Primacy of Peter

Good questions.

JB: While it appears that Jesus is giving Peter the singular authority to permit and bind in Math 16:19, he gives the same authority to a much larger audience, in Math 18:18.

BFHU: Let’s take a look at the scriptures.

Mt. 16:19 17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven;  whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

Mt 18:18 (At that time the disciples came to Jesus and asked)… 18 “Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

You see that Jesus did give the same authority to all the apostles to bind and loose, which was a Rabbinic idiom for “the authority to rule”. Which is absolutely still true for our Bishops. However, Jesus also gave Peter a greater responsibility by giving Peter and only Peter the Keys of the Kingdom.

Jesus give Peter the Keys to the Kingdom

You may dismiss this as irrelevant or just an omission from the Mt 18 passage but we see this as significant.  But remember, the Catholic Church did not look at this verse and say, “Ah ha! Peter is greater than the other disciples.”
No, historically the bishop of Rome was the final authority in the Christian Catholic Church. It is easy to find. But you have to have eyes to see. Apologists for the Catholic Church point out this verse because Protestants demand scripture even though their teaching of Sola Scriptura is not found in the Bible.

JB: I understand that the argument for Peters sole authority would then deduce that Math 18:18 would suggest that all spoken to at that time understood Peter to be prime, but that is still a stretch and really only can be seen if the reader assumes Jesus was establishing Peter as the ‘Rock’ of the Church.

BFHU: Here you touch on a very important difference between the Catholic Church and Protestant churches. For Protestants, there exists in their minds an either-or mentality. Such as, either Peter is the Rock or Jesus is the Rock. If Peter is the Rock then that detracts from Jesus/God who is designated often in the OT as the Rock of Israel, etc. Therefore Peter CANNOT  be the Rock Jesus is talking about.

But, for Catholics this mindset is not foundational as it is in Protestantism. We have a both-and mentality. Jesus/God is certainly the Rock of Israel/ God.

1 Corinthians 10:4 and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a <strong>spiritual rock</strong> which followed them; and the rock was Christ.

Deuteronomy 32:4 He is the  Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just.A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.

Isaiah 30:29You will have songs as in the night when you keep the festival,And gladness of heart as when one marches to the sound of the flute,To go to the mountain of the LORD, to the  Rock of Israel .

But In Matthew 15 Jesus changes Simon’s name to Rock/Peter/Cephas and tells him He will build His Church on Rock/Peter. Of course, Jesus is also Rock. Both Peter and God are Rock, a strong foundation. We don’t have to choose either one or the other but both. And, there is no Scripture that demands that the title Rock can only be applied to God.

JB: In addition; 1 John 4:1 creates a problem in that the Catholic church teaches (you need to understand that I spent the first 28 years of my life in the Catholic church and received the first 5 Sacraments), that Catholics are to accept the teaching of the church by faith. I was also told on numerous occasions, that the reading of the Bible was for the church leadership (Priests, Bishops etc.) and not for the laity…I am not asking your opinion on this point; I am telling you that was the teaching I received from the four churches I attended, three in Massachusetts and one in New Brunswick.

BFHU: The Catholic Church does not forbid following I Jn 4:1. The Church is our Mother. If the Mother of a child tells him not to run out into the street it is to protect her child. Should the child test the truth of his mother’s instruction and run out into the street to see if it is true? It is the same for the Catholic Church. The young and immature in the Faith need to trust the teachings of the Church because many false prophets have gone out into the world. Because levels of maturity vary it is safest for the Church to encourage her children to trust rather than test every doctrine. However, any well instructed and faithful Catholic who seeks the truth can certainly explore and test what the Church teaches. I did and converted from being a zealous Protestant to a zealous Catholic. All her Doctrines are sublime.

But, many Catholics explore and test with an agenda, perhaps even an agenda hidden from themselves. They really want a good excuse to free themselves from certain Catholic Doctrines that they don’t like. Unpopular doctrines like the prohibition of contraception, sinfulness of homosexual intercourse, prohibition of divorce, obligation to attend Church every Sunday and Holy Day. So, they “test” the spirits and VOILA! ….thanks to Protestant interpretation of Scripture they find just the rationale they sought to leave the Catholic Church. They have unwittingly fallen into the very trap John warned about:

1 John 4: 1 Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, 3 but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.

Does the Catholic Church acknowledge that  Jesus Christ has come in the flesh ?
YES! It certainly does.

JB: How then do we ‘test the Spirits which could be prophets or teachers, if you cannot read the very word of God? You know; I am a sub-contractor and as such am required to sign a sub contract which is based on the prime contract. I am permitted to see the prime contract, and read it, in order to be satisfied that the sub contract is in fact aligned with the requirements of the prime.

BFHU: The Church does not forbid the reading of Scripture. We are cautioned to read it WITH THE CHURCH. But scripture reading and meditation are encouraged.

There was a time when it was forbidden due to the Protestant revolt that inflamed the minds with error. But this is no longer the case. If you were told not to read scripture it was the people who told you that for whatever reason, I don’t know. Maybe that is what they were taught. Or maybe your questions scared them or they did know how to answer them, so they told you not to read scripture. But the Church does not and has not forbidden the reading of Scripture by the laity for a long time.

JB: How then do we ‘test the Spirits which could be prophets or teachers, if you cannot read the very word of God?

BFHU: The testing had to be done spiritually and comparing sound doctrine to the words of so-called prophet or teachers. This passage COULD NOT HAVE MEANT THAT IN ORDER TO TEST THE SPIRITS ONE HAD TO READ SCRIPTURE.

That is impossible.

Since John wrote in the 1st Century, hardly anyone in the population could read. Even today worldwide illiteracy is 20%. So, it is an impossibility that salvation and testing of spirits depended upon reading Scripture.

And besides, at today’s $8.00/hr minimum wage ONE Bible would have cost more than the equivalent of  $16,000, to produce, before the invention of the printing press. For more information see –>Sola Scriptura

Therefore, one does NOT have to read scripture to test the spirits. But, the Catholic Church has always read the scriptures to the faithful.

JB: Even in Timothy there is an admonition to study to show oneself approved.
BFHU: Timothy was not laity. Paul was not addressing this admonition to everyone. Timothy must have had the ability to study/read and access to books.

JB: My point is; I understand the Catholic churches stand, I am just not convinced the very Scripture that is the linchpin of the claim says precisely what they think it says

BFHU: I understand your point. But you have fallen back into the Protestant error that the Catholic Church derives her doctrine and beliefs FROM Scripture. We do NOT. Rather, scripture was born FROM the teachings of Jesus, the Apostles and the Catholic Church. So the Mt. 15 passage is NOT any sort of linchpin for the claim of Peter’s primacy. Don’t you find it unsettling that Sola Scriptura is




One Response

  1. Further note we can find Peter primacy in more verses than just the reading of the keys. Look how Peter interacts with the Apostles during Pentecost (Act 2:14) and the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15:7). Peter speaks with authority on behalf of the Apostles. Even in the Council he is the one to declare the doctrine to baptize gentiles without circumcision, and if you read Acts 15:7 it say Peter got up and said to them, “My brothers, you are well aware that from early days God made his choice among you that through my mouth the Gentiles would hear the word of the gospel and believe.
    “. Through whose mouth? “my mouth”(Peter’s). These are just examples of how Peter has shown his Primacy.

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