Peter and the Council of Jerusalem

“And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

Last week, I posted an entry describing the doctrine of infallibility. The purpose of this blog post will be to demonstrate that the Church under the original apostles was granted this power, and exercised it in response to theological controversy in the context of a single council, lead by Peter, with authority over the whole Church. With respect to conciliar and papal authority, there are two New Testament passages of particular interest: Matthew 16:17-19, which we Catholics claim records the institution of the papacy, and Acts 15: the first council of the church, over which Peter presided and a doctrinal question in the early church was resolved. To determine the grammatical number of pronouns used in the Greek, I referred to a Bible web app that lets one to type in a reference, and then mouse over the Greek text to see the translation, tense, and grammatical number of a word being used.

In verse 15 of the 16th chapter of Matthew, Christ asked his disciples, “Who do you [plural] believe that I am?” Peter responds correctly, and Christ says “you are Peter, and upon this rock will I build my Church” and “I will give you [singular] the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven, and whatever you [singular] bind on earth will be bound in Heaven, and whatever you [singular] loose on earth will be loosed in Heaven.” This power of binding and loosing would have been well-known to the Jews as the power to forbid or allow practices without dispute. Further, the phrase “is bound in Heaven” implies that such binding or loosing by Peter would so much make a practice moral or immoral, but that executions of this power by Peter would be guaranteed to reflect the Heavenly order. The use of the ‘singular you’ indicates that this ‘power of the keys’ is given directly to Peter in particular, and not the apostles as a whole.

The ‘plural you’ makes an appearance in Matthew 18:18, where Christ also grants the ‘binding and loosing’ power (though no mention of keys or rocks) to a different group. The beginning of the chapter calls this group ‘the disciples’ – a term Matthew uses elsewhere to refer explicitly to the twelve apostles. Though this is sometimes used as a proof-text to argue that the authority vested in Peter in chapter 16 has been actually delegated to the entire Church, this passage is deeply in accord with Catholic teaching. Christ is giving this power to the apostles, either to each and every individual, or corporately, to the body of the apostles. This power of binding and loosing of practices or ideas is guaranteed to be in accord with Heaven, since the passage uses the perfect tense “is bound in Heaven.” Thus, it is impossible that two apostles would contradict one another by the use of the practice: one binding and the other loosing, since these determinations reflect the reality of Heaven, and cannot be contradictory. If the power is given to the apostles as a whole, you have exactly the Roman Catholic teaching about the college of bishops (at least in the early days, considering only the apostles) as being infallible when collectively teaching something. If the power is given to each apostle individually, then something stronger than Catholic teaching must have been true in the early Church.

The authority of the apostles and Peter is shown in the early Church’s Council of Jerusalem, as recorded in Acts 15. Certain men had been teaching that “unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” This ‘circumcision party’ (worst party ever) was influential, and managed to intimidate Peter into not eating with the uncircumcised when they were around, as recorded in Galatians 2:11-14. By his actions, he had been leading others astray. Paul and Barnabus, encountering Judiazers, argued with them about what they were teaching. Unable to resolve the dispute, the local church appointed Paul, Barnabus, and others to “go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and elders.” There, the apostles and elders gathered together and heard both sets of arguments. Verses 7-11 record that next, Peter stood, and gave the judgment that would ultimately be the judgment of the council: “But we believe that we shall be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.” James then supplied additional support to Peter’s judgment, drawing from the words of the prophets. The council then sent out appointed men to all the churches bearing a letter relating the judgment of the council on Judiazing. This letter did not hesitate to put obligations on the members of the Church: “that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what is strangled and from unchastity.” A matter of dispute arose in the early Church. It was brought before the council of apostles and elders (whom Catholics would call bishops and priests). The head of the apostles made a doctrinal judgment, which was recorded in a letter sent to all the churches, along with James’ application of the doctrinal judgment requiring the Gentiles follow a minimalistic code to ensure peaceable relations with the Jews. This more or less followed the formula for a council of the Church.

