I would like to present to you here some of the scripture that concerns the topic of The establishment of Christ's Church. After reading this study, go back to your bible and read the passages again. I am using the English Standard Version as well as my Ignatius RSV Study Bible for this article. Also note that the CCC or Catechism of The Catholic Church is also referenced. The links will be provided.
"Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” "Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 16:13-19)
Jesus asks his disciples "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" Notice that "they" (the disciples) answer first, although giving incorrect answers. Then Jesus turns to "them" (specifically the 12 Apostles) saying, "But who do you say that I am?” When only Peter answers, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Notice that here and in many other instances Peter is shown speaking for the twelve and even more specifically the whole Church or all Christians. Jesus makes it know that Peters correct answer has been given by God. This passage clearly indicates Peter's capacity to make infallible teaching on behalf of the whole Church and the leaders of that Church, the twelve Apostles.
Therefore Christ says, "And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this
Christ establishes his physical Church here on earth on Peter as his first representative (Deputy or Vicar) and the Apostles.
|By Paul Rubens|
Likewise, when our Lord founded his Church it was to be a physical reality of his spiritual Church in heaven. In heaven there is Christ resurrected in Glory seated at the right hand of God The Father, and all the Saint's or God's children and members of his Church. On earth there is Peter (Pope or head Bishop) Christ's deputy or Vicar and the Apostles serving as fathers (Bishops, priests and deacons) over God's children who are members of his Church. In heaven like I already said, we have Christ's Glorified body!
Likewise, here on earth we have Jesus Christ truly present, and glorified, body, blood, soul, and divinity, in the Eucharist! For further study on the Eucharist in Scripture click here. And these are just a few examples. Even we as human beings are both spiritual and physical beings, because we have both a body and spiritual soul. This is precisely why Christ's Church is both spiritual as well as physical, in order to supply us with what we need for the sanctification of both our body and soul.
No one in the Church takes the place of Christ he is The head and founder of the Church. But, while he reigns from heaven through his Church here on earth he has appointed those by way of Apostolic Succession to feed his flock. (John 21-15-17)
This Church which Christ states will be protected from the "gates of hell," will also, through Peter whom Jesus gives, "the keys of the kingdom of heaven," will have the authority of binding and loosing.
"The keys are a symbol of teaching authority (Lk 11:52). Jesus consecrates Peter as the Church's chief teacher, whose office will continue on through successors. The plural use of keys may imply a connection with the "gates" in (Matt 16:18) and mean that Peter's position includes, among other things, the authority to release the righteous souls who are detained in Hades but destined for heaven.
In the OT Davidic empire, the king appointed a cabinet of ministers for specific tasks in the kingdom (1 Kings 4:1-6; 2 Kings 18:37). Of these, a prime minister was elevated to unique status of authority, ranking second only to the king. This government structure was common among kingdoms in the ancient Near East (cf. Gen 41:39-43; Esther 3:1-2). Jesus here evokes (Is 22:15-25), where the prime minister's office is handed on to a successor by the symbolic act of handing on the "key of the house [i.e., kingdom] of David" (Is 22:22).
In Matthew, Jesus is the new Davidic king, who appoints Peter the prime minister over the kingdom of heaven in the Church. As in (Is 22), Peter's position is designed for him and his successors; the office is meant to endure as long as the kingdom itself. Entrusted with the keys, Peter wields Christ's own royal authority (cf. Rev 1:18; 3:7).
Whatever you bind and loose: Familiar language in early Jewish literature. The metaphor carries several connotations: (1) It signifies teaching authority and the ability to render binding decisions. Rabbis were said to make "binding" interpretations of the Law. (2) It denotes authority to include or exclude members of a religious community. (3) It signals the forgiveness of sins (Tg Neof in Gen 4:7). The verb loose is used this way in (Rev 1:5 translated "freed") and by the early Church Fathers (cf. Jn 20:23). Peter is thus invested with Christ's authority as the kingdom's chief teacher and administrator; through him heaven governs the Church on earth (cf. Jn 21:15-17; 1 Tim 3:15; CCC 553, 1445)." (The Ignatius RSV study bible New Testament)
More on Binding and Loosing...
