The Lord Jesus Christ, while contending with the Pharisees over their refusal to obey His teaching, adhering stubbornly to their traditions, addressed them in a very forthright manner, leaving them in no doubt as to the source of their doctrine and their spiritual lineage. "Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of the devil ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not."
The Lord, who was normally meek and mild, spoke in the strongest terms when dealing with the false religionists of His day. There are many similarities between the Church of Rome and the Pharisees. The Pharisees were very much upholders of tradition, which they referred to as 'The Tradition of The Elders'. According to their rabbis, all that Moses received from God on mount Sinai was not written down but some was orally transmitted. According to the RC Church, all that Christ said was not written down but that much was orally transmitted, exactly the same claim as that made by the Pharisees. Rome variously calls this tradition, 'Holy, Sacred or Apostolic'.
The second similarity, to which I wish to draw the readers' attention, is salvation by works and ritual. The Apostle Paul, writing to the Roman Christians, brings this fact out very clearly in Romans 10 : 3. "For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God."
The Church of Rome in Canon XII of the Council of Trent, pronounces an anathema upon any who believe in justification by faith alone. "If any man saith, that justifying faith is nothing else but confidence in the divine mercy which remits sins for Christ's sake; or that this confidence alone is that whereby we are justified; let him be anathema." There are many other similarities, but these two are sufficient to show that what Christ declared the Pharisees to be can equally be applied to the RC Church.
The Church of Rome makes many pretentious claims about itself. The first is that it is the only true church headed up by Peter, who, according to Rome, was the first pope, each successive pope being in apostolic succession to him. The second is in the secular realm, in which realm, the Church of Rome, headed up by the pope, is above all secular authority.
The first assertion is based on a misinterpretation of Scripture and a deliberate falsifying of history. The second is based upon a forged document called 'The Donation of Constantine', which even the Roman Catholic Church admits is a forgery, but that does not prevent it from asserting its superiority over all secular authority.
According to the RC Church it receives nothing as dogma except with the unanimous consent of the church fathers. The majority of the church fathers believed that it was Peter's confession, that Jesus was the Christ, was the rock which Christ was referring to when he said "Upon this rock....." A sizeable number thought that the rock was Christ himself. Only a very small number believed the rock to mean Peter.
When we turn to the passage of Scripture concerned it becomes clear what the Lord meant. Peter had been named Cephas, which means a moveable rock or boulder, by Christ Himself. When Peter confessed "Thou art the Christ...." Jesus turned to him and said "Thou art Peter," petros in Greek, which is in the masculine gender. Petros means a moveable rock or boulder. Then He said upon this petra, which is in the feminine gender and means an immoveable mass of rock, I will build my church. Peter was aptly named by Christ. He was indeed an important part of Christ's plan for establishing the Church by being the first to preach the Gospel to the Jews and Gentiles. But he was inconsistent. He was indeed moveable.
It wasn't long before the Lord had to rebuke him with a "Get thee behind me, Satan." Later on he denied the Lord with curses and later still Paul had to rebuke him because of his Judaising.
Evidently, Peter himself, and the other disciples did not understand that Christ's statement established the primacy of Peter. In Luke 22 v 24 we read, "And there was strife among them, which of them should be the greatest." Surely this was the time for Christ to tell them that he had already appointed Peter to be the 'Prince of the Apostles.' He did nothing of the sort.
It is not only held by the RC Church that Peter was the rock upon which the Church is built but that Peter was the first bishop of Rome i.e. the first pope. There is no absolute proof that Peter was ever in Rome and there is absolutely no evidence at all that he was the first bishop of Rome.
The Apostle Paul mentioned several households and twenty nine people who resided in Rome but no mention did he make of Peter. This is inconceivable if he was bishop of Rome.
Eusebius of Caesarea, acknowledged to be the father of church history, wrote around AD 300. He speaks of Peter ministering in Asia Minor and of spending his last days in Rome where he was crucified. Remember this was more than two hundred and fifty years after the event. In any case, whether he was crucified in Rome or not, Eusebius does not record him as being bishop of Rome.
Iraneus, Bishop of Lyon from AD 170-200 lists twelve bishops of Rome. Peter's name does not appear on the list. The first name on the list is Linus. The Apostolic Constitution in the year 270 also names Linus as the first Bishop of Rome. This blows the whole edifice of Peter being the first pope and apostolic succession clean out of the water. It wasn't until the fourth century, when the capital was moved from Rome to Constantinople that the Bishops of Rome began to make claims about apostolic succession, especially petrine succession.
To sum up then :- (1) Peter was never regarded as the prince of the apostles by himself or others. (2) He was never the Bishop of Rome. (3) The Roman bishops did not begin to make claims of petrine succession until the fourth century. Therefore the whole edifice of the Church of Rome is built upon a gigantic lie. By its own admission, their rock is not as our rock, they themselves being witnesses. They say Peter is the rock upon which the Church of Rome is built. Protestants say that Christ is the Rock upon which the true Church is built and that it is by confessing Christ a sinner enters the true Church. Whose is the correct interpretation? Paul in 1 Corinthians 3 : 11 wrote "For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ."