The Roman Catholic Petrine Theory Debunked

And Consequent Pretensions as Christ’s Appointed Vicegerents on Earth, Shown in Its Very Foundation to be The “Lie of Lies.”[2]

The mighty structure of the Papacy rests dogmatically altogether on the supposed truth of the two propositions following:

1st, that Christ’s declaration to Peter, “Thou art Peter (Πετρος), and upon this rock (πετρα) I will build my Church, and I give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven, &c.” was not addressed to him as representative of the apostles generally, in whose common name however he had just previously spoken his noble confession of Christ, but meant in the sense of Peter’s being constituted distinctively from among the apostles Christ’s one supreme Vicegerent on earth; an appointment to take effect from the time of Christ’s leaving this earth, and ascending to heaven:

2nd, that this appointment was not for Peter’s life only, but meant to be entailed forever on Peter’s successors in some certain local Bishopric which he was to settle in; and that, the Bishopric of Rome.

I have in my Commentary briefly noticed the very different view that might be taken of Christ’s declaration; and exemplified that difference of view from the statements about it made by some of the Fathers.[3] The subject however is so immensely important, especially at the present time, that it seems imperatively to demand a more particular examination into the Scriptural evidence concerning it: indeed this may be deemed almost necessary to the completeness of my comment and proof respecting the prefigured Antichrist. I purpose therefore in the present Paper to examine into the evidence respecting it discovered in the New Testament Apostolic Books, including alike that of the Apostles’ expressed opinions and acts, from after the time of Christ’s ascension, when Peter was first defacto (on the Papal theory) to enter on his immeasurably exalted office: and shall show, alike from the history in the “Acts of the Apostles,” and from their Epistles,

  1. The Apostles’ palpable ignorance of the Rome-asserted fact of Peter’s own personal supremacy over the other apostles, in the character of Christ’s appointed Vicegerent on earth; evidence this which, if clear, must surely of itself be decisive on the great question:
  2. The falsification, by chronological evidence of the same sacred documents, of Peter’s asserted foundation and primary assumption of the Bishopric of Rome; with the divinely ordered purpose of devolving his supremacy as Christ’s Vicegerent on his successors, ever after, in the Roman See. After which,
  3. I shall add a supplemental notice of the utter failure even of early Patristic evidence in support of the Papal Petrine theory and pretensions; though, in truth, such testimony, when counter to the Apostolic, can weigh but in the comparison as a feather.

I have before me the Treatises of Cardinals Bellarmine and Wiseman in proof of the Papal supremacy; writers among the ablest, I presume, of its ancient and modern advocates: and I shall take care, as I go on, to omit nothing of importance on either branch of evidence urged by them.[4]

§ 1. The Apostles’ Non-Recognition of Peter’s Own Personal Supremacy, in the Character of Christ’s Appointed Vice Gerent on Earth.

I have to show this alike from the history in the Acts of the Apostles, and from the Apostolic Epistles. And certainly it will require no very elaborate investigation of either the one or the other, to convince us that the Apostles themselves were in utter ignorance of Peter’s having been endowed during his life with any such supremacy, or vicegerency.

  1. The evidence from the history of the Acts of the Apostles.

It appears from this, at the outset, that, as Christ before his ascension gave no special commission to Peter, but to all the apostles the same,[5] so, after his ascension, the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost made no difference between Peter and the rest.[6] Nor did Peter, though prominent as their chief speaker, assume any preeminence of prerogative or jurisdiction over the other apostles, whether in their own private assemblies, or before the Jews, in that primary era of the Church; reckoning here, as a convenient primary division of the apostolic history, down to the conversion of St. Paul, and admission of Cornelius and the Gentiles. On occasion of their first meeting after Christ’s ascension Peter argued indeed, in accordance with Scripture prophecy, that another apostle ought to be chosen in the room of Judas: but, instead of his choosing the new apostle himself, in character of Christ’s Vicegerent, so as the Pope might now choose a Cardinal, the disciples united in choosing out two; and all alike gave forth their lots, in order to God’s selecting between the two; whereupon the lot fell on Matthias.

Again, in the case of the seven deacons, the twelve apostles all in common requested the believing multitude to choose out the seven; and, when chosen, united in common to lay their hands upon them. And when, somewhat later, news had reached them of certain conversions in Samaria, instead of Peter sending other apostles to confirm the converts, we read that the twelve sent Peter and John. The same in Peter’s sermons to the Jews. Did he in them attempt ever once to bind the converts to himself distinctively; or ever once put forth any claim, as the appointed head and earthly center of union to the Christian Church? Quite the contrary. Neither in that preached on the day of Pentecost, Acts 2, nor in that which followed on the healing of the cripple at the gate Beautiful of the temple, Acts 3, nor in the speech before Annas and his Sanhedrin court in Acts 4, nor in that before the same court in Acts 5, nor in fine in the address to Cornelius, Acts 10, do we find a single hint of the kind. And, as in Peter’s public addresses,[7] so also in Stephen’s and Philip’s addresses, to the Jewish multitude and the Ethiopian eunuch, respectively. In one and all it is ever Christ’s supremacy; never Peter’s. Indeed, so far was Peter’s supremacy from being then recognized, that we find him called to account in Acts 11:2, for his visiting Cornelius.

So we arrive at the second period of the apostolic history; dating from the time when Saul of Tarsus comes prominently on the scene, in his new character as the Apostle Paul. We ask, Is there any change visible in the apostolic speech or practice, as reported in the Book of the Acts, now that the sphere of apostolic action was extended, and the apostles about to scatter into different countries, preaching the Gospel? Not the least. In the first Christian Council held, after this its extension, at Jerusalem Peter speaks first indeed: but James uses the most authoritative language, as if the apostle presiding on the occasion; and the decree went forth in the name of the apostles and elders, without any distinction of Peter whatsoever.[8] The same utter silence as to any special prerogative of authority attaching to Peter appears afterwards in St. Paul’s various addresses everywhere in the course of his long missionary travels; whether that at Lystra, or that to the jailer at Philippi, or that at Athens, or that to the elders at Miletus; or, still later, that to the Jews in tumult at Jerusalem, that to Felix, that to Agrippa, or that to the Jews whom he gathered to his own hired house on his first arrival at Rome. With which last event the history of the Acts of the Apostles closes.

  1. The Evidence from the Apostolic Epistles.

And surely these supply not in any degree the Apostolic testimony wanting in the Acts to Peter’s vicegerency of Christ. Not a hint is there in them about it. By St. James, St. Jude, and St. John, in their epistles, the Apostle Peter is not once mentioned. By St. Paul Peter is mentioned more than once; but never in the way of pre-eminence above the rest, as Christ’s Vicegerent on earth. Quite the contrary. Writing to the Galatians he speaks of Peter, James, and John, all conjointly, as seeming, when first he visited Jerusalem, to be pillars: and to the same Galatians tells how Peter erred when he came to Antioch; and how he (Paul) had found it necessary to rebuke him.[9] To the Corinthians again, when noticing the report which had reached him of their party words, “I am of Paul, and I of Apollos, and I of Cephas,” instead of saying in true Papal Roman style how correct the last mentioned Petrine party were, he denounces all alike: seeing that Christ was to be regarded as the one head of the Church, contradistinctively to Peter, quite as much as to Paul or Apollos.[10] Elsewhere he distinctly asserts to them his own equality to Peter.[11] Further, when speaking of the foundation of the Christian Church, he speaks of it not as founded on Peter, according to the Romish interpretation of Christ’s declaration in St. Matthew, but on the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, “Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner-stone; in whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple to the Lord.”[12] Just the very antipodes to Dr. Wiseman’s view of Peter having been constituted “the foundation of the moral edifice the Church…with a power to hold together the materials in one united whole.”[13]

Next we turn to Peter himself. And lo! In his epistles there is just as total a silence as in the other apostolic epistles about his supposed Vicegerency of Christ, and his being distinctively the foundation of the Church. “To Christ coming [not unto me, Peter], as unto a living stone, ye also as living stones are built up a spiritual house.” “The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ. Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight… not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind: neither as being lords over God’s heritage,.. and when the Chief Shepherd [Jesus Christ, not Peter] shall appear, ye also shall receive a crown of glory.”[14] So in his 1st Epistle. Again, in his 2nd Epistle, when speaking of his own near martyrdom, he gives them his dying charge as it were: but still says not a word of his Vicegerency of Christ; nor warns them that “extra palum ecclesiae Petrinae” there was no salvation.

Yet once more, in Christ’s own letters to the Churches in Asia, as recorded by St. John, not an allusion is there to the Apostle Peter, or his then successor (as Roman Catholics would have it) in the Roman Bishopric. Instead of his having devolved the keys to Peter or any successor of Peter, it is of Himself that Christ speaks as holding them; “I am he that have the keys of Hades and of death.” Such is the result of our examination into the Scriptural Apostolic records on the first great point of our inquiries. And in truth so sensible are the Papal advocates of the weakness of their case, as tested by these records, which they do not pretend to adduce from them even a single testimony in proof of the apostles themselves having understood that Peter was invested by Christ with the mighty distinctive preeminence of being his Vicegerent on earth. What they adduce is merely to the effect of his having been prominent in act and speech among the rest.[15]

§ 2. Falsification of the Theory of Peter’s Localization at Rome as its First Bishop,

And Consequent Devolution of the Vicegerency of Christ on The Roman Bishops After Him, by the Chronology of Apostolic History in the New Testament.

This is the second of the two fundamental lemmas of the Papal Petrine theory: That St. Peter was the founder, and first Bishop, of the Church at Rome; and so a devolver on the line of subsequent bishops of Rome, as his successors and representatives, of his own (presumed) matchless prerogative as Christ’s Vicegerent On Earth. Nor will its falsification be found much less manifest than that of the primary and preceding lemma.

In order to see this it is needful that the inquirer acquaint himself pretty accurately with the true chronology of the apostolic history in the Book of the Acts, with a view to comparison with the Papal supposititious chronology of the same, and so to its refutation.

So, in regard of its subsequent Apostolic Chronology, we had the following data, deduced chiefly from the Book of the Acts of the Apostles, for approximately fixing on its several most important details.

  1. There are sundry breaks of time indicated in the history of the eight first Chapters[16] sufficient to warrant the supposition of an interval of some two, three, or more years between Christ’s ascension and Paul’s conversion, such as the date of the latter event at AD. 36 implies, if the former be placed AD. 34, 33, or 30; a date this chosen approximately by reference to other evidence, such as follows.
  2. For as much as Damascus came first under the rule of King Aretas shortly after Tiberius’ death, AD. 38,[17] the fact of Paul’s escape from that city, after returning to it from his time of retreat in Arabia subsequently to his conversion, having occurred under the governorship of a man appointed by King Aretas,[18] shows that that escape must have been later than AD. 38; whence his first visit to Jerusalem, soon after following, that same in which he held conference with Peter, may with probability be placed about AD. 40: a visit this dated by himself three years after his conversion;[19] and to which his trance in the temple mentioned Acts 22:17, and which I think also to be alluded to Rom. 9:3,[20] seems best referable.
  3. The period of two years allowed in the Chart for Paul’s home mission work in Tarsus and Cilicia, after leaving Jerusalem, seems well to consist with the narrative in the Acts;[21] and not more than is needed to account for many of the hardships and sufferings specified in 1 Cor. 11:23-26 as then already undergone by him in his missionary work, but of which no account appears in the detailed history of his intervening life given by St. Luke.
  4. Which interval, followed by a “whole year’s” stay in Antioch (Acts 11:26), would bring the time of Paul’s second visit to Jerusalem, on occasion of the famine, to about AD. 44 or 45: just consistently “with what we know otherwise about the famine; as having occurred shortly after Herod’s death early in 44, and continued through the winter of 44 and 45.[22]
  5. As regards St. Paul’s subsequent sojourn at Antioch, and then his first great foreign, missionary tour from thence, by Cyprus, the Pisidian Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, &c, and further stay for “a long time,” after returning, in the great Antioch, we may reasonably, I think, assign to all this a period of some three or four years; and so are led to place his third visit to Jerusalem, on occasion of the apostolic Council held there, at about AD. 49 or 50:[23] with which date well agrees what he intimates in Gal. 2:1 of this having occurred fourteen years after his conversion;[24] from AD. 36 to AD. 50 being just 14 years.
  6. The time necessarily occupied in his second great foreign missionary tour, by Cilicia, Galatia, Mysia, into Thrace and Greece, including a year and a half stay at Corinth begun soon after Claudius’ expulsion of the Jews from Rome,[25] and then a return by way of Ephesus to Jerusalem, where was to be spent “the feast,”[26] probably of Pentecost, can scarcely have included less than three years; so fixing the date of this his fourth visit to Jerusalem, approximately, at AD. 52.[27],
  7. After which and a stay “for some time” at Antioch,[28] followed his third great missionary tour, first to Ephesus, where he stayed between two and three years,[29] and then into Macedonia and Achaia; returning by way of Troas, Miletus, and Caesarea to Jerusalem; this being his fifth visit there, the same on which occurred the tumult in the temple: to all which we may fairly assign a term of five years; and so place this visit and tumult at AD. 57.
  8. Then, followed his two year imprisonment in Caesarea, first under Felix’s government, then under that of Festus; another test point of our chronology, and on which it well agrees with the dates respecting these Roman Procurators in Tacitus.[30]
  9. Adding three-quarters of a year for his voyage to Malta, wintering there, and journey in the next spring to Rome, the date of his arrival there fixes itself about March or April AD. 60: a date on which sacred and profane history are found well to agree, in the fact of there being just then but one Praetorian Prefect at Rome, as stated Acts 28:16;[31] and one leaving margin of time enough, moreover, for Paul writing thence his Epistle to Colossae[32] previous to the Laodicean earthquake, an event which happened sometime before Oct. 13, that same year.[33]
  10. The two years past in his own hired house at Rome during this imprisonment occupy from AD. 60 to 62.
  11. After which, comes his fourth and last missionary tour, as inferred from the Epistles to the Hebrews, to Timothy, and to Titus;[34] bringing the epoch of his second imprisonment at Rome, and, after a while, his martyrdom, to somewhere about AD. 65 – 66.

In all this we cannot be far wrong. The chronology is consistent, as we have seen, with all its many and various testing. As to the chronological dates of St. Paul’s Epistles, they are severally noted in another column of the Chart; and, in fact, with the exception of that of the Epistle to the Galatians, are so interwoven with the history as to tell themselves;[35] a point this also to be carefully attended to, both as furnishing fresh chronological testing points, and as bearing on my coming argument.

And now then, turning to the application, we will be prepared to consider intelligently that article in the Papal Petrine theory which represents Peter as the first founder and first Bishop of the Roman Church; and so the transmitter of his Vicariate of Jesus Christ to the Roman Popes, as his successors in the see: a connection this with him which, as we saw, is the second essential foundation stone of the Papacy. Assuredly we can scarce even thus hurriedly have glanced over the history and chronology of the Acts without the impression that, so far as its testimony goes, instead of furnishing direct evidence of the fact of Peter’s having early gone to Rome at the time supposed by Papists, there founded the Roman Church, assumed its Bishopric, and done this preliminarily to devolving upon its bishops after him whatever preeminent dignity or prerogative attached to himself, the sacred narrative is altogether silent about it; nay that the whole bearing of the evidence offered by it is against the truth of any such localization of St. Peter. For where do we find in it, I will not say a hint of Peter’s having ever been to Rome, but a chronological crevice during which, consistently with its history, we may suppose him settled there? I shall however best illustrate this by sketching Cardinal Bellarmine’s Roman-Petrine theory, and attempted mode of reconciling this theory of Peter’s early localization at Rome with the sacred records we have been examining,[36] premising this, that, accordantly with all Church law, it is essential to the Papal Petrine theory that Peter should have been the first apostle acting as apostolic missionary there, not Paul; for the laws of the Church, from the so called Apostolic Constitutions of the 2nd and 3rd centuries to the Council of Trent in the 16th, forbid the intrusion of any other bishop into the diocese of one already occupying it.[37]

