Examination of |
2 Thessalonians 2: 6-7
Stephen hails from across the pond in England and provided the following series last year that we have incorporated into one set for Diadems of the Decade so that those who continue to elude the inevitability that a true pope would never and could never do what the conciliar leaders in Rome have done for the past 50 years will be shaken out of their stupor. Steve furnished the basis for a sede vacante stance based on holy Scripture itself. Thus the title of his columns, "Our Scriptural Roots", all based on the divine Word; the same Word Who was made flesh, suffered and died for us, all prophesied in the Old Testament. With the Cross, Christ fulfilled all that was necessary for the Old Covenant and established the New Covenant with the ultimate Sacrifice on Calvary leading to His Resurrection and Ascension, leaving us His Spirit, the Third Person of the Holy Trinity to guide us with the Word and Tradition of the only Church Christ established on earth. Hard to argue with the divine Word.
Part I: Introduction to An Examination of 2 Thessalonians 2: 6-7
THESIS: The 'Restrainer' or 'Witholder' of 2 Thessalonians 2:6-7, and his 'absence', ultimately refer to the Papacy.
In his Second Epistle to the Thessalonians, St. Paul develops an eschatological scenario (sometimes referred to as the 'Pauline Apocalypse'). He tells the Thessalonians that 'the day of the Lord' is to be heralded by three things which must happen first:
- (1) a general apostasy in the Church;
- (2) the disappearance of some 'restraining' or 'withholding' force (which is also a person, to katechon); and
- (3) the revelation of the 'Son of Perdition' (the Antichrist of 1 and 2 John).
The Apostle concludes this section by telling the Thessalonians that, since the Church is holding fast to the Apostolic tradition (a condition which is the opposite of apostasy), these things will be for another, future, time when 'holding fast' to this Apostolic Tradition is no longer characteristic in the Church.
This study examines the question of what and who is meant by this "Restrainer" or "Witholder", and whether or not these verses may be justly applied to the condition of the Novus Ordo 'Papacy' and 'Church' since the Vatican Two Apostasy.
(Douay-Rheims version)"1 And we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and of our gathering together unto him: 2 that you be not easily moved from your sense, nor be terrified, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by epistle, as sent from us, as if the day of the Lord were at hand. 3 Let no man deceive you by any means, for unless there come a revolt first, and the man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition, 4 who opposeth, and is lifted up above all that is called God, or that is worshipped, so that he sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself as if he were God. 5 Remember you not, that when I was yet with you, I told you these things? 6 And now you know what withholdeth, that he may be revealed in his time. 7 For the mystery of iniquity already worketh; only that he who now holdeth, do hold, until he be taken out of the way. 8 And then that wicked one shall be revealed..."
"1 Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, 2 that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come.
3 Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God.
5 Do you not remember that while I was still with you, I was telling you these things?
6 And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he will be revealed. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. 8 Then that lawless one will be revealed…"
Apart from the clause 'the apostasy must come first', it is not my intention to comment on these verses here since they deserve much greater attention that can only be given at another time. Meanwhile, let us dwell on :
In the Synoptic gospels of Sts. Mathew, Mark and Luke, Our Lord gives a broad prophecy of the Church going through history leading up to the climatic return of the Son of Man. But, in the meantime, there is hard combat: false prophets and false Christs; so dire will the situation be in the days preceding His return that 'even the elect shall be deceived' (St. Matthew 24: 24b) and He wonders whether He will be able to 'find faith on earth' St. Luke 18: 8)
Saints Paul, John and Peter were constantly warning against novel, heretical teaching and false 'apostles', apostates. St. John calls them 'antichrists'. It is to be noted that these people frequently arise from within the Church. They claim to be Christian but give a counterfeit gospel.
The Apostles, then, were well aware not only of the danger of apostasy. Manifestations of this sort were to be endemic in the Church as she passes through history. But they would not be such as to threaten the very foundations of the Church until a time when 'the Katechon' is no longer functioning.
The 'apostasy' St. Paul alludes to here denotes a qualitative difference in kind. He calls it 'the Apostasy'. It is not a matter of individuals or groups leaving the Church at any one time, but of a massive, unprecedented falling away, defection from the Faith, almost as if the Church herself had lost the Faith. He doesn't say this because, of course, the Church (qua Church) is ultimately Indefectible: the same Faith once taught by the Apostles will remain intact right until the very end for, as every Catholic knows, 'the gates of Hell' can 'never prevail' against the Church founded by our Lord Jesus Christ on St. Peter and the Apostles.
Even so, given the Master's own predictions of the state of the Church during her final tribulation - a state mirrored by St. Peter's and the other apostle's [save John] mass defection during His own Tribulation - we are not exaggerating or indulging in eisegesis if we maintain that this apostasy goes right to the top and concerns the vast majority of Christ's flock at that time.
That apostates were already trying to dissemble the Faith of the church in Thessalonica was already a sign of that "working of lawlessness" that would one day grow into a fully fledged apostasy. Since the Church is the only place in the world where the Truth resides, lies and alien customs have to enter the Church for an apostasy to come about. It is Satan who works this mystery of iniquity into the Church. It is necessary, then, that this working has to look to the Christian as though it is of God. If Christians fall for it, they increase the power of the apostasy to attain its goal: ushering in the Son of Perdition with as little opposition as possible. In other words: to bring the apostasy to the point that the Church will be of little hindrance to the Antichrist.
To give this present apostasy a name (to name the demon) is difficult. It is a hydra-headed beast: I think the description 'Secular, Theological, Humanistic, neo-Spiritual Post-Modernism' could go some way to fitting the bill but that is a bit of a mouthful; perhaps we should just called it 'Pan' (or perhaps 'Uber') anyway counterfeit-Catholicism. However, to dissect the anatomy of the said beast here will take me off track.
Prelimary Translation and Exegetical Considerations
1. Ordinarily, words must be translated literally and given their normal, original sense. This is especially true of texts which present themselves, a priori, as to be taken literally and not figuratively.
2. Sometimes one comes across a text that makes perfect sense in the original language but only makes sense in a modern language if the actual words are substituted. While this causes a word change, it does not (or should not) change the meaning of the text itself. Wherever possible, however, the original word itself should be retained unless there is great need to do so.
3. For exegesis, context is paramount. The text must be explained according not only to the ordinary sense of the words themselves, but according to the context of the entire passage, and subject matter at hand. These texts may be applied and used in other contexts with different (though not contradictory) conclusions but, again, the primary meaning must be given within the immediate context.
4. We must constantly keep in mind that the Holy Ghost infallibly inspired the original authors, even down to their choice of particular words. The infallibility and Inerrancy of Sacred Scripture is De Fide. Translators and exegetes do not have this divine prerogative. Where there is an obscure word, or text, or a meaning which the words do not make clear, the onus is on the exegete to explain it, not to change it. If this causes some obscuration then a footnote should be added. It must always be at the back of his mind that the original word (plus any ensuing obscurity) is there for a reason, a divine reason.
5. In 1546, the Council of Trent declared the Vulgate Bible as authentic: "No one (may) dare or presume under any pretext whatsoever to reject it" (4th Session, April 8, 1546).
In 1943 Pope Pius XII stated that the continuous use of the Vulgate Bible in the Church for many centuries showed that it was "free from any error whatsoever in matters of faith and morals" (Divino Afflante Spiritu, paragraph 21).
The Clementine Latin Vulgate, translated by St. Jerome from the original Hebrew and Greek, holds pride of place in the Catholic Church. But we must not make words say what they do not. Nowhere does the Church claim that the Vulgate is free from textual error, or that there may not be more accurate translations. She says, simply, that the Vulgate translation (in contradistinction to the various unauthorized heretical Protestant bibles in circulation) contains nothing contrary to Catholic doctrine.
Verses 6 and 7
"6 And you know what witholds (restrains) [κατέχον] him now, so that in his time he will be revealed. 7 For the mystery of iniquity (lawlessness) is already at work; only he who now witholds (restrains) [o κατέχων ] will do so until he is taken out of the way. "
It is extremely significant that the verb κατέχων ] [o katechô] (from which we get our word 'catechesis') is from κατα ) [kata] down or fast (as in 'tight') and εχω ) [echô]: to hold, i.e. to hold down or to hold fast. Both ways of taking it are highly appropriate. They are both of the same cloth. While the Apostle speaks of one 'holding down' (or restraining/ withholding) here, he uses the same verb form just 7 verses later where he writes:
14 Therefore, brethren, stand fast (firm), and hold the traditions which you have learned, whether by word, or by our epistle.
My discernment of these verses is significantly different to traditional interpretations (reader beware) so I must first give the usual ones.
(1). Traditional Exegesis of the text.
Whereas Protestants have pages and pages interpreting these disputed verses, there is an alarming paucity of Catholic comment.