Setting aside (for now) the issue of apostolic succession, and considering only the early Church, I think it is clear that the Catholic model of ecclesial government, including the infallibility of decrees made by the earthly head of the Church or the unanimous body of its bishops, fits scripture very well. I can’t say that it is the only such model of ecclesial government that does – given my knowledge of the various Protestant and Orthodox theories is incomplete, and that saying ‘every other theory is wrong’ sort of requires potentially infinitely many refutations. However, even if you agree with my analysis, it’s a moot point, because Peter and all the apostles are dead, right? Tune in next time…

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15 responses to “Peter and the Council of Jerusalem

  1. If I may offer a correction: Peter wasn’t the head of the Jerusalem Council. James was the head of the church there, and while Peter offered the compelling argument, it was James who issued the decree through his own authority and who appears to have been the leader of the Christian movement until his death.

    And I do apologize–as a Lutheran seminarian, debate is in my blood. I don’t mean to be offensive or argumentative, but continual dialogue and conversation is the only way Christians are ever going to truly understand each other, and I enjoy hearing and contemplating beliefs all over the spectrum.

    I’m curious about what happens after the Apostles are dead. You argue that Peter is addressing Peter directly in front of the Apostles (which he is), and therefore, his words apply only to Peter. It seems logical, then, that once Peter and the Apostles are gone, the power to bind and loose goes away. I have a feeling I know where the argument goes, but this is not an area I’m well-read in.

    The one true test of infallibility, however, is still that it isn’t figured out until much later. We only know what was supposedly infallible because scholars and theologians have looked back over the years and seen which decisions worked out in the criteria and which ones didn’t.

    Which brings up the main objection to papal infallibility from Protestants–it is 100% human-centered. Humanity is given control over God’s will and God’s reign and only humanity can determine when this is the case.

    • Re: What happens after Peter and the Apostles are dead?
      Jesus, The Son of God was the keyholder as was prophesied in Isaiah. I think we can agree on that. Jesus had to leave this earth so he handed the keys to Peter. Naturally, Jesus knew Peter would not live forever, so I think it is safe to assume that Peter would pass this responsibility on to the next person. And again, what ever Peter binded on earth would be binded in heaven. It would have been the only responsible thing to do. To follow in Jesus example and to pass the key along.. God Bless

  2. Hi,
    I admit the argument about Matthew 16 and 18 is pretty good– at least the part about Jesus addressing Peter specifically and the authority associated with binding and losing given to both Peter and the other disciples (not their successors). But what are the keys of the kingdom? Also, I’m not convinced about Peter’s role in Acts 15. Acts 15 demonstrates apostolic authority of all the apostles (and elders?) and even sheds light on Peter’s keys, but it does not effectively show Peter to be pope as the Catholic church structures it today nor even to be the most authoritative among the apostles. It shows scripture to be the most authoritative, James to be the central leader, and for all of the apostles and elders (including Peter and James) to be subject to a consensus that modifies the judgments of Peter and James.

    Peter says in Acts 15 (NIV – not the best translation, I know):

    “After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: “Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe. 8 God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. 9 He did not discriminate between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith. 10 Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear? 11 No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.””

    Peter notes his special role as the one to open the gospel up to the Gentiles. This could be just one aspect of his calling, or it could be the very definition of him having the keys of the kingdom. There is a lot of material concerning this role of letting in Gentiles. Acts shows Peter bringing the gospel to the Jews (Pentecost), to the half-Jews (Samaritans), and finally to the Gentiles (complete with a vision) before the Acts narrative switches to primarily Paul’s story. Peter did not complete the mission to the Gentiles, Paul did. But Peter opened the gate and provided the foundation for the church to include both Jews and Gentiles.

    I’m surveying different scriptures about Peter to find additional facets to his role, and in Acts, I only see two references to Peter where he acts as a leader not directly related to sharing the gospel and/or including the Jews. The first is when he calls for someone to replace Judas in Acts 1, which is then decided upon by prayer and lots rather than by Peter. And the other is his rebuke to Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5. The first example demonstrates his leadership and the second his apostolic authority, but these two references are hardly sufficient to demonstrate that he is the Pope or had more authority than the other apostles. Then in the epistles Peter is singled out as someone important for Paul to visit (Gal. 1). But in the very next chapter, Gal. 2, Paul cites all three of the main leaders, James, Peter, and John, as leaders to endorse his ministry. And Paul cites James first, indicating James might be the most prominent or the “head.” Not Peter.

