The Importance of Peter's Successor

Linus7

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I could be wrong, but I think we can all agree that St. Peter was appointed by Jesus to be the leader of the early Church.

I also think it is pretty plain from the history of the Church that the Bishop of Rome has always been regarded as Peter's Successor and the "first among equals" among the bishops of the Church.

Since the "Great Schism" (what was so great about it?) that culminated in A.D. 1054, the Holy Orthodox Church has functioned apart from and without St. Peter's Successor.

Does not his absence create a huge leadership vacuum in the Church?

I am not sure how this discussion will go, or even what I myself am driving at, but it does strike me that we have suffered an enormous loss.

Any comments? Opinions?

 

nstanosheck

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First among equals as in he spoke first at councils or synod meetings. He still only had one vote. When the capital of the Roman Empire moved to Constantinople, the EP had the title. Then after the sack of Constantinople Moscow became the "Third Rome" and had that honor.

As for leading, remember in the Apostle's Council James spoke last and declared the decision that Paul was right and Peter was wrong.
 

Amadeus

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Linus7:


As a Catholic, I firmly believe in the necessity of the Petrine Office/Minitry and in its institution by Christ Himself.

For an Orthodox like you, who has the chutzpah or the cojones to express some sort of a longing for a
"universal" leader such as "Peter's successor," could be an invitation for "swords and daggers" from your Orthodox brethren.

But I admire you for that!


AmdG
 

JoeZollars

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It is also important to remember that Antioch and several other Sees in the region were founded by St. Peter.

Also it is important to remember, as Nicholas pointed out, that the honor of being First Among Equals was transferred when Constantine moved the capital to Byzantium. It was then transferred to Moscow when Constantinople fell.

Of couse we must also remember, as Nicholas also pointed out, the Apostle's Council where it was St. James the Brother of God who made the final decision.

Of couse another thing to keep in mind is that First Among Equals ABSOLUTELY NEVER means Infallible as the Roman Church claims.

It is also best to keep in mind that Rome was not the only See established by St. Peter and that whether or not Rome denied the faith in 1054 (which of course it did) the Holy Orthodox Church will continue with or without Rome.

Joe Zollars
 

Linus7

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Nicholas said:
First among equals as in he spoke first at councils or synod meetings. He still only had one vote. When the capital of the Roman Empire moved to Constantinople, the EP had the title. Then after the sack of Constantinople Moscow became the "Third Rome" and had that honor.

As for leading, remember in the Apostle's Council James spoke last and declared the decision that Paul was right and Peter was wrong.
Whoa! Wait a minute! Where does it say anything in Acts 15 (the account of the Council of Jerusalem) about Peter being "wrong" and Paul being "right?"

No controversy is reported at all. Peter spoke first; James, as Bishop of Jerusalem, spoke last. But James did not contradict or overrule Peter, not in the least.

I think it is without dispute that Peter was the leader of the early Church. Look at the book of Acts at the number of times Peter serves as the spokesman for the Apostles and thus for the Church. Notice even in the Gospels how Jesus' disciples are often referred to as "Peter and those with him."

I think it is also pretty clear from Matthew 16:18-19 and John 21:15-17 that Jesus appointed Peter as the leader of the Church.

I also think it is an error to say that the title of "first among equals" was ever transferred to the EP; that is just not the case. That title was always the property of the Roman Bishop in the early Church.

Look at the Council of Constantinople in 381, for example. Only then was the Patriarch of Constantinople elevated in honor above the Patriarch of Alexandria, who had previously been second to Rome:

"The Bishop of Constantinople shall have the prerogatives of honor after the Bishop of Rome, because Constantinople is the New Rome" (Canon III, quoted in Ware's The Orthodox Church, p. 23. Underlining mine.).

Remember also that Peter ended his earthly sojourn as the Bishop of Rome, having appointed Linus ;D as his successor.

That subsequent bishops of Rome were regarded as Peter's successors is pretty clear from the history of the Church. Remember the famous Tome of St. Leo to the Council of Chalcedon (451), in which Pope St. Leo the Great claimed to speak as Peter's successor.

Leo's Tome was accepted at the council, and, as far as I know, no one disputed that the Bishop of Rome was Peter's successor.

I realize that Moscow was the "Third Rome," but the Patriarch of Moscow was never regarded as Peter's Successor.

I am not arguing for papal dictatorship or infallibility, far from it.

I am not really sure if I am arguing for anything at all.

I am simply saying that the Great Schism has left a tremendous leadership void in the Church.

That is not the same thing as saying I believe we should embrace all the Roman innovations that have come into being since 1054.

But I think the fact of the Great Schism should make us all weep and moan and beg God for an end to it.

Just my thoughts.
 

nstanosheck

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Linus7 said:
Whoa! Wait a minute! Where does it say anything in Acts 15 (the account of the Council of Jerusalem) about Peter being "wrong" and Paul being "right?"

