Its Nature and Purpose
By Richard Bennett
Part 2: The Claim and Boast to have the Keys of the Apostle Peter
The Papacy is the boast and foundation of the Church of Rome. The Papacy is the pride and joy of ordinary Catholics, giving them, it is stated, a direct link to Jesus Christ. The World loves the Papacy. The Papacy is to the world what the monarchy is to Britain. The Papacy claims that the Church was founded on the Apostle Peter alone, that he was the first bishop of Rome and that all of his authority belongs now to the Pope and Bishops of the Roman Catholic Church. This is the lynch pin of the whole of Roman Catholicism. In the official words of Rome,
A Catholic WebPage boasts of “264 Popes from St. Peter to Pope John Paul II...the history of the Papacy” showing on one page the “unique direct link” Catholics have to Jesus.2 The whole Roman Catholic structure is based on three false presuppositions:
If even one of these presuppositions is a lie, then the Church of Rome has no foundation. Biblically speaking all three presuppositions are fabrications, as we will show.
(It is also worth mentioning that the list of Popes given by Rome is a constructed fiction. First at the beginning, there was a plurality of leadership with the elders of the Chruch of Rome, and not one single bishop. Then right through history in the battles between two or more claiming to be Pope at the same time, it was the key player who won the day, not the one with the most evidence as to having been lawfully chosen by the people.)
Presupposition 1: The Lord made Simon alone, whom he named Peter, the ’rock’ of his Church, i.e. foundation of His Church.
The principal theme of this passage is the different comprehensions made of Jesus in His time. Whatever others perceived Him to be, plainly, the disciples had a distinct knowledge of Him as Peter responded spontaneously on their behalf. The Lord attributes his intuitive knowledge that He was “The Christ” (Anointed-Messiah) and “The Son of the Living God” (Co-eternal with the Father and therefore likewise God) to a revelation from His Father in heaven. So the Lord responded to Peter in particular and testified of the origin of the revelation and declared that this profession would become the rock, or foundation stone, upon which He would build His Church. “Upon this rock” can only refer to this revelation, which was clearly expressed in Peter’s profession. This cannot be argued against, as it is the very concluding subject of the Lord’s charge to the disciples, “Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ.” To hold the view that Peter himself is the rock, is to deliberately pervert the plain sense of the Lord’s own words. To purport that the Church was built on a man, and not the revelation from God, is to insult the wisdom of the Lord Jesus Christ. In himself the Apostle Peter was the foundation for nothing, being called “Satan,”3 or adversary, by the Lord Himself, and the one whom the Apostle Paul rebuked to his face for compromising the Gospel message.4
The Holy Spirit confirmed the true meaning of the verse by having it written in Greek. The word for Peter in Greek is petros. It is masculine in gender and signifies a piece of rock, larger than a stone. In contrast the word for rock in Greek petra. It is feminine in gender and massive in size, indicating bedrock and immovable. What the Lord declared was to be founded on the massive rock. There is an utter contrast between a piece of rock and the bedrock. That bedrock in the text is the God given revelation by the Father in heaven.
Fitting perfectly with this key factor of revelation, Jesus being the Christ and the very Son of God as the rock on which the Church is built, is the distinct commission given to Peter in verse 19. “Unto thee”, that is to Peter personally, was given the “keys of the kingdom of heaven.” This prophetic declaration of the Lord was literally fulfilled. Peter was made the first instrument of opening the same revelation to the Jews, “God hath made that same Jesus... both Lord and Christ.” (Acts 2:36) and to the Gentiles, (Acts 10:34-44). The power of the keys was concerning the same revelation, Jesus being the Christ and the Son of God, and the initial proclamation of this revelation to the Jews and to the Gentiles. It was fulfilled in the Apostle Peter and in him alone. There can be no successors to this prophetic commission, since there was but one first opening of the kingdom for the Jews as for the Gentiles. The second part of verse 19 was a commission for the responsibility of binding and loosening. This is concerning Church discipline and was given as well to the other Apostles as is seen in Matthew 18:18.
