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Sarah Fetterolf wrote:

Good Evening,

I have a question regarding the Pope.
I do not mean to offend. My ignorance needs to be directed.

  1. I am curious how the position came to be.
  2. I am curious on what biblical foundation he is appointed.

I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior four months ago. I am currently taking classes at my local Lutheran church, and on-line at (BBNBI) Bible Broadcasting Network Bible Institute.

In my studies of the Old and New Testaments I have gleaned an in depth knowledge in the Scriptures I never gained simply from attending church.

  • Where in the Bible did the Pope's position originate?

Having been raised in a Lutheran church, we did not recognize the Pope as you do.

  • Now that I have grown in a non-denominational capacity, I am curious how the Pope came to be recognized as the spokesperson for God?

I cannot find in the Scriptures any mention of a Pope being the connection to God.

I truly do not mean to offend. I do know the position is highly revered in Catholicism.

Having no background in your denomination, and no Biblical scripture to coincide with such a position, I seek answers as to why so many denominations have broken from the Word.

I am full of many questions as any true believer seeking the truth might be!

I await your response with an open mind seeking a greater relationship with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

Thank you for your time,

God Bless you for your patience,


  { How did the Pope's role come to be, what is the Biblical basis, and why have so many broke away? }

Mike replied:

Hi Sarah,

Thanks for the question!

First, Congratulations on accepting Jesus Christ as your Savior and welcome to the Christian family!

You said:

  • How and where in the Bible did the Pope position originate?

Matthew 16:13-19 reads: (Note: MY CHURCH in the text to follow)

When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" They replied, "Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter said in reply,

"You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God."

Jesus said to him in reply,

"Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build MY CHURCH, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."

This was foretold in the Old Testament in Isaiah 22:19-25 which says:

I will thrust you from your office and pull you down from your station. On that day I will summon my servant Eliakim, son of Hilkiah;

I will clothe him with your robe, and gird him with your sash, and give over to him your authority. He shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah. I will place the key of the House of David on his shoulder; when he opens, no one shall shut, when he shuts, no one shall open. I will fix him like a peg in a sure spot, to be a place of honor for his family; On him shall hang all the glory of his family: descendants and offspring, all the little dishes, from bowls to jugs.

On that day, says the LORD of hosts, the peg fixed in a sure spot shall give way, break off and fall, and the weight that hung on it shall be done away with; for the LORD has spoken. (Isaiah 22)

One of my colleagues, Eric has previously quoted Matthew 23:2-3:

"The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach." (Matthew 23:2-3)

and commented:

I like this verse for a couple of reasons. One is because Jesus is binding his followers to an unwritten Jewish tradition, that is, that there was a seat of Moses that made final decisions about matters of doctrine, an office handed down from Moses' time. So Jesus accepted some Jewish traditions and did not reject all of them. The other reason I like it is that while Jesus acknowledges the Scribes and the Pharisees are corrupt, he nevertheless commands his disciples to obey them. So this whole Reformation argument of "Well, the Catholic bishops are corrupt, so that justifies our disobedience" doesn't wash. Then in Acts 8:31 we have the Ethiopian eunuch, who ably points out that we cannot understand the Scriptures without someone to interpret them for us. They cannot stand alone; we must rely on Tradition to interpret them. Even Protestants do this; they just won't admit it.

The key to what Eric has said Sarah, it to remember that the Scriptures themselves teach BOTH a written AND oral Tradition. See 2 Thessalonians 2:15.

You said:
I cannot find in the Scriptures any mention of a "Pope" being the "connection" to God.

You won't. Neither will you find the word: Trinity or Bible, but all Christians believe in both the Trinity and the Bible. "Pope" comes from a word meaning "papa" or "father". This is VERY biblical as we can see in Ephesians 3:14-15:

14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom all [ fatherhood | paternity ]  in heaven and on earth derives its name.

Ephesians 3:14-15 [NIV | Douay Rheims]

You said:
I seek answers as to why so many denominations have broken from the Word... ?

In my opinion: Two words: sin and pride but we have to also clarify what we mean when we say the Word of God.

For Catholics it consists of both Oral and Written Tradition which has been passed down to us from Jesus and His Apostles since 33 A.D. For our separated Protestant brethren it consist only of the Scriptures.

