Peter's Primacy:


#1

This paper is for one of the chapters I’m writing about why I converted to the Roman Catholic faith, and to help other Bible-believing Christians to come into the fulness of the faith (1 Cor. 1:10.) This chapter is far from done, as I intend to discuss Peter’s Tomb that rests right under St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome to demonstrate how we know that he was stationed and martyred in Rome and the Chronological list of Popes you can find in many Catholic publications, especially Bibles, that show the apostolic succession from St. Peter to the current Pope. However, I pretty much have the bases covered as far as Scripture goes. So here you are, the Biblical roots for the Primacy of the Pope:

I remember one of my initial questions when coming into the Catholic faith was, “Dude, what’s with the Pope?” I mean look at that guy, kissing people and blessing babies and such. Who does he think he is? It turns out that he is the successor of St. Peter of the gospels as the Vicar of Christ. A “vicar” is a representative, deputy, or someone acting in the place of someone else. Therefore, he is head of the whole Church on Earth as the Vicar of Christ. Have I lost you yet? To a non-Catholic Christian this sounds arrogant, blasphemous and even unnecessary. However, I wasn’t ready to write-off this Pontiff until I heard his case, and I was pleasantly surprised. I knew that in order for the office of the Pope to be valid, three things had to be true:

  1. There had to be a clear and distinct role given to St. Peter as the Vicar of Christ in the gospels.
  2. There had to be some record of St. Peter being stationed in Rome. After all, the Pope is the bishop of Rome.
  3. Finally, there had to be a clear apostolic succession from St. Peter to the current Pope.

Who is St. Peter?

I was pleased to find that all of these requirements were met, particularly in the person of St. Peter. We know from the gospels that Peter was very close to Jesus. He was one of the three to witness the transfiguration of our Lord on the Mount (Mark 9:1) the agony of our Lord in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matt. 26:37.) Peter also spoke to Jesus on behalf of the Apostles on several occasions (Matt. 19:27 & John 6:69.) Jesus called Peter to walk on water with him in the midst of a storm (Matt. 14:22-33) and it was Peter who jumped out of a boat to meet Jesus on the shore after his resurrection (John 21:7.) Peter is always listed first amongst the Apostles when they are listed (Matt. 10:2) and Acts 1:15 records that “In those days, Peter stood up among the believers.” This is comforting and heart-warming indeed, for it shows that Jesus’ prayer for him in Luke 22:31-32 did not go unanswered. Jesus tells Peter, “Simon, Simon, listen! Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your own faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.” However, the verse that speaks most powerfully for the primacy of St. Peter is this one:

“And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” –Matthew 16:18

The Rock:

The first time that this verse was brought to my attention by the Catholic community, I was absolutely astounded by it and didn’t know how I had overlooked it before. I noticed that as I brought it to the attention of Protestant evangelicals, they always tried to down-play St. Peter’s role by claiming Peter’s name means “pebble” or “little rock” and that Peter’s statement in verse 16 “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Is the actual “rock” on which Christ built his Church, rather than it being St. Peter himself. However, I could find no evidence to support this theory. There is no reason to suggest that Peter’s name means “little rock” or “pebble.” It simply means “rock” or “stone” and is a masculine variation of the Greek word “petra”, which also means rock or stone. Hence, this is the reason that we call the study of rocks “petrology.” Jesus even changed Peter’s name to Peter for this purpose. Peter’s name was Simon until Jesus changed it to Cephas, the Aramaic form of Peter, in John 1:42. This is why, just prior to Matthew 16:18, Jesus calls Peter “Simon, son of Jonah.” In Matthew 16:18, Jesus is literally changing Simon’s name to Peter!

Why the Name Change?

In Sacred Scripture, whenever God changes one’s name, it is because that person is being called to a higher state of recognition or purpose. We can see this in the examples of the patriarchs Abraham and Israel. In Genesis 17:5, God changes Abram’s name to Abraham because he was to become “the father of many nations.” In Genesis 32:29, God changes Jacob’s name to Israel, giving him the recognition that he had “struggled with God and with humans, and have prevailed.” So now that we know the intent behind changing one’s name, why would Jesus change Simon’s name to Cephas, or Peter in John 1:42 and Matthew 16:18? Well, this is what Jesus is telling us. “And I tell you that you are Peter (petros), and on this rock (petra) I will build my Church.” It’s a simple play-on-words! This makes Peter a special kind of representative of Christ who is the foundational rock, or more specifically “chief cornerstone” of the Church (Ephesians 2:20.) Jesus’ role in the Church is certainly far greater than that of Peter’s or the Pope’s, but we cannot ignore the great significance given to St. Peter by this passage. An apostle is an ambassador for Christ, a disciple is a student of Christ, a Christian is an imitator of Christ, but only St. Peter has been called “the rock” by which Christ laid the foundation for his Church.


#2

(continued…)

What of These Keys?

Once whenever I was in the car with my mom, she asked me why I was taking such an interest in the Catholic religion. I told her that it was because I was always impressed with the answers I received from them. I used Matthew 16:18 in relation to the Pope as an example. I said, “You see, Catholics believe that the Pope is the successor of St. Peter. In the gospel of Matthew, chapter sixteen, Jesus changes his name to Peter which means rock, and that he would build his Church upon that Rock. He said that he would give him the keys to the kingdom of Heaven, and whatever he bound on Earth would be bound in Heaven, and whatever he loosed on Earth would be loosed in Heaven.” The first time that I brought this to my mom’s attention in the car, she laughed and said it was funny! Naturally, I asked “what’s so funny?” She answered and said, “Oh, I know what the keys mean, and so do all my employees!”

