Category Archives: Interpretation

Judgement and Works

peasants

BTW, our eternal destiny — salvation or damnation — is based on the works we do.

huh?

Growing up in church* I frequently heard teaching that included something like this: “I know it may seem the passage (or verse) says X, but in fact it really means Y.” In other words, although on the surface it looks clear, don’t be fooled. Since we know that such and such doctrine must be true, we therefore know that this passage can’t really mean what it seems to mean. This kind of approach was most evident (to me at least) on the topic of faith versus works. Since, of course, we know we are saved by faith alone (sola fide) then we know passages that say we are saved by works must actually be saying something else.

But do they? A good question to ask is, if the writer (St. Paul, St. John, etc.) of any passage in question meant what one has now figured out it “really” means, then why did he write it the way he did? In other words, if the writers of the New Testament meant to say we are saved by faith alone, then why didn’t they write that way? So many times they wrote we are saved by works, as well as by faith, grace, mercy, baptism, etc., that one wonders how did they get their doctrine so messed up?! But of course their doctrine was correct, and it is we who must correct our thinking.

As an example of what I mean, below are examples where New testament writers (many of the words are from the mouth Christ) point to something other than sola fide.

Anyway, I too feel convicted of often letting myself off the hook thinking it doesn’t ultimately matter how I live my life as long as I have faith. It’s a trap I fall into too often. I think we all do. Perhaps it’s a human tendency, perhaps a product of my Protestant upbringing (though I see it everywhere). And caring to do good is not the same as doing good. Caring may be enough, I mean I’m going to fail again and again, so caring has got to count for something, but I wonder.

Some might say that God doesn’t intend us to actually do good works, only that we try, miserably fail of course, and then turn to Him. That that is the purpose of having good works set before us as a goal; not that we do them but that we try and learn we can’t. I don’t see that teaching clearly articulated in scripture.

Some might say that good works are fine, and of course we should do them, but they are ultimately meaningless, that any work we do is really worthless. Again, I don’t see that teaching clearly articulated in scripture. In fact, clearly the opposite.

What I do see are repeated calls to good works, and that those works are critically tied up in our eternal destiny, and our movement towards becoming one with Christ and holy like our Father is holy. I also see we are utterly sunk without God’s grace and mercy. But still, we are called to be holy, to do good works. Our eternal destiny depends on it.

Judgement and works brothers and sisters. What do we do with this? What do we do with these verses?

Matthew 7:19 “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. . . .”

Matthew 7:21 “Not every one who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” Note: See the next several verses (7:22-27) to get a fuller picture of the implications.

Matthew 16:27 “For the Son of man . . . will repay every man for what he has done.”

Matthew 25:34-36 “Then the King will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’” (cf. 25:31-33, 37-46)

Luke 3:9 “. . . every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.”

John 5:29 “Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come forth, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment.”

Romans 2:5-13 But by your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed. For he will render to every man according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are factious and do not obey the truth, but obey wickedness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek,  but glory and honor and peace for every one who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. For God shows no partiality. All who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.

2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive good or evil, according to what he has done in the body.

2 Thessalonians 1:8-11 . . . inflicting vengeance upon those who do not know God and upon those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They shall suffer the punishment of eternal destruction and exclusion from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he comes on that day to be glorified in his saints, and to be marveled at in all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed. To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his call, and may fulfill every good resolve and work of faith by his power, . . .

1 Peter 1:17 . . . who judges each one impartially according to his deeds, . . .

Revelation 2:23 . . . I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you as your works deserve.

Revelation 20:12 . . . And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, by what they had done. (cf. 20:11-13)

Revelation 21:8 But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the polluted, as for murderers, fornicators, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their lot shall be in the lake that burns with fire and sulphur, which is the second death.

Revelation 22:12 Behold, I am coming soon, bringing my recompense, to repay every one for what he has done.

Those are just a few of many passages.

Peasant's Head

darn

*Sometimes I joke that I was moved from the hospital directly to the First Baptist church nursery, such was my experience.

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Unlocking the Catholicism of “The Lord of the Rings”

I find this fascinating. We all know Tolkien was a Catholic, and we can all readily pick up on a few Catholic themes in LTR, but I love how deep one can go with that. I also enjoy how much fun Joseph Pearse is having with this talk.

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Embracing Creeds and Risking Love

Do we use creeds to protect us from others, from the world? Or do our creeds give us the freedom to risk love, even to risk God? Do we grab tightly to faith statements out of a need to control the world around us rather than truly taking up our crosses and following our Lord where ever he goes, even to a total trust in the Father?

banner_faith

Throughout the history of Christianity, how one views the Bible has been a key indicator of one’s stance towards Christian orthodoxy. For example, whether one takes the Bible as being inspired by God or not means a great deal to most Christians and has been one of the primary lines drawn in the sand over the centuries. Given the contentious history of debates over scripture (and over the divinity of Christ, the sacraments, etc.)  the existence of the great creeds (Apostle’s, Nicene, etc.) come as no surprise. It is also not surprising that many individual churches (esp. Protestant)  and various Christian organizations (such as schools) adopt “statements of faith” or minor creeds that highlight where they stand on key issues. [As an aside it is worth noting that for many Protestant churches, especially non-denominational, evangelical, and various Baptists, these minor creeds or statements of faith are the only creeds used, since there is a tendency within these groups to avoid the traditional creeds of the historical church for various reasons of which their members are largely unaware.]

Here is the first paragraph of a Statement of Faith (SOF) used by a Christian educational organization of which our family is a part:

All Scripture is self-attesting and being Truth, requires our unreserved submission in all areas of life. The infallible Word of God, the sixty-six books of the Old and New Testaments, is a complete and unified witness to God’s redemptive acts culminating in the incarnation of the Living Word, the Lord Jesus Christ. The Bible, uniquely and fully inspired by the Holy Spirit, is the supreme and final authority on all matters on which it speaks.

