Monday, February 2, 2009

Why do Catholics have a pope?

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.


david ruiz said...

Dan.Thanks for the old testament readings that most scholars say point to Jesus Himself - the Key, The Rock etc. . He then indeed gives the "keys" to Peter AND all the apostles and all Christians who proclaim the gospel. Indeed, Peter was a steward of the gospel, as were ALL the apostles, and all subsequent followers. Peter was first among equals. Half of Christendom do not view this "steward" as being ruler or master or supreme authority over every living creature on earth which the pope proclaims he has......Jesus did not tell this to the "jews" publicly, but to Peter himself, in front of the other apostles privately. The inference in other parts of the gospel is that it was also to the other eleven. Is the pope "biblical" ? Only to Roman Catholics. This Catholic interpretation of Matt16:18 has been refuted since it was first used by the bishop of Rome, around the 3rd -4th century. It is refuted to this day. Indeed, as you say, may a searching soul look at all scripture, being inter-related, to "see" how to properly interpret Matt:16. They must "see" that just after Matt : 16 twice certain apostles are arguing or pleading for being the greatest or having the best "position" in the kingdom. Paul also rebukes Peter for hypocrisy with the Jews. Peter does NOT begin nor end testimony at the first church council. Nor does he issue the decree or rule over that council. Revelations says the church foundation are the twelve apostles. There is no special honor ever cited to Peter their. The earliest list of bishops of Rome cite the Roman church being founded upon Paul and Peter. There is no biblical rendering of Peter acting as a pope or bestowing the keys to a successor. Rome had no head bishop for at least 150 years. Rome had many simultaneous bishops. One must also look at the great commission given to all the apostles, in regards to authority and forgiveness of sins and binding. Finally, Jesus, the "Key", opened up the doors to heaven, ,with His blood. The gates are open, and Peter preached the first sermon where many passed thru the gate to eternal life, based on the Rock, Jesus .

dave ruiz said... correctly said the old testament foreshadows the new. In the old you had 12 tribes. In the new you have 12 apostles. In the old God was their head, their king. In the new Christ is the head, the Holy Spirit ruled. In the old you had elders. In the new you have elders. In the old, they wanted to be like the world and have an earthly king.God allowed it but warned of the fallacies, which came to be..In the new, the church wanted to be like "Rome", with it's "emperor" and began popery. God allowed it ,with warnings of fallacies, which came to be.......Jesus warned that His kingdom is not like earthly kingdoms. He who serves is greater than he who lords over. .It is a whole different paradigm, made possible by the brand new amazing ministry of the Holy Spirit. Yes, the early church operated much like the old testament, but with power, the new law of faith written in man's heart. They had apostles, elders, teachers, prophets, but no head person except for Christ himself.It is one body, with Christ the head. Is He not more real than an earthly king or pope ? He is real and alive and in our midst, guiding as a Good Shepherd. He works thru you and me, priests, and elders and bishops and teachers and prophets. That is why you do not read of a pope or head apostle over the others in the bible. They were all equal, just as the twelve tribes were all equal. Yes, the tribes had differing roles and triumphs, just as the apostles had differing levels of faith and giftings and accomplishments, but they were all equal in their service to the one Lord. ....... You can have a pope if you want, as head of the Catholic denomination. I believe other denominations have their heirarchy also, perhaps even a head bishop or presbyter. But that is a far cry from one ruling over all christendom. It is not in the old nor is it the new.It is His plan then and now. Your old testament scriptures foreshadow Christ, not a pope.