    Returning to Acts 15: you misrepresent the narrative in your summary. You say, “The head of the apostles made a doctrinal judgment, which was recorded in a letter sent to all the churches, along with James’ application of the doctrinal judgment requiring the Gentiles follow a minimalistic code to ensure peaceable relations with the Jews.” I cannot ignore that statement. It makes it sound as if Peter made a doctrinal judgment that was needed above and beyond scripture and that his words were spoken in authority over the others. But Peter is not saying something new – compare it to his explanation after Cornelius. Also, James judges Peter’s words by scripture rather than just accepting Peter as an authority, and then James suggests a course of action that is not completely in concord with Peter’s suggestion:

    ”When they finished, James spoke up. “Brothers,” he said, “listen to me. 14 Simon has described to us how God first intervened to choose a people for his name from the Gentiles. 15 The words of the prophets are in agreement with this, as it is written:
    16 “‘After this I will return
    and rebuild David’s fallen tent.
    Its ruins I will rebuild,
    and I will restore it,
    17 that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord,
    even all the Gentiles who bear my name,
    says the Lord, who does these things’—
    18 things known from long ago.
    19 “It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. 20 Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood. 21 For the law of Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath.”

    After James uses scripture as the final authority to evaluate Peter’s statement, he accepts Peter’s first conclusion that the Gentiles are now a part of the church, but he continues with his own judgment regarding the faith and the actions to accompany faith. Peter’s judgment was that the Gentiles did not need the law: “Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear? 11 No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.” Peter is saying that we are saved by grace, and the Gentiles are, too. The Jewish people had difficulty with the law, so we should not put the burden on them. Then James evaluates by scripture what Peter says, and he concludes that yes, the Gentiles are to be saved. But he thinks, in contrast to Peter, that there are some stipulations that the Gentiles should observe. Those stipulations were not for the Gentiles’ salvation, obviously, but the point is that James differed in opinion with Peter.

    The letter that is finally written is composed by all the apostles containing both Peter’s and James’ judgments. And the authority cited in the letter is the consensus among all the members and the Holy Spirit. You could claim the Holy Spirit is meant to symbolize the pure fountain of truth flowing from Peter’s mouth, but Peter’s authority is not cited specifically. And it had been an important theme all through Acts to emphasize the presence of the Holy Spirit in all the believers, not just certain leaders. And it should be noted that in the letter James’ words are more closely quoted. There is no need to downplay James’ contribution as mere application. Both Peter and James provided doctrine. Doctrine is teaching and instruction. To define Peter’s words as the doctrinal lamppost and James’ as merely application ignores the nature of doctrine to address the whole of life, not just the theoretical. (Ahem, the book of James). James does seem to have a practical bent, and Peter has a ‘this is the basics’ approach. And the apostles wisely combined both of their contributions in the letter.

    The structure of authority within this council differs significantly from Catholic teaching. If this is James the brother of Jesus, as Gal. 1 notes, then he is not even an apostle, yet he spoke with the most authority. He evaluated Peter’s arguments and through scripture found Peter’s to be sound. He sounds as if he too, can bind and lose. And in the end, both Peter’s teaching and James’ teaching were subject to the consensus of the elders and other apostles. If Peter was speaking with the authority of the pope, then that authority was significantly different than what I understand the Catholic Church teaches it to be today. If he was a pope, he was a pope much more akin to the Eastern Orthodox concept of the first among equals. But again, James seemed to be taking that role with a more pronounced role of leadership. Yes, in that first council we see the authority of apostles and elders, and we even see decisions of this council becoming scripture, which definitely is similar to Catholic teaching. But infallibility is not demonstrated. Eyewitnesses of Jesus having a unique calling to establish new scriptures regarding Christ and the church do not equate proof for apostolic succession nor continuing freedom from error. Moreover, the continuity of the church is not the same as freedom from error (although closely related). But I’m wandering off the topic of the day.

