OF THE UNGODLY AND FALSE CHURCH, WHICH IS THE OPPOSITE OF THE CHURCH OF GOD, AND THE ORIGIN, PROGRESS AND SUCCESSION OF THE SAME THROUGH ALL TIMES
(Numbers after paragraphs pertain to the footnotes at the end of this literature)
Where God builds a temple, says the old proverb, there the devil builds another in opposition. This has been apparent ever since the beginning of the world. For at the same time that Abel became a martyr of God, and, therefore, a good leader of the children of God, Cain made himself a murderer, and became a leader of the children of Satan, who belong to the ungodly and false church, as members of one body. (Genesis 4:8)
He was followed by Lamech, one of Cain's descendants, who slew a young man, and afterwards spoke of it to his wives Addah and Zillah, in a boasting and presumptuous manner. (Genesis 4:23)
The people of the first world universally, with the exception of eight, followed in the footsteps of Lamech in wickedness; they exercised tyranny, violence, and oppression, and would not be governed by the Spirit of God. (Genesis 6:3, 4)
The Sodomites followed in the same course, vexing with their unbecoming walk the righteous soul of Lot from day to day. (Genesis 19; II Peter 2:8)
These were succeeded by the Egyptians, who imposed grievous and insupportable burdens upon the people of God, and finally sought their lives; yea pursued them even into the sea. (Compare Exodus 1:11 with Exodus 14:9, 10, 23)
After these were the seven nations, or inhabitants, of the land of Palestine, who were greater and mightier than the children of Israel, but were banished by God on account of their wickedness; namely the Canaanites, Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, Jebusites, etc. (Deuteronomy 7:1, 2)
After these manifested themselves the Amorites, Moabites, Midianites, Philistines, and many others, who disturbed, oppressed, and harassed in manifold ways the people of God, which was dwelling in quiet. See throughout in the book of the judges, the books of Samuel, the Kings, and Chronicles.
The Chaldeans, Assyrians, and the inhabitants of the land of Babylon, followed those already mentioned; they carried the church of God away into foreign lands, burned the house of God, and laid waste the city of Jerusalem, which God had chosen above all cities of the whole earth. (II Kings 1-17; Jeremiah 52:1-20; Lamentations 1:1-5)
The mighty cities, Tyre and Sidon, in Phoenicia, and afterwards, Chorazin, Bethsaida, Capernaum, which defied the world itself with their greatness, and cast the threatenings of God to the wind, lifted up their heads after the last mentioned, but to their own destruction. (Compare Isaiah 23:4, 5; Ezekiel 27 and 28 throughout, with Matthew 11:20-23)
All these who have been mentioned, from Cain on, succeeded one another in regular order, and may be considered as members of the church of Satan; since they have neither in generation, nor in faith, nor in worship, nor in manner of life, agreed with the church of God, but opposed it in every respect.
After the coming of Christ, many who had adopted the Christian religion and worship, apostatized, denying the-faith, and thus becoming fellow members in the last mentioned, ungodly, and wicked congregation; as, for instance: Simon Magus, who by confession of faith, and baptism had joined himself to the visible church of God, but fell from it, desiring to purchase the gift of the Holy Ghost with money, which, according to the apostle Peter, tended to his destruction, although he afterwards, as it appears, was again converted. (Acts 8:13, 18-22)
Hymenaeus and Alexander, who concerning faith made shipwreck, and were full of blasphemies, wherefore they were put away from the church by Paul, and delivered unto Satan. (I Timothy 1:19, 20)
Phygellus and Hermogenes, who with the greater number of those in Asia, were turned away from Paul, and, consequently, also from the doctrine of the Gospel which they had received. (II Timothy 1:15)
Hymenaeus (the second) and Philetus, who, having erred concerning the truth, pretended that the resurrection of the dead was past already; whereby they overthrew the faith of some. (II Timothy 2:17, 18)
Demas, who forsook Paul, having loved the world. (II Timothy 4:10)
Alexander, the coppersmith, who did the apostle much evil, on account of which the church of Christ is admonished to beware of him. (II Timothy 4:14,15)
Many others, who, though they bore the name of members of the Christian church, did not stand by but forsook the oft mentioned servant of God, when he was to answer before the Emperor Nero in regard to the Evangelical doctrine; for which reason their names did no longer belong among the pious. (See last mentioned chapter verse 16)
After these followed many who in the days of John went out from the Church of Jesus Christ, and did the works of antichrist; wherefore they were called antichrists, being forerunners of the great antichrist who was to follow afterwards. (See I John 2:18, 19) Besides these who arose already in the time of the apostles, and went out from the holy congregation of God, many others, who cannot all be mentioned, followed in all ages and will follow to the last days.
Of this the apostles prophesied when their departure was near at hand, and warned the believers of their coming.
