Jesus Appoints a Pope: Part II

After Jesus made that promise, He then says that, ”I will give you the keys to 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.”

Peter alone is given the keys of the kingdom, for we see later that all the disciples were given the authority to bind and loose (Matt. 18:18) and all the apostles were given the authority to forgive sins (John 21:21-23).


The key to understanding this part of the passage is the keys. Jesus will actually give Peter His authority, when He ascends to His Father. The keys are the sign of authority. For us to sit here in the twenty-first century and try to say that Jesus wasn’t really talking to Peter but to all the disciples down through history is absurd! The keys [authority] were given only to Peter as the primeminister of the kingdom of heaven, in the absence of Christ, who would [shortly], ascended to the heavenly kingdom. Just as we are taught to pray, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”


We must also understand the early Church Fathers referred to the see [chair] of Peter in Rome as the Authority in doctrinal matters and other problems that arose.


Bishop of Antioch, Ignatius wrote to the church in Rome in 110 AD: “You are a credit to God: you deserve your renown and are to be congratulated.You deserve praise and success and are privileged to be without blemish. Yes, you rank first in love, being true to Christ’s law and stamped with the Father’s name.”  Ignatius of Antioch  Letter to the Romans.


In 150 AD Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna, (a disciple of the Apostle John) traveled to Rome to confer with Pope Anicetus, about the proper date for the celebration of Easter.


Irenaeus of Lyons (a disciple of Polycarp) refuted false teaching by referring to; “the tradition which that very great, oldest, and well known church, founded and established at Rome by those two most glorious apostles Peter and Paul, received from the apostles… every church must be in harmony with this church [the church in Rome] because of it’s outstanding pre-eminence…” Against Heresies, Book III 3:2.


In 250 AD, Cyprian Bishop of Carthage wrote this of the one who held the “chair” or office of Peter- the Bishop of Rome:


“It is on him [Peter] that He [Jesus] builds the church, and to him He entrusts the sheep to feed. And although He assigns power to all the apostles, yet He founded a single chair, thus establishing by His own authority the source and hallmark of the churches’ oneness. No doubt the others were all that Peter was, but a primacy is given to Peter and it is thus made clear that there is but one church and one chair… If a man does not hold fast to this oneness of Peter, does he imagine that he still holds the faith? If he deserts the Chair of Peter upon whom the church was built, has he still confidence that he is in the church.” On the Unity of the Catholic Church.


I mention these specifically because these letters were written before the Council of Carthage in 367 A.D. Why would that make a difference?


Well, this shows the authority that the Church had before the canonization of Scripture.


For at this Council, the Pope St. Damasus, along with the other bishops and priest of the day, discerned which books were inspired and which were not. The New Testament we have today is a collection of these books, which the Catholic Church declared to be authoritative.

            “The Sacred Scriptures contain the Word of God and, because they are inspired they are truly The Word of God.”  Dei Verbum 24 

All Councils were modeled after the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15). Here we see clearly, Peter’s undeniable and unique leadership (Acts 15:7-12). It was also Peter who called for a replacement for Judas in Acts 1 (15-26).

This certainly looks like Church authority, the ability to mandate and interpret the will of God, through ecumenical dialogue, common sense and most importantly, prayer.


Some will believe, some will doubt and some will even deny that the Church has authority over our lives. That leads to the question, “Why did He even create the Church?”


Jesus Appoints a Pope: Part I

When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi He asked His disciples, ”Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter said in reply, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God.” Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Then He strictly ordered His disciples to tell no one that He was the Messiah.   Matt. 16:13-20  

  The conception of the Church. Jesus building and constructing the foundation of the apostles by His teaching. They, in turn, pass that teaching on to us through their teaching, preaching and writings.

 With Peter’s response to Jesus’ question, the foundation starts to take shape, as Jesus is the “capstone (cornerstone) of this foundation of the apostles and the prophets” (Eph. 2:20). “You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God” is a statement of faith by Peter, to which Jesus acknowledges, For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Heavenly Father”. But it is also a statement of faith for the Church, and for us as individuals. For one can not profess what one does not believe (by this I mean professing both in word and deed, Ja. 2:22). 

Then, Jesus does something radical; He changes Simon’s name. Within scripture, when God gives a new name to a person (or a people) it marks a turning point. Something big was happening, a new responsibility, role or identity. Simon’s name meant, ”he is heard,” and he certainly was on this day, wasn’t he? For God heard his heart in his profession, before it was spoken aloud. And Jesus blesses him and changes his name to Peter.

 Petros in Greek and Kepha in Aramaic. I mention both names, because they are both used in scripture, in fact, it is the only name Paul uses for Peter. It also [helps] clarify the misunderstanding Protestants have with this passage. Petros is the masculine form of the Greek word for “rock”; Petra is the feminine form.

That is why there are different words used in the sentence in the Greek text, “And so I say to you, you are Petros and upon this petra I will build my church. Surely Matthew wouldn’t refer to Peter as feminine, would he? Whereas in the Aramaic there is no masculine/feminine form of the word Kepha. It would read, “And so I say to you, you are Kepha and upon this kepha I will build my church.” This also happens to be the language that Jesus and the disciples spoke at the time. So in essence, Jesus is saying, “You are Rock and on you, I will build My church.” This means that Peter would be the leader of the twelve, after Jesus returned to the Father (John 21:15-19) and through Peter, Jesus Himself would build His church. And we see examples of this all through the New Testament; Peter being the spokesman for the twelve, often the central figure relating to Christ. He is always named first. He was also first to proclaim the Gospel, the first to heal others and the first to receive the revelation to take the Gospel to the Gentiles (Mk. 8:29, Matt. 14:28-32, Lk. 6:12-16, Acts 2:14-40, Acts 3:6-7, Acts 10:9-48).

Jesus then promises that the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it [church],  a promise that stands to this day. Jesus’ “one, holy, Catholic and apostolic Church” stood through the Roman persecutions, converted that pagan nation and was the sole Christian religion (that wasn’t heresy) for 1550+ years.