Orthodox: Was Peter Jesus' Royal Steward?

Peter – The Royal Steward

1. Is Jesus a king?
2. Did He re-establish the office of the Royal Steward?

In ancient times, a king might choose a second in command (known as the royal steward or prime minister) who literally wore a large key as a symbol of his office and who spoke with the authority of the king. The prophet Isaiah confirms this:

Isaiah 22:20-22
"In that day I will summon my servant, Eliakim son of Hilkiah. I will clothe him with your robe and fasten your sash around him and hand your authority over to him. He will be a father to those who live in Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. I will place on his shoulder the key to the house of David; what he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.”

In the passage above, God is speaking to Shebnah, an unfaithful steward serving King Hezekiah. God is telling Shebnah that he is about to be replaced by Eliakim, and this confirms the existence of the office, the key worn as a symbol of the office, and the continuation of the office in perpetuity – despite the change of office holder. In other words, the office of the royal steward continued even when the man who held the office died or was replaced by someone else. God Himself passes the key from one steward to the next.

In the New Testament, we learn that Jesus inherits the throne of his father, David.

Luke 1:31–33
And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there will be no end.

We also read the following:

Matthew 16:13-19
When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

The passage quoted above from Matthew tells us that Jesus named Peter as His royal steward and gave him the “keys to the kingdom of heaven" as the symbol of his authority to speak in His name. Since Jesus is an eternal king, the office of royal steward in His kingdom will never end. Peter died as a martyr as Jesus foretold, but the successors of Peter have taken his place in the perpetual office that Jesus established in His royal court.

In addition to the reference to a key or keys, note the following parallels:

"What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.” (Is. 22:22)
"Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” (Mt. 16:19)

Jesus specifically referenced the passage from Isaiah when He appointed Peter, and Peter received authority from Jesus to speak universally in His name. To do so faithfully, Peter must not teach error; therefore, Peter (and his successors who hold the office of the Royal Steward - also known as the Bishop of Rome) are protected by God through the charism of infallibility.

**Therefore, if Jesus, our eternal king, established Peter as His first Royal Steward in a perpetual office, then despite the existence of other, lesser stewards (patriarchs who have their own legitimate areas of authority) don’t Peter’s successors, the Bishops of Rome, continue to serve in that office today? **

Okay.

Okay.

With you so far.

And this is where the wheels fly off.

Your argument hinges on your reading of that passage being correct (as well as the dots you connect), and in particular that the Roman Catholic interpretation of that passage is correct. We would contend that neither is the case. The majority of the Early Church Fathers didn’t support that interpretation, nor does the history of the First Millennium Church.

You can’t dismiss the first 1000 years of Church History and Praxis because it doesn’t square with your theories.

But to answer your questions----

1.) He is the King of kings.

2.) In the sense that you are talking about…absolutely not. If you can show me some Patristics on this, than we can talk about it…

Even if one acknowledges that Peter is in some way set apart from the other apostles, and even if one acknowledges that Matt. 16:18 is about Simon-Peter, (and this is the key!) it does not necessarily follow that Peter was the infallible head of the Church, and it does not necessarily follow that the Bishop of Rome is the unique successor of Peter! It is here that Rome takes a leap of faith and, if they wish to take such a leap, that is all well and good, but this idea that scripture and tradition clearly prove Rome’s position is unfounded.

I mean, give us a break. Us Orthodox Christians have produced some very great historical and theological minds since Vatican I (Lossky, Meyendorff, Zizioulas, Romanides, Schmemann, Clement, Florovsky, David Bentley Hart, Jaroslav Pelikan). Do you really think they side with Constantinople just because they can’t see what is plain as day, or do you think maybe, just maybe, things are a bit more complicated?

I would like to see Jimmy Akin or one of the other pop-apologists Catholic Answers has to offer go up against someone like Fr. John Behr, Fr. Josiah Trenham, David Bentley Hart, or any number of fine scholars the Orthodox faith has to offer.

Point of clarification: As a Catholic I wouldn’t say our Lord “re-established” the office of royal steward, but that this office is a biblical type of the papacy, to which our Lord made reference.

It is clearly about St. Peter. It says St. Peter, who else could it be about?

Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

That couldn’t be about anyone but St. Peter. You don’t start talking to somebody and then refer to someone else as you while you are still talking to them. You refers to the person you are talking to.

But at the same time, this does not prove that the Bishops of Rome were meant to be Popes. St. Peter wasn’t just Bishop of Rome, Jesus never said how much authority St. Peter had and there’s still the question over whether the Bishop of Constantinople should have gotten the authority the Bishop of Rome had when the Roman capital moved there.

