SONG OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN
study of church history reveals that it was not until centuries after the
last book of the Bible was written in the first century, A.D., that
Christians began to bow down before images (statues and paintings),
praying to and worshiping them. In fact, it was not until halfway
through the eighth century A.D. that church leaders officially declared,
for the first time, that such worship was not idolatry! The second
commandment as found in the RheimsDouai Version reads thus:
shalt not make to thyself a graven thing, nor the likeness of any thing
that is in heaven above, or in the earth beneath, nor of those things that
are in the waters under the earth.
shalt not adore them, nor serve them: I am the Lord thy God, mighty,
jealous, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, unto the
third and fourth generation of them that hate Me: and showing mercy unto
thousands to them that love Me, and keep My commandments." —Exodus
early Fathers of the Christian church is the name given to the Christian
writers of the first several centuries after the first century in which
the New Testament was finished.
early Fathers voiced a strong protest against images being brought into
the church. Here are a few terse statements as historical evidence:
is an injury to God, to make an image of Him in base wood or stone."
—Justin Martyr, Justin's Apology, Il p. 44:
ought to be worshiped without an image; images serving only to bring the
Deity into contempt" —Augustine, Augustine de Civil. Dei, 1. VII,.
Augustine also Said this:
would be Impious in a Christian to set up a corporeal image of God in a
church; and that he would be thereby guilty of the sacrilege condemned by
St. Paul, of turning the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made
like to corruptible man."—Augustine, Augustine de Fidi, et symb.,
is another testimony of an important early church writer: "We
Christians have nothing to do with images, on account of the second
commandment; the first thing we teach those who come to us is, to despise
idols and all. images; it being the peculiar character of the Christian
religion to raise our minds above images, agreeably to the law which God
Himself has given to mankind." Origen, Origen Against Celsus, 1. v.
of the early Fathers, such as Tertullian and Clemens Alexandrinus (Clement
of Alexandria), opposed images and their introduction into the church.
These Fathers disapproved the arts of statuary and painting.
principles of the second commandment have been practiced by the people of
God down through the ages. That commandment was a safeguard against the
heathen system of idol worship. Bowing before an image of wood, brass,
marble, fired clay, or porcelain—the workmanship of human hands—was
something those who kept the second commandment did not do. They knew it
was idolatry. According to the first commandment, we are not to worship
anyone other than God; we cannot bow down and venerate a created being.
According to the second commandment, no images are permitted. We cannot
use an image as part of our worship of God.
First Commandment—"Thou shalt not have strange gods before
Second Commandment—"Thou shalt not make to thyself a graven thing,
nor the likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or in the earth
beneath, nor of those things that are in the waters under the earth.
shalt Not adore them, nor serve them; I am the Lord thy God, mighty,
jealous, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, unto the
third and fourth generation of them that hate Me: And shewing mercy unto
thousands to them that love Me, and keep My commandments:'—Exodus 20:4-6.
commandment of God is clear and exact and needs no theologian to explain
it away. Had all obeyed this commandment, there would never have been a
heathen or the various religions which are practiced in Africa, Asia, and
in other parts of the world.
did image worship get started in the Church?
centuries after the time of Christ and the Apostles, the beginning of
image worship into the Church first came with the veneration of the cross
and of relics. Next came the belief that those who died as martyrs, or
those who were regarded as saints, could make intercession if implored, because
they were in heaven, close to the throne of God.
by the devout were made to the tombs of deceased saints. Merits and
supernatural favors were allegedly gained by those who visited, touched,
and kissed the place where the deceased saint lay. But a memento was
needed. A memorial was sought which would be more appealing than a
skull, a bone, or the mantle of a departed saint. Painters and sculptors
were employed. Paintings and sculpture of deceased Christians began to be
made and displayed.
when first introduced, were seemingly for the purpose of instructing those
who had difficulty in learning. To meet the minds of the newly converted
pagans, pictures were in demand. Heathen artists and craftsmen who
pictures and sculptures of pagan gods and the heathen dead found a
demand for their services by half-converted Christians. Slowly, their
work began to adorn the places of worship.
was not until over 650 years after the time of Christ that image worship
came into the Church. The pictures, images, and relics were not at first
venerated, nor did they become part of worship until about the beginning
of the eighth century, when stealthily and imperceptibly reverence and
adoration were given to the images. The progression was slow, but the
inevitable results were realized; for Christians began praying before the
images of the saints, and the door was opened for image worship in the
Church. here is the story of how image worship was officially adopted by a Church council:
A brief entry in the National Catholic Almanac summarizes part of the
"AD. 726: Eastern Emperor Leo III . . issued an edict which declared that the veneration of images, pictures and relics was idolatrous, and ordered their removal from churches. This was the error of Iconoclasm, or image-breaking.
"AD. 727: A synod at Rome declared that the
veneration of images
was in accordance with Catholic tradition. Pope Gregory III condemned
Iconoclasm in 731.—National Catholic Almanac, 1961 ed., p. 134.
The above statement speaks about an "error of iconoclasm."
"Iconoclasm" is the breaking of one's idols, so they can no
longer be venerated and worshiped. It is not an "error" to do
this. At the command of God, His people in Bible times would smash their
idols in order to purify the land of idolatry. God told them to break
their idols. In later centuries this continued to be done by faithful
Christians, when they converted from heathenism—until Gregory III
declared that anyone who destroyed his idol would be excommunicated.