We find then that it is virtually admitted by Bellarmine in his argument that, in order to Peter being first Bishop of Rome, the Church of Rome ought to have been founded by St. Peter.[38] And, after noticing the fact of the existence of a Christian Church at Rome at the time when St. Paul wrote his Epistle to the Romans, and thrown out, as a presumption in favor of his view, the very foolish question, “By whom founded if not by Peter,”[39] as if forsooth Peter was the only Christian evangelist in existence,[40] he proceeds thus to sketch from imagination the Petrine Scripture chronology, accordantly with his theory of the Roman Church having originally been founded by him. It is his suggestion that Peter remained after Christ’s ascension some four or five years in Jerusalem; near the end of which Paul first saw him there, three years after his conversion: that he then went to Antioch, and there past near seven years as its first Bishop; having in the course of this septennial period toured, and founded Churches, in Pontus, Asia, Galatia, Cappadocia, and Bithynia: that then, in the seventh year of his Antioch episcopate, and the eleventh from Christ’s ascension, he returned to Jerusalem, and was imprisoned by Herod; then, that self-same year (being the second of Claudius’s emperor ship, and a year before Herod’s death), went to Rome;[41] there founded the Roman Church, and there established his See (transferred thence from Antioch), as Rome’s first Bishop: till at length, expelled thence by Claudius’ decree, in common with Aquila and other Jews he returned to Jerusalem; on news of which the Antioch Church sent up Paul and Barnabas to see him, and to take their part in the Council of Jerusalem: finally, that after Claudius’s death, AD. 55, Peter returned to Rome, and there continued in exercise of his episcopate, though not without sundry missionary excursions thence, until his death, AD. 67; having been Bishop of Rome twenty-five years altogether.[42]

Such is Bellarmine’s marvelous theory of the Petrine Scripture chronology: and surely it may naturally remind us of the efforts of an ingenious advocate to account for a witness’s time in some difficult case, and otherwise evading the force of strong concurrent circumstantial evidence against him. Let us see how his theory will suit the recorded facts. As to the original formation of the Church at Antioch, we have seen already that Peter had nothing whatever to do with it. It was certain Hellenists of Cyprus and Cyrene, or Jews using the Greek language, who, after the scattering abroad from Jerusalem, in consequence of the persecution in which Stephen suffered martyrdom, first preached Christ’s gospel there.[43] And when, in the course apparently of those two or three years that Paul spent in Arabia, the numbers had so increased as to form a considerable Church there, and tidings of this had come to the apostles at Jerusalem (shortly perhaps after St. Paul’s first visit of a fortnight to them in that sacred city), we read that they sent Barnabas thither (not Peter), to confirm the Antioch Christians in the faith: and that Barnabas, after so acting a while by himself, fetched Paul from Tarsus to assist him, not Peter.[44] Nor is there a single hint of Peter’s joining them there previous to Paul and Barnabas’ visit to Jerusalem with alms from Antioch, about the time when Peter was imprisoned by Herod; or after their return back to Antioch; or during their first missionary Pamphylian tour thence, and return again to Antioch; or before their next visit to Jerusalem, when the Council was held there at which Peter assisted. So as to the Scripture evidence of Peter’s supposed primary episcopate at Antioch.

Then, as to that which more closely concerns us: Peter’s asserted early preaching at Rome after the imprisonment by Herod, and return, in consequence of Claudius’ expulsion of the Jews, in time to be present at the Council at Jerusalem, alike the Claudian date in the Acts, and its account of the Council, put their negative upon it. First, I say, the Claudian date negatives it. For some considerable time must needs have elapsed between that Council, and Paul’s returning to Antioch, starting thence on his second tour, and accomplishing all its long course through Asia Minor, Thrace, Macedonia, Thessaly, and so to Corinth. And it was only on his arrival there that he found Aquila and Priseilla just lately come to Corinth from Rome in consequence of the edict.[45] Can we believe the same edict to have expelled Peter a full year earlier? Also what passed at the Council negates it. For in Peter’s speech, though mentioning the fact of his being chosen out (in the case of Cornelius evidently) to open the door of the Church to the Gentiles, and how God himself sealed this as his will by giving the Holy Ghost to those Gentile believers, even as to the Jewish, he yet tells not a word of his having gone moreover to Rome, and there too founded a flourishing Gentile Church, and there become its first Bishop!

All the good tidings as to the spread of Gentile evangelization are from Paul and Barnabas: “Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles [I. e. in their first or Pamphylian missionary tour] by them.”[46] Moreover the Letter written by the Council (Acts 15:23,) is addressed to the Brethren from out of the Gentiles in “Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia,” not those in Rome or Italy; though we know that, after the formation of a Christian Church there, the same tendencies to Jewish ritualistic errors showed themselves in it just as in the early Churches elsewhere. But, though this gives the coup de grace to Bellarmine’s early Petrine Roman theory, might not Peter be yet supposed to have preached at Rome before Paul’s arrival there, though after the Jerusalem Council, consistently with the sacred narrative? Let us see. Take first the epoch of Paul’s second short stay at Corinth, when Paul wrote his Epistle to the Romans. In this Epistle two significant facts are noticeable, bearing on the point in question, which must strike any discerning inquirer: one, that amidst the many Christian brethren saluted by Paul in the last chapter of the Epistle, as then sojourning at Rome, the name of Peter occurs not as one then settled there; nor any allusion to him as likely soon to return, if just then absent from his Roman See, so as Bellarmine would suggest,[47] on some temporary missionary excursion: the other, that St. Paul in Chapter 1 tells how he longed to see the Christians there, “in order to impart to them some spiritual gift;”[48] which surely could scarce have been wanting to the Romish Church, if Peter with equal (indeed, according to the Romanists, immeasurably superior) apostolic powers had been for some time previous pretty much fixed among them: and strangely inconsistent moreover with what he had himself written not long before to the Roman Christians, as well as indeed to the Corinthians, a little previously, of the point that he made, and would make, of not building in his missionary plans and ministrations upon another man’s foundation.[49]

Yet again take the still later epoch of Paul’s first arrival at Rome. And surely we read in the Acts of the Apostles that which almost necessarily negatives all idea of Peter being then there; or having previously been settled there in character of chief pastor of the Church. As Paul advanced near to Rome there occurs no intimation of Peter being among the brethren who went to meet him at Appii Forum, nor of Paul finding him there on his arrival. Moreover, when the Jews of Rome came together to hear him on his invitation, what, as reported by St. Luke, was their statement to Paul as to what they knew, and had heard, about Christianity? Just this: “We desire to hear of thee what thou thinkest: for, as concerning this sect, we know that it is everywhere spoken against.”[50] Proceeding still onwards in the chronology, St. Luke mentions that, after this, “Paul dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in to him, preaching the kingdom of God:” but still with the same total silence in reference to Peter’s ever having been at Rome during that time. Moreover, in all the four Epistles written by Paul during these two years from Rome, alike those to the Colossians, Philemon, the Ephesians, and the Philippians, among the various salutations sent from Rome none occurs as sent by Peter. Nay; even on occasion of Paul’s second and last imprisonment at Rome, he tells in II Timothy how, when he was called up to trial before Nero, “no one stood by him.”[51] Could Peter then at that time have been with him at Rome?

So that, on the whole, we are all but forced to the conclusion that Paul was the first of the apostles that arrived and preached at Rome: and consequently (even supposing that Peter came afterwards, and was martyred there) that the apostle Paul must, by reason of the priority of his visit and labors, be considered first Bishop of Rome, on Bellarmine’s own principles, not the apostle Peter: I.e. supposing it was competent to either of them to merge their extraordinary and far higher office of apostle in the lower office of a local Bishop; a supposition, on Scripture grounds, scarce admissible.

To add corroboration on this point from the Apostolic Epistles is superfluous. And indeed one sentence may pretty well tell all: That they furnish no notice of Peter ever having been at Rome, or been Bishop of Rome, whatsoever: and of course therefore none of his thinking to devolve on Bishops of Rome, as his successors, whatever apostolic dignity or preeminence might attach to himself. There is however one among the Apostolic Books where Rome, in reference to its future history, is spoken of. In his Apocalypse, or Revelation of things to come, St. John describes Rome under an ecclesiastical figure. But it is as a harlot, holding out the cup of her fornication; yea, as “the mother of harlots and of the abominations of the earth:” Christ’s true Church, the one built on the foundation (not of Peter distinctively, but) of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, being described as never established on earth, so as to be a rejoicing among men, until the utter and everlasting destruction of the usurping harlot, the seven hilled Babylon;[52] as also of the Beast of the same seven hills upholding her.[53]

In fine we come to the conclusion, that if the Romish theory of the Papal supremacy were really true, if Peter, and the Bishops of Rome in succession after him, were really the Vicegerents of Christ on earth, and Rome the one true Church, and no salvation without its pale, then the Apostles must either themselves have been in utter ignorance of it; or else (together with Luke the historian as a consenting party to the fraud) knowingly, willfully, systematically, have suppressed their knowledge. In which latter case the whole human race might surely with justice rise up in outcry against the apostolic choir, as having banded together to deceive them to their perdition, with a malignity absolutely unparalleled in all our fallen world annals of crime: and this with the Satanic adjunct of doing it under the mask of simplicity, benevolence, and artlessness, such as never yet hypocrite of this world has been able for any length of time to keep up. Nay, with reverence be it spoken, in such case our Lord Jesus Christ himself might be arraigned as particeps criminis; because of never having hinted one word about the Bishops of Rome, as Peter’s intended successors in the Vicegerency, though salvation was absolutely to depend on so recognizing them: and having moreover permitted, nay and by his Spirit inspired his apostles so to act, and so to write, as necessarily to lead men astray from that absolutely vital truth of Christianity.

