When were the first objections to Roman authority?


We know there were many early writings attesting to the primacy of Rome (examples), and there were no objections when these assertions were made.

So when were the first objections to Roman primacy made? By whom?


This is a poorly worded thread topic.

The Jews did not like the Roman authority that was ruling over them even before Jesus time. I am sure most of the empires that the Romans conquered objected to Roman authority.

Do you mean when was the authority of the Catholic Church’s pope first objected to? I would have to say right at the first century of the Church since Peter as first pope was executed by the Romans.

It was not until the Protestant Revolution in the early 1500’s that Luther and other rebellious men started calling the Pope(s) Satan and started a new bible only religion and tradition of man after sacrificing a tithe (7 books) of the Bible by removing the books that did not support their false cause.



Cyprian didn’t see the Bishop of Rome as having primacy. He saw the Bishop of Rome being first in line for honor purposes but that was because Peter and Paul died there. The examples you link to don’t attest to any primacy of Rome. That’s a stretch.

Also the Orthodox church never saw the primacy of the Bishop of Rome and still don’t. That dates back to about 1057 or so.


I mean Christians who openly denied the authoritative primacy of the Roman See and said bishop.

Which of his writings are you referencing? Thanks!


Tertullian the heretic in one of his criticisms of Catholicism at the start of the 3rd century condemned the Pope for being bishop of bishops and Pontifex Maximus. This actually shows that this is how the Church was at the time

As for Cyprian this is more complex. During the rule of Pope Cornelius he was very pro-Papacy, he described the Roman See as the principal Church and chair of Peter in which sacerdotal unity has its source and from which no heresy can come, and also said that if you desert the Chair of Peter on which the Church is founded that you are outside the Church. He then fell out with Pope Stephen and called a council of African bishops opposed the Pope being ‘bishop of bishops’. He then was reconciled to the next Pope, Sixtus


More accurately, it shows that the bishop of Rome claimed the title at this time, and that Tertullian disagreed with this – what it doesn’t show is that the majority of churches attested to this belief.


Tertullian’s remarks can be found in his treatise On Modesty, chapters 1 and 21.


Which sentence begins the opposition?


The Quartodecimanism controversy might be one example. From Wikipedia (see here):

Shortly after Anicetus became bishop of Rome in about AD 155, Polycarp visited Rome and among the topics discussed was this divergence of custom. Neither Polycarp nor Anicetus was able to persuade the other to his position, but neither did they consider the matter of sufficient importance to justify a schism, so they parted in peace leaving the question unsettled.[4]

Irenaeus, who observed the “first Sunday” rule, notes of Polycarp: “For Anicetus could not persuade Polycarp to forgo the observance [of his Nisan 14 practice] inasmuch as these things had been always observed by John the disciple of the Lord, and by other apostles with whom he had been conversant.” (c. AD 180; 1.569 “Ante-Nicene Church Fathers”).

However, one of Anicetus’ successors, bishop Victor I of Rome, excommunicated the Quartodecimans (then apparently led by Polycrates of Ephesus) for not adhering to the Paschal practices of the majority of Christians. In a response to Victor I, Polycrates wrote,

"As for us, then, we scrupulously observe the exact day, neither adding nor taking away. For in Asia great luminaries such as Philip and his daughters, John, Polycarp, Sagaris, Papirius, and Melito have gone to their rest...These all kept the Passover on the fourteenth day of the month, in accordance with the Gospel, without ever deviating from it, but keeping to the rule of faith. Moreover I also, Polycrates, (who am the least of you all, in accordance with the tradition of my relatives, some of whom I have succeeded—seven of my relatives were bishops, and I am the eighth, and my relatives) have always observed the day when the people put away the leaven—I myself, brethren, I say, who am sixty-five years old in the Lord, and have fallen in with the brethren in all parts of the world, and have read through all Holy Scripture, am not afraid of threats. For those who are greater than I have said, We ought to obey God rather than men." [8]


There is an article from the online Encyclopedia Britannica that might contain more examples, but I can’t tell for sure because I don’t have a subscription:

Christianity: The problem of jurisdictional authority (see here)


Neither does it show that the churches did not attest to this belief.


It is more logical to believe the Catholic position, as otherwise the Fathers are all just hot air.


Agreed – then again, I never said that this was the case. All this can clearly say is that it was not unanimously held either way.

Or, perhaps they’re just not saying what you think they’re saying.


You can start with the bishops of asia minor during the very presumptuous error of Victor.

They stood up to the bishop of Rome, rejected his commands, he excommunicated them, they could have cared less, and then the bishop of Rome recanted.


Tertullian expresses his disagreement with a recent papal edict allowing repentant fornicators and adulterers back to communion in chapter 1, paragraph 3. He sarcastically refers to the bishop of Rome as “the Pontifex maximus — that is, the bishop of bishops.” The paragraph begins:

In opposition to this (modesty), could I not have acted the dissembler? I hear that there has even been an edict set forth, and a peremptory one too. The Pontifex Maximus — that is, the bishop of bishops — issues an edict: I remit, to such as have discharged (the requirements of) repentance, the sins both of adultery and of fornication. O edict, on which cannot be inscribed, Good deed!
Later in chapter 21, paragraph 1 and following paragraphs, Tertullian challenges the petrine authority of the bishop of Rome. His challenge begins:
Exhibit therefore even now to me, apostolic sir, prophetic evidences, that I may recognise your divine virtue, and vindicate to yourself the power of remitting such sins!


Wow, this quote by Tertullian sounds exactly like the Pharisees to Jesus. (Mk 8:11-12, Mt 16:1).

What’s also interesting about Tertullian’s questioning of succession, is that he was the only 1 out of at least 8 ECFs who did not at some point list Rome’s 2nd bishop as Linus. LINK.


St. Cyprian’s view of episcopal jurisdiction in the early Church (see here):

In Cyprian’s view each bishop is answerable to God alone for his action, though he ought to take counsel of the clergy and of the laity also in all important matters.

This is based on a letter dated 255 AD (see here):

In which behalf we neither do violence to, nor impose a law upon, any one, since each prelate has in the administration of the Church the exercise of his will free, as he shall give an account of his conduct to the Lord.


Hi Just Lurking,

I do quite a bit of lurking myself.

From the same paragraph as the quote above:


We have brought these things, dearest brother, to your knowledge, for the sake of our mutual honour and sincere affection; believing that, according to the truth of your religion and faith, those things which are no less religious than true will be approved by you.

The issue was rebaptism. Did Stephen approve? No, and upon hearing of Stephen’s refusal to condone his actions, Cyprian’s tone changes in subsequent letters. In short, Stephen was acting as the head of the entire Church and it is interesting to note that the practice of rebaptism was no longer practiced in the Church not long after these events transpired.


As far as the issue of rebaptism is concerned, I agree. But as far as the OP’s question of early objections to any one bishop having authority over bishops, this provides one historical example. And there is no evidence that Cyprian ever changed his mind on this point.


Here is a nice summary from Klaus Schatz’s Papal Primacy:

We have seen in the cases of the dispute over the date of Easter and the controversy concerning baptism by heretics that an official word from Rome was by no means sufficient to bring either of these matters to a definitive conclusion, and yet in the long run the Roman position on both these questions was ultimately victorious. Nor are these exceptional cases. In almost all the major controversies of the first centuries, Rome established a position at a relatively early date that was then adopted and accepted by the entire Church, although often through a very long process and sometimes with certain modifications. The same is true of the great theological conflicts that began in the fourth century.

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