It is always good to receive essays and papers on current topics from our readers. Tom Faulkner has done a great piece of work here, and we ask you to read it carefully.
The Pope is the visible head of the Roman Catholic Church, which is considered the largest church in the world. He is considered to be the voice of Jesus here on earth, and has been with a secession of pope's from the time of the Apostles till now. He is also considered to be infallible when concerning ecclesiastical issues of the church.
The pope is known as the Vicar of Christ going back to the eighth century. It replaced an earlier title known as the Vicar of Peter.
The Catholic church, by tradition, declares that the Apostle Peter was the first pope of Rome, appointed by Jesus Himself. That Peter was also martyred in Rome as well. The scripture they use to verify Peter, as being the first pope, is as follows.
"And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." ( Matthew 16:18 )
Within the history of the church we can see the development of the pope, and his special status in the Catholic church.
The title pope, also known as pontiff ( Pontifex Maximus - high priest ), was given to all bishops in the church. The title was first adopted by St. Hyginus in 139 AD. Yet no one considered themselves as the one supreme ruler of the church, in which all others had to follow or answer to.
At first all bishops controlled their areas without confirming with the bishop of Rome on policies of the church. This created confusion and extreme animosity between the bishops, of the different regions. It wasn't until later that the bishops started to confer with the bishop of Rome on church issues.
During the time of Constantine ( 274 - 337 AD ) did Christianity become accepted by Rome as a state religion and the persecution ceased. Rome was now considered the headquarters for this new church.
What we must realize is that the Catholic church was now accepted and it's doctrines organized into that religion. For anyone who went against it was now persecuted as much as the Christians went through earlier. The church's persecution was more severe, than that of the Romans.
The title Pontiff was first given officially to the pope by Gratian in 375 AD. This title was exclusively used by the emperor of Rome before the religion was accepted by the state. Showing that the title is of a pagan origin.
St. Boniface III ( 607 - 608 ), accepted the title pontiff, making himself the supreme ruler, of the church. He is considered as the first official pope of the Catholic church. All preceding bishops, except for Gregory the Great ( 590 - 604 ), refused the title. Since then the title pontiff has been exclusively used for the bishops in Rome.
The First Vatican Council ( 1869 - 1870 ) established the dogma of the infallibility of the pope, because of the confusion that occurred earlier in the church. Which was acknowledged in the decree Pastor Aeternus on July 18, 1870.
Many of the popes held contradicting beliefs, and this needed to be excused or explain why this occurred. Since the pope has in some ways been considered infallible throughout the years, in his doctrines.
A special and explicit exercise of papal infallibility was needed. The ex cathedra ( literally - from the throne ) was developed. Meaning that when the pope speaks from this it is accepted by the church and is not dependent on the consent of the church and is irrefutable and unchangeable.
Other characteristics that have evolved for the pope are that he wears a crown, and is always loaded with gold and blipels. That he eats alone, because he is considered too exalted to dine with any other person. Anyone who is in his presence while he eats, must be kneeling and remain so, unless invited to stand.
When leaving his presence one must genuflect ( bow ) three times. The pope wears five layers of garments in which each layer has a historical significance.
When he visits other countries he will bend down and kiss the ground. Symbolizing ownership of the land, for he is considered the ruler of the round earth when he receives three gold crowns with the statement, "Know that thou art the Father of Princes and Kings and viceroy of Jesus Christ to whom be honor and glory forever."
The question remains is that was Peter the first pope, and does the pope really have the powers he claims?
We need to look at the Bible for the answers to these questions. In which we will examine the complete scriptural text, and then take each verse separately to show the truth with in scripture.
"And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." ( Matthew 16:16 - 19 )
In verse 16 Peter is answering the question Jesus asked, "Who do you say that I am?" Which Peter answered by saying, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." Revealing the fact that Jesus is the Messiah, the saviour of the world.
Although Peter spoke the answer to the question it did not give him superiority over the rest of the Apostles. At other times some of them have spoken out, for the rest, and was not looked upon as being leaders over them.
Notice in Mark 9:38, where John spoke out concerning someone casting out devils in Jesus' name. The others were there and agreed to what John has said. Yet this did not give John a supremacy over the others, because he spoke for them at that time. As Peter was only acknowledging the fact that Jesus is the Messiah to which the others concurred.
Verse 17 shows that Jesus was pleased with the confession that Peter spoke of concerning who He is, by giving him a blessing. For indeed true believers are blessed by Christ, who follow His Word and acknowledge it.
"Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock." ( Matthew 7:24 )
"But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only,..." ( James 1:22 )
Secondly it was God who revealed this truth, and not by Peter's own reasoning.