§ 3. Early Patristic Non-Recognition of Peter and the Roman Popes as Vicegerent of Christ.

After what we have seen who will wonder that the Papal advocates should hurry as they do over Apostolic ground, and hasten to make out a case for themselves, if possible, from Patristic evidence? Yet, in the judgment of common sense, of what worth could be the latter, however favorable, if opposed to the former? As I remarked at the beginning of this Paper, its weight in the comparison would be but as a feather. I must not however conclude my Paper without showing the reader how vain is all that Bellarmine and Wiseman[54] urge from the earlier patristic writers in proof of their dogma of the Papal supremacy: dogma, let it never be forgotten, which makes the Roman Bishop, as Peter’s successor, Christ’s plenipotentiary Vicegerent on earth; without adherence to whom in that character, and as the head to the universal Church, no human being can be saved. It will be my care well to mark the chronology of the patristic testimonies as we go on: that which Papal advocates would feign to have overlooked by the reader, and often cover therefore more or less with a misty veil. Of course the nearer its place to apostolic times, the greater (ceteris paribus) the value of the patristic testimony.

(B. and W. signify Bellarmine and Wiseman, as the adducers of the testimony cited.)

  1. (B) “Anacletus [Bishop at Rome about AD. 95] docet, Ep. 3, propter Petr sedem Romanam ecclesiam esse omnium aliarum caput.” So Bellarmine. But the Anacletus Epistles are notoriously unauthentic or forged, and of a much later date.
  2. (B and W) Pope Clement [Bishop about AD. 110], says Bellarmine in his Apostolical Constitutions, B. vii. c. 46, says, “Petrum, imminente morte, sibi reliquisse Romanum episcopatum.” But, like the Anacletus Epistles, these Apostolical Constitutions attributed to Clement are likewise notoriously unauthentic.

But, says Wiseman, in his Epistle (which no doubt is genuine) this Roman Pope Clement “examined and corrected the abuses of the Church of Corinth.” Such is “Wiseman’s first patristic exemplification, in proof that “all [Christians], from the earliest ages, acknowledged the authority of Peter to exist in his successors [at Rome], as their inherent right.”[55] Does Dr. W. then give any evidence to show that the then Corinthian Church sought the Roman Clement’s authoritative intervention in its case, as Peter’s rightful successor, and so Christ’s Vicegerent: or that it received his Letter as one bearing with it that plenary and divine authority of jurisdiction: or that Clement himself grounded his own intervention on any such mighty claim; or that he expressed himself as writing in the way of authoritative intervention at all; and not simply as a sympathizing Christian minister and bishop, just as Ignatius or Polycarp might have done and written? Dr. Wiseman gives no evidence from Clement’s Letter, or from other contemporary or nearly contemporary history, or indeed from any history at all, in proof of any one of these three points. And in fact the Letter itself, in its whole strain and spirit, puts a direct negative on Dr. W.’s representation respecting it: and is thus an early and strong testimony in proof that Clement, like Peter before him, was in utter ignorance of the dogma of Romish Papal supremacy.