When Paul knew and was fully assured through the revelation of the Holy Ghost that all those among whom he had traveled preaching the Gospel would see his face no more, he thus addressed, on the island of Miletus, the elders of the church of Ephesus, who had come to him: I know, beloved brethren, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. (Acts 20:29-31)
Afterwards when he was in the city of Laodicea, in Phrygia Pacatiana, he wrote in a certain letter to his beloved friend Timothy, concerning the apostasy which should be through some in the latter times, thus, "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times, some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats." (I Timothy 4:1-3)
Who these apostates were that, in many instances, have forbidden marriage and meats it is unnecessary to point out, since the truth of the matter is clear and manifest to almost everyone.
But at the close of his life, when he was imprisoned at Rome the second time, and had already received his sentence of death, namely, to be executed with the sword, for the name of the Lord, he once more renewed the foregoing to his friend and spiritual son Timothy, in order that he might never forget it, but also put the church, where he was a teacher, in remembrance of it with these words, "This know also that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud…having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof." (II Timothy 3:1-5)
Continually, he adds this declaration for further instruction, "The time will come when they" (namely, certain members of the Christian church)"will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables". (II Timothy 4:3, 4)
In like manner, Peter also, as his departure drew nigh, expressly prophesied to the chosen strangers scattered abroad: That, as there were, in times past, false prophets among the people (Israel), there should also be false teachers among (or out of) them, who should privily bring in pernicious heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them. (II Peter 2:1)
It would require too much time to recount what also John says on this subject, not only in his epistles, but especially in his revelation; since he gives a description of the condition of both the church of Christ and of antichrist, from his time to the end of the world.
OF THE EVIL SUCCESSION OF THE ROMAN CHURCH, CONSISTING ONLY IN THE SUCCESSION OF THE PERSONS, AND NOT OF THE DOCTRINE
Here is to be considered the great error of the Romanists, when they without regarding the true succession of the doctrine build on, and parade the succession of the persons, who either from the beginning of the world, or from the time of the apostles have existed throughout, as they pretend up to the present time; surely a very insignificant matter!*
*"Trust ye not in lying words," saith the Lord, “saying, The temple of the Lord, The temple of the Lord, The temple of the Lord, are these". (Jeremiah 7:4)
For, if they reckon from the beginning of the world, we have shown, that Cain, who was a murderer, has had his successors as well as Abel, who was slain for the sake of his faith** and godliness.
**"By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and he being dead yet speaketh" (Hebrews 11:4). And also, if they reckon from the time of the apostles, we have demonstrated that at that time already there were many apostates, yea, adversaries of the Christian religion and the true worship of God; and that more have followed, according to the prophecies and predictions which the holy apostles uttered and left to posterity.
Hence it follows, that neither the antiquity, nor the long or great succession of persons, can assure the truth of any religion or church, since the evil is as ancient as the good, and the erring spirits and evildoers have had, and still have, as great a succession as the true believers and good; unless the antiquity, and the succession of persons be accompanied with the divine truth and piety possessed by the upright ancients in the beginning.
OBJECTION OF THE PAPISTS, BY MEANS OF THREE PASSAGES
But, in order to maintain the aforementioned succession, the Papists are accustomed to say, that they do not reckon the same from the antiquity of some erring spirits who were before, in, or after the time of the apostles; but from the church of Christ itself, and from Peter, whom they styled the prince of the apostles, upon whom Christ Himself, as they asserted, wished to build His church. 1
To this they add as a second argument, that to him and no other, were given, by Christ, the keys of heaven, to open or to close the same according to his pleasure.
And, thirdly, that the Lord thrice commanded him-more than the other apostles-to feed His flock, that is, His church.
Moreover, that he occupied the Roman throne, and that the popes succeeded him therein.
To prove this supremacy of Peter, and, consequently, the succession of the popes in his place, they have, for a long time already, misused three passages of holy Scripture, namely Matthew 16:18, 19; and John 21:15-17; to which we will reply in the following.
REPLY TO THE FIRST PASSAGE
Matthew 16:18, the Lord says, "Upon this rock I will build my church."
The error of the Romanists consists in this, that they misinterpret the word petra, as though thereby was meant the apostle Peter; but this is a great and palpable error. For the Lord there plainly distinguishes between the name Petros (Peter) and the word petra (rock); saying immediately before, "Thou art Peter," but afterwards, "and upon this rock;" upon which follows, "I will build my church;" so that the Lord does not promise there, to build His church upon Peter, but upon the rock; which he plainly mentions.
Now it will depend upon the true meaning who and what is to be understood by this rock. Some maintain the first mentioned meaning, which we have refuted just now, namely, that Peter himself is meant thereby; for which purpose they misapply the passage John 1:42, where this apostle is called Cephas,* which, in their opinion, signifies a foundation stone; but this is also an error.