The whole focus therefore of the Matthew 16:16-20 text is on the divinity of Jesus as “the Son of the living God,” and His role as Messiah or Christ, this is the rock on which the Church is built.
The Preposterous claims for a Pontiff Christ
The Roman Catholic Church takes this passage, Matthew 16:16-20, to mean that Peter as first Pope had the Divine attribute of infallibility, and that he also is the Christ, as having the title of “the true vicar of Christ.”5 This interpretation amounts to understanding the Lord’s words to Peter to mean in that he, Peter, was also “the Son of the living God” and “the Christ”. While such an absurd claim is not said in these words (if it were it would be seen as a silly and preposterous doctrine) this is the whole import of what Rome decrees for Peter and his so called successors. To take the doctrine of Christ’s being “the Son of the living God and the Christ” and apply it to Peter and his claimed successors as Roman Pontiff is a most horrendous mimic of the offices of Christ. This is precisely what the Church of Rome does. However, Rome not only claims the divine attribute of infallibility for her Pope, which is equivalent to being “Son of the living God”, she goes further to decree that the Pope is rightly called “Most Holy,”6 and the “Holy Father”7. Not content to have the divine attribute of infallibility, she wishes the Pope also to have the very title of the first person of the Trinity.
Christ’s power and the Pontiff Christ’s power
Jesus as the Christ has full, supreme, and universal power. All over the world people believe on Him, on His incarnation, His divine nature, His perfect life, His finished atonement, His resurrection, and His ascension. The Church of Rome claims the same power due to the Divine Christ, for her Pope,
Consequent to Christ Jesus being the very Son of God, is the necessity for every human creature to be entirely subject to Him in faith and practice. This is what Rome also holds for her Supreme Pontiff, the Pope,
The very fullness of grace and truth belong to Christ Jesus, by nature as divine, and in His earned righteousness as a substitute for those who are His own. The fullness of grace and truth belong to Him alone. “Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ,” the Apostle John proclaims “and of his fullness have all we received, and grace for grace.” Believers receive grace for grace but the very fountain; the very fullness of grace and truth belongs to Christ Jesus alone. All that went before Christ Jesus was but typical and in representation, and all that comes after Him is but a reflection of the glory that is His alone.
The Pontiff Christ is not content to claim supreme, and universal power over the whole Church, he alleges that the Church, his Papal domain, has been allotted the very fullness of grace and truth. “...the very fullness of grace and truth entrusted to the Catholic Church,”10 is how it has been officially worded. The conclusion is obvious and is many times expressed by the Pontiff Christ, “There is no offense, however serious, that the Church cannot forgive.”11
The Pontiff Christ wants be known as “The Holy Father” and for the world to know that he is infallible and inerrant and has supreme universal power. The domain from which he works he declares to be “the very fullness of grace and truth.” There could not be any more horrendous speaking against the Christ as in these claims. There could not be any greater misappropriation by lying pretences of Divine authority than this. Nor could there be a more complete usurpation of Christ’s offices than what these ridiculous claims assume. As Satan of old, the Pontiff Christ has established his throne, and makes himself to be equal to God and purports to have a domain that is the very fullness of all righteousness. This is the definition of the Antichrist as given by the Apostle John, “Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.”12 The Pontiff Christ, assuming the title of “The Holy Father” denies the Father, and in assuming to have Christ’s realm of the very fullness of grace and truth, he has denied the Son. The sin of the Pontiff is nothing short of the sin of Satan as recorded in Isaiah 14: 14, “I will be like the Host High.”
These claims are outrageous enough, but the Pontiff goes even further still. He claims the power to judge in the temporal sphere, even those who hold the highest civil office in a state. This he forthrightly proclaims in his present day law,
Christ declared emphatically “my kingdom is not of this world.”14 However, since the time of the infamous Pope Boniface VIII, the Pontiff Christ stipulates that both spiritual and temporal power belongs to him,
The end result of the interpretation of the Church of Rome concerning what Christ said to Peter, is the creation of a Pontiff Christ who is also “The Holy Father”, with inerrant infallible teaching authority, and power, and that over all creatures in both spiritual and temporal realms. Such an absurd office was foretold by the Apostle Paul when he prophesied, “The son of perdition, who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God”16 In place of “the Christ, the Son of the living God”17 there has been constructed, the Pontiff Christ, the son of perdition. The Papacy in its core office and institutional essence, professes itself to be an entire substitute for the true Christ and His work. It must therefore be identified and denounced in accordance with Holy Scripture as the seat of Antichrist.
