In Part I of this series we examined the Catholic lie that Peter and Paul founded the church at Rome. This next lie, that Peter is the rock upon which the church is built, is based upon the views of individual men, bishops and priests, and their writings within the Catholic Church; which the Catholic Church has pronounced as traditions to be upheld higher than the scriptures.
The Roman Catholic Church teaches that Jesus made Peter the rock of the Church, and that the Church rests upon Peter; that Peter was the head of the apostles, and thus held the highest position of all of the Apostles. Consequently, the Pope maintains that he inherits, as it were, the chair of Peter, and the authority of Peter for the entire Roman Catholic Church over all other bishops. The Roman Catholic Church teaches that this supposed inherited authority that Jesus gave to Peter in Matt. 16:19 with the keys to the kingdom devolves upon the one bishop, the head of the Church, the Pope.
Ignatius, bishop of Syria Antioch, 115 A.D.in his Epistle to the Smyrnaeans: “Follow, all of you, the bishop, as Jesus Christ followed the father; and follow the presbytery as the apostles. Let no man do aught pertaining to the Church apart from the bishop….. Wheresoever the bishop appears, there let the people be, even as wheresoever Christ Jesus is, there is the Catholic Church.” Chapt. 8.
Iranaeus, bishop of Lyon, writing in Book III of Against the Heresies: “By pointing out the apostolic tradition and faith announced to mankind, which has been brought down to our time by successions of bishops, in the greatest, most ancient, and well known church, founded and established by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul, at Rome, we can confound all who in any other way… gather more than they ought.”
Tertulian, Catholic priest around 195 A.D. and writing in Scorpiace (Chapt 10) in 208 A.D.: “For though you think that heaven is still shut up, remember that the Lord left the keys of it to Peter here, and through him to the Church, which keys everyone will carry with him, if he has been questioned and made confession [of faith].” He later retracted that in his De Pudicitia, stating then that the keys given to Peter pertained only to Peter’s authority.
Cyprian, bishop of Carthage in 248 A.D., maintained in his writings that the Rock is Peter, and that the Church rests upon Peter, and that consequently the church rests upon the bishops in the tradition of Peter’s authority as given him. Writing in De Catholicae Ecclesiae Unitate, “He who deserts the chair of Peter, upon whom the Church was founded, does he trust himself to be in the Church?”
Augustine, bishop of Hippo, taught writing in Sermo, “But since in a figure Peter represented the Church, what was given to him singly was given to the Church.”, and in Contra Epistolam Manichaei, “There are many other things which rightly keep me in the bosom of the Catholic Church… The succession of the priests keeps me, from the very seat of the apostle Peter (to whom the Lord after his resurrection gave charge to feed his sheep) down to the present episcopate.”
Pope Innocent, in 416 A.D. in a letter to Decentius ( bishop of Eugubium) wrote , “Who does not know or observe that it [the church order] was delivered by Peter the chief of the apostles to the Roman church, and is kept until now, and ought to be retained by all, and that nothing ought to be imposed or introduced which has no authority, or seems to derive its precedents elsewhere?”
These are but a few of the writings of the titled officers of the Catholic churches, and much more could be quoted. A tradition of reverencing the actual chairs in which the Apostles supposedly sat, while supposedly occupying positions the Roman Catholic Church declares they held as bishops of the congregations, became enshrined in Catholic teaching so that they have even designated a chair of Peter that they claim he sat upon while in Rome. This chair became a symbol of the authority the Roman Catholic Church assigned to Peter, and thus entailed upon the highest bishop, the pope.
The kindest thing we can say is that all of these men were misguided. And, still, all of this teaching is a distortion of the scriptures, reducing the spiritual down to a man-made game of who gets the highest authority and highest position and highest chair in the Roman Catholic Church. It contradicts Jesus’ teaching that his disciples were to serve others, and were not to elevate themselves above others. (John 13:4-16; Matt. 20: 20-27).
Again, the Catholics twisted the word of God to rationalize a hierarchy within a central organization which has grown over centuries into a degradation anointing itself in the name of Jesus Christ while ignoring the true spirit of His teachings and scriptures.