    Anyway, short version: from the three chapters you cited, Matthew 16, 18, and Acts 15, you could conclude apostolic authority of an infallible nature to at least the original apostles and close disciples but we do not see papal authority in Acts 15. Short version: I agree with Ken regarding the role of James.

    • Mara,

      I’m just going to respond with a few quick points and then move on to apostolic succession.

      What are the powers of the keys? This would have been a well-known reference to the Jews – the power of the keys is the power of the steward who rules in the King’s absence. So the ‘power of the keys’ would be simply the authority to rule the Church (Christ’s earthly kingdom until he returns) and clarify the law.

      Second point, if James is using Scripture as a final authority to evaluate Peter’s statement, he’s a lousy Protestant. James does point out that the prophets ‘with this agree’ However, none of the prophets James quotes have anything at all to do with a future generation of Gentiles being saved by grace and not needing the old law, or that they would be under a new covenant. These passages are useless to evaluate the meaningful doctrinal content of Peter’s statement. James is merely showing that Peter’s words are in accord with Scripture, and do not contradict it – nothing more is found in the text.

      As to James and Peter’s relative roles, it is clear that Peter has the central role. He stands to address everyone, speaks on his own authority, and his words are followed by silence for a time. Further, it is not reasonable to put James pastoral suggestions on the same plane as Peter’s theology, nor is it reasonable to say that James requirements contradict or differ with Peter’s statement – these restrictions are put in place, not for the salvation of the Gentiles, but so that they may live peaceably with the Jewish Christians.

      Finally, your objections that this passage does not accord with Catholic teaching are founded on misunderstandings of Catholic teaching and misreadings of the passage. There is no evidence that James spoke with more authority than Peter. The fact that James was not an original apostle is irrelevant – the Catholic Church teaches that the apostles are more of an order, whose ranks are expanded and replenished by ordination to the episcopate (apostolic succession, more on this soon). Tradition holds that James was the bishop of Jerusalem, so he certainly could have spoken at the council. The text of scripture says that the council was in agreement about the proposed course of action – the notion that Peter’s judgment was subject to conciliar approval is found nowhere in the text. Finally, the pope presides, but it is common for the entire body of bishops to affirm a teaching. Many church councils proceeded this way, including the most recent Second Vatican Council.

      A lot of these are examples of begging the question. You assume that Protestant formulations of church authority are true, and hence that Catholic ones are false, and then seek to prove the Catholic ones are false by these assumptions: that the authority of the apostles was special and passed away, that there was no ability to ordain James to the office of apostle, that Sola Scriptura is true, and thus the early Christians would appeal to whatever scriptures they had *as a final authority.*

      • Hi Kevin,

        Am I supposed to just let the accusation of begging the question fall to the ground? I could, but I won’t. I suppose I did make some assumptions about James. My bad. Fortunately, my argument was not based on James not being an apostle nor the assumption that authority was special and passed away. The point, regardless of James’ apostleship is that he behaved in a manner indicating an authority equal to or above Peter. Also, the verses you provided did not address apostolic succession or the closure of the canon. To note that succession or canon closure is not in the text is not begging the question. It’s just being honest.

        I also did not assume that sola scriptura is true and that therefore the early Christians appealed to scriptures as final authority. Nor am I even arguing for sola scriptura. What I did was simply make observations about Acts 15, trying to leave behind presuppositions, to see what could be concluded. What I observed is that James quotes scripture, saying “the words of the prophets are in agreement with this [Peter’s words]…” Why would he do so? The affirmation assumes an authority of scripture to which Peter must conform.

