Many Greek Orthodox do NOT want to accept the Pope’s ecumenical agenda nor view of history

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Although Pope Francis continues to push his ecumenical agenda and even has concurrence from Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew, a while back, two Greek Orthodox Bishops sent a letter to Pope Francis from Greece.

In that letter, they challenged many things (see Greek Orthodox Bishops denounce Pope Francis, Church of Rome, and Ecumenism as Antichrist Plan of Freemasons), but today I wish to show their views on why the Vatican’s position on Peter and Rome are in error:

To His Excellency, Francis,
Head of State of the Vatican City
Vatican City, Rome

Your Excellency,

With due respect and sincere love, we send you this Episcopal letter, the purpose of which doesn’t come from any selfish motive, but from pure, sincere and selfless Christian love, from Christian duty, from an essential commandment of our Savior Christ, Who “desires all men to be saved and to come to a full knowledge of the truth,” and finally from a warm and ardent desire for your salvation…

The Second Vatican ‘Council’… did not neglect to elevate and reinforce even further the Papal office, even to the point where some of the ‘See’s’ ardent followers in the ‘Council’ gave the impression that the head of the Church was no longer Christ but Peter and through him the Pope.” …

Your Excellency ’s statement that, “In ecumenical relations it is important not only to know each other better, but also to recognize what the Spirit has sown in the other as a gift for us,” is in itself an implementation of the decisions of the Second Vatican Council , principally the “ Decree on Ecumenism, ” according to which the Grace of the Holy Spirit works even outside of the Church. Vatican II expanded the concept of the Church and created a “new Church,” which includes even heretics and schismatics. It is in this way that you maintain that the Holy Spirit works within the framework of this “new Church,” and therefore within the heretics and schismatics. This means that you have changed the criteria that you use to acknowledge this “new Church.” This “new Church” as sacramental unity is not founded on unity of faith, apostolic succession, the priesthood and the sacraments. In contrast, this new ecclesiology of yours is in direct and acute conflict with the consensus of the Holy Fathers ( consensus patrum), according to which the Holy Spirit and sacramental Grace (purifying, illuminating and deifying energies) do not exist outside of the Orthodox Catholic Church , and therefor e the grace of the Holy Spirit does not act within heretics and schismatics.

You see the decay of your heresy. You see that the solution is a return to Orthodoxy , and yet you are worried about losing “ Petrine primacy” ! Nevertheless, since you are unwilling to abandon your precious “Petrine primacy,” the collapse of the sinful and crumbling edifice of Papism is predetermined. In Your Excellency’s recent interview with the Italian magazine “ La Civilta Cattolica, ” perhaps unintentionally you let slip how the governance of the Papist “Church” needs changing . “Maybe it is time to change the methods of the Synod of Bishops, because it seems to me that the current method is not dynamic.” In other words, you’re aware that the despotism of the Papist system is no longer “in style,” and now you are searching for ways in which to save the Papism, which is continually sinking deeper into the unbelievable mire of scandals, some of which have touched even the Papal chambers. It is obvious how you are no longer able to control the self – determining tendencies of your Cardinals, who have long ceased to take you into consideration. The ethical and economical scandals are now happening under your very nose! Even a powerful “gay lobby” has been formed in the depths of the Vatican! But your most interesting statement of all was: “The joint effort of reflection, looking at how the church was governed in the early centuries, before the breakup between East and West, will bear fruit in due time.”

The Ecumenical Council is the highest criteria of ecclesiality. For us Orthodox the highest form of ecclesiastical government is the Ecumenical Council, not a man, a “Pope”. Here is our essential difference with Papism. The Protestants abolished everything. They are more honorable than you. They are more honorable because they did not want to keep something from the Church’ s tradition yet distort it. Papism, however, replaced the Ecumenical Council with the “Pope” and made it a tool of Papism, a maidservant of Papist schemes. In Orthodoxy the Ecumenical Council is, and will be until the end of time, the highest institution in the life of the Church. Ecumenical means a Council of the entire world. According to the definition given by Xenophon and in Greek Byzantium, that is to say, in Hellenic Romania, the word Ecumenical essentially means the inhabited world . Thus we have “Ecumenical Teachers” or “Ecumenical Fathers,” etc . So an Ecumenical Council is a council of the whole world that confronts the important problems of faith and order of the Church. Ecumenical Councils presuppose a crisis in the body of the Church, which means that salvation is being threatened. As the mouth of the Church the Ecumenical Council comes to proclaim, in every situation, the saving Truth, according to the Prophets, the Holy Apostles and the Holy Fathers and Mothers throughout the ages…

In addition, we humbly infer the following: The Apostle Peter did not receive from the Lord any “Primacy” of administration or power more than the other Apostles or anyone else in the Church (according to the consensus of the great Fathers of the Church about the true meaning of the Biblical verses), that would make him able to transmit this kind of power to any of his spiritual successors (despite the fact that the Apostles had no personal spiritual successors, being the founders of many Churches). You have even distorted the triple question “Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?”, by which the disciple who had denied Christ was restored to the ranks of the Apostles, as a so – called argument for the foundation of the false and nonexistent “Petrine Primacy.” However, this argument of yours is unsuccessful because the Evangelist writes characteristically, “Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me?” (John 21:15 – 19) He was grieved and did not rejoice because he remembered his thrice denial. Within the conciliar administration of the first Church of Jerusalem, which was made up of the Apostles all equal in rank (again, after the conciliar election of Matthias), the Apostle Peter did, on the one hand, have an honorable distinction, introducing the matters to be discussed or speaking first. He did not, however, have the leadership of administration nor the simple honorary chairmanship, because this was held by the Apostle James (Adelphotheos).