Many, if not all, of the disagreements you will run into among Catholics and Protestants will revolve around a difference in mind set:

  1. Catholics think with an and — both mind set.
  2. Protestants think with an either — or mind set.

Many times, Catholics will accept the Protestant opinion on a doctrine issue, but with some modification while also insisting that an addition view be accepted in order to arrive at the Truth — Catholic Truth.

If you are interested in understanding what Catholics believe, grab a cheap copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church for on Amazon!

Hope this helps,


Richard replied:

Hi, Sarah!

Let me take a moment to offer you a starting point for your search of the Scriptures.

The Catholic Church's practice — that the Church is governed by bishops, with the Pope as their leader -- is intended to reflect the early-church practice of a community, in various territories, led by the Apostles, with St. Peter as their leader.

So rather than looking for the word pope — which is indeed a title that arose later — look for the types of authority given to the Apostles:

  • to teach
  • to govern the Church community
  • to baptize and to carry out the Lord's Supper as He commanded
  • even to forgive sins in his name!

Also, in the Acts of the Apostles, notice that Peter is treated a bit differently: he is mentioned first before the other Apostles, and they defer to him at the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15) to settle a dispute. This is in accord with the mission our Lord gave to Peter, to "strengthen your brethren", to be the leader among the Apostles.

God bless!
--Richard Chonak

Terry replied:

HI Sarah,

Such questions as these on the Papacy are very adequately explained in Rumble and Carty - Radio Replies - Questions and Answers on Catholicism and Protestantism.

To me, this book is as useful in basic apologetics as the Penny Catechism was in 1950's and 1960's, and previously, in basic beliefs.

With best regards,


Mike replied:

Thanks Terry,

I've appended related questions and answers from Radio Replies below. Although Sarah didn't specifically ask these questions, they are probably the type of questions many of our readers get.

There maybe a few instances where I've paraphrased portions of a statement for clarity.
If these question and answers are helpful, I highly recommend you obtain a copy of Radio Replies, a great resources for the want-to-be Catholic Apologists.

For those of you unfamiliar with Radio Replies, they are the result of five years of answering questions during a one-hour Question Box Program over Radio Station 2SM Sydney, N.S.W. in Australia.

The revision of Radio Replies for American readers was prompted by the widespread interest the Australian edition created among Protestants and Catholics during the summer of 1937.

Thanks for the idea!


From Radio Replies

(Volume 1, Question 348)

Scripture does not mention a Pope.

Do not be misled by mere words. Later designations of an office do not alter the office, and the office of the one whom we now call the Pope is clearly taught by Scripture. After all, the word Pope simply means father, or one with paternal authority over a household. And certainly, Scripture often likens the Church to the "Household of the Faith," and indicates one as being in supreme charge of that household.

See Ephesians 3:14-15: For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom all fatherhood in heaven and on earth derives its name.

(Volume 2, Question 316)

Where in the Bible does it say that Peter is the Vicar of God?

The three classical passages in which St. Peter's supremacy over the Church is clearly shown are as follows:

In the Gospel of St. Matthew 16:13-19, we find Christ saying to Peter,

"And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."

Christ there constituted Peter head of the Church in promise, declaring that the office would carry with it the power to act vicariously in the name of God.

In St. Luke, 22:31-32, we have the words of Christ,

"Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren."

St. John, 21:15-17, tells us how Christ, after His resurrection, commissioned St. Peter to feed His lambs, and to feed His sheep, i.e., to be Shepherd over the whole flock:

When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter,

"Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?"

He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." He said to him, "Feed my lambs."

A second time he said to him, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" He said to him, "Yes, Lord; you know that I love you." He said to him, "Tend my sheep."

He said to him the third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love me?" Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, "Do you love me?" And he said to him, "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you." Jesus said to him, "Feed my sheep.

(Volume 1, Question 351)

St. Peter was not head of the Apostles. All the Apostles acted as having the same authority.

The Apostles, having been sent by Christ to all nations, had universal jurisdiction, but this universality of jurisdiction was extraordinary, and did not pass to those successors whom they consecrated for particular localities. Also, while the Apostles each rejoiced in jurisdiction over all regions, St. Peter had all authority centered in him. Hence, St. Paul went to consult him at Jerusalem.

