Papacy & Catholic Hierarchy

Screen Shot 2020-05-12 at 5.54.57 PMLast week I did a YouTube interview with John-Henry Westen, editor of LifeSite News. It was also written into an  article in which Westen begins,

“May 12, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — Today I had the chance to speak with well-known Catholic apologist, author, and veteran tour guide of the Holy Land Steve Ray about a wide variety of topics, including his thoughts on Pope Francis. A former Baptist, Steve shared with me what it was like converting to Catholicism and what his views are on the coronavirus and the crisis in the church.”

For the whole article, click HERE on the image to the right. To watch the interview, view it on the YouTube video below.

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A loving wife of an unbelieving Protestant husband asked me to explain to her husband that Jesus renamed Simon as Peter and how that relates to Greek, Aramaic and Hebrew. So in simple terms I gave it a simple (though a bit long) explanation. I hope it helps you as well.

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Let’s give this a whirl for your husband’s sake. We know Aramaic was the daily language of the Jews in Judea after their return from their exile to Babylon in 586 BC. Jesus, though he obviously knew Hebrew and probably Greek, primarily spoke Aramaic.

“Greek took over as the language of government, literature, and commerce, but Aramaic remained the language of the common people in Palestine until the Arab Muslim conquest.”

“As Aramaic was spoken commonly in Palestine during the New Testament times, Jesus and his disciples spoke Aramaic (Matt 26:73). Fragments of Aramaic appear, for example, in Matt 16:17Mark 5:417:3414:3615:34John 1:42; and Acts 1:19. The Gospel stories were probably first transmitted orally in Aramaic, although only the Gospel of Matthew is reported to have been written originally in Hebrew or Aramaic.” (CBD, “Aramaic”)

When under extreme pain on the crucifixion Jesus said, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” These are Aramaic words.

“According to Matthew 27:45–50…” says the Evangelical Bible Knowledge Commentary, “…near the end of this period of time, Jesus could bear the separation no longer and cried out in a loud voice, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? These Aramaic words mean, My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? (a quotation of Ps. 22:1).”

Here we have clear biblical evidence that when Jesus spoke, even under the emotional terror of the crucifixion, he spoke in Aramaic. This is just common knowledge and undisputed by anyone who knows New Testament history.

Golan BaniasAccording to scholars, the dialogue going on in Matthew 16 about the rock and the keys was certainly in Aramaic which would be expected since it was the vernacular language. In Aramaic, there is just one word for rock and it is kepha.

Matthew had to translate his original Aramaic/Hebrew text or the dialog of Jesus into Greek and since Greek had feminine and masculine nouns—and rock was the feminine petra, he had to translate the word differently since a 200-pound fisherman could not go around with a feminine name like Petra. In the translation, Matthew made the Aramaic name Kepha — Petros—petra with a masculine ending.

Where do we first find the word Kepha used in the Gospels? It is in St. John 1:42 when Jesus first meets Simon. We so naturally think of him as Simon Peter that we think he had that name all along. However, when Jesus first met him he was simply Simon. But Jesus said, “Jesus looked at him and said, ‘You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called Cephas’ (which means Peter)”  (John 1:42 (ESV)) The English Standard Version (ESV) is the new favorite translation among Protestants.

In the footnote to the word Peter it says, “Cephas and Peter are from the word for rock in Aramaic and Greek, respectively.” It must be emphasized that Cephas is the Greek transliteration of the Aramaic Kepha which means rock. Cephas (Kepha) and Peter are not different names. They are merely the same name, Rock, in two different languages, Aramaic and Greek, respectively. Cephas is the Greek transliteration of the Aramaic Kepha. This name was appropriately given to Peter near Caesarea Philippi. The water that flowed from the massive rock there was the source of the Jordan River.

Jesus says “You shall be called Cephas.“ When will Simon be called Cephas? Do we see any other later place in Scripture where he will be given that name since Jesus already predicted it will happen?

