brother, you and those our brethren who are offended at your extravagant conduct (though the matter of complaint is not the same with all), we exhort and warn not to disturb by any wrangling what has been rightfully ordained and wisely settled. Let none seek what is his own, but what is another’s, as the Apostle says: Let each one of you please his neighbour for his good unto edifying. For the cementing of our unity cannot be firm unless we be bound by the bond of love into an inseparable solidity: because as in one body we have many members, but all the members have not the same office; so we being many are one body in Christ, and all of us members one of another. The connection of the whole body makes all alike healthy, all alike beautiful: and this connection requires the unanimity indeed of the whole body, but it especially demands harmony among the priests. And though they have a common dignity, yet they have not uniform rank; inasmuch as even among the blessed Apostles, notwithstanding the similarity of their honourable estate, there was a certain distinction of power, and while the election of them all was equal, yet it was given to one to take the lead of the rest. From which model has arisen a distinction between bishops also, and by an important ordinance it has been provided that every one should not claim everything for himself: but that there should be in each province one whose opinion should have the priority among the brethren: and again that certain whose appointment is in the greater cities should undertake a fuller responsibility, through whom the care of the universal Church should converge towards Peter’s one seat, and nothing anywhere should be separated from its Head. Let not him then who knows he has been set over certain others take it ill that some one has been set over him, but let him himself render the obedience which he demands of them: and as he does not wish to bear a heavy load of baggage, so let him not dare to place on another’s shoulders a weight that is insupportable. For we are disciples of the humble and gentle Master who says: Learn of Me, for I am gentle and humble of heart, and you shall find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden light Matthew 11:29-30 . And how shall we experience this, unless this too comes to our remembrance which the same Lord says: He that is greater among you, shall be your servant. But he that exalts himself, shall be humbled: and he that humbles himself, shall be exalted.

I dunno, Cav. The Bishop of Rome tells the Bishop of Thessalonica:

“Let all be referred to us, with the minutes of your proceedings attested, that all ambiguities may be removed, and what is pleasing to God decided.”

Isn’t this just the kind of argument for supremacy and universality a Catholic would love to make?

And wow! It looks to me like that section that I quoted originally is even stronger than I thought. Let’s read it again:

“The care of the universal Church should converge towards Peter’s one seat, and nothing anywhere should be separated from its Head.”

No one should be separated from the Bishop of Rome, Cav. No one.

BTW, since it appears you may have heard of Pope Leo I, you might be interested in some other quotes from his letters that prove papal supremacy and MORE:

“Our Lord Jesus Christ . . . has placed the principal charge on the blessed Peter, chief of all the apostles, and from him as from the head wishes his gifts to flow to all the body, so that anyone who dares to secede from Peter’s solid rock may understand that he has no part or lot in the divine mystery. He wished him who had been received into partnership in his undivided unity to be named what he himself was, when he said: ‘You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church’ [Matt. 16:18], that the building of the eternal temple might rest on Peter’s solid rock, strengthening his Church so surely that neither could human rashness assail it nor the gates of hell prevail against it” (Letters 10:1 [A.D. 445).

“Our Lord Jesus Christ . . . established the worship belonging to the divine [Christian] religion. . . . But the Lord desired that the sacrament of this gift should pertain to all the apostles in such a way that it might be found principally in the most blessed Peter, the highest of all the apostles. And he wanted his gifts to flow into the entire body from Peter himself, as if from the head, in such a way that anyone who had dared to separate himself from the solidarity of Peter would realize that he was himself no longer a sharer in the divine mystery” (ibid., 10:2–3).

Neat, huh?

And that bit about being separated from Peter is scary, isn’t it? :eek:

It would be of concern only if you think that the Petrine office hasn’t changed. Of course, that is what this discussion is about.

No, you need to go over to the thread on the Development of Doctrine for that! :stuck_out_tongue:

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