There Was NO Papal Primacy for the First 1000 Years of Christianity!


papacyKim: In the first 1,000 years there was no papal primacy,what church are you refering to ?

BFHU: There absolutely was papal primacy attributed to the Bishop of Rome. One of the reasons I was convinced of this is that while reading about some controversy in the early Church ( I was not even researching evidence for papal primacy)I saw that historically, it was always decided, that to settle a matter, they would go to the Bishop of Rome for a final decision. I don’t remember what historical event I was looking up back then but here are a few ancient examples way, way, way, before 1000AD

In the writings of the Early Church Fathers the fact of the primacy of the Bishop of Rome is taken for granted. Before, 80 A.D. the Corinthian Church kicked out their bishop. Appeals were made to Pope Clement I,(who died in 80 AD) the fourth Bishop of Rome to settle the matter. And yet, the Apostle St. John was still alive at Ephesus and living a lot closer to Corinth than Rome. Never-the-less the appeals were made to the Pope/Bishop of Rome rather than to one of the 12 original apostles,  because all knew that only the Bishop of Rome had the authority to make a binding decision.Peter & the Keys

Pope Clement I: “You therefore, who laid the foundation of the rebellion, submit to the presbyters(priests) and be chastened to repentance, bending your knees in a spirit of humility.

“If anyone disobey the things which have been said by Him (Jesus) through us (Pope & Church) let them know that they will involve themselves in transgression and in no small danger”(First Letter to the Corinthians)

St. Irenaeus180 AD, a student of St. Polycarp (a disciple of St. John the Apostle), exhorts all “Christians (to) be united to the Church of Rome in order to maintain the Apostolic Tradition/Teaching.

St. Irenaeus: “But since it would be too long to enumerate in such a small volume as this, the succession of all the Churches, we shall confound all those who, in whatever manner, whether through self-satisfaction or vainglory, or through blindness and wicked opinion, assemble other than where it is proper, by pointing out here the succession of the bishops of the greatest and most ancient Church known to all,  founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul, that Church which has the tradition and the faith which comes down to us, after having been announced to men, by the Apostles. For with this Church, because of its superior origin, all the Churches must agree, that is all the faithful in the whole world; and it is in her that the faithful everywhere have maintained the Apostolic traditions. (Against Heresies)

St Peter'sHe then made a list of all the Bishops of Rome up to his time. There is nothing in his writing that sounds like he is trying to be convincing because he is teaching something new, but rather that all Christians took for granted that the Bishop of Rome is the head of the Church.

Also, for 250 years the Roman Emperors tried to destroy Christianity through persecution. In the first 200 years of Christianity, every Pope but one was martyred. So, even the pagans knew that the Bishop of Rome was the head of the Church.

A Roman Emperor’s greatest fear was a rival to the throne. Nevertheless, the emperor Decius (249-251 A.D.) one of the harshest persecutors of the early Christian Church made the following remark:

I would far rather receive news of a rival to the throne than of another bishop of Rome. (Christian History, Issue 27 1990, vol IX, No. 3, p22)

Decius said this after he had executed Pope Fabian in 250 A.D.
Beginning Apologetics by Fr. Frank Chacon and Jim Burnham

What Biblical Authority Do Catholics Have for Heirarchy?



Q. Also, I don’t see any biblical evidence for apostles handing down their authority to guard and dispense the truth, to have popes, bishops etc.

A. There is historical evidence about the growth and development of the Christian Church. But if you mean biblical evidence:

In the early Church there were all three ordained offices of the Catholic Church that we have today (Deacons, Priests, Bishops). They were called by different names but the offices were in existence and are designated in Acts 6:5 and Acts 15 at the first Church Council and elsewhere in the New Testament.

First, we have Peter at the council who stood up and settled the dispute brought to the First Church Council in Jerusalem by Paul and Barnabus regarding what to require of Gentile Christians. Jesus made Peter the leader of His ChurchPOPE or Vicar of Christ in Matthew 16:17-19. Jesus gave Peter the Keys of the Kingdom, the authority to rule.

ACTS 15:6 The apostles and the elders came together to look into this matter.

Then, also present at the first Church Council were the apostles who became the first BISHOPS ( Gr. Episkopos) in the Church. There are many other New Testament passages that mention the office of bishop or overseer.

Next we see PRIESTS, called elders in the New Testament because this is the strict English and Protestant translation of the Greek presbuteros. However, our English word Priest is etymologically derived from the Greek word presbuteros.

And finally we have DEACONS:Stephen and others in Acts 6 and qualifications of deacons in I Timothy 3:8-12. There are many other NT passages also that talk about deacons.

Also, Peter does away with the sign of the covenant, centuries of Jewish circumcision in Acts 15:5ff. He also, gets rid of the Jewish dietary laws given to the Jews by God through Moses. They stopped the Jewish sacrifices. Peter authoritatively stopped all these seemingly perpetual practices of the Jews, the people of God.

There is nothing in Scripture alone that explicitly authorizes Peter to do this. There are implications but nothing clear and unequivocal. That is because the Christians in the infant Church were NOT Sola Scriptura. But the Jews were.

John 5:39 You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; 40and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life.