Orthodox View of the Primacy of Peter

Hello everyone,

Lately I have been giving great attention to the issue which separates Orthodox christians from Roman Catholic, and this attention has caused great concern for the claims which the Roman Popes are making from the point of schism onward. What justification does the Pope have for universal jurisdiction over the whole church? The Orthodox understand that Peter has a primacy of honor, as first among equals, but it remains that he is an equal. It seems as though the teaching that the Pope has universal jurisdiction over the whole church comes later on in the history of the Church, but maybe there is clear justification. Anyone?

Well… we can start with Jesus saying; “thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church.” (Matt. 16:18)

Jesus did not say, “upon THESE rocks”, meaning the Twelve.

You may look at John 21:15-17, where Jesus specifically speaks to Peter, commanding him to:

  1. “feed My lambs”
  2. “tend My sheep”
  3. “feed My sheep”

Jesus clearly left Peter in charge.

I would reccomend John Salza’s, “The Biblical Basis for the Papacy”. There is very good Petrine apologetics in that book. One of the first “Catholic” books I ever bought. Worth every penny.

The OP clearly asked for the Orthodox view and you gave the Catholic one.

Here’s a good read on the matter: johnsanidopoulos.com/2009/08/why-i-abandoned-papism-by-bishop-paul.html

I don’t think the OP was directing her question solely to Orthodox.

She asks “what justification does the Pope have for universal jurisdiction over the whole church”?

That is a question for Catholics. Additionally this is the Apologetics Thread for the Catholic faith.

And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."
Mt 16:18-19

There’s something in this passage that is not clear in the English translation. We use “you” as both singular and plural. It’s easy for someone to say that when Jesus said “you” in this passage, He was speaking to all the Apostles, not just Peter.

But Greek has a singular “you” and a plural one, and the “you” in this passage is singular. He was speaking only to Peter.

And, though it’s Paul who is known as the Apostle to the Gentiles, it was Peter who brought them into the Church. Read Acts 10, and 11:1-10.

There are many other places in the New Testament where Peter’s leadership of the Apostles is shown. At Pentecost, for instance, all the Apostles speak in tongues, but it is Peter who explains it to the crowd - and is responsible for the baptism of “about three thousand souls.” (Read Acts 2:1-41).

Also, Peter’s name is mentioned first, whenever the 12 Apostles are listed. Mt 4:18 +10:2, Lk 6:14, and Ac 1:13, are some of them.

HTH!

God bless you,

Here’s a great article from a well-respected Orthodox theologian, Rev. Emmanuel Klapsis:

goarch.org/ourfaith/ourfaith8523

The following quote is from this article,

In a reintegrated Christendom, when the pope takes his place once more as primus inter pares within the Orthodox Catholic communion, the bishop of Rome will have the initiative to summon a synod of the whole Church. The bishop of Rome will, of course, preside over such a synod and his office may coordinate the life and the witness of the Orthodox Catholic church and in times of need be its spokesman. The role of acting as the voice of the Church is not, however, to be restricted to any hierarchical order within the Church, still less to a single see. In principle, any bishop, priest or layman may be called by the Holy Spirit to proclaim the true faith.

St. Ireneus seems to disagree with this being simply an honorary title in the 3rd chapter of book 3 against heresies written around 189 a.d.

"by indicating that tradition derived from the apostles, of the very great, the very ancient, and universally known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul; as also [by pointing out] the faith preached to men, which comes down to our time by means of the successions of the bishops.*** For it is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church, on account of its pre-eminent authority,***

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. ( he then lists the first 14 popes up to his time.)

There are many other early church writings that seem to disagree with this “Honorary” title only business which causes me to think it is that claim that is a post scism idea, not the other way around

The term ‘primacy of honor’ is a misnomer and serious Orthodox theologians typically don’t use the title since it implies a mere title with no duty or authority. Just as there is a primus and a protos on the local and regional level, so too is there a protos, primus inter pares (first among equals), on the universal level. The duties of the universal primate have been suggested by some Orthodox to be convening and presiding over ecumenical councils, court of appeal per Sardica Council canon, and speaking as the unified voice of the Church after a meeting of, say, the Patriarchs.

:thumbsup: And add to that 16:19 I will give you (“you” is singular) the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."

**What meaning and purpose would an office limited to “primacy of honor” have/serve? **
Why would Jesus establish an office for the sole purpose of having one of His bishops be declared more honorable than the rest - to have primacy of honor??? ----- especially considering His words in Luke
22:24 A dispute also arose among them, which of them was to be regarded as the greatest. 22:25 And he said to them, "The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and those in authority over them are called benefactors. 22:26 But not so with you; rather let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves.

Suggested by who Orthodox?

There is no universal primate. The concept of a bishop having jurisdiction far beyond his own diocese is unheard of from the first time the Church ever established her ecclesiology. You can see in Acts that Antioch and Jerusalem are separately governed, with no one having authority over another. They do help each other, and if there is a problem one cannot solve by herself, they reach out to the other to help them resolve the issues at hand (such as the First Council of Jerusalem).

