Copyright 1994 - 2023 Bill's Bible Basics
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Published On :
April 1, 2010
Last Updated :
April 1, 2010
NOTE: This article or series has not been updated recently. As such, it may possibly contain some outdated information, and/or ideas and beliefs which I no longer embrace, or which have changed to some degree.
Peter James & John Led Early Church From Jerusalem Not Rome, Rome Persecutes Early Christian Church: Nero To Diocletian, Emperor Nero And Great Fire Of Rome Of 64 AD , The Annals Of Tacitus, Roman Catholic Church Begins Persecuting Christians And Other Non-Catholics During 4th Century: Inquisitions, Christian Crusades, Bloody Mary And The Marian Persecutions, Foxe's "Book Of Martyrs", Heretical Doctrines Of The Roman Catholic Church: Transubstantiation, Infallibility Of Pope, Mary's Alleged Immaculate Conception, Mary's Alleged Bodily Assumption To Heaven, RCC Boast Of Being Only Vehicle For Salvation, Supposed Superiority Of Roman Catholic Church, Holy Trinity Doctrine, False Belief That Water Baptism Is Necessary For Salvation, Apostolic Succession, Why Jesus Chose Three Men To Lead First Century Church, Triumvirate Of The Early Church, Presbyterianism And Elders Of Equal Status, A Servant Of All, Scriptural Evidence Which Proves That Paul Was In Rome But Not Peter, Paul And His Writing Companions, Additional Comments On Apostolic Succession
That these three Apostles -- Peter, James and John -- together continued to lead and instruct the Early Church from the city of Jerusalem -- and not from the city of Rome as the RCC likes to falsely claim -- is rather evident from verses such as the following, that are found in the Book of Acts, as well as in Paul's Epistle to the Galatians:
"When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question . . . And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them . . . And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter . . . Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren . . . And they wrote letters by them after this manner; The apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia . . . And as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem."
Acts 15:2, 4, 6, 22-23, 16:4, KJV
"Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus. Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days. But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother."
Galatians 1:17-19, KJV
So exactly where was the spiritual leadership of the Early Church located? In the previous verses we are told five times that they were in the city of Jerusalem. The only thing that the Apostles and Disciples of the Early Church saw emanating from the evil city of Rome -- and for two hundred and fifty years no less, from Nero to Diocletian -- was persecution, torture and death.
It appears that this persecution of Christian Disciples in Rome may have started as a result of the Great Fire of Rome of 64 AD. According to certain historical sources, Emperor Nero, who would have been a young man of twenty-seven years old at the time, was under suspicion of having committed an act of arson. Realizing this, he found an easy scapegoat in the Christians of Rome. Concerning Nero's treachery and this terrible persecution, in his "Annals", the Roman senator and historian, Tacitus, writes the following:
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"Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians [or Chrestians] by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind. Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired."
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To continue, once the Roman Catholic Church had established itself during the 4th Century, as I explain in a number of other articles, it began to persecute, torture and slaughter all those who opposed its doctrines and practices, including non-Catholic Christians. Many of these evil acts were done in the name of supposedly purifying the laity of heresies. It is an established historical fact that these tragic events did occur, as is evidenced by the various Inquisitions -- that is the Medieval, Spanish, Portuguese and Roman Inquisitions -- the so-called "Christian Crusades", the English persecutions instigated by Bloody Mary during the time of the Reformation -- referred to as the Marian Persecutions -- and Foxe's Book of Martyrs. Thus, the so-called "Holy Mother Church" became the "Holy Terror of Europe" as literally millions have been persecuted, tortured and murdered during her bloody reign.
What I find so ironic about this bloody history of the Roman Catholic Church, is that while the Vatican claims that these actions were necessary to purge out heretical doctrines, to this day the Roman Catholic Church continues to embrace quite a few heretical doctrines which find absolutely no support in the Scriptures. These include, but are not limited to, the following:
1. Transubstantiation - This is the erroneous belief that the "holy eucharist" is transformed into the actual body and blood of Jesus Christ during communion, which is really akin to cannibalism. The Bible strictly prohibits the drinking of blood in both the Old and the New Testaments.
2. The infallibility of the pope. Supposedly, because he is the alleged "Vicar of Christ", the Roman pope never makes a mistake in his teachings. In fact, devout Roman Catholics are convinced that the pope's word even supersedes the Bible; so if there is a doctrinal contradiction, the pope is assumed to be right. In the Bible, we are told that God magnifies His Word above His very Name, as we see here:
"I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name."
Psalm 138:2, KJV
If God Himself magnifies His Word above His very Name, is it not also right that we should honor and exalt His Word above the words of any mere human, even if that human is the pope? Furthermore, if the pope contradicts Biblical teachings, then he is the liar, and not God. Consider this:
"God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged."
Romans 3:4, KJV
3. Mary's so-called "Immaculate Conception". Contrary to the Scriptures which plainly teach us that we are all born in a state of sin, this belief teaches that Mary was born without sin; but please consider Biblical truth:
"Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me."