According to Catholic commentators, it seems that no one any longer really knows what it was that St. Paul told the Thessalonians. The Thessalonians were apparently in on some secret or cryptic code to which the later Church is not privy. St. Paul's 'You know' becomes our 'We don't know'. If even orthodox biblical scholarship confesses to ignorance here, you can imagine what the modernists make of the entire chapter.
It has been suggested that the reason Paul does not specifically name the restrainer, but is cautious with his words, is for political considerations. Paul allegedly needed to guard his language to prevent the Roman state from misinterpreting his statements as suggesting that the Church was an enemy of the State, eagerly predicting its downfall. This, of course, would have been treason.
Be that as it may, all commentators duly note that in verse 6, Paul describes the "restrainer" with a neuter participle (κατέχον), an 'it', i.e. 'that which' or 'what' is currently detaining or withholding the arrival of the Son of Perdition. But in verse 7, as noted, he gives this 'ketachonic principle' (if I may say that) a masculine, nominalised participle: ο κατέχων.
As to the what/who the restrainer actually is, commentators end up with sheer historicism or frankly confess they 'don't know'. However, we must not be too harsh since, as we shall see, they are in good company.
Identity of the 'Restrainer/Withholder' (First Excursus)
(It should be noted that while I shall continue to use the term 'the restrainer' throughout, it is not a title as such).
Given that the identity of (or meaning behind) the Ketechon was certainly known to the Thessalonians and, therefore, the first generation Church in general, it is indeed strange that by the 4th century, we find St. Augustine finding himself 'at a loss' as to what the passage actually meant although he finds it 'not absurd' that the Apostle is probably referring to the Roman Empire.
(1). THE ROMAN EMPIRE
The Catholic New American Bible states, "Traditionally, 2 Thess 2:6 has been applied to the Roman empire and 2 Thess 2:7 to the Roman emperor ... as bulwarks holding back chaos (cf Rom. 13:1-7)."
Here are the Fathers on the matter:
Tertullian (2nd - 3rd century):
'For we know that a mighty shock impending over the whole earth--in fact, the very end of all things threatening dreadful woes---is only retarded by the continued existence of the Roman empire….' CHAP. XXXII.
St. John Chrysostom (c. 347-407) Homilies on Second Thessalonians HOMILY IV.
'…What then is it that withholdeth, that is, hindereth him from being revealed? Some indeed say, the grace of the Spirit, but others the Roman empire, to whom I most of all accede. Wherefore? Because if he meant to say the Spirit, he would not have spoken obscurely, but plainly… But because he said this of the Roman Empire, he naturally glanced at it, and speaks covertly and darkly. For he did not wish to bring upon himself superfluous enmities, and useless dangers. ...'
St. Jerome (c. 340-420) Commentary on Daniel, Chapter 7, Verse 8.
"... We should therefore concur with the traditional interpretation of all the commentators of the Christian Church, that at the end of the world, when the Roman Empire is to be destroyed, there shall be ten kings who will partition the Roman world amongst themselves. Then an insignificant eleventh king will arise, who will overcome three of the ten kings, ..." Commentary on Daniel, Chapter 7, Verse 8.
St. Augustine (345 - 430) City of God, Book XX, Chapter 19
"For what does he mean by "… only he who now holdeth, let him hold until he be taken out of the way: and then shall the wicked be revealed?" I frankly confess I do not know what he means. ... However, it is not absurd to believe that these words of the apostle… refer to the Roman Empire…
While the opinions of the Fathers on this matter may have been valid (that is to say 'authentic') in their day, to propose them as closing the matter would be an extreme historicist and restricted interpretation of no value to present day Christians. It would be a redundant text lacking any power, a kind of archeologism.
i. Whereas the Roman Empire fits the bill in so far as it accounts for the neuter and masculine forms (imperium et imperator), it has long since ceased to exist, and the appearance of the Lawless One has yet to take place.
The apostasy and consequent revealing of the Antichrist did not occur in the 5th century. Unless you want to believe that the Popes and Papacy are to be equated with the Antichrist. And it is true that, on the demise of the Roman emperors, the bishops of Rome did take on more and more 'imperium'.
That St. Paul was predicting the rise of the Papacy (on the fall of the Roman Empire) was the opinion (indeed teaching) of most of the Reformers and is still held by many Fundamentalists today. (I deal with this, in depth, elsewhere). Suffice it to say that if this is the correct interpretation, we have had 1642 years of unbridled Antichrist so far if we date the fall of the (Western) Empire (and the consequent public 'usurpation' of the 'imperial popes') at 488 AD. However, between the revealing of the Son of Perdition and his ultimate destruction by the 'breath of His mouth and the splendor of His Presence' V. 8b) there is only a (relatively) short delay or, at least, nothing to make us expect such a long period of time.
But what we are to make of the 'Super Apostles' (who have been parading in Rome and the world
since 1958 (following the Treaty of Rome, 1957, just a thought) is a different matter…
(2). ST. MICHAEL THE ARCHANGEL
This interpretation has been noted by some Catholic commentators, but only in passing; and is (I think, rightly) rejected as devotional rather than exegetical.
We can imagine St. Paul and the Thessalonians having the legitimate power of the Roman Empire in mind, keeping anarchy at bay: as St. Augustine said, 'it is not absurd'. But, by any sane rule of exegesis (which is bound to take context as prior) we cannot imagine Paul had been telling the Thessalonians, secretly or discreetly, about the role of St.Michael as the Restrainer. The context does not allow it. Such a teaching would have posed no threat to the Roman authorities and there is no reason that, by the 4th century, no one should know who or what the Katechon really was. Furthermore, St.Michael is the Champion and Defender of Holy Church but he has no authority in it. And Authority lies at the core of our text.
Even so, St.Michael does play a major role in the events in view; and it is not without significance that it is traditional Catholics (clued up as to the gravity of the present crisis) who alone retain a keen devotion to him.
Some Dispensationalists (see below) hold that St. Michael, will "stand aside" and allow Israel to be persecuted during the "time of Jacob's trouble" (Jer. 30:7). This view first appeared in quasi-Christian magical papyri of the third century A.D and has never been espoused by any reputable theologian or exegete. (Source needed). There are some (at first sight) convincing articles on the web.
Pre-Tribulation Dispensationalists teach that the Katechon is the Church herself. This verse is one of the key proof-texts for their 'Pre, Mid or Post Tribulation Rapture' heresies.
Just before the full manifestation of the Antichrist and the '7 Year Tribulation', so they say, the 'Church' will be 'raptured' into heaven and it will be this that allows for the Antichrist to do his utmost. The Church, until the Rapture, had been effectively restraining him but, after the rapture, is no longer on the earth.
However, the Church is never referred to as 'he'. The Church, the Bride, is always 'she'. Neither does this interpretation allow for a particular person.
This view does have some merit in so far as it perceives the importance of the power and authority of the Church, and of some kind of 'disappearance'. Again, some fairly convincing stuff on the web but you should be very well-grounded in the Faith before looking it up (any problems, get back to me).
(3). THE HOLY SPIRIT
The other major view is that the Holy Ghost retires from the Church. The only real justification for this is that the word 'spirit' is neuter in Greek (pneuma) but the Holy 'Spirit' is also a Person. Other scriptural texts are adduced to support the heresy but they all fall wildly short. (This can be expanded).
(4). HUMAN GOVERNMENT
Human government in general is the Restrainer. It is of divine institution (Rom. 13:1-17) and designed to hold back evil by its system of laws.
Paul's theory of the state is written in Romans 13:1-7, where bearing the sword corresponds to the factor of restraint, and authority to 'the restraining (factor).'
This view is to be rejected because:
i. St. Paul limits the role of human government to its dealing with wrong-doing. The lawlessness he envisages during the Tribulation, however, is not just an exceptionally virulent breakout of social or political anarchy on any local level, but a universal rebellion against God and is truly diabolic in origin and scope.
ii. The man of lawlessness will be the head of his own human government in the future Tribulation (Apocalypse 13:8, 16, 17).
Part II: Out of the Midst
THESIS: The lawless one is going to appear at some future point. There's only one thing holding him back: the restrainer (withholder) (katechwn) [ κατέχων], who, at some future point, will presumably stop restraining, and at which point the lawless one will appear. With this in mind we shall eventually see that it refers to the Papacy.
In part one, we examined the meaning of what witholds (restrains) [το κατέχον] and who now witholds (restrains) [ κατέχων ] and in further segments we will discover more on this. However, today we will delve further into a few of the other words in 2 Thessalonians 2: 6-7, specifically "until he be taken out of the way" as we explore the essence of 'out of the midst.'
2. TRANSLATION OF THE TEXT
Before we can understand the full meaning of any text, it goes without saying, we must be sure we have the most accurate translation possible. We have an immediate problem when it comes to translating, still less understanding, the clause "until he is taken out of the way".
The DRV has: For the mystery of iniquity already worketh; only that he who now holdeth, do hold, until he be taken out of the way.'
