- Examining the “Seat of Peter” by Examining the Example of Peter
- Examining the “Seat of Peter” by Examining the Example of Peter
The “Seat of Peter”, as called by Catholic Tradition, denoting to the “Holy See”, otherwise known as the Papacy, has been claimed by the Popes to justify their authority – as believed to be the succession of “Peter’s Throne”.
There are many extra-biblical traditions of the Roman Church which have evolved into endless Papal Canons & Decrees, and even false documents and forgeries designed to reinforce the supremacy of the Papacy.
The only reliable source which will be considered here are the very teachings of Christ & the Apostles as documented in the New Testament. So as far as the scriptures are concerned, the primary passage where the Papacy derives this claim is from Matthew 16:18-19, when Jesus says,
“I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.”
While the above passage has been the subject of great debate, the confusion of diversities should not be too daunting when keeping this passage within the context of the New Testament as a whole. That is the purpose of this article – to consider the surrounding truths associated with this passage, to attain a better understanding of how this is to be seen and applied.
So I will not bother repeating again the commentaries already displayed by many reliable scholars in regards to this particular passage, but would like to appeal to the very words and example of Peter himself, and see how close or not Peter’s teachings and example resemble that of the Popes:
Where is this “throne”?
First off, after examining the two letters of Peter and the Acts of the Apostles, there is nowhere to be found any inkling of the notion of him being elevated as a superior upon a throne. Instead, Peter identifies himself as an elder in his first letter chapter 5. Yet not a ‘superior elder’ or ‘chief elder’, but “a fellow elder”. Already that alone is completely contrary to the idea of Peter’s so-called “throne” or any kind of chain-of-command hierarchical system.
The word rendered ‘elder’ is translated from the Greek word presbuteros, which simply means – one who is mature and experienced to oversee. And it happens that overseer is the word which translates from episcapeo, often rendered as ‘bishop’. So the word ‘elder’ or ‘overseer’ or ‘bishop’ are all interchangeable since they denote to one who is well seasoned with the function of overseeing the Church.
But now we have to make sure we understand what it means to oversee. Peter continues on with his exhortation (not a command, but exhortation) to his fellow elders to “shepherd the flock” (that is to guide & care for) “which is among you…”. Notice how Peter instructs the elders to guide the assembly from ‘among them’, and not ‘over them’. And just to be clear, he says in verse 3, “not as lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock”.
So it is clear in Peter’s teaching that elders are to guide from among the assembly without dominating over them (all are on the same ground), but to lead by ‘example’, and not by “executive order”. This is a perfect explanation of the concept of ‘Servant Leadership’ introduced by Jesus. –Matt 20:25-28.
Still Peter gives further explanation in verse 2, “…serving as overseers…” This confirms the point already made about how elders (presbuteros) act as overseers (episcapeo), also rendered as bishops; so all these titles are different ways of describing the same function. The description also denotes the title to be a function indeed, a function based on strong moral character, and not merely a ‘position’ or ‘office’ to be filled by just those who are affluent –1 Timothy 3:1-7.
“…serving as overseers, not by compulsion, but willingly, nor for dishonest gain, but eagerly…” So an overseer-elder-bishop is encouraged to guide without begrudging the duty, or without selfish & dishonest ambition, but with eagerness to serve.
“…and when the Chief Shepherd appears…” that is none other than Jesus Christ, “…you will receive the crown of glory…” Only upon the return of Christ will there be an exaltation of elders -but- we should not presume a worldly notion of a hierarchical system even then – since ALL of those who are God’s people are “a royal priesthood” who will ALL be exalted and given a crown of glory on that great Day. –1 Peter 2:5, 2:9
Where is the notion of “Papal Infallibility”?
The idea of the popes being above correction of any blame or sin is another invention which is nowhere to be found in the scriptures; Rather, to the utmost contrary, we see the record of Peter being confronted for his hypocrisy by his fellow elder Paul:
“Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was to be blamed…”
In his letter to the Galatians 2:11-14, Paul recounts his confrontation to Peter, for acting like a hypocrite rather than being straightforward with the truth. This may give the suspicion that there was some kind of schism between Peter & Paul, but the idea of a schism is washed away by Peter’s own words when, in his letter he wrote later, mentions Paul as “our beloved brother” –2nd Peter 3:15.
Obviously Peter did not view himself as “infallible” and above correction. We see a time in Peter’s life when he caved-in to the pressure of persecution in which he feared men more than God, resulting in a hypocritical double standard. Yet it is clear from Peter’s letters that Peter corrected his transgression — without having any ill-regard toward Paul who confronted him on the matter.
Where do we find the title “Pope”?
Pope means papa, or father, and again, nowhere in the scriptures do we find this idea or title applied to Peter or any of the Apostles or elders-bishops-overseers. Rather the Lord Jesus Himself plainly teaches, “Do not call anyone on earth your father; for one is your father, He Who is in Heaven” –Matthew 23:9.