Here is the strange story behind how this happened: Because church
members were beginning to fall down before statues and worship them, the
Eastern Emperor Leo III who was located at Constantinople issued an
edict in A.D. 726 that the veneration of images, pictures, and relics
was idolatry; and he ordered their removal from churches. He commanded
that bishops and priests oversee the smashing of those idols.
Both Emperor Leo III, and his son Constantine V, were opposed to having
images in the churches and homes since, when they were there, people
were tempted to kneel and pray to them. So Constantine V decided to call
a Christian council, to prohibit images throughout the Catholic Church.
That council was held in A.D. 754 at Hiera, near Constantinople. (It is variously
referred to as the Council Hiera or the Council of
Constantinople.) There were 338 bishops present at this large Church
council, which lasted a long time—over six months from February 10 to
August 17. It was a major Church council.
The assembly was unanimously opposed to the worship of images, and the
council issued the following decree: "The holy and Ecumenical
council. . adhering to the Word of God, the definitions of the six
preceding councils, to the doctrine of the approved Fathers, and
practice of the church in the earliest times, pronounce and declare, in
the name of the Trinity, and with one heart and mind, that no images are
to be worshiped; that to worship them or any other creature is robbing
God of the honor that is due to Him alone, and relapsing into
idolatry.” Decree of the Council of Hiera (Constantinople).
The council went so far as to prohibit the setting up of images in
churches or in private places of worship. This council was, at the time,
reckoned as the Seventh General Council. But, in later centuries, the
Catholic Church stopped listing it as a Church council, because it had
decreed against image worship. On official Church records, that council
Thirty—three years later, the decision of that council was reversed by
another Church council —the Second Nicaean Council, which today is listed
as the "seventh council," when it is actually the eighth.
Here is how this happened:
Queen Irene was the widow of the deceased Emperor Leo IV. During his
reign, Leo IV had also been opposed to images; and, in accordance with
the second of the Ten Commandments, he had zealously tried to
eradicate idolatry from the Christian church.
But, after his death, Irene became the ruler, and she liked idols. She
believed and practiced image worship, and wanted the entire Church to do
likewise. Amazingly, it was because of the continued urging of that one
woman, that the Catholic Church today has images in the church for people
to pray to.
So, in A.D. 787, because she held the regency, Queen Irene called another
general Church council. To make sure she got her way, she wrote a letter
to Pope Adrian I, requesting his presence (or that of one of his papal
legates) at the forthcoming council. In the letter, she told him of her
intention—and demanded, that the pope help her bring image worship
back into the Church!
This council was to be held at Nice, France, the second one to be held
there. For this reason, it was called the Second Council of Nice——or
the Second Nicaean Council. Since she was empress, Pope Adrian 1 decided
he would do as the woman demanded. In addition, some of his counselors
recommended it, since the churches could erect larger and more beautiful
images than the people could afford at home —and this would bring
people, with their offerings, to the churches more frequently.
When the Second Council of Nicaea convened in AD. 754, 350 bishops were
present, they thought it best to do what Queen Irene wanted. So they
reversed the earlier decision, and voted full approval of images.
Here are two Church statements about the second Nicaean Council: "Nicaea
II, 787: Adrian I condemned Iconoclasm, which held that the use of
images was idolatry."—National Catholic Almanac, 1961 ed., p.
"The Second Council of Nicaea (Seventh Ecumenical Council) was held
in 787 and defined the Catholic Teaching regarding the veneration of
images."—Catholic, Encyclopedia, p. 423.
The decree was signed and issued on October 13, AD. 787, by 308 of the
350 bishops present. Here was the official decree issued by this
council. It required not only the erection of statues, but the making of
exquisitely designed clothes to place on them: "That holy images
of the cross should be consecrated, and put on the sacred vessels and
vestments, walls and boards, in private houses and in public ways. And
especially that there should be erected images of the Lord God, our
Saviour Jesus Christ, of our blessed Lady, the mother of God, of the
venerable angels, and of all the saints. .
"And that whosoever should presume to think or teach otherwise, or
throw away any painted books, or the figure of the cross, or any image
or picture, or any genuine relics of the martyrs, they should, if
bishops or clergymen, be deposed, or if monks or laymen, be
of Second Council of Nicaea.
Images were to be placed everywhere, but the largest and most expensive
ones were reserved for inside the churches. Anathemas were pronounced
against all those who refused to bow to the images. In this way, the
second of the Ten Commandments, given by God to mankind, was fully set
aside. Frankly, the Second Nicaean Council prohibited obedience to the
The council openly declared that the veneration of the statues was
"worship," which is what "veneration" is.
"In it the council teaches that the figure of the cross, and 'holy
images, whether made in colours, or of stone, of any other material,'
are to be retained. . It is right to salute, honour, and venerate them,
to burn lights and incense before them. . The council uses the word
'worship' of the veneration due to images. . This decision was
approved by Pope Adrian."—William E. Addis and Thomas Arnold, A
Catholic Dictionary, p. 423.
Queen Irene, representing the state, and Pope Adrian I, representing the
Church, united their regentship for the purpose of establishing image
worship by decree through this Nicaea Council. The commandment of God
was cast aside for the traditions of men. Today, statues, relics,
medals, pictures, and amulets are venerated and appealed to for guidance
and for protection against evil. Their devotees do not realize they are
robbing God of His rightful place as the only one worthy of worship.