We will now concisely add not only the equally clear Biblical witnesses, but also those of history, from which it will be (according to us) fully proved that the Apostle Peter was neither the founder of the Church of Rome, neither was he martyred and neither did he even travel to that city.

Among these witnesses, the majority of which are more extensively developed in the scholarly historical study by Saint Nektarios , Bishop of Pentapolis, pgs 12 – 40, we place before you the first catholic epistle of the Apostle Peter “To the exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia…”, which was written approximately 62 A.D. In this epistle, despite the fact that it is a catholic epistle, the city of Rome is not mentioned, either because it was written from Rome, or because at the point of his writing he had not taught in this city. However, the very epistle itself rules out the first option , since it states that it was written in Babylon. This obviously is the Babylon of Egypt (since, accord to historical witness it could not be the ancient Babylon) south of Heliopolis, where there existed a large Jewish community, in which was even kept the tomb of the prophet Jeremiah. This is also strengthened by the claim of the Christians of Egypt that the founder of the Church of Alexandria was the Apostle Peter, who entrusted the care of that Church to his follower the Evangelist Mark. We therefore conclude that until the composition of the first catholic epistle, namely until about 62 A.D., the Apostle Peter had not journeyed to Rome.

That the Apostle Peter did not travel to Rome after the composition of his first epistle is witnessed to in his second catholic epistle, understanding , of course, that this epistle was obviously written for the Gentile Christians, whereas the first was written for the Jewish Christians. In this epistle there is also no mention of city of Rome.

Finally, the fact that, near the end of his life, the Apostle Peter did not journey to Rome is verified by the Apostle Paul’s second epistle to Timothy, in which he writes: “At my first defense no one took my part; all deserted me. May it not be charged against them! But the Lord stood by me and gave me strength to proclaim the message fully, that all the Gentiles might hear it.” From this epistle of the Apostle Paul, which was written near the end of his life, it is clearly verified, that during its writing, the Apostle Peter was not in Rome, otherwise the Apostle Paul would out of necessity have mentioned it.

Moreover, it is clear that before the composition of this epistle, the Apostle Peter had not traveled to Rome. If he had already preached there it would not be possible for the Apostle Paul to write that “also in Rome the Gentiles were taught and heard the preaching by him.”

When we add to these Biblical witnesses all that is mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles regarding the Apostle Paul’s first journey to Rome, something that we will expand upon shortly, along with his epistle to the Romans, we come to the indubitable conclusion that, before the Apostle Paul’s first journey to Rome and also before the composition of his second epistle to Timothy, the Apostle Peter had not traveled to Rome. Furthermore, the possibility that the Apostle Peter made the journey after the composition of this epistle, which, as we already stated, was written a few years before the death of the Apostle Paul, should also be ruled out, for the simple fact that there existed no reason for the Apostle Peter to do so , since the Church of Rome, which was founded by the Apostle Paul, already counted among itself a cloud of martyrs. As well, the time period rules it out, since it is highly probable that shortly after Nero’s persecution broke out both of the Apostles were martyred. They were not, however, martyred in Rome ; there exists no serious historical witness. All of the relevant witnesses, as shall be proved by the following, were based in good faith on ancient custom, which itself was based on apocryphal books and false sources.

Besides, indisputable historical witnesses confirm the opposite of this possibility in question . Among these witnesses we find that of St. Clement of Rome (88 – 97 A.D.): “… But not to dwell upon ancient examples, let us come to the most recent spiritual heroes. Let us take the noble examples furnished in our own generation. Through envy and jealousy, the greatest and most righteous pillars [of the Church] have been persecuted and put to death. Let us set before our eyes the illustrious apostle s. Peter, through unrighteous envy of others, endured not one or two, but numerous labors ; and when he had at length suffered martyrdom, departed to the place of glory due to him. Owing to envy, Paul also obtained the reward of patient endurance, after being seven times thrown into captivity, compelled to flee, and stoned. After preaching both in the East and West, he gained the illustrious reputation due to his faith, having taught righteousness to the whole world, and having come to the extreme limit of the West, and [finally] suffering martyrdom under the prefects. Thus was he removed from the world, and went into the holy place, having proved himself a striking example of patience.” From these words of our Holy Father we draw the certain conclusion that neither of the Chiefs of the Apostles were martyred in Rome, because otherwise he would have mentioned this fact, and in addition, that they were not executed for accusation of starting the Great Fire of Rome, but because of envy and jealousy, and finally that only the Apostle Paul became a preacher to the West, “and having come to the extreme limit of the West.”

It is also verified that the Apostle Paul traveled to Spain (which was the extreme limit of the West), as he writes in his epistle the Romans: “I have longed for many years to come to you, I hope to see you in passing as I go to Spain, and to be sped on my journey there by you…” Moreover, according to St. Clement, he was evidently martyred there, “and having come to the extreme limit of the West” ( ἐ πί τό τέρ μ α τ ῆ ς Δύσεως ἐ λθών).