* And he (Andrew) brought him (Simon Peter) to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone. (John 1:42)
It is true that, according to the explanation of orientalists, those versed in oriental languages, by this word there is to be understood a stone; but what kind of a stone? Not a foundation stone, but a piece, corner, or chip of a stone, upon which no building could ever be founded. The word Cephas, they say, is derived from the Hebrew word Keph, which with them means a corner or edge of a stone; while, on the other hand, the rocks or foundation stones are designated by the name Sela or Zur ** according to Deuteronomy 32:13. Thus Peter is indeed called a stone in Holy Scripture, yet not a foundation stone, but only such a one as is generally built upon a foundation. Christ is properly the foundation stone, as Peter himself declares, when he calls Christ the living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious (I Peter 2:4); whereupon he adduces the words of the Prophet Isaiah saying, "Wherefore also it is contained in the Scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him" (that is built, upon him through faith) “shall not be confounded.” (I Peter 2:6 from Isaiah 28:16) Therefore he admonishes the believers, to build themselves, as living stones, to a spiritual house, upon the foundation which is laid—Christ. (Verse 5)
** He made him ride on the high places of the earth, that he might eat the increase of the fields: and he made him to suck honey out of the “Sela" rock, and oil out of the "Zur" flinty rock. Deuteronomy 32:13.
Paul confirms this, when he says, "Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ" (I Corinthians 3:11). In another place he calls Him the foundation of the apostles and prophets, etc. (namely, upon whom the apostles and prophets themselves were built up, and upon whom they, through their doctrine, built up others also); for he adds, "In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto a holy temple in the Lord: in whom ye also are builded together for a habitation of God through the Spirit" (Ephesians 2:20-22)
It is not inconsistent with this, that the twelve apostles, of whom Peter was one, are called twelve foundation stones, *** upon which, as John says, the city of God, that descended from heaven, was built. (Revelation 21:14) For, even if it were admitted that by the words, city of God, in this place, there is to be understood the church of God here on earth, this would only prove, that Peter, as well as the other apostles, was one of the twelve foundation stones of the church of Christ; which by no means confirms the proposed objection, that Peter alone is the foundation stone, or foundation, of the church.
*** The wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb" (Rev.21:14). In the first place it is questionable (even if it be admitted that by this description of the city of God we are to understand the church of God) whether thereby is meant the church of God as it is here on earth, or the glorified church of God, as it will be afterwards in heaven t for only the former, and not the latter, is to be considered here. In the second place, it is certain that the name "foundation stone" is ascribed here not to Peter alone, but to all the twelve apostles; hence he is here called a foundation not any more than any of the others.
Again, the word "foundation stones" here does not signify the foundation itself, since, properly speaking, in nature, the foundation, as the ground or bottom of a building, is something different from the stones built upon it, which are called foundation stones; for, upon the ground or bottom the foundation stones are laid, and upon the foundation stones the building; so that the ground of foundation must support both, the foundation stones and the building. Thus, Christ is the ground, bottom, or foundation of His church; the apostles, through their doctrine, are the foundation stones; and. the church is the building erected upon these foundation stones and the foundation. It stands fast, therefore, that they err, who make Peter the only foundation of the church of Christ, and that, consequently the building which they erect thereon, is erroneous and false *
* “James, Cephas" (or Peter), “and John, who seemed to be pillars," etc. (Galatians 2:9) Here James is mentioned before Cephas (or Peter). Again, John and James are called pillars as well as Cephas (or Peter), in order to show that the worthiness or the ministry of one was not more than that of the other, and that they, without distinction, were all equal therein.
REPLY TO THE SECOND PASSAGE
The second passage is taken from Matthew 16:19, "And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."
But this does not in the least tend to prove that church discipline or the power of expelling from, and readmitting unto the church, was given, among the apostles, to Peter alone, and to no other of the twelve; for in verse 13 it is written, "When Jesus came into the coasts of Cesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I, the Son of man, am?" Whereupon it is related, that Peter (in the name of all) answered, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God."
Then follows, verse 19, "I will give unto thee the keys," etc., which promise, though addressed specially to Peter, extended to all the apostles in general, since the Lord did not ask Peter alone; but the whole of them collectively; upon which, when he (Peter) had answered in the name of all, followed the above mentioned promise.
This is explained still further by the holy evangelist John, who says, chapter 20:19, 22, 23, that Christ, after His resurrection, standing in the midst of His disciples, breathed on them all, and said, "Receive ye the Holy Ghost," adding, "Whosesoever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whosesoever sins ye retain, they are retained;" which words are of equal importance with those just quoted from Matthew, concerning the giving of the keys.
Moreover, that the church also has received this power, is expressed in words not obscure at all in Matthew 18:17, 18: If he (the sinner) neglect to hear ,the church, let him be unto thee as a heathen man and a publican. Verily I say unto you, whatsoever ye (understand, according to the sentence of the church, which is here spoken of) shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."
Who doubts that these are the express words which were previously addressed to Peter, but, of course, are intended for all the apostles, and here for the whole church?