The GREEK original reads: "until he comes to-be out of the middle' or 'out of the midst' (έκ μέσου - ek mesoo):
It can be seen that there is a wide discrepancy between 'until he is taken out of the way' (or 'removed'), as practically all versions, Catholic and Protestant translate, and 'until he comes-to be (or 'be-comes') out of the middle.'
How does St. Jerome translate it in his Vulgate?
'qui tenet nunc donec de medio fiat'* 'he who now holds (will do so) until he be out of the midst/middle.' (Cf. "venit Iesus et stetit in medio et dicit eis pax vobis", Jesus came and stood in the midst (μέσου - mesoo), and said to them: Peace be to you. [John 20:19, Luke 24:36]).
As can be seen, St. Jerome has kept close to the original Greek. Translators mention, in passing, the accurate rendition 'out of the middle' (or 'midst') but then proceed to translate it as 'taken out of the way' without any explanation. And we must be left wondering why.
True, at first sight this is very obscure. Until he's out of the middle of what? If we don't have the answer to that, then the translation 'out of the way' could be justified. (But 'taken out of the way' isn't, we shall see why presently).
(1) 'OUT OF THE MIDDLE/ MIDST'
Where is the Katechon usually situated? Answer: the μέσου
) : the middle/ midst.
Well, what does that mean?
Just precedent, the Apostle had mentioned the Son of Perdition 'sitting in the temple'. This cannot refer (in the first instance) to the then standing but shortly to be demolished Jerusalem temple. Neither can it refer to some future, restored temple in Jerusalem (as the Dispensationalists teach) since even if such a monstrous thing were ever be built (God forbid!) it could never be referred to as 'the temple of God.' Neither do Catholics customarily refer to churches as 'temples' though we might think of St. Peter's in Rome (and we cannot avoid the eerie and sinister image of Montini, Paul V1, sitting in the Vatican 'temple' signing away the title deeds to the Catholic Church in the midst of all his bishops… But I don't think St. Paul meant precisely that here).
On the other hand, the then-standing Jerusalem temple did indeed serve as a continuing pattern or type which would retain significance for Believers. Using Temple imagery, along with St. Peter and St.John, St. Paul uses the noun "ναός" [naos], 'temple or sanctuary," as a symbol for the Church. Now, the Jerusalem Temple was basically structured thus:
1. The Sanctuary (containing the Holy of Holies)
2. The Court of the Priests
3. The Court of Israel - which included the laity
Note: The Court of the Gentiles was not a part of the Temple proper. The Temple itself was for Jews only and could be entered only through the main entrance 'The Beautiful Gate.' By translating the Court of the Gentiles as 'the outer court' and not 'the court outside', the NIV and others make it seem as though Gentiles were admitted to the Temple. But they were not: "Then there was given me a measuring rod like a staff; and someone said, "Get up and measure the temple of God and the altar, and those who worship in it. 2 "Leave out the court which is outside the temple and do not measure it, for it has been given to the nations;"
If we take the number '2' to be the mean between '1' and '3', or the letter 'B' to be between 'A' and 'C', then we have 'the middle of the Temple'. The Temple is the only thing mentioned from which there could be a possible exit or absence. The 'middle/midst' therefore can only refer to the 'Court of the Priests.'
OBJECTION: Only Jews would be aware of the division of the Temple into three parts. St. Paul's predominantly Gentile audience could not have understood that 'out of the middle' was a reference to the hierarchical planning of the Temple.
REPLY: Acts 17 describes the hostile reception Sts. Paul and Silas received from the Jews in Thessalonica but they managed to convert a few. So there were former Jews in the congregation who would have known the lay-out plan very well, first-hand.
However, even if no former Jews were present, the objection displays a secular modern mindset that presumes the Gentile Christians of that time to have been in similar mode. But that world was intensely sacral. The Gentiles were steeped in (pagan) temple symbolism and its accompanying 'mythos'. It was very real to them. Gentile converts, coming from this world would, as a matter of course it seems to me, have compared their former temples and 'temple mythos' with the Jerusalem Temple since their new Living Temple Church was said to be modelled after it.
'The world of the New Testament was the world of the Temple…. the Temple was the matrix of Christianity'. (Margaret Barker, Belonging in the Temple, University of Kent at Canterbury 2007)
There is no reason to suppose that the Thessalonians would have been unaware of the threefold division of the Temple. There is every reason to suppose that they were.
OBJECTION: How can you say that the Church also has a threefold division? And, again, would the Thessalonians have been aware of it?
'Know you not that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? But if any man violate the temple of God, him shall God destroy. For the temple of God is holy, which you are.' 1 Cor. 3:16.
The Thessalonians knew that they were the Temple of God, the Church, and that this spiritual Temple was the legitimate heir of the old stone Temple.
The threefold structure of the new Living Temple which is the Church is this:
1. Christ Jesus: Sanctuary
2. Ministerial Hierarchy: The Court of Priests
3. The Faithful: The Court of Israel
This structure is fundamental to the Apostolic Tradition. To suppose that the Thessalonians were not aware of it is to demonstrate faithlessness. We are merely crediting them with our own ignorance.
CONCLUSION: The Apostle foretells that at some future date the 'Restrainer' will no longer be in the 'middle of the Church' (the Priestly court) but out of it.
(2)'TAKEN OUT OF THE WAY'? 'REMOVED'?
The question now is: How is it that the Restrainer, who is in the Middle of the Church (apparently the chief or 'high' priest) , comes to be 'out of it'? Is he removed?
The Vulgate does not employ the verb 'to take' or its passive form 'be taken' but keeps close to the Greek: 'qui tenet nunc donec de medio fiat'* 'he who now holds (will do so) until he be out of the midst/middle.'
The Greek verb form we have to deal with here is γένηται (genatai). It is the present indicative middle form of the verb, γινομαι (ginomai) meaning, basically, 'to cause to be' or 'to make' (as in 'generate'), that is, reflexively (source needed). Being the present indicative form of the verb it expresses a fact and denotes action. The verb is used with great latitude (literal, figurative, intensive, etc.) and can be difficult to translate: so much depends on the context.
Strong's Concordance has 709 instances of verses containing ginomai. "Out of these 709 instances, the word is translated as "taken away" only once by the King James translators, and that's in our study verse, 2 Thessalonians 2:7.' (Ed Tarkowski).
Here are just a few ways it has been translated:
1) to become, or come-to-be (i.e. to come into existence, begin to be, receive being)
2) to be-come, or come-to-be (i.e. to come to pass, to happen)
3) to arise, appear in history, come upon the stage
4) to be made, finished
5) be found
6) be fulfilled
The passive verb form 'to be taken away' or 'to be removed' is not listed. The idea, or even implication, of something/ someone being "taken away" or "removed" is not present in the text as it stands.
The reader can follow a scholarly debate (between J. Webb Mealy and Carl W. Conrad) on the issue below if he types in: '[B-Greek] 2 Thess. 2:6-7--two proposals' into his browser. I give a very abridged précis here.
The subject, then, is how to accurately translate the verb γινομαι ginomai.
"... ginomai [γινομαι] is strictly an intransitive verb. It never EVER takes an object. If a verb can't take an object, you can't turn it into a passive. In English, for example, the verb "to be" doesn't take an object. There is no passive voice for the verb "to be", or for any strictly intransitive verb. So in 2 Thess. 2:7, whatever genatai means, it can't mean that something else acts on the subject of the verb. Whatever action there is, is carried out by the subject. arti hews ek mesou genatai [αρτι ηεωσ εκ μέσου γένηται] can't possibly mean "until he is taken out of the way" (pace KJV, NASB, NIV, NCV, NRSV, TEV).
…Unless there was absolutely no other way the sentence could make sense, I can't see a reason to express ginomai ek mesou [γινομαι εκ μέσου] as something beyond (1) "gets out of the way" or (2) "gets [under his own power] out of the situation". And I think each of those readings makes good sense in and of itself in 2 Thess. 2:7. For example, looking at option (1):The lawless one is going to appear at some future point. There's only one thing holding him back: the restrainer (o katechwn) [ό κατέχων], who, at some future point, will presumably stop restraining, and at which point the lawless one will appear.
…(the) idea of "to stop restraining" can be expressed equally well as "to get out of the way" (ginomai ek mesou) [γινομαι εκ μέσου] … Particularly in view of the fact that the writer personalizes the restrainer by calling him o katechwn [ό κατέχων], not just to katecon [το κατέχον], the presumption is that this personal force has the option of restraining so long, and then stopping.
…I think that in the context hews ek mesou genatai [ηεωσ εκ μέσου γένηται] does mean -- in the Greek, "until he gets out of the center of things."
… "Perhaps "leaves the scene" might do, but that phrase and "gets out of the way" both suggest very strongly that o katechwn arti [ό κατέχων αρτι] "leaves the scene" or "gets out of the way" voluntarily, and I think that is probably not intended.