Regardless, however, of the time and place of the death of the Chiefs of the Apostles, in our opinion, the most significant witness to the fact that the Apostle Peter did not travel to Rome before the Apostle Paul, and therefore that he did not found the Church in Rome, is concluded from the juxtaposition of the epistle to the Romans with the Acts of the Apostles regarding the Apostle Paul’s first journey to Rome.

The Christians of Rome (to whom the epistle to the Romans was written) apparently came, on the one hand, from the Gentiles of Syria, Macedonia and Greece, who had been former apprentices to the Apostle Paul, and on the other hand from the large Jewish community in Rome. Without comprising an organized Church they were coming together and apparently being taught in various homes, such as the home of Aquilla and Priscilla. We gather this from the first chapter of this epistle, verses 6 through 15 (where the Apostle stresses that he is “Apostle to the Gentiles,” and “I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome”), as well as from the eleventh chapter, verse 13 “Now I am speaking to you Gentiles…”

And so, writing from Corinth, around 58 A.D., to the Christians of Rome, the Apostle Paul emphasizes: “so that from Jerusalem and as far round as Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ, thus making it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on another man’s foundation.” And he adds: “This is the reason why I have so often been hindered from coming to you… I have longed for many years to come to you . I hope to see you in passing as I go to Spain.” Is this not sufficient proof that, when writing to the Christians of Rome, the Apostle Paul knew full well that until him , “no one else had told them of Christ,” and that “no one before him had laid a foundation,” and thus for these reasons he desire d to visit them?

Consequently, the Apostle Peter had not journeyed to Rome before the composition of this epistle, that is, before 58 A.D. Perhaps he made the journey during the two – year period that intervened between the writing of the epistle and the Apostle Paul’s first visit to Rome? For us, that which is mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles regarding the Apostle Paul’s first visit to Rome, and his subsequent two – year stay, rules this out completely. Here is a summary of events:

The Christians brothers of Rome received the Apostle Paul and those with him, coming “as far as the Forum of Appius.” The fact that these Christians where known to the Apostle is evident from the fact that they came out to meet him and that, upon seeing them, the Apostle “took courage.” Nevertheless, there does not exist among these brothers any obvious “bishop” of the Church of Rome, nor presbyter. Otherwise, there would have been special mention of him, as is the case with the presbyters of the Church in Ephesus.

Afterwards, receiving permission to stay “in his own hired dwelling,” (where he also resided for two years), he invites, three days after his arrival to Rome, the “local leaders of the Jews,” speaking with them about our Lord Jesus Christ, “of the hope of Israel that I am bound with this chain.” Answering that they had received no letter about him, and stating as Jews (and especially as elders of the Jews in Rome) that no one else among their fellow Hebrews had previously reported or spoken any evil about him, they demand to hear his teaching, which they call heresy, because they knew that “ everywhere it is spoken against.” A day was appointed , the Apostle began his teaching , “and some were convinced by what he said, while others disbelieved.”

It is to those who were convinced , and to the remaining preexisting Christian brothers, that the epistle to the Roman s was addressed ; and it was for these same that the Apostle Paul founded the Church of Rome, ordaining his disciple Linus as bishop. How then is it possible in this detailed account of the Apostle Paul’s first visit to Rome, and his subsequent two – year stay, for there not to be even the slightest allusion to the Apostle Peter’s visit , or to the existence of an organized Church founded by him, or to the name of the bishop of this Church?

How, too , are the “local leaders of the Jews” in Rome silent about the prior presence of the Apostle Peter, the “brother” and “teacher” of the Jews? Indeed, they state that “none of the brethren ” had yet come to them , and they make demand s of the Apostle Paul to hear the Christian teaching. If the Apostle Peter had previously traveled to Rome and had preached and established a Church would it be possible for the “local leaders of the Jews” to be unaware of this? In their discussion with the Apostle Paul is it possible there was no intimation about a bishop?

In addition, the epistles of the Apostle Paul to the Philippians, Colossians and to Titus, which undoubtedly were written in Rome during the Apostle’s two – year stay in that city, nowhere mention the Apostle Peter, yet , especially in the letter to the Colossians, there is reference to many other names. All of this comprises an irrefutable witness to the fact that the Apostle Peter neither went to Rome before the Apostle Paul, nor after, nor during the latter’s sojourn. Additionally confirmation that the Apostle Peter had not journeyed to Rome is found in the second epistle to Timothy, which, as we already stated, was written from Rome shortly before the death of the Apostle Paul (64 – 67 A.D.).

Nevertheless, other verified historical events , in combination with the afore mentioned Biblical witnesses, demonstrate that the Papist allegations regarding the Apostle Peter ’s continuous sojournings in Rome – after his arrival in 41 A.D. until his martyrdom under Nero in 66 A.D. – are completely false.

It is thus certain that the Apostle Paul was converted in 37 A.D., “Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas, and remained with him fifteen days.” And so the first meeting of the two Apostles took place in Jerusalem in 39 A.D. The Apostle Paul confirms, in this same epistle, that he went up to Jerusalem for the second time “after fourteen years” with the Apostles Barnabas and Titus. It was during t his second visit of his that the First Apostolic Council of Jerusalem – concerning the way in which the Gentiles were to be received into the Church – took place.