Notice the key words employed: self-attesting, Truth, submission in all areas of life, infallible, Word of God, complete and unified, uniquely and fully inspired, supreme and final authority. Also notice that sixty-six books of the Old and New Testaments are called out, and that scripture applies to “all matters on which it speaks.” Without going into depth here, it is clear that this SOF’s provenance is of the Reformed/Protestant worldview (only 66 books instead of 73, Scripture is the “supreme and final authority” instead of the Church, etc). And it should be noted that even within traditional, conservative, Protestant Christianity, there is not a little debate over each of the words and phrases above, especially regarding “all matters on which it speaks” — which itself is a highly debated phrase. Notice one other thing: the omission of the idea of “literal interpretation.” I do not believe this omission is an oversight.

The idea of taking the Bible literally has its own history and debates, and sharp lines have been drawn. In particular, those of the more Fundamentalist persuasion (such as many Baptists and many American Evangelicals) have tended toward a literalist interpretation in their battles against the theory of evolution. The history here is key, and demonstrates that the argument, at least for the Fundamentalists, has been largely defined by the evolutionists. The literalist stance is an historically recent phenomenon, and is essentially a reactionary position. The literalist is more likely to interpret the first chapter of Genesis as clearly speaking of a literal six-day creation story, and must therefore logically hold to a staunchly anti-evolution (and battle-hardened) position  On the other hand, a non-literalist, who may also be just as against Darwin’s theory of evolution as the Fundamentalist, will be more open to the idea that the six days of creation could, for example, be a poetic description of six ages rather than days (both views presupposing God as sovereign creator). And we should keep in mind that an anti-evolution argument based on a literal interpretation of Genesis is very different than an anti-evolution position based on scientific principles and logical arguments. Keep in mind as well that many orthodox Christians see evolution as a potentially valid explanation of one way God actively works in His creation. But that’s another topic for another day.

Bible believing Christians continue to debate these issues, with some Christians believing there is room for interpretation and some who do not. Those who do not also tend to draw lines in terms of authentic belief along the literalist divide. In other words, and for various reasons, the literalists will tend to equate authentic Christian belief with their literalist perspective—all non-literalists are questionably Christian at best. It doesn’t take much to show that this equation lacks both from the reasonableness of good logic and from an understanding of how the biblical authors themselves understood Holy Scriptures. But convictions run deep in times of war, and Fundamentalists are, for better or worse, at war.

From the SOF above we can conclude three things: a) it is unambiguously of the Reformed/Protestant worldview, b) it is, however, not of the more narrow Fundamentalist worldview, at least in terms of demanding a literalist interpretation of scripture, and c) while making clear demands in terms of infallibility and inspiration, it does not demand strict interpretive rules (whether in terms of literalism or other approaches), and thus does not preclude some variance among adherents to the SOF in understanding Genesis 1 (or other passages of scripture). Thus, while clearly stating there are certain key points on which the organization will not budge, there are other points on which it allows for some flexibility in light of the SOF as a whole.

Why bring up this SOF? We have recently had the privilege to clarify our own beliefs within a Christian community because of some accusations of unbelief leveled at one of its members who is in a leadership position, leveled in light of the SOF above. (It’s not the only issue on the table, but it’s one of the biggest.)  One of the points of tension specifically pitted the literalist perspective of the accusers against the non-literalist perspective of the accused.  Though this is an old debate, it caught the accused off guard and reminded me that the literalist perspective is alive and well. (Keep in mind the accusations were leveled in a relatively loving style, though if it was actually loving is questionable.)

Typically those in leadership and/or positions of responsibility within a Christian organization are asked to faithfully adhere to that organization’s statement of faith. This is a generally accepted practice. And certainly, if one  in such a position has sworn an oath or signed a contract to adhere to a statement of faith, then one should keep one’s word or probably abdicate one’s position. It is important to know what one has sworn to uphold, but also what one has not sworn to uphold. Consequently, some such organizations take the crafting of their statements of faith very seriously by being careful in the words used and, just as important, the words not used. And yet, most Christian websites I’ve perused seem to put up statements of faith by merely copying them from other Christian organizations’ web sites, such as the SOF above (at least the portion shown). Regardless, for those who are unfamiliar or unaware of the historical battles fought over creedal language, it may come as a surprise when issues flair up and heated debates begin to rage. For this reason some Christians are anti-creedal, but this is throwing out the baby with the bath water for reasons I can’t go into here.

It may also come as a surprise when an individual within an organization, who is understood as being a true brother or sister in Christ is, nonetheless, asked to leave the organization over a particular point in a statement of faith. Sometimes the breach is significant and warrants serious evaluation. Many times, however, the issue revolves around expectations particular only to a specific group or individual, or specific interpretations of vague or even missing language, and even in terms of matters of style. We forget how much of our judging of other Christians comes from whether they look and talk like us. And, as happens in these situations, the literalist position assumes a whole host of necessary implications stemming from the non-literalist stance — such as the non-literalist MUST be a relativist at heart, shaky in his/her faith, on the verge of denying both the inspiration and infallibility of scripture, and willing to make the Bible say whatever is convenient. Only conformance to the narrow creed or expulsion from the group are the options offered — and not offered out of anger, but out of a perceived fidelity to faith.

