Letter to bishop of rome instead of apostle st john

are any of you familiar with the story, of some bishop or person, who sent a letter to rome, instead of sending the letter to st. john the apostle who was still alive?

i’ve heard that before as proof of papal claim, in that the person could have referred to st. john but instead chose to referred to the bishop of rome.

then again, i seem to remember that john was in exile, or at least not amongst the people.

at any rate, i’m trying to investigate this issue more, and i can’t find much on basic google searches.

You’re referring to the first epistle of St. Clement.

Pope St. Clement I was the third bishop of Rome (not counting St. Peter the Apostle). He died around the year 99.

His extant epistle, which scholars do accept as genuine (unlike 2 Clement), is an incredibly early witness to the organization of early Christianity. It’s addressed to the church at Corinth.

At Corinth the Christian community had deposed certain presbyters (priests) unlawfully, and St. Clement was answering an appeal that was made to him to resolve the issue. In his letter, he explains that bishops and presbyters exercise apostolic authority, and that the deposition was unlawful. He informs them that the presbyters in question must be reinstated and obeyed.

Some cite it as evidence of universal papal jurisdiction at an extremely early date, since Corinth is far, far outside not only the church of Rome but even the whole Roman province. Another reason it’s considered evidence of universal papal authority is that the Apostle Saint John was probably still alive at the time in Asia Minor, which is closer to Corinth than Rome. Yet though it would have been quicker to contact Saint John, they instead appealed for some reason to someone who wasn’t even an Apostle - namely, the bishop of Rome, successor of St. Peter.

As a Catholic, I find these arguments convincing. In any case, regardless of where one stands, 1 Clement is an important historical document, one of the oldest writings of the Church Fathers.

I’m not familiar with anything like that. Maybe they got the background mixed up?

In the time that John was still alive, I’m only aware of very few letters. The Didache is said to have been written in that time (dating is anywhere from 70-100 AD), but it was not so much a letter as it was a catechism of sorts about Christianity. It’s a fairly short read:
newadvent.org/fathers/0714.htm

There is also Clement’s Letter, but HE was the Pope, and he wasn’t writing to Rome, rather to the Corinthians (seems they were still messing up even after Paul got after them a few times).
newadvent.org/fathers/1010.htm

His letter was apparently so popular, that a homily was developed based on it, and it is known as “Second Clement” or his “Second Epistle”, even though it is doubtful that he authored it.
newadvent.org/fathers/1011.htm

There is also Hermas’ “The Shepherd” which is dated in that same period.
newadvent.org/fathers/0201.htm

I’m not aware of another letter written in that time which was addressed to the Pope, nor to St. John.

They did. He’s obviously referring to the whole 1 Clement thing, in my opinion.

it looks like poster above gave some good info.
here is what i found when i was searching on this stuff. if anyone else wants to chime in while i sort through this and reconcile it with above posters, by all means feel free.
still lookin into more, will post more if i find it.

Why Did Christians in Rome Respond to the Corinthians?

When he was fairly old, John reportedly was taken to Rome from Ephesus, then suddenly exiled to Patmos, by Emperor Domitian, and, “after the tyrant's death, he returned from the isle of Patmos to Ephesus” (Eusebius. Church History. Book III, Chapter 23.). It has been reported that this happened because the Emperor's efforts to kill John in oil did not work. Here is one account of the oil incident:

    But since for the gospel he is continually prepared for death, he testified about himself to die daily under this meaning. It is also read that the blessed John had been plunged in a vat of boiling oil in the name of Christ. (Polycarp, Fragments from Victor of Capua (2006). Text and translation. Translated by Stephen C. Carlson. [ccel.org/...nts_01_text.htm](http://www.ccel.org/...nts_01_text.htm) viewed 06/04/11)

    Rome...Where Paul wins his crown in a death like John's where the Apostle John was first plunged, unhurt, into boiling oil, and thence remitted to his island-exile! (Tertullian. Prescription Against Heretics, Chapter 36. Translated by Peter Holmes. From Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 3. Edited by Alexander Roberts, James Donaldson, and A. Cleveland Coxe. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1885.)

Whether or not John actually was plunged into oil, about this time, a schism occurred in Corinth and someone apparently decided to contact the Christians in Rome for assistance (possibly because John may have been in Rome then). The response that came was delayed “**ecause of the sudden and repeated misfortunes and reverses which have happened to us” (The Letter of the Romans to the Corinthians commonly known as First Clement. Verse 1. Holmes MW, ed. As translated in The Apostolic Fathers Greek Texts and English Translations. Baker Books, Grand Rapids, 3rd printing 2004, pp. 28-29 ) (perhaps including John’s exile). If this letter was sent to Rome because John and others were there, it simply shows that some in Corinth were trying to contact the leadership of the Church. Also, it seems logical that those in the Church at Rome may have decided that since John was being exiled, they should simply respond with their opinion.

Although many Catholics suggest the response sent (which they call 1 Clement) is definitive proof that the Bishop of Rome was the ruling Church, the letter actually refers to its contents only as “our advice” (Ibid, Verse 58..2, pp. 94-95) , does not list any author, and does not otherwise prove anything about Roman authority (other Catholic scholars realize that since Clement is not listed as the author that this was not definitive proof of the authority of any Roman bishop, see What Do Roman Catholic Scholars Actually Teach About Early Church History?).