No controversy is reported at all. Peter spoke first; James, as Bishop of Jerusalem, spoke last. But James did not contradict or overrule Peter, not in the least.
You have to read more than one chapter my friend. :D Peter was arguing for the non-Jewish Christians to have to follow the dietary and circumcision rules of the old law. Paul was arguing against that case. Thus there was a council where it was decided that Peter's argument was wrong.

Linus7 said:
I think it is also pretty clear from Matthew 16:18-19 that Jesus appointed Peter as the leader of the Church.
You mean where Christ saind, "On this rock" in the feminine demonstrative pronoun and article? (from the Koine) Christ would would have used the masculine if he was referring to the person of Peter. If you refer to the loosening and binding, recall that the other bishops/apostles received these powers too.

On the Romes, I believe I misspoke, I meant that there was an order of honor and thus an order of speaking in council to keep order, but first among equals fell to Constantinople when Rome seceeded from the whole of the Church. Please forgive my error.
 

Linus7

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Nicholas -

I do not want to disagree, but I am afraid I must. I have read Acts many many times, and I have yet to see where Peter argued that Gentile converts had to keep the Jewish ceremonial law and be circumcised.

Look at St. Peter's words, speaking of Gentile converts, at the Council of Jerusalem:

" So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us, and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they" (Acts 15:8-11).

It is readily apparent that Peter argued against the imposition of the Jewish ceremonial law on Gentile converts, not for it.

Regarding the use of the Greek masculine Petros for the name of Peter instead of the Greek feminine petra ("rock"): We must remember that Jesus and His disciples were native speakers of Aramaic, not Greek.

In Aramaic "rock" is kepha. That is also the actual name Jesus gave Peter: Kepha. In the original Aramaic speech of Jesus and His disciples there is no confusion:

"And I also say unto you that you are Kepha, and on this kepha I will build My church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (Matt. 16:18).

In Greek it was necessary to render "rock" as a masculine name, since Peter is a man. The ordinary Greek word for rock is feminine and thus does not lend itself well to this task. Hence the confusion.

It is true that the rest of the Apostles were given the power of binding and loosing and forgiving sins. But the words Jesus spoke to Peter were not likewise spoken to them, and they never acted in the same capacity in which Peter acted.

 

nstanosheck

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Paul publicly rebuked Peter (Galatians 2:11-¡14). This controversy in Antioch led directly to the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15:1-¡29).

As for the book of Matthew, let us turn to the Fathers...

Blessed Theophylact: "The Lord is saying, 'This confession which you have made shall be the foundation of those who believe.'" [P.G. 123:85B (col. 320).]

Saint Chrysostom: "'Upon this rock I will build'; that is, on the faith of the confession." [Hom. 54, P.G. 58:518 (col.534).]

Saint Leo: "Upon this firmness, He says, I shall raise my Temple, and it will rise upon the steadfastness of this faith, and the loftiness of My Church will mingle with the heavens. The gates of Hades shall not master this profession; nor the bonds of death bind it. For these words are the words of life, and as they raise those who confess them up to heaven, so they plunge those that deny them down to hell." [Sermon 83(2), P.L. 54 (col. 429), in FC, 93:357; Toal, III:267, 268.]
 

byzrubush

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Question. If Jesus was commisioning all the Apostles in Matthew 16, then why didn't he use the 2nd person plural instead of the singular? i.e. "I will give you (pl.) the keys to the kingdom of heaven..." I am currently taking Greek and have read this passage. But I am not a very reliable authority, so somebody with Greek knowledge please explain this. I mean, did not Jesus ask all his disciples who the Son of Man Is? Would he have not addressed them in the plural when giving them the "keys"?

Matt
 

byzrubush

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I think I know what you're talking about, but where exactly? Orthodox writers always cite this passage and say that Jesus was then giving them the keys. I mean, he was establishing the Church here.

Matt
 

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St. Bede has a great commentary on the bible and here is what he says on the Rock:

'Thou art Peter, and upon this Rock from which thou didst receive thy name, that is, upon Me Myself, I will build My Church. Upon this perfection of FAITH which thou didst confess I will build My Church, and if anyone turns aside from the society of this confession, even though it may seem to him that he does great things, he will not belong to the building which is My Church.' Homily I.16 After Epiphany, Homilies on the Gospels, Bk. One, 163.

Here is another one from St Bede on the Keys:

By the conferral upon him beyond the others of the keys of the heavenly kingdom, it was made obvious to all that without this confession and faith no one could enter into the kingdom of the heavens. He names 'the keys of the kingdom of the heavens' that knowledge and power of discernment with which Peter was to receive the worthy into the kingdom, and to exclude the unworthy. Hom. I.20, op. cit., 202.
and here is another quote by St Bede on the loosing and binding:

"Although it may seem that this power of loosing and binding was given by the Lord only to Peter, we must nevertheless know without any doubt that it was also given to the other apostles, as Christ Himself testified when, after the triumph of His Passion and resurrection, He appeared to them and breathed upon them and said to them all:'Receive ye the Holy Spirit: if ye forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven to them; if ye retain the sins of any, they are retained.'(Jn. 20:22,23) Indeed, even now the same office is commited to the whole Church in her bishops and priests." Hom. I.20,op.cit.,202.
MaryCecilia
 

Linus7

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From Nicholas: Paul publicly rebuked Peter (Galatians 2:11-¡14). This controversy in Antioch led directly to the Council of Jerusalem (Acts 15:1-¡29).
I believe you are in error here. What led to the Council of Jeruslem as recorded in Acts 15 was the preaching of the Judaizers (not Peter) that Gentile converts had to be circumcised and keep the Jewish ceremonial law (see Acts 15:1-5).