  1. (B.) Ignatius; about AD. 115.[56] So Ignatius, in his Epistle to the Romans: proving at least, according to Bellarmine, that Peter had been at Rome, and had taught the Roman Christians. Even if admitted, however, this proves nothing for the doctrine of Papal supremacy. Nor does it necessarily even imply Ignatius’ belief of Peter having been at Rome: or mean more than that he could not speak, or write, to the Romans, or to any others of the Christian body, with the same authority and weight that attached to the words of Paul and Peter.[57]
  2. (B.) Papias, about AD. 130. “Papias says that “Peter in his first Epistle, which he wrote from Rome, mentioned Mark: in which Epistle he figuratively calls Rome Babylon.” So we are told by Eusebius.”[58] But this is nothing more (as indeed Bellarmine fairly states it) than Papias’ testimony to the fact of Peter’s having been at Rome when he wrote his First Epistle; an epistle of which the date, according to the most esteemed critics, (as Lardner, Michael, “Whitby, &c.,) was not very long before his Second Epistle, or before his death; and so, as Lardner well places it, somewhere between 63 and 65 AD. Let me add that the ground of Papias’ opinion as to Peter having written his Epistle from Rome seems from the passage itself to have been this, that Peter sends in it the salutations of the Church in Babylon:[59] Papias, St. John’s disciple, being of course strongly impressed with the fact of St. John’s designating Rome figuratively as Babylon in the Apocalypse; and thence inferring that the Babylon Peter dates from, though without a mark of anything symbolic attached to it, meant figuratively Rome also.
  3. Bellarmine further adds Dionysius of Corinth (A.D. 170), as a later witness to the same fact of Peter having taught and been martyred at the same time as Paul at Rome:[60] also Caius, some 40 years later, as witnessing to the fact of his having there suffered martyrdom, as well as St. Paul.[61] A point this which I have no wish to contest.
  4. (W.) “Pope Victor (AD. 192) examined and corrected the abuses of the Church of Ephesus.” Did he so act then in the declared character of Peter’s successor and Christ’s Vicegerent: and was he by the Oriental Churches acknowledged and deferred to in that character, in the manner that Dr. Wiseman intimates?[62] Quite the contrary. 1. Pope Victor never professed to be Christ’s Vicar, or Vicegerent: 2. The Orientals refused to listen to him: 3. Sundry Christians of the West, especially Irenaeus, reproved him for his pride. Such is Eusebius’ report of the matter.[63] What it illustrates is, not the Roman Bishop’s acknowledged supremacy, but the Roman Bishop’s pride, even then peeping out. It showed, agreeably with St. Paul’s prophecy, that, were but the “let” of imperial power removed from the seven hills, and the restraining grace withdrawn of God’s Holy Spirit, there was a principle of priestly ambition at work even then at Rome,[64] which might well grow to be a source of trouble to the Christian Church.
  5. (B. and W.) Irenaeus. (AD. 175)[65] I have given this passage in the Latin almost in full, as one rested on perhaps more than any other by the Papal advocates. If I remember right M. De Pradt speaks of Pope Pius VII having referred to it in the Letter written by him to the Emperor Napoleon during his adversity; as the strongest plea he could fall back on, when absolutely forced to look out for what was strongest in favor of the Papal supremacy. But what is the amount of it testimony? 1. From the context itself it is clear that Irenaeus refers to Rome, the great Apostolic founded Church of the West, not as having any superiority to other great Apostolic founded Churches, such as those of Antioch or Ephesus; but as the one which, on account of its priority,[66] as well as apostolicity of origin, compared with the other Churches of the West, was to them naturally and properly the center of reference for information as to apostolic doctrine. 2. Irenaeus (like other fathers of the same age)[67] assigns to Paul and Peter a common propriety in the act of founding the Church of Rome, and appointing Linus to its Bishoprick.[68] He says not a word of Peter having himself been distinctively Rome’s first Bishop; or of his devolving on Linus his own distinctive prerogative of being Christ’s Vicegerent on earth. Peter and Paul are associated by Irenaeus as, in his mind, quite on a par the one with the other: a notion incompatible with any recognition of the doctrine of Papal supremacy.[69] So, Irenaeus is a decided witness against, not for, the Papal supremacists.
  6. (B.) Clement of Alexandria. (AD. 194) The testimony of this father is referred to by Bellarmine, as if implying from what is said of Mark writing his Gospel, under Peter’s eye, at Rome, not only Peter having taught, but having founded, a Church there. This, as bearing indirectly on my present subject, and as connected with the chronological argument in my last Section, I must here just notice. “Peter having publicly preached the word at Rome, many who were there entreated Mark to write the things which had been spoken, he having long accompanied Peter, and retaining what he had said: and, when he had composed the Gospel, he delivered it to them who asked it of him.” All well as regards the point of Peter some time teaching at Rome. But at what time? What says Clement just before, as told of by Eusebius? “As to the order in which the four Gospels were written, Clement thus reports the tradition which he had heard from older presbyters: that the two Gospels which contain the genealogies (Matthew and Luke) were first written: then that by Mark,” under the circumstances above mentioned. Now, though the point is one on which decisive evidence is wanting, yet I think that Mill’s and Lardner’s opinion is most generally followed, which is to the effect that, as the Book of the Acts is almost professedly a sequel to the Gospel by Luke, and the date of his writing of the Acts, by internal evidence, after Paul’s first imprisonment at Rome, Luke’s Gospel was probably written not long before Paul’s emancipation. Thus the Alexandrian Clement’s testimony would place both Mark writing his Gospel, and Peter preaching at Rome previously, late down in apostolic times. Irenaeus’ statement agrees with this; saying that “after the deaths of Peter and Paul, Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, delivered to us in writing the things preached by Peter.” Thus there is nothing in this contrary to the argument drawn out by me in the last Section, to the effect that Paul preached the Gospel at Rome long before Peter; and was the first Apostolic organizer of the Roman Church.
  7. (B. and W.) Tertulian; about AD. 200. After challenging the heretical sects to trace up their Churches, if they could, to Apostles, Tertulian thus contrasts the apostolic origin of the orthodox Churches.[70] Is there a word here corroboratory of Peter’s asserted Vicegerency of Christ, or the Papal supremacy? Any of Rome being the one center of authority, guardian of the faith, and mother and mistress of all Churches? Quite the contrary. The reference for the true Christian doctrine is directed to be made to any apostolically founded Church: as well to Ephesus, once presided over by John, or Philippi and Corinth founded by Paul, as to Rome ennobled, according to Tertullian, by Peter’s and Paul’s martyrdoms. But De Maistre adds two other citations, as if to his purpose, from Tertulian.[71] Here, in whatever sense the grant to Peter be understood, it is plain that Tertullian considered it to be devolved, through him, not on the Roman Bishop, but generally on the Church. And in what light he regarded anything like the assumption of such power by the Roman Pontiff, as if the head of the Church, and universal bishop, appears abundantly from what he says of some such proud speaking and acting by him, in the 2nd additional citation made most unfortunately by De Maistre from his De Pudicitia, ch. I.[72] De Maistre’s observation is a little amusing. Certainly it adds weight to Tertullian’s protest against the Roman Bishop’s assumption of such rank and authority, as nothing less than a shameless usurpation.
  8. (W.) Origen. (AD. 240) Says Cardinal Wiseman:[73] Thus writes the acute and learned Origen; “What was before granted to Peter seems to have been granted to all …. but, as something peculiarly excellent was to be granted to Peter, it was given simply to him, I will give thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. This was done before the words, Whatsoever thou shall bind on earth, &c, were uttered. And truly, if the words of the Gospel be considered, we shall there find that the last words were common to Peter and the others; but that the former, spoken to Peter, imported a great distinction and superiority.” Did then the acute and learned Origen understand this “great distinction and superiority” to have been given to Peter as head and representative of the Bishops of Rome? Listen to his comment on the most famous clause in Matt. 16:18, the passage just referred to, I mean, Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church. “The rock is every disciple of Christ. If thou thinkest that the whole Church was built by God on Peter alone, what wouldst thou say concerning John the son of thunder, or each other of the apostles? Shall we dare to say that the gates of hell shall only not prevail against Peter; but that against the other apostles and perfect Christians they shall prevail? Or that to Peter alone are given by Christ the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and that no other of the blessed shall receive them? …. It is said to Peter, and to every Peter.”[74] What comes of Origen as a witness for the Papal supremacy?
  9. (B. and W.) Cyprian, about 250.[75] Here there seems something a little more like a testimony for our Papal advocates. Cyprian calls Rome the See of Peter; the chief Church whence sacerdotal unity springs; and that with the Romans perfidy could make no way. But why did not Bellarmine and Wiseman add the sentence next but one following:[76] Why! Instead of a witness for Rome’s supremacy of jurisdiction, Cyprian is a most strong witness for each Bishop’s supremacy of jurisdiction, in his own sphere. Each several Bishop he considered to be in his own diocese the inheritor of that grant to Peter, “On this rock I will build my Church:” nor would he admit of the Roman Bishop’s interference in his diocese. As to any one calling himself (in the sense of universal ecclesiastical jurisdiction) Bishop of Bishops, he declares in solemn Council that it was not an idea to be tolerated; and that the only tribunal for judging him, or any other Bishop, was that of the Lord Jesus himself.[77]
  10. From Cyprian Dr. Wiseman flies to the Councils. And is it then to the first great General Council of the Christian Church, that of Nice? Oh! No. The Council of Nice speaks indeed in its 6th Canon of the Bishops of Rome, and awards them patriarchal dignity, but only on the same footing as the Patriarchs of Alexandria and Antioch.[78] The Council of Nice is directly against the Papal supremacy. And so Dr. Wiseman takes refuge in the later and comparatively obscure Council of Sardica in Thrace:[79] citing its declaration that there ought to be an appeal “from the priests of the provinces to the head, I.e. to the See of Peter.” Not till the middle of the 4th century, when the apostasy was already rapidly making way, do we find even thus much of the Romish Papal Petrine doctrine: and even then, and there, nothing about the Roman Pope, in character of Peter’s successor, being Christ’s Vicegerent on earth!

Thus, even patristically considered, we see that it was not till the opening of the 5th century, when the Roman Empire was breaking up into ten kingdoms (just agreeably with Scripture prophecy), that the direct doctrine of the Papal supremacy was broached; and so Antichrist (in other words Christ’s usurping self-appointed Vicar) was born.[80]

In fine, upon the showing of these Papal champions themselves, there seems nothing left as a foundation principle for their doctrine but Mr. Newman’s theory of development: a theory this which supposes that the Church visible was to contain within itself a constant power of developing new dogmas, as time might advance, and circumstances change.[81] But against this (without entering further into its manifest unscriptural error) there stands St. Paul’s solemn and emphatic declaration, “Though I, or an angel from heaven, were to preach any other gospel unto you than that we have preached, let him be accursed.” For the difference of Paul’s preaching and Papal Rome’s preaching is palpable. So that either the Spirit of God, thus speaking by Paul (with reverence be it said), must have spoken lies, or else the dogma of the Papal supremacy must be a lie, a lie against the Holy Ghost; and with the curse of God resting on the Church which upholds it. There is indeed one grand system of development that Holy Scripture does tell of. But it is the development of falsehood, not of gospel truth: the development of the mystery of iniquity, of the Man of Sin, and of the apostasy to be headed by him on the Babylon of the seven hills.[82]

[1]Article taken from the Horae Apocalypticae, Reformation Quincentenial Edition, Cross The Border Publishing 2018.

[2]“God shall send them strong delusion that they should believe the lie:τω ψευδει with the article. So too Thess. ii. 11. Some expositors have explained the article here as marking the intenseness of the lie; as if the lie of lies. Or it may simply mark the lie as that of the just before-mentioned apostasy. It will, however, at any rate, be permitted me to make use of the first view of the expression for the heading of my Chapter.

[3]Viz. by Origen, Cyril, Ambrose. Augustine, Chrysostoin, all of the 3rd or 4th century. See p. 149 supra.

[4]That by Bellarmine in the two first Books of his work entitled ” De Summo Pontifice: ” that by Wiseman in the 8th of his Lectures on the Catholic Church a Lecture entitled, on the Supremacy of the Pope. — In which latter mark the definition of this supremacy. “Why! it signifies nothing more [sic] than that the Pope, or Bishop of Rome, as the successor of St. Peter, possesses authority and jurisdiction in things spiritual over the entire Church; so as to constitute him its visible head, and the Vice gerent of Christ upon earth.” p. 262. Is nothing more, we might naturally ask, a misprint for nothing less?

[5]“As my Father hath sent me even so send I you. And, when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost. Whose soever sins be remit they are remitted, &c.” John xx. 21. The same inclusiveness of the Apostles generally appears in Christ’s terms of commissioning them, Matt, xxviii. 19, 20, Mark xvi. 15 — 17, Luke xxiv. 47 — 50, Acts i. 4 — 8. — The Romanists dwell on Christ’s saying to Peter, ” Feed my sheep,” as the most distinctive charge they can find here. So Wise man, pp. 272, 273, saying; ” The unrestricted commission to feed the entire flock of Christ implies a primacy and jurisdiction over the whole…He was invested with an authority of a distinct and superior order to that of his fellow-apostles, …. which excluded the idea of co-ordinate authority.” But where in Christ’s charge is any such exclusion of the other apostles? Wise man adds, p. 277, ” The commission to feed the flock is nowhere given to the others.” How then came St. Paul to charge the elders at Miletus with the same commission? Acts xx. 28. It must, I think, appear a little surprising to the Romanists that Christ, when on the cross, should have committed the Virgin Mary, their ” Queen of heaven,” to the care, not of his own Vice gerent on earth, but of St. John.

