Did you know that Catholics let some old guy in Rome tell them what to do, how to act, and what to believe and he’s not even in the Bible? The word “pope’ never once appears in the Bible, why is it that the Catholic Church thinks this guy’s more special than anyone else?
I’ve heard the above before, and the sarcastic side of me likes to say “the word ‘pope’ is found right next to ‘alter calls’”. In other words, nope, “pope” isn’t in the Bible. But is the papacy unbiblical? Let’s go to the Gospel of Matthew to find out:
"I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven." (Mt 16:18-19)
Jesus is going to build a church on a rock and give out some keys. What does that all mean?
One of the biggest misunderstandings about the Bible is that you can take a New Testament reading and understand it all by itself. A person may look at Mt 16:18-19 and say Jesus meant this or that based on the passage alone. Catholics don’t do that.
Catholics approach the Bible with the understanding that all passages in the Bible are inter-related; specifically, that the writers of the New Testament understood the Old Testament. The New fulfills the Old, and the Old foreshadows the New. To understand Mt 16:18-19, let’s look at the Old Testament and see what Jesus is talking about.
Pharaoh said to Joseph, "See, I have set you over all the land of Egypt." Then Pharaoh took off his signet ring from his hand and put it on Joseph's hand, and clothed him in garments of fine linen and put the gold necklace around his neck. He had him ride in his second chariot; and they proclaimed before him, "Bow the knee!" And he set him over all the land of Egypt. (Gen 41:41-43)
Now Isaiah 22:19-23
"I will depose you from your office,
And I will pull you down from your station.
"Then it will come about in that day,
That I will summon My servant)Eliakim the son of Hilkiah,
And I will clothe him with your tunic
And tie your sash securely about him.
I will entrust him with your authority,
And he will become a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah.
"Then I will set the key of the (house of David on his shoulder,
When he opens no one will shut,
When he shuts no one will (open.
"I will drive him like a peg in a firm place,
And he will become a throne of glory to his father's house.
In the Old Testament passages above we see royal stewards for first Pharos’s and then David’s kingdom. In both passages we see an item (a signet ring & a key) being given to the new steward. What does Jesus give Peter? Oh yeah, keys.
Is it a coincidence that both Isaiah and Matthew reference this whole opening and shutting business? Whatever he opens no one will close and what he closes no one will open. What does this mean? It seems like the decisions of the royal steward are binding. The royal steward has authority given to him by the true king.
In the Hebrew world, kings had stewards. The steward was given the authority (keys) of the king to rule when the king was away.
Jesus is saying in about the most obvious way possible, to Jews of that time anyway, that Peter is to have all authority over the kingdom on earth while Jesus is away. Where is Jesus? He’s in heaven. Where’s Peter? On earth!
Don’t let anyone tell you that because the word “pope” isn’t in the Bible, that the papacy isn’t biblically based. It certainly is.