In later centuries, the Council of Trent gave its approval to images in
the churches and their worship.
"The images of Christ and the Virgin Mother of God, and of the other
saints, are to be had and to be kept, especially in churches, and due
honor and veneration are to be given them."—Council of Trent,
Why is only God to be worshiped? Because He is the Creator of heaven and
earth. It is sin, a terrible sin, to worship the creature instead of
"In the beginning God created heaven, and earth." Genesis
"For in Him [Christ] were all things created in heaven and on earth,
visible and invisible, whether thrones, or dominations, or
principalities, or powers. All things were created by Him and in
Him." —Colossians 1:16.
"For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus in good works,
which God hath prepared that we should walk in them."—Ephesians
"Thus then shall you say to them: The gods that have not made heaven
and earth" let them perish from the earth."—Jeremias 10:11.
In later centuries, the Church declared that there were three kinds of
worship which could be offered to God and to the images: Latria to God,
Dulia to saints and angels, and Hyperdulia to the virgin Mary .But, to
most of the laity, it is all the same thing: worship.
An interesting question arose at the Frankfort Council regarding these
three forms of worship. God, the virgin Mary, and the saints are all
interwoven in prayers. How could the worshiper change his form from
Latria to Hyperdulia and then to Dulia? The Frankfort Council questioned
this and found it to be irreconcilable. The whole thing was so
complicated, they could not figure it out!
But to the laity, it really is no problem: It is all worship.
ON A ROCK
Only a divine Being could walk on the angry waves which endangered the
lives of the Twelve. Who but the Master of sea and land could still the
violent tempest? Christ had given repeated evidence of His Godship, and
it was on the disciples' belief in Him as God that their own salvation
depended, as well as the salvation of those whom they were to teach.
"But the boat in the midst of the sea was tossed with the waves: for
the wind was contrary. And in the fourth watch of the night, He came to
them walking upon the sea. And they seeing Him walking upon the sea,
were troubled, saying: It is an apparition. And they cried out for fear.
And immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying: Be of good heart: it is I,
fear ye not." St. Matthew 14:2427.
Peter's faith in Christ as a divine Being was tested.
"And Peter making answer, said: Lord, if it be Thou, bid me come to
Thee upon the waters. And He said: Come, And Peter going down out of the
boat, walked upon the water to come to Jesus. But seeing the wind
strong, he was afraid: and when he began to sink, he cried out, saying:
Lord, save me. And immediately Jesus stretching forth His hand took hold
of him, and said to him: 0 thou of little faith, why didst thou
doubt?" St. Matthew 14:28-31.
"When they [Christ and Peter] were come up into the boat," the
other disciples said, "Indeed Thou art the Son of God." Peter
did not unite with the disciples in acknowledging Christ as the Son of
God, as the record bears out. Later, however, at Caesarea Philippi, when
the question was asked by our Lord, "Whom say ye that I am?"
Peter acknowledged Him before the other disciples.
"And when they were come up into the boat, the wind ceased. And they
that were in the boat came and adored Him, saying: Indeed Thou art the
Son of God."—St. Matthew 14:33.
After the disciples' missionary tour, Jesus inquired how the people
regarded Him. From the answer, it was evident that none at that time
recognized Him as the Messiah. John the Baptist, Elias, and Jeremias
were sinners and needed a Saviour even though they were considered good
men. Christ was more than an ordinary man: He was God. He was anxious
that all should see Him to be the Redeemer of the world, the One sent of
"And Jesus came into the quarters of Cesarea Phillippi: and He asked
His disciples, saying: Whom do men say that the Son of man is?
"But they said: Some John the Baptist, and other some Elias, and
others Jeremias, or one of the prophets."—St. Matthew 16:13-14.
Now Christ asks all the disciples, "Whom say ye that I am?" Had
the people influenced them in any way? Was their faith in Christ as a
divine Being weakened by the report which they brought back?
"Jesus saith to them: But whom do you say that I am?" —St.
Peter was the spokesman on this occasion. The disciples' opinion had
not changed. Prior to Peter's acknowledgment of the divinity of
Christ, the other disciples had openly expressed their belief in Him as
the Son of God. "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living
God." This confession expressed the faith of the Twelve. Beneath
the form of humanity, they saw the glory of the Son of God. The truth
which Peter had confessed is the foundation of every believer's faith.
"Simon Peter answered and said: Thou art Christ, the Son of the
living God."—St. Matthew 16:16. Possessing such knowledge was no
ground for self glorification. Humanity, of itself, cannot attain to a
knowledge of God. It was only through the Spirit of God that Peter and
the other disciples could get the revelation of God and the plan of
salvation. Blessed indeed are those to whom the Holy Spirit, through the
Word reveals the truth regarding Christ as the divine One.
"And Jesus answering, said to him: Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona:
because flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but My Father who
is in heaven." —St. Matthew 16:17.
Here is the text the Church uses as the basis for its claim that Christ
instituted the office of pope, giving Peter credentials to the papal
chair and making him the foundation of the Church. Let us examine this
statement: "Thou art Peter [petros in the Greek, meaning "a
stone”], and upon this rock [petra in the Greek, meaning "a
rock”] I will build My church."