[6]Acts ii. 2 — 4.

[7]John being almost always associated with Peter in them.

[8]Peter first makes a statement, respecting God having chosen by his mouth first to preach the gospel to the Gentiles: then reasons with them, ” Why tempt ye God to put a yoke on the neck of the disciples, &c.” St. James says: ” My sentence is, &c.:εγω κρινω And the statement follows; ” Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole Church, to send, &c.” It was no Petrine ” Motu Proprio.” Acts xv. 7, 10, 19,22,23.

[9]Gal. ii. 9, 11-14.

[10]1 Cor. i. 12, 13.

[11]In 2 Cor. xi. 5 he says, ” For I think I was not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles.” But surely, on the Papal theory, this was pretty nearly as blasphemous as the blasphemy which Baronius reprobates of the Constantinopolitan Patriarch equalling himself to the Pope. See p. 183 supra.

[12]Eph. ii. 20 — 22.

[13]Lecture viii. p. 268.

[14]1 Pet. v. 1 — 4.

[15]Cardinal Wiseman says, p. 278: ” In conformity with this view [that Peter received a supreme jurisdiction and primacy over the whole Church beyond the other apostles] we find him ever named the first among them, ever taking the lead in ah their common actions, always speaking as the organ of the Church.” These four lines constitute his whole allusion to the apostolic history after Christ’s ascension, in proof of the great supposed fact, in a Lecture of 36 pages. His references are to ” Acts i. 15, ii. 14, et seq.; iv. 8; v. 8; viii. 19; xii. 13; xv. 7; et al. Passim “:  — just the passages referred to by me, pp. 562, 563, as proving, in contradiction to Wiseman, that Peter, though the chief speaker, never once assumed any such primacy as Christ’s vice gerent on earth, nor anything like it! So too, however, Bellarmine, i. 22. They add Gal. i. 18, ii. 8, stating that Paul went from’ Antioch to see Peter , also that ” he who wrought effectually in Peter for the apostleship of the circumcision wrought effectually in me for that to the Gentiles.” A strange passage for them to refer to, as evidence that Peter was head of the Gentile Church! And why not, while citing this chapter, refer to its verse 6; “They who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me: ” and verse 11; ” When Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed: ” in proof of Peter being infinitely exalted over Paul and the other apostles, as Christ’s Vicar on earth?

[16]Breaks noted in the Column of Scriptural authorities in my Chart. See on this an elaborate essay in Mr. Greswell.

[17]Most probably, as argued by Conybeare and Howson, (Life of St. Paul, i. 89, 109,) ” Caligula assigned the City of Damascus [soon after his accession, as their argument implies] as a free gift to Aretas.” Aretas was previously king of Petra.

[18]Compare Gal. i. 17, 18, 2 Cor. xi. 32, 37, Acts ix. 23 — 35.

[19]Gal. i. 17, See Note a infra p. 572. — Paul’s successive visits to Jerusalem constitute, we may say, the backbone of Pauline chronology: and are specially to be noted with reference to the controversy to which I am about to apply it.

[20]Ηυχομην γαρ αυτος εγω αναθεμα ειναι απο (or rather ύπο) το Χρισο ύπερ των αδελφων μο κ.α.λ. I undoubtiugly adopt Dr. Burton’s translation of this; ” I made it a matter of prayer that I might myself be specially devoted by Christ (as a missionary) on behalf of my brethren, my kindred according to the flesh.” Αναθεμα  bears the sense so given it, as well as αναθημα. (See Schleusner.) For ύπο there is good MS. authority; and indeed απο may be taken in the same sense. To see the striking agreement of this with Paul’s account of his trance and prayer in the temple, given Acts xxii. 17, it only needs to read, and compare, the last-mentioned passage.

[21]See Acts ix. 30, xi. 25, Gal. i. 21; passages specified in the Scripture column in my Chart.

[22]See my Warburton Lect. p. 468. To much, the same effect write Conybeare and Howson, ii. 561.

[23]See on all this the SS. authorities in my Chart.

[24]This I consider, with Macknight (on Gal. ii. 1) and others, to be the terminus from which the 14 years’ period, as well as the 3 years’ mentioned Gal. i. 18, is to be reckoned.

[25]Acts xviii. 2. For the exact date of Claudius’ expulsion of the Jews from Rome we have no good historic authority. Orosius indeed, B. vii. ch. 6, assigns it, as if on Josephus’ authority, to Claudius’ 9th year. But I do not find it mentioned at all by Josephus. Suetonius mentions the fact, but gives no date. So far as regards the argument with Bellarmine and the Romanists, however, it is sufficient to know that it occurred before Paul’s arrival at Corinth.

[26]Acts xviii. 21. It is not said what feast. Howson (i. 452), after Wieseler, supposes the Feast of Pentecost.

[27]In the chronological arrangement of this, and Paul’s other great missionary tours, I have of course had careful regard to what is reported of the length of his stopping at different places, and time to be allowed for his journey. It was a gratification to me to find, after drawing up the Chart, that the chronology in Messrs. Conybeare and Howson’s Book, afterwards published, very much agreed with my own on this head.

[28]Acts xviii. 23.

[29]Ibid. xix. 8, 10.

[30]Tacitus, Ann. xii. 54, speaks of Felix’s appointment to the Procurator ship of Judaea as having been made some time before the 12th year of Claudius, or A.D. 52; Josephus dating it at the beginning of Claudius’ 13th year. Either, but especially the former, would sufficiently agree with St. Paul’s statement, as made A.D. 57, according to my Chronology, to the effect of Felix having been then many years judge to the Jewish nation; εκ πολλων ετων κριτην οντα τω εθνει τοτω. Acts xxiv. 10.

[31]The centurion is there said to have delivered Paul to the captain of the guard (τω σρατοπεδαρχη) in the singular. Now Burrhus, who was for some time the one captain of the Praetorian guard, died early in 62 (Tacit. Ann. xiv. 51); and, after his death, Nero appointed two praetorian captains to succeed him. “Whence we infer that it must have been before Burrhus’. death in 62 that Paul arrived.

[32]See Col. iv. 15, 16.

[33]This is the ending day of the 6th year of Nero; to which year Tacitus, Ann. Xiv. 27, refers the earthquake. Of this I have spoken largely in my 1st Volume, pp. 45, 546.

[34]Accordantly with the data left us we may suppose Crete to have been taken by Paul in his way from Italy to Syria, (a visit promised in his Epistle to the Hebrews,) *[Heb. xiii. 23. I speak of this as St. Paul’s Epistle, so as it is designated in our English authorized version, having no doubt myself as to the fact; though well aware, of course, of the doubts respecting it expressed by many critics. It would be found interesting, and I think not difficult, to draw out proofs of its Pauline origin.] and Titus left there to set the Cretan Churches in order: then a journey made westward by the apostle by way of Macedonia, and so on to Nicopolis; Timothy being left at Ephesus, on his progress their reward, with the charge of superintending the Christian Church in that city and neighborhood: then some final missionary circuit to have been made by way of Troas, Miletum in Crete, and Corinth,[Troas alluded to, as shortly before visited by him, in 2 Tim. iv. 13; Miletum and Corinth, ib. 20. At Troas he may have seen Timothy, agreeably with his intimated intention, 1 Tim. iii. 14; at Miletum have taken up Titus with him to Rome; whose leaving for Dahnatia is noted 2 Tim. iv. 10: with which last local notice well agrees the hypothesis of Paul having been in Dalmatia and Epirus previously. — Timothy’s youth, spoken of 1 Tim. iv. 12 and 2 Tim. ii. 22, is no objection to this chronology of the two Epistles; as youth included among the Romans the age to 35. And if Timothy was 15 when first converted at Lystra, he may have been about 33 or 34 in A.D. 66. See Greswell iv. 244] followed by his second Paimprisonment at Rome. Supposing this, the Epistle to Titus and 1st to Timothy may be considered to have been written in the course of his progress through Macedonia and Southern Dalmatia to Nicopolis: this being probably the well-known Epirote city Actium, called Nicopolis after Augustus’ victory there over Antony.*[See Tit. iii. 12.] As to the 2nd to Timothy, it is generally admitted to have been written during the second imprisonment of the apostle at Rome, and when now at length about to be offered in martyrdom, A.D. 66, or thereabouts.[Since writing the above I have consulted Paley’s Horse Paulina?, and Mr. Greswell, and find on the main points correspondence in their opinions. Only Paley says nothing about the Epistle to the Hebrews, apparently as doubting its being St. Paul’s: and Dr. Greswell supposes Paul to have written that Epistle after having visited Spain, on liberation from his first imprisonment at Rome, and when returned thence to Italy en route eastwards. To which supposition I can see no objection. In his Chapter on the Epistle to Titus Dr. Paley thus writes: — “If we suppose that St. Paul, after his liberation at Rome, sailed from Asia taking Crete on his way,  — that from Asia and from Ephesus the capital of the country he proceeded into Macedonia, — and crossing the Peninsula in his progress came into the neighborhood of Nicopolis, we have a route which falls in with everything.” Mr. Greswell thus writes and dates:  —  ” Paul’s 1st arrival in Rome A.D. 59; arrival of Timothy avid Epaphroditus 60; Liberation of Paul and visit to Spain 61; Imprisonment of Timothy at Rome 61; Return of Paul from Spain, and liberation of Timothy, 63; Circuit of Crete 64; Wintering of Paul at Nicopolis in Epirus 65; Circuit of Dalmatia 65; (Martyrdom of Peter at Rome 65;) Apprehension of Paul in Asia 66; Second arrival of Paul in Rome, and audience before Nero, 66; Martyrdom of Paul 66.”]

