I’m posting a portion of a letter that I sent to my mother’s Anglican Priest for nsper7 to read.
It has some useful information about the office of the Pope.
Dear Fr. …,
The early years of the Church and the Papacy:
When we met, I claimed that the Catholic Church (Roman Catholic Church) was the first Church. I wanted to provide you with a little evidence of that. Most non-Catholics that I speak with have been told that the Roman Catholic Church came into existence around the year 325 or so; and that the Papacy was a fourth, fifth, sixth, or seventh century “invention” (some even later than that). That is not correct. There is abundant evidence to show that the Papacy has been in existence since the very beginning of the Church. There is just as much evidence to support the Papacy, as there is to support apostolic succession. Protestants reject apostolic succession, but it can be shown to them from the Bible and the writings of the early Church. Similarly, the fact that the successor of St. Peter - the Bishop of Rome - has always been considered the head of the Church can be shown in the same way. The evidence is undeniable. …
The Pope in the Bible:
To defending the Papacy from the Bible, one almost has to start with Mt. 16. Often times non-Catholics will have a different interpretation of this than the Catholic Church, and each other for that matter; but if we are honest, we will have to admit that the surface meaning does seem to support the Catholic teaching of the primacy of Peter.
Our Lord said to Simon: “Thou art Peter [rock], and upon this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto you [singular] the keys to the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever you [singular] shall bind on earth shall be bound also in heaven, and whatsoever you [singular] shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Mt 16:20).
I understand that there are many levels of interpretation to scripture, but the obvious literal interpretation should not be disregarded for a deeper, more obscure, meaning. And the obvious interpretation of the above passage is that Jesus will build His Church upon St. Peter; that the gates of hell will not prevail against that Church; and that Jesus is giving to St. Peter the “Keys” to Heaven, along with the authority of binding and loosing. It is commonly known that the conveyance of keys is a conveyance of authority. In the book of Isaias, we read a passage very similar to the one quoted above from the New Testament: “And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will call my servant Eliacim the son of Helcias, and I will clothe him with thy robe, and will strengthen him with thy girdle, and will give thy power into his hand: and he shall be called a father [Pope?] to the inhabitants of Jerusalem [Rome?], and to the house of Juda [Church?]. And I will lay the key of the house of David upon his shoulder, and he shall open, and no one shall shut: and he shall shut, and no one shall open” (Ch. 22).
These “keys” properly belong to Our Lord; for it was He who merited them for us: “I am the first and the last, alive and was dead: and behold I am living for ever and ever, and have the keys of death and Hell” (Apoc. 1:17-18). And further on: “These things saith the Holy One and the True One, who hath the keys of David: He that openeth and no man shutteth, shutteth and no man openeth”( Apoc 3:7). Yet who will deny the obvious words of Scripture wherein Our Lord passed these keys on to St. Peter, along with the words “Whatsoever thou shall bind upon earth shall be bound also in Heaven, and whatsoever you shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven”(ibid.). Thus we see Our Lord delegating the power which is properly His, to St. Peter.
The following is what one non-Catholic author wrote about St. Matt. 16: “In spite of all Protestant attempts to weaken its force, it cannot be doubted that this passage contains the solemn proclamation of the primacy of Peter. He is declared to be the foundation of the Church, the bearer of the keys and the sovereign lawgiver, whose precepts and prohibitions have the force of divinely sanctioned laws” (Fundamental Theology, by O. Pfleiderer, 1931).
The fact that St. Peter was the head of the apostles is indicated in many other places of the New Testament. For example, when the Apostles are listed, Peter’s name is always first (Matt. 10:2-4, Mark 3:16-19, Luke 6:14-16, Acts 1:13), while Judas (who betrayed Jesus) is always last. Although the other apostles are not always in the same order, God inspired the writer to always place St. Peter’s name first, and Judas’ last.
Peter’s name is also mention about six times more than any other apostles, and more times that all of the other apostles combined, which does seem to show a certain prominence. The Bible also calls Peter “the first” (protos) apostle (St. Matt 10:2). The Greek word Protos is the Latin word Primus, from which we get the word “Primacy”. So when the Bible says that Peter was “the first” apostle, it could be translated to say that Peter held the Primacy over the others. This is further confirmed by the fact that when the Bible speaks of the Apostles it often refers to them as “Peter, and the others”, etc. "Tell his disciples, and Peter (St. Mark 16). “Peter standing up, with the eleven” (Acts. 2). “And Simon, and they who were with him…” (St. Mark 1).