And so, after fourteen years, namely from 39 A.D. until 53 A.D., the Apostle Peter is found to be in Jerusalem taking part in the First Apostolic Council. Evidently during the same year he extends to the Apostle Paul and Barnabas – together with John – “the right hand of fellowship , ” and afterwards is confronted by the Apostle Paul in Antioch.

In 58 A.D., as we previously stated, the epistle to the Romans is written from Corinth, in which the Apostle Paul is sure that no one else at that time had journeyed to Rome. In 60 A.D. he goes up for the last time to Jerusalem, 140 from which the Apostle Peter is obviously absent, because the Apostle Paul only visits James , with whom “all the elders were present.” After being arrested in Jerusalem he is transferred to Caesarea, where he remains in bondage for two years, 141 and from which he evidently writes the epistle to the Ephesians. From there he is transported for the first time to Rome, around 62 A.D.

Therefore, in summary, when we take into account the following, is it not made undeniably clear that, the Apostle Peter, being absent from Jerusalem during the Apostle Paul’s last journey there, is truly found to be, during this period, in Babylon of Egypt, from where he writes his first Catholic epistle, and in which he makes no mention of Rome, for the explicit reason that he had not yet traveled there? 1) that the Apostle Peter had knowledge of the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, which was written around 62 A.D., when he wrote his own first Catholic epistle to the Jewish Christians of the Diaspora “Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia…” ; 2) that shortly before the composition of this epistle, during the Apostle Paul’s last journey to Jerusalem, the Apostle Peter is absent from that city ; and 3) that from the writing of the epistle to the Romans (58 A.D.) and afterwards of the epistle to the Ephesians (60 – 62 A.D.) , until the Apostle Paul’s first journey to Rome , during which he was bound and escorted, the Apostle Peter had not once traveled to Rome (as is proved by the detailed account, in the Acts of the Apostles, of the Apostle Paul’s first visit there, which we expanded upon earlier ) . From the combination of all these witnesses we draw the irrefutable conclusion that the Apostle Peter did not travel to Rome before the Apostle Paul.

In addition, from the combination of the Apostle Paul’s epistles to the Philippians, the Colossians and to Titus, which were undeniably written in Rome during his many year stay there (and in which is found no trace of the Apostle Peter, even though many other names are mentioned in the letter to the Colossians) , it is also undoubtedly concluded that during the Apostle Paul’s stay in Rome the Apostle Peter did not travel there, for, as we have previously stated, there existed no reason for him to travel there, inasmuch as the Church of Rome, founded by the Apostle Paul, was flourishing , and that soon after the great persecution of Nero began. Finally, from the second epistle of the Apostle Paul to Timothy, which was written from Rome shortly before the former’s death, that which we developed above is corroborated, namely that the Apostle Peter never traveled to Rome.

In this way the contrary claims of the Papist theologians, as well as the relevant details given by Eusebius, Irenaeus of Lyons, Dionysius of Corinth and Gaius the Presbyter, which these theologians invoke, are proved to be baseless and untrue, and this because these details are obviously based on apocryphal texts and inaccurate sources.

From the same “…Study” by St. Nektarios (pgs. 32 – 40) we have the following to say regarding these details: “We saw that until the end of 66 A.D. Paul was alive and free in Rome. Because Peter is nowhere mentioned we conclude that he was not in Rome…”

As well, that Peter did not travel to Rome after this, or at least until 81 A.D., is proved by the writings of Eusebius, who contradicts himself. Eusebius, in his third book, chapters one and two and in the first chapter of his fourth book as well as elsewhere, writes that Peter journeyed to Rome and there ordained Linus as first Bishop of Rome. In his second book, chapter twenty – five, he writes that Peter was killed in Rome under Nero. However, in chapter thirteen of book three, he himself writes: “After Vespasian had reigned ten years Titus, his son, succeeded him. In the second year of his reign, Linus, who had been bishop of the Church of Rome for twelve years, delivered his office to Anencletus”.

Let us see what year corresponds to the second year of the reign of Titus, during which Anencletus received his episcopate. Claudius ruled from 40 until 54 A.D. Nero from 54 up to 68 A.D. Vespasian from 69 until 79 A.D. Titus from 79 until 81 A.D. and a third more of that year.

So, if we subtract the 12 years of the episcopate of Linus from the year 81 A.D. we get 81 – 12=69. So, according to exact chronology and the witness of Eusebius, Linus was ordained during the years 69 – 70 A.D.

This raises the question, how, in the fourth chapter of the third book, does Eusebius write antithetically, “but Linus, whom he mentions in the Second Epistle to Timothy as his (Paul) companion at Rome, was Peter’s successor in the episcopate of the church there, as has already been shown”? How was he ordained by Peter, who according to the Papists, was martyred during the year 66 A.D.?

This supports our assertion that the phrase “was Peter’s successor” should instead read “was Paul’s successor.” These details about the ordination of Linus in 69 or 70 A.D. confirm a second trip to Rome by the Apostle Paul, perhaps after his journey to Spain. In addition it means that he was still alive and therefore was not martyred, along with the Apostle Peter, in 66 A.D. under Nero. That it was Paul and not Peter is also witnessed to by The Didache book LX (60), chapter XLV (45), which allude only to the Apostle Paul and not at all to Peter.