The Christian religion is a revealed religion through God and His Word. Not by mans wit, reason, or philosophy, but by the light of inspiration that comes from God above. Giving God the glory, and not to any man.
"For ye are brought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's." ( 1 Corinthians 6:20 )
Then in verse 18 Jesus calls him Peter signifying a stone, for the second time. The first time was in John 1:42, where Jesus called him Cephas, meaning stone as shown in this scripture.
"Thou are Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone."
This does not give Peter and authority or special place with in the church. He is but a stone among others who are part of the church.
"Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord; In whom ye also are builded together for the habitation of God through the spirit." ( Ephesians 2:19 - 22 )
The rock in which the church is to be built is Jesus Himself. In that Jesus says He will build the church, not Peter. Jesus is the cornerstone that which no man can lay.
"For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ." ( 1 Corinthians 3:11 )
Peter also realizes that he is not what the church is to be built upon, but Christ, which Peter says as follows.
"Wherefore also it is contained in the scriptures, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded." ( 1 Peter 2:6 )
This is the key scripture ( Matthew 16:18 ) which has been misunderstood since the founding of Catholicism. Believing that Peter is to be the rock and not Jesus. A similarity to the scripture when Jesus spoke of the temple being destroyed, and that He will build it back up in three days ( John 2:19 ).
Peter is not the rock of salvation, nor is the Catholic church.
"The Lord liveth; and blessed be my rock; and exalted be the God of the rock of my salvation." ( 2 Samuel 22:47 )
Jesus then promises that even the gates of hell shall not prevail against the church. Stipulating that the church has enemies that will fight against it. Being the powers and policies of the devil's ( Lucifer ) kingdom.
"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places." ( Ephesians 6:12 )
"For though we walk in the flesh, we do not piano covers after the flesh; ( For the weapons of our piano coversfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)" ( 2 Corinthians 10:3 - 4 )
This gives no blip to any particular church. That the church shall never err or be destroyed. That the Christian religion may be circumvented in different encounters, but in the main battle it shall come off more than a conqueror.
In verse 19, Jesus speaks of the keys that He will give unto His followers. The keys represents doctrine and discipline.
As disciples of Christ, through His Word, we are to expound the doctrine with in scripture. Showing that which is acceptable unto God and those that are not.
This is the binding and loosing that Jesus mentions here. Which was the common speech of the blips at that time. To teach or declare a thing that was unlawful was to bind, and that which was lawful was to loose. An that which guides us in all these matters is God's Word.
The key of discipline, which is but the application of the former, is to make us acceptable unto God, and to be judicial. To be discipline in word and deed.
"I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." ( Romans 12:1 - 2 )
Such is the power of the keys, making it possible to discern that which to be with in the church. An to expel that which is unrighteous from the church. These keys were not given to any particular church, but given to all who believe and accept Jesus as saviour.
Notice that no where in the Bible is there any mention of a bishop or pope having any special authority over the church. The Bible also says nothing about Peter being in Rome. For his mission was to go spread the gospel in the opposite direction, which was in Asia-Minor. The closest he got to Rome was when he was in Antioch ( Galatians 2:11 ).
In Matthew 20:20 - 28, we have the mother of Zebedee's children seeking to have her son's would sit on either side of Jesus. This also caused animosity between the brethren when they heard what had occurred. Jesus answered by saying that no one would have greater authority over the others, this included Peter ( see also Luke 22:24 - 25 ).
Paul also mentions in Galatians 2:7 & 8, that he was appointed to the apostleship of the uncircumcision, as Peter was the apostle to the circumcision. That they were equal in this, and neither was greater than the other.
In Acts 1:15 - 26 Peter did speak out about having someone to replace Judas, but did not have any over all authority to personally claim anyone as an Apostle. It was a group decision of who would replace Judas.
That Paul became an Apostle without Peter's consent, and that Paul makes no mention of Peter when he writes to Rome. If Peter was made to be the pontiff, and was in Rome, it would be a grievous error on Paul's part not to give Peter special attention.
In Galatians 2:11 - 14 we see Paul rebuke Peter, for his actions. Could he have the authority to do this if Peter was indeed the pope? Of course not, for Paul would not have any such authority to rebuke Peter, if he was indeed the pope.
Peter never presided, summoned, nor dismissed any council. He did not take votes, nor pronounced any decision. He never claimed any of the powers which Rome claims for the pope.
The term pope is a late Greek word for pappas, or father. Jesus says in the Bible not to call any man your father, in the spiritual sense of the word.
"And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven." ( Matthew 23:9 )
God is our spiritual Father, for He is the only one who is able to forgive us of our sins. An through His Spirit we are convicted of our sins. That we are made as new creatures through Christ, by God our Father.