Perhaps it is more serious when contentions arise from an overreaching of the SOF by imposing expectations not specified or clearly stated in the SOF. In other words, if individuals within an organization demand either a particular interpretation of an SOF (when there is, in fact, legitimate room for a breadth of application), or claim the SOF implies language (such as a literal interpretation of scripture) not actually stated in the SOF, then it becomes too easy for some to make perhaps unintended, and yet unscrupulous, choices or, perhaps worse, wield a kind of destructive power within an organization for their own purposes, however noble they may be perceived. It may be interesting to consider who, in these kinds of Christian power-play politics, is the weaker brother—though that kind of thinking inevitably goes both ways and should call all to repentance and humility.

Sometimes the accusations merely come from a misunderstanding of the role the SOF is meant to play within an organization. It is too common within Christian organizations that SOF’s are seen (or assumed) as designating the faith of the adherents—though this is a highly questionable, and probably un-biblical position for faith is much more of a mystery. Even those with faith often don’t truly know they have faith until trials and suffering reveals it to them. Nonetheless, we tend to like shortcuts to making judgements than doing the hard work of relationships. Also, and this is a critical distinction, in many educational organizations, including the one in which we participate, the SOF is technically an academic requirement, not a measure of faith. In other words, tutors declare with their signatures that they will teach in accordance with, and in light of, the SOF—but they are not required to believe everything in it personally. If they deviate or transgress their obligation of adherence, which can happen for any number of rather innocuous reasons, then very often a course correction is warranted rather expulsion from their role within the organization. This means that, for example, an Eastern Orthodox or Roman Catholic Christian tutor could fulfill the requirements of the SOF above by adhering to the academic requirements in a faithful manner, though the SOF is essentially Protestant. Whether such a person would want to do this, or would actually be free to do this, is another matter. This in not to dismiss the importance of creeds actually representing, in some important way, the faith held by the adherents, for this is no small thing. But those calling for expulsion over creeds all too often have convoluted the academic (or other organizational) requirement with personal faith, and thus jump to equating the external with the internal, and blown up minor points of interpretation into outsized issues.

Sadly, what happens, and in this case has happened, is to accuse others of unbelief. Or, more specifically, to say the individual is an unbeliever, which often means (and in this case is meant to mean), to say this individual is damned. That’s a strong word, and it often is avoided with language like “I don’t doubt we are all believers here” or “I know you love God” and then inevitably followed with the big “but, you see…” That language is, ironically, only meant to fool the one’s using it. The problem here is that none of us can know if another is “saved”. That is up to God alone. But it is a big temptation to put oneself in the place of God, to level the finger at others and declare “I see through you.” Creeds can become a handy weapon in the hands of unscrupulous Christians. The irony in this particular situation, and I imagine in many others similar ones, is that the accused, by his responses and demeanor, has exhibited more Christ-like behavior than some of the accusers. The problem may merely be that his demeanor is very a-typical for middle-class, Protestant, Fundamentalist society, and therefore is a natural target. But it is a common occurrence for any of us to have both Christ-like behavior and a creed displayed before us, and to choose the creed over Christ.

An important question all of us must ask, especially those of us in positions of influence withing Christian organizations, is whether our intentions and actions truly correspond with those of Christ. If we are honest, we must conclude they often do not. In fact, more frequently than we want to admit, or are even capable of seeing, we tend more towards the attitude of the Pharisees than of Christ. We tend to live in fear while calling it prudence or even wisdom. Fear is corrosive. This is true especially when it comes to how we educate our children, and thus plays a big role in many Christian schools (including the pressure put on schools by fearful parents). And finding the balance in love is extremely difficult. We want to guard our children’s hearts, but education also requires risk—and I don’t mean it sometimes can gets risky, like straying inadvertently into a minefield, but that education requires risk from the beginning.

Given this fact, it is not inconceivable to think that Christian Fundamentalism (and much of American Evangelicalism) is probably incompatible with the Classical Christian Education model. This is a separate issue, but it resides at the heart of much of what our family is about.

A question each of us might ask is whether we have entrenched ourselves within a creed because it is easier to do that than to risk trusting in God. One of the great ironies of the history of creeds is that they were typically, traditionally created for the purpose of finding as much room for inclusion within the Body of Christ as possible, but then tended to be wielded for the purpose of exclusion. In other words, an activity whose origin is for unity is eventually employed for division. This is the result of that common occurrence whereby we Christians (yes, all of us are affected at one time or another) tend to slide from freedom in Christ to pharisaism.  This slide, which is fundamentally the result of fear, unfortunately represents much of the history of the Church and has torn too many Christians, and Christian organizations, apart. As the old saying goes, those who do not study history are destined to repeat it.

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sharper than any two-edged sword

I want to explore a common misunderstanding.

Question: Is it true that the author of the letter to the Hebrews proclaims the Bible to be “sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart”? I grew up believing that it is, and I hear today from some Christians, mostly Protestants, that it is. But is that what this verse means?

No. That is a misinterpretation of that passage.

If we read Hebrews 4:12 in its context (see all of chapter 4 below) it becomes apparent that the issue at hand is whether the readers of this letter will enter into the “sabbath rest” because they have heard the word of God and obeyed it, or whether they will fail to enter that rest because, after hearing that word, they reject it and fall into disobedience. The author of Hebrews draws the connection up front: “For good news came to us just as to them”. And the problem of those who failed to enter God’s rest is because the good news “did not meet with faith in the hearers”. The author makes the comparison with those of the past ages by bringing up the creation story, Joshua, and David. When he says, “and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience,” he wants his readers to understand the history of this good news, that it has been there from the beginning, is here today, and that all are called to respond. He wants his readers to respond positively and enter into God’s rest. He even says, “let us fear lest any of you be judged to have failed to reach it.”

