Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Does Combining Isaiah 22 With Matthew 16 Lead Us To A Papacy?

I recently received the following in an e-mail:

"What do you think about Isaiah 22:22. Catholics use that verse to support their belief that Peter is the vicar of Christ on earth. I see the parallel: Christ could be the 'king' in the verse, and peter the 'prime minister.' How are Protestants to interpret this verse? It seems to scream 'PAPACY!' yikes."

Whatever relevance Isaiah 22 would have to Matthew 16, it would have some relevance for Matthew 23, Luke 11, and other passages that use such imagery as well. And any Catholic appeal to Isaiah 22 would have to be a partial appeal, not a complete parallel, since a complete parallel wouldn't favor the claims of Roman Catholicism. God is the one who gives the key in Isaiah 22, so an exact parallel would put Jesus in the place of God, not in the place of the king. If Jesus is God and Peter is the prime minister, then who is the king? Some church official with more authority than Peter? What about Isaiah 22:25? Should we assume that Popes can "break off and fall", and that the keys of Matthew 16 can eventually pass to God Himself (Revelation 3:7) rather than to a human successor? If Catholics only want to make a general appeal to Isaiah 22, without drawing an exact parallel, then how can they claim that papal authority is implied by the parallel? Why can't the Isaiah 22 background convey a general theme of authority without that authority being of a papal nature? For example, ancient Jewish tradition applied the imagery of Isaiah 22 to teachers without concluding that those teachers had something like papal authority (John Nolland, The Gospel Of Matthew [Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 2005], pp. 679-680).

John Nolland, after discussing some of the differences between Isaiah 22 and Matthew 16, such as the difference between "opening and shutting" and "binding and loosing", comments:

"So, in the absence of any support for a move from the language of opening and shutting to that of binding and loosing, despite the initial promise of a link between Mt. 16:19 and Is. 22:22 the search must in the end be abandoned." (ibid., p. 680)

Any relevance Isaiah 22 has in interpreting Matthew 16 is a vague relevance. There isn't anything specific enough to lead us to the conclusion that Peter was a Pope, much less that Roman bishops throughout church history would have papal authority.


  1. Furthermore, as Dr. White has pointed out, the key of David referenced in Isaiah 22:22 is shown in Revelation 3:7 to be held by the Lord himself, and not Peter.

  2. I would add that Catholic appeals to Peter as the "rock" suffer from an analogous problem with respect to passages in the Psalms (i.e. Psalms 18, 19, 28, 42, 62, etc...). There are obvious statements as to the identity of the "Rock" in Deut. 32, 1 Sam. 2, 2 Sam. 22, and Isa. 44:8 especially;
    "'Do not tremble, do not be afraid.
    Did I not proclaim this and foretell it long ago?
    You are my witnesses. Is there any God besides me?
    No, there is no other Rock; I know not one.'"

  3. I agree with this post, there is no other rock! There is no correlation between these passages...I do not believe that Catholics only are "the" Church as they are taught to believe, but I do believe they are part of the Church still. Just because there are some screwed up teachings in it doesn't mean their teachings condemn them to Hell.

  4. There's no problem with believing that a being other than God is a rock in some sense. Ephesians 2:20 doesn't refer to the apostles as "rocks", but the implication is that they're rocks or something similar. If Jesus is the cornerstone, then what does that imply about the apostles who are part of the foundation as well? Revelation 21:14 also suggests that the apostles are foundation stones. It's acceptable to see Peter as the rock of Matthew 16, and many scholars, including Protestant and Eastern Orthodox scholars, hold that position.

    My post was meant to focus on Isaiah 22 as it relates to Matthew 16. To see my broader comments on Matthew 16, go to:

  5. The "key of David" is NOT the same as the "keys of heaven".
    The "key of David" was given to Jesus; Jesus is King.
    The "keys of heaven" were given to the Church; The Church binds and looses sins through unforgiveness and forgiveness of sins.

    Augustine wrote (430 C.E.), "the Lord said: 'Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church,' that it be understood as built upon Him whom Peter confessed saying: 'Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God,' and so Peter, called after this rock, represented the person of the Church which is built upon this rock, and has received 'the keys of the kingdom of heaven.' For, 'Thou art Peter' and not 'Thou art the rock' was said to him. But 'the rock was Christ,' in confessing whom, as also the whole Church confesses, Simon was called Peter."

    So, Christ is the Rock on which the Church is build on. Peter represented the Church. The Church was given the keys of heaven.

    The apostles are the foundation of the Church (Ephesians 2:20).