…Is your sense that o katechwn arti [ό κατέχων αρτι] does not stop restraining "voluntarily" based on the context and/or wider interpretive principles, or on the basis of the grammar and vocabulary of the phrase hews ek mesou genatai [ηεωσ εκ μέσου γένηται] itself? I guess that if Paul hadn't made the restrainer personal, and I had read that the impersonal restraining force will restrain hews ek mesou genatai [ηεωσ εκ μέσου γένηται], I'd read that as "until it's out of the way". But since it is personalized, the assumption that I bring to reading the sentence is that the restrainer can and will restrain as long as he (sic) wishes to do so, and then he will stop restraining. Unless something specific in the context informs me differently, I'm going to assume that he's going to "voluntarily" get out of the way.
… Somebody's now holding somebody back, and unless something tells me otherwise, I'm going to continue to assume that he's going to do so until he decides to stop holding that somebody back.
…The most "neutral" expression still seems to me 'until he's out of the way'."
NOTE: it had previously been stated 'I think that in the context hews ek mesou genatai [ηεωσ εκ μέσου γένηται] does mean -- in the Greek, "until he gets out of the center of things."'
My conclusion is that there is no sense of the restrainer being taken (away) or removed by some agent, some exterior force using any kind of compulsion. On the contrary, the Restrainer's 'absence' has all the characteristics of either active acquiescence or passive voluntariness on the part of the Restrainer himself.
The text reads, literally:
'until he comes to be out of the middle' or 'until he be-comes out of the middle.'
That is, until he displaces himself from the middle, finds himself to be out of it. I would further suggest the following implications or interpretations:
until he steps aside from the middle,
- until he absents himself from the middle
- until he vacates the middle
- until he abdicates the middle
- until he resigns the middle
- until he lays aside the middle.
- until he gives up the middle,
- until he abandons the middle,
- until he goes out from the middle,
- until he retires from the middle
Of course, these suggestions are not translations but interpretations. But, we do, after all, need to interpret what 'he be-comes out of the middle' means; and I am suggesting the sense or 'flavour' of what this means. And these interpretations are allowed by the Vulgate's 'de medio fiat' (until he be out of the middle'). But, whatever it means, the main import is that, at some future point, the Restrainer is absent: he no longer functions as an effective agent, and his ministry as 'Restrainer' is redundant in the Church (and in the world).
Since the 'one who is holding down' is not there, the characteristic in the Church of 'holding fast' disappears fast (except among the faithful remnant who continue to 'hold fast', who have been soundly catechised).
The real implication (imperative) of voluntary absence may receive additional Scriptural confirmation if we consider the Prophet Malachi (particularly Ch.2) where, also writing of the wholesale apostasy of the Temple, he writes:
'But you (priests) have departed out of the way, and have caused many to stumble at the law: you have made void the covenant of Levi, (NB: the Priestly covenant with Aaron) saith the Lord of hosts' (Mal. 2:8).
Perhaps it was with reference to this text that the Douay-Rheims translators gave 'out of the way' instead of 'out of the middle'?
I think it can safely be said that such an interpretation does no violence to the original Greek, and that the original lends itself in fact to just such interpretations (unless proven otherwise).
First off, it's important to note again that the term Katechon, or Restrainer, κατέχων can be misleading in that it presupposes a title. It was never used in the early Church as a title. Therefore if you asked a Christian in Corinth, Rome or even Thessalonica 'Who is the Restrainer?' he would probably have looked blankly at you unless you had first explained the concept.
To identify the Restrainer, ALL of the following requirements must be met.
1. The restrainer must be able to fit the description of the neuter το κατέχον(to katechon), "that which restrains"; and the masculine ό κατέχον (ho katechon), "he who restrains" or 'the one (masc.) restraining/ holding down'.
2. The restrainer must be both powerful enough, and willing, to restrain or hold back Satan because the mystery of lawlessness lies under Satan's control.
3. The Restrainer must be demonstrated to have been active since the time of St. Paul right up to the present or very recent past.
4. The restrainer must have been known by the Thessalonians and presumably by the entire first generation Church.
5. The restrainer should be one who is seen in other portions of Scripture as engaged in the restraint of the mystery of lawlessness or who has been given the authority to do so.
6. The restrainer must be able to fit the description of someone or who "comes to be out of the middle."
7. The Restrainer's ministry must be seen to be primarily spiritually effective but also with some effect on secular society.
8. The Restrainer must have shown himself, throughout the Church's history, to be an effective agent, exercising an effective ministry in 'holding fast' to the Apostolic Tradition which is the sole bulwark against the final apostasy.
9. With the Restrainer's absence, the mainstream Church must already be either apostate or fall into quasi immediate apostasy. Secular society too must experience unprecedented lawlessness and a revolt against all that is godly.
10. The absence of the restrainer, or a general awareness of something missing, something out of its place, should at least be commented on by that part of the Church which is 'holding fast' to the Apostolic Tradition during the Great Apostasy. The 'Remnant Church' should be struck with profound spiritual malaise.
The emphasis in 2 Thessalonians 2:7 is that, at an appointed time in the prophetic programme, the restrainer, whose ministry has been concurrent with the 'secret' unfolding of the 'mystery of iniquity' will be absent from his office, allowing the Rebel to launch his rebellion forthrightly in the Church and on the earth. Lawlessness (in the supernatural sense 'the spirit of antichrist') has been secretly working since Christ founded the Church on Peter (and it made an immediate attack on Peter). No merely human champion, agent or agency could live long enough to cover a time period which now stretches out over two thousand years. Except the Papacy. Only the Papacy fits all of the requirements in every detail and without any forcing.
Let's consider each requirement separately.
1. The restrainer must be able to fit the description of the neuter το κατέχον (to katechon), "that which restrains"; and the masculine ό κατέχον (ho katechon), "he who restrains".
The Caesars could fit this but the Caesar's are not here. Neither do they fit any of the other necessary requirements. Only the Papacy allows for an 'it' (Office/Ministry) and a 'one who'. There are no immortals so we must necessarily conclude that the restraining office is to be connected to a perpetual succession of individuals until such a time as one of them defects from his office; and this is confirmed by the term ό κατέχον which indicates that only one man (it is masculine) occupies the office at any particular time: the one presently now holding down/restraining.
2. The restrainer must be both powerful enough, and willing, to restrain or hold down the mystery of lawlessness brewing under Satan's control.
Furthermore, it must refer to some great office the power of which can only be sustained by the Will of Christ Himself, and the power of the Holy Ghost: the lawlessness that it is holding in check is of a magnitude that far surpasses ordinary crime and rebellion.
No mere man (qua man) can bind Satan. The popes are not 'mere men'. They, uniquely, have been given supreme Authority with the underlying legitimate power (Jurisdiction) to rule as Vice-Regents of Christ, that is to say as the Chief Stewards of Christ's House until He is away. Christ has given them the Keys to His own household which is the Household of Faith.
3. The Restrainer must be demonstrated to have been active since the time of St. Paul right up to the present or very recent past.
The first Pope, St. Peter, was divinely mandated by Our Lord Jesus Christ to preach the Gospel and Rule the Church of God; and he was given the divine power that must necessarily uphold that authority. Anyone who has power also has authority, but anyone, who has authority, does not necessarily also have the power that sustains the authority. That this powerful authority is effective against Satan is evident from the words in the Petrine Mandate: 'And the gates of Hell shall never prevail against it.'
The Roman pontiffs, the Successors of St. Peter have, alone among men, uniquely claimed to be the Vicars of Christ, that is to say the Vice-regents of God on this earth. They alone claim 'the Keys' with Plenitudo Potestatis - the fullness of power (exousia). You can call such claims presumptuous, preposterous or downright blasphemous but the fact remains the claims were made, and in no small voice.
Note: the fact that the Papacy eventually fails to prevent the advent of 'the man of sin' and the ensuing full outbreak of iniquity, is not due to any lack of power in the Office willed by Christ but to the fact that the one holding it has displaced himself at this time. Abrogation, dereliction of duty, voluntary abdication of, or resignation from that power will be discussed presently (I really advise the reader to study Griff Ruby's thesis here).
Peter, Linus, Cletus, Clement, Evaristus, Alexander… Pius… The Petrine/Papal Succession speaks for itself. Throughout history, the Roman pontiffs have thundered mighty anathemas and shaken The Keys so that the whole world has heard and been left in no mistake,
4. The restrainer must have been known by the Thessalonians and presumably by the entire first generation Church.
Whereas the majority in our First Generation were probably acquainted with the names of all the Apostles, it is morally certain that all of them knew of one, in particular. The man who was known as 'Rock' or 'The Rock': Cephas.
5. The restrainer should be one who is seen in other portions of Scripture as engaged in the restraint of the mystery of lawlessness or who has been given the authority to do so.