So why is this “word of God” not the Bible? First, we should remember that the phrase “word of God” is often used in Scriptures to mean Christ; see John’s Gospel chapter 1: “In the Beginning was the Word…” and “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us”. The phrase is more often used to mean the Gospel, or message of salvation: “And the word of God increased…” (Acts 6:7), “But it is not as though the word of God had failed.” (Romans 9:6), “…are much more bold to speak the word of God without fear.” (Philippians 1:14), “But the word of God is not fettered.” (2 Timothy 2:9), and many more. None of these passages diminish the Holy Scriptures, but it is clear that in the minds of the Apostles the phrase “word of God” has everything to do with what has been proclaimed by God since the beginning and what was being proclaimed to the world by the apostles, namely Christ.

If this is true, then we should ask what does it mean that this word of God “is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Think of how many times in the New Testament, particularly in the Acts of the Apostles, that upon hearing the Gospel people respond (remarkably, miraculously) with belief: the Gospel is proclaimed and, along with the work of the Holy Spirit, the hearers are cut to the quick, convicted of their sins, repent, and seek reconciliation with God. That is the power of this Gospel. The author of Hebrews says, “And before him no creature is hidden, but all are open and laid bare to the eyes of him with whom we have to do.” To be open to that “word” is to be on the path to God’s rest. The other option is to harden one’s heart and turn away in disobedience.

Does the Bible proclaim the Word of God? Absolutely! Are the Holy Scriptures one the “tools” God uses to convict sinners of their need for repentance, as well as of the incredible mercy of God? Yes! The Bible is our primary source for the teachings of the prophets of God, of the Apostles, and of Christ Himself. But, according to the author of Hebrews, the word of God is “living”, that is, it is the continuing proclamation of the Gospel through the ages, actively promoted by the Holy Spirit through the words and witness of the followers of Christ. The “word of God” is the good news, the promise of salvation, the Gospel. And that good news is is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword.

Hebrews 4

¹ Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest remains, let us fear lest any of you be judged to have failed to reach it. 2 For good news came to us just as to them; but the message which they heard did not benefit them, because it did not meet with faith in the hearers. 3 For we who have believed enter that rest, as he has said,

“As I swore in my wrath,
‘They shall never enter my rest,’”

although his works were finished from the foundation of the world. 4 For he has somewhere spoken of the seventh day in this way, “And God rested on the seventh day from all his works.” 5 And again in this place he said,

“They shall never enter my rest.”

6 Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience, 7 again he sets a certain day, “Today,” saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted,

“Today, when you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts.”

8 For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not speak later of another day. 9 So then, there remains a sabbath rest for the people of God; 10 for whoever enters God’s rest also ceases from his labors as God did from his.

11 Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, that no one fall by the same sort of disobedience. 12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And before him no creature is hidden, but all are open and laid bare to the eyes of him with whom we have to do.

14 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we have not a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sinning. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Final thoughts:

Growing up a Protestant I know the lingo and presuppositions that pervade that sub-world, and lifting up the scriptures above all else is a big one. Now, Christians have always had a high view of the Holy Scriptures, and this is as it should be. For “God is the author of Sacred Scripture. ‘The divinely revealed realities, which are contained and presented in the text of Sacred Scripture, have been written down under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.'” (CCC 105) Protestants often claim to have a higher view of the Holy Scriptures than non-Protestants. Sola Scriptura is the classic rallying cry of Protestantism. Hebrews 4:12 is one of the popular texts frequently used to argue for this unique place of scripture as against tradition. Perhaps other arguments can be offered for this perspective, but Hebrews 4:12 offers none.

Why bring this up? Recently I have had the privilege of being in the midst of a debate on how to teach the theory of evolution within a Christian Classical Education context. Central to the debate is how we are to interpret scripture. All involved proclaim the importance of the Bible and see it as the inspired word of God. Not all agree, however, as to the specific nuances of what that means. I am inclined to see Holy inspiration as being more mysterious and unknowable than some. But the real crux came not about whether the Bible is the word of God, but rather what method of interpretation should one employ. In other words, some assumed that a literal interpretation — especially in regards to the first chapter of Genesis — was required in order to also assume inspiration and infallibility (an assumption that doesn’t make sense to me), and were surprised to realize that not everyone, including the tutor, held their perspective. In fact, the subtext, which remained barely below the surface (and not really below the surface at all) called into question the “authentic belief” of those who were not literalists. At one point Hebrews 4:12 was tossed on the table with almost the wave of a hand in order to champion the high place of Holy Scripture. The irony was that the true meaning of Hebrew 4:12 — that is, the deep and profound embracing of the Word of God through the conviction of the Holy Spirit resulting in a heart that loves truth and loves God — was evidenced by the non-literalist tutor in the responses given to serious accusations.

Perhaps the tendency to see the Bible as “living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart” is because some like the idea of the Bible being a weapon against the world, of cutting others to the heart, of fighting the good fight. But to see this living, two-edged sword instead as the Word of God, as that which convicts and lays bare, as that which calls each of us to repentance, is to weep and call upon God for mercy. One perspective attacks, the other welcomes; one pushes away, the other embraces; one emerges out of fear, the other out of love.

My desire is that I would be someone who embraces the word of God. As a parent I am faced continually with the question: How do I model this for my children, how do I live it before them?

Finally, let us remember with humility, as the passage in Hebrews above begins, that “while the promise of entering his rest remains, let us fear lest any of you be judged to have failed to reach it.” The clear implication is that some of us will start of this journey to God’s rest and then fail to enter it. Perhaps that is because we hear the Gospel, embrace it at one level, but fail to love others as Christ loved us. God have mercy.