We see this again in Christ's church in Matthew. Speaking to the Apostles specifically, "If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." (Matt 18:17-18)
"Matthew 18:17 the Church: Mentioned only here and in (Matt 16:18) in the Gospels. Whereas (Matt 16:18) envisions Peter's authority over the universal Church, this verse (18:17) pertains to a local congregation of Christians. Gentile . . . tax collector: Two groups generally despised by first-century Jews. The choice of these terms suggest that Jesus requires a policy of non-association with those who are disciplined by leaders of the Church (cf. 1 Cor 5:9-13; 2 Cor 6:14-15).
Matthew 18:18 whatever you bind . . . loose: In (Matt 16:19), Peter was invested with Christ's authority as the visible head of the Church. A derivative—but subordinate—authority is given also to the apostles as royal ministers in the kingdom. Jesus' authority in this context is related to Church discipline; by extension, it is also a sacramental authority to forgive sins (cf. Jn 20:23; CCC 553, 1444)." (The Ignatius RSV study bible New Testament)
Later in Matthew, "And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matt 28:18-20)
Using the authority that has been given to the Apostles by Christ he then commands them to "make disciples" by "baptizing" in the Trinitarian name. Jesus promises that he would be with "them" (the Apostles) until the end! Christ's church will last until he comes again. Peter, the Apostles and those who succeed them will also have this authority, guidance and protection. Note: Obviously Jesus knows that the Apostles themselves will not live on earth forever. This is why he said, "teaching them" (future disciples and leaders in the Church) "to observe all that I have commanded you," the "you" being the Apostles. We see this same transmission throughout the bible in various places.
"You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus, and what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men a who will be able to teach others also." (2 Tim 2:2)
Baptism or Else...
"And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned."
Jesus like in (Matthew 28:18-20) gives the Apostles (The Church) a command to go preach and baptize. He stresses the importance of believing (a spiritual act) and being baptized (a physical act.) "Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." (1 Thessalonians 5:23)
He does this through the Sacraments thanks be to God!
Authoritative Church and The Holy Spirit
Speaking to the seventy-two laborers Jesus sent out he says, “The one who hears you hears me, and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects him who sent me.” (Luke 10:16) Keep in mind that these laborers are ones whom have been taught correct doctrine handed down to them by Christ.
"He who hears you hears me: The messengers of Jesus carry his authority wherever they go. To reject them is to reject both the Father and the Son (Jn 12:48-49; 13:20). Jesus confers an even greater share of his royal, priestly, and prophetic authority upon the apostles before his Ascension (Mt 28:18-20) (CCC 87, 858)." (The Ignatius RSV study bible New Testament)
Matthew 28:18-20 quoted above...
Speaking to the Apostles and therefore to the members of The Church.
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me. “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you." (John 14:15-26)
Our Lord confirms that his Church will be guided by The Holy Spirit and that the world in general will not have him or be guided by him. But, those of his Church through the Apostles will have access to him. Christ has not left us as orphans to fend for ourselves especially regarding matters of faith and morality. He has given us a Church to teach us correct doctrine feeding us spirituality as well as physically. For more information on how Christ feeds us through his Church click here.
More to Come...
“I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you." (John 16:12-15)
Christ's Church will speak with the authority of God through The Holy Spirit! And will faithfully glorify Christ and give what belongs to Christ like salvation, forgiveness of sins, and correct teachings to his followers. He does all of this through the Sacraments of the Catholic (Universal) Church!
This next verse kinda brings it all home. St. Paul is writing to Timothy about the Church and how people and leaders in the Church should conduct themselves. Paul reminds us that his good council through The Church is efficacious to is followers and that they should listen to him because The Church which he represents is the pillar of Truth!