Thank you for taking the time to respond. I do appreciate that.

To the best of my knowledge, no ECF spoke of Peter as the Royal Steward in Jesus’ kingdom. I do have one Protestant scholar making the reference in the 1800’s, and I’m still digging to see when the earliest connection was made.

That said, why are you, an Orthodox, unable to consider the material presented and arrive at your own conclusion? Specifically, do you think that you, personally, with a reasonable amount of intelligence and a decent Internet connection, cannot discover something that may not have been seen by others in the past?

You would never make such a claim if we were discussing the field of medicine or physics or even political science.

So, why is it that by standing on the shoulders of giants, you cannot see further in the study of theology?

And more pointedly, why do you, as an Orthodox Christian, refuse to even try? :shrug:

There are many verses I can point to which support the doctrine of the infallibility of the Church.

and it does not necessarily follow that the Bishop of Rome is the unique successor of Peter!

Is there a unique successor of the see of Constantinople? Is each bishop or priest a vicar of Jesus Christ? Do you deny that same quality to the successor of Peter?

We must not set limits to what Jesus could do in establishing His kingdom on earth. If you grant that Christ has authority to act through His ministers in any part of His visible kingdom, it is illogical to say it’s going too far to imagine that Jesus gave the keys of the whole kingdom to Peter.

It is here that Rome takes a leap of faith and, if they wish to take such a leap, that is all well and good, but this idea that scripture and tradition clearly prove Rome’s position is unfounded.

You’ll have to do more than merely assert that.

I mean, give us a break.

I thought we made the break in the 11th century.

Us Orthodox Christians have produced some very great historical and theological minds since Vatican I (Lossky, Meyendorff, Zizioulas, Romanides, Schmemann, Clement, Florovsky, David Bentley Hart, Jaroslav Pelikan). Do you really think they side with Constantinople just because they can’t see what is plain as day, or do you think maybe, just maybe, things are a bit more complicated?

Vladimir Soloviev. For many westerners, Vladimir Soloviev made his debut in Fides et Ratio (Faith and Reason), the 1998 encyclical letter of Pope John Paul II. There his name emerges in a sweeping genealogy of the greatest Christian philosophers, from St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas to Newman and St. Edith Stein. Two years later, the same pope would praise Soloviev as one of the modern era’s great ‘witnesses of the faith and illustrious Christian thinkers’ and call his work ‘prophetic.’

I would like to see Jimmy Akin or one of the other pop-apologists Catholic Answers has to offer go up against someone like Fr. John Behr, Fr. Josiah Trenham, David Bentley Hart, or any number of fine scholars the Orthodox faith has to offer.

I bet you would. Jimmy has a fine mind, but why did you not choose Pope Benedict or Von Balthasar or any of OUR top theologians for that debate?

I’m trying to convey that the office was dormant until Jesus inherited His throne and gave the keys of the office to Peter.

How would that best be phrased?

I think they are speaking about the interpretation that Peter’s confession was the rock, not St Peter personally and that the keys are the power to bind and loose which was given to all of the Apostles.

But only Peter was told “whatever you bind and lose” no?

Matthew 18:18 Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

:smiley:

ECF Agrees: Peter is the Rock

St Cyprian

"Our Lord, whose precepts and admonitions we ought to observe, describing the honor of a bishop and the order of His Church, speaks in the Gospel, and says to Peter: ‘I say unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock will I build my Church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.’ Thence, through the changes of times and successions, the ordering of bishops and the plan of the Church flow onwards; so that the Church is founded upon the bishops, and every act of the Church is controlled by these same rulers "

Eastern Orthodox Theologians Agree: Peter is the Rock

Veselin Kesich

“It has long been noticed that Mt 16:17-19 has a Palestinian, Aramaic background. The form of Jesus’ reply to Peter’s confession appears Hebraistic. There are parallels to the Matthean text in the Qumran literature. The use of semitisms such as ‘gates of Hades,’ ‘flesh and blood,’ ‘bind and loose,’ and semitic parallelism again indicates an Aramaic environment…[Jesus] conferred upon Simon Bar-Jonah the title Peter, and promised that he would build his church upon him. ‘You are Peter (Petros), and on this rock (petra) I will build my church (ecclesia).’ These words are spoken in Aramaic, in which Cephas stands both for petros and petra…The confession of Peter, therefore, cannot be separated from Peter himself. Petra or rock does not simply refer to Peter’s faith but also to Peter personally. There is a formal and real identity between Petros and petra. Jesus will build the church upon Cephas.” (Veselin Kesich, “Peter’s Primacy in the New Testament and the Early Tradition” in The Primacy of Peter edited by John Meyendorff [St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1992], page 47,48)