In writing to the Galatians (1:18-19), St. Paul says:
"Then three years later I went up to Jerusalem to become acquainted with Cephas, and stayed with him fifteen days. But I did not see any other of the apostles except James, the Lord's brother."
Notice how nonchalantly St. Paul throws the names out; of course the Thessalonians knew who he was talking about: he had no need to introduce them. And notice how the Apostle keeps to the Grecisised Cephas (Aramaic Kephas) rather than the Greek Peter (Πέτροσ) (Petros). This amounts to a permanent reminder, each time the name Cephas was used, of the Petrine Mandate given at Caesarea Philippi. This was the first time in history, I believe, that the word kephas had been used as a personal name, and each time someone heard it for the first time he would have said "'Rock'? That's an odd name, haven't heard that before. Why does he call himself 'Rock'?' 'Well, because the Lord Jesus called him that.' 'Oh… why?'."
Given this, and given the apostolic oral Gospel tradition(s) (and probably written, authentic, proto gospels in circulation), there is no way that the Thessalonians could have been unfamiliar with the apostolic power 'to bind and loose', particularly as focused in St. Peter. (See Appendix: St. Paul and the Papacy: The First Generation).
Singled out from 'the eleven', St. Peter preaches the first sermon which is distinctly eschatological in scope. The secular city immediately accepts Peter as leader of the Apostles and speaker for the others. (Acts 2: 14, 37-41). The authoritative proclamation of the Gospel 'in the name of Jesus Christ' (2:38) is already, in itself, a supernatural restraining of iniquity.
6. The Restrainer's ministry must be seen to be primarily spiritually effective but also with some effect on secular society.
Peter works the first miracle on behalf of the Church and comments on it to those standing by. (Acts 3: 1-10). He says that it is not by his own (intrinsic) power that the miracle has been performed but in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, i.e. by His power. He defends the Church before the rulers (Acts 4: 8ff). The authorities recognise Peter's power (and the others) and seek to stop them from preaching. Lawlessness has been challenged and is reacting.
Peter is so filled with the power of God that even his shadow is enough to cure the sick on whom it falls (Acts 5:15). He utters the first anathema and God ratifies his word (Acts 5: 2-11). It is to him that it is revealed that the Church is open to Gentiles (Acts 10:)
Before the arrival of St. Paul, he baptizes the first Gentiles and convinces others to do likewise (Acts 11) - an astonishing act of self-aware independence with the most enormous consequences for the Church. We see him binding and loosing: here he is loosing the universal Church from the Jewish 'monopoly' on salvation and opening up the Church to the entire world.
He opens the first Church Council and authoritatively lays down principles: "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." (Acts 15: 6-12).
The emphasis In 2 Thessalonians 2:7 is that, at an appointed time in the prophetic programme, the restrainer, whose ministry has been concurrent with the 'secret' unfolding of the 'mystery of 'lawlessness' will be devoid of authority, or absent from his office, allowing the Rebel to launch his rebellion forthrightly in the Church and then on the earth. The restraining of the Antichrist spirit has been going on two millennia. No merely human champion or agency could live long enough to cover a time period stretches out some two thousand years, apart from the Petrine Succession.
St. Peter defends the Church before the rulers (Acts 4: 8ff). The authorities recognise Peter's power (and the others) and seek to stop them from preaching. Lawlessness has been challenged and is reacting. Peter gave the Roman Empire a run for its money in a (finally lethal) cat-and-mouse game that stretched over 25 years. The 'temporal power' of the popes has long been an issue in Church history and a thorn in the side of the secular State. All this is well-known, established fact.
7. The Restrainer must have shown himself, throughout the Church's history, to be an effective agent, exercising an effective ministry in 'holding fast' ('stand firm') to the Apostolic Tradition which is the sole bulwark against the final apostasy.
Our Lord used κατέχον [katechô] to describe the opposite of apostasy (Luke 8:13-15): "But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it κατέχουσιν (katechousin) and by perseverance produce a crop."
The Thessalonians were familiar with this word and the condition it expressed since the Apostle had previously used it when he wrote "hold fast to that which is good" in his FIRST letter to them (1 Thessalonians 5:21 κατέχητη. He noted the Thessalonian experience of "holding fast" (2 Thessalonians 2:6 κατέχητη ) as evidence that the apostasy has not yet occurred. [St. Paul uses the same word, again, in Hebrews 3:14: 'We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first.']
"Ladies and Gentlemen: the Katechon has left the Church."
Before 1958, Catholics held fast to the Apostolic Tradition ("the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints,"St. Jude 1:3b) by simple reason of being in communion with the Bishop of Rome. No special effort (beyond the ordinary exigencies of faith) was required. The popes held fast to the Catechesis and zealously handed it on to every succeeding generation. Since that time, however, Catholics have had to make a concerted effort to maintain and keep within the Apostolic Tradition which is no longer guaranteed by the pseudo 'superlative apostles' in today's Rome.
Until 1958, every single Roman pontiff, whatever his faults or even crimes, had unequivocally declared to the whole world: 'One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism,' (Ephesians 4:5). With Lumen Gentium (and its infamous novelty 'subsistit'), signed and promulgated by Paul V1 (1964), the One True Faith and One Baptism were presented as being simply the best of all faiths, her unique exclusivity (Extra Ecclesia nullum salus), once jealously and zealously preserved , discarded. Baptism became little more than an initiation rite into 'the best club in town' (but there are others). With Nostra Aetate and Dignitatis Humanae (1965), the One True God was not so much discarded as subtly delegated to being the chief god in a pantheon of many, despite the religiosity and 'form of religion' (counterfeit Catholicism) that necessarily prevailed if it was to pass.
"Know also this, that, in the last days, shall come dangerous times… 4 Traitors, stubborn, puffed up… 5 Having an appearance indeed of godliness, but denying the power thereof. Now these avoid. For (they are)… Ever learning, and never attaining to the knowledge of the truth." 2 Timothy 3:1-7
8. The restrainer must be able to fit the description of someone or something that "comes to be out of the middle."
Yes indeed. Paul V1 came to be right out of the middle of the Temple/Church. The 'Middle', as we have seen, refers to the 'Court of the Priests'. Of these priests, only one, the High Priest, was allowed into the Holy of Holies, and then only once a year on the Day of Atonement. St. Peter and his successors may justly be termed the 'high priests' of the New Covenant. Paul V1, one-time 'high priest', stepped aside, resigned from being the Pope of the Catholic Church by introducing a new organization (cleverly disguised as Catholicism but not the Church of God founded by Jesus Christ) and making himself the head of that instead. Ergo, all his successors have signed up to his (Paul V1's) pseudo-catholic church and cannot be true popes of the only One Catholic Church.
9. The absence of the restrainer should lead to an immediate and dramatic increase in lawlessness in both the spiritual and secular realms.
It is interesting to note that 'the middle' may not only denote the Court of the Priests as such, but an assembly of these priests. Right in the middle of the Church, amidst all his bishops (the largest assembly of Catholic bishops in history), Paul VI signed and promulgated the new definition of the Church of God, insinuating that salvation is not to be found in Jesus Christ alone, that membership of the Church founded by Christ is not necessary, that salvation can be found in Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, and even atheism.
We know what has happened in both the Church and world. In the world the legalization of abortion, homosexuality, the breakdown of marriage, the prevalence of adulterous or fornicatory 'partnerships', organised crime in control of government, greed and hedonism run riot, unlimited experimentation in weapons of mass destruction, chemicals, psychological manipulation, the devastation of education, the systematic corruption of youth etc. Anyone born before 1954 knows how dramatically society has changed.
10. The absence of the restrainer, or a general awareness of something missing, something out of its place, should at least be commented on by that part of the Church which is 'holding fast' to the Faith during the great apostasy. The 'Remnant Church' should be struck with a profound spiritual malaise.
In the Church…
- "Your adversaries have roared in the midst of Your meeting place;
they have set up their own standards for signs." Psalm 74:4
- "For it is written: 'I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be dispersed'." St. Matthew 26:31
Dossiers and 'libros accusationes' have been compiled detailing the extraordinary heresies and blasphemies of the last four and present fifth pseudo popes. It is not my intention to analyse or repeat them here. The devastation wrecked on the Lord's Household of Faith by and under these wicked pastors (who truly are the prophesied 'wolves in sheep's clothing' - discarding the tiara they still cling to the pure wool pallium) is generally known.
But there is one very telling area which has perhaps not as yet received the attention it deserves and that is the state of EXORCISM in the Catholic Church today. Exorcism is a face-to-face confrontation with Satan, his devils and or demons. It is a front-line use of the Power of the Keys. In an interview published June 2001 30 DAYS, No. 6 - 2001 and reprinted in 2002 in the February 26 and March 5th issues of The DailyCatholic with The Smoke of Satan in the House of the Lord in which Stefano Maria Paci interviews Fr. Gabriele Amorth , the chief exorcist of Rome, who describes how the new rite of exorcism is 'a joke', that its instructions display massive 'incompetence' and effectively tie the hands of the priest in the Devil's favor.
