Biblical Exposition

Someone on the Catholic Discussion Forum asserted his opinion and tradition against the papacy in the Catholic Church. I gave short, imperfect, and brief comments in the ten minutes I had free today. This is a thread on whether or not the office of the papacy with qualifications for successors is mentioned in scripture. My comments are in dark blue.

1. In order for the papacy or an earthly head of the church with successors to be true as a definer and protector of truth, it would logically have to be described from the beginning of the church in the apostolic period and not as a later development.

Why does this have to be true? Wouldn’t this claim then be imposed on all development of doctrine such as the canon of Scripture. In other words, for the truth of sola scriptura to be true, it would logically have to have been in existence from the first, which of course not the case. Further, in my book Upon this Rock I demonstrate quite conclusively that the concept of the Primacy of Peter in Rome was quite well understood and practiced in the early Church. By clicking on the link to my book one can also access hundreds of pages of discussion and documentation. For the very few documents that survived the first centuries, we have a very strong case for the primacy of Rome.

2. For the office of papacy to be true, it would need to be described with qualifications for successors, in the inspired writings among the gifts given by Christ for church unity when he ascended into heaven in Ephesians 4:7-16, yet the papacy is conspicuously absent.

How does he know it was NOT described with qualifications. We know that the Alexandrian Library in Egypt was massively stocked with books and documents that no longer exist. We unhappily lost much of what was written and practiced in the early Church. But, even saying that, does this fellow have any documentation from the early Church to affirm a 27 writing canon from the earliest years, or the word “Trinity”? He is very free with “it would logically have to be true” when he points at us but not so freely with his own position.

3. Such a fundamentally important central role as the papacy, in order to be true, would be a central repeated theme of writings by the first Christians: Luke, James, John, Paul, and Peter himself, yet there is not a single mention.

And where do we find these same men repeating the express doctrine of a New Testament canon or the clearly expressed theologies of the two natures of Christ or the three Persons in the hypostatic union of the Trinity? In fact, there are many things that are taken for granted today that were not expressly stated in the NT. Protestants live with this every day with their traditions. Reading the writers of the NT within the context makes it pretty clear about the papacy if someone takes the blinders off. By the way, none of these writers mention the Rapture, Sola Scriptura, the Trinity, faith alone, or any host of other Protestant traditions.

4. Although “head of the church” is a phrase, office, and title in scripture, only Christ and never Peter was ever referred to as such.

This would of course be true in that the NT is more expressly interested in establishing who Jesus was in the documents of Scripture. One does not have to find something expressly stated in order to find it believed and universally practiced. I would suggest Dave Armstrong’s book about proofs of the Papacy from the Bible. Jesus is the head of the Mystical Church and baptized believers are the members. But the Church is not just an amorphous invisible blob or some sort of non-descript brotherhood. It is a real organization of real people in the Body of Christ. The Church has an address! We are to have a visible unity as Jesus intended, not an invisible imaginary “unity.” Jesus left a shepherd, a head of the visible church as the source of unity and teaching. This can be substantiated in the NT unless one refuses to remove the blinders. Even Protestants have their pastors who function effectively as the “head of their church” though they would quickly claim that it is actually Jesus, but in reality, in the day-to-day the pastor effectively functions as the head or CEO.

5. Peter is not explicitly identified as the head of the church in the Jerusalem council in Acts.15; rather James makes the closing summary, although even James is not identified as sole head or bishop of the Jerusalem church.

James quotes Peter and the OT as the infallible source of theology on the matter. It doesn’t to say Peter was the head expressly as it was quite clear to those who attended and by the theological determination who was the head. James was the bishop of Jerusalem sitting in the chair that was vacated by Peter to become the teacher of the world as St. John Chrysostom says. Our friend makes too much of “explictely” and this can certainly and effectively be turned on him much more so than on us. His tradition falls far short if he wants to apply the same standard to himself. Too often Protestants judge Catholic practice by Protestant ideals. What happens if we judge Protestant practice by Catholic ideals?

6. Peter is never identified in scripture as the singular bishop of the Jerusalem diocese or of any diocese.

Peter alone was given the keys in Matthew 16 and singularly headed the Church in the book of Acts. It seems that there was a college of bishops that worked together with one at the lead. This is very likely regarding Peter. In Scripture no one is expressly stated as bishop of Jerusalem and yet anyone who knows history knows that this is what existed and from the earliest times.

7. If there was an infallible head of the church and voice of Christ on earth with successors after Peter, there are no claims, writings, or pronouncements from them until Victor blunders onto the scene with his error, even though the period was fraught with heresies, and the entire NT was written when the apostles and church were persecuted from the beginning.

Maybe our opponent has never heard of St. Clement? This guy really needs to read my book Upon this Rock which documents the primacy of Rome from the apostolic age.