"And I say to thee: That thou art Peter [petros]; and upon this rock
[petra] I will build My church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail
against it."—St. Matthew 16: 18.
Petra, the immovable rock, is Christ and not Peter. Two different Greek
words are petros, a stone—a rolling stone; and petra, a rock—the Rock
of Ages which stands unmoved. Moreover, the Greek word, petros, is a
masculine noun, whereas; petra is a neuter substantive. In the Greek,
they cannot be interchanged!
Jesus told Peter, "You are as your name, a movable, little stone,
but the truth which you stated is, in contrast, a mighty boulder which
cannot be moved. Upon it My followers will find a solid foundation,
which Satan cannot destroy!"
Was Peter the rock upon which the Church was founded? The gates of hell
did prevail against him when he denied his Lord by cursing. (See St.
Matthew 26:69-74.) Peter's confession of faith, that Christ was the Son
of the living God, was the foundation upon which the Church was built;
and the gates of hell would never prevail against that, foundation.
There is security in the Church which has for her foundation the One who
stood unmoved amid the storms of the enemy.
"And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock l will
build My church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against
it."—St. Matthew 16:18.
Did Peter think that he, Peter, was the rock upon which the Christian
church was founded? On the contrary, the following texts clearly show
that he knew Christ was the "chief cornerstone," the
"head of the comer," the "precious" One. Peter did
not say, "He that believeth on me shall not be confounded,"
but "he that believeth on Him." Peter declared that Christ was
"If so be you have tasted that the Lord is sweet. Unto whom coming,
as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen and made
honourable by God: Be you also as living stones built up, a spiritual
house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices,—acceptable
to God by Jesus Christ.
"Wherefore it is said in the Scripture: Behold I lay in Sion a chief
comer stone, elect, precious. And He that shall believe in Him, shall
not be confounded."—1 St. Peter 2:3-6.
Peter applies the prophecy of Isaias 28:16 to Christ.
"Wherefore it is said in the Scripture: Behold, I lay in Sion a
chief comer stone, elect, precious. And he that shall believe in Him,
shall not be confounded."—1 St. Peter 2:6.
Some will believe in Him as the foundation while others reject Him.
"To you therefore that believe, He is honour: but to them that
believe not, the stone which the builders rejected, the same is made
the head of the corner."—1 St. Peter 2:7.
To those who stumble at the Word—the Bible——— Christ becomes a Rock of
offense. A substitute stone—some human being—will be accepted by
those who do not believe what the Bible teaches: that Christ is the Rock
upon which the true church is founded.
"And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of scandal, to them who
stumble at the Word, neither do believe, where—unto also they are
set."—1 St. Peter 2:8.
Paul admonishes us to take heed upon what foundation we build, Christ or
mere men. "But let every man take heed how he buildeth . . For
other foundation no man can lay, but that which is laid; which is Christ
Jesus."—1 Corinthians 3:10.
If Peter was the foundation—the rock upon which the Christian church was
to be built—then Paul knew nothing about it. He declares Christ is the
foundation. Paul states that Christ is the Rock; this was also known
back in the days of Moses. "And all drank the same spiritual drink;
and they drank of the spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock
was Christ."—1 Corinthians 10:4.
Why should Christ, being the Rock and Foundation of His church down
through the ages, abdicate in favor of Peter or any other mortal? A
position as important as the foundation, chief cornerstone, and head of
His spiritual structure (the church) would never be transferred to any
The church is not built upon anyone apostle or prophet, but upon all of
them—that is, their work and their doctrine, which is contained in the
New—and Old Testaments. Christ is the Chief Cornerstone.
"Now therefore you are no more strangers and foreigners; but you
are fellow citizens with the saints, and the domestics of God. Built
upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself
being the chief comer stone.” —Ephesians 2:19-20.
Paul was called to be an apostle to the Gentile world, and Peter to the
Jews. If Peter were pope, he would be head over all, both Jew and
"But contrariwise, when they had seen that to him was committed the
gospel of the uncircumcision ; as to Peter was that of the circumcision.
"For he who wrought in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision,
wrought in me also among the Gentiles."—Galatians 2:7-8.
Paul puts James first as one of the pillars. All three—James, Cephas
(who was Peter), and John—were of equal standing.
"And when they had known the grace that was given to me, James and
Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the
right hands of fellowship: that we should go unto the Gentiles, and
they unto the circumcision."—Galatians 2:9.
Paul reproved Peter before the church. If Peter occupied the pontifical
office, Paul did not regard it. Should a subordinate rebuke the pontiff
"But when Cephas was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face,
because he was to be blamed.
"For before that some came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles:
but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them
who were of the circumcision."—Galatians 2:11-12.
After the church at Antioch had the experience with Peter which is
recorded in Galatians 2, would they have accepted Paul's teaching if he
had declared that Peter was the foundation and the head of their church?
Some embarrassing questions could have been asked relative to the
of that foundation.
Paul addressed a long letter to the Christians at Rome (the Book of
Romans).. He mentioned many names, but he did not mention a Roman
pontiff. The emperor's name is recorded' but not a pope's, who was
supposed to pave reigned in the Roman capital. If Christ had established
a pontifical office with Peter occupying it, Paul knew nothing of it.
