The birth of the Church of Rome (Via Titus of A.D. 70)

The Roman Catholic Church claims to trace its origin back to the earliest days of the church and claims Peter as its first Pope. At this point I want to tie in two important facts about Peter. As flawed and human as He was, God revealed to Him two very important things – number one, is found in the following scripture: Matt 16:15-19 15. “He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? 16. And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. 17. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. 18. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Mat. 16:18. Now I say that you are Peter, (declaring to all present) and upon this rock (the revelation of the spirit and His leadership) I will build my church. There is no way that the gates of hell could ever conquer the church led by the spirit as compared to the man made headquarters that men lust after and have killed millions for. Emphasis mine) 19. “And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” This is the only authority that seems to give Peter first Pope status. I think it was directed to Peter in a general way and nowhere does he pass the baton on to another.

In reference to Matthew 16:16, Said Peter, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God. What did Jesus say? You are blessed, Simon Barjona, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you (via the Holy Spirit). You did not learn this from any human being.”

And number two: Is there any wonder that it was Peter then, who was told by the same spirit go to the house of Cornelius (Acts, chapter 10) and deliver to them, the gospel? Peter was called onto the carpet in Jerusalem because he did this without the approval of the church in Jerusalem.

Here is some more scripture that sheds light onto the fact that we are equal servants in the working of the church. The end of verse 8 says in the New Living Translation, “and all of you are on the same level as brothers and sisters. (and ye are all brethren-KJV).
Matthew 23:8-12 8. But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. 9. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. 10. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. 11. But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. 12. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.

The Pope, as well as other leaders in huge churches, who might wash people’s feet does not qualify them for this scripture. To begin with, there is no room for a hierarchy in the New Testament Church. By nature they (large institutions) have man made leaders that need earthly qualifications to serve.

As far as Peter being the first Pope or the main leader in any organization, we have, in Matt. 16:22, Peter forbidding Jesus from doing what God sent Him here to do. Jesus rebuked Peter by calling him Satan. And in Matt. 17:4 we have Peter volunteering to build three shrines which neither God nor Jesus asked for. Later on, we have Peter denying Jesus after he said he would never do that. In John 13:6-9 we have Peter denying the Lord in reference to washing his feet until he heard the bottom line. In John 18:10-11, we have Peter cutting off the right ear of Malchus, the high priest’s servant, trying to stop Jesus from “drinking of the cup” the Father gave Him to drink. But notice in verse 9 that Peter is still going overboard in respect to simply doing what Jesus asked of him. Despite vs. 19-20, do you really want Peter sitting in the top chair in the H.Q. at Jerusalem making high powered decisions and setting the rules? This, in effect, is what has happened. Now, we don’t even have the luxury of having Peter there, but even more human, human beings telling people how to worship God – despite what His word says.

It is obvious that Peter didn’t stay the same, but according to Gal. 2, he was not yet perfected. He eventually grew and developed spiritually into a force for the Lord. Quoting Unger’s Bible Dictionary: “Ignatius, in the undoubtedly genuine epistle to the Romans (ch.4), speaks of Peter in terms which imply a special connection with their church. …accounting for the intimate relations between Corinth and Rome, that Peter and Paul both taught in Italy, and suffered martyrdom about the same time. In short, the churches most nearly connected with Rome and those least affected by its influence, which was as yet but inconsiderable in the East, concur in the statement that Peter was a joint founder of that church, and suffered death in that city.”

If Peter was the head elder in Rome, you can see where they adopt the idea that Peter was the first Pope, especially after A. D. 70. Sometime after A. D. 70 there was a struggle between the Eastern and the Western churches for dominance and they are still divided today.

You may ask, why did God allow this Jerusalem hierarchy to exist? Let’s look back to 1 Samuel 8:5 to get an idea, (1-22 tells the whole story). 1 Sam 8:5. “And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.” 1 Sam 8:7, is particularly poignant. 7. “And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them. We are reminded of this in Hosea 13:11, “I gave thee a king in mine anger, and took him away in my wrath.”

I see a parallel between this situation of the early church and that of Israel wanting a leader rather than God via Samuel or his heirs. Joshua died leaving no “leader,” not even Caleb (if he was still alive). After the death of Eleazar the high priest (see: Joshua 24:33 note in the CEV) there seems to have been no successor either in the priesthood or head of state position. When Israel sinned, God sent them an adversary and when they repented, God sent someone to free them from their oppressors. They went through a series of judges, and after the seeming inconsistencies of those “judges,” Israel demanded a king so they could get the consistent leadership they previously had under Moses and Joshua. They were looking for stability they no doubt didn’t deserve because of the idolatries they were slipping into and out of.

The rejection of Samuel as their leader, which was in reality the rejection of God, was a similar thing that happened to the Holy Spirit by the members of the new church. They formed a mother church at Jerusalem and apparently only sent out a small handful of their own to carry out the “great commission.” They, in effect, were the governing body instead of the Holy Spirit. The apostles (all of them) were suppose to wait in Jerusalem until endued with power from the Holy Spirit and then go into all the world… It wasn’t until A. D. 70 that this happened, thanks to Titus and his army.