The episcopate of Anencletus, according to Eusebius, spanned twelve years. “In the twelfth year of the same reign Clement succeeded Anencletus after the latter had been bishop of the Church of Rome for twelve years.”

According to exact chronology, Titus died, as we stated, in 81 A.D. and the leadership was taken over by Domitian. Thus, if we add 12 to 81 we have 93, the year in which Clement was ordained as the third successor of the Roman Episcopal throne, and still the Papist s allege that he also was ordained by the Apostle Peter!

In Eusebius we find the following passage of Irenaeus: “The blessed Apostles, having founded and established the church, entrusted the office of the episcopate to Linus.” In addition, in chapter VIII of the same book there is also found another passage of Irenaeus: “Matthew published his Gospel among the Hebrews in their own language, while Peter and Paul were preaching and founding the church in Rome. After their departure, Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, also transmitted to us in writing those things which Peter had preached.”

According to these two passages from the history of Irenaeus we learn seven details: 1) That Peter and Paul co – founded and built the Church of Rome, 2) That both of them ordained Linus as bishop of the Church of Rome, 3) That the Evangelist Matthew wrote his Gospel in Hebrew, 4) That he was writing during the time that Peter and Paul were evangelizing and founding the Church of Rome, 5) That Peter and Paul departed this life simultaneously, 6) That Mark became the interpreter of Peter in Rome 7) That Mark wrote his Holy Gospel after the departure of the Apostles.

Let us see if this is indeed how things stand. Irenaeus states that Peter and Paul founded together the Church of Rome. Irenaeus lived during the second century (140 – 202 A.D.). He acquired his information from Rome, and he believed the myth about Simon Magus. He writes that indeed there was erected in Rome an edifice in honor of Simon Magus and his magical arts. The acceptance of the myth as a historical truth explains the acceptance of Peter’s traveling in Rome during the reign of Claudius Cesar, because this myth recounts all the struggles of Peter and Paul against Simon Magus , as well as Peter’s journeys there.

Before Irenaeus, Justin the philosopher and martyr, who thrived in the second half of the second century, also believed the myth, having been convinced by the Christians of Rome. Here are the words of Justin: “There was a Samaritan, Simon, a native of the village called Gitto, who in the reign of Claudius Cæsar, and in your royal city of Rome, did mighty acts of magic, by virtue of the art of the devils operating in him. He was considered a god, and as a god was honoured by you with a statue, which statue was erected on the river Tiber, between the two bridges, and bore this inscription, in the language of Rome: ‘Simoni Deo Sancto’.”

According to the Pseudo – Clementine Writings, Simon Magus predicted that he was going to be honored in Rome as a god, and for his sake they would erect there an edifice. Even though the Pseudo – Clementine literature appeared during this period , the myth of Simon Magus and his persecution at the hands of Peter is much earlier, appearing at the beginning of the second century.

The Acts of the Apostles Peter and Paul and the lost Teaching of Peter are apocryphal works which have their beginnings in the first century. They are product s of the Jewish Christians who did not break away from the customs and worship of the Law, and who, because of their devotion to the Jewish religion, warred against the Apostle Paul and his teachings . Some of them later created the heresy of the Ebionites, while others joined the Essenes. This is without a doubt the well from which both Justin and Irenaeus drew, and therefore Irenaeus’ information about the founding and building of the Church of Rome by Peter and Paul lacks historical validity.

Let us examine the historical accuracy of the second detail, which tells us that both of the Apostles entrusted the episcopate of the Church of Rome to Linus (where as in book III, chapter IV informs us that Peter alone established Linus as bishop). This detail can be divided into two parts: as a mistaken conclusion drawn from an inaccurate tradition, and as a historical truth. The conclusion was drawn from a false tradition concerning the myth of Simon Magus, while the ordination of Linus as bishop by Paul is historical truth.

The third detail, namely that the Evangelist Matthew wrote in the Hebrew dialect, is only useful to us in as much as it is related to the fourth detail, whereby we are informed that Matthew wrote during the period in which Peter and Paul were evangelizing and founding the Church of Rome. We already saw that Irenaeus accepted in good faith the myth of Simon Magus as historical fact , and consequently Peter and Paul ’s collaboration in Rome, which, as we have already shown, lacks historical validity. So how could the Gospel according to Matthew be written simultaneously with something that never took place, namely the founding of the Church in Rome by both the Apostles Peter and Paul?

The witness of Irenaeus is proved to be incorrect by the Gospel according to Matthew itself, which testifies to having been written during the onset of the Jewish War in 67 A.D., as is apparent from the twenty fourth chapter, verse fifteen, and therefore after the martyrdom of the Apostles Peter and Paul. Close inspection reveals that this detail of Irenaeus is inaccurate, and we cannot therefore base ourselves on this witness, which he nevertheless received in good faith.