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John Paul II on Parents Educating their Children

The following is from FAMILIARIS CONSORTIO:

The Right and Duty of Parents Regarding Education

36. The task of giving education is rooted in the primary vocation of married couples to participate in God’s creative activity: by begetting in love and for love a new person who has within himself or herself the vocation to growth and development, parents by that very fact take on the task of helping that person effectively to live a fully human life. As the Second Vatican Council recalled, “since parents have conferred life on their children, they have a most solemn obligation to educate their offspring. Hence, parents must be acknowledged as the first and foremost educators of their children. Their role as educators is so decisive that scarcely anything can compensate for their failure in it. For it devolves on parents to create a family atmosphere so animated with love and reverence for God and others that a well-rounded personal and social development will be fostered among the children. Hence, the family is the first school of those social virtues which every society needs.”(99)

The right and duty of parents to give education is essential, since it is connected with the transmission of human life; it is original and primary with regard to the educational role of others, on account of the uniqueness of the loving relationship between parents and children; and it is irreplaceable and inalienable, and therefore incapable of being entirely delegated to others or usurped by others.

In addition to these characteristics, it cannot be forgotten that the most basic element, so basic that it qualifies the educational role of parents, is parental love, which finds fulfillment in the task of education as it completes and perfects its service of life: as well as being a source, the parents’ love is also the animating principle and therefore the norm inspiring and guiding all concrete educational activity, enriching it with the values of kindness, constancy, goodness, service, disinterestedness and self-sacrifice that are the most precious fruit of love.

This gets to the heart of why we have chosen to homeschool our children.

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Biblical references for the unique role and responsibility the Apostle Peter

The Apostle Peter is a fascinating man in the New Testament. In the Protestant world it is common for pastors to say they love Peter because he was such a  goof-up. Peter gives us all kinds of hope that any of us can be saved. But anyone who has grown up in, or spent a lot of time in, the Protestant world and worldview knows it is Paul who is Apostle number one. There are at least two good reasons for this. One is that Paul wrote those books of the Bible that are most central for Protestants: Romans, Galatians, 1 Corinthians, etc. Second is that Protestants are wary of Peter because Catholics say the true Church founded by Christ was founded upon Peter (the rock) as the first of the apostles, as the first “pope”. Get too close to Peter and one might be tempted to think Catholics are on to something.

But Peter is a big deal. To my count Peter is mentioned in the New Testament something like 155 times, whereas the rest of the apostles combined are only mentioned around 130 times. Of course mere numbers don’t necessarily add up to importance. It’s how Peter is mentioned, what he does, what he says, what others say about him, and especially what Christ says to Peter that show Peter is the central Apostle, the key figure of the New Testament Church. As we look at the Biblical references to Peter the picture begins to fill out.

An aside: I have heard many Protestant teachings on the famous Matthew 16:18 passage where Jesus says “upon this rock I will build My church.” That passage in isolation can be taken any number of ways. But after looking at a more complete picture of Peter as the New Testament writers saw him, I must say the Roman Catholic understanding of Peter as the Rock upon which Christ will build His Church makes the most sense. In fact, even without this particular passage, the other passages below add up to the same idea. Rather than seeing the Catholic position as some kind of crazy overlay to this passage, it now seems clear to me that it is the Protestants who must come up with a better argument. So far I have not heard anything better. Of course, this makes me, an old Protestant, very curious.

Below are the New Testament references I was able to find regarding Peter. I have tried to group them a bit, and added a few of my thoughts. I have not ranked them in any particular order. I’m sure I’ve made some mistakes. All quotations are from the New American Standard Bible.

Peter listed/mentioned first with the apostles

Peter being mentioned or listed first among the apostles:

Matt. 10:2  Now the names of the twelve apostles are these: The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; and James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother;
Mark 1:36  Simon and his companions searched for Him;
Mark 3:16  And He appointed the twelve: Simon (to whom He gave the name Peter),
Luke 6:14-16  Simon, whom He also named Peter, and Andrew his brother; and James and John; and Philip and Bartholomew;  and Matthew and Thomas; James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon who was called the Zealot; Judas the son of James, and Judas Iscariot, who became a traitor.
Acts 2:37  Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?”
Acts 5:29  But Peter and the apostles answered, “ We must obey God rather than men.

Peter is first when entering upper room after our Lord’s ascension:

Acts 1:13  When they had entered the city, they went up to the upper room where they were staying; that is, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas the son of James.

Peter leads the fishing and his net does not break. According to Catholics, the boat (the “barque of Peter”) is seen as a metaphor for the Church:

John 21:2-3  Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His disciples were together. Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will also come with you.” They went out and got into the boat; and that night they caught nothing.
John 21:11  Simon Peter went up and drew the net to land, full of large fish, a hundred and fifty-three; and although there were so many, the net was not torn.

Though Peter and John are both very important figures in the early church, Peter is always mentioned before John:

Luke 8:51  When He came to the house, He did not allow anyone to enter with Him, except Peter and John and James, and the girl’s father and mother.
Luke 9:28  Some eight days after these sayings, He took along Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray.
Luke 22:8  And Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the Passover for us, so that we may eat it.”
Acts 1:13  When they had entered the city, they went up to the upper room where they were staying; that is, Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon the Zealot, and Judas the son of James.
Acts 3:1-4  Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the ninth hour, the hour of prayer. And a man who had been lame from his mother’s womb was being carried along, whom they used to set down every day at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, in order to beg alms of those who were entering the temple. When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he began asking to receive alms. But Peter, along with John, fixed his gaze on him and said, “Look at us!”
Acts 3:3  When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he began asking to receive alms.
Acts 3:11  While he was clinging to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them at the so-called portico of Solomon, full of amazement.
Acts 4:13  Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus.
Acts 4:19  But Peter and John answered and said to them, “ Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge;
Acts 8:14  Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent them Peter and John,

Peter is mentioned first as going to mountain of transfiguration. He is also the only disciple to speak at the transfiguration:

Luke 9:28  Some eight days after these sayings, He took along Peter and John and James, and went up on the mountain to pray.
Luke 9:33  And as these were leaving Him, Peter said to Jesus, “ Master, it is good for us to be here; let us make three tabernacles: one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah”— not realizing what he was saying.

