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Was Peter Pope? (1)

By Ferrell Jenkins

Introduction: Authority is important. As Jesus taught He was asked by the chief priests and elders. “By what
authority doest thou these things? and who gave these this authority?” (Matt. 21:23).


A Catholic Invitation


. . . the Catholic Church says again and again to people everywhere: ‘Investigate! Investigate!’ . . . The
Catholic Church therefore invites you to inquire into its teaching and practices . . . to find out for yourself if
what you believe about the Church is true or false. Learn for yourself. . . .” (From an ad “Why The Catholic
Church says ‘INVESTIGATE!’ ” published by the Supreme Council Knights of Columbus). .


A Bible Injunction:


But test all things; hold fast that which is good” (I Thess. 5:21)-The Confraternity Edition of the New
Testament (official Catholic translation).


Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are of God; because many false
prophets have gone forth into the world” (I John 4:1-Confraternity).


1. The Claim Of The Catholic Church


A. James Cardinal Gibbons, who was Archbishop of Baltimore, stated the dogma as follows:


The Catholic Church teaches, also, that our Lord conferred on St. Peter the first place of honor and jurisdiction
in the government of His whole church, and that the same spiritual supremacy has always resided in the Popes,
or Bishops of Rome, as being the successors of St. Peter. Consequently, to be true followers of Christ, all
Christians, both among the clergy and the laity, must be in communion with the See of Rome, where Peter rules
in the person of his successors. (Gibbons: The Faith of Our Fathers, 110th Revised Edition, p. 78).


B. To uphold the above claim FOUR things must be proven:


1. Peter was Pope.


2. Peter was to have a successor.


3. The Bishops or Rome were to be his successors.


  • The present Roman Catholic church still teaches the doctrine which was taught in Peter’s day-in other
    words, that the Roman Catholic Church has not apostatized.


C. They maintain the pope is INFALLIBLE. This does not mean inspired or sinless.


The infallibility of the Popes does not signify that they are inspired. The Apostles were endowed with the gift
of inspiration, and we accept their writings as the revealed word of God. (Gibbons, P. 99).


What, then, is the real doctrine of Infallibility? It simply means that the Pope, as successor of St. Peter, Prince
of the Apostles, by virtue of the promises of Jesus Christ, is preserved from error of judgment when he
promulgates to the Church a decision of faith or morals. The Pope, therefore, be it known, is not the maker of
the divine law; he is only its expounder. He is not the author of revelation, but only its interpreter. All revelation
from God alone through inspired ministers, and it was complete in the beginning of the Church. The Holy
Father has no more authority than you or I to break one iota of the Scripture, and he is equally with us the
servants of the Divine law (Gibbons, p. 101).


1. Could we not understand the New Testament as well as the interpretations of the Pope?


2. INFALLIBILITY does not give the pope the right to substitute or change.


  • Yet Catholics have changed the will of God. How could the Pope in his infallibility allow this? We
    might illustrate these changes with many teachings. One will suffice: Baptism (recognized by all
    scholars and defined by all lexicons to mean immersion, was practiced universally in first century)
    has been changed to sprinkling. This was Christ’s command (Matt. 28:19). We will be judged by
    His, words (John 12:48) and not by the Pope’s decree!


D. The Question is not: “Was Peter prominent” or “Was he often in the limelight”; it is “Was he Pope and the
bishops of Rome his successor?”


II. Catholics Appeal To the Bible-Their Scriptural Claims Examined.


  • Catholics claim that Peter is the rock on which the church is built (Matt. 16:18-19).


And I say to thee, thou are Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church and the gates of hell shall not
prevail against it. And I will give thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever thou shalt bind on
earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Confraternity).


  • They say that the “rock” is Peter. Often the “Fathers of the Church” are called upon in proof of this:


a. Here is the value of the “Fathers”:


Christians of every denomination admit the orthodoxy of the Fathers of the first five centuries of the
Church. … They were to the Church in their generation what Peter and Paul and James were to the
Church in its infancy. We instinctively consult them about the faith of those times; for, to whom shall
we go for the Words of eternal life, if not to them? (Gibbons, p. 93).


Gibbons cites such men as Basil, Chrysostom, Cyprian, Augustine, Jerome, Ambrose and Leo.