Theodore Stylianopoulos

“That Orthodox scholars have gradually moved in the direction of affirming the personal application of Matt 16:17-19 to the Apostle Peter must be applauded. From the standpoint of critical scholarship it can no longer be disputed that Jesus’ words to Peter as reported in Matt 16:17-19 confer a special distinction on Peter as “rock” — the foundation on which Christ promised to build his Church. … These points are now conceded by conservative Protestant scholars as well.” (Kasper 48-49)

Protestants Agree: Peter is the Rock

Donald A. Carson (Baptist)

“On the basis of the distinction between ‘petros’ . . . and ‘petra’ . . . , many have attempted to avoid identifying Peter as the rock on which Jesus builds his church. Peter is a mere ‘stone,’ it is alleged; but Jesus himself is the ‘rock’ . . . Others adopt some other distinction . . . Yet if it were not for Protestant reactions against extremes of Roman Catholic interpretation, it is doubtful whether many would have taken ‘rock’ to be anything or anyone other than Peter . . . The Greek makes the distinction between ‘petros’ and ‘petra’ simply because it is trying to preserve the pun, and in Greek the feminine ‘petra’ could not very well serve as a masculine name . . . Had Matthew wanted to say no more than that Peter was a stone in contrast with Jesus the Rock, the more common word would have been ‘lithos’ (‘stone’ of almost any size). Then there would have been no pun - and that is just the point! . . . In this passage Jesus is the builder of the church and it would be a strange mixture of metaphors that also sees him within the same clauses as its foundation . . .” (Expositor’s Bible Commentary, [Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984], vol. 8: Matthew, Mark, Luke (Matthew: D.A. Carson), 368)

It’s all over but the shouting.

:doh2:

Peter alone is given the keys of the kingdom. Keys are used to open buildings and city gates. The image is intentionally quite large and significant, and this is seen clearly from the truly breath-taking scope of Jesus’ words:

Matthew 16:18-19
18 And I tell you, you are Peter,[a] and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. 19 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.”

The context of these words suggest that Peter has just been given a LOT of authority and responsibility.

Now, let’s take a closer look at the passage quoted by so many anti-Catholics:

Matthew 18:15-20
15 “If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. 16 But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every word may be confirmed by the evidence of two or three witnesses. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. 18 Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. 19 Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.”

There is no distribution of keys to the remaining apostles. Moreover, the context of the authority mentioned here, while significant, is much smaller than that of Mt. 16. One brother has a conflict with another brother. Two or three try to sort it out. If that fails, the apostles will adjudicate the matter. The apostles will bind and loose judgments over squabbles between this brother and that brother.

Do you see? Peter opens doors and gates. Inside those rooms and walls are people and things that need supervision. They are important, but the authority being exercised over them is not so large as that exercised by the Royal Steward who enables people to go in and out of the city in the first place.

The authority of the other apostles is unquestionably important, but it is not as significant as that of the one whose authority is second only to the king

Oh, so now you get it?

Yeah, Peter is the rock.

Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox scholars know this.

Spread the word. :thumbsup:

ECF’s – Peter the Rock

Cyprian of Carthage (AD 251)

“The Lord says to Peter: ‘I say to you,’ He says, ‘that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will not overcome it. And to you I will give the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatever things you bind on earth shall be bound also in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth, they shall be loosed also in heaven.’ And again He says to him after His resurrection: ‘Feed my sheep.’ On him He builds the Church, and to him He gives the command to feed the sheep; and although He assigns a like power to all the Apostles, yet He founded a single chair, and He established by His own authority a source and an intrinsic reason for that unity. Indeed, the others were that also which Peter was; but a primacy is given to Peter, whereby it is made clear that there is but one Church and one chair. So too, all are shepherds, and the flock is shown to be one, fed by all the Apostles in single-minded accord. If someone does not hold fast to this unity of Peter, can he imagine that he still holds the faith? If he desert the chair of Peter upon whom the Church was built, can he still be confident that he is in the Church?” (The Unity of the Catholic Church 4 [A.D. 251]).