If the church was intended to be built on none other than the pope or person of Peter, why is he not mentioned at all by one of the most important first Christians in the following passage speaking of who the church is built upon?  Ephesians 2:19-22 “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”

In another place 1 Cor. Paul writes that it is Jesus that is the foundation, and does not mention Peter or any of the apostles. Does that mean that Paul is wrong in Ephesians or 1 Corinthians 3 and that John is wrong in Revelation? We see various “foundations” in various metaphors used by NT writers. Peter is the rock in Matthew, Jesus in 1 Cor., the apostles and prophets in Ephesians, and the 12 apostles in Rev. In one metaphor Jesus is the foundation and in others it is all the apostles. But one cannot dismiss Matthew where another metaphor — the one in which Jesus is not the foundation but the builder — and in this metaphor, Peter the Rock is the foundation and is given the keys of the kingdom.

The Achilles Heal of the Papacy Theory (yeah, right :-)
If indeed Peter was the head of the church with successors as the voice of Christ and the basis of unity, where is this voice during the turbulent years of persecution and heresy before Constantine? Someone will say, “They went to their deaths as martyrs.” But so did the apostles, yet we have their writings well-preserved for us. Where are the writings of the popes from 60 AD to 325 AD? (Clement’s letter is not from him as a singular bishop but from the church of Rome to the church of Corinth, not to the singular bishop of Corinth.) We have something recorded ABOUT some of the other alleged popes but not a single written word FROM them. But correct me if I am mistaken. I would find their writings most interesting.

First, 1 Clement WAS writtten by St. Clement as both Catholic and Protestants agree, and also mentioned as such by those who refer to the letter in the first centuries. Like I said, I gave pages and pages of documentation from the early Church. Just because one doesn’t read history or do their research does not mean it does not exist. I would also suggest that this friend read the Treatise on the Development of Doctrine by Cardinal Newman. The papacy can be demonstrated from the first centuries, but we also accept the concept of the development of doctrine (as must the Protestant, especially with the canon and their sola scriptura) which puts everything in its proper place. I am proud to be a Catholic rooted in Scripture and the early Church!

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I put up a post a few days ago with a video of my talk in Ephesus about Mary being Queen of Heaven and an Intercessor for the people of God’s kingdom.

Someone wrote to object saying,

It is interesting Steve, as to what you left out in your reference to 1 Kings 2:19 , Solomon’s Mother did indeed come in to the throne room, Solomon did indeed, rise and bow and have her sit at his right hand. But the Queen Mother’s request was in fact denied, and the first person to go to the Queen Mother with his request was put to death that very day! So much for taking requests to the Queen Mother, doesn’t always work!

I responded,

Let me explain a bit. Solomon is a type of Christ yet Solomon was a sinner. Solomon’s sin does not detract from Jesus’ perfection as the quintessential king of Israel and the Universe.

Every king had a queen but it was never his wife; it was his mother. She was called giborah, great lady and Queen Mother.

Being a sinner and flawed did not detract from the fact that Solomon was a type of Christ. Neither does Bathsheba’s sin and flaws detract from her being a prefigurement of Mary. Solomon and his mother were sinners; Jesus and his mother were not. What Solomon and his mother failed to do; Jesus and his mother do perfectly.

You could also note that Jesus said explicitly that the only sign he would give was the sign of Jonah, but Jonah was rebellious; does that mean Jesus’s crucifixion and burial was a result of his own rebellion?  Of course not–that would be an improper use of typology.

Also, if you use Bathsheba’s sin to diminish Mary, then you must be consistent and use Solomon’s sin to diminish Jesus. Queen mothers were flawed intercessors; the Mother of God is an intercessor without flaw.

Sorry, I didn’t miss anything.

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St. Paul Walks Passed the Brothal

by Steve Ray on November 11, 2017

Every time I visit Ephesus I show my tour group my favorite  things in this ancient city. We filmed here for our Paul and Mary DVDs and have brought groups here on numerous occasions.

One of my favorite things to show people in Ephesus is the Billboard for the Brothel that is carved into a large stone on the main road. Every man getting off the ships in the harbor, would see this advertisement. Of course it is well worn with age after 2000 years, but it is still clear enough to “read.”

Men looked for these kind of ads when they arrived in a new city. Where are the prostitutes? Sure enough this billboard carved in the stone gave them directions. If you want the love (heart shape) of a pretty girl (image of pretty girl) turn left (left foot) at the next crossroad (T-shape). Sure enough, archaeologists found a two-story brothal up the road to the left. It was even connected by an underground tunnel to the library.

(If you want to visit Ephesus with me next October 2018 on our Footprints of St. Paul Cruise, visit here for more info or call Corporate Travel at 800-727-1999..)

Men have always been tempted by sinful lusts and passions. St. Paul and his fellowworkers had to resist the same ubiquitous temptations confronting men today. But I suspect things are a bit more subtle and insidious today. Men don’t have to step out of the door or risk the embarrassment of being seen going into a brothal in the heart of the city. Today they can watch porn in the privacy of their own home. This insidious and addicting sin can destroy a man, a marriage, a family and bring the soul down to hell.

