Papal Infallibility In The Early Church


What evidence is there that Papal Infallibility was believed and/or practiced in the early Church? :confused:


Just from this site alone we have:


The Council of Jerusalem was the first exercise of Papal infallibility.


How is that? :confused:


The power of binding and loosing, which was given to Peter alone (as well as, later, to all the apostles as a body) requires infallibility. Otherwise heaven could be bound to falsehood - clearly an impossible situation. So Matt 16:19 is the earliest evidence.


Ah okay. That certainly makes sense. Thanks! :thumbsup:


It wasn’t. You’ll find none!


Not sure what part you are speaking of? But the Council of Jerusalem wrote the following to Theophilus, the bishop of Alexandria, thus giving us evidence that the bishop of Alexandria could be a Pope:

**“We have done all that you wished…We anathematize those who hold such doctrines [as you have condemned], and also those of Apollinaris, and shall not receive anyone whom you excommunicate.” **(Jerome’s Letter 93)


I’m referring to the council held in Jerusalem in Acts 15. The issue was circumcision, and there was much controversy until Peter spoke and made the decision. Then everyone fell silent and agreed with him.

The events of that council were a perfect illustration of the exercise of the authority of the Magesterium and papal iunfallibility.


Ah okay. It looks like papal infallibility was practiced as early as the 1st Century. Wow. That’s amazing! :smiley:


James presides over that council and gives the final verdict. Peter was sent by James on tasks. Peter describes himself as a fellow elder. Paul says Peter was sent to the Jews, no universal leadership. More grasping at straws.


Absolutely. We also have Clement’s letter to the Corinthians (Clement was the third Successor of Peter - the other two were Linus and Anacletus), in which he is literally commanding the people of Corinth to obey his authority, along with the authority of their Bishop and their priests. Already (some people think this letter was written as early as 80 AD), we see a heirarchy being formed - Peter’s successor (Bishop of Rome, aka Pope) at the top, then my local Bishop, and then my priest(s).

The Bishop of the Diocese next over has no authority over me, except in his role as a member of the Magesterium. And the priest of the parish up the road has no authority over me, except under certain circumstances (like if I go to him for Confession, or if I undertake a project in partnership with his parish).

But the Pope does.

My own Bishop does.

And my own priests do.


Peter did not make the decision and three people spoke after Peter did. If Peter did make the decision as you claim, please quote which part of the law Gentiles were obligated to follow. Or do you have to go to James to find out?


In regards to Myfavoritemartin’s post (Hey, welcome back Simon!!!), the Pope seems to be backing up the decision of the local Bishop, not declaring him supreme (or what-not).

Regarding kaycee’s denouncement of Peter’s role in Jerusalem, Peter spoke that the Church should not put the yoke of Mosaic Law around the Gentiles backs (paraphrasing)

And all became silent. This is “jewish speak” for no further debate is needed, the issue is settled.

Then Paul details the Holy Spirit working already through the Gentiles, which reaffirms Peter’s decision.

Then James gives some disciplinary laws (laws that are subject to change, as opposed to dogmas which can’t change) on the Gentiles. These are laws based on the Noahide covenent, which pre-dated the Mosaic Covenent. He bases these actions on what Peter had said.

Notice there was much arguement until Peter spoke, then all who talked after that were in agreement to him.


Look at James’ words in Acts 15:

Symeon has described how God first concerned himself with acquiring from among the Gentiles a people for his name.

Peter has spoke how God wants the Gentiles to be among His people (paraphrasing).

The words of the prophets agree with this…

Scripture agrees with what Peter has said

It is my judgment, therefore, that we ought to stop troubling the Gentiles who turn to God,

Since Peter has declared this ('therefore"), then my judgement is … Notice, James only adds some disciplines. He doesn’t make a decision on the circumcision issue. That was decided by Peter, with support of the Scriptures.



In addition to what has already been said, on December 31, 1931 Pope Pius XI issued an encyclical titled Lux Veritatis commemorating the fifteenth centenary of the Ecumenical Council of Ephesus. The encyclical brilliantly emphasized three great dogmas of the Christian Faith; (1) the hypostatic union of Jesus Christ, or two natures, the divine and human, in one Person; (2) that the Blessed Virgin Mary is truly the Mother of God; and (3) the supreme teaching authority in faith and morals of the Roman Pontiff.

Pius XI gives a succinct account of the proceedings at Ephesus and thoroughly demonstrates how Papal authority was adhered to before, during, and after the Council.

It’s a great read!


Bishop of Alexandria could be a Pope? Not true. In my previous post addressed to Holly I mentioned the encyclical letter written by Pope Pius XI. In it Pius XI says: The Roman Pontiff enjoined on the Patriarch of Alexandria the execution of this sentence in these grave words: “Armed with the authority of Our See, and acting in Our stead, you will execute this sentence with strict vigor so that within the ten days numbered in this covenant, he [Nestorius] shall abjure his perverse teachings by written profession, and affirm that he professes, concerning the birth of Christ as God, that same faith of the Roman Church, the Church of your holiness and of the faithful. Unless he shall do this, immediately arrange for the appointment of another to that Church, and let him [Nestorius] know that he is in every way removed from our body.”

The Bishop of Alexandria a Pope? No way!


I find your assessment of the events to be problematic, but in any case you’ve conceded that a single Apostle had the primacy of position over the rest.

Unfortunately the historical evidence shows that it was Peter who had the primacy. In any case, the principle that it is given to the chief of the Apostles to make infallible pronouncements on matters of the faith is demonstrated.


If Roman Catholics can find Peter’s “papal infallibility” in Acts 15, there is no hope for rational discourse. They have to ignore all statements about going to the Apostles and elders. They have to ignore that Simon Peter says nothing new. They have to ignore that three men spoke after him. They have to ignore James deciding what Gentiles DO HAVE to follow, which is the crux of the question being decided.


This wouldn’t negate the Papacy, since no Pope has ever said anything new. All they do is make the 2000 year old teachings of Christ official, in cases where there has been some serious doubt about what He meant for the Church to do.

It is also very traditional for the Pope to gather the Bishops together to talk these things over ahead of time, too.

They have to ignore that three men spoke after him.

Those three men were not continuing on with the debate. The debate ended as soon as Peter made the ruling.

They have to ignore James deciding what Gentiles DO HAVE to follow, which is the crux of the question being decided.

James was simply summarizing the teaching. Local Bishops do this all the time.

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