We see that the Corinthian church, at the time of Paul, possessed the right of expelling and readmitting, called binding and loosing; for, touching the expulsion of the sinner, it was said to them, "Purge out therefore the old leaven" (namely, the obstinate sinner), etc. (I Corinthians 5:7) Again, "Put away from among yourselves that wicked person." (Verse 13)
Concerning the re-admittance of the one who manifested penitence, they are commanded, "Sufficient to such a man (namely, who repents of his sins) is this punishment (that is, the expulsion from the church) which was inflicted of many. So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow" (II Corinthians 2:6, 7)
Besides, that this power of binding and loosing was not given to Peter alone, but to all the apostles, and also to the church, it is entirely different in its nature from that of which the pope of Rome as the imaginary successor of Peter boasts. For the power of which Christ spoke, must be limited by the rule of His Word, Matt. 7:24, 26; Gal. 1:6-8; while on the contrary the power of which the pope boasts is unlimited, has no rule, and extends as far as his pleasure. 2
It follows then, that to the pope is attributed wrongfully a power which was not given to Peter himself; moreover, that the power which was given him, was common to all the apostles, and also to the church.
REPLY TO THE THIRD PASSAGE
The third passage (or argument) is taken from John 21:15-17, where-the Lord asked Peter three times whether he loved Him, and Peter answered each time, "Yea, Lord, I love thee;" to which the Lord replied, three times, "Feed my lambs;" "Watch my sheep," etc.
Some among the papists, in order to maintain the supremacy of Peter and, consequently, that of the popes of Rome, have so strained these words, that a certain celebrated author among them did not hesitate to write, that Peter is here appointed a ruler, watchman, and pastor, not only over the church, but over the apostles themselves. 3
But herein they do violence to the text, since various arguments from the holy Scriptures overthrow this view. For, in the first place, it is certain, that at that time Peter had greatly and grievously gone astray, more than any of the other apostles; since he, contrary to warning and his own solemn promise, had so faithlessly denied, yea, entirely forsaken, the Lord; hence, there is no probability that the Lord exalted him above all the others, and appointed him ruler over them; which would be altogether incompatible with the justice of Christ, and the nature of the case.
In the second place it would not accord with what the Lord had taught His apostles in general, on a previous occasion, when strife had arisen among them, as to which of them, after His departure, should be the greatest; saying, "The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and they that exercise authority upon them are called benefactors. But ye shall not be so: but he that is greatest among you, let him be as the youngest; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve" (Luke 22:25, 26). Again, "Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ" (Matthew 23:8, 10).
In the third place, if we examine the proposed argument, we shall find, that neither the threefold question of the Lord: Lovest thou me? nor His threefold injunction, "Feed, or watch, my lambs, and sheep," was directed to Peter any more than to the other apostles.
For, as regards the question, Lovest thou me? what does it signify more than that Peter should examine himself, whether he did love Christ? Very well. What, then, had Peter more than any of the other apostles? or than Paul afterwards had? who said, "For I am persuaded, that neither death nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:38, 3, 9). Again, "The love of Christ constraineth us;" etc. (II Corinthians 5:14) Yea, every Christian in particular, and all in general, are bound to this love, which is so necessary, that it is written, "If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema, Maranatha" (I Corinthians 16:22).
Concerning the injunction, Watch, or feed, my lambs and sheep, this is also enjoined upon all true teachers. "Take heed therefore," says Paul to the elders of the church at Ephesus, “unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood" (Acts 20:28) .
Peter, moreover, has, in this respect, not placed himself above, but beside his fellow ministers, when he, exhorting them says, "The elders which are among you I exhort, which am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ…Feed the flock of God which is among you," etc. (I Peter 5:1, 2)
This is further confirmed by the fact, that the Lord did not command Peter only, but all the apostles in general, to go into all the world, to preach and baptize the believers. (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15, 16)
Again, He said to them all, "Ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost parts of the earth" (Acts 1:8).
It follows therefore, that in the matter of watching over, and feeding, the sheep of Christ, that is, in preaching the holy Gospel, and taking care of the church of Christ, Peter possessed no more authority, power, and distinction than the other apostles and apostolic teachers.
It now remains to give a solution, why the Lord thrice asked Peter alone, and none of the others, whether he loved Him, and thrice commanded him to feed His sheep.
To this we reply: since Peter only a short time before had thrice forsaken the Lord, it was not more than right, that he should also confess thrice that he loved Him whom he had forsaken; and that, therefore, this question should be put to him three times.
Besides, since Peter, by his denial had entirely abandoned, or, at least, had become totally unworthy of his office of teaching and feeding the church of Christ, none of the other apostles would, under any consideration, have recognized or received him therein; hence it was necessary, that the Lord Himself should earnestly, yea thrice, charge him with it, so that no one might come to doubt the worthiness of his person (since he was now converted), or the validity of his office.