Psalm 51:5, KJV
"For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;"
Romans 3:23, KJV
"Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:"
Romans 5:12, KJV
"Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)"
Ephesians 2:5, KJV
"Then said Jesus again unto them, I go my way, and ye shall seek me, and shall die in your sins: whither I go, ye cannot come . . . I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins."
John 8:21, 24, KJV
4. Mary's so-called bodily "Assumption" to Heaven. Contrary to the Bible which teaches us that all people die at least once -- see Hebrews 9:27 -- and that our physical bodies decay in the ground, Roman Catholic doctrine teaches that Mary experienced no bodily decay and went straight to Heaven, both body and spirit. The truth, however, is that the only people who will not experience physical decay in the ground are those who are still alive at the time of Christ's Return. They will be changed instantaneously. Please refer to such articles as "Death: Final Battle, Final Victory" and "The Great Tribulation And The Rapture". Following are a few verses for your consideration:
"Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed."
1 Corinthians 15:51, 52, KJV
"For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord."
1 Thessalonians 4:15-17, KJV
5. Mary's perpetual virginity. Contrary to the Scriptures which strongly suggest that Jesus had at least four brothers and two sisters, Roman Catholic doctrine teaches that Mary remained a physical virgin throughout her entire life. For my views on this topic, please refer to articles such as "The Family Life Of Jesus Christ". Following are some verses for you to ponder:
"While he yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him."
Matthew 12:46, KJV
"Is not this the carpenter's son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas?"
Matthew 13:55, KJV
"Among which was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joses, and the mother of Zebedee's children."
Matthew 27:56, KJV
"Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him."
Mark 6:3, KJV
"There were also women looking on afar off: among whom was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James the less and of Joses, and Salome;"
Mark 15:40, KJV
"His brethren therefore said unto him, Depart hence, and go into Judaea, that thy disciples also may see the works that thou doest. For there is no man that doeth any thing in secret, and he himself seeketh to be known openly. If thou do these things, shew thyself to the world. For neither did his brethren believe in him."
John 7:3-5, KJV
"These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren."
Acts 1:14, KJV
"But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother."
Galatians 1:19, KJV
"Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called:"
Jude 1:1, KJV
6. The Roman Catholic Church is the only means for obtaining Salvation. While the Bible clearly teaches us that Salvation and Eternal Life is a free Gift of God that anyone can obtain through their faith in the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ alone, the Roman Catholic Church teaches that it is the only entity which can dispense this precious gift; and according to them, receiving it is based in large part on doing so-called "good works" which in reality annuls the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ. But what does the Bible really say? Consider these example verses:
"Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."
John 14:6, KJV
"For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;"
1 Timothy 2:5, KJV
"But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."
Romans 5:8, KJV
"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast."
Ephesians 2:8-9, KJV
"Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;"
Titus 3:5, KJV
For a more in-depth look at God's Plan of Salvation, please consider reading articles such as "Message To The World" and "Marriage of the Lamb".
7. The belief that the Roman Catholic Church is superior to all other Christian churches, which it views as so-called "lesser brethren". This is contrary to the Scriptures which teach us that God is no respecter of persons, and that we are all one through Jesus Christ. The Bible also teaches us that Christian leaders are not supposed to be lords -- or abusive -- over the Lord's flocks in any way. The Apostle Peter, who Roman Catholics claim was their first pope, even wrote:
"Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, [meaning for personal material gain] but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away. Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:"
1 Peter 5:2-6, KJV
"Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:"
Acts 10:34, KJV
"For there is no respect of persons with God."
Romans 2:11, KJV
"And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him."
Ephesians 6:9, KJV
Those verses certainly don't seem to be describing the proud pope in Rome who lives in lavish luxury like royalty, and who loves to receive presidents and kings alike, and who loves the praise of men.
8. The doctrine of the Holy Trinity which teaches that the Godhead consists of three separate but equal beings. Please refer to my eight-part series entitled "Roman Catholicism, Water Baptism And The Trinity". The Bible only speaks of Jesus Christ sitting on the Right Hand of God. There is no one sitting on the Left Hand of God as far as we know.
9. The belief that water baptism is necessary in order to obtain Salvation. Again, please refer to my eight-part series entitled "Roman Catholicism, Water Baptism And The Trinity". Either the Blood Sacrifice of Jesus Christ is sufficient for our Salvation, or else it isn't; and if we choose to believe the latter -- which I don't -- then that means that He died in vain. As the Apostle Paul wrote, either we are saved by the Grace of God through the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ, or else we are saved through our own works. It can't be both:
"And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work."
Romans 11:6, KJV
10. The doctrine of so-called "Apostolic Succession". This Roman Catholic lie claims that there has been an unbroken line of Roman popes since the time of the Apostle Peter. It loses all validity once we prove that Peter never went to Rome, and he most certainly was not the first pope of the Roman Catholic Church, as this series seeks to prove.
But let us return to the issue of the top leadership of the First Century Church. Exactly why Jesus chose three men, and not just one man -- the alleged Pope Peter -- to lead the Early Church, becomes evident when we carefully study the Scriptures. Consider the following examples:
"One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established."
Deuteronomy 19:15, KJV
"Where no counsel is, the people fall: but in the multitude of counsellors there is safety."