They have lied again, in order to support an authority they violate with every pronouncement against God’s word. Their authority is self-proclaimed in order to have dominion and control over all the earth. Anyone who teaches doctrine contrary to the word of God, the Bible, has no authority from God.
Let’s examine what the Bible really says about the keys Jesus gave to Peter. Bold emphasis is mine.
In Matt. 16:17-19, Jesus blesses Peter for his confession that Jesus is the Son of God, and tells him,
“……Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (KJV)
“ 17And Jesus answering said to him, `Happy art thou, Simon Bar-Jona, because flesh and blood did not reveal [it] to thee, but my Father who is in the heavens. 18 `And I also say to thee, that thou art a rock, and upon this rock I will build my assembly, and gates of Hades shall not prevail against it; 19 and I will give to thee the keys of the reign of the heavens, and whatever thou mayest bind upon the earth shall be having been bound in the heavens, and whatever thou mayest loose upon the earth shall be having been loosed in the heavens.’” (Young’s)
Young’s Literal translation helps us understand verse 18 a little better. Jesus tells Peter that he is “a rock”. Not THE rock, but a rock. The next question then is how the demonstrative “this” is used before the next “rock”. The Catholic church has insisted that “this” rock is the rock immediately preceding in verse 18, which is named in the KJV as “Peter” (Petros). They are making a grammatical error in treating the word “this” as a pronoun. Pronouns (he, she, him, her) have antecedents, and in grammar antecedents are the last noun or person in the sentence which the pronoun would replace. (Ex. John gave his book to Jane. The pronoun “his” refers back to the antecedent noun, John.)
But, “this” is not a pronoun; “this” is a demonstrative. Demonstratives (this, that, these, those) in grammar are referring to objects in a direction or proximity to a particular person. (Ex. This pen I am holding. That book on the table over there.)
In verse 18 “this rock” is Jesus. He is referring to himself, naming himself, as Peter just confessed Him to be the Son of God. Picture Him standing before Peter and pointing a finger at himself as he says, “upon this rock”. Jesus is the rock of Israel as prophesied throughout the entire Old Testament. (Psa. 118:22; Is. 28:16) Peter was “a rock” that would help build the church, but Jesus was THE rock, the cornerstone, and it was Jesus upon whom the church would be built. To state otherwise is contrary to all Old Testament scripture concerning the Messiah.
The Roman Catholic Church has twisted this scripture to rationalize and claim an authority they do not have.
Peter’s faith and confession, that Jesus is the Son of God was rewarded as Jesus gave Peter the keys to the kingdom. Keys are symbols in earthly man’s view of authority as they are the items which opened locked doors to safes, storehouses, spice chests, and other doors to great wealth. And, the keys Jesus gave to Peter also opened doors of great wealth. They opened the doors to the spiritual kingdom of Christ.
It was Peter who opened the door of the Kingdom to the Jews on the day of Pentecost. And, it was Peter who opened the door of the Kingdom to the Gentiles at the House of Cornelius in Acts 10. In both instances the Holy Ghost fell upon those present. The Jews (those of the circumcision) were astonished that the Gentiles were receiving the same gift of the Holy Ghost as they had received, and began to understand that “…Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.” Acts 10: 34-35.
The keys given to Peter were not to provide him with a higher position than the other disciples, but to perform a function in establishing the spiritual kingdom of Christ. This kingdom is open to all those who will answer the call of the gospel of Christ. Peter tells exactly what a man or woman must do to answer that call and be saved in Acts 2. Believe, repent, confess, and be baptized (immersed) for the remission of sins, and then are you covered by the blood of Christ. Only then have you put on Christ, and have been added to the church of Christ, the body of Christ.
The Roman Catholic Church, is not the church of Christ; it is not the body of Christ. They have no right to name the Pope as a Vicar of Christ when they distort the word of God. The Roman Catholic Church has lied throughout the last 18 centuries claiming an authority they do not have, and have repeatedly twisted the scriptures to ensure they maintain control and authority on earth. They have twisted the scriptures into another gospel which is anathema, and thus are not of God.