Saturday, August 04, 2012

No notion of a “successor of Peter” anywhere in the Old Testament

In fact, in the proof text that Roman Catholics use, one Old Testament figure of Peter is cut off; the other is “unstable as water” and “shall not have preeminence”.

Andrew Presslar 784:

Some here have asked for a summary of the case for the institution of the papacy, understood as the Petrine ministry perpetuated in the Church by means of an office established by Christ: The biblical basis for this understanding is quite clear: Our Lord’s words recorded in Matthew 16:18-19, like so much of his teaching, draws from the Scriptures of the Old Covenant, in this case Isaiah 22:15-25, in which a faithless minister is deposed, and a new steward is established as a “peg in a sure place.”

You cite all of this as if it were quite self-evident, but there are terrible flaws merely in this portion of what you cite.

You cite Isaiah 22:15-25, in which it is “quite clear” that Peter is the “peg in a sure place”, but you fail to mention the very important conclusion of that passage: “In that day, declares the Lord of hosts, the peg that was fastened in a secure place will give way, and it will be cut down and fall, and the load that was on it will be cut off, for the Lord has spoken.”

If you want to suggest that Old Testament prophecies point to the Roman Catholic Church, your “Tradition” surely has an odd way of leaving out the most important things.

The subsequent historical record demonstrates (after the manner of historical demonstration) that from Jerusalem and Antioch Peter went to Rome and fulfilled his ministry there, to the point of martyrdom.

In reality, (and Luke recognizes this reality), Peter is “cut off”, and quite abruptly in Acts. He is never seen again after Acts 15.

But if you are looking for a more apt Old Testament parallel to Peter, see Reuben (Gen 49:2-3). The CCC says “Simon Peter holds the first place in the college of the Twelve; Jesus entrusted a unique mission to him.”

This is no mere “typological” identification of Peter with Reuben. The parallel is very clear. The clear implication is that the 12 tribes of Israel were the “foundation” of Israel, and the twelve Apostles were the foundation of the Church. They are placed together in Rev 4:10, “the twenty-four elders”. These are clearly (and not merely implicitly) being equated.

But just as the “peg in the secure place” gives way, is cut down, and falls, so too, Reuben, according to Jacob, “my firstborn, my might, and the firstfruits of my strength, preeminent in dignity and preeminent in power” he is “Unstable as water, you shall not have preeminence”.

These biblical prophecies, some of which you cite favorably, actually speak very strongly against any notions of “perpetuation” or “office” or “succession”, especially with respect to Peter.


  1. LOL!

    This post linked with Jason's old article about 51 (1 forget the number) reasons for Pauline Primacy/Papacy would be hilarious.

  2. Unfortunately, Jason's article is no longer on the web. Maybe Jason can post it here on Triablogue.