Then there are the two letters written by Peter (First and Second Peter);
but neither mentions his vice-regal authority, or his supremacy, over
In the following passage, Peter declares himself to be an elder among the
elders. He assumed none of the prerogatives of his so-called
successors, such as commanding the apostles, issuing bulls, enacting
laws, judging and ruling on controversies, summoning councils,
transferring kingdoms, wielding the spiritual swords, and dethroning
disloyal kings and princes.
"The ancients therefore that are among you, I beseech, who am myself
also an ancient, and witness of the sufferings of Christ: as also a
partaker of that glory which is to be revealed in time to come:
"Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking care of it, not by
constraint, but willingly, according to God: not for filthy lucre's
sake, but voluntarily:
"Neither as lording it over the clergy, but being made a pattern of
the flock from the heart. "And when the prince of pastors shall
appear, you shall receive a never fading crown of glory. "In like
manner, ye young men, be subject to the ancients. And do you all
insinuate humility one to another, for God resisteth the proud, but to
the humble He giveth grace."—1 Peter 5:1-5.
The elders were not to function as "lords," nor to rule by
force over the churches. Peter's language is against papal authority.
"Neither as lording it over the clergy, but being made a pattern of
the flock from the heart.” —1 Peter 5:3.
The humble fisherman refused the homage of Cornelius. "I myself
also am a man," not a being to be venerated, he said.
"And it came to pass, that when Peter was come in, Cornelius came to
meet him, and falling at his feet adored.
"But Peter lifted him up, saying: Arise, I myself also am a
The subject of authority was an ever-prevailing question with the
disciples while Christ was among them in person.
"And there was also a strife amongst them, which of them should seem
to be the greater;" —St. Luke 22:24.
Here Christ shows that the non-Christian attitude to "exercise
authority" is a Gentile trait, not a saintly quality.
"And He said to them: The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them;
and they that have power over them, are called beneficent."—St.
"But you not so." By these forceful words, Christ debarred
provision for anyone man to rule over His church. "But you not so:
but he that is the greater among you, let him become as the younger; and
he that is the leader, as he that serveth."—St. Luke 22:26.
"I am in the midst of you as he that serveth." Christ was a
servant He wore no pontifical robes, nor was a jewelstudded crown
ever placed upon His brow. "For which is greater, he that sitteth
at table, or he that serveth? Is not he that sitteth at table? But I am
in the midst of you, as he that serveth."—St. Luke 22:27.
What kind of foundation would Peter have been? If Christ had built His
Church upon Peter, what would have happened to the church when Peter
fell on various occasions? What happens when the foundation of a
structure, government, or society is based on erring man?
If every pope is the successor of Peter and is supposed to be the head of
the Church, —what happened when the antipopes ruled? Here is a list,
given by the church, of some of these antipopes:
Paschal III—1164 Callixtus III—1168 Nicholas V—1328 Clement VII—13 78
Benedict XIII— 1394 Felix V—1439 Clement VIII—1592
During the time of these antipopes two heads were ruling the Church. What
happened to the body (church) during these episodes? Then, too, when a
pope dies, there is an interim between his death and the election of a
new head; what happens in this interval? A church having a human being
as its foundation and head was never the plan of our Lord. He never
intended that any one of His followers should accept, with blind
credulity, teachings not based upon Holy Scriptures.
According to the one-volume Catholic Encyclopedia (p. 42), there have
been 37 antipopes.
The New Testament is silent upon pontifical supremacy. The Holy
Scriptures make no mention of a human vicar—general, but they do
reveal the Holy Spirit as Christ's representative in His church.
"If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will ask the Father,
and He shall give you another Paraclete [Comforter, Helper] that He may
abide with you for ever."—St. John 14:15-16.
According to Scripture, it is not the pontiff and the councils which is
to teach us; it is God's Word and the guidance of the Holy Spirit as we
"But when the Paraclete cometh, whom I will send you from the
Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceedeth from the Father, He shall
give testimony of Me."—St. John 15:26.
Thank God for the heavenly Vicar who alone guides into all truth! Christ
has a true church, and He is its head and foundation; and the gates of
hell shall not prevail against it.
"Upon this rock I will build My church, and the gates of hell shall
not prevail against it."—St. Matthew 16:18.
Thank God that the Virgin was promised that her Son would, by His grace,
enable us to put away our sins and keep the Ten Commandments!
"And she shall bring forth a Son, and thou shalt call His name
Jesus. For He shall save His people from their sins."—St. Matthew
If Peter was not the first pope, who was the first pope? It was Leo I.
This is because it was not until AD. 451 about 380 years after the
death of Peter—that the Council of Chalcedon first declared the bishop
of Rome to be a "pope." But the title was given to honor him
as the leading bishop.—It did not include giving him authority over all
the other churches. Bishop Leo happened to be the Roman bishop at the
time. However, the Eastern church never accepted this innovation, that
the bishop of Rome was in the slightest degree more to be honored—than
any other bishop. (On current papal lists, Leo I's bishopric was from
AD. 440 to 461.)
More centuries passed; and then, in AD. 604, for the first time in
history, the emperor Phocas, decreed that Gregory I was pope—with
authority over all the churches. Phocas, the ruler who issued this
decree was a corrupt man. He wanted to spite the bishop of
Constantinople, who had justly excommunicated him for having caused the
assassination of his (Phocas') predecessor, Emperor Mauritius. So
Phocas decreed that the bishop of Rome was pope over all the churches,
and therefore superior in authority to the bishop of Constantinople.