Shortly after Jesus told His disciples about the founding of the church, He also said about the suffering and death that He was about to go through. Peter tried to rebuke Jesus, saying that it should not happen. Jesus replied in saying to Peter, "Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men." ( Matthew 16:23 ).
If Peter was to be pope, he showed an irresponsible attitude topiano coversd Jesus by trying to rebuke Him. Then Jesus calling Peter, Satan, whom He just made to be the founder of His church. Which shows that the only way the church could be built and rest on is Jesus, and not Peter, or any other man. Because of man's imperfection, and being able to be deceived by Satan.
Peter is the only one who lied and denied Christ three times before he remembered what Jesus said about him. Showing again the frailty of man's nature, and his shortcomings of God's glory ( Romans 3:23 ).
Peter wore no crown and he ate with other people. He wore simple clothes and had no one kiss any ring on his hand. He never received any pomp or ceremony, nor did he sell any indulgences. He held no special mass, for people, or prayed for the dead. He did not consider himself to be a ruler of this world. Instead he would shake the dust off his feet if they would not hear the word of God.
"And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city." ( Matthew 10:14 - 15 )
Peter was poor as we see in Acts 3:6.
"Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none;"
Peter would not take money, for what God could give freely.
"And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostle's hand the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, Saying Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hand, he may receive the Holy Ghost. But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. Thou hast neither part nor lot in this manner: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God." ( Acts 8:18 - 21 )
Peter did not accept anyone to bow before him in reverence to him.
"And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him. But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man." ( Acts 10:25 - 26 )
We see here that Cornelius wanted to pay reverence to Peter, but Peter wanted nothing of the kind. Instead he rebuked Cornelius for doing it. Totally the opposite of what we see today in the Catholic church, as people pay reverence to the pope.
After Peter had died, there were two more popes in office, before the last book of the New Testament were written. But not one word about them in scripture, and nothing about any election of a special bishop to become pope.
As we have seen the pope has no special authority over the church, or powers in dealing with the spiritual affairs of man. No church is made special or has unique authority in dealing with man's spiritual life. Whether it be Roman Catholic, Methodist, Lutheran, Mormon, Moslem, Jehovah Witness, Hindu, Buddhist, New Age, or whatever. There is only one church that does have the authority and that one is built on Jesus. Not some founder who believes his word is better than God's.
The true church is made of those who have humbled themselves and receive Jesus as their Saviour. That Jesus is the head of the church. Those who are born again and know that nothing they can do will keep them from eternal damnation.
We are to love our brothers and sisters who are being deceived by these religions, and show them the true Gospel of Jesus. That there is only one mediator between man and God, that man Jesus Christ ( 1 Timothy 2:5 ).
If you are trapped into believing a gospel of works whether it be penance or having to just work your way to heaven. Jesus can set you free, for the Gospel of Christ is grace. Grace is not of works, but is free for the asking.
Jesus came to set the captives free from sin, through the blood He shed on the cross. Pray for Jesus to come into your heart and be born again. Now is the time to repent and follow God's Word as it is written in the Bible.
Here is an example of the sinners' prayer that you can use as a guide to pray unto God for salvation, in receiving Jesus as your redeemer. Pray with all sincerity and humility, and as you pray this prayer confess all your sins to God, individually, and extend forgiveness to those who have done you wrong.
"Father in heaven I come to you in Jesus name. I'm a sinner Lord, for I have not lived my life for you. I repent of my sins and turn away from them. Forgive me of my sins and cleanse me with your blood that you shed upon the cross. I believe that Jesus died for my sins; that He rose again from the dead so that I will have everlasting life with you. I receive Jesus as Lord and Saviour. Thank you Lord for hearing my prayer. Fill me with your Holy Spirit. - Amen and amen."
Next pray every day to God and read His Word every day as well. Then find a Bible believing church that confesses the Bible as the final authority in all things. A church that believes and accepts the Bible as the literal, infallible, inerrant Word of God. You will also need to tell someone of your decision as it says in Romans 10:9.
"That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved."
Once you are saved no one can take your salvation away from you, nor can anyone pluck you out of God's hands ( John 10:28 - 30 ). You now, not only have salvation, but, have been set free ( Galatians 5:1 ) of any bondage that any church might try to put you in. Your salvation comes from God's grace, through Jesus, and not from works.
"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast." ( Ephesians 2:8 - 9 )
We also need to pray for those who are trapped in religious bondage. Showing the love of Christ topiano coversds them, that they may be set free from false doctrine.
As Jesus loved the sinner and hated the sin, so shall we.
May you keep your sight on Jesus; not on man or his word.