Proverbs 11:14, KJV
"Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counsellors they are established."
Proverbs 15:22, KJV
"For by wise counsel thou shalt make thy war: and in multitude of counsellors there is safety."
Proverbs 24:6, KJV
"Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them."
Matthew 18:19-20, KJV
"This is the third time I am coming to you. In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established."
2 Corinthians 13:1, KJV
"Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses. Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear."
1 Timothy 5:19-20, KJV
"He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:"
Hebrews 10:28, KJV
It occurs to me that by choosing three of His most trusted followers -- that is, Peter, James and John -- to lead the First Century Church, it may be that Jesus ensured that they would not only keep a check on each other, so that one man would not assume too much power and become a lord over God's heritage -- like the Roman Catholic pope -- but that through united counsel and prayer, they could also better determine what was the best course of action to take for the fledging Christian Church.
It is plain to see from the verses that we examined earlier, that Peter, James and John shared the responsibilities of instructing and guiding the Early Church during the First Century. Furthermore, they accomplished this from the city of Jerusalem, and not from Rome, as the Roman Catholic Church would have us to believe. Just as the Roman Empire had its triumvirate for a time -- Julius Caesar, Pompey and Crassus being the first -- the Early Church likewise had its own triumvirate in the form of Peter, James and John. If we examine his writings, we see that Peter refers to himself as "an elder" in the company of other elders. Nowhere do we see Peter claiming some exalted position or special privilege as the first pope of the Roman Catholic Church. Peter writes:
"The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:"
1 Peter 5:1, KJV
In the previous verse, the word "elder" is translated from the Greek word "sumpresbuteros". The Greek lexicon defines it as meaning "a fellow elder". The very nature of that phrase conveys the idea of equality, and not of superiority. Some of you may recognize this Greek word as the root for our English word "Presbyterian", which denotes a Christian denomination that's governed by a group of elders of equal rank, according to the principles of Presbyterianism. Let us also not forget that Jesus said:
". . . If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all."
Mark 9:35b, KJV
"And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all."
Mark 10:44, KJV
So the idea of the Apostle Peter being exalted as the alleged first pope of the Roman Catholic Church is totally contrary to the teachings of Jesus Christ, as well as contrary to the teachings of the men who followed in His footsteps. Now, if we consider the degree of importance that the Roman Catholic Church attributes to this alleged historical event, one would think that surely the Scriptures would offer some evidence to substantiate and support it; and yet, they are silent. Why is this? Is it perhaps because the Apostle Peter's alleged trip to Rome, and his becoming the first pope, is merely a subtle invention of the Roman Catholic Church? In stark contrast, in studying the Scriptures, we can learn a great deal about the missionary journeys of the Apostle Paul -- including the fact that on more than one occasion, he was in Rome. This fact is clarified for us by the following verses:
"To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ . . . So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also."
Romans 1:7, 15, KJV
"Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen. [To the Galatians written from Rome.]"
Galatians 6:18, KJV
"Grace be with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen. [To the Ephesians written from Rome, by Tychicus.]"
Ephesians 6:24, KJV
"The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen. [To the Philippians written from Rome, by Epaphroditus.]"
Philippians 4:23, KJV
"The salutation by the hand of me Paul. Remember my bonds. Grace be with you. Amen. [Written from Rome to Colossians by Tychicus and Onesimus.]"
Colossians 4:18, KJV
"But, when he was in Rome, he sought me out very diligently, and found me."
2 Timothy 1:17, KJV
"The Lord Jesus Christ be with thy spirit. Grace be with you. Amen. [The second epistle unto Timotheus, ordained the first bishop of the church of the Ephesians, was written from Rome, when Paul was brought before Nero the second time.]"
2 Timothy 4:22, KJV
"The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen. [Written from Rome to Philemon, by Onesimus a servant.]"
Philemon 1:25, KJV
As a matter of clarification, allow me to inform you that it is commonly believed that the Apostle Paul did not personally write all of his Epistles. Due to his poor eyesight -- which may have possibly been a result of the incident on the road to Damascus where the Lord struck down Paul, and left him blind for three days -- Paul was forced to dictate a number of his Epistles to his traveling companions. At any rate, as you can determine by the above verses, we know with absolute certainty that Paul was in Rome, while Peter's presence in Rome is rather doubtful. Doesn't the fact that we have clear Biblical evidence to support the view that Paul was in Rome, while not a single verse even hints at Peter being in Rome, strike you as being odd?
Again, in my view, the obvious answer seems to be that Peter never traveled to Rome, and that his story of traveling to Rome is an evil invention of the Roman Catholic Church; the obvious purpose of which is to try to add some degree of legitimacy to the Roman papacy, and the so-called doctrine of "Apostolic Succession", which falsely claims that there has been an unbroken line of Roman popes since Peter. As I noted earlier, the minute that we disprove the Peter-in-Rome idea, the Apostolic Succession doctrine simply falls apart, just like a deck of cards. The Roman Catholic hierarchy in Rome doesn't have a legitimate leg to stand on, and it is time that everyone woke up to this fact.
Please go to part three for the continuation of this series.
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