Early Church Fathers Agree: Peter has Universal Jurisdiction

Early Church Fathers Agree: Peter has Universal Jurisdiction

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

For it is a laborious thing indeed to have the oversight of a hundred men, and of fifty alone. But to have on one’s hands so great a city, and a population extending to two hundred thousand, of how great virtue and wisdom do you think there is a proof? For as in the care of armies, the wiser of the generals have on their hands the more leading and more numerous regiments, so, accordingly, in the care of cities. The more able of the rulers are entrusted with the larger and more populous. And at any rate this city was of much account to God, as indeed He manifested by the very deeds which He did. At all events the master of the whole world, Peter, to whose hands He committed the keys of heaven, whom He commanded to do and to bear all, He bade tarry here for a long period. Thus in His sight our city was equivalent to the whole world. (Chrysostom, Homily on Ignatius, 4)

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].

Gregory the Great

To all who know the Gospel it is clear that by the words of our Lord the care of the whole Church was committed to Blessed Peter, the Prince of the Apostles . . . Behold, he received the keys of the kingdom of heaven, the power to bind and loose was given to him, and the care and principality of the entire church was committed to him (Epistles, 5, 37; to Emperor Maurice)

I wish our Protestant brothers and sisters would take the Early Church Fathers and not set it aside.

Council of Chalcedon

“Bishop Paschasinus, guardian of the Apostolic See, stood in the midst [of the Council Fathers] and said, ‘We received directions at the hands of the most blessed and apostolic bishop of the Roman city [Pope Leo I], who is the head of all the churches, which directions say that Dioscorus is not to be allowed to sit in the [present] assembly, but that if he should attempt to take his seat, he is to be cast out. This instruction we must carry out” (Acts of the Council, session 1 [A.D. 451]).

Very interesting. Im learning more and more on this subject lately.

I think the one by St. John Chrysostom is rock-solid. However, the selection you gave from the Council of Chalcedon is out-of-context. After the quote you gave, the following happens:

The most glorious judges and the full senate, said: It is proper that you should set forth specifically in what he hath gone astray.

Lucentius, the venerable bishop and holding the place of the Apostolic See, said: We will not suffer so great a wrong to be done us and you, as that he who is come to be judged should sit down [as one to give judgment].

The glorious judges and the whole senate said: If you hold the office of judge, you ought not to defend yourself as if you were to be judged.

And when Dioscorus the most religious bishop of Alexandria at the bidding of the most glorious judges and of the sacred assembly (τῆς ἱερᾶς συγκλήτου280) had sat down in the midst, and the most reverend Roman bishops also had sat down in their proper places, and kept silence, Eusebius, the most reverend bishop of the city of Dorylæum, stepping into the midst, said:

So, the objections of the Roman legates, and thereby the objections of the Pope, were overridden.

Be that as it may, the delegation at the Council of Chalcedon referred to the Pope as the leader of “all the churches” … not just the See of Rome. This establishes the idea that at at the time of the Council of Chalcedon, it was thought (at least by some) that the Pope was the leader of the entire Church throughout the entire world. Thus, universal jurisdiction is not a modern novelty nor is it “Western” since the Church was one at that time.

It certainly can be dated back that far, and there are, as you said, some in the ancient Church who believed in the universal jurisdiction of the Pope. But does the life of the Church show the universal jurisdiction and supremacy of the Pope? Do we have historical examples and not just words?

Well, sure…let’s start with the Council of Jerusalem in Acts 15…

:stuck_out_tongue:

It will depend on which side you’re on as to whether the evidence is sufficient or not, won’t it?

Maximus the Confessor

“Let him hasten before all to satisfy the Roman See. That done, all will with one accord, everywhere hold him pious and orthodox. Indeed, he is talking in vain when he…does not satisfy and beg forgiveness of the Blessed Pope of the most holy Roman Church, that is, of the Apostolic See. This See, from the very Incarnate Word of God, and also from the holy Councils according to the sacred canons and definitions, has received universal and supreme dominion, authority, and power of binding and loosing over the holy churches of God all over the world. For when this binds and looses, so also does the Word in heaven, who rules the heavenly virtues.” (James Likoudis, The Divine Primacy of the Bishop of Rome and Modern Eastern Orthodoxy, p. 115.)

Yes, Peter gives a pronouncement on the issue, which is confirmed by Sts. Barnabas and Paul, and St. James gives the final ruling of the Council, which agrees with St. Peter’s point.

On the one hand, St. Peter was the first one at the Council to espouse the position that the Council adopted after hearing evidence and testimony from Sts. Barnabas and Paul. On the other hand, it’s St. James who makes the final ruling, not Peter.

It will depend on which side you’re on as to whether the evidence is sufficient or not, won’t it?

This is very true.

Does Mr. Likoudis give a citation?

How do you conclude James makes a final ruling and doesn’t simply concur with Peter?

This is a mis-reading of the Council. I have a longer explanation, but let’s start here:

Peter and the Orthodox: a Reprise
By Fr. Ray Ryland
catholicculture.org/cultu…fm?recnum=3485

Excerpt:

Take a closer look at the role of James in the council. James’s words (verse 19) “my judgment is” (RSV) translate the Greek verb krino. In Acts 13:46;16:15; 26:8, the verb is used to denote expression of an opinion… Michael Winter says it could better be translated by “in my opinion” or “as for me.” (Michael M. Winter, St. Peter and the Popes (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1979), 32.)

Friedrich Buchsel makes the same point: krino as used in Acts 15:19 means “to think” in the sense of hold an opinion. (Friedrich Buchsel, in Gerhard Kittel, editor, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Vol 3 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans,1993), 923.)

Another interpreter makes the same point more strongly. In the Greek, the “I” in,"I judge’ or “I think” is emphatic.

"The emphatic ‘I’ must be interpreted in harmony with the rest of the New Testament and the Bible. It is absurd to believe that James at this moment gave his personal opinion as the final word, from which there could be no appeal… The very emphasis on the ‘I’ shows that he was only expressing a personal conviction. (G. Campbell Morgan, The Acts of the Apostles (Tarrytown, New York: Revell, 1924), 362-b3.)

So, what did James do? He repeated what Peter had already said. For reasons of his own, he added to the council’s instructions some judaizing elements (requirements about not eating meat sacrificed to idols, not consuming blood). What happened to Peter’s decision? It became the law of the Church. What happened to James’s additions? Scripture never mentions them again. The Church ignored them. In 1 Corinthians 8, written well after the council, Paul taught that whether one eats meat, which has been sacrificed to idols is purely a prudential judgment.

Because of this:

13 After they had stopped speaking, [e]James answered, saying, “Brethren, listen to me. 14 Simeon has related how God first concerned Himself about taking from among the Gentiles a people for His name. 15 With this the words of the Prophets agree, just as it is written,

16 ‘After these things I will return,
And I will rebuild the [f]tabernacle of David which has fallen,
And I will rebuild its ruins,
And I will restore it,
17 So that the rest of [g]mankind may seek the Lord,
And all the Gentiles [h]who are called by My name,’
18 Says the Lord, who *makes these things known from long ago.

19 Therefore it is my judgment that we do not trouble those who are turning to God from among the Gentiles, 20 but that we write to them that they abstain from [j]things contaminated by idols and from fornication and from what is strangled and from blood. 21 For Moses from ancient generations has in every city those who preach him, since [k]he is read in the synagogues every Sabbath.”

St. James is the last one to speak, after which the Council deliberates on how to put the ruling into practice.

By Fr. Ray Ryland
catholicculture.org/cultu…fm?recnum=3485

Excerpt:

Take a closer look at the role of James in the council. James’s words (verse 19) “my judgment is” (RSV) translate the Greek verb krino. In Acts 13:46;16:15; 26:8, the verb is used to denote expression of an opinion… Michael Winter says it could better be translated by “in my opinion” or “as for me.” (Michael M. Winter, St. Peter and the Popes (Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press, 1979), 32.)

Friedrich Buchsel makes the same point: krino as used in Acts 15:19 means “to think” in the sense of hold an opinion. (Friedrich Buchsel, in Gerhard Kittel, editor, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Vol 3 (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans,1993), 923.)

Another interpreter makes the same point more strongly. In the Greek, the “I” in,"I judge’ or “I think” is emphatic.

"The emphatic ‘I’ must be interpreted in harmony with the rest of the New Testament and the Bible. It is absurd to believe that James at this moment gave his personal opinion as the final word, from which there could be no appeal… The very emphasis on the ‘I’ shows that he was only expressing a personal conviction. (G. Campbell Morgan, The Acts of the Apostles (Tarrytown, New York: Revell, 1924), 362-b3.)

So, what did James do? He repeated what Peter had already said. For reasons of his own, he added to the council’s instructions some judaizing elements (requirements about not eating meat sacrificed to idols, not consuming blood). What happened to Peter’s decision? It became the law of the Church. What happened to James’s additions? Scripture never mentions them again. The Church ignored them. In 1 Corinthians 8, written well after the council, Paul taught that whether one eats meat, which has been sacrificed to idols is purely a prudential judgment.
It also bears noting that the verb “krino” means “to judge”, as in Luke 19:22, John 5:30, John 8:15-16, and John 12:47.

You do have a point about St. James’ restrictions being later ignored.*

Isnt this the quote that only exists as an excerpt in Latin? St Maximus wrote in Greek yet there is no Greek original to the supposed Latin translation above.

I have never encountered this interesting convention of translating κρίνω to mean to give one’s opinion (indeed, the LSJ lexicon appears to be missing this usage of the word). Perhaps when we utter the words κριναι ζωντας και νεκρους in the creed, we mean to say that Jesus will come to give his opinion of the living and the dead. Of course, it could just be, as the context would suggest, that James is using the verb κρίνω to mean to judge, and that the emphatic I is simply present to emphasize that he is the one delivering the judgment (or to translate it in a rather formulaic fashion: I myself judge).

Maybe in the West, but the Greek-speaking East treated the prohibition against eating blood very seriously (it is encoded in canon law), another hint that they understood James using the verb κρίνω to mean delivering an authoritative judgment.

very interesting, will have to look at Greek Orthodox more closely.

I was under the impression that it was something that was “bound” (on the whole Church) but later “loosed” (for the whole Church). ??? Do Eastern Orthodox still follow this prohibition?

Loosed by whom?

The Church at some point not so long after.

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