[35]I have little doubt myself of the Epistle to “‘the Galatians having been written during Paul’s two or three years’ sojourn at Ephesus. And this is the usual view of Commentators. But this is unimportant to my argument.

[36]I say Cardinal Bellarmine’s, distinctively; for Dr. Wiseman, more cunningly, shirks all direct discussion of the all-important question. ” I presume,” says he, “it will not be necessary to enter into any argument to show that Peter was the first Bishop of Rome:” p. 278: adding that eminent Protestant writers on the subject generally admitted it. An assertion, I must beg to say, of which, as Wiseman expresses it, the truth is very questionable.

[37]So the 13th of the (so called) Apostolic Canons;επισκοπον μη εξειναι καταλει ψαντα την έαυτο παροικιαν ετερα κάν ύπο πλειονων αναγκαζηται. The Council of Nice, A.D. 325, in its 8th Canon provides that any Novatian bishop who might conform to the Catholic Church in a place where there was a Catholic Bishop, should only be counted as a chorepiscopus, or presbyter, in order that there might not be two bishops in one city: ίνα μη εν τη πολει δυο επισκοποι ωσιν. So again three several Councils of Carthage, held A.D. 348, 390, 397: and, in fine, the Council of Trent, Sess. vi. c. 5: “Nulli episcopo liceat, cujusvis privilegii prsetextu, pontificalia in alterius diocsesi exercere.” Hard. i. 11, 326, 687, 953, 963; and x. 45. Romish writers, among others Dr. Wiseman, have argued the question about Peter’s connection with Rome as if it were merely that of Peter’s ever having been at Rome; and then triumphantly quoted Protestant ecclesiastical historians and divines, admitting that Rome was the scene of his martyrdom.

[38]Bellarmine fences a little at first, (ii. 1, 6,) by intimating that a person might be Bishop of Rome without having gone there; as certain Popes were consecrated Bishops of Rome during the time of the Papal See being at Avignon. But he passes quickly from it to prove Peter’s early localization at Rome: no doubt bethinking him that the Roman See had been long founded before the Popes were consecrated Bishops of it, while at Avignon. But could Peter have been made Rome’s first Bishop before ever he had been to Rome to found the Roman Church?

[39]ii. 2. 13.

[40]“They that were scattered abroad (after Stephen’s death) went everywhere preaching the word.” ” And they which were scattered abroad on the persecution that arose about Stephen traveled as far as Phenice, Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word. . .And a great number believed, and turned to the Lord.” Acts viii. 4, xi. 19 —  21. Was Peter among those preachers? Clearly not. — It is observable that among the converted on the day of Pentecost there are said to have been “strangers of Rome.” Acts ii. 10. And was not the Christian centurion (x. 1) of the Italian band? Might not these, though with inferior powers and gifts, have taken the gospel to Rome?

[41]See the bracket in my Chronological Chart, which includes the period during which Bellarmine supposes Peter to have been first at Rome.

[42]Bellarm. De S. P. ii. 6, 7.

[43]See Note 8 , p. 567.

[44]Acts xi. 22 — 26.

[45]Acts xviii. 2:προσφατως εληλυθοτα απο της Ιταλιας.

[46]Acts xv. 12. Bellarmine makes xviii. 2 precede xv. 12.

[47]Bellarm. ii. 7. See p. 576.

[48]Rom. i. Ll ινα τι μεταδω χαπισμα ύμεν πνευματικον On which χαπισματα or supernatural spiritual gifts, imparted only by an apostle, compare 1 Cor. xii. 4, &c. See Whitby on Rom. i. 15.

[49]Rom. xv. 20; 2 Cor. x. 16.

[50]It is right to give Bellarmine’s reply to this. He says (ii. 7. 12); ” Falsum est Judaeos Romae miratos doctrinae novitatem, quando Paulus praedicavit eis Christum quasi nemo antea tale aliquid praedicasset. Nam, si Romae nullus praedicaverat Judeeis, antequam Paulus eo veniret, quis eos Judaeos Romanos.converterat ad quos ipse Epistolam scripsit? ” But this is not a fair way of putting the argument. The question is whether they could have had that measure of feeling, agitation, and conviction on Paul’s addressing them, if an apostle similarly endued from on high, and similarly charged with the ministry to the Jews, had been for years acting the part of an apostle among them. The true account of the whole seems to be that, as in the case of the founding of the Church of Antioch, so at Rome inferior agency was the first instrumentality for preaching the gospel and forming a Church of mixt Jews and Gentiles: (on which see my Note 3 p. 576:) the inferiority of the agency leading the unconverted Jews there to neglect and despise it.

[51]2 Tim. iv. 16.

[52]Not a temporary destruction by the Goths and Vandals; so as Bellarmine (ii. 2. 9), with strange disregard of his elsewhere declared futurist Apocalyptic views, would represent it.

[53]It is curious that John survived all the apostles, not Peter. So that, on the Papal theory, the beloved disciple John must for some 30 years have been subject to the Roman Pope Linus or Clement, as then Christ’s Vice gerent on earth!

[54]Bellarmine, as before, in his Book ii., De Summo Pontifice, four first Chapters: (my Edition of his Works is that of Milan, 1721, in 4 Volumes:)  — Wiseman, as before, in his Lectures on the Catholic Church. I have looked into De Maistre, to see if any additional testimonies are offered by him, on the point in question, from the fathers of the three first centuries. But,though saying at the beginning of his Chapter on the subject, (B. i. Ch. 8,) ” Nothing in all ecclesiastical history is so invincibly demonstrated as the monarchical supremacy of the Sovereign Pontiff,” i. e. as Peter’s successor, yet (as any one acquainted with the subject might be sure would be the case) he adds nothing to Bellarmine’s early patristic authorities, lrenaeus, Tertullian, Cyprian alone figure in his meagre list.

[55]Lect. viii. p. 281

[56]“Non sicut Petrus et Paulus praecipio vobis.”

[57]Milner, in his ” End of Controversy,” refers, I think, to the προκαθηται, said of the Roman Church in Ignatius’ inscription of his Letter, τη εκκλησια ηγαπημενη…ήτις προκαθηται εν το πω χωριου ´Ρωμαιων, as a testimony to the primacy of the Roman Church, of course as the Church of St. Peter. But, as Usher remarks in his comment on the passage, ” Planum est Ignatium de Romana ecclesia ut topica hie loqui, non ut AEcumenica.” The verb being put absolutely, I should think the idea intended by it is this; — ” the Church *which sits prominent” i. e. before the world; the object, from its very site in the heathen capital, of special regard and observation.  — Of its bishop (the supposed Vicar of Christ on earth) there is no mention, from beginning to end of the letter; nor an allusion to him.

[58]H. E. ii. 15.