This is purely theoretical. This is assuming that there is such a thing as a Patriarchial or Primatal synod exists. There isn’t one today. The Patriarch of Constantinople has no power to summon other Primates to a synod. There is continuous dialogue among the bishops of the Church of course, and there are various “conferences” where bishops can convene and discuss without being synodal.

During the First Millennium, it was the Emperor who always convened an Ecumenical Council.

That’s a long read Constantine; I read only a little, proportionately. The first section has quite a few quotes, but no footnote references are given so the quotes can be checked out.

Also, he talks a lot about the Church being “monarchial”. (eg. he says: “First of all, to the Roman Catholics, the Christian Church “is nothing more than an absolute monarchy” whose monarch is the Pope who functions in all her facets as such.”)

Well, he is partially right; the Church is a monarchy – Jesus Christ is it’s monarch, it’s king. The papacy is merely the office He established thru which He would tangibly manifest His will for His Church when necessary.

Church decisions on doctrine and morals have not been a matter of a majority vote among bishops. If it was, we would probably all be Arians.
However, this does not mean that bishops are not consulted. As you know, most of the doctrinal decisions have come about through ecumenical councils – or after consulting with the bishops by letter.

Yes, it is not by majority vote, it is by universal acceptance. That is how the truth is known, because only the Holy Spirit can speak the same truth across all. The devil who is the spirit of discord, cannot speak uniformly.

There is another book on the matter that is excellent, it is called “The Primacy of Peter”. It is a compilation of 5 essays by 5 different theologians of the Orthodox Church who wrote on different aspects on the Primacy of St. Peter as viewed by the Orthodox Church, from scriptural passages to how St. Peter is viewed by the early Church Fathers, to the role of the Bishop of Rome at different eras. The book is compiled by Fr. John Meyendorff who also wrote one of the essays.

http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51r5jhrBZ-L.SY300.jpg

amazon.com/The-Primacy-Peter-Essays-Ecclesiology/dp/0881411256/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1372047930&sr=8-1&keywords=primacy+of+peter

Where does the OP say that? If he did then I will respect his wishes. He said - “Anyone”:

"Lately I have been giving great attention to the issue which separates Orthodox christians from Roman Catholic, and this attention has caused great concern for the claims which the Roman Popes are making from the point of schism onward. What justification does the Pope have for universal jurisdiction over the whole church? The Orthodox understand that Peter has a primacy of honor, as first among equals, but it remains that he is an equal. It seems as though the teaching that the Pope has universal jurisdiction over the whole church comes later on in the history of the Church, but maybe there is clear justification. Anyone?

The thread title

Oh. Oops. :oI will bow out gracefully…

Your good joe371:) The title invites a view of the orthodox, but the Op personally asks for anyone to participate. We have to remind our posters context, context please. Your response was a very good one.:thumbsup:

The OP puts a timeframe on jurisdiction of authority as relating it to the schism.

What the Op needs to understand is that Peter’s authority or the Bishop’s of Rome (Peter’s apostolic successors) authority never get’s questioned or his authority is never reached by any other bishop or city who vied for equality or to usurp the bishop’s of Rome’s authority as pre-eminent for all the Church’s to follow. until a Patriarch of Constantinople gets placed in power by the Roman Emperor’s, then the power game begins with secular powers trying to infect apostolic authority and divine authority given to Peter to feed, tend the flock on earth.

The Op’s question never addresses pre-Constantinople period, only post-constantinople period when authority over the church’s were being usurped by the Emperors through the patriarch’s of Constantinople. They succeeded in usurping Jersusalem, Antioch and Alexandria, but these never prevailed over the Church of Peter the bishop’s of Rome. That is a promise from Jesus being kept, not of men.

The bishop of Rome has no key or authority to denounce Jesus authority given to him, nor can any Patrirach, secular emperors can remove what God has joined together. All those who vie for the authority of Peter over the Church of Jesus Christ pits himself against God, not the Roman Bishop, the Pope’s.

The Orthodox try to prove that God did not join the head Jesus Christ to His body through Peter the Church (which Jesus built His Church upon). They think by using historical events and mistinterpreting them to disqualify Romes pre-eminency to tend Jesus flock and they use councils trying to usurp the Popes authority gives them ground to contest the authority of Peter.

The Schism is not the Authority of Rome in the popes having any jurisdiction. The schism is the rejection of that divine given authority by men, and a fight to possess the authority of Peter. The Popes are not in schism, they are defending what God has joined to her in the Church. And the popes are doing it with love and desire of unity. The Popes have no authority to remove what God has joined together.

Peace be with you

Did any Orthodox patriarch try to claim jurisdiction over Rome? I thought they were more of a “you do your thing, we’ll do ours” type of deal… (Except for councils)

Jurisdiction? No, not over Rome. But the EP did quash an established Partriarchate or two and assumed oversight. The process for gaining autocephaly was typically very messy. And the canons about primacy the barbarian lands are still to this day in dispute.

The matter of “you do your thing, we’ll do ours” is another story. The EP was often intrusive on matters of praxis. The Byzantinization of the Antiochian traditions is the starkest example. Another example: their disputations with local OOs led to a hardcore posture against azymes, which was then also turned toward the CC in a non-subtle way: desecration of the Eucharist. This intrusion led to the dispatch of papal delegates and the better known events of 1054.

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