Thence follows again the absurdity of those who make the matter in question say more than the Lord Himself has done: namely, that Peter hereby was not reinstated into his office, which he had abandoned; but that he was appointed head of the whole church, yea, even over all the other apostles; as can be seen in lib. I. de pont. Rom. cap. 11. Bellorm.
THE GROUNDLESSNESS [OF THE ALLEGATIONS] OF THOSE WHO ARE ACCUSTOMED TO DEDUCE THE ROMAN SUCCESSION FROM PETER THE HOLY APOSTLE, AND WHEREIN THIS CONSISTS
Besides that the three proposed passages are of no use to the papists in proving the supremacy of Peter over the other apostles and the whole Christian church, there follow various reasons and circumstances which show clearly, that the succession of the popes, which they would deduce from Peter, cannot stand, but is unfounded and untrue.
For, to come to the point, it cannot be shown, that Peter was ever at Rome, (where the seat of the pope is placed), except at the close of his life, and then he was not received as pope, but was put to death as a martyr, with Paul, his fellow apostle, for the testimony of Jesus Christ, as we have circumstantially shown in the History of the Holy Martyrs, of the year 69 A. D. 4
Eusebius quotes from Dionysius, a teacher of the church at Corinth, concerning the coming of Paul and Peter to Rome, as also concerning their preaching, which was the cause of their death, these words: They (namely Paul and Peter) were both together in our congregation at Corinth, teaching (from) there (on) throughout all Italy; they taught also in this city (namely, Rome, of which he had first spoken); where they both were crowned martyrs at the same time. 5
He speaks of Peter's coming to, and preaching at, Rome, even as if having taken place at the close of his life; and although he puts Paul's coming and preaching in the same time, Paul's coming to this city, nevertheless, happened much earlier than the coming of Peter, which took place shortly before their death; in which time both together preached the holy Gospel in that city.
That Paul was there much earlier and longer, appears from all the circumstances of the Acts of the apostles; for while Peter was preaching at Cesarea, Antioch, Jerusalem, and in other places, Paul was brought to Rome, and, having arrived there, “dwelt two whole years in his own hired house, and received all that came in unto him, preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him." Here the account of the Acts of the Apostles ends, without mentioning anything further of Peter. 6
VARIOUS ARGUMENTS FROM THE HOLY SCRIP TURES, SHOWING THAT PETER WAS NOT AT ROME DURING THE TIME PAUL WAS THERE, EXCEPT (AS HAS BEEN EX PLAINED ABOVE) AT THE CLOSE OF HIS LIFE
In this demonstration we shall forego the method employed by Sebastian Frank, Gysius, and others, who have written syllogistically upon this subject, and shall confine ourselves solely to the express testimony of (or, at least, plain inferences from) Holy Scripture, upon which we propose to found our arguments.
Reason.—First Argument.—When Paul drew near the city of Rome, where he was to be arraigned before Cesar, the brethren* came out of the city to meet him, as far as Appii Forum, and the Three Taverns, whom, when Paul saw, he took courage. Acts 28:15: But among these Peter is not once mentioned, which would undoubtedly have been the case, had he been with them and occupied the Episcopal throne at that place, as is pretended.
* By which of the other apostles these brethren at Rome were converted, is not mentioned in the text; but it may have been that they were converted on the day of Pentecost at Jerusalem, for at that time strangers of Rome were there. (Acts 2:10)
Second Argument.—When it came to pass, that Paul was to give an account before the emperor for the first time, he was forsaken by all, and no man stood with him, so that he complained of it to Timothy. (II Timothy 4:16) Now, if Peter had been at Rome; he certainly would not have forsaken Paul, whom he was wont to call his beloved brother, II Peter 3:15; but would have stood by him with counsel and actual assistance, according to his ability. This, however, did not happen; which clearly shows that he was not there at that time; unless someone might conclude, that he, who before had forsaken his Lord and Saviour (which was a matter of much consequence), now probably also forsook Paul, who was inferior.
To this may serve as reply: That Peter, at the time he forsook Christ, was not filled with the gift of the Holy Ghost, which was not poured upon the apostles until after Christ's ascension, Acts 2:1-3; hence he could easily come to this fall; but now, being filled with the Holy Ghost,* it was quite otherwise, so much so, that he and his fellow apostles feared no suffering, not even death itself. (Compare Acts 4:19-21 with 5:40-42 and 12:3, 4. Also I Peter 3:14 and 4:16)
* Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth. (John16:13)
Moreover, in Paul's complaint to Timothy not a word is mentioned as to Peter having forsaken him; which, had it happened, would certainly, as a notable matter, not have been passed over in silence; more especially, as he mentions some of those who forsook him, by name, as, Demas, Alexander the coppersmith, etc.