Catholic priests ordained in the new rite after 1968 no longer have the power to effectively exorcise. Only validly ordained priests using the old rites retain this power.
Millions of loyal, orthodox Catholics (still hanging on in there - by the skin of their teeth) realise that something is very wrong in the Church today and feel the 'lack'. It is a truism among the older faithful that 'It isn't the same Church anymore'; many younger Catholics and converts (who can still be identified as Catholics or as sincere 'wanna-be' Catholics) immerse themselves in traditional devotions and apologetics, attending 'Latin Masses' (sic) wherever possible and hope for the return of the Mass of Always, even while remaining in the orbit of the Novus Ordo. They have not yet come to logical conclusions nor put the term 'Sede Vacante' to it, but what they are experiencing is gut Catholic instinct. We must never think of these souls as being anything other than Christ's 'Elect': deceived they may be, but they are elect even so and we must be forever at their service. (I will have much more to say on our relations with our brethren still trapped in the Novus phantasm in future installments.)
There remain a few questions that should solidify the argument for the katechon being the Papacy/Pope:
Militant and aggressively orthodox Catholics (the ones we should suppose to be 'most clued up' about the state of the Church) have indeed concluded that the Chair of Peter is vacant.
Question 1: Would St. Paul have had St. Peter in mind as being the present, living Restrainer? Would the Thessalonians have concluded this? Aren't you drawing from the text more than the Apostle intended?
Question 2: 'How is it that this interpretation forms no part of the early Church's remembrance, and that even Sts. Jerome and Augustine didn't know of it?'
There is no good reason to think that St. Peter was not in mind, or that the Thessalonians would have positively failed to reach this conclusion. Even so, our sacred authors may not always have been consciously aware of the full scope of what they wrote. They were writing by the Holy Ghost. And providing it does no violence to the text, readers may draw from various texts meanings (or further significance) of which the author was unaware at the time of writing.
St. Paul's 'intention' must be regarded as open unless we are to regard the verses as purely historicist having no relevance today. And this cannot be said since the verses themselves are clearly eschatological and thus of particular concern to that generation which would find itself caught up in the events foretold. This generation, more than any other, would have cause to study the Apostle's words in greater detail than any heretofore since it would be directly applicable to them. The Christians of the generation actually involved, then, may well have a clearer understanding of the scope of St. Paul's inspired words.
Clearly what was uppermost in the Apostle's mind was that the Thessalonians should preserve themselves from apostasy and this they could do only by holding fast to Apostolic Doctrine and not wavering from it. This is his explicit and immediate concern, and the context within which the whole chapter has to be read. But that St. Peter and his successors are
- (1) legitimately and necessarily implied and
- (2) that this explanation alone sufficiently draws out the full meaning of the text will become more apparent if we consider the extreme importance the First Generation attached to the person of St. Peter (Cf. Appendix 1: St. Paul and Papacy; and Appendix 2: 'The Secret').
I wrote earlier that the entire First Generation would have been aware of St. Peter's restraining role but this would have been in large, not necessarily specific, terms; i.e. they did not know of him as 'The Restrainer' since this particular insight was
- (1) not a title as such, and
- (2) the specifics were for the Thessalonians who kept the secret very well; so much so that, once they had passed on, any specific reference to Peter would have died with them.
It would only be a later generation, struggling with the Restrainers' absence from the Church (and the immediately ensuing apostasy) who would feel compelled to reflect more keenly on St. Paul's words and perhaps recapture exactly what the Thessalonians knew. This would at least be a great help to those in distress since it would explain things to them, letting them know where they stood, that such a catastrophe for the Church had been foretold, and that they (we) are never to worry providing we: 'Stand firm; and hold the traditions which you have learned,' (2 Thessalonians: 2:14). It is, primarily and fundamentally, by the almighty Will of our Divine Saviour Jesus Christ that the Church exists and will continue to exist (in whatever state) until He returns for us; it is not by our own efforts (although we must do our bit and truly 'labour' if we are to be the faithful Bride of Christ, mindful of our Solemn Marriage Vows).
Question 3: St. Paul says that the apostasy must come first. Doesn't your explanation presume that the absence of the 'restrainer' comes first, and then the apostasy?
Paul VI and a good number of bishops were already of an apostate mind when they raised their own standards in the Vatican Assembly. This prior (hierarchical and theological) apostasy was pretty well kept from the Catholic Faithful until it crept out into full public view in the 60's when vast numbers of the Faithful themselves were deceived by it. Keep also in mind that John XXIII allowed those clerics, who had previously been kept in check by Pope Pius XII and were in fact censored by him, to not only spread their errors but be key players at Vatican II...including one Fr. Joseph Ratzinger.
The Katechon's (Paul V1's) 'disappearing act' (qua Katechon) ensued from his prior personal apostasy which he craftily disguised, as did his cohorts who were also impeded during the reign of Pope Pius XII. Once free of those restraints placed on them by Pius, a valid and possibly last true restrainer κατέχων(katechwn), Paul VI then foisted these errors and heretics on an already rather (doctrinally) ignorant Faithful.
Question 4: Have any other commentators come to the same or a similar conclusion regarding this text and the Papacy?
Yes: Rev. E. Sylvester Berry, The Apocalypse of St. John, 1921, The Catholic Church Supply House, Columbus, Ohio, pages 120-138; Rev. Herman Bernard Kramer, The Book of Destiny, 1955, Buechler Publishing Company, Belleville, Illinois, reprinted by Tan Books, Rockford Illinois, pages 277-85; an article by Gary Giuffré (who is taking the Sirist position), and
Steven Paul, 'The Apocalypse-Letter by Letter A Literary Analysis of the Book of Revelation (iUniverse, Inc. New York Lincoln Shanghai. Note: You can probably be sure that you are reading an orthodox Catholic commentator if he employs the word "Apocalypse" rather than "Revelation". The two words mean the same thing but "Revelation" has been commandeered by the modernist camp; so if a commentator uses 'Revelation', double-check to make sure the rest of his theology and exegesis is sound and in accordance with Catholic teaching.
Question 5: Has anyone else referred this text to the V2 'popes'?
Not precisely. However Giuffré points out:
"It was the learned opinion of the eminent, 20th Century scripture scholar, Father E. Sylvester Berry that the 12th and 13th chapters of the Apocalypse of St. John foretell a usurpation of the papal see by the false prophet of Antichrist resulting in great tribulations befalling the Catholic Church. Fr. Berry points out that it is the papacy, which is the principal target of those who seek to establish the reign of Antichrist. Heresy, schism and the introduction of false worship upon the altars of Catholic churches are, thus, to be the direct results of the removal of the true Pope from the See of Rome, and subsequent occupation of the Chair of Peter by the forces of Antichrist".
Kramer also speaks of a coming anti-pope who will produce a counterfeit church and sacraments leading to general apostasy.
These commentators (apart from Steven Paul who, though conservatively orthodox was even so under the spell of the Novus Ordo) wrote not too long before the awful events that have overtaken us since V2. Had Fathers Berry and Kramer been alive, I am morally certain that they would have put the dots together and seen the connection between Paul V1's resignation from the Papal Office and the 'absence of the Katechon'.
The Papal Tiara (Tri-Regno) symbolises the fullness of Authority and Universal Jurisdiction which Christ gave to St. Peter and his successors, and which was meant to be used by them to govern, to teach, and to sanctify the flock of Christ until He return to gather us unto Himself.
This awful (‘psy-ops’) ‘photo (which looks so pious and was accompanied by all manner of specious [Judas-like] explanations) symbolises Paul V1’s abdication of his role as the supreme pontiff of the Catholic Church. Henceforth (and on his signing of Lumen Gentium) he became the head of a different church, with no further authority therefore, over the Catholic Church. It illustrates the greatest betrayal in the history of the Church, effectively breaking the tryst between Jesus and Peter (but only on Montini's part) and establishing a vacant chair in Rome; hence: sede vacante. The only time a Catholic pontiff can give away the Tiara (not necessarily a physical one but what it represents) is when he hands it over in filial submission to Jesus Christ.
CONCLUSION: I submit that this commentary (admittedly from an amateur) is consistent, makes sense and, so far from doing any violence to the text, provides a satisfactory exegesis that answers all the questions relating to its obscurity and which have heretofore not been resolved. I hope it helps provide strength and consolation to the reader.
Keep (hold fast - κατέχητη!) the Faith!
Part IV: St. Paul and the Papacy: The First Generation
The reason for this lengthy appendix (in several parts, if you will) is to demonstrate that the pivotal position and role Catholics ascribe to St. Peter in the earliest years of our history is not a product of later wishful-thinking. Our forefathers in the Faith were every bit as aware of the supreme authority of St. Peter then as Catholics have always been aware of the Pope's in the succeeding centuries. In other words, Christians in Corinth, Ephesus, and Thessalonica, in the first century, were distinctly Papal.
