Please help, a protestant has me cornered…
[font=Tahoma] “What does the Bible say about the pope / papacy?”
**Answer: **The Roman Catholic Church’s teaching about the Pope (“pope” means “father”) is built upon and involves the following Roman Catholic teachings:
Christ made Peter the leader of the apostles and of the church (Matthew 16:18-19), and in giving him the “keys of the kingdom,” Christ not only made him leader but also made him infallible when he acted or spoke as Christ’s representative on earth (speaking from the seat of authority or ex cathedra). This ability to act on behalf of the church in an infallible way when speaking ex cathedra was passed on to Peter’s successors, thus giving the Church an infallible guide on earth to lead the Church unerringly.
Peter later became the first Bishop of Rome. As Bishop of Rome, he exercised authority over all other bishops and church leaders. The teaching that the Bishop of Rome is above all other bishops in authority is referred to as the “primacy” of the Roman Bishop.
Peter passed on his apostolic authority to the next Bishop of Rome, along with the other apostles who passed on their apostolic authority to the bishops that they ordained. These new bishops, in turn, passed on that apostolic authority to those bishops that they later ordained and so on. This “passing on of apostolic authority” is referred to as “apostolic succession.”
Based upon what they claim is an unbroken chain of Roman bishops (along with other support), they teach that the Roman Catholic Church is the true church and that all churches that do not accept the primacy of the Pope have broken away from them, the original and one true church.
Having briefly reviewed some of the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church concerning the papacy, the question is whether those teachings are in agreement with Scripture. The Roman Catholic Church sees the Papacy and the infallible teaching authority of “mother Church” as being necessary to guide the Church and use that as logical reasoning for God’s provision of it. But in examining Scripture, you find the following:
- While Peter was central in the early spread of the gospel (part of the meaning behind Matthew 16:18-19), the teaching of Scripture, taken in context, no where declares that he was in authority over the other apostles or over the Church (having primacy) (see Acts 15:1-23; Galatians 2:1-14; 1 Peter 5:1-5). Nor is it ever taught that the Bishop of Rome was to have primacy over the Church. Rather there is only one reference in Scripture of Peter writing from “Babylon,” a name sometimes applied to Rome, found in 1 Peter 5:13; primarily upon this and the historical rise of the influence of the Bishop of Rome comes the Roman Catholic Church teaching of the primacy of the Bishop of Rome. However, Scripture shows that Peter’s authority was shared by the other apostles (Ephesians 2:19-20) and the “loosing and binding” authority attributed to him was likewise shared by the local churches, not just their church leaders (see Matthew 18:15-19; 1 Corinthians 5:1-13; 2 Corinthians 13:10; Titus 2:15; 3:10-11).