But Gregory I refused the title. However, his successor, Boniface III
(AD. 607) liked the idea. So, for the first time —in AD. 607, 576 years
after the resurrection of Christ—there was a bishop in Rome who had
accepted a heathen emperor's commission, making him pope over
Christendom. Thanks to Phocas, from that time to the present, the bishop
of Rome has been in charge of all churches which submit to his rule.
John Paul II (October 16,1978, to the present) is listed as the 262nd
pope. Boniface III (February 19-November 12, 607) is listed as the 66th.
Yet he is actually the first real pope with full authority. He was given
that authority, not by the Bible, but by a heathen prince.
What happened to Peter after the death of Christ? Peter carried on
missionary work, primarily in Jerusalem and Judea. It is thought he may
have been taken to Rome as a prisoner, jailed, and beheaded. Yet there
is no certainty that he ever went to Rome. We do not have one Biblical,
secular, or historical record that Peter ever went to the city of Rome.
In reality, it was not until centuries after the last book of the Bible
was completed, that the Church of Rome began teaching that Peter
traveled to the city of Rome and there reigned as the first pope.
Peter felt that it was his lifework to evangelize the Jews; and, prior to
his death, there were not a lot in Rome. But, according to the historian
Josephus, there were lots of Jews in the region of Babylon; so it would
be understandable that Peter would go there to evangelize them. The
ancient city of Babylon was never rebuilt, but a new one had been
established several miles away.
"Some Jews gave Hyrcanus, the high priest, a habitation at
Babylon, where there were Jews in great numbers."—Josephus,
Antiquities, Book XV, Ch. IL 2.
The claim has been made that Peter's mention of a visit to Babylon
referred to the city of Rome (1 St. Peter 5,13). But his letter was not
a prophetic book, and there is no reason to suppose that he was using
the word as a metaphor.
According to Catholic tradition, which was formulated many centuries
later, Peter reigned as the first pope in the city of Rome for 25 years,
from A.D. 42 to 67. Yet, when Paul wrote a letter to the Hebrews at Rome
(about AD. 58), he mentioned 27 of its most prominent Christians—and
said nothing about Peter being there.
Du Pin, a Roman Catholic historian, acknowledges that "the primacy
of Peter is not recorded by the early Christian writers, Justin Martyr
(AD. 139); Irenaeus (178), Clement of Alexandria (190), or others of the
most ancient Fathers." The word, "Rome," occurs only nine
times in the Bible; and never is Peter mentioned in connection with it.
There is no allusion to Rome in either of his epistles. Paul's journey
to that city is recorded in detail (Acts 27-28), but no mention is
made of Peter ever being there. If Peter was superior to Paul, why did
he receive so little mention in the New Testament after Paul came on the
scene of action?
It is official Catholic dogma that the pope holds spiritual authority
over every human being, by virtue only of the fact that he is a direct
successor of Peter, who was the first pope of Rome.
"This Church constituted and organized in the world as a society,
subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of
Peter and by the bishops in union with that Successor."—Vatican
The Catholic Church teaches that our Lord built His church upon Peter
"and that all who do not accept Peter as the foundation are outside
the pale of the true church.
"Jesus, our Lord, founded but one Church, which He was pleased to
build on Peter. Therefore, any church that does not recognize Peter as
its foundation stone is not the Church of Christ, and therefore cannot
stand."—James Cardinal Gibbons, Faith of Our Fathers, p. 100.
The following statement teaches that Peter, and not Christ, is the
"central authority" who unifies and protects: "So the
church, the society of the faithful, is founded by Christ upon the rock
of a central authority which will hold it together and be the citadel of
union and protection. This central authority is established concretely
in the person of Simon Peter."—Charles Alfred Martin, Catholic
Religion, p. 61.
Each pope who is voted into office is believed to be the successor of St.
Peter and the vicar of Christ on earth. This makes a pope, while in
office, the "Rock," according to the Catholic belief:
"As the Church of Christ was to last beyond the lifetime of St.
Peter, even to the end of the world, and as the Church is not a
lifeless, material building, but a living body of men requiring a living
head to rule them and to be a foundation to that great society, this
promise of Christ, of making Peter a Rock, was meant not only for Peter,
but also for his successors.
"Therefore the successors of St Peter, as the supreme visible rulers
of the Church are each like St Peter, the Rock or the visible foundation
of it."—Joseph Faa di Bruno; Catholic Belief, pp. 64-65.
Those who reject such claims are not true followers of Christ, according
to Cardinal Gibbons, who wrote:
"The Catholic Church teaches also, that our Lord conferred on St
Peter the first place of honor and jurisdiction in the government of
His whole Church, and that the same spiritual supremacy has always
resided in the Popes, or Bishops of Rome, as being the successors of St.
Peter. Consequently, to be true followers of Christ all Christians, both
among the clergy and the laity, must be in communion with the See of
Rome, where Peter rules in the person of his successor."—James
Cardinal Gibbons, Faith of Our Fathers, p.95.,
The Catholic Church is established on the doctrine of the primacy of
Peter. The unbroken line of succession of popes, the Church holds, is
essential to the validity of its being the true and only Church.