Peter is the first of the apostles to confess the divinity of Christ:

Matt. 16:16  Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Mark 8:29  And He continued by questioning them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered and said to Him, “You are the Christ.”
John 6:69  We have believed and have come to know that You are the Holy One of God.”

Peter ranked(?) higher than John

John arrived at the tomb first but stopped and waited for Peter. Peter then arrived and entered the tomb first:

Luke 24:12  But Peter got up and ran to the tomb; stooping and looking in, he saw the linen wrappings only; and he went away to his home, marveling at what had happened.
John 20:4-6  The two were running together; and the other disciple ran ahead faster than Peter and came to the tomb first; and stooping and looking in, he saw the linen wrappings lying there; but he did not go in. And so Simon Peter also came, following him, and entered the tomb; and he saw the linen wrappings lying there,

It is Peter that is named as the eye witness even though both Peter and John had seen the risen Jesus the previous hour:

Luke 24:34  saying, “ The Lord has really risen and has appeared to Simon.”

Peter seen as the Leader of the Apostles

In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus asks Peter, and no one else, why he was asleep. It would seem Peter is held accountable, on behalf of the apostles, for their actions:

Mark 14:37  And He came and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour?

Peter is designated (called out) by an angel as unique among the apostles:

Mark 16:7  But go, tell His disciples and Peter, ‘ He is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see Him, just as He told you.’”

Peter receiving Special Instruction and Revelation

Peter alone is told he has received special, divine revelation from God the Father:

Matt. 16:17  And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.

Jesus instructs the disciples by specifically instructing Peter to let down their nets for a catch. Peter specifically is told he will be a “fisher of men”:

Luke 5:4,10  When He had finished speaking, He said to Simon, “Put out into the deep water and let down your nets for a catch… and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. And Jesus said to Simon, “ Do not fear, from now on you will be catching men.”

Peter speaking/Asking on Behalf of the Disciples

Peter asks Jesus about the rule of forgiveness. Peter frequently takes a leadership role among the apostles in seeking understanding of Jesus’ teachings:

Matt. 18:21  Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”

Peter speaks on behalf of the apostles by telling Jesus that they have left everything to follow Him:

Matt. 19:27  Then Peter said to Him, “Behold, we have left everything and followed You; what then will there be for us?”

Peter speaks for the disciples on their following Jesus:

Mark 10:28  Peter began to say to Him, “Behold, we have left everything and followed You.”

Peter speaks for the disciples about their witnessing Jesus’ curse on the fig tree:

Mark 11:21  Being reminded, Peter said to Him, “ Rabbi, look, the fig tree which You cursed has withered.”

Peter functions as the spokesman or representative (or vicar, to use popular a Catholic term) for Jesus:

Matt. 17:24-25  When they came to Capernaum, those who collected the two-drachma tax came to Peter and said, “Does your teacher not pay the two-drachma tax?” He *said, “Yes.” And when he came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth collect customs or poll-tax, from their sons or from strangers?”

When Jesus asked who touched His garment, it is Peter who answers:

Luke 8:45  And Jesus said, “Who is the one who touched Me?” And while they were all denying it, Peter said, “Master, the people are crowding and pressing in on You.”

It is Peter who seeks clarification of a parable on behalf on the disciples:

Luke 12:41  Peter said, “Lord, are You addressing this parable to us, or to everyone else as well?”

After many of the disciples leave Jesus, it is Peter who speaks on behalf of the remaining disciples and confesses their belief in Christ after the Eucharistic discourse:

John 6:68 Simon Peter answered Him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have words of eternal life.

Peter as Christ’s Representative on Earth

Protestants debate this, but it would seems that Jesus builds the Church primarily (only?) on Peter, the rock:

Matt. 16:18  I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.

Only Peter receives the keys of the kingdom of heaven:

Matt. 16:19  I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.”

Peter, by paying the tax for both Jesus and himself, is acting Christ’s “representative” on earth:

Matt. 17:26-27  When Peter said, “From strangers,” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are exempt. However, so that we do not offend them, go to the sea and throw in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for you and Me.”

Peter given charge/care of the other disciples

Jesus prays specifically for Peter, that his faith may not fail, and charges him to strengthen the rest of the apostles:

Luke 22:31-32  “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has demanded permission to sift you like wheat; but I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.”

In front of the apostles, Jesus asks Peter if he loves Jesus “more than these,” which likely refers to the other apostles. Peter has a special role regarding the apostles:

John 21:15  So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My lambs.”

Jesus charges Peter to “feed my lambs,” “tend my sheep,” “feed my sheep.” Sheep appears to mean all people (or all believers), including the apostles:

John 21:15-17  So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” He *said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “Tend My lambs.” He said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” He said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He said to him, “ Shepherd My sheep.” He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “ Tend My sheep.

Peter Leading the Early Church

Peter initiates the selection of a successor to Judas immediately after Jesus ascended into heaven. Note: This passage also supports (or establishes) the concept of apostolic succession:

Acts 1:15  At this time Peter stood up in the midst of the brethren (a gathering of about one hundred and twenty persons was there together), and said,

Peter is the first apostle to preach the Gospel:

Acts 2:14  But Peter, taking his stand with the eleven, raised his voice and declared to them: “Men of Judea and all you who live in Jerusalem, let this be known to you and give heed to my words.