If people are bent on doing something, they are going to do it, no matter what. They (the Christians and apostles) had just come out of a very structured system (Judaism) and to rely on the invisible Holy Spirit was more than they were willing or able to do. They felt there needed to be a little more “hands on” involvement in something so important.

The interesting thing is that the life of Jesus and the ministries of Paul and Peter teach the decentralizing of man-made authority over God’s people. The “organization” of the church is supposed to be under the direction of the Holy Spirit much like when God was over the nation of Israel; but as we have just observed, the people wanted a king instead. (1 Samuel 8:1-22) As the Israelites forsook God as their leader in the days of Samuel, so the early church has done the same with the Holy Spirit.

John 4:21-24, is one of the most powerful scriptures that shows there is a decentralizing of man dominated organized power. We have rejected the Holy Spirit from leading us in the church age. 21. “Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. 22. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. 23. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. 24. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.”

Who better to lead in that worship than the Holy Spirit? The very fact that Jesus didn’t set up a big headquarters and university should teach us that the church was going in a different direction than the “Old Testament” temple worship, and God was looking for “self-starters” to “go into all the world.” It is also taught in the parable of the leaven (Matt 13:33). The leaven was not in a give and take situation. It (the Word, if you will) was put into the world and it was to spread from there. This format (seemingly weak) will confound the (so-called) wise. Man almost always has to put his hands to the wheel and says, move over Lord…The action of leaven in this case represents the constant growth and spreading of the Word by the Holy Spirit.

This all goes back to Acts 10 through 11:18 when Peter was at the house of Simon the tanner in Joppa. Why didn’t God send Cornelius to Jerusalem with word of his vision and ask a representative to come and give the same message that Peter was to bring? I realize the distance was further, but what a good way it would have been to establish the church headquarters at Jerusalem as the absolute authority. It seems as though they of Jerusalem thought of themselves more highly than God did, in terms of authority.

Paul’s conversion and ministry is just another example of the moving of the Holy Spirit. When he was converted – I’ll let him tell it in his own words as written in Gal 1:15-24: 15. “But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace, 16. To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood: 17. Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus. 18.Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days. 19. But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother. 20. Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not. 21. Afterwards I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia; 22. And was unknown by face unto the churches of Judaea which were in Christ: 23. But they had heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed. 24. And they glorified God in me.”

This is powerful. This points to the fact that the Holy Spirit of God is quite capable of running the church without man’s interference. Paul was led by the Spirit away from the central core of man made power. He didn’t check in with the others that grouped themselves in Jerusalem. With the Holy Spirit in charge, he didn’t need to.

Please listen to Paul’s words in Ephesians 2:19-22: 19. Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; 20. And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; 21. In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: 22. In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.

The temple isn’t a building, the church isn’t a building. It’s all held together and led by the Spirit of God.

The final straw (of rebuke) against this man-made “centralizing” of the church came with the arrival of Titus the Roman and his army in A.D. 70. The great commission was forced upon the disciples via invasion rather than submission to the earlier request in Mark 16:15. Leave it to man, to change the Great Commission into the great submission.

Using the facts, that the church in Rome preserved many scriptures and artifacts, as the main basis for the proof that the large central church is or must be the way God designed it, has to be tempered with the story of the nation of Israel in Egypt under Pharaoh. They went into Egypt numbering 70 and came out millions. Israel prospered and grew into a great nation under the pagan giant. It wasn’t so much the Roman Catholic Church that protected artifacts of history as it was the Roman government which gave protection to the church itself. Rome and the church were very tightly woven together in a church/state organization.

If Rome acquired or was a part of the hierarchy or headquarters of the “church,” it is because the slow moving apostles and disciples that were suppose to have “gone out into the world,” didn’t. Luke 24:49 “And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.” They hung around Jerusalem building a hierarchy instead of following “the great commission” such as Peter was doing when told by the Holy Spirit to go to the house of Cornelius. If you remember, Peter was called on the carpet (in Jerusalem) to explain his reasons for going to the Gentiles, Acts 11:1-18. God did not seek permission of those in Jerusalem when He ordered Peter to Caesarea to open the gospel to the Gentiles. The apostles and disciples were usurping the Holy Spirit’s job and authority when they stayed in Jerusalem and set up shop. They were in effect saying, “move over Lord, we’re better equipped to handle this”.

I don’t find authority for the establishment of a church headquarters anywhere in the Bible. The Holy Spirit is all the authority we need – then and today. The churches should be regulated by the Holy Spirit through prayer while using the Bible as the operations manual. Anything started by man can be corrupted and is reason enough to avoid it. Many things that were started by God got corrupted (by man) as it was.

To strengthen the point, I take a quote from Unger’s Bible Dictionary. Pg. 123, 1976 Moody Press edition, in reference to baptism. “No church hierarchy has the right to modify or dispense (emphasis mine) with this command of Christ because only the local church (no other visible church of Christ) is known in the N. T., and it is purely executive, not a legislative body.”