If our Lord had made such a significant transfer of divinity by making
Peter the foundation and head of His church, would not the New Testament
scriptures declare it? If the office of pope and the papal chair really
had been started by God, the Bible would abound with information on such
an important innovation. However, the Holy Scriptures are totally
silent on this dogma. We must go to the Holy Word of God, which is the
highest authority on earth, to determine if Christ did institute the
office of pope.
The doctrine of the Petrine primacy is alleged to be based on this text:
"And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And
whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven:
and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, it shall be loosed also in
heaven."— St. Matthew 16: 19.
The "keys," so the Church asserts, were given alone to Peter.
Were these instruments given exclusively to the authority of one man?
Would the Omnipotent God deliver into the hands of such a capricious
character as Peter the right to admit or reject, to decree what is
lawful or unlawful?
Here is a parallel text to St. Matthew 16:19. In this whole chapter,
Jesus is speaking to all His disciples. "Amen I say to you,
whatsoever you shall bind upon earth, shall be bound also in heaven; and
whatsoever you I shall loose upon earth, shall be loosed also in
heaven."—St. Matthew 18:18.
In this text Jesus is speaking to all the disciples, as He I was without
a doubt doing in verse 19 also. On the other I occasion when He repeated
the same statement (St. Matthew 18:18), it is clear that He was
addressing the group. Keys are for the purpose of opening and shutting.
Keys alone without the skilled hand cannot function. Christ gave the
keys of the kingdom to all the disciples for a purpose.
"Then He commanded His disciples, that they should tell no one that
He was Jesus the Christ."—St. Matthew 16:20.
The Bible speaks of the "two witnesses," the Old and New
Testaments, which were kept in obscurity during the Dark Ages. The
people were forbidden to read the Holy Scriptures.
"And I will give unto My two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a
thousand two hundred sixty days, clothed in sackcloth. These are the two
olive trees, and the two candlesticks, that stand before the Lord of the
earth. And if any man will hurt them, fire shall come out of their
mouths, and shall devour their enemies. And if any man will hurt them,
in this manner must he be slain."—The Apocalypse 11:3-6.
"These," the Old Testament and New Testaments, have power to
"shut heaven." The Holy Bible, when studied and obeyed, will
open heaven. If disregarded or misinterpreted, it will shut heaven.
These were the keys entrusted to all the disciples, including Peter.
Christ speaks of the key as "the key of knowledge" of how to
enter heaven. "Woe to you lawyers, for you have taken away the key
of knowledge: you yourselves have not entered in, and those that were
entering in, you have hindered." —St. Luke. 11:52.
The Holy Scriptures instruct in salvation.
"And because from thy infancy thou hast known the Holy Scriptures,
which can instruct thee to salvation, by the faith which is in Christ
Jesus." 2 Timothy 3:15.
From the Scriptures, we get pure doctrine and instruction in
righteousness. . "All Scripture, inspired of God, is profitable to
teach, to reprove, to correct, to instruct in justice."—2 Timothy
If we want to be children of God, we must not only study but adhere to
the instruction laid down in the Holy Bible. Perfection and good works
will follow when the Scriptures are obeyed. It is thus that the
"keys of the kingdom" will open heaven. We will no longer be
"bound" to the things of earth. Sin will lose its charm. We
will be heavenbound.
"That the man of God may be perfect, furnished to every good
work."—2 Timothy 3:17.
St. Augustine had a deep regard for Holy Scripture.
Note what he said: “As soon as respect for the Holy Scriptures fails,
faith totters. In that which stands plainly in Holy Scripture is to be
found the whole of faith and morals. I have learnt to bring such
reverence to the books of Holy Scripture alone that I firmly believe
that their authors were preserved from every error in writing them.
Others, however conspicuous they may be for sanctity and learning, I
read so that I do not take anything for granted merely because they
it true, but because they convince me by means of those canonical
writers or on reasonable grounds."—St. Augustine, Bishop of Hippo,
De Doctrina Christiana, p. 37 (On Christian Doctrine).
Every professing Christian should have this same deep regard for the Holy
Bible. St. Augustine believed in the true keys. He refused to follow
writers, even those considered saintly, if their writings were not based
on the Holy Scriptures.
On the day of Pentecost, Peter taught from the Book of Joel and many were
converted as they heard the Word of God preached to them (Joel 2:28-32).
"But Peter standing up with the eleven, lifted. up his voice, and
spoke to them: Ye men of Judea, and all you that dwell in Jerusalem, be
this known to you, and with your ears receive my words. For these are
not drunk, as you suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day:
But this is that which was spoken of by the prophet Joel."—Acts
Peter proved that Christ was the true Messiah from the prophecy which
David wrote 1,900 years before. "For David saith concerning Him: I
foresaw the Lord before my face: because He is at my right hand, that I
may not be moved. For this my heart hath been glad, and my tongue hath
rejoiced: moreover my flesh. also shall rest in hope. Because thou wilt
not leave My soul in hell, nor suffer Thy Holy One to see
Peter was a Bible student.
He understood these prophecies, which were written many years earlier,
revealing the first advent of Christ.
"To Him all the prophets give testimony, that by His name all
receive remission of sins, who believe in Him."—Acts 10:43.
The Holy Ghost fell upon them that "heard the Word." Peter made
good use of the keys. The Bible opened the hearts of the Gentiles and
converted them to Christ.