We also know that when it came time to pay taxes, Jesus paid the taxes for both Himself and Peter, but not the other apostles. It was to St. Peter only that Jesus gave the command to “confirm the brethren” (Luke 22:32); and again, Jesus gave Peter alone the command to “feed My lambs, feed by sheep” (John 21:17). It was also to Simon that Our Lord gave the same symbolic name that is used for Himself - Rock! “and the rock that followed them was Christ [symbolically]” (1 Cor. 10). “And Jesus looking upon him said: Thou art Simon the son of Jona; thou shalt be called Cephas, which being interpreted is Peter” (rock) (John 1:42).
The Name Rock:
Jesus, who is the Ultimate head of the Church, is referred to in Scripture as both the “cornerstone” of the Church and, like St. Peter, as a Rock. In fact, the Hebrew word tsur, which is translated God in the Old Testament, also has the meaning rock. Some versions of the Bible translate the Hebrew word tsur as “rock” and some translate it as “God”. For example, the Protestant King James version of the Bible, translates tsur as follows:
“As for God, his way is perfect: the word of the Lord is tried. He is a buckler to all those that trust in him. For who is God save the Lord, or who is a rock (Tsur) save our God?” (Psalm 18).
The Catholic Douay-Rheims version of the Bible translates the same passage as follows:
“As for my God, his way is undefiled: the words of the Lord are fire tried: he is the protector of all that trust in Him. For who is God but the Lord? or who is God (Tsur) but our God?” (Psalm 18:31-32).
The name rock belongs properly to God, for He is truly our unmovable rock: “The Lord is my rock (tsur) and my fortress” (Psalm 18:2); “Unto thee will I cry, O Lord, my rock (tsur) (ibid. 28:1); I will say unto God, my rock (tsur) (ibid. 42:9); Truly my soul waiteth upon God: from Him cometh my salvation. He only is my rock (tsur) and my salvation…My soul, wait thou only upon God … my rock (tsur) and my salvation… He is my rock(tsur) …” (ibid 62:2,6,7); “and they remembered that God was their rock (tsur)” (ibid. 78:35).
Yet Our Lord gave this same name rock, which belongs to himself, to St. Peter. "And Jesus looking upon him, said: Thou are Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is interpreted Peter (rock) (John 1:42). It is not a coincidence that Jesus, who is called a Rock (1Cor. 10:4, 1Peter 2:8, Rom. 9:33), similarly gave Simon the name Rock (John 1:42, Mt 16:18). We have one person in the Old Testament who is called by this name rock (tsur), and it is no less a figure than Father Abraham. As you know, the Old Testament has many “types” and “images” of New Testament realities. The Paschal Lamb, for example, that was sacrificed by the Jews during Passover foreshadowed Our Lord who was sacrificed for us on Mt. Calvary during Passover. The Old Testament Lamb could not take away sins, but rather pointed to the One who would. That is why, when John the Baptism saw our Lord, he declared “behold the Lamb of God, the one who taketh away the sins of the world”. There are countless other examples of the Old Testament foreshadowing the New Testament. We will look at one other.
In the Old Testament, God is often referred to as “The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob”. This threefold name is an Old Testament “image” of the Blessed Trinity. This image becomes clear when we consider that Father Abraham (who represents God the Father) led his son Isaac up Mt. Moria to be sacrificed to God. Isaac, his son (who represents Jesus) carried the wood up the Mountain, just as Our Lord carried the wood of the cross up Mt. Calvary. Mt. Moria was later re-named Calvary, and is the same mountain upon which Our Lord was crucified. Jacob, the third person, represents the Holy Ghost who is the third person of the Blessed Trinity. This explains why the New Testament Church - whose members have become “a temple of the Holy Ghost” (1 Cor. 6:16) - is called in Scripture “the house of Jacob” (Luke 1), for Jacob represents the Holy Ghost who dwells within the Church. So we can see that “the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob” was an image of the Blessed Trinity, which explains why God was called by that triune name.