Ambrose

“[Christ] made answer: ‘You are Peter, and upon this rock will I build my Church . . .’ Could he not, then, strengthen the faith of the man to whom, acting on his own authority, he gave the kingdom, whom he called the rock, thereby declaring him to be the foundation of the Church [Matt. 16:18]?” (The Faith 4:5 [A.D. 379]).

"…Christ ‘bestow[ed] the favor of this title upon His disciple, so that HE TOO might be Peter [rock]” (that is, the Rock of the Church in a vicarious sense).

“Peter is called the Rock because, like an immovable rock, he sustains and joins the mass of the entire Christian edifice.” (Ambrose, Sermon 4).

“It is to Peter that he says: ‘You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church’ [Matt. 16:18]. Where Peter is, there is the Church. And where the Church, no death is there, but life eternal” (Commentary on Twelve Psalms of David 40:30 [A.D. 389]).

Augustine

“Let us not listen to those who deny that the Church of God is able to forgive all sins. They are wretched indeed, because they do not recognize in Peter the rock and they refuse to believe that the keys of heaven, lost from their own hands, have been given to the Church” (Christian Combat, 31:33(A.D. 397), in JUR,3:51).

“When, therefore, He had said to His disciples, ‘Will ye also go away?” Peter, that Rock, answered with the voice of all, “Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life’ “ (Homilies on John, Tract 11:5(A.D. 417), in NPNF1,VII:76).

“And the Lord, to him to whom a little before He had said, ‘Blessed thou art, and upon this Rock I will build my Church,’ saith, ‘Go back behind, Satan, an offence thou art to Me.’ Why therefore ‘Satan’ is he, that a little before was ‘blessed,’ and a ‘Rock’ ?” (In Psalms, 56[55]:14[PL 36, 656] (A.D. 418),in NPNF1,VIII:223).

“Peter, who had confessed Him as the Son of God, and in that confession had been called the rock upon which the Church should be built.” (In Psalms, 69:4[PL 36, 869] (A.D. 418), in Butler, 251).

“And if a Jew asks us why we do that, we sound from the rock, we say, This Peter did, this Paul did: from the midst of the rocks we give our voice. But that rock, Peter himself, that great mountain, when he prayed and saw that vision, was watered from above” In Psalms, 104[103]:16(A.D. 418),in NPNF1,VIII:513).

**Pope Leo I **

“[T]he blessed Peter persevering in the strength of the rock, which he has received, has not abandoned the helm of the Church, which he understood. For he was ordained before the rest in such a way that, from his being called the rock, from his being pronounced the foundation, from his being constituted the doorkeeper of the kingdom of heaven, from his being set as the umpire to bind and loose, whose judgments shall retain their validity in heaven, from all these mystical titles we might know the nature of his association with Christ” (Sermons 3:2–3 [A.D. 450]).

Good grief. So you really don’t think there is any other way to understand that verse?

No. Why should I? The interpretation I gave is based on fact. The Orthodox view is based on a desperate need to downplay the papacy for your own purposes.

Now, as a Catholic, I might happily assent to the idea that ECF’s took a “both/and” approach, but that’s because they fundamentally understood the role of Peter as the foundation of the Church that Jesus promised to build.

But I will not take that approach with you because until you ADMIT that Peter is the rock, I will hold a hard line for your benefit. You need to see that Orthodoxy is simply wrong, and that is NOT a matter or interpretation.

If you know some Greek grammarians, have them analyze the verse for you.

In the meantime, sorry for the size of this, but you need to see it.

Acts 15

7 And after there had been much debate, Peter rose and said to them, "Brethren, you know that in the early days God made choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe.

Does anyone notice that indeed it was Peter, that spoke to the multitudes from many places. I would add to this the Apostles were certainly aware of the coming destruction and siege of Jerusalem in ad 70. His speech I am sure helped Paul in His evangelism on his quests.

God Bless
onenow1:)

Downplaying the papacy does not equal downplaying St Peter. And seriously it would help you if you would branch out and read something other than Catholic sources. Probably at least as many fathers interpreted Peter’s confession as the rock or Christ as the rock as interpreted it as Peter himself. Many of them interpreted it different ways at different times.

Bingo!

And that is the end of the discussion.

ECF’s, Orthodox scholars, and Protestant scholars (no friends of Rome, remember) all agree that PETER

NOT PETER’S CONFESSION

is the rock.

Now, we just have to deal with the implications of that fact for Orthodoxy. :thumbsup:

No they don’t agree Randy. Either way the only reason this is even a topic of discussion is the fact that Rome has used this verse to twist doctrine. Whether or not Peter is the rock has no bearing on doctrine at all.

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