Yes, of course, in Matthew 16:18. Jesus speaking in the vernacular Aramaic (established earlier in this e-mail) he said to Simon, “You are kepha and on this kepha I will build my church.” In English Bibles, which are two languages beyond the original Aramaic, we read Peter where we lose the original Aramaic word parallel.

Protestants often use this sequence of languages and details of translation to obfuscate the text and confuse people. They use this obfuscation to deny what Jesus was actually saying about the Catholic Church has always taught.

Screen Shot 2020-05-08 at 10.09.25 AMQuoting my own book Upon this Rock, “W. F. Albright, eminent Protestant scholar and internationally regarded as the “dean of biblical studies”, writes, “This is not a name, but an appellation and a play on words. There is no evidence of Peter or Kephas as a name before Christian times.… Peter as Rock will be the foundation of the future community. Jesus, not quoting the Old Testament, here uses Aramaic, not Hebrew, and so uses the only Aramaic word that would serve his purpose. In view of the background of verse 19, … one must dismiss as confessional interpretation any attempt to see this rock as meaning the faith, or the messianic confession, of Peter. To deny the pre-eminent position of Peter among the disciples or in the early Christian community is a denial of the evidence.… The interest in Peter’s failures and vacillations does not detract from this pre-eminence; rather, it emphasizes it. Had Peter been a lesser figure his behavior would have been of far less consequence (cf. Gal 2:11ff.)” (W. F. Albright and C. S. Mann, The Anchor Bible: Matthew [Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday & Co., 1971], 195).

“David Hill, Presbyterian minister and senior lecturer of biblical studies, University of Sheffield, writes, “It is on Peter himself, the confessor of his Messiah-ship, that Jesus will build the Church.… Attempts to interpret the ‘rock’ as something other than Peter in person (e.g., his faith, the truth revealed to him) are due to Protestant bias and introduce to the statement a degree of subtlety which is highly unlikely” (The Gospel of Matthew, New Century Bible Commentary [Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1972], 261). For more information on this point, see James T. Shotwell and Louise Ropes Loomis, The See of Peter [1927; reprint, New York: Columbia Univ. Press, 1991], especially 23–24).

“Name changes held great weight in Eastern cultures. Abraham’s name change from Abram (father) to Abraham (father of nations) is a prime example. It signified a change of status or mission. Jesus changed Peter’s name from Simon to Rock. Jesus is making it obvious that something important is taking place; Peter’s status has changed for all time, and, as with Abraham, this change would have a continuing impact on the new covenant community. The fisherman was now the steward of a kingdom. Fundamentalists may object, “Only Christ can be the rock.” However, the same figures of speech can be applied to more than one person in Scripture. In one illustration, Jesus is called the cornerstone, not the foundation, while the apostles are called the foundation (see Rev 21:14).

“God is called rock in Deuteronomy 32:4, and the name is now given to Peter, who shares in God’s rock-ness. Jesus is the one with the keys (Rev 3:7), but the keys are delegated to Peter. Jesus is the Good Shepherd, but Peter is also given the responsibility of shepherd (Jn 21:15–17). The apostles were to share in the authority and work of Christ.” (The Infallibility of the Church [London: John Murray, 1914], 338). (Stephen K. Ray, Upon This Rock: St. Peter and the Primacy of Rome in Scripture and the Early Church, Modern Apologetics Library (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1999).

And one must realize that in biblical terms a change of names is of earth-shattering importance. Abram received his new name Abraham when he received a new covenant and became the father of all those who believe by faith (Romans 4:11). Jacob was renamed Israel when the covenant was renewed and he became the father of the 12 tribes. We cannot assume that the change of Simon‘s name to Cephas—Peter—was any less significant in the eyes of Jesus. Jesus knew that this name change marked a huge statement of importance, change of status, and position.

download (1)Paul is often considered to be at odds with Peter. People like to quote Galatians 2:11 to imply that Paul did not respect Peter’s primacy and authority.