    • Atwater (A CATHOLIC DlCTIONARY, 3rd edition, P. 190) says: “The authority of these fathers
      is great though not unlimited; but when they show a morally unanimous consent on a point of
      doctrine it is considered decisive.”


2. On the subject of the ROCK the patristic writings show four major views:


  • 8 fathers say it refers to ALL OF THE APOSTLES. (Including Origen, Cyprian, and Jerome).


  • 16 fathers say it refers to CHRIST HIMSELF (including Augustine).


c. 17 fathers say it refers to PETER.


  • 44 fathers say it refers to the FAITH WHICH PETER CONFESSED (including Gregory of
    Hyssa, Chrysostom, Hilary, Ambrose, and Augustine again).


DOCUMENTATION: James D. Bales, Was Peter Pope?, quotes Giorgio Bartoli, a Jesuit who left them
of his own accord, as a result of his studies, p. 11. James M. Too!e,
Was The Apostle Peter Pope?,
quotes Dr. Kendrick Catholic archbishop of St. Louis (the first), p. 8. George D. Salmon, The Infallibility
of the Church, credits French Roman Catholic Launoy, p. 121.


3. It’s easy to see that the Fathers do not have a “unanimous consent” on this point of doctrine. They can not
be called upon to testify!4. Another point: “As to the Greek Fathers, it would be useless to quote them, for the entire Greek Church
in her genuine testimonies has never accepted the doctrine of Papal supremacy, much less of Papal
Infallibility.” (Philip Schaff, “The History of The Vatican Council, The Papal Syllabus and The Vatican


Now to evade the forces of Scripture we are told by them: “The word Peter, in the Syro-Chaldaic tongue, which
our Savior spoke means a rock. The sentence runs thus in that language: ‘Thou art a rock, and on this rock I
will build My Church.” (Gibbons, pp. 81-82). The Catholic Encyclopedia (Vol. XI, p. 746) informs us that
Jesus was speaking Aramaic and that the word that has been translated “rock” and “Peter” was KEPHA.


  • I deny that Matthew was written in Aramaic. No such MS exists.


A Chart On Matthew 16:18


GREEK-”Su ei petros kai epi tauta ta petra. . .”


LATIN VULGATE-”Tu es Petrus, et supre hanc petram. . .”


CATHOLIC CONFRATERNITY-”thou art Peter, and upon this rock. . .”


KING JAMES-”thou art Peter, and upon this rock. . .”


AMERICAN STANDARD-”thou art Peter, and upon this rock. . .”


Comments on the chart:


1. GREEK — petros is masculine in gender, petra is in the feminine gender


2. LATIN VULGATE — made by Jerome in 382 A.D. Jerome revised the Old Latin and studied ancient
manuscripts. This version was declared by the Council of Trent (1546) to be an authentic version of the
Scriptures. Two different words are used: Petrus and petram.


3. CATHOLIC CONFRATERNITY — a translation, by the Catholics, of the Vulgate. Note: they have translated not one word, but two.


4. The KING JAMES and AMERICAN STANDARD (1901) translates two words identical to the


a. Matthew 16:18-THOU is a 2nd person pronoun (personal pronoun).THIS is a 3rd person demonstrative


NOTE: If there was really only one word, instead of two, why haven’t the Catholics corrected their own
translations? We believe the translations to be correct!


Other passages also show that the church was not built on Peter (Eph. 2:20, 1 Con 3:11).


III. Another Scriptural Claim Examined — Luke 22:32


But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith may not fail; and do thou, when once thou hast turned again,
strengthen thy brethren. (Confraternity)


A. Christ prayed for other apostles and disciples also (Jn. 17:9, 15, 20).


B. “Strengthening” or “confirming” brethren not the peculiar work of Peter: The original word is “sterizo” and
it is found in Acts 14:22; 15:32, 41 ; 18:23; of Paul and Barnabas confirming (strengthening brethren) et al.


1. Catholics say: “. . . but Peter alone was made . . . the Confirmer of the brethren.” (Conway: Question Box,
1907, p. 280).


2. Paul was unaware of Peter’s perogatives-2 Cor. 11 :28.


C. Jesus knew that Peter was going to deny Him. He simply stated that he had prayed for him.

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