As for the fifth detail, that Peter and Paul meet their end at the same time (in Rome), we find no witnesses save apocryphal sources, which are bereft of validity. The witness of Dionysius of Corinth, who reposed around 170 A.D., and who wrote to the bishop of Rome – “You also by this instruction have mingled together the Romans and Corinthians who are the planting of Peter and Paul. For they both came to our Corinth and planted us, and taught alike; and alike going to Italy and teaching there, were martyred at the sa me time . ” – is also lacking in validity , as it is drawn from the same apocryphal sources. If this has any truth it is found in the claim that both Peter and Paul preached in Corinth, a fact that is attested to in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians , where he rebukes them for the divisions amongst them, each one saying “I belong to Paul,” or “I belong to Apollos,” or “I belong to Cephas.” However, he adds nothing about the preaching of Peter in Rome. If, despite this, the theologians of Rome have a different opinion, let them render primacy and seniority to the Church of Corinth , for it would not be right for the elder to be deprived while the younger is boasting.

In addition, the witness of Caius the Presbyter, who lived in the beginning of the third century, who wrote to Proclus regarding the “ trophies (τρόπαια) of the Apostles” (that is, the tombs of the Apostles in Rome), who comes after the witnesses of Irenaeus and Justin (neither of whom related anything about the “ trophies”), who comes after the Pseudo – Clementine writings ( which were composed to support the ambitions of the Popes), cannot have validity, because those who wrote the Pseudo – Clementine literature could have constructed the “ trophies of the Apostles”. Otherwise, there existed the “trophies” of the Apostle Paul (chains), which could be ascribed to both Apostles. In short, the witness of Caius, with the exhibition of the “ trophies of the Apostles, ” adds nothing.

When Caius speaks of the “trophies” of those who had founded the Church of Rome how is it obvious that he is speaking of Peter? This is what is called in logic, pelitio principii. In other words, it is necessary to have already proven that Peter was among the founders of the Church of Rome for us to recognize that Caius is commemorating the existence of the Apostle Peter’s tomb in Rome.

So, when he writes of the founders of the Church of Rome, to whom does he refer? Paul and his disciples; for not only the Twelve are called Apostles, but also their fellow workers and disciples. Thus, Luke calls Barnabas an Apostle. Paul, many times, names as Apostles Titus, Timothy and Silas, whereas Clement of Alexandria calls Clement of Rome, who is a contemporary of Caius, an Apostle.

However, the important argument in the minds of those who claim that Peter founded the Church of Rome, namely , that which Caius writes about the “ trophies of the Apostles ” in Rome, cannot possibly be true because it is in total conflict with the facts.

Caius mentions the “trophies of the Apostles,” which anyone can see at the Vatican or on the Via Ostiensis, in two very conspicuous sites. Would this, however, have been possible during an era when the Christians were hiding for their lives?

If these tombs truly existed, as Caius mentions, they would have been built in the second century, that is, under Trajan or Hadrian, because only then did the Christians enjoy a little freedom. But, if that is the case, why did not Paul of Samosata, bishop of Antioch, who wrote around the year 260 A.D., mention anything about the subject? And why did not Ammonius of Alexandria, who wrote his interpretation of the Gospels circa 250 A.D. mention anything? Why did Marcus Minucius Felix (213 A.D.), in his dialogue on religion, write nothing? Like wise, Lucian, presbyter of Antioch, and Dionysius, bishop of Antioch, who wrote around the year 240 A.D., mention nothing.

The witness of Origen regarding the death of Paul in Rome under Nero is refuted by Clement of Rome, who wrote “and come to the extreme limit of the West, and suffered martyrdom under the prefects.” Even if, due to its vagueness, we do not take the position that he was martyred in Spain, surely Rome cannot be described by the phrase “extreme limit of the West.”

Neither does the witness of Eusebius, who recounts the death of the two Apostles in Rome, have any validity, because he also, as we already stated, often contradicts himself, and has drawn his facts from unreliable sources. Evidence of this is found in the fact that he relates the myth of Simon Magus as historical fact, while at the same time relating about the death of the two Apostles, apparently rashly accepting every tradition or piece of information as historical truth.

The sixth detail – that Mark was Peter’s interpreter in Rome – is refuted by Holy Scripture itself. It is possible that Mark was Peter’s interpreter, however not in Rome. Rather, Egypt is more likely, as in Egypt they spoke Coptic, Greek and Latin. It is not possible that this took place in Rome because a) Peter never traveled to Rome ; and b) as we saw, until 62 – 63 A.D. Mark was in Egypt with Peter, and then afterwards , as we learned concerning the letters of Paul, he served as Paul’s helper, and no mention is made of Peter. So this detail of Irenaeus is also deprived of its validity by the witness of Scripture ; and since it is not supported by the latter, it falls. It seems , however, that this detail includes one truth: Mark was Peter’s interpreter ; and since this did not occur in Rome, it was probably in Egypt, which supports our opinion concerning where the first catholic epistle was composed.

The seventh piece of information – that Mark wrote his Gospel after the death of the Apostles – in no way supports the idea that it was written in Rome. In particular, Eusebius’ report “that the work obtained the sanction of his (the Apostle Peter’s) authority”, as recorded in the fifteenth chapter of his second book, is also bereft of historical validity. Behold, the proof: The Gospel according to Matthew was translated into Greek. Comparing the three Gospels, namely the translation of Matthew ’s with the those of Luke and Mark, it is show n that the latter had Matthew’s translation in mind while writing. This because forty – two verses of the Gospels according to Mark and Luke are identical with the Gospel according to Matthew. Therefore, Mark composed his Gospel much later.