But quite the opposite. If Paul intended to diminish Peters’ authority he would have referred to him merely as Simon, his given name. But instead, he emphasized Peter’s position and authority by referring to him as Cephas—the Rock! Here Paul uses the Greek transliteration of the very word Jesus spoke at Caesarea Philippi (Matt. 16:18). Peter was the authority but unhappily not living up to his own authoritative teaching regarding the salvation of Gentiles equally with Jews.

As a Baptist, I had to learn all this the hard way. I went to Israel and studied the location where Jesus said these words in the Gospel of Matthew, and studied in detail the Jewish context and background to this text and in short, I became a Catholic.

If anyone really wants to understand this whole Biblical passage I would suggest they read my book Upon this Rock, Peter and the Primacy of Rome in Scripture and the Early Church.

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Why Are We Catholic?

by Steve Ray on March 30, 2020

This excellent little summary was prepared by the Faith Formation ministry in Escanaba Michigan and sent to me by Mike Cousineau. Enjoy and be challenged and edified. Sent it to a friend who needs to read it.

1.  St. Cyprian of Carthage, martyr & Bishop, wrote in 249 AD, “He who would have God as his Father must have the Church as his Mother.”

2.  Without the Catholic Church, there is no salvation.  All Protestant Christians, whether they believe it or not, are Christians because the Catholic Church exists.  Jesus prayed what is called the High Priestly Prayer in John, Chapter 17, when He said, “I pray that they are one Father, just as you and I are one.”  In the simplest terms, all Protestant Christians are wayward Catholics.  This statement would infuriate most Protestants.  That does not make this objective fact any less true.  We all have believed something, thinking it is true, only to find we have been misinformed.  Such is the case for every Protestant believer who thinks their denomination speaks nothing but truth.

3.  What happened?  Christian unity, as Jesus would have it, has fallen a long way from when the 12 Apostles were given the charge of going out to make disciples, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  To be clear about how difficult unity is to achieve, the Catholic Church has had many of its members disagree with certain doctrines of the Church.  The unity problem has always been real, which is always the reason for calling Church Councils, thus making many declarations of faith, known as Church Dogmas.  Dogma is a fancy word for a set of principles laid down by an authority that is incontrovertibly true.  There are 255 infallibly declared dogmas of the Catholic Church.

4.  How long did it take for a difference of opinion to filter into the newly formed Christian way of life?  We know from scripture it happened and it happened too often, resulting in the need for written instruction given to the Church by inspiration of the Holy Spirit.  Jesus said to His disciples, “teach them all that I have taught you.”  Yet, as we know, people don’t like submitting to someone else.  Most people prefer to “be in charge” and that form of pride has resulted in differences of opinion, many times resulting in severe spiritual disagreements.

5.  Knowing spiritual disagreements would enter the Church, Jesus put a plan in place.  The plan included a hierarchy, with Peter in charge, as he was the Apostle given the keys to the kingdom.  Whatever the Church bound on earth was bound in heaven, whatever the Church loosed on earth was loosed in heaven.  Peter was the rock on which the Church was built.  Further, Jesus said He would be with the Church always & the gates of hell would not prevail against His Church.  It should be noted, given the nature of man, it seems God could have come up with a better plan, but he did it this way through men, but with the promise that the Holy Spirit would be active and protect the Church.

6.  Did Jesus really want and expect the Church to remain as one, with disagreements settled through church authority? …

For all 20 reasons we are Catholic, click HERE for the full document.

