Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 9, 1950
NUMBER 43, PAGE 1,3b

The Pope's Claim To Authority -- No. 2

W. Wallace Layton, Tucson, Arizona

From the consideration of all the known Biblical facts in the case, it is evident that Peter was never esteemed by his contemporaries as the universal head (pope) of Christ's church. Thus is destroyed the basic claim on which the present pope's claim to authority rests.

The second basic principle of the pope's claim to authority rests on the assumption that the church in Rome is the Holy See; that it is such because Peter established that church and selected it as the "trunk" and head of all the Christian system.

In their work, Catholic Belief, (pages 267-280) the Catholic church presents the arguments for the above assumption. Boiled down to essentials, we find them teaching that in A. D. 51, Peter had sat for eight years as Bishop of Rome; that he continued there for twenty-five years in all, and was martyred in A. D. 68. This would place Peter in Rome then as universal Bishop of the church in the year A. D. 43. But every known Biblical fact demonstrates that this claim is false; against these known truths, no Catholic has ever made a successful rebuttal:

(1) It is not stated in scripture anywhere that Peter was Bishop of Rome, nor, for that matter, that he ever even set foot in Rome.

(2) It is evident that Peter for several years made his headquarters in Jerusalem (Acts 8); and having left there to go to Samaria for a special reason along with John, returned to Jerusalem immediately upon the accomplishment of that mission.

(3) Jerusalem was the known headquarters of Peter and the original twelve, and was so regarded by Paul. Paul wrote the Galatian letter in A. D. 58, and at the time it was common knowledge that the apostolic headquarters was in Jerusalem, not in Rome. He spake of having visited Peter in Jerusalem both at the time of his conversion, and then again three years later. (Gal 1:17, 18)

(4) Fourteen years after this, Paul went up to Jerusalem where resided "those of reputation" (Gal 2:1, 2.) Peter is specifically named as among those present on this occasion (2:9.) Not only was he present, hut he was a resident there. This places Peter in Jerusalem (not in Rome) about the year A. D. 51, the very year when Catholicism says he had been for eight years ruling as Bishop in Rome.

(5) We know that in A. D. 44, Peter was a prisoner in Jerusalem (Acts I2.) This is but one year after the date Catholicism has set for him to have begun his universal reign as patriarch of Rome. Then, too, just prior to his imprisonment (Acts 8, 11) we have a detailed record of Peter's activity at Joppa and Caesarea. There simply is not enough time here for Peter to have gone over to Rome and set up that church declaring it as the "Holy See"; let alone to have taken his seat there for permanent residence in Rome. At the very time he was supposed to have been doing all this, the Book of Acts reveals him in one of the most active periods of his whole life, and places him hundreds of miles from Rome.

(6) In A. D. 60, Paul wrote the epistle to the church in Rome, and sent salutations to twenty-seven people in the congregation, whom he called by name. But "pope Peter" was neither named nor greeted! He simply was not there.

(7) In this same year (A. D. 60) Peter wrote to the brethren at Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia (I Pet. 1:1.) No mention is made of Rome in this epistle; no prerogative is claimed either for himself nor for the church in Rome.

(8) In Paul's letter to the church at Rome there is sufficient evidence to prove that Peter did not have, nor had ever had, any connection at all with the church there. First of all, he said, "your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world." (Rom. 1:8). This indicates a congregation of long standing in the city of Rome. Secondly, he states as his reason for desiring to see them, "to impart unto you some spiritual gift to the end ye may be established" (Rom. 1:11.) If Peter had been there and had established that church in A. D. 43, it would surely follow that by the year A. D. 60, it would not be lacking in those spiritual gifts which Paul desired to impart. Peter was (supposedly) there even when Paul's letter was received by the Roman church. The imparting of spiritual gifts was performed by the laying on of the apostles' hands. Peter had done this deed for the church in Samaria (Acts 8), having made a special trip there for that very purpose. If indeed he had established the church in Rome, or, for that matter, had ever been there, how will Catholics account for the fact that he had failed to impart these spiritual gifts "for their complete establishment?" The fact that the church in Rome had no spiritual gifts as late as the year A. D. 60 proves beyond any doubt at all that no apostle had up to that time visited the city.

(9) Six years after the writing of the letter, Paul was martyred—A. D. 66, two years before the date set by Catholics for the martyrdom of Peter. At the end of 63, or early in 64, Paul arrived in Rome a prisoner. He was visited by Christians there and he spent much time with them. But where was Peter?

(10) From Rome, Paul wrote letters to Philemon, the Philippian church, the Ephesian church, and the Colossian church. He named many people in these letters—but not Peter! If Peter was in Rome, indeed, was the Bishop of Rome at this very time, how comes it that Paul completely ignores him in all his references to the Roman church and to the saints in Rome?

(11) Toward the last days of his life, Paul wrote to Timothy, saying, "only Luke is with me." (2 Tim. 4:11.) Where was Peter? Did the Universal Bishop of the church, the vicar of God on earth, the supreme and holy Father of all the faithful, desert the aged Paul in his last trying hours? If Catholic claims are true, he did; for Paul says, "only Luke is with me."

These eleven statements are calculated to bring forth all the known Biblical information regarding Peter's relation to the church in Rome. They are individually and collectively irrefutable; and thus are absolutely and totally destructive to the second basic claim of the Romish church. Her claim for papal authority simply has nothing on which to rest.