Perhaps, it should be noted that Ignatius, while in Smyrna, sent a letter “via the Ephesians” to the Church in Rome (Ignatius. Letter to the Romans. Verse 10. In Holmes. pp. 176-177) as well as other letters to several other churches; so based on Corinthian letter logic, Catholics should have more reason to accept Asia Minor as the ruling Church instead of Rome. But even more so, because Ignatius specifically acknowledged that the Church in Ephesus had been predestined for greatness by God, as he wrote, “to the church at Ephesus in Asia, blessed with greatness through the fullness of God the Father, predestinated before the ages for lasting and unchangeable glory forever” (Ignatius. Letter to the Ephesians. Verse 0. In Holmes. pp. 136-137).

and…

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Furthermore, according to Catholic sources, there were no bishops in Rome prior to the second century (and Peter died in the first century):

"We must conclude that the New Testament provides no basis for the notion that before the apostles died, they ordained one man for each of the churches they founded..."Was there a Bishop of Rome in the First Century?"...the available evidence indicates that the church in Rome was led by a college of presbyters, rather than by a single bishop, for at least several decades of the second century" (Sullivan F.A. From Apostles to Bishops: the development of the episcopacy in the early church. Newman Press, Mahwah (NJ), 2001, p. 80,221-222).

not sure how to interpret this:

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Ephesus was biblically important. John lived in Ephesus and despite him being apparently the last of the original apostles to die, not all accepted his leadership and form of church governance. Here is something he apparently wrote from Ephesus:

    9 I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to have the preeminence among them, does not receive us. 10 Therefore, if I come, I will call to mind his deeds which he does, prating against us with malicious words. And not content with that, he himself does not receive the brethren, and forbids those who wish to, putting them out of the church. 11 Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. He who does good is of God, but he who does evil has not seen God (3 John 9-11)**

Continuing…

I’m sorry but what you wrote seems highly speculative. You wrote, “…a schism occurred in Corinth and someone apparently decided to contact the Christians in Rome for assistance (possibly because John may have been in Rome then).” John may have been in Rome??? He may have been in Rome but was he? He may have been in Ephesus too. Unless you have proof that John was in Rome and the Corinthians knew it then your speculative remarks are unsustainable.

Also you apparently either ignore or are ignorant of the letter of Dionysius, bishop of Corinth to Bishop Soter of Rome in 170 AD in which he refers to the letter of Clement. At the time it was not in vogue to refer to the Bishop of Rome as Pope. Dionysius writes:

“For from the beginning it has been your custom to do good to all the brethren in various ways and to send contributions to all the churches in every city. . . . This custom your blessed Bishop Soter has not only preserved, but is augmenting, by furnishing an abundance of supplies to the saints and by urging with consoling words, as a loving father his children, the brethren who are journeying” (Letter to Pope Soter in Eusebius, Church History 4:23:9 [A.D. 170]).

“Today we have observed the Lord’s holy day, in which we have read your letter [Pope Soter]. Whenever we do read it [in church], we shall be able to profit thereby, as also we do when we read the earlier letter written to us by Clement” (ibid., 4:23:11).

Furthermore, we have the testimony of at least one early church writer (there are others), Epiphanius of Salamis, concerning the bishops of Rome in the first century. He names three, Linus, Cletus (Anacletus) and Clement.

“At Rome the first apostles and bishops were Peter and Paul, then Linus, then Cletus, then Clement, the contemporary of Peter and Paul” (Medicine Chest Against All Heresies 27:6 [A.D. 375]).

Also the quote you use makes a gross error when it says, “We must conclude that the New Testament provides no basis for the notion that before the apostles died, they ordained one man for each of the churches they founded…“Was there a Bishop of Rome in the First Century?”…the available evidence indicates that the church in Rome was led by a college of presbyters, rather than by a single bishop, for at least several decades of the second century” (Sullivan F.A. From Apostles to Bishops: the development of the episcopacy in the early church. Newman Press, Mahwah (NJ), 2001, p. 80,221-222)."

This is pure unadulterated nonsense. There is ample evidence as I have shown above that there was a ruling bishop in Rome in the first century starting with Peter. In addition, the statement “…that the New Testament provides no basis for the notion that before the apostles died, they ordained one man for each of the churches they founded.” is completley false. The scriptures tell of Paul consecrating Titus and Timothy as well as Mattias being consecrated a bishop by the Apostles. In addition, there is the history of Peter consecrating Elvodius as second bishop of Antioch (Ignatius was the third bishop) and John consecrating Ignatius of Antioch (same Ignatius) and Polycarp of Smyrna.

the issue of apostle john and the bishop of rome is actually a pretty compelling argument, if only there weren’t so many conflicting stories about it.

here’s some more ideas to add to that.

"While in Ephesus, by order of the Roman emperor Domitian, John was exiled to an island called Patmos. In what is known as the cave of the Apocalypse (located on this island), the sacred text of the book of Revelation was given to the apostle John by Jesus (it is here that John recorded what is written in the New Testament book of Revelation.)

When he was released from exile, he returned to Ephesus and lived till the time of the Roman emperor Trajan.

It is said that John, “Founded and built churches throughout all Asia, and worn out by old age, died in the sixty-eight year after our Lord’s passion and was buried near the same city (Ephesus).”

There is, also, a Church tradition which says that John was in Rome for a time."

You quoted from something but did not follow proper form and state from what source to lifted the quote. Why is that? Please provide the necessary documentation. Also you refer to a “Church tradition” that says John was in Rome for a while. Tell us what evidence do you have that this tradition is bonified. Also the leter from Bishop Dionysius to Bishop (Pope) Soter expressly mentions the previous letter they received from Clement. Why would he say that if it was John who wrote the letter???

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