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Feast of Chair of St. Peter: “Chair of Moses, Chair of Peter” Steve’s Article, YouTube Video and Resources

February 21, 2020

St. Cyprian of Carthage (beheaded 257 AD) one hundred and fifty years before the New Testament writings were collected into one book called “The Bible”: “The Lord says to Peter: ‘I say to you,’ He says, ‘that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will […]

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Steve’s EWTN “Bookmarks Brief” on the Papacy

February 7, 2020

We

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Catherine of Siena and Leaving the Church

February 5, 2020

What this 14th-century mystic can teach us about fidelity to Christ and to a Church in crisis Thomas McDermott, OP In the wake of so many clerical sex abuse scandals, too many people the Catholic Church appears hypocritical and bankrupt morally and spiritually. In the midst of such trying times, how can Catholics justify remaining […]

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On EWTN TV this week with three time slots

January 30, 2020

I will be on EWTN’s Bookmarks show this week during three-time slots. The show is hosted by Doug Keck, EWTN’s President and Chief Operating Officer. Doug interviews me for 30-minutes as we discuss my new book “The Papacy: What the Pope Does and Why It Matters” published by Ignatius Press. You can join the shows at: […]

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“Francis was never pope? Call me unpersuaded.” By Dr. Ed Peters

January 20, 2020

Article below by Canon Lawyer, Dr. Ed Peters: (Steve Ray here: It is amazing how many people today are rejecting the papacy of Pope Francis, claiming that Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI is really the pope. It comes up on my Twitter and Facebook accounts almost daily. Even though Canon Lawyer Ed Peters wrote his legal […]

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My Talk on Pope Francis is now available

October 24, 2019

A few weeks ago I gave a controversial talk entitled “How Does a John Paul 2 Catholic Survive in a Pope Francis World.” The talk was given to a 6-state gathering of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre with a number of bishops in the audience. Al Kresta spoke first with the same topic […]

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St. Augustine and St. Paul on Real Bishops

October 7, 2019

“No man can be a good bishop if he loves his title but not his task.”  St. Augustine May God grant us good Shepherd‘s. May he grant us those willing to be politically-incorrect, willing to be honest with their flock, exposing heresy and sin even if it’s among their own bishops and priests — even if […]

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My Respectful but Honest Radio Show concerning Pope Francis

September 13, 2019

Today I was invited on the Terry & Jesse Show to discuss the uncomfortable situation we Catholic find ourselves in with Pope Francis. Hope you appreciate the show. My interview starts 15 minutes into the hour.

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EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo is Under Attack; Pope Says He’s Honored to be Attacked by Americans

September 11, 2019

The post below was from a year ago but certainly still very timely. The blog hit a nerve so I am reposting this. Having been on EWTN a couple of times since this original posting, I must say that EWTN and affiliates are spot on and I support them and their ministry and assessment of the Church all […]

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Steve’s “EWTN TV Bookmark Brief” with Doug Keck

September 10, 2019

To see the webpage of my recent Bookmark Brief, click here.  And to watch the 2-minute video, click below… “As a convert, I had all the usual misconceptions about the Papacy, and since becoming Catholic, I’ve discovered that even many Catholics have the mistaken ideas I had,” Steve Ray tells Doug Keck on EWTN Bookmark. Dennis Walters and Steve Ray have put together a small […]

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Wednesday Evening on EWTN Live with Fr. Mitch Pacwa

August 13, 2019

EWTN Live wrote to me a while ago asking if I’d come on the live show with Fr. Mitch this Wednesday, August 14 at 8 PM Eastern. I said, “Yes.” The topic will be my new book “The Papacy: What the Pope Does and Why It Matters.” This is a very pertinent book for our […]

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Is Scripture Sufficient…

April 29, 2019

Someone wrote a friend of mine asserting that 2 Timothy 3:16 proved that Scripture alone was all we needed. The famous passage reads, “All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” […]

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My New Book “Papacy”: National Catholic Register’s Nice Review (and my response to 2 points)

April 1, 2019

First, I want to thank John Grodelski and National Catholic Register for deeming my new book worthy of a book review. It was fair and balanced review for which I am grateful. You can read his review and my response below or here on my website documents page. ****************************************** An Introduction to the History of […]

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