Post 4 From The Early Church Fathers
“The church of God which sojourns at Rome to the church of God which sojourns at Corinth … But if any disobey the words spoken by him through us, let them know that they will involve themselves in transgression and in no small danger.” Clement of Rome, Pope, 1st Epistle to the Corinthians, 1, 59:1 (c. A.D. 96). The “us” refers to the Church at Rome
“And thus preaching through countries and cities, they appointed the first-fruits [of their labors], having first proved them by the Spirit, to be bishops and deacons of those who should afterwards believe. Nor was this any new thing, since indeed many ages before it was written concerning bishops and deacons. For thus saith the Scripture a certain place, ‘I will appoint their bishops s in righteousness, and their deacons in faith.’… Our apostles also knew, through our Lord Jesus Christ, and there would be strife on account of the office of the episcopate. For this reason, therefore, inasmuch as they had obtained a perfect fore-knowledge of this, they appointed those [ministers] already mentioned, and afterwards gave instructions, that when these should fall asleep, other approved men should succeed them in their ministry…” Pope Clement, Epistle to Corinthians, 42, 44 (A.D. 98).
"For, since ye are subject to the bishop as to Jesus Christ, … It is therefore necessary that, as ye indeed do, so without the bishop ye should do nothing, but should also be subject to the presbytery, as to the apostle of Jesus Christ, Ignatius of Antioch, Epistle to the Trallians, 2 (c. A.D. 110).
"And do ye also reverence your bishop as Christ Himself, according as the blessed apostles have enjoined you. He that is within the altar is pure, wherefore also he is obedient to the bishop and presbyters: but he that is without is one that does anything apart from the bishop, the presbyters, and the deacons. Such a person is defiled in his conscience, and is worse than an infidel. " Ignatius of Antioch, Epistle to Trallians, 7 (c. A. D. 110)
“Peter, who is called ‘the rock on which the church should be built,’ who also obtained ‘the keys of the kingdom of heaven…’” Tertullian, On the Prescription Against the Heretics, 22 (c. A.D. 200).
“And Peter, on whom the Church of Christ is built, against which the gates of hell shall not prevail…” Origen, Commentary on John, 5:3 (A.D. 232).
“By this Spirit Peter spake that blessed word, ‘Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ By this Spirit the rock of the Church was established.” Hippolytus, Discourse on the Holy Theophany, 9 (ante A.D. 235).
“There is one God and one Christ, and one Church, and one Chair founded on Peter by the word of the Lord. It is not possible to set up another altar or for there to be another priesthood besides that one altar and that one priesthood. Whoever has gathered elsewhere is scattering.” St. Cyprian of Carthage, Letter to all His People (251 A.D.)
“’…thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church’ … It is on him that he builds the Church, and to him that he entrusts the sheep to feed. And although he assigns a like power to all the apostles, yet he founded a single Chair, thus establishing by his own authority the source and hallmark of the (Church’s) oneness…If a man does not fast to this oneness of Peter, does he still imagine that he still holds the faith. If he deserts the Chair of Peter upon whom the Church was built, has he still confidence that he is in the Church?” Cyprian, De Unitate Ecclesiae (Primacy text), 4 (A.D. 251).
“And he says to him again after the resurrection, ‘Feed my sheep.’ It is on him that he builds the Church, and to him that he entrusts the sheep to feed. And although he assigns a like power to all the apostles, yet he founded a single Chair, thus establishing by his own authority the source and hallmark of the (Church’s) oneness. No doubt the others were all that Peter was, but a primacy is given to Peter, and it is (thus) made clear that there is but one flock which is to be fed by all the apostles in common accord. If a man does not hold fast to this oneness of Peter, does he imagine that he still holds the faith? If he deserts the Chair of Peter upon whom the Church was built, has he still confidence that he is in the Church? This unity firmly should we hold and maintain, especially we bishops, presiding in the Church, in order that we may approve the episcopate itself to be the one and undivided.” Cyprian, The Unity of the Church, 4-5 (A.D. 251-256).
“Thus Peter, the first of the Apostles, having been often apprehended, and thrown into prison, and treated with ignominy, was last of all crucified at Rome.” Peter of Alexandria, The Canonical Epistle, Canon 9 (A.D. 306).
“…Peter, that strongest and greatest of all the apostles, and the one who on account of his virtue was the speaker for all the others…” Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, 2:14 (A.D. 325).
“And Peter, on whom the Church of Christ is built, ‘against which the gates of hell shall not prevail’” Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, 6:25 (A.D. 325).
“…the chief of the disciples…the Lord accepted him, set him up as the foundation, called him the rock and structure of the church.” Aphraates, De Paenitentibus Homily 7:15 (A.D. 337).
From Peter until today - an unbroken line of succession. Peter, the first steward appointed by Jesus Christ to “feed his sheep.” As it says in John 10:16 I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd. There have been 266 shepherds for Jesus’ flock, since the keys and the Church were entrusted to Peter and the “gates of hell” have yet to prevail against her.