(Volume 1, Question 352)

Why did the Apostles ask Christ who was the greater among them, if they knew that Peter was the greater? (Mark 9:33-35)

They were disputing as to who should be the greater in Heaven, not concerning their office on earth. The fact that Christ replied by teaching a lesson of interior humility shows that He knew them to be referring to their personal standing in God's esteem.

(Volume 1, Question 353)

Why did not Christ say that St. Peter was the greater, taking advantage of this occasion?

You must remember the sense of the discussion. Peter was not necessarily the greater from an aspect of grace and holiness. Eternal rewards depend rather upon Christian virtue than upon earthly office. St. Peter was Chief in earthly office, although we know that St. John was called the beloved disciple.

(Volume 1, Question 354)

Christ forbade any of them to exercise authority when He said, "Do not lord over others as do the Gentiles." (Matthew 20:25)

Christ warned the Apostles against exercising authority in unjust and domineering ways such as those absorbed by worldly pursuits and pleasures; similar to those who delighted to be thought of as great, and who love tyranny. He forbade the evil method, but He deliberately gave His authority to the Apostles, and chiefly to St. Peter.

(Volume 1, Question 355)

Does Scripture show that Peter was even aware of, or openly claimed supreme power?

Since none of the Apostles disputed it, St. Peter had no need to insist upon it. All knew that Christ had said to him,

"Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church."
Matthew 16:18.

And again,

"I have prayed for thee, thy faith fail not: and do thou, being once converted, confirm thy brethren." Luke 22:32.

They knew, too, that Christ's commission to St. Peter to feed both the lambs and the sheep of the flock included themselves. (John 21:15-17). Implicitly St. Peter claimed his right by:

  • being the first to announce the Gospel after Pentecost,
  • by conducting the election of Matthias as an Apostle in place of Judas,
  • by presiding at the Council of Jerusalem, etc.

St. Paul wrote to the Galatians in Chapter 1, that he went to Jerusalem to see Peter, and stayed there fifteen days with him. Why to Peter rather than to any other of the Apostles? And why does he add that, having gone to Jerusalem, he also saw James? He does not say that he went to see such Apostles as were at Jerusalem, or that he went to see James, and also happened to see Peter while he was there.

Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas, and remained with him fifteen days. But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord's brother.
(Galatians 1:18-19) (RSV))

(Volume 1, Question 361)

Christ said, "Upon this rock," meaning Himself, not Peter.

That is erroneous. In John 1:42, we find Christ saying to Peter,

"Thou Simon [...] thou shalt be called Cephas, Which is interpreted Peter,"

Christ had a special purpose in thus changing his name to Cephas or rock, a purpose manifested later on as recorded by Matthew 16:18,

"Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church,"

Let us put it this way. Supposing your name were Brown, and I said to you,

"They call you Brown, but I am going to call you Stone. And upon this stone I shall build up a special society I have in mind to establish,"

Would you believe that I was alluding to you, or to myself? Now Peter's name was Simon, and Christ changed it to Peter, or in the original Aramaic language, Kepha, which was the word for rock or stone, and which was never used as a proper name in that language. Thus He said,

"Thou art Kepha, and upon this Kepha I will build my Church,"

In modern English it would sound thus, "Thou art Mr. Stone, and this stone I will build my Church." The word could not possibly refer to Christ in this text.

(Volume 1, Question 362)

But in the Greek text the word for Peter is Petros, and for stone, petra. They are not the same.

There is no value in pointing out the differences of form in this word according to the Latin or Greek languages, in which they are accommodated to the masculine for Peter as a man, and to the feminine for stone. Our Lord spoke Aramaic, in which the form is the same in both cases, simply, Kepha

(Volume 2, Question 335)

A few verses after Peter is called the rock, Christ said to him, "Get behind me, Satan!... you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men" (Mark 8:33)

Peter's love for Christ could not bear the thought that his Master should have to endure the things of which He then began to speak. Our Lord appreciated the sympathy which prompted Peter's protest but insisted strongly that such things must be. In no way did He withdraw any official standing from Peter. If you think He did because these words are subsequent to the promise, then I must draw your attention to the words given by St. Luke 22:32, and certainly subsequent to the rebuke you quote,

"I have prayed for thee, Simon, that thy faith fail not; and do thou, being converted, and confirm thy brethren."