Paul rebuked Peter, as reported in Galatians 2:11-21, for withdrawing from the Gentiles and separating himself from them because he feared "those who were of the circumcision" when visitors from James came to see him (v. 12).

Peter's sins were cowardice and hypocrisy, not teaching that Gentile converts had to be circumcised and keep the Mosaic Law.

Regarding your quotes from the Fathers regarding Peter's confession as "the rock": the words of Jesus have great depth, and in one sense it is true that Peter's confession of faith in Jesus as the Christ is the rock of Christian faith. But it is also plain that Jesus founded His Church specifically upon Peter as the maker and rock of that confession and made him the leader.

I believe there are plenty of quotes from the Fathers to this effect, but I do not have my references with me where I am now. I will strive to supply some patristic statements to back up this belief.
 

nstanosheck

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Linus7 said:
What led to the Council of Jeruslem as recorded in Acts 15 was the preaching of the Judaizers (not Peter) that Gentile converts had to be circumcised and keep the Jewish ceremonial law (see Acts 15:1-5).

Paul rebuked Peter, as reported in Galatians 2:11-21, for withdrawing from the Gentiles and separating himself from them because he feared "those who were of the circumcision" when visitors from James came to see him (v. 12).
You are right in the later, as he was withdrawing from the Gentiles at the urging of the Judaizers. Paul accused him of arguing the Judaizers belief out of fear of them, that is true. Still it caused need for a council and the position that Peter had taken was proved wrong and Paul's argument proven correct.

Of for Patristic quotes, St. Leo was a Pope. I think his opinion is especially important to note.

And laster St. Gregory, Pope of Rome rebuked the title of "Ecumenical patriarch" as he was against any bishop claiming to be over all the others.
 

byzrubush

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MaryCecilia,

Thanks for those quotes! They were very good. I still think St. Matthew could have been more clear in Matthew 16 ;).

Matt
 

Linus7

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From Nicholas: Paul accused him of arguing the Judaizers belief out of fear of them, that is true. Still it caused need for a council and the position that Peter had taken was proved wrong and Paul's argument proven correct.
Where do you find evidence that Peter ever argued for the position of the Judaizers?

I see no evidence of that whatsoever in the biblical account.

And, if Peter ever did advocate the position of the Judaizers, he certainly had abandoned it by the Council of Jerusalem.

Paul never accused Peter of holding the opinions of the Judaizers and did not rebuke him for that. Paul rebuked Peter for being afraid to associate with Gentile converts when Jewish Christians sent from James came to visit him. Implicit in this incident is that Peter normally did hang out with Gentile converts, which is what made his sudden distancing of himself from them such a glaring act of hypocrisy.

There is also no evidence that the emissaries sent from James to visit Peter were themselves Judaizers of the type described in Acts 15:1-5.

Peter never taught that Gentile converts had to keep the Jewish ceremonial law.

Besides that, it is pretty plain that he was the leader of the early Church.


 

MaryCecilia

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Frobisher,
You're welcome :) I got those from the footnotes at the end of St Matthew in the Orthodox New Testament Volume 1 :)

MaryCecilia

P.S. I agree with you, I wish all the Gospels were more clear on certain aspects as well...but that's what we have priests for right? to ask them questions when we're stumped...besides we're not supposed to be translating the Bible into our own words anyway ;)


Frobisher said:
MaryCecilia,

Thanks for those quotes! They were very good. I still think St. Matthew could have been more clear in Matthew 16 ;).

Matt
 

nstanosheck

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Linus, I am honestly suprised this conversation was started by an Orthodox Christian. But as I need to get to sleep and say my evening prayers, I am done with it for today. But let me leave you with a final thought. You talk about how not to proof text when you are arguing Protestants, but then you use the same tactics as the Protestants in saying you do not see it in the Bible. (This is why I love the Orthodox New testament as it gives us Patristic commentary on each verse.) I say this not as an attack, but just as something for you to think of if you are not too busy thinking of the message of the Canon from tonight's service. I know that I think of the Canon on nights it is done. What a powerful message it contains.
 

byzrubush

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We Catholics are taught to use such proof texts against protestants ;). By no means do I wish to sound like a protestant, especially with the whole "the Koine says..." business. I was simply curious since a member of this forum once said that Jesus was giving the keys to all the Apostles, but he clearly addresses Peter alone. Those are difficult to reconcile. I take the Fathers and the Church at their word. The whole question is, which Fathers, which Church :-? So I'll give it time.

Matt

PS: It's a big night for smileys :)
 
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