Third Argument.—When Paul was confined in prison at Rome, and bound in chains, he commended Onesiphorus, because he had visited him, and was not ashamed of his chain; without mentioning anything about others, saying, "The Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus; for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain" (II Timothy 1:16)
But why does he not commend Peter as having visited him in his bonds? or, if Peter was there and did not do so, but was ashamed of his chain, why does he not complain, that so great a man, who ought to have been a leader unto others, was so negligent therein?
Doubtless, if Peter had been in the city at that time, and visited, or not visited, him in prison, Paul would not have passed it over in utter silence, without commending or complaining of it.
Fourth Argument.—When many had departed from Paul, while he was in prison, he made mention of one who had remained by, or with him, namely, in the city of Rome. He calls him Luke, and says: Only Luke is with (or by) me. (II Timothy 4:11) It follows, therefore, that at the time when Paul wrote this, Peter was not at Rome, or it could not have been that only Luke was with him.
Fifth Argument.—A little further on from the above mentioned words, Paul requests of Timothy, that when he, came to him, he should bring Mark with him, since the same would be very profitable to him for his ministry, saying: Take Mark, and bring him with thee (when thou comest); for he is profitable to me for the ministry. (II Timothy 4:11)
Now, if Peter was in Rome at that time, why was Paul under the necessity of sending for Mark for the ministry? or, if he was not there, why did he not send for Peter? Certainly, if he had sent for him, he would, unless prevented by some important cause, not have refused to come: and then it could be concluded, that Peter was there a considerable time, since, as we find, they both died considerable time afterwards.
But it does not appear that Paul sent for him; hence, it cannot be concluded, that he came in answer to his summons; and even if he had come at that time, his stay there could not have lasted several years, much less twenty-five years, as the papists say, since death overtook him as well as Paul, as has been shown in its proper place. The preparation, however, of this whole argument is unnecessary and superfluous.
Sixth Argument.—Paul wrote various epistles from his prison at Rome to the believers; as to the Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, to Timothy, Philemon, etc., in which he puts various salutations from believers of the church at Rome, as also, in the beginning of the same makes mention sometimes of his fellow laborers; but he never mentions Peter. We will show here the manner in which this is done.
In the beginning of the epistle to the Philippians he writes these words: Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ. Now, why does he not add here: and Simon Peter?
Nearly in the same manner he commences the epistle to the Colossians, saying; "Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus, our brother." Why does he not add: and Peter, the chief apostle?
In concluding these epistles he adds the salutations of the saints who were with him. To the Philippians he writes, "All the saints salute you…chiefly they that are of Caesar's household" (Philippians 4:21, 22). To the Colossians he addresses these words, "Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you" (Col: 4:12). Also: Luke, the physician, greets you. (Verse 14)
Peter is not mentioned here at all, which, certainly, had he been there, would have been highly necessary.
This same manner he followed in all the other epistles which he wrote from Rome. To Timothy he says, "Eubulus greeteth thee, and Pudens, and Linus, and Claudia". (II Timothy 4:21)
There might be much said upon this subject, but it would all amount to this: that it would be a strange thing, if Peter was at Rome, when Paul wrote his epistles from the Roman prison, that the latter did never mention in these epistles a salutation from Peter (which, as has been shown, he did not); seeing he mentions salutations from different leaders and members of the Roman church, whom he calls by name: hence it is quite reasonable to conclude, that Peter was not there during that time.
Besides the six arguments mentioned, proving that during the time Paul was imprisoned under Nero, Peter was not at Rome, as far as the testimony of Holy Scriptures go in regard to this, there follow various circumstances showing (by like virtue of Holy Scripture), that also during the time Paul was out of prison, Peter was not to be found in this city.
First Circumstance.—Here is to be considered, why Paul wrote an epistle to the Roman church, as well for the confirmation of the Christian faith, as for stirring up in the moral virtues (which epistle is still in existence), if Peter was there at that time, and had the charge of said church? or, if it was necessary for important reasons, that he should write to them, why he did not send this epistle to Peter as their leader, like he did to Timothy, the teacher of the Ephesian church; and to Titus, the teacher of the church in the Island of Crete?
Or, at least, if we look at the contents of .this epistle, we may well consider, why he did not address a salutation to him, or once mention him by name? seeing he filled nearly a whole chapter with the names of those whom he salutes at Rome: as, Aquila with his wife Priscilla, Epenetus and Mary, together with Andronicus, Junia, Amplias, Urbanus, Apelles, Herodion, those of the household of Narcissus (the women), Tryphena and Tryphosa, Persis, Rufus, Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermas, Patrobas, Philologus, Nereus, etc., Romans 16 throughout; without mentioning in any way whatever the person or name of Peter; from which there may be concluded again with good reason, that which has been concluded before from the account of the salutations which Paul wrote while in prison at Rome, namely, that Peter was not in this city at that time?