        Perhaps I am just misconstruing the nature of papal primacy as taught in Catholicism. You say that “it is common for the entire body of bishops to affirm a teaching.” In what manner? When the pope meets with the bishops to make a decision about something, does he need a few more bishops to talk after him to defend his words? Or are his words accepted as an authority, as God’s witness on earth? What is the basis for the bishops’ approval of his teaching? Does one or more of the bishops test his words to see if they are in congruence with other scriptures? Does another bishop conclude the meeting with “this is my judgment…” and then add something to what the pope says? The entire body of bishops affirming a teaching sounds kind of like what happened in Acts 15 at the end with the writing of the letter, after Peter, Paul, and James all spoke, but James’ speech is a tad more authoritative than anticipated if Catholic teachings about papal primacy are true.

        Regarding James’ use of scripture: He quoted from Amos 9. Even taken out of context, these verses are significant, but interpreted within the context of the book of Amos it is just absolutely striking. The book of Amos opens with judgements for both Israel and various Gentile cities and nations, demonstrating God’s intention for all nations to honor him. The bulk of the book though, is addressing the sins of Israel and God’s discontent with the old covenant with the sacrifices while justice and righteousness are ignored. Amos 3:14 calls for the altar at Bethel to be cut down. And Amos 4:4-5 mocks the Israelites coming to tithe and bring sacrifices, saying that they are multiplying their transgressions. The solution God offers in Amos 5:4-6 is that the Israelites seek God, not Bethel, which was a place of sacrifice. God also says to seek goodness and righteousness instead of what is prescribed in the old covenant – grain offerings, burnt offerings, and songs. (Ok, songs are not necessarily old covenant). But generally, the book of Amos communicates that the old covenant is not sufficient to please God. Moving on to chapter seven, we see Amos crying out for God to forgive Israel and to not bring certain calamities, and God relents for a couple of them. Then he decides he will carry out destruction against Israel, but he promises to forgive after the time of punishment, describing shalom where we land upon James’ quote. These last words of Amos are God’s final forgiveness that will be for all people. The Gentiles, too, will bear the name of God. And shalom, the abundant blessing described, although it does not say “new covenant,” comes regardless of Israel or the Gentiles fulfilling of the old covenant. God simply calls Israel and some Gentiles, out of his forgiveness, into a new time of shalom, that in the past was reserved for only when the stipulations of the covenant were met. Amazing. Very Protestant. (And Catholic. And Eastern Orthodox).

        How does this compare to what Peter said and what James said? Peter appeals to experience that through his preaching the Gentiles received the Holy Spirit, just like the Jewish believers. The Holy Spirit is evidence of God’s name upon believers. This section corresponds to Amos 9:12, where the Gentiles are called by God’s name. Peter also appeals to reason: the Jews did not receive the Spirit by obeying the law, nor did the Gentiles. Then he reasons further, why try to give them a burden we could not bear? He concludes saying that both Jews and Gentiles have their hearts purified through faith and that all are saved by grace. This second section corresponds to Amos 9:11, ripe with meaning. There is no reason given for God repairing the tents of Israel. But the plea for forgiveness earlier indicates this restoration is the result of forgiveness, not fulfillment of the old covenant. The scripture James quotes emphasizes restoration and release from the curses of the law; it emphasizes inclusion of the Gentiles; and it emphasizes a transformed identity for the Gentiles that has no relation to the law. And he measures what Peter said against this scripture.

        I do not dispute that Peter was a leader in the church and among the apostles. Standing to speak indicates prominence, but it does not prove papal primacy. The silence that you note is actually a silence that occurs while Paul and Barnabas are speaking: “And all the assembly was silent [aorist indic], and they were listening [imperf act] to Paul and Barnabas as they were declaring [present participle]…” Most translations indicate the silence occurs as they listen to Paul, not Peter. Further, James calls for respect twice: “listen to me” and “I judge.” If Peter had said these words, I suspect you would have used them to defend Peter’s authority. And again, James speaks last before the council gives an affirmation. Now, who is begging the question? You assume that Peter was the most prominent, so you conclude that James speaks with less authority while ignoring evidence to the contrary.

        Regarding the power of the keys, the king’s steward makes sense, but I’ll stick with what I argued earlier regarding Peter’s role to preach the gospel to the Gentiles because it matches what I observe in Acts and the epistles. I interpret the Gospels through the lens of what occurred in Acts.

