Need help: The pope and the early church fathers?


My neighbor is kicking my butt in our discussion about the pope. He’s telling me that the pope is not mentioned by Ignayshus, Polycarp, or Clement, or in the New Testament. Any chance someone could give me a quote by these gentlemen where they either mention the title of the Pope, or show that the Bishop of Rome was in charge of the church world wide?



Ask him to read St. Clement’s letter (not Clement of Alexandria, but Clement, the 3rd or 4th Pope - Linus, Cletus, Clement…) to the Corinthians in the 80’s or 90’s AD. Ask him to read Ireneaus letter’s circa 180AD. I thought Ignatius recognized Rome as the Church which all Churches look up to. I’m not sure of his wording.



read for yourself and you will see the primacy of Rome.



Thanks for the link!


Thanks for the help. Wow! Clement is pretty long! Any chance you would know where in Clement he talks about the pope? I’d love to be able to print off the appropriate page and show my next door neighbor?

Which letter of Ireneaus exactly?



Coronum’s web-site cuts to the chase.



Sweet! I’ll take it.



I just found this last night.

Irenaeus Against Heresies III Chap iii, 3:

  1. The blessed apostles, then, having founded and built up the Church, committed into the hands of Linus the office of the episcopate. Of this Linus, Paul makes mention in the Epistles to Timothy. To him succeeded Anacletus; and after him, in the third place from the apostles, Clement was allotted the bishopric. This man, as he had seen the blessed apostles, and had been conversant with them, might be said to have the preaching of the apostles still echoing [in his ears], and their traditions before his eyes. Nor was he alone [in this], for there were many still remaining who had received instructions from the apostles. In the time of this Clement, no small dissension having occurred among the brethren at Corinth, the Church in Rome despatched a most powerful letter to the Corinthians, exhorting them to peace, renewing their faith, and declaring the tradition which it had lately received from the apostles, proclaiming the one God, omnipotent, the Maker of heaven and earth, the Creator of man, who brought on the deluge, and called Abraham, who led the people from the land of Egypt, spake with Moses, set forth the law, sent the prophets, and who has prepared fire for the devil and his angels. From this document, whosoever chooses to do so, may learn that He, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, was preached by the Churches, and may also understand the apostolical tradition of the Church, since this Epistle is of older date than these men who are now propagating falsehood, and who conjure into existence another god beyond the Creator and the Maker of all existing things. To this Clement there succeeded Evaristus. Alexander followed Evaristus; then, sixth from the apostles, Sixtus was appointed; after him, Telephorus, who was gloriously martyred; then Hyginus; after him, Pius; then after him, Anicetus. Sorer having succeeded Anicetus, Eleutherius does now, in the twelfth place from the apostles, hold the inheritance of the episcopate. In this order, and by this succession, the ecclesiastical tradition from the apostles, and the preaching of the truth, have come down to us. And this is most abundant proof that there is one and the same vivifying faith, which has been preserved in the Church from the apostles until now, and handed down in truth.


I’ve also heard that there was a problem in a church onetime and they passed up John the apostle even though he was still alive and knew were he lived and they went to Rome. Does anyone remember this analogy?


Clement Letter to the Corinthians 1, 58-59,63
"Owing to the sudden and repeated calamities and misfortunes which have befallen us, we must acknowledge that we have been somewhat tardy in turning our attention to the matters in dispute among you, beloved; and especially that abominable and unholy sedition, alien and foreign to the elect of God, which a few rash and self-willed persons have inflamed to such madness that your venerable and illustrious name, worthy to be loved by all men, has been greatly defamed. . . . Accept our counsel and you will have nothing to regret. . . . If anyone disobey the things which have been said by him [God] through us , let them know that they will involve themselves in transgression and in no small danger. . . . You will afford us joy and gladness if being obedient to the things which we have written through the Holy Spirit, you will root out the wicked passion of jealousy"


The only example I could think of is St. Clement’s letter to the Corinthians. The Church of Corinth had rid itself of it’s bishop and most of its priest and replaced them with priest chosen by the flock. This went against the Apostolic appointments, probably of St. Paul.

Anyway, Pope Clement, in the 80’s or 90’s, wrote a letter to the Church admonishing them, and exhorting them to restore the original bishop and priests to the previous roles. From his letter, it is safe to assume that Pope Clement is responding to a request from the Church of Corinth to help resolve this issue, even though the Apostle John was still alive, and ignoring the secular animosity between the city of Corinth and the empire of Rome.

The Church in Corinth received the letter (and chastisement) from Clement with great fanfare. The letter was read during the Liturgy Service for decades after the incident. The Early Church seriously considered the letter to be inspired Scripture, but it did not make it into the Canon.

The letter itself, if I’m correct, followed along the same vein as St. Paul’s numerous Epistles. There is a problem in a local church. The matter is brought up to St. Paul. His Epistle is meant to deal with this matter.


Well, he can also go the

Many blessings,



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