It is highly likely, if not altogether certain, that he wrote his Gospel in Alexandria, where, in the position of Peter’s interpreter he put in writing that which was being preached, for the benefit of those who had believed . Thus, the witness of Irenaeus, having so many weak points, cannot serve as a foundation on which to erect Papal Primacy. All of the witnesses which we have spoken about have the same validity.

And so, it is nowhere proved that the Apostle Peter traveled to Rome, nor that he preached and died there. Rather the opposite is witnessed to by the Holy Scriptures and Ecclesiastical History.

From this detailed and analytical criticism of the information given by Irenaeus of Lyons, Dionysius of Corinth, Caius the Presbyter of Rome, Origen and Eusebius concerning the Apostle Peter’s journey to Rome and the founding, by him and the Apostle Paul, of the Church of Rome, in our opinion, completely proves that these details are based on erroneous local custom and sources, and moreover, obviously in opposition to the clear and conflicting evidence from Scripture and History.

As we gather from the Pseudo – Clementine Writings, these erroneous sources and traditions were obviously, and very opportunely, fabricated by Papism and put into circulation during the end of the second century, having conceived of the idea to replace the worldly “imperium” and the “Pontifex maximus” of the Roman emperors with something more spiritual and allegedly Christian.

As was only natural, under t he general spiritual conditions of the time, and with the difficulties of spiritual communication between the large and distant cities, and with the lack of means to confirm the authenticity of the writings, which at that time were circulating on parchment, a proper, direct and critical analysis of the relative tradition and sources was not possible.

However, even if, despite all of this, we accept that the Apostle Peter journeyed to Rome after, or even before the Apostle Paul (even though the latter is impossible according to that which we have laid out) and that he founded the Church of Rome together with or even before the Apostle Paul, Papism could still find no argument to justify or claim “Primacy” over all the Church, because, as we have already proved, the Apostle Peter had no such “Primacy.” In addition, the possibility that the Church of Rome was founded by him, or even the possibility of his death there, does not convey to the bishop of the Church of Rome any special power or jurisdiction over the whole Church.

Concerning this subject, the ever – memorable Archbishop of Bulgaria, Leon very correctly stresses in the opening of his letter the following:

“If Rome is first because it received the chief bishop, how much more should Antioch have primacy, because, before Rome, the Apostle Peter was bishop of Antioch. Still, if Rome is deemed to be first, because there the Chief of the Apostles reached his end in martyrdom, how much more should Jerusalem take precedence over Rome? Even if the primacy of the sees is a consequence of the quality of the persons, how then does Jerusalem not gloriously prevail over the others? For the common creator Himself and master of Peter and of all people without exception, the first and High Priest, the source of all life and of the High – priesthood, lived there and willingly sacrifice d Himself for the salvation of the world. And again, if Rome seeks primacy because of the chief Apostle, Byzantium should be first, because Andrew was the first – called and the elder of his brother (Peter)….”

After reading the above, your recent presentation of the alleged Holy Relics of the Apostle Peter, unknown for two centuries, strikingly presents the tragic character of your religious system…

With respect,

+ Andrew of Dryinoupolis, Pogoniani and Konitsa

+ Seraphim of Piraeus and Faliro

(Letter to Francis. HOLY AUTOCEPHALOUS ORTHODOX CATHOLIC CHURCH OF GREECE. April 10, 2014, pp. 1, 37, 41, 45-56, 89. viewed 04/21/2014)

There are actually more issues than the Greek Orthodox bishops raised. Some of those associated with Peter are in the article

Roman Catholic scholars know that the commonly taught position that Peter was the first pope in Rome and that Rome ruled all of Christendom from the beginning is false.

Here are a couple of quotes from three Catholic scholars, two of which are priests:

ALTHOUGH CATHOLIC TRADITION, BEGINNING IN the late second and early third centuries, regards St. Peter as the first bishop of Rome and, therefore, as the first pope, there is no evidence that Peter was involved in the initial establishment of the Christian community in Rome (indeed, what evidence there is would seem to point in the opposite direction) or that he served as Rome’s first bishop. Not until the pontificate of St. Pius I in the middle of the second century (ca. 142-ca. 155) did the Roman Church have a monoepiscopal structure of government (one bishop as pastoral leader of a diocese). Those who Catholic tradition lists as Peter’s immediate successors (Linus, Anacletus, Clement, et al.) did not function as the one bishop of Rome (McBrien, Richard P. Lives of the Popes: The Pontiffs from St. Peter to Benedict XVI. Harper, San Francisco, 2005 updated ed., p.25).

Later legend would fill out the details of Peter’s life and death in Rome–his struggles with the magician and father of heresy, Simon Magus, his miracles, his attempted escape from persecution in Rome, a flight from which he was turned back by a reproachful vision of Christ (the ‘Quo Vadis’ legend), and finally his crucifixion upside down in the Vatican Circus in the time of the Emperor Nero. These stories were to be accepted as sober history by some of the greatest minds of the early Church–Origen, Ambrose, Augustine. But they are pious romance, not history, and the fact is that we have no reliable accounts either of Peter’s later life or of the manner or place of his death. Neither Peter nor Paul founded the Church at Rome, for there were Christians in the city before either of the Apostles set foot there. Nor can we assume, as Irenaeus did, that the Apostles established there a succession of bishops to carry on their work in the city, for all the indications are that there was no single bishop at Rome for almost a century after the deaths of the Apostles. In fact, where ever we turn, the solid outlines of the petrine succession at Rome seem to blur and dissolve…

Neither Paul, Acts nor any of the Gospels tells us anything direct about Peter’s death, and none of them even hints that the special role of Peter could be passed on to any single ‘successor’. There is, therefore, nothing directly approaching a papal theory in the pages of the New Testament (Duffy, Eamon. Saints & Sinners: A History of the Popes. Yale University Press, New Haven (CT), 2002, pp.2,6).