That being so, our interpretation of 2 Thessalonians 2:6-7 as referring to the Papacy, is in no way outlandish or forced. We do not just encounter the bare 'germ', the very minimum required that would later allow us to build up a doctrine of Petrine/papal supremacy - the Primacy of Peter is well understood and is part of the underlying structure of the New Testament as a whole. As for St. Paul's cryptic caution in the Thessalonian passage we have been studying, the reason for this will become clearer in a following appendix, "The 'Secret' and the Roman Connection", which will show the precariousness of St. Peter's position with regard the authorities.
The Petrine Primacy in the Gospel of St. Luke
From the Acts of the Apostles we know that, starting from St. Paul's second journey, St. Luke became Paul's 'constant collaborator and an almost inseparable fellow traveler'. Luke was with Paul at the time of Paul's first imprisonment during which the Epistles to the Colossians and Philippians were written (Colossians 4:14; Philemon 24). He was also with him during the second imprisonment when the second Epistle to Timothy was written, and which ended with a martyr's death. Luke was loyal to Paul until the end (2 Timothy 4:11).
While commentators are quick to notice the themes that are common to both Paul and Luke (Luke's Gospel is known to be primarily the godspel to the Gentiles), few pay much, if any, attention to Luke's consistently 'pro-Petrine' stance. In fact, of all the four gospels, St. Peter's primacy, as we shall see, is woven into its very fabric. Luke, more than anyone, would have known what Paul thought of Peter, and Paul would have known what Luke thought of Peter.
(I must add that much of what I am to write here is based on memory of a tattered old Catholic Truth Society pamphlet I found at the back of my church in, perhaps, 1969. The pamphlet itself had been written in the 40's, I believe. Long lost, I do not even remember the venerable author's name but it may have been a Monsignor Montgomery. It was an absolute gem and I very much regret its disappearance and if anyone out there would have a copy I would be happy to buy it from them.)
In his account of the Gospel, St. Luke consistently assigns a privileged status to Peter, with all the appearance of wishing to systematically lift the Primacy to even greater prominence than his synoptic counterparts. Luke contains status-enhancing narratives about Peter not present in Matthew and Mark, while omitting or significantly modifying some of Peter's statements, found in them, that could possibly diminish his reputation in the mind of the reader.
In St. Luke 5:1-11, our 'dear and glorious physician' devotes eleven verses to Peter's individualised calling (as opposed to 3 verses in St. Matthew and St. Mark), focusing on him solely and not even mentioning St. Andrew.
Only Luke mentions that it was from Peter's boat that our Lord gave His first recorded address to 'the multitude', that it was from this boat that there is the first miraculous catch of fish, and the Lord's prediction that henceforth Peter was to be a 'fisher of men.' Already, in just these few introductory verses we have the kernel of the Catholic 'mythos' (if I may use that term) of 'Urbi et orbi', 'the Barque of Peter', and 'The Fisherman'.
In St. Matthew 16 (23) and St. Mark 8 (33) Peter has the audacity to rebuke the Master regarding His prediction that He would suffer and die: 'Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him ('never, Lord', he said, 'never shall this happen to You!') but Jesus turned and looked at His disciples, He rebuked Peter: 'get thou behind Me satan!', He said. 'You have not the things of God in mind but the things of men.' Luke (9:18ff) misses out the rebuke entirely. The omission is all the more telling because the text immediately preceding and following closely parallels the Matthean/Markan material (actually Peter's?).
Both St. Matthew (26:40) and St. Mark (14:37) report that on finding the Apostles asleep in Gethsemane Jesus scolds Peter in particular. Luke leaves out mention of Peter and has Our Lord scolding the group as a whole (St. Luke 22:45)
In St. Luke (22:33), Peter never falsely promises not to deny Jesus; he simply states he is ready to follow Jesus to prison and death. But compare this with St. Mark 14:29 and St. Matthew 26:33. In St. Luke ( 22:60) Peter neither swears nor calls down a curse on himself during the denial in the courtyard as he is seen to do in St. Matthew 26:74 and St. Mark 14:71.
There is St. Luke 22: 31-32, verses with which Catholics are well familiar for they present one of the three major Petrine texts together with St. Matthew 16:18 and St. John 21:15-17. What many may not realise the significance of is that this text follows on immediately from the dispute that had arisen among the Apostles as to which of them should be the greatest (vs.24-30). (To be noted, in passing, is that Our Lord does not say that there should not be one who is recognised as 'the greatest' or 'leader' - He says that there will be one - only that this leadership must not be in terms of brute power but of service).
24 And there arose also a dispute among them as to which one of them was regarded to be greatest. 25 And He said to them, "The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who have authority over them are called `Benefactors.' 26 "But it is not this way with you, but the one who is the greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like the servant.
So who is 'the greatest'? Our Lord turns immediately to Peter:
31 "Simon, Simon, behold Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you wheat; but I have prayed for thee (singular, Peter), that thy (singular) faith fail not: and thou (singular) being once converted, confirm (strengthen, establish, stErizO [στΕριζΟ]) thy brethren."
In St. Luke 24:34, the evangelist crowns Peter's primacy in that he tells us something the others do not, i.e. the very significant fact that, after His Resurrection, Jesus appeared exclusively to Peter: To the two returning from Emmaus, the disciples declare, "The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon"
This doggedly pro-Petrine stance will be seen again throughout the first 15 chapters of the Acts of the Apostles.
The point to keep constantly in mind is that Luke was particularly Paul's friend and disciple, not Peter's as such.
The Petrine Primacy in St. Luke's Acts of the Apostles Compared with Paul in Galatians
In Saul's First Visit to Jerusalem as we see in Galatians 1:18,
Paul says that he went up to Jerusalem for the first time specifically to see Peter.
18 Then after three years, I came to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days.
The Greek for 'see' here is historeO [ηιστορΟ] which means to declare or to relate one's story.
He says 'I saw none of the apostles - only James the Lord's brother'. He then goes on to make the curious remark 'I assure you before God that what I am writing to you is no lie.'
He takes an oath! And what is the purpose of this oath? It is to reassure his listeners that he had Petrine authority backing him up. The thing is, Paul was extremely jealous of his God-given authority and 'independence'. Paul could have remained 'freelance' but he needed to confirm that 'his gospel' was in conformity with that of the original Apostolic Nucleus, and Peter in particular.
St. Luke's Account
Saul returns to Damascus (Galatians and Acts) where he spends some time 'with the disciples'. He is known to them because of his baptism by Ananias 3 years previously; but we do not know if his authority was well received or not. It doesn't seem so.
Having stayed 'several days' (3 or 4?) with the disciples (or 'brethren'), he then seems to go his own way and starts preaching in the synagogue apparently independently of his hosts (and certainly still independently of Peter and the Apostles), entirely on his own authority (cf. Galatians 1:17). Furthermore, he preached to Jews, no mention is made of Gentiles.
After 'many days had passed' the Jews conspire to kill him. Saul escapes with the aid of 'his followers' (significantly not termed 'the disciples' or 'brethren'). So Paul has now got a following but these are not referred to as disciples; and the disciples are not necessarily to be thought of as the ones who helped Paul escape through the wall.
First Visit to Jerusalem - St. Luke (Acts 9)
Saul goes to Jerusalem (1st official visit) and tries to join 'the disciples' there but they were still afraid of him and he has no joy. However, Barnabas is obviously impressed with Saul and so takes him to the apostles and vouches for him. Saul 'stayed with them' (i.e. 'the apostles') and then 'moved about freely, in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord.' Saul is now preaching, in Jerusalem, with the consent of the Apostles.
His preaching provokes the wrath of the Jews who again seek to kill him, and so the brethren took him to Caesarea and then send him back to Tarsus (Saul's home town) no doubt for his own protection and safety.
There is no contradiction in these accounts.
1. Paul does not relate the details because, in his mind, he had only one objective for going to Jerusalem and that was to see Peter and it is Peter's original endorsement that he wants to tell the Galatians about.
2. The fact that when Saul got to Jerusalem he was unable to go directly to Peter is almost certainly because, afraid that this was some plot, the brethren, vigilant for Peter's safety, didn't want to let Saul anywhere near Peter. Paul does not relate this because it is not to the point of his writing to the Galatians.