(Volume 1, Question 356)

Did not James preside the Council of Jerusalem, although Peter was present?

He did not. St. Peter presided at the Council of Jerusalem. Acts 15:7, says:

"After much disputing Peter rose up and said ..."; he then solved the question.

Verse 12 tells us that after Peter had spoken all held peace. James then spoke in support of Peter's decision, as much as to say, "Peter is right. I too think that the Gentiles should not be disquieted."

And after there had been much debate, Peter rose and said to them,

"Brethren, you know that in the early days God made His choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. And God who knows the heart bore witness to them, giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us; and he made no distinction between us and them, but cleansed their hearts by faith. Now therefore why do you make trial of God by putting a yoke upon the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? But we believe that we shall be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will."

And all the assembly kept silence; and they listened to Barnabas and Paul as they related what signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles.

St. Jerome remarks, concerning this incident:

"The whole multitude held their peace, and James the Apostle together with all the priests passed over to the judgment of Peter. Peter was the prime mover in issuing the decree."

St. John Chrysostom wrote:

"See the care of the teacher towards his subjects! He has the first authority in the discussion because to him all were committed."

(Volume 1, Question 357)

But if all this be so, why did Paul boast that he resisted Peter to the face?
(Galatians 2:9–14)

“And when they perceived the grace that was given to me, James and Cephas and John, who were reputed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship…But when Cephas came to Antioch I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he ate with the Gentiles; but when they came, he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. And with him the rest of the Jews acted insincerely, so that even Barnabas was carried away by their insincerity. But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all,

‘If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?' (Galatians 2:9–14)

St. Peter was supreme head of the Church and infallible in his doctrinal teaching, but it does not follow that he would not be indiscreet in some act of administration. Now no doctrinal error was involved in this particular case. St. Peter indiscreetly ceased to eat with the Gentiles because of the presence of some Jews, but to cease from doing a lawful thing for fear that others will be scandalized is not a matter of doctrine. It is a question of prudence or imprudence. St. Paul did not act as if he were St. Peter's superior, nor did he boast. To show urgency of the matter, he practically said, "I had to resist even Peter - to whom chief authority belongs." His words derive their full significance only from the fact that St. Peter was the head of the Apostles.

St. Cyprian, who lived in the third century, knew of this passage and certainly understood Christianity. He did not perceive any objection against St. Peter's supremacy in this case. He writes,

"Peter, whom the Lord chose to be first and upon whom He built His Church, did not proudly assert the primacy he possessed, nor despise Paul who had once been a persecutor of the Church; but he accepted meekly, giving us an example of patience."

St. Hilary in the fifth century says,

"Both Paul and Peter are to be admired; Paul because he did not fear to point out right practice to his superior; Peter because, knowing that all acknowledged his primacy, he had too much humility to resent any reproach offered to himself."

(Volume 1, Question 358)

Did not St. Paul say, "I have laid the foundation [...] but let each take care how he builds thereon"? (1 Corinthians 3:10)

St. Paul declares that he personally laid the foundations of a particular of the Church at Corinth. Christ had founded the whole Church upon Peter. Each must take care how he builds, and St. Paul took care that the Church at Corinth would be in full accordance with the universal Church founded upon St. Peter. Anyone who departs from the authority of St. Peter is not taking care, but going outside the constitution of the Church as established by Christ, and severing from that Church.

(Volume 1, Question 359)

St. Paul was head of the Gentile Churches; St. Peter was the head of the Jewish section only.

If so, you are in a great difficulty. If the Church was thus divided and St. Paul was head of the Gentile section, where is St. Paul's successor today? We have the successors of St. Peter in the Popes, and the present Pope is head of the Church with over 1.25 billion members, the vast majority of them Gentiles. In any case, St. Paul again and again addressed the Jews in their synagogues, and St. Peter certainly ministered to the Gentiles in his turn, above all, as Bishop of Rome.

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