Irenaeus focuses on the church of Rome which he describes as “greatest, most ancient and known to all, founded and established by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul.” Here we must acknowledge a bit of rhetoric, as the church of Rome was obviously not so ancient as those of Jerusalem or Antioch, nor was it actually founded by Peter or Paul (Sullivan F.A. From Apostles to Bishops: the development of the episcopacy in the early church. Newman Press, Mahwah (NJ), 2001, p. 147).

The only possible area that had the type of leadership and ‘apostolic succession’ that the Church of Rome now claims was the Church of God in Asia Minor. And this is confirmed by the facts of history, including Roman Catholic writings, if people are willing to accept the truth.

Most are not willing to accept the truth about what really happened and where the true church now is. What about you?

Some items of related interest may include:

Continuing History of the Church of God This pdf booklet is a historical overview of the true Church of God and some of its main opponents from Acts 2 in the first century to the 21st century. Related sermon links include Continuing History of the Church of God: c. 31 to c. 300 A.D. and Continuing History of the Church of God: 4th-16th Centuries. Marque aquí para ver el pdf folleto: Continuación de la Historia de la Iglesia de Dios.
Where is the True Christian Church Today? This free online pdf booklet answers that question and includes 18 proofs, clues, and signs to identify the true vs. false Christian church. Plus 7 proofs, clues, and signs to help identify Laodicean churches. A related sermon is also available: Where is the True Christian Church? Here is a link to the booklet in the Spanish language: ¿Dónde está la verdadera Iglesia cristiana de hoy?
The History of Early Christianity Are you aware that what most people believe is not what truly happened to the true Christian church? Do you know where the early church was based? Do you know what were the doctrines of the early church? Is your faith really based upon the truth or compromise?
Was Peter the Rock Who Alone Received the Keys of the Kingdom? How should Matthew 16:18-19 be understood?
The Apostle Peter He was an original apostle and early Christian leader. Where was Peter buried? Where did Peter die?
The Churches of Revelation 2 & 3 Do they matter? Most say they must, but act like they do not. This article contains some history about the Church of God (sometimes referred to as the continuation of Primitive Christianity) over the past 2000 years. It also discusses the concept of church eras. There is also a YouTube video: The Seven Church Eras of Revelation.
What Do Roman Catholic Scholars Actually Teach About Early Church History? Although most believe that the Roman Catholic Church history teaches an unbroken line of succession of bishops beginning with Peter, with stories about most of them, Roman Catholic scholars know the truth of this matter. Is telling the truth about the early church citing Catholic accepted sources anti-Catholic? This eye-opening article is a must-read for any who really wants to know what Roman Catholic history actually admits about the early church. There is also a YouTube sermon on the subject titled Church of God or Church of Rome: What Do Catholic Scholars Admit About Early Church History?
Nazarene Christianity: Were the Original Christians Nazarenes? Who were the Nazarene Christians? What did they believe? Should 21st century Christians be modern Nazarenes? Is there a group that exists now that traces its history through the Nazarenes and holds the same beliefs today? Here is a link to a related video sermon Nazarene Christians: Were the early Christians “Nazarenes”?
Location of the Early Church: Another Look at Ephesus, Smyrna, and Rome What actually happened to the primitive Church? And did the Bible tell about this in advance?
Apostolic Succession What really happened? Did structure and beliefs change? Are many of the widely-held current understandings of this even possible? Did you know that Catholic scholars really do not believe that several of the claimed “apostolic sees” of the Orthodox have apostolic succession–despite the fact that the current pontiff himself seems to wish to ignore this view? Is there actually a true church that has ties to any of the apostles that is not part of the Catholic or Orthodox churches? Read this article if you truly are interested in the truth on this matter! Here is a version in the Spanish language La sucesión apostólica. ¿Ocurrió en Roma, Alejandría, Constantinopla, Antioquía, Jerusalén o Asia Menor?
Early Church History: Who Were the Two Major Groups Professed Christ in the Second and Third Centuries? Did you know that many in the second and third centuries felt that there were two major, and separate, professing Christian groups in the second century, but that those in the majority churches tend to now blend the groups together and claim “saints” from both? “Saints” that condemn some of their current beliefs. Who are the two groups?
Could Pope Francis be the Last Pope and Antichrist? According to some interpretations of the prophecies of the popes by the Catholic saint and Bishop Malachy, Pope Francis I is in the position of “Peter the Roman,” the pontiff who reigns during tribulations until around the time of the destruction of Rome. Do biblical prophecies warn of someone that sounds like Peter the Roman? Could Francis I be the heretical antipope of Catholic private prophecies and the final Antichrist of Bible prophecy? This is a YouTube video.

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