Presupposition 1, that the Lord made Simon alone, whom he named Peter, the ‘rock’ of his Church, is not only a proven lie, but the superstructure of infallible Pontiff Christs, with full, supreme, and universal power reigning sovereign, is shown to be the age old pretense of Satan. This is the Antichrist as represented in Revelation 17:4-5, as seated in Babylon, the spiritual seat of arrogance, oppression, and pride.
Presupposition 2. That Peter went to Rome and was the first bishop in Rome
The Scripture is utterly silent about the Apostle Peter going to Rome. His visits to Samaria, Lydda, Joppa, Caesarea and Antioch were carefully recorded. But there is simply no mention made of his going to Rome, which is essential to establish the Roman Catholic position. If it had been of any importance, the Holy Spirit would have had it documented it in the New Testament. This omission underlines the truth that his going there had no significance at the beginning of Christianity. In his letter to the Romans the Apostle Paul makes no mention of Peter when he salutes by name many in the Church of Rome. Undoubtedly therefore, he had not come there by that time. The same apostle Paul, being at Rome in the reign of emperor Nero, never once mentions Peter in any of his letters written from Rome to the churches and to Timothy, although he does remember very many others who were with him in the city. This proves that the Apostle Peter was not in the city at that time. The fact that some extra Biblical sources speak of Peter visiting Rome is of no consequence, since certainty cannot be built on such writings. It is very significant that even those writings, which say he went to Rome, give no evidence that he was ever Bishop of Rome. Peter may have been at Rome, and may have preached the Gospel there; he may have died there. All these are possible conjectures but not the fabric on which faith is based, which is the Written Word of the Lord. If the apostle Peter did visit Rome, it was to preach the Gospel there, but what we know from the Scripture is that he never fixed his office in the city as the first Bishop of Rome. The second presupposition of the Roman Catholic Church is therefore a lie, pure and simple.
Presupposition 3: That Peter’s successors are the bishops of Rome under the primacy of the Pope.
In Scripture there is no mention of successors to Peter or the Apostles. The criterion for apostleship is given in Acts 1:21-22. The position of the Apostles was unique to them and to Paul, all directly chosen by Christ Jesus with no hint of succession. In the New Testament, the Apostles appointed elders and deacons, and not a line of Apostles.
Nonetheless, the Roman Catholic Church attempts to defend her position in the name of personal succession from the Apostles.18 If one wants to use the concept of “apostolic succession”, the true successors of the Apostles are those who hold to the doctrine of the Apostles. Those who continue “steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.”19 If that doctrinal foundation is destroyed, instead of apostolic faith one has apostasy. “Apostolic succession” without apostolic doctrine is a fraud. It is only Biblical doctrine that makes one wise unto salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. What clearly shows that the Bishops of Rome are not Peter’s successors is the fact that much of their doctrine is of a pagan origin rather than of a Biblical origin. For example, “Communion with the dead” is taught in the Roman Catholic Church.20 This Pagan Practice is strictly forbidden in the Bible. If one actually investigates “succession” within Roman Catholicism, the evidence of a sequence from Pagan Rome is what emerges as obvious. The Roman Emperor gave the present title “Summum Pontifex” to the Pope. The Roman Catholic tyrannical monarchy, hierarchical power structure, its court, nobles, ambassadors, legislature, jurisprudence, laws, advocates and treaties are all not of Biblical origin but from its roots in the pagan Roman Empire. In the words of St. John Damascene, “As the holy Fathers overthrew the temples and shrines of the devils, and raised in their places shrines in the names of Saints and we worship them, so also they overthrew the images of the devils, and in their stead raised images of Christ, and God’s Mother, and the Saints.”21 The Roman Catholic Papacy throughout history overlaid paganism with the externals of Biblical names and practices. The real roots of the Papacy are those of the Roman Emperor and not the Lord Christ Jesus. The Lord commanded, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. But ye shall not be so.”22 Christ absolutely proscribed all domination in his kingdom. The same condemnation of worldly ways was repeated by the Apostle Peter, “Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being examples to the flock.”23 The Roman Catholic Church is not the successor to St Peter, but rather to the Roman Empire and her hierarchical and totalitarian control.
