In the Nov. 12 issue of the newspaper, Geoffrey Butch challenged my statements about the first pope of Rome. I want to clarify my comments and also correct two things he said.
First of all, the reason I believe that Leo I (440-461) was the first pope is this quote from his own mouth, “Resistance to his authority was a sure way to hell.” He also advocated the death penalty for what he called heresy. This quote was taken from Halley’s Handbook on the Bible.
Some think Gregory I the Great was the first pope. He was pope from 590-604 AD. In O.C. Lamberts book Catholicism Against Itself, Volume II, (keep in mind, that these statements are taken from Catholic resources) said that pope Damascus (366-384 AD) was the first to call himself pope. He was also the first to appeal to Matthew 16:18 as his claim to be father of all churches descending from Peter.
So we see that Catholic and non-Catholic resources have different ideas of who was the first pope. The reason for this is that the concept of a supreme, infallible pope grew up gradually over the centuries as did the Catholic church itself.
Geoffrey Butcher said that Roman Catholic tradition traces the popes from St. Peter (32-67) and that Jesus said Peter would build his church.
This is a gross misreading of Matthew 16:18. Jesus did not say Peter would build His church, He said I will build my church.
Mr. Butcher also said that Peter’s name means rock. Peter comes from the Greek word petros. This word means small stone, a piece or fragment of a rock such as a man might throw.
The word rock in Matthew 16:18 comes from a different Greek word: petra, which means a large rock or mass of rock. It is obvious that the rock is referring to Jesus Christ, not Peter. All through the Bible when a word is needed to show a firm foundation, petra not petros is used.
I Corinthians 3:11 tells us Christ is the foundation. Peter himself is quick to say that Christ was the cornerstone and foundation of the church. I Peter 2:6-7
Paul was a prisoner in Rome in 61 AD. While in prison, Paul wrote many epistles in which he gives quite a complete list of fellow-workers in Rome and Peter’s name is not among them. Peter was not even in Rome until around 64 AD.
Pastor Chad Johnson
Russellville Baptist Church