The dispersion by Titus the Roman, in A. D. 70 was no accident. Did he invade on his own whim, or did he invade on the orders of Rome? There are two possible scenarios that have to be considered when viewing this situation. Number one says, (if in fact Rome was a part of the church in Jerusalem) she saw what was happening with the growth of the church and wanted all the action, and wanted the Jewish element out, and number two, which has been the most taught version, says that God was scattering the disciples so they would have no choice but to carry out the great commission. Both views could very well explain what happened back then. Whichever way you look at it, A.D. 70 had profound consequences on the rest of history. I think that there can be no doubt that God was behind the take over, either in His Divine or permissive will. He never intended that there be a church headquarters because the Holy Spirit was all the organization He needed to get the church into the kingdom. If in fact He was behind the take over, I think it was based on His using that huge organization much in the same way He used Egypt to nurture the tiny (70 people) nation of Israel. I believe there was a dual purpose in that act that had to do with His foreknowledge of how the real church would act in the upcoming 2000 years and the fact that we have scriptures and religious artifacts that we might not, if they weren’t stored under the protection of the huge Roman government.

The church today is practicing many things that aren’t in the Bible. We follow many things the Roman Catholic Church invented. God seems to be saying, if we want to be tied to Roman Catholic doctrine and celebrations (which we seem to) He will make sure they are over us in ways that we don’t want, but by then it will be too late. If we fail to heed God’s warning in Revelation 18:4, ”Come out of her my people,” then we have no one to blame but ourselves when we are plagued (judged) for being partakers of her sins. This applies to any form of Babylon or religious group.

I don’t mean to pick on the Roman Catholic Church and only use them in this example because they seem to be one of the most blatant offenders of the doctrine/scripture rule. They are a good example as to the power of the clergy over the laymen in that they require the people to believe and practice doctrines that aren’t in the Bible. It should be pointed out that they most certainly are followed by many Protestant churches in some of these practices. The following list is primarily related to the Church of Rome but you can see that some Protestant churches have adopted a couple of these man-made inventions (listed below) that deal with the Passover season, more commonly known as Easter and two more that I have added (in bold print) that are more universally accepted by other denominations in general.

1. The daily mass, adopted in 349 A.D.
2. The doctrine of purgatory (Pope Gregory), 593 A.D.
3. Prayers to the Virgin Queen of Heaven, 600 A.D.
4. Kissing the Pope’s foot, 709 A.D.
5. Holy Water, 850 A.D.
6. Canonization of dead saints, 995 A.D.
7. Lent and Good Friday began, 998 A.D.
8. The Mass declared to be a sacrifice of Christ, 1050 A.D.
9. Celibacy of the priesthood and nuns, 1079 A.D.
10. The rosary introduced, 1090 A.D.
11. Selling indulgences, 1190 A.D.
12. Confession of sins to priest, 1215 A.D.
13. Interpretation of the Bible forbidden to laity, 1229 A.D.
14. Scapular declared a charm against danger, 1287 A.D.
15. Seven sacraments declared, 1439 A.D.
16. Tradition established as infallible authority, 1545 A.D.
17. Apocryphal books added to the Bible, 1546 A.D.
18. Immaculate conception of Virgin Mary, 1854 A.D.
19. Mary declared to be the mother of God, 1931 A.D.
20. Assumption of Virgin Mary, 1950 A.D.
21. Sunday declared to be Christians day of assembly, Constantine, 325?, A.D.
22. December 25th declared as Jesus birthday by Pope Liberius, 354 A.D.

This is only a partial list of the unscriptural teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, and every one of them is without Divine authority. Most of these “human inventions” originated in pagan countries and have been adopted by Rome. Cardinal Newman, a noted authority on the Roman Catholic Church, says on page 359 of his book, “The Development of the Christian Religion:” Temples, incense, candles, votive offerings, holy water, holidays and seasons of devotions, processions, blessings of fields, sacerdotal vestments, priests, monks and nuns, images…etc., ARE ALL OF PAGAN ORIGIN!”

The above information is from Howard C. Estep’s book “THAT GREAT CITY,” published by World Prophetic Ministry, Inc., P.O. Drawer 907, Colton, Ca. 92324.

I must refer back to Zechariah 4:6, when the angel of the Lord said to Zerubbabel via Zechariah, “…not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts; when speaking of the kingdom of God. It is no accident that Zechariah deals with the Messianic kingdom and the reference to the Spirit is significant to the church age.

The church age is moving toward the kingdom. The church age under its present form is leading to the one world government under the antichrist. If we would have been under the leadership of the Holy Spirit throughout the church age, there would be no need for the church to enter the kingdom by first going through the tribulation. But since we put ourselves under the world system, it only stands to reason that we must suffer the same fate as that of the world.

I know that this is not the accepted view among most Bible believing churchgoers today, but considering that most of the Bible believing church goers today don’t read their Bibles, I think it makes the most sense.

If it was not God’s will for the Apostles to “center” themselves in Jerusalem and establish a “headquarters,” why would He then establish or accept one in Rome? The answer is easy. Both were man made and ordained by God’s permissive will. The Holy Spirit was all that was needed to feed the local churches. Peter and Cornelius prove the point as well as Paul.