Peter did not fancy himself with such a title, but, as far as family terms go, only spoke of himself as a ‘brother’. An ‘elder’ would be a community term, and an ‘apostle’ would be a missionary term. The terms ‘brother’, ‘elder’ and ‘apostle’ are the type of terms Peter identified himself with; Never did he assume a Godfather term as ‘Pope’.
Another idea we would be hard-pressed to find in Peter’s teachings and example is the blasphemous act of presuming to be an intermediary between God & man; a role that belongs to none other than Jesus Christ.
“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” –1 Timothy 2:5
We already went through Peter’s instructions to elders in 1 Peter 5:1-4, where he describes the functions of elders, which in no way gives any instruction to act as intermediaries. Rather Peter asserts with the utmost certainty and boldness of the exclusive redemption of Jesus, “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved” –Acts 4:12
“God on Earth” ???
The Popes throughout history have claimed and been proclaimed as “God on Earth” among numerous other titles and definitions which assert the idea of the Papacy possessing a divine nature and authority, in which popes have a long standing tradition of assuming prerogatives which belong only to God alone, such as forgiveness of sins, infallibility, and even usurping Gods authority – among many other endless blasphemies.
To the contrary we have accounts of Peter setting the record straight with any such ideas, “…why look so intently at us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk?” –Acts 3:11-13
Peter new the tendency of human nature to venerate notable human figures as icons to the point of idolatry. He did not even give the people a chance to do so as he immediately guided their perception of the miracle done to the power of the one and only true God(Yahweh).
Supremacy of the ‘Religious Establishment’ ?
Peter follows suit by railing against the same system when pressured to submit to the ecclesiastical order, “We ought to obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging Him on a tree.” –Acts 5:29
It should come as no surprise to observe the innumerable followers of Jesus who were murdered throughout history for ‘obeying God rather than men’, refusing to submit to the ecclesiastical order of Papal Rome, which perpetuated the same murderous-antichrist spirit of the scribes and Pharisees of Jesus’ day. –John 16:2, Matt 24:9, Dan 7:21, Fox’s Book of Martyrs
Repent or Penance?
The bible translation historically used by the Catholic Church is the Latin Vulgate. After the fall of Constantinople in 1453, many Greeks fled to western Europe, bringing with them manuscripts of the New Testament in its original Greek language. This exposed the corruption of the Latin Vulgate on many levels.
Among the many alterations of the Latin Vulgate translation of the New Testament is where the word ‘repentance’ was supplanted by the word ‘penance’. These are two entirely different concepts, but we can now be sure what Peter meant when he said, “REPENT and let everyone of you be baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” –Acts 2:39
Word of God or Word of the Pope?
“So we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place…” –2 Peter 1:19
While Peter’s writings were confirmed among the prophetic Word of God, his words were precisely in line with the prophetic word confirmed before him, as he heavily quotes from the former prophets while explaining how Jesus, the Living Word, is the very fulfillment of all such prophesy. –Acts 2:14-35, 3::22-26, 4:8-12, 10:34-43, 1 Peter 1:16, 24-25, 2:6-8, 22, 3:10-12, 4:18, etc.
Another presumption with no biblical basis is the idea of celibacy as a prerequisite for bishops. Again we see yet another tradition which does not sync with the example of Peter;
“Do we not have a right to take along a believing wife, even as the rest of the apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas(Peter)?”–1st Corinthians 9:5
In 1st Corinthians 7, the Apostle Paul gives some very straight forward guidelines for each individual to determine whether or not to be married or celibate, as he addresses the pros and cons of each lifestyle. With this instruction we may see there is not a general requirement for Bishops to be celibate, and just to be clear, we see Timothy’s instructions for Bishops marital status to be limited to one wife, but not limited to celibacy. –1st Timothy 3:2
“…but as He Who called you is holy, you also be holy in your conduct, because it is written, ‘Be holy, for I Am holy'” –1 Peter 1:16
Peter displays great emphasis on moral conduct being a vital faucet of faith, as he connects that with the cleansing effect of suffering, “Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same attitude; for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, that he should no longer live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God…” –1 Peter 4:1-3
I will not even attempt to scratch the surface of just how extreme and countless the morally depraved deeds of the Popes have been throughout history, which have thoroughly fulfilled every sin and abomination named in the scriptures; but for further inquiry see ‘Vicars of Christ: ‘The Dark Side of The Papacy’
“…but being examples…”
Now if there is any legacy of Peter which the Popes wish to lay claim to, then they would have done well by actually following the example & teachings of Peter. The abundance of Papal history shows how far the popes have departed from the very Apostle they presume to derive their authority from. The only words of Peter which they fulfill are those spoken about false teachers –2 Peter 2.
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