Paul challenged the men in Corinth to avoid the prostitutes and sexual sin (1 Corinthians 6:15-16). He said to flee immorality. We have joined ourselves to Christ; how can we then join ourselves to a prostitute. Strabo wrote that at night 1,000 prostitutes descended from the Temple of Aphrodite to entice the men in the city. It was wicked then; it is wicked today. Like Paul we have to pass by the brothal, the magazine rack, the internet porn. When men win this moral victory the angels in heaven rejoice. St. Paul, pray for us!

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What Does God See When He Opens His Eyes?

November 8, 2017

Since we are in Capernaum today – where Jesus said, “Eat My Flesh and Drink My Blood.” I thought it would be appropriate to post again this popular blog post that explains the Sacrifice of the Mass. Recently we went to Mass with two Protestants.  As we walked in the door — there it was, […]

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Did Jesus Ascend into Heaven from Mount of Olives (Acts 1:12) or from Bethany (Luke 24:50)?

November 4, 2017

One of our past pilgrims wrote with an apparent contradiction in the Bible and what I had said in Israel. The wording in the two verses below is what caused the confusion. Acts 1:12  “[After the Ascension] they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day’s journey away.” Luke […]

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All Souls, Purgatory and Dirty China

November 2, 2017

Gus Llyod’s Reflection on Purgatory Today we celebrate the Feast of All Souls. It is the day we remember all the souls in Purgatory. Purgatory can be a controversial topic, and hard to explain. So, I would like to help you with that. Following is one of the chapters of A Minute in the Church […]

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Are You Born Again?

November 1, 2017

Since we are all renewing our Baptismal Vows at the Jordan River today, thought this post from a year ago might be appropriate :-) It seems that God is kind of predictable in a way :-) since He always starts new things in the same way — with “water and the Spirit“. Consider the following: 1) The […]

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Response to a Southern Baptist

October 27, 2017

I received an e-mail from a Southern Baptist and decided to take a few minutes to respond. Thought others might be edifited by it so I have posted it here without using his name. His email is contained in regular text and MY RESPONSE IS IN CAPITAL LETTERS. **************************************************** HELLO FRIEND: I WILL ANSWER BRIEFLY […]

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Evangelicals Guide To Catholic View of Justification

October 14, 2017

Steve Wood was a Protestant pastor before converting to Catholicism and starting Dads.org. He has just published an excellent book “Grace & Justification: An Evangelicals Guide to Catholics Beliefs.” Steve latest newsletter summarizes some of his book and gives good insights — especially in this 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Revolt. Here is his newsletter […]

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Jesus Was A Jew and Why You Can’t Understand the Bible without Knowing That

September 27, 2017

Jesus was a Jew. This fact may escape the casual reader of the New Testament, but it is crucial to understanding Jesus and the book written about him—the Bible. Unhappily, in 21st century America we are far removed from the land of Israel and the ancient culture of Jesus and his Jewish ancestors. Let me […]

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Nativity and Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

September 8, 2017

The birth and presentation of Mary is described in the early 2nd century document known and loved by the first Christians. It is the source for the names of Mary’s parents Joachim and Anna. It is entitled “The Protoevangelium of James.”  It is fascinating. I have only provided the first 1/3 of the document. The […]

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My Talk at Primacy of Peter: Understanding John 21 and Jesus’ Appearance at the Sea of Galilee

September 6, 2017

Since I am doing a show on this topic today with Spirit Catholic Radio (listen live from 9:10-9:40 AM Eastern time) and since will be at this site called Primacy of St. Peter along the shore of Galilee four more times this year… …I thought I would share my teaching that I give all our […]

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Steve Ray on EWTN’s “Franciscan University Presents…”

September 2, 2017

Join Host Michael Hernon, panelists Dr. Regis Martin and Dr. Scott Hahn, and special guest Steve Ray, Founder of Footprints of God Pilgrimages and Producer of “Abraham: Father of Faith & Works”, as they discuss “Father Abraham” and his role in Salvation History.             Our topic is “Father Abraham” since […]

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“Call No Man Your Father”

September 2, 2017

Why do Catholics call their priests “Father” when Jesus said, “Call no man your father.” If you haven’t heard this question yet, some day you certainly will. We must understand what Jesus was saying and why he was saying it in order to understand his words. I was asked this question again and here is […]

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Fun Show about Nicodemus with Al Kresta

August 31, 2017

Join Al Kresta and myself today at 4:20 PM Eastern time for a fun and energetic discussion of Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea. They were judges on the Supreme Court of Israel and yet they took huge risks to follow Jesus. We discuss them today on their Feast Day. Listen live at www.avemariaradio.net  or listen […]

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St. Paul to My Owner Philemon: Slaves, Brothers & Redemption

August 26, 2017

St. Paul’s Letter to my Owner Philemon I was a slave—his property. He owned me. He controlled every minute of my life. I could not think, act or decide for myself. I ate and slept when or if he allowed me to. I had no rights, no personal life, and no freedom. Few laws restricted […]

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