Having A Pope
In my recent essay Nothing Like Greek Philososphy, I wrote, “The real Christian church is cemented upon the revelation of who Jesus Christ is. This is the rock upon which Christ would edify his assembly, not Peter, but the revelation of Jesus that Peter obtained from the Father. Mortal men, namely Popes, was never even thought by God to be the foundations of His church. That would be an unstable foundation easy to fall on the whims of sinful mankind.” Here I would like to clarify this statement in depth.
It is very commonly said that Papacy has its origin with Peter when Jesus says that upon the rock He will build His church and that He gave Peter the keys to bind or loosen anything on heaven and earth. Therefore, Peter is the first type of “pope”. As with all things we must analyze this with understanding and I believe that this interpretation is obtained with the help of a couple of preconceived ideas that take us to misconceptions. The first and foremost preconception is formed with the meaning of the name of Peter, which is “rock”. The second is created by believing that Jesus is only referring to Peter when He speaks about giving the keys to bind or loosen. Finally, somehow believing that if in the natural all things were directed from Rome, then in the spiritual, the matters of the church should also be ultimately guided by the “major” bishop in that “major” city.
Jesus never said these words, “You are Rock (Peter) and upon YOU I shall build my church.” He said, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood did not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That you are Rock (Peter), and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Jesus always spoke clearly to His disciples, not in metaphors or parables, so there is a huge difference in saying “upon YOU oh Rock” and “upon THIS rock”.
Like I have explained before, I believe that Jesus is referring to the revelation that the Father who is in Heaven gave Peter of who Jesus was: “The Christ and Son of the Living God”. The whole context of what is written in those verses in Matthew chapter 16 is about Jesus asking, “Who do you think I am?” When Peter receives the revelation from God, not from what he sees, hears, or reasons, but of what he receives from the Father, he speaks the correct answer and Jesus says that He will build his church upon that answer, not the person. Let me ask you something, what is more stable (doesn’t fluctuate), Peter, Peter’s faith, or the given revelation of Jesus Christ by the Father to be the eternal rock of the foundations of the Church?
If you say “Peter”, just read this, also in Matthew 16: “But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offense unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.” Jesus calls Peter, Satan not because he is Satan but because Peter speaks by Satan and is not stable enough to be the founding rock of the church. Why would this be recorded if Jesus wanted there to be a super “holy” and “venerated” man that would be the head of the entire Christian church? Another not very renown moment of Peter’s stability is when Paul withstands Peter to the face when he is favoring the Jews over the Gentiles, even after Peter had had the vision from God to accept the Gentiles, seen in the book of Galatians 2:11-14.
If you say “Peter’s faith”, just look at when he denies Jesus, even after recognizing He is the Christ: “Now Peter sat without in the palace: and a damsel came unto him, saying, Thou also wast with Jesus of Galilee. But he denied before them all, saying, I know not what thou sayest.” Or when Jesus asks Peter when he sinks, “Why did you doubt” in Matthew 14:31.
If you say the revelation of Jesus Christ, then you are as correct as Peter was. Jesus Christ is the eternal rock of His church (Deuteronomy 32:4). The revelation of who He is, is the foundations of His church. One man representing Christ cannot be the highest authority or head of the church. This was never the design of God, Jesus is the head and highest authority of the body, not a man (Ephesians 5:23).
Apostle Paul wrote to the Romans that no brother or sister was better, more important or higher than the other, but each served a specific role or function within the church, like a body (Romans 12:3-5). In a body the arm is no better than the foot, or the eye is no better than the ear, each serves an important role and function and they are both needed. Jesus also told His disciples when they were arguing which of them was the greatest: “Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”
Did Jesus come in enormous recognition? Was he greatly esteemed by men? This is what Isaiah says of how Jesus came: “For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.”
Jesus revealed to Saul of Tarsus on his way to Damascus (Acts 9:4), to two disciples on their way to Emmaus (Luke 24:31), to Apostle John when he was in the island of Patmos (Revelations 1:1), and to 500 at the same time (1 Corinthians 15:6). Jesus did not only reveal to Peter, because none was greater than the other. So also Jesus did not only give the keys to bind or loosen to Peter, but to all who received His revelation and we see this in Matthew 18:18, when Jesus speaks the same words He spoke to Peter but to all the disciples.
Jesus too said that the gates of hell will not prevail against His church. If this is true, then that means that someone holds the keys of the gates of hell to close them and not let them prevail, and this is Jesus. Apostle John, in seeing the revelation of Jesus Christ he sees Jesus saying, “I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the KEYS of hell and of death. ” These keys are the ones Isaiah is talking about in chapter 22, verse 22. “Opening and shutting” is different than “binding and loosing”; one has to do with doors or gates and the other with things of the heavens being released or not released on earth.
Now, before I conclude, I want to emphasize the importance in comprehending that Jesus is the foundation and Rock of His church. 1 Corinthians 3:11 reads, “For no one can lay any other foundation than that which has been laid, which is Jesus Christ.” And Ephesians 2:20 says, “being built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the chief cornerstone.” Which is the foundation of the apostles and prophets? I believe it is the revelation of Jesus Christ which is given by the Holy Spirit, whom also is the spirit of prophecy and the testimony of Jesus Christ (Revelations 19:10).
In short, the true Christian church did not believe in any single man being the greatest authority of all, but they were all a body where Jesus was the only head. All of them had the keys of the Kingdom to bind or loosen, God does not favor anyone over another, that’s why Paul had the revelations and authority he had to do the things he did. Jesus is the only one who has the keys of hell and death to not let the gates of hell prevail against His church. He is the only eternal and firm rock to build upon, not a man or his faith, but on what the Father gives (John 3:16). Hence, if Peter, the apostles, and the true Christian church believed this, then creating the idea of a Pope not only insults God, but Peter and the true Christian church, as well.
You see how easy it is to develop ideas without revising and double checking the Bible first? That is why Jesus spoke of a change of mentality (repentance) to understand His Kingdom. Because it is the structures of this world that lead us to corrupt His words and end up exalting man above Him.