Peter is the first to preach on repentance and baptism in the name of Jesus Christ:

Acts 2:38  Peter said to them, “ Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Peter performs the first healing miracle of the apostles:

Acts 3:6-7  But Peter said, “I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene—walk!” And seizing him by the right hand, he raised him up; and immediately his feet and his ankles were strengthened.

Peter is the first to teach that there is no salvation other than through Christ:

Acts 3:12-26  But when Peter saw this, he replied to the people, “Men of Israel, why are you amazed at this, or why do you gaze at us, as if by our own power or piety we had made him walk? The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified His servant Jesus, the one whom you delivered and disowned in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release Him. But you disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, but put to death the Prince of life, the one whom God raised from the dead, a fact to which we are witnesses. And on the basis of faith in His name, it is the name of Jesus which has strengthened this man whom you see and know; and the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect health in the presence of you all. And now, brethren, I know that you acted in ignorance, just as your rulers did also. But the things which God announced beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled. Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time. Moses said, ‘ The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brethren; to Him you shall give heed to everything He says to you. And it will be that every soul that does not heed that prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.’ And likewise, all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and his successors onward, also announced these days. It is you who are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant which God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘ And in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’ For you first, God raised up His Servant and sent Him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways.”

Acts 4:8-12  Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers and elders of the people, if we are on trial today for a benefit done to a sick man, as to how this man has been made well, let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by this name this man stands here before you in good health. He is the stone which was rejected by you, the builders, but which became the chief corner stone. And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”

Peter resolves the first doctrinal issue on circumcision at the Church’s first council at Jerusalem, and no one questions him. After Peter the Papa spoke, all were kept silent:

Acts 15:7-12  After there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brethren, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles would hear the word of the gospel and believe. And God, who knows the heart, testified to them giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us; and He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith. Now therefore why do you put God to the test by placing upon the neck of the disciples a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? But we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they also are.” All the people kept silent, and they were listening to Barnabas and Paul as they were relating what signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles.

Only after Peter finishes speaking do Paul and Barnabas speak in support of Peter’s definitive teaching:

Acts 15:12  All the people kept silent, and they were listening to Barnabas and Paul as they were relating what signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles.

The church prayed for Peter while he was in prison:

Acts 12:5  So Peter was kept in the prison, but prayer for him was being made fervently by the church to God.

Peter acts as the chief elder (or bishop?) by exhorting all the other elders of the Church:

1 Peter 5:1  Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed,

Peter brings the Gospel to the Gentiles

Peter is first Apostle to teach that salvation is for all, both Jews and Gentiles:

Acts 10:34-48 Opening his mouth, Peter said: “I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him. The word which He sent to the sons of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ (He is Lord of all)— you yourselves know the thing which took place throughout all Judea, starting from Galilee, after the baptism which John proclaimed. You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. We are witnesses of all the things He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They also put Him to death by hanging Him on a cross. God raised Him up on the third day and granted that He become visible, not to all the people, but to witnesses who were chosen beforehand by God, that is, to us who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead. And He ordered us to preach to the people, and solemnly to testify that this is the One who has been appointed by God as Judge of the living and the dead. Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins.” While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message. All the circumcised believers who came with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they were hearing them speaking with tongues and exalting God. Then Peter answered, “ Surely no one can refuse the water for these to be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we did, can he?” And he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to stay on for a few days.

Acts 11:1-18  Now the apostles and the brethren who were throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. And when Peter came up to Jerusalem, those who were circumcised took issue with him, saying, “ You went to uncircumcised men and ate with them.” But Peter began speaking and proceeded to explain to them in orderly sequence, saying, “ I was in the city of Joppa praying; and in a trance I saw a vision, an object coming down like a great sheet lowered by four corners from the sky; and it came right down to me, and when I had fixed my gaze on it and was observing it I saw the four-footed animals of the earth and the wild beasts and the crawling creatures and the birds of the air. I also heard a voice saying to me, ‘Get up, Peter; kill and eat.’ But I said, ‘By no means, Lord, for nothing unholy or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’ But a voice from heaven answered a second time, ‘ What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.’ This happened three times, and everything was drawn back up into the sky. And behold, at that moment three men appeared at the house in which we were staying, having been sent to me from Caesarea. The Spirit told me to go with them [m] without misgivings. These six brethren also went with me and we entered the man’s house. And he reported to us how he had seen the angel standing in his house, and saying, ‘Send to Joppa and have Simon, who is also called Peter, brought here; and he will speak words to you by which you will be saved, you and all your household.’ And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them just as He did upon us at the beginning. And I remembered the word of the Lord, how He used to say, ‘ John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ Therefore if God gave to them the same gift as He gave to us also after believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?” When they heard this, they quieted down and glorified God, saying, “Well then, God has granted to the Gentiles also the repentance that leads to life.”

Peter binds and looses

Peter exercises his binding authority by declaring the first anathema of Ananias and Sapphira (which is ratified by God):

Acts 5:3  But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back some of the price of the land?

Peter again exercises his binding and loosing authority by casting judgment on Simon’s quest for gaining authority through the laying on of hands:

Acts 8:20-23  But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain the gift of God with money! You have no part or portion in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. Therefore repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray the Lord that, if possible, the intention of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bondage of iniquity.”

Peter heals others

Peter’s own shadow has healing power:

Acts 5:15  to such an extent that they even carried the sick out into the streets and laid them on cots and pallets, so that when Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on any one of them.

