Since we have a pope, what was a similar authoritative figure in the Old covenant?

Hello everybody,
it may seem a funny question, but while thinking on Judaism, I wondered that since the New is foreshadowed in the Old, is there a figure like the Pope we do now have?

I don’t see any final authority in Judaism even in Moses times, if not Moses himself. Was maybe Aaron, or the high priest such a comparable figure the the one of the pope?

Or should I simply look it in another way and see the pope as the prime minister, Jesus being the King, and all this is on another level altogether from what would happen in the Old Covenant?

Thank you

I don’t believe there is any equivalent authoritative figure to the Pope in the Hebrew Bible.
Moses is regarded as the greatest of the prophets and did speak to G-d directly as well as being directly inspired by G-d in writing the Law (believed to be the past, present, and future Word of G-d), so if anyone is at all comparable, it would probably be Moses. Or perhaps the High Priest of the Temple had some things in common to the Pope due to his authority with regard to ritual.


Matthew 23 is a good place to start… it starts off:

Then said Jesus to the crowds and to his disciples, 2 “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat; 3 so practice and observe whatever they tell you, but not what they do; for they preach, but do not practice. 4 They bind heavy burdens, hard to bear,[a] and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with their finger. 5 They do all their deeds to be seen by men; for they make their phylacteries** broad and their fringes long, 6 and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues, 7 and salutations in the market places, and being called rabbi by men. 8 But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brethren. 9 And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven.[c] 10 Neither be called masters, for you have one master, the Christ. 11 He who is greatest among you shall be your servant; 12 whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.

There’s a parallel between “the seat of Moses” and “the chair of Peter.” Moses passed his authority on to Joshua— but he did not pick Joshua; God assigned him Joshua as his successor. (After Joshua, did the Israelites transition to the Judges?) Moses and Joshua and the Judges were civil rulers; Aaron and Eleazar and Phineas and all those were the high priests, the religious rulers.

So part of it helps to remember that there were two aspects to Israelite society, the religious and the civil, when looking for parallels in leadership structure.

The “master of the palace” is often compared to Peter’s commission:

1 Kings 41-1-6; 2 Kings 18:37 not to mention Joseph in Egypt, Shebna (Is 22), Haman in Ester.

There was no equivalent off Pope in the Old Testament because there was no proselytism and no apostles. The Israelites the one nation they did not spread their doctrine do other nations. The apostles spread the doctrine do other nations that’s why they needed n authority to maintain doctrinal purity.

In apologetics literature, I have seen the pope compared to both the High Priest and the Prime Minister.

There was no similar figure to the Pope in the Old Covenant, at least not exactly an equivalent, because the circumstances and context were different but what Moses did was close.

Probably today the role of the Pope can be the combination of the two - religious and civil. The Vatican is given a diplomatic status while the Pope is a religious figure, and he often acts in both capacities.

I would agree.There were some similarities, not equivalents. Like Moses of his time, the Pope is the ‘highest ranking clergy’ who in principle speaks to God directly (by the power of the Holy Spirit). The High Priest is a later post but he could be similar to the Pope in that he is the ‘highest ranking clergy’ too. The difficulty in finding the right word to describe their position, and thus equivalent, speaks much about their differences and different roles, IMO.

The Jewish High Priest

The words Jesus uses when he renames Simon as Peter shows who Christ considers the OT shadow of the Pope. In Matthew 16, Jesus says:

15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rockI will build my church, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it. 19I 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.”

This was a reference to Isaiah 22:22:

In that day I will call my servant Eli′akim the son of Hilki′ah, 21 and I will clothe him with your robe, and will bind your girdle on him, and will commit your authority to his hand; and he shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. 22 **And I will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David; he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open. ** 23 And I will fasten him like a peg in a sure place, and he will become a throne of honor to his father’s house. 24 And they will hang on him the whole weight of his father’s house

Jesus’s listeners were Jews, and they knew their Torah and Prophets like we know Hollywood movie star’s personal lives. They knew it backwards and forwards. When they heard Jesus says this, they would immediately think of Isaiah which references Eli’akim, the Prime Minister of the earthly Davidic Kingdom. The Prime Minister had the authority to manage the kingdom in the King’s name. How did people know who the Prime Minister was? He had the keys of the kingdom to open and shut gates, stores of goods, armories, etc… IOW, he had the authority of the King to make decisions that were held as binding to the citizens.

Oftentimes, in NT theology, we see how Christ took earthly ideas and cast them in a new, eternal, spiritual way. The curing of physical disease is a symbol of Christ wanting to heal us spiritually of sin. The battles in the OT against foreign nations were like spiritual battles against devils. Feeding people with fish and bread symbolized Christ giving us his grace to nourish our souls. Same thing with the Prime Minister of the earthly kingdom. Peter is not a legal, military leader. He is a spiritual Prime Minister whose authority is over the subjects of the Heavenly Kingdom on earth. The Popes throughout the ages have been the successors to St. Peter and have carried on that authority the Christ handed to Peter.

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