"While Peter was yet speaking these words, the Holy Ghost fell on
all them that heard the Word."—Acts 10:44.
It was in the home of Cornelius that Peter refused to accept homage. Had
Peter accepted the adoration, Cornelius and his kinsmen would have been
drawn to Peter rather than to God. Peter's refusal to accept obeisance,
and his teaching of the Holy Scriptures, opened the kingdom of heaven to
the Gentiles. The proper use of the keys had been made.
"And it came to pass, that when Peter was come in, Cornelius came to
meet him, and falling at his feet adored. "But Peter lifted him up,
saying: Arise, I myself also am a man."—Acts 10:25—26.
The rebirth, Or conversion, comes through the "incorruptible
seed" of the Word of God—the Bible. Peter knew the power of that.
Holy Book. When the Bible is taught and accepted, it releases from sin
and opens the way to heaven; it reveals Christ to the sinner.
"Being born again not of corruptible seed, but incorruptible, by
the Word of God who liveth and remaineth forever."—1 St. Peter
Peter preached the gospel based upon the Word. Thus the keys were used
effectively, and the results bore witness to their power.
Peter said it was the Word of God which would endure. "But the
Word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the Word which by the
gospel hath been preached unto you."—1 St. Peter 1:25.
The keys, the Word of God, opened the doors to mission fields for Paul
to enter. "For a great door and evident is opened unto me: and many
adversaries."—1 Corinthians 16:9.
Paul's teaching was based upon what the prophets and Moses wrote.
"But being aided by the help of God, I stand unto this day,
witnessing both to small and great, saying no other thing than those
which the prophets, and Moses did say should come to pass."—Acts
St. Paul was accused of heresy because he had left the popular synagogue,
or church, of that day. He defended his position by stating that he
worshiped according to what the Holy Scriptures taught. The keys had
loosed him from error and had opened the way to heaven. This will be
the experience of all who, like Paul, will be guided by the Bible.
"But this I confess to thee, that according to the way, which they
call a heresy, so do I serve the Father and my God, believing all things
which are written in the law and the prophets."—Acts 24:14.
"The charge given Timothy, by Paul, was to "preach the
Word." He was given the keys, the use of which would open hearts to
prepare for the judgment and the coming of the Lord.
"I charge thee, before God and Jesus Christ, who shall judge the
living and the dead, at His coming, and His kingdom: Preach the Word: be
instant in season, out of season: reprove, entreat, rebuke in all
patience and doctrine."—2 Timothy 4:1—2.
In time false teachers would not teach doctrine according to the Word,
the Bible. They would turn away from hearing the truth.
"For there shall be a time, when they will not endure sound
doctrine; but, according to their own desires, they will heap to
themselves teachers, having itching ears:
"And will indeed turn away their hearing from the truth, but will be
turned unto fables."—2 Timothy 4:3—4.
What is the truth that Paul said people would not listen to?
"Sanctify them in
truth. Thy Word is truth." —St. John 17:17.
The wrong application of Scripture, Peter states, will mislead; and,
consequently, error instead of truth will be cherished. The result will
be destruction; thus the kingdom of heaven will be shut. The keys were
given the wrong turn.
"And account the longsuffering of our Lord, salvation; as also our
most dear brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, hath
written to you: As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these
things; in which are certain things hard to be understood, which the
unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other Scriptures, to
their own destruction."—2 St. Peter 3:15—16.
The Pharisees had the keys, but their misinterpretation and
misapplication shut heaven against them and those whom they taught.
"But woe to you scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites; because you shut
the kingdom of heaven against men, for you yourselves do not enter in;
and those that are going in, you suffer not to enter."—St. ,Matthew
23:13. This is a fearful indictment, pronounced by our Lord, upon those
who are working for converts for their church or synagogue, none of whom
will be in the kingdom.
"Woe to you scribes and
Pharisees, hypocrites; because you go round about the sea and the land
to make one proselyte; and when he is made, you make him the child of
hell twofold more than yourselves."—St. Matthew 23:15.
God does not accept the worship of those who teach the doctrines or
traditions instituted by man. "And in vain do they worship Me,
teaching doctrines and commandments of men."—St. Matthew 15:9.
These lawyers had the keys but "hindered" the people from
listening to truth. Such religious leaders would probably say, we are
the first and only church. We have Father Abraham as the foundation of
our church (St. Matthew 3:9). Look at our large membership and our
educated priests. Compare the small following this new religion has. It
is led by One who has no letters, and those who associate with Him are
"Woe to you lawyers, for you have taken away the key of knowledge:
you yourselves have not entered in, and those that were entering in, you
have hindered." —St. Luke 11:52.
The Word gives purity of thought and action. To be taught the Word of God
is what the youth of today need. "By what doth a young man correct
his way? By observing Thy words."—Psalm 118:9 [Psalm 119:9].
Having the Word in His mind kept Christ from sinning, and it will do the
same for us. "Thy words have I hidden in my heart, that I may not
sin against Thee."—Psalm 118:11 [Psalm 119:11].
Christ will ultimately declare who will enter heaven. It will be those
who, through the enabling grace of our Lord and only Saviour, have kept
the commandments of God, those who made good use of the keys.
"Blessed are they that wash their robes in the blood of the Lamb:
that they may have a right to the tree of life, and may enter in by the
gates into the city."—The Apocalypse 22:14..