In the book of Revelation the Apostle John portrays the fourth, or ten-horned beast as representing the Roman Empire. The angel himself so interprets it. The Papacy belongs to the second or ecclesiastical stage of the Roman Empire. In Chapter 17, John beholds the ten-horned beast bearing a mystical woman, dressed in purple and scarlet, decked with gold, precious stones, and pearls, a harlot, and the mother of harlots and abominations. The guilty seducer of kings, the cruel persecutor of saints; intoxicated, with the blood of the saints and of the martyrs of Jesus. There are too many details to find any other fulfillment outside the Church of Rome. She is the only Church that is also a City, a Civil State and that sits also on the Seven Hills.24 Her official colors are scarlet and purple.25 For 605 years her fires of the Inquisition kindled in every country in Europe. Those years of cruelty and torture speak of her and none else. She has made war with the saints, and overcome them, and worn them out, and would have totally crushed and annihilated them, but for the sustaining hand of the Lord God. History corresponds to prophecy as deep calls to deep. Throughout history here has been only one apostate Mistress of the world; the one Babylon the great, the one City is that is a Harlot.
Her traditions bring into the worship of God unholy water mixed with oil and salt, the smells of charcoal and incense, the lives of frustrated celibate men and women, and idolatry that God hates. Worst of all, and the hallmark of her apostasy, is the fact that she is the only system that has officially cursed all who hold to the Gospel of Christ, she affirmed and still avows,
“If anyone shall say that justifying faith is nothing else than confidence in the divine mercy which remits sins for Christ’s sake, or that it is this confidence alone by which we are justified: let him be anathema [cursed]”26
She also is the only corporate body in which her people “crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.”27 This is dramatically done in each of her Eucharistic Masses, in which she maintain that,
She sits on the Papacy, and that Papacy is about to have John Paul II retire or die, so that a new head may reign on which she can continue to seduce the world. It is time for God’s people to awaken from sleep and call her what she is, “MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.”30
As she the Harlot awaits the retirement or death of her present Pope, we must remember that his office as the Pontiff Christ in not merely a position that spiritually supplants Christ Jesus the Lord. The Pontiff’s power is also temporal and political with ambassadors, civil concordats, with civil rights and power in real estate, education, medicine, and commerce, menacing the very political freedom of a Nation. Believing on Christ and believing on the Pontiff Christ are totally opposite, and incompatible. Wherever one has an “altar” instead of a communion table, a “priest” instead of a preacher, ceremonials instead of sound doctrine, sacraments instead of saving grace, traditions instead of the Written Word of God, you have encountered the system of the Pontiff Christ and not the Church of the living God. As we see the Harlot woman announce to the world that the Pontiff’s seat is vacant and awaiting election of a new Pope by her cardinals, know that one is seeing the seat of Satan, from which the Pontiff Christ reigns. “Hearken unto me now therefore, O ye children, and attend to the words of my mouth. Let not thine heart decline to her ways, go not astray in her paths. For she hath cast down many wounded: yea, many strong men have been slain by her. Her house is the way to hell, going down to the chambers of death.” The person or the Nation who submits to her and her Pontiff Christ knows neither life nor freedom. There is freedom and Eternal Life in the One proclaimed by the Apostle Peter, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Believe on Him and Him alone “and have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness”32 but rather show the Pontiff Christ to be what was predicted of him, “the son of perdition”33 and the woman who rides on him to be none other than “that that great city, which reigneth over the kings of the earth.”34
Permission is given by the author to copy this article if it is done in its entirety without any changes.
Richard Bennett, Berean Beacon. The ministry’s Internet WebPage is: www.bereanbeacon.org
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