      • Mara,

        As before, I think that Peter’s authority is seen in the fact that he gave the defining doctrine, but more importantly, that he was the leader of the apostles (as seen in the Gospels and earlier in Acts). Standing does not prove prominence, no, but it does point to it. I’ll look into the ‘kept silent’ bit – I read the passage in the ESV, which I thought rendered it as sequential. James is still very important, certainly a ‘council father’ and plays a much more important role than Paul.

        The assumption that James is ‘checking’ Peter cannot be drawn from the text. A similar but opposite assertion (and equally unfounded in the text) would be if I said James places Peter’s words on the same level as scripture (which I do *not* say, just to clarify).

        I’m not trying to demonstrate the full doctrine of the Church from this council regarding papal infallibility, nor apostolic succession. Your James-is-not-an-apostle objection is making me question my argument order (maybe Council of Jerusalem should have been after an apostles/succession post).

  3. Thanks Ken – and please don’t apologize for any debate or discussion! I’m really glad to have this dialogue with you (and anyone else who cares to chime in).

    I don’t agree that James lead the Council of Jerusalem. While it is indisputable that he was the first Bishop of Jerusalem, and leader of the local church there, the council was one concerning the entire Church. Therefore, it seems reasonable that the head of the apostles – Peter – would preside. I read this passage as 1) dispute among the parties 2) Peter rises and makes a theological judgment 3) after some time, James uses Peter’s theological point to formulate a pastoral response for the council.

    With respect to the deaths of the apostles, I fully agree that demonstrating that the offices and powers of the apostles were definitely all passed on to a new generation appointed to continue to defend and expound the faith is a very difficult proposition, and is likely the weakest link in the argument. Personally, my reactions to arguments for apostolic succession have been along the lines of “It kind of makes good sense to me, and I’ll buy it, but this is not a slam dunk.” The third post (on apostolic succession) may be a week or two in coming – I have a good deal of reading to do.

    Perhaps predictably enough, I also don’t agree that infallibility is human-centered. While it is exercised by humans, I would compare it to the power of the apostles to cast out demons – by exercising the authority Christ granted them, are they engaging in a man-centered activity, or do men drive out Satan? I think a more accurate way to look at our doctrine of infallibility would be that God lets the apostles know He will guide them and not allow them to lead the Church wholly into error.

  4. Strangely enough, apostolic succession is not an idea I’ve had too much trouble with, though I hold more than one understanding (Lutherans have always claimed that, though the line of laying-on-of-hands was broken [and historically, who really know if it wasn’t already broken anyway], the line of teaching was not, and we are fully part of that succession). Regardless, it is abundantly clear that the Christian faith has survived and been passed down for 2000 years, or we wouldn’t be here today.

    I’m interested in that final statement, that God would “not allow them to lead the Church wholly into error.” Is that saying the same thing as the Church has not, does not, and can never err?

  5. The Pope, The Church is never wrong on faith and morals. hts goes with the what ever you bind on earth statement by Jesus.

    In Luke 22:31-32NRSV Jesus prays for Peter(Then known as Simon)
    31 “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; 32 but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”

    In John 21:15-17 NRSV Jesus tells Simon to “Tend my lambs” “Shepherd his Sheep” and to “Tend to his Sheep” Jesus is quite adamant about this.

    15 So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus *said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” He *said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He *said to him, “Tend My lambs.” 16 He *said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” He *said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He *said to him, “Shepherd My sheep.” 17 He *said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus *said to him, “Tend My sheep.

    Jesus instructs Peter on how he should exercise the office of the pope in Luke 12:41-46, saying that as steward set over His household he should give His household their food at the proper time until His return and not abuse his fellow servants or face His wrath.

    Mark 16:7 (The Angel at the tomb specifically mentions Peter setting him apart from the disciples)

    7 But go, tell His disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see Him, just as He told you.’”

    In the first 12 chapters of the Acts Peter takes charge. Essentially exercising his leadership role over the Group (Apostles) Specifically in Acts 1:15, 2:14, 2:37-38, 5:29

    It is clear to me that Jesus certainly made Peter Shepherd in His physical absence from us. It is so plainly said in John21.