You see, my mom is a store manager for Walgreens Pharmacy. She knows that store managers carry a set of keys to everything in and around the store (this is also how her employees know when she’s approaching them, like a bell on a cat.) I never thought that she’d be able to infer this symbolism from her own culture! You see, keys are a symbol of authority. Even today in Arabic countries, landlords fasten cords to hang keys from either sides of their shoulder to boast their authority. A passage in the book of Isaiah exemplifies this understanding with the “key” of the house of David:

“I will thrust you from your office, and you will be pulled down from your post. On that day I will call my servant Eliakim son of Hilkiah, and will clothe him with your robe and bind your sash on him. I will commit your authority to his hand, and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. I will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David; he shall open, and no one shall shut; he shall shut, and no one shall open.” –Isaiah 22:19-22.

Binding and Loosing

We see the same concept applied in Matthew 16:18.I think its implications need little commentary as Jesus’ words are very firm, direct and to the point. A mistake that people often make is equating Jesus’ statement “I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven” with the following statement “and whatever you bind on Earth will be bound in Heaven and whatever you loose on Earth will be loosed in Heaven.” Although the authority of binding and loosing is directed to and given to Peter in a special way, this authority was also conferred on the Apostles as a body in Matthew 18:18. As far as common terminology went at the time, “binding” was to forbid something and “loosing” was to allow it. An example can be found in the prefaces of the lessons of an early 1st century rabbi named Nechonya, who would write “we may not declare impure what is pure and pure what is impure; that we may not bind what is loosed and loose what is bound.” Although this authority of binding and loosing is shared by the Apostles as a body, it also has relation to Peter’s “keys to the kingdom of Heaven” which he alone possesses.

Peter As the Shepherd

Another way in which St. Peter serves as a sort of “Vicar of Christ” (or “stand in” if you will) is as the Shepherd of the Church. In John 10:11, Jesus says “I am the good shepherd.” This also corresponds to his role as the Rock of the Church, as he guides us and nurtures us in the ways of Truth. Our Lord administers this role to St. Peter in John 21:15-16, when he commissions St. Peter to “feed his lambs” and “tend his sheep.” This is considered to be when the papacy is actually conferred, as Matthew 16:18 is spoken in the future-tense. Again, no one else in Scripture other than Jesus and St. Peter are portrayed in this manner. This means that we have already met our first criteria for validating the office of the Pope by analyzing the fact that there is a clear, distinct role given to St. Peter by Christ in the gospels as a sort of “vicar” of Christ.


#3

Good luck with your paper:)


#4

[quote="josephback, post:3, topic:310762"]
Good luck with your paper:)

[/quote]

Thank you! :)


#5

U might also wish to add a section on what the ECF’s said about Peter’s Primacy / Authority.

I like it …solid A grade ! Coming from another ex- Baptist.


#6

[quote="brb3, post:5, topic:310762"]
U might also wish to add a section on what the ECF's said about Peter's Primacy / Authority.

I like it ....solid A grade ! Coming from another ex- Baptist.

[/quote]

Thanks! Lol what's the ECF? Also, this is actually for a book I'm writing to help non catholics discover the faith, it's not for a class or anything ^_^


#7

Early Church Fathers …

They began in 2nd century, at the time of death of John, approx 98 AD. Some were witnesses to the Apostles, or to the disciples trained by the Apostles.
A good starting point …early ones like Cyril, Ignatius, Justin Martyr, & Irenaeus.

Also, the book CHURCH HISTORY by Eusebius, will introduce you to events & key history in first 200 years of Christianity…about 15$ @ Amazon or BarnesNoble.


#8

[quote="brb3, post:7, topic:310762"]
Early Church Fathers ....

They began in 2nd century, at the time of death of John, approx 98 AD. Some were witnesses to the Apostles, or to the disciples trained by the Apostles.

A good starting point ...early ones like Cyril, Ignatius, Justin Martyr, & Irenaeus.

Also, the book CHURCH HISTORY by Eusebius, will introduce you to events & key history in first 200 years of Christianity....about 15$ @ Amazon or BarnesNoble.

[/quote]

Good point! I was actually going to make a tradition timeline of the Catholic Church at the end of every chapter to show what the ECFs taught and believed throughout the centuries....


#9

Excellent game plan !
History is hard to argue against, by using the timeline truths in history, your readers will give more credence to your proofs !


#10

[quote="brb3, post:9, topic:310762"]
Excellent game plan !
History is hard to argue against, by using the timeline truths in history, your readers will give more credence to your proofs !

[/quote]

Indeed :) It then becomes not just my interpretation, but literally the applied beliefs of Christians through out the centuries....


#11

Would it be beneficial to your work to include how the Orthodox and Latin Rite differ on the position of the Pope? It’s still a little fuzzy in my mind about the ‘why,when, and how’ of the disagreements.


#12

[quote="DonMack, post:11, topic:310762"]
Would it be beneficial to your work to include how the Orthodox and Latin Rite differ on the position of the Pope? It's still a little fuzzy in my mind about the 'why,when, and how' of the disagreements.

[/quote]

True. I thought about squeezing it in and hope to, but I'm hoping for this to be a short book....


#13

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