[59]I Pet. 5:13. The word Church, as is well known, is here supplied by the translators. The original is simply ασπυζεται ύμας ή εν βαβυλωνι συνεκλεκτη και Μαρκος ό ύιος μον.

[60]Says Eusebius on this point, H. E. ii. 25 Αμφω γαρ…εις την Ιταλιαν όμοσε διδαξυντες εμαρτυρησαν κατα τον αυτον καιρον. In which passage I presume that όμοσε, according to its usual meaning, is an adverb of place, not time: and that thus Dionysius only makes the martyrdom of Paul and Peter to have synchronized.

[61]This was Caius the Presbyter, of about the date A.D. 200. He is the first that speaks of their tombs as an object of interest to Christian visitors at Rome.Εγω τα τροπαια των αποστολων εχω δειξαι. Εαν γαρ θελησης απελθειν επι τον Βατικανον η επι την όδον την Ωστιαν ευρησεις τα τροπαια των ταυτην ίδρυσαμενων την εκκλησιαν. Ap. Euseb. H. E. ii. 25.

[62]Wiseman, ibid. See my citation from him, p. 582.

[63]H. E. v. 24.

[64]So, if I remember right, remarks Gibbon.

[65]De Haer. iii. 3. “Quoniam longum est in hoc tali volumine omnium ecclesiarum enumerare successiones, maxima? Et anticpiissirnae et omnibus cognitse, a gloriosissimis duobus apostolis Petro et Paulo Bomae fundatas et constitutae ecclesiaa, earn quam habet ab apostolis traditionem, et annuntiatam hominibus fidem, per successiones episcoporum pervenientein usque ad nos indicantes, coufuudinius omnes [sc. Hsereticos]…Ad hanc enim ecclesiam, propter potiorein [al. potentiorem] principalitateui, necesse est omnem convenire ecclesiam; hoc est eos qui sunt undique fideles…Fundantes igitur et instruentes beati Apostoli ecclesiam Lino episcopatum administrandae ecclesiae tradiderunt. Succedit autem ei Anacletus: post eum, tertio loco ab apostolis, episcopatum sortitur Clemens.”

[66]Principalitatera; its priority or primitiveness; not primacy. So Gieseler, i. 97.

[67]E. g. Dionysius of Corinth and Caius, referred to p. 584 supra.

[68]Says Dr. Wiseman; ” To Peter, as St. Irenaeus observes, succeeded Linus; to Linus Anacletus; then in the third place Clement.” This, as my readers will see by reference to the citation itself, is incorrect. Linus is not spoken of by Irenseus as successor to Peter; but that Peter and Paul, conjointly, committed the episcopate and administration of the Church to Linus. The differences of early patristic testimony on this point of the first post-apostolic bishops of Rome, and their ordainers, are well known, and admitted by Bellarmine. Tertullian, it will be seen, makes Clement the one ordained by Peter. The pseudo- Clementine Constitutions, adduced, we saw, as if genuine by Bellarmine, (vii. 46,) make Linus to have been ordained Bishop by Paid, Clement (coincidently it would seem) by Peter. By some it is said that Paul ordained a bishop for the Church of the Gentiles at Rome; Peter one for that of the Christianized Jews. If so, whose successor in the Episcopate ought the Roman bishops subsequently to be counted? Surely of Paid, not Peter.

[69]

[70]“Smyrnaeorum ecclesia habens Polycarpuin ab Joanne consecratum refert; Romanorum Clementem a Petro ordinatum edit: proinde utique et caeterae exhibent quos, ab apostolis in Episcopatum constitutos, Apostolici seminis traduces habeant.” So in Ch. 32 of his De Praescr.: and in Ch. 36 thus, a little afterwards: “Percurre ecclesias Apostolicas, apud quas ipsae adhuc cathedrae Apostolorum suis locis praesidentur …. Proxima est tibi Achaia, babes Corinthum. Si non longe es a Macedonia, habes Philippos, habes Thessalonicense. Si potes in Asiam tendere, habes Ephesum. Si autum Italiae adjaces, habes Eomam; unde nobis quoque auctoritas praesto est. Ista quam felix ecclesia cui totam doctrinam Apostoli cum sanguine suo profuderunt: ubi Petrus passioniDoininicseadaequatur; ubi Paulus Joannis exitu coronatur.”

[71]1. Scorp. c. 10:  — “Si adhuc clausulam putas ccelum, memento claves ejus Dominum Petro, et per eum Ecclesias reliquisse.”

[72] “Audio edictum esse propositus, efc quidein peremptoriuni: Pontifex scilicet Maximus, Episcopus episcoporum, dicit, Ego et moechiae et fornicationis delicta poenitentia functis dimitto. Edictum cui ascribi non poterit bonum factum!…Absit, absit, ab [ecclesia] sponsa, Cbristi tale praeconium!”  De Maistre’s observation is a little amusing. “Le ton irrite, et meme un peu sarcastique, ajoute sans doute au poids du temoignage.”

[73]pp. 276, 277.

[74]Πετρα γαρ πας ό χριστον…Ειδε επι τον ένα εκεινον Πετρον νομιζεις ύπο του θεου οικοδομεισθαι την πασαν εκκλησιαν μονον τι αν φησαις Ιωαννον του της βροντης νίον η εκαστου των Αποστολων…παρωννμοι πετρας παϝτες οί μιμηται κριστου…Αελεκται τω Πετρω και παντι Πετρω. Cited by Gieseler i. 154. Card. Bellarmine (B. i. c. 10) observes on this; “Origenes allegorice exponit hunc locum; non literaliter, ut Erasmus somniat!”

[75](Navigare audent ad Petri cathedram, atque ad ecclesiam principalem unde unitas sacerdotalis exorta est; a schismaticis et profanis literas ferre, nee cogitare eos esse Romanos, quorum fides apostolo prsedicante laudata est, ad quos perfidia habere non possit accessum.)

[76](Cum statutum sit ab omnibus nobis, et sequum sit pariter ac justum, ut unius cujusque causa illic audiatur ubi est crimen admissum; et singulis pastoribus portio gregis sit ascripta, quam regat unusquisque et gubemet, rationem sui actus Domino redditurus?) Cited by Gieseler, ibid. 155.

[77]“Neque quisquam nostrum episcopum se esse episcopomm constituit …quando habeat omnis episcopus pro licentia libertatis et potestatis suae arbitrium proprium; tanquam judicari ab alio non possit, cum nee ipse possit alterum judicare. Sed expectemus universi judicium Domini nostri Jesu Cbristi.” Alloc, in Concil. Carth, A.D. 256. Ibid. 154.

[78]Τα αρχαια εθη κρατειτω…ώστε του Αλεξανδρειας επισκοπν παντων εχειν την εξουσιαν επειδη και τω εν τη ´Ρωμη επισκοπω τουτο συνηθες εστιν όμοιως δε και κατα την Αυτιοχειαν και εν ταις αλλαις επαρχιαις τα πρεσβεια σωζεσθαι ταις εκκλησιαις.

[79]Held A.D. 344. See Gieseler i. 256, 257.

[80]Considering all this, and what the earlier fathers’ testimony is as to the Papal Petrine theory, not to add that of other fathers elsewhere cited by me as to the true and anti-Papal meaning of Christ’s famous words,”Thou art Peter, and unto thee,&c,” it is really awful to think of the perjury required of all ministers of the Roman Church on ordination to the Priesthood, in the oath; — “I will never take and interpret the Scriptures otherwise than according to the unanimous consent of the Fathers!”

[81]So, very much, De Maistre ubi supra, before Newman. ” The monarchical supremacy of the Sovereign Pontiff was not indeed at its origin what it became some centuries later. But in this precisely does it show itself divine; for everything that  exists legitimately, and for ages, exists at first only in the germ, and is developed successively.”

[82]Then, says Dr. Wiseman, (p. 288,) ” You must account how the Almighty uniformly made use of this dreadful apostasy, as the only means in his hand to preserve and disseminate his religion.” Truly he must, in so saying, have reckoned not a little on the credulity of his hearers. Compare my Part iii. Ch. L, and Part iv. Ch. v. $ 2, &c, on the Papal religion. — As regards its catholic extension, to which (p. 290) Dr. W. also refers, is not that predicted of Antichrist’ s kingdom, Apoc. xiii. 3? And as to this its extension, and preservation, being a sign of Divine Providence watching with favour over it, (p. 288,) was such the case too with Mahommedism? Let Dr. W. remember what is written, ” And he {the Dragon) gave him his power, and seat, and great authority.” Apoc. xviii. 2.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.