"I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that, if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, pillar and buttress of the truth." (1 Tim 3:14-15)
Obviously, there is so much more I could say, but there is a lot of Scripture to go through already. What I want to stress here is that Christ in fact built a Church and this Church is both spiritual and physical, the continuity of Christ's actions in scripture proves it. Like I said before in the Remember section. Everything Christ did and does is both spiritual as well as physical, even to the point of creating you and me. To say that he stopped with the creation and mission of his Church is to say Christ lacks continuity in what he does! To say that the physical reality of his spiritual Church some how disintegrated along with the death's of the Apostles denies what is said in Scripture and what has been witnessed throughout history! We know that Christ lacks nothing and is no fool who built upon sand (Matt 7-24-27.) What Christ builds lasts and what he says is no lie!!
Sincerely Joanne Utke
Further look at Church teaching...
Sections of The Catechism referenced by Ignatius Study Bible: New Testament plus a couple extra. The bold numbers are for the place the passage holds in the Catechism. Notice certain others are reference for your further study. I have included the scriptures rather than the footnote numbers for your convenience.
(CCC 87) Mindful of Christ’s words to his apostles: “He who hears you, hears me,” the faithful receive with docility the teachings and directives that their pastors give them in different forms.
(CCC 551) From the beginning of his public life Jesus chose certain men, twelve in number, to be with him and to participate in his mission. (Cf. Mk 3:13–19) He gives the Twelve a share in his authority and “sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal.” (Lk 9:2) They remain associated for ever with Christ’s kingdom, for through them he directs the Church: (858, 765) As my Father appointed a kingdom for me, so do I appoint for you that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (Lk 22:29–30)
(CCC 552) Simon Peter holds the first place in the college of the Twelve; (Cf. Mk 3:16; 9:2; Lk 24:34; 1 Cor 15:5) Jesus entrusted a unique mission to him. Through a revelation from the Father, Peter had confessed: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”Our Lord then declared to him: “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.” (Mt 16:18) Christ, the “living stone,” (1 Pet 2:4) thus assures his Church, built on Peter, of victory over the powers of death. Because of the faith he confessed Peter will remain the unshakeable rock of the Church. His mission will be to keep this faith from every lapse and to strengthen his brothers in it. (Cf. Lk 22:32) (880, 153, 442, 424)
(CCC 553) Jesus entrusted a specific authority to Peter: “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Mt 16:19) The “power of the keys”designates authority to govern the house of God, which is the Church. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, confirmed this mandate after his Resurrection: “Feed my sheep.” (Jn 21:15–17; cf. 10:11) The power to “bind and loose”connotes the authority to absolve sins, to pronounce doctrinal judgments, and to make disciplinary decisions in the Church. Jesus entrusted this authority to the Church through the ministry of the apostles (Cf. Mt 18:18) and in particular through the ministry of Peter, the only one to whom he specifically entrusted the keys of the kingdom.
(CCC 858) Jesus is the Father’s Emissary. From the beginning of his ministry, he “called to him those whom he desired;.... And he appointed twelve, whom also he named apostles, to be with him, and to be sent out to preach.” (Mk 3:13-14) From then on, they would also be his “emissaries” (Greek apostoloi). In them, Christ continues his own mission: “As the Father has sent me, even so I send you.” (Jn 20:21; cf. 13:20;) The apostles’ ministry is the continuation of his mission; Jesus said to the Twelve: “he who receives you receives me.” (Mt 10:40; cf. Lk 10:16.)
(CCC 1444) In imparting to his apostles his own power to forgive sins the Lord also gives them the authority to reconcile sinners with the Church. This ecclesial dimension of their task is expressed most notably in Christ’s solemn words to Simon Peter: “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Mt 16:19; cf. Mt 18:18; 28:16-20) “The office of binding and loosing which was given to Peter was also assigned to the college of the apostles united to its head.” (981)
(CCC 1445) The words bind and loose mean: whomever you exclude from your communion, will be excluded from communion with God; whomever you receive anew into your communion, God will welcome back into his. Reconciliation with the Church is inseparable from reconciliation with God. (553) The sacrament of forgiveness