Second Circumstance.—When it afterwards happened that Paul, having traveled through Arabia and the country of Damascus, returned after three years, with a particular desire to see Peter; he did not seek him at Rome, but at Jerusalem; where, when he had found him, he abode with him fifteen days: and then departed again into the regions of Syria and Cilicia. (Galatians 1:17-21)
Third Circumstance.—When fourteen more years had elapsed, namely, those spent by Paul in his Syrian and Cilician journey, where was Peter to be found? Certainly not at Rome, but at Antioch; for there Paul came to him, and rebuked him, because he had eaten with the Gentiles in the presence of the Jews. (Compare Galatians 2:1 with verses 11, 12)
Fourth Circumstance.—When some came down from Judea, and troubled the brethren, saying that, unless they were circumcised after the manner of Moses, they could not be saved; and Paul, Barnabas, and other pious men were sent to the apostles .and elders, to consult about the matter; Peter as well as the others to whom they were sent, was found at Jerusalem. (Acts 15:1-7)
Fifth Circumstance.—Galatians 2:7, we read, that the uncircumcision (that is, the Gentiles) was committed to Paul, but the circumcision (that is, the Jews or the Jewish nation) to Peter; also, verse 9, that Peter (there called Cephas) together with James and John gave to Paul and Barnabas the right hand and agreed, that these should go unto the heathen, but they unto the circumcision (the Jews); namely, to preach the Gospel unto them.
It is, therefore, a settled fact, that Peter was properly a teacher of the Jews (after this agreement was made), and not of the Gentiles. But if he had taught among the Romans, who were Gentiles by nature, he would have gone altogether beyond his engagement and promise; which certainly is not to be supposed of so great and eminent a man as Peter was at that time.
Sixth Circumstance.—From the two epistles of Peter, especially from the words, I Peter 1:1, it evidently appears, that he preached to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia (namely those who were scattered there from the twelve tribes of Israel) according to the statement of James, chap. 1:1; for which preaching, since these countries are very far, some even a hundred and more leagues apart, several years were required, in order to travel through them; during which time Peter apparently could not be there and at Rome at once; this is incontrovertible.
Seventh Circumstance.—At the end of the first epistle of Peter, namely I Peter 5:13, are these words, "The church that is at Babylon, elected…saluteth you."
How could Peter send a salutation from the church at Babylon, unless he was with it in Babylon at that time? But if he was in Babylon, he was not at Rome, unless he had two bodies; of which we do not read anything, nor have we any reason to believe it.
Eighth Circumstance.—Those who hold that Peter was bishop at Rome, make no distinction between the words apostle, or messenger, and bishop, or overseer; yet there always has been a marked difference between the office of an apostle and that of a bishop.
The office of an apostle was to travel from one country to another, yea, through the whole world, and preach the Gospel to those who had not yet heard it; without being bound to any particular place or church, as appears from Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:15.
On the other hand, the office of a bishop or overseer was to watch over, care for, feed and govern, as a shepherd his flock, a particular church, unto which the Gospel had been already preached, and which had accepted faith and the sign of holy baptism. (Compare Acts 20:28 with I Timothy 3:1-5; Titus 1:5-7)
Now, it is a fact, that properly not the latter, but the former office was enjoined upon Peter, for he gives himself the first mentioned name—apostle (see I Peter 1:1 and II Peter 1:1); for which purpose Christ Himself had chosen him, Luke 6:13, 14, and sent him out, as can plainly be seen in the last chapter of Matthew and of Mark.
How could it be then, that Peter sat as bishop of the church in the city of Rome? and, what is still more-for a considerable number of years! unless it be said that Peter abandoned his charge, and accepted another office and ministry than the one to which he was called; which it would be difficult to prove, since nothing is mentioned of it in Holy Writ.
Further Remarks on the foregoing circumstances.—If one should confine himself solely to the testimony of the holy Scriptures, not accepting anything else as worthy of belief, it could in no wise be shown that Peter was ever at Rome; but, since the holy Scriptures do not relate all that has happened, the testimony of some accepted authors of that time may be recognized as credible, as far as their testimony is not contrary to what is expressed in holy Scripture.
We have shown from the apostolic writings, that during the time Paul wrote his epistles in the prison at Rome, and also during the whole period that he (Peter) was preaching in foreign countries, Peter was not in Rome, but in Jerusalem, Antioch, Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, and in other places where the Jews were scattered. This we have plainly shown, first by six arguments, and then by eight circumstances, derived from the holy Scriptures. But as to where Peter was, or how he died, after Paul wrote his last epistle from Rome, the Scriptures are silent.
Hence the testimony of those writers whom we have just mentioned cannot well be contradicted; who maintain, that Peter shortly before his death came to Rome, and there laid down his life for the doctrine of the Evangelical truth; without mentioning anything there about his bishopric, much less, popedom.
