Credo in Unum Deum

I Believe in One God

The Papacy as seen from the Bible- briefly. Pt. 2

In Part 1, I argued briefly that in Matthew 16, Jesus changes Simon’s name to Peter, Rock, and then proclaims that He will build His Church on that very rock, Peter.  I pointed out that when petra is used to mean something other than a literal rock, it is always a concrete personal thing, not an abstract idea (like faith).  God is the Rock and Jesus is the Rock.  I should further note that Christ giving this name to Simon specifically as a name change is significant.  This title, Rock, has somewhat divine overtones since it is applied mainly (maybe exclusively, but I am not certain about that) to God the Father and God the Son.  More should be said about this, but this is a “brief” overview.  Is. 22 contains the second classical text which is quoted and alluded to in the Matthew passage discussed last time.   Here is what it says, NIV again:

15. This is what the Lord, the LORD Almighty, says: “Go, say to this steward, to Shebna, who is in charge of the palace:16.What are you doing here and who gave you permission to cut out a grave for yourself here, hewing your grave on the height and chiseling your resting place in the rock?17. “Beware, the LORD is about to take firm hold of you and hurl you away, O you mighty man.18. He will roll you up tightly like a ball and throw you into a large country. There you will die and there your splendid chariots will remain– you disgrace to your master’s house!19. I will depose you from your office, and you will be ousted from your position.20. “In that day I will summon my servant, Eliakim son of Hilkiah.21. I will clothe him with your robe and fasten your sash around him and hand your authority over to him. He will be a father to those who live in Jerusalem and to the house of Judah.22. I will place on his shoulder the key to the house of David; what he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.23. I will drive him like a peg into a firm place; he will be a seat of honor for the house of his father.24. All the glory of his family will hang on him: its offspring and offshoots–all its lesser vessels, from the bowls to all the jars.25.”In that day,” declares the LORD Almighty, “the peg driven into the firm place will give way; it will be sheared off and will fall, and the load hanging on it will be cut down.” The LORD has spoken.

(I suppose I have to pay some sort of royalty for quoting that much Scripture…BTW, emphasis mine.) Without going into all the political stuff involved in what a steward is, suffice it to say that the steward was a prime minister-like position in which the person who was steward possessed the power to make decisions for the king in his (the king’s) name when necessary.  It was a position that was successive; that is, when one steward died, another succeeded him.  This isn’t bio-chemical engineering of spaceship flagella, or whatever the ID physicists do.  This is simple enough stuff.  But this is already too long…

Jesus evokes this image of steward in Matthew 16; that is obvious.  Now what needs to be driven home is this:  Since the steward position was a position that had as part of its working a succession of stewards, it is utterly ridiculous to think that Peter and the rest of the disciples would’ve, without a word from our Lord, thought, “I guess he’ll be the last steward and there will no longer be anymore succession of stewards in the new Kingdom”.  That doesn’t make sense.  (I think the last steward will reign until The Return of the King, and may it please God that our last steward is not like Gondor’s last steward!) So there is built in the idea of succession. Finally, it is interesting to note that the steward specifically referred to in the Isaiah passage is also prophesied to fail just like the steward he (Eliakim) is replacing.  How fitting, then, for Christ to say to Peter, “You are to be the Steward of the Renewed People of God; you are the Rock upon which I will build this people; this load; this Holy House.  And the gates of hell shall not prevail against it!”  This Steward will not fail.  This House cannot fail.  Christ Himself guarantees that Peter and his successors will not fail in holding up the Church that is built on them.

Of course, the true scholars out there have expanded on all this to a truly great degree and filled in all the holes.  This is brief after all. The next question in this brief overview is whether the rest of the Gospels contain any information that would lend support to what seems to me to be overwhelming evidence for the papacy already.  Of course, these texts do not serve to add strength to the argument per se.  What they will serve to do is substantiate the claim.  That is, if there is never any outworking of the Matthew 16 passage as it seemingly must be interpreted, that should make us pause for a moment and really look hard to see whether our reading is in fact the obvious reading we think it is.  If any passages do exist that show Jesus treating Peter as if he will be the Pope some time after His Death and Resurrection, then we can know that we have indeed interpreted the obvious correctly.  I guess that will be part 3.(I think even without any other evidence in the Gospels or Acts that it would be exegetical suicide to come to any other conclusion.  Also, I do like the ID folks.)


March 17, 2008 - Posted by | Catholicism, Controversial, Protestantism, Religion

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