Peter is mentioned first among the apostles and works the healing of Aeneas:

Acts 9:32-34  Now as Peter was traveling through all those regions, he came down also to the saints who lived at Lydda. There he found a man named Aeneas, who had been bedridden eight years, for he was paralyzed. Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you; get up and make your bed.” Immediately he got up.

Peter is mentioned first among the apostles and raises Tabitha from the dead:

Acts 9:38-40  Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, having heard that Peter was there, sent two men to him, imploring him, “Do not delay in coming to us.” So Peter arose and went with them. When he arrived, they brought him into the upper room; and all the widows stood beside him, weeping and showing all the tunics and garments that Dorcas used to make while she was with them. But Peter sent them all out and knelt down and prayed, and turning to the body, he said, “ Tabitha, arise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter, she sat up.

Angels are active in Peter’s life and ministry

Cornelius is told by an angel to call upon Peter. Peter was granted this divine vision:

Acts 10:5  Now dispatch some men to Joppa and send for a man named Simon, who is also called Peter;

Peter is freed from jail by an angel. He is the first Apostle to receive direct divine intervention:

Acts 12:6-11  On the very night when Herod was about to bring him forward, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and guards in front of the door were watching over the prison. And behold, an angel of the Lord suddenly appeared and a light shone in the cell; and he struck Peter’s side and woke him up, saying, “Get up quickly.” And his chains fell off his hands. And the angel said to him, “Gird yourself and put on your sandals.” And he did so. And he said to him, “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me.” And he went out and continued to follow, and he did not know that what was being done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. When they had passed the first and second guard, they came to the iron gate that leads into the city, which opened for them by itself; and they went out and went along one street, and immediately the angel departed from him. When Peter came to himself, he said, “Now I know for sure that the Lord has sent forth His angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting.”

Other Apostles Testify to Peter’s Teaching and Leadership

James speaks to acknowledge Peter’s definitive teaching. “Simeon” is a reference to Peter:

Acts 15:13-14  After they had stopped speaking, James answered, saying, “Brethren, listen to me. Simeon has related how God first concerned Himself about taking from among the Gentiles a people for His name.

Paul says he doesn’t want to build on “another man’s foundation” which may refer to Peter and the church Peter may have built in Rome:

Rom. 15:20  And thus I aspired to preach the gospel, not where Christ was already named, so that I would not build on another man’s foundation;

Paul distinguishes Peter from the rest of the apostles and brethren:

1 Cor. 9:5  Do we not have a right to take along a believing wife, even as the rest of the apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas?

Paul distinguishes Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances to Peter from those of the other apostles:

1 Cor. 15:4-8  and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also.

Paul spends fifteen days with Peter privately before beginning his ministry. This comes even after Christ’s revelation to Paul. Paul needed Peter’s acceptance and blessing:

Gal. 1:18  Then three years later I went up to Jerusalem to become acquainted with Cephas, and stayed with him fifteen days.

Interesting

Peter is the only man to walk on water other than Christ:

Matt. 14:28-29  Peter said to Him, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” And He said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus.

Jesus teaches from Peter’s boat. The boat may be a metaphor for the Church, the so-called “barque of Peter”:

Luke 5:3  And He got into one of the boats, which was Simon’s, and asked him to put out a little way from the land. And He sat down and began teaching the people from the boat.

Peter speaks out to the Lord in front of the apostles concerning the washing of feet:

John 13:6-9  So He came to Simon Peter. He said to Him, “Lord, do You wash my feet?” Jesus answered and said to him, “What I do you do not realize now, but you will understand hereafter.” Peter said to Him, “Never shall You wash my feet!” Jesus answered him, “ If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.” Simon Peter *said to Him, “Lord, then wash not only my feet, but also my hands and my head.”

Only Peter got out of the boat and ran to the shore to meet Jesus:

John 21:7  Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord.” So when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put his outer garment on (for he was stripped for work), and threw himself into the sea.

Jesus predicts Peter’s death:

John 13:36  Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, where are You going?” Jesus answered, “ Where I go, you cannot follow Me now; but you will follow later.”
John 21:18  Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go.”

Peter is mentioned first in conferring the sacrament of confirmation:

Acts 8:14  Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent them Peter and John,

Peter was most likely in Rome. “Babylon” was often used as a code word for Rome:

1 Peter 5:13  She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you greetings, and so does my son, Mark.

Peter writes about Jesus’ prediction of Peter’s death:

2 Peter 1:14  knowing that the laying aside of my earthly dwelling is imminent, as also our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me.

Peter makes a judgement of Paul’s letters:

2 Peter 3:16  as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction.

Peter was the first among the Apostles, perhaps struggled with that position at times, but proved to be the servant of all:

Matt. 23:11  But the greatest among you shall be your servant.
Mark 9:35  Sitting down, He called the twelve and *said to them, “ If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.”
Mark 10:44  and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be slave of all.

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each was teaching something different

The following quote is from Marcus Grodi’s testimony on how he journeyed from being a Presbyterian pastor to being a Catholic:

Every Sunday I would stand in my pulpit and interpret Scripture for my flock, knowing that within a fifteen mile radius of my church there were dozens of other Protestant pastors—all of whom believed that the Bible alone is the sole authority for doctrine and practice—but each was teaching something different from what I was teaching. “Is my interpretation of Scripture the right one or not?” I’d wonder. “Maybe one of those other pastors is right, and I’m misleading these people who trust me.”

I don’t want to make a judgement here on Grodi’s conversion to Catholicism, but I do think this quote captures the tension in brief of what every Protestant minister feels, or should feel, when he (or she) steps into the pulpit.

Found in Surprised by Truth, ed. by Patrick Madrid, page 38.

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Filed under Bible Study, Catholic Church, Interpretation, Protestantism