DISCORDANCE OF PAPISTIC WRITERS. 1. WHETHER PETER WAS AT ROME. 2. HOW LONG HE WAS BISHOP THERE. 3. WHO FOLLOWED HIM
The common tenet of the papists is, that Peter sat as the chief bishop upon the Roman throne; yet the authors whom they adduce for this purpose greatly differ. For, as respects his arrival in that city, some fix it in the year 41 after Christ; others in the beginning of the reign of the Emperor Claudius; others in the second year of this same Claudius; others in the fourth year; others in the beginning of the reign of Nero; others in the fourteenth year after Paul's conversion, etc., as it is noted in Irenaeus, Orosius, Damasus, Hornantius, Th. Aquinus, The Lives of the Saints, etc.
Concerning the length of time he was bishop, there is not less disagreement; as also in regard to how long he was absent from his bishopric sojourning in other places. Cortesius writes of eighteen years, Onuphrius of seven years; but the general opinion among them is, that he sat twenty-five years upon the chair governing their church; although some flatly oppose it. See the last mentioned three authors.
Touching the person who succeeded him in his bishopric, there is much confusion and uncertainty in what is said concerning this subject. Some write that Clemens succeeded Peter; as Septimus Florens Tertullianus; others, that Linus followed him; as Irenaeus, Eusebius, Epiphan., etc., De Praes 32 I. Contr. Jov.; others, that Linus discharged Peter's office two years before death of the latter; as Damasus, etc.; others, that Peter ordered that Clemens should succeed after the death of Linus; In Pontific. Petr. etc., Clem. in Epist. ad Jacobum, etc.; others, that the chair of Peter was vacant while Linus and Cletus lived, Clemens, who was ordained by Peter as his successor, not being willing, as they say, to occupy the chair in their lifetime; which is testified to by Bellarminus; others that Linus occupied the chair eleven years after Peter's death; see Eusebius; others, that Linus died before Peter, and consequently was not his successor in the bishopric; see Turrianus, Sophronius, etc.; others, that Anacletus succeeded Peter, and Clemens, Anacletus. See Homil. de Agon. Pet. and Paul. In Chron, in Anno Clem.; others, finally, that Peter and Linus were bishops simultaneously in the city of Rome; yet so, that Peter was the superior, and Linus, the inferior bishop. 7
OF THE RISE OF THE POPES AFTER THE YEAR 606, AS ALSO OF THE INTERRUPTION OF THE SUCCESSION OF THE SAME
Besides, that in the first three centuries after the death of the apostles, nothing was known in the Roman church, as regards rulers of the same, but common bishops or overseers, until the time of Constantine the Great, and from that time on to the year 600, only archbishops and patriarchs, but no popes, till after the year 606, when, by the power of the Emperor Phocas, the Roman Bishop Boniface III was declared and established the general head and supreme ruler of the whole church; the succession also of the following popes was interrupted by many important occurrences, with respect to the manner of the papal election as well as to the doctrine and the life of the popes themselves, as also with regard to various circumstances pertaining to these matters. Of this an account shall presently be given.
NOTE.-Besides what we have mentioned in our account of holy baptism, for the year 606, of the rise and establishment of the Roman pope, there is also found, concerning the cause of the same (in the Chronijk van den Ondergang der Tyrannen, edition of 1617, book VII, page 211, col. 2), this annotation: When the patriarch at Constantinople reproved the Emperor Phocas for the shameful murder he had committed, or would not consent to, or remit, it, while the bishop of Rome winked at, or excused this wicked deed, the Emperor Phocas, in his displeasure, deprived the church of Constantinople of the title, Head of Christendom, and, at the request of Boniface III, conferred it upon the Roman church; which was done amidst great contentions, for the eastern churches could not well consent to it, that the see of Rome should be considered by everybody, and everywhere, as the head and the supreme (of the) church. 8
Author: Thieleman J. van Braght
Author: Thieleman J. van Braght
1) Bell. lib. I. de pont Rom. cap. 10. Quansuy ex.
2) Bald. in cap. Eccles. Also, dist. 40. cap. S. Papae, etc.
3) Bell. lib. I. de Pont. Rom. cap. 14 & 15. 16. Second S. Velt. etc.
4) Also, Egesipp. Hist. van de verstoring Jerusalem, 3. Bock, 2 cap. Also, W. Band. Apopth. Christian, lib. I. ex Hieron. de vitis illustribus. Johan. Strac. in festo Johan. Evang, etc.
5) Euseb. Pamph. Chron. Eccl. Edition of 1,588 lib. 2. cap. 25.
6) See Acts 28:30, 31.
7) See Ruffilnus, Sabellicus, Turrianus, In vita Petri.
8) Compare this with Platinae Reg. Pap. fol. 123; Fasc. Temp, fol. 122; Pol. Virgil, lib. 4. cap. 10; Hist. Georg. lib. 4; Conrad. Oclutar. fol. 15; Tract, called, Ouden en Nieuwen Godt. lib. I; M. Zanchij Tract. Pap. fol. 41; Zeg. Chron. Rom. Pap. fol.I32.