  6. oh an in addition I’d like to add:

    In the New Testament Acts you see ‘the church” simply called “the church”. As there wasn’t anything substantial to find itself divided. The early church had no need for her to acquire a specific name to distinguish herself . It was the only christian church as built upon by Peter as appointed by Jesus. In the post-apostolic era, towards end of the 1st century, there were issues and rivals that were starting to form. For this reason the church identified itself as Catholic and Catholic by definition means “Universal” You have to in the least find it interesting that Jesus told Peter “that on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. ” The Catholic Church has survived barbarian invasions, jihads, Nazism and Communism,reformation, slaughters and more and Still stands strong these 200 years and counting.!!!…

  7. There could be compelling arguments that the papacy cannot be wrong in matters of faith in certain situations, but you cannot tell me that in the area of morals, the pope cannot be wrong. 2000 years of history reveals (though a minority) a number of popes who were the most immoral men of their time, popes who were deposed and popes who were declared heretics by councils, and popes who endangered the lives of others by hiding scandals. And you can’t tell me that the pope can say one thing and act another without his words being called into question.

    I can’t argue that Jesus gave Peter the leadership of the Apostles, and that Peter rose to prominence as a leader in the church. But in the specific instance of the Council of Jerusalem, Peter was not the final authority–James was, as has been explained above. Whatever other arguments can be made about Peter, when it comes to Jerusalem, the buck stopped at James.

    In the argument about after Peter died, I see a lot of assumptions, but it will take more than assumptions supporting the current status quo to convince others.

  8. Sorry I didn’t take the time to make my statement a little clearer. I hope this helps you understand better. We can agree to disagree. I’m simply trying to offer an explanation to the best of my ability. To clarify my statement., The Catholic Church states that Popes “teachings” His “definitions” His “Doctrines” on Faith and Morals are infallible(without error). We never claimed the Popes themselves are indefectible (having no flaw or defect)..Indeed they do as did Peter and the other apostles.The bad Popes remarkably did not “define” any Doctrines. As scandalous and as barbaric as they were you would think they could have made anything up they wanted to introduce doctrine as infallible to suit their own despicable crimes and desires. However they never did. Jesus knew Satan would do whatever he could to destroy his church and souls. He may have gotton to some souls but he never got the church as she is still in existence to this day.
    I don’t like to make points base on assumptions. it does make it seem weak. There is actually a lot more to it and it has to do with Isaiah 22.It is usually the verse that corresponds with Matthew 16 :17-19. I will have to get back to this though as It is getting late!! Hope this clarified things.

  9. For Gal. 2:9 citing James, Peter, and John, in that order, I decided to look up the Greek in my Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece. There are some textual variants, as follows:

    [This is all in the order given in the Nestle-Aland footnote]

    1) Just James and John: one unical (A) from fifth century.

    2) James and Peter (Petros) and John: one papyrus ca. 200 (p46) and one latin codice (r) from the seventh century

    3) Order switched to Peter (Petros) and James and John: three unicals (DFG) from fifth/sixth and two from the ninth century; two miniscules (629 & 1175) from the fourteenth century and from the tenth century; two old latin from the ninth century (ar &b); some “individual Vulgate manuscripts with independent readings” (vgmms); and quoted in Tertullian ca. 220, Ambrosiaster 366-384, and Pelagius 418.

    4) James and Peter (Kephas) and John, used by Nestle-Aland and most translators ranging from Douay-Rheims to NIV to German and Italian bibles to the Hawaiian Pidgin Bible: six unicals (aleph, B, C, I, Psi, 0278) two from fourth, two from fifth, and two from the ninth century; three miniscules (33, 1739, 1881) from ninth, tenth, and fourteenth centuries; the Majority text; most editions of the Vulgate; all Syriac versions; and all Coptic versions.

    I know Tertullian from early third century sounds tempting, but James seems to have been listed first, quite frequently.

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