3. Barnabas, who was (I would say hierarchically) closer to the apostles, with easy access (perhaps, among the brethren mentioned, he was the only one to even know where Peter was), then introduces him 'to the apostles' because of certain scenes, where we might imagine Peter strolling around Jerusalem in quite a care-free manner but this was not the case; and to get close to Peter in person may well have presented difficulties for people who were not known to the disciples. There is room to think that Peter was surrounded by 'body guards' - not the thuggish type we see today of course, but people who would have spirited Peter away first sign of trouble. As to where Peter could actually be found at any given time, every reason to believe that this would have been known only to the 'inner circle'. Now, for Luke, 'the apostles' means 'Peter and the Eleven' or 'Peter and John' or 'Peter and James'. It would help harmonisation if Luke had simply said that Barnabas had presented Saul to 'Peter and the others' but he doesn't. Until Chapter 11, 'the apostles' referred to Peter and the others; there is no need to single him out here, especially as Paul himself had already specifically made Peter the object of the visit in Galatians I written some 15 years before the Acts of the Apostles.
4. The Apostolic endorsement, and the outcome of Saul's liberty to preach, is recorded by both.
5. Luke records that Saul, for safety's sake, was sent to Tarsus. Paul mentions that he passed through Syria and Cilicia (Tarsus was in Cilicia, Syria adjacent).
As Things Stood 36 -37AD
Peter and the mother church in Jerusalem advise the brethren throughout Judea not to be afraid of Saul. He is 'safe'. There is as yet no question of respective Jewish and Gentile missions; in fact it seems that Saul was not yet mandated to preach outside of Jerusalem. He is sent home to Tarsus where he continues in patient obedience. He is, at this point, a junior' member of the brethren with no special consideration. Saul has yet to gain his reputation as The Apostle, or Apostle to the Gentiles.
Saul is next mentioned in Acts 11:25. St. Luke tells us that men from Cyprus and Cyrene had gone to Antioch and had started evangelizing non-Jews. A controversial thing since heretofore the practice had been to preach only to Jews. Notice that it is a question of anonymous men first openly preaching to the Gentiles, not Paul. News of this got to the authorities in Jerusalem and they sent Barnabas to investigate.
Barnabas recognised that the Holy Ghost was at work in Antioch. He encouraged the new Gentile converts. And he knew just the man who, together with him, would be able to make the most of this manifestation of God's favour to the Gentiles: Saul of Tarsus.
So Barnabus goes to Tarsus and searches for Saul. Evidently Saul was not known as a preacher. It does no violence to these texts to suggest that Saul had previously told Peter and the others of his vision of expanding the Church to include the Gentiles. They knew that this was to happen at some point but the Lord had left no instructions as to how they were to go about it. They did not immediately take Paul up on the idea (probably to Paul's chagrin) but were brooding on it and God was soon, the very next chapter in fact, to give Peter the go-ahead. St. Luke underlies the fact that Barnabas was 'full of the Holy Ghost and faith' and it was no doubt this that persuaded him to look for Saul, apart from the fact that he knew of Paul's great skill in preaching (witnessed in Jerusalem) and was probably familiar with Saul's passion for the Gentiles.
Having found Saul, Barnabas then takes him back to Antioch where, for a whole year, both Barnabas and Saul evangelized 'a great many people'.
In Acts 11: 30 we see Barnabas and Saul went back (from Antioch) to Jerusalem in order to deliver a collection made for the Church in Judea which was experiencing famine. I do not call this the 'Second Visit' because it was not to do with Authority or doctrinal issues. Paul in Galatians does not mention it since it was not germane; and it seems that Saul and Barnabas had no sooner delivered the collection than they were back in Antioch.
The Second (recorded) Visit in 49 AD (Galatians 2)
St. Luke omits this visit because the cause, subject and outcome of the issue (the Judaising Threat in Antioch and its resolution) is the same and the two incidents are separated by only a very short time, a matter of weeks or months. The evangelist will periscope everything into his treatment of the Council (which Paul does not record in Galatians since, I suggest, he wrote to them just before the Council).
Now St. Paul says he went to Jerusalem because of a 'revelation'. The content of this revelation seems to be that Paul has to make contact with the Apostles explaining to them exactly what he was preaching. The revelation appears to have knocked Paul's confidence a bit since he says he is going to see the Apostles 'for fear that I was running, or had run my race in vain'.
Besides, he says, some 'false brethren had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus'. This infiltration, obviously, does not concern the Church in Jerusalem, but the Church in Antioch. So, while he's about it, he intends to clear the matter up with Jerusalem.
The Apostle goes on to report a clandestine meeting with 'James, Cephas, and John' only. Paul mentions James first because he is going to Jerusalem specifically to see James: the problem is coming from his province and James is the one to deal with it. It is, I suggest, a surprise to Paul that he finds Peter there at all since the last he knew Peter had been in Rome.
Unbeknown to the rest of the Church, then, it appears that Peter, James, John and Paul reach agreement on an unofficial policy of unencumbered outreach to Gentiles - Paul could go ahead. There was a temporary policy of respective missions. Why was this not made public? Because the Jerusalem Church was walking a tight-rope with the authorities. It could not afford to unnecessarily rock the boat. Let Paul do what he likes away from Judea among mostly Gentiles. Meanwhile, we have to keep 'a professional distance'. By offering Paul the 'right hand of fellowship' Peter was finally telling Paul 'We accept you as having an apostolic authority on a par with our own' with the proviso: 'But at the moment we cannot let it be seen (in Judea) that we directly, officially approve what you are doing.'
Such a (diplomatic and officially secret) strategy was bound to give mixed messages and be responsible for much confusion.
Shortly after this second visit, Paul hears that the Galatians are also falling prey to a Judaising party which they think is official Church policy and since this is at variance with Paul's teaching they now doubt Paul's credentials'. Jerusalem (in their mind) has priority because Jerusalem is the seat of the 'Magisterium'. Paul needs to strenuously defend his credentials and he does so very forcefully, telling them, twice, that he had fixed things with Peter. Galatians was almost certainly his earliest epistle, written AD 49-50.
I suggest that no sooner had he dispatched this letter (telling them of his second visit to Jerusalem) than another and more virulent clash occurred as reported by St. Luke.
The Third Visit. The Council in 50 AD (Acts 15)
1 And some coming down from Judea, taught the brethren: That except you be circumcised after the manner of Moses, you cannot be saved. 2 And when Paul and Barnabas had no small contest with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain others of the other side, should go up to the apostles and priests to Jerusalem about this question. 3 They therefore being brought on their way by the Church, passed through Phenice, and Samaria, relating the conversion of the Gentiles; and they caused great joy to all the brethren. 4 And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received by the Church, and by the apostles and ancients, declaring how great things God had done with them. 5 But there arose some of the sect of the Pharisees that believed, saying: They must be circumcised, and be commanded to observe the law of Moses.
Personally, I fail to see how those commentators who see this Lucan account as being the same incident reported by Paul to the Galatians (some 'false brethren had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus') arrive at that conclusion. While the outward issue is the same (Judaisers and the need to clear things up with Jerusalem), the differences in detail are so truly remarkable as, I think, we must here see two entirely separate incidents: they cannot be merely a difference of perspective or audience. Meanwhile a question: Why couldn't the Church in Antioch simply ignore the Judean emissaries and just take Paul's teaching? How is it that Paul and Barnabus are described as greatly, sharply 'dissenting' from the teaching of a few 'men from Judea'?
It is necessary to be absolutely clear as to the importance Jerusalem held. It was the current 'mother Church' and the seat of the Magisterium (the Apostolic Teaching Authority). The emissaries are apparently coming from the Apostle James, bishop of Jerusalem (although it is likely that they had not in fact been sent by him*) and thus appeared to speak authoritatively. And what they said was at sharp variance with what Paul had been teaching. Paul and Barnabas are made out to be innovators.
Because Jerusalem (apparently) demands it, the Antiochan Gentile Christians are on the verge of abandoning their freedom in Christ and submit to Jewish observance. Furthermore, Paul's own authority is on the line. He may even have felt 'double-crossed': no sooner had he reached an agreement (albeit unofficial) with the 'Pillars' than lo and behold Jerusalem is up to its old tricks, interfering and undermining Paul's authority. Paul had felt that the issue had been resolved during the clandestine meeting but evidently not: matters were now out of control. The unofficial policy had come undone at the seams and was no longer tenable. I get the impression that Paul may even have forced Peter's hand somewhat. In any case: the entire matter must go to Council. Paul needs Peter's public and unequivocal backing if his ministry among the Gentiles is to be no more than a nod in their direction.
COMMENT: 2 "And when Paul and Barnabas had no small contest with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain others of the other side, should go up to the apostles and priests to Jerusalem about this question." Catholics would like the text to read: 'should go up to Jerusalem to Peter and the Apostles'. Schismatic Orthodox and heretical Protestants point to this text as implying that Peter did not hold universal jurisdiction.
But there was no reason for the Antiochans to think that Peter was in Jerusalem in the first place. For all they knew, Peter was still in Rome or possibly on his way back with the Jews who had just been expelled. Well, whether in Rome or not, they were not expecting to see Peter since they have heard little of him for about 7 years! (Peter disappears from view after his escape from prison around 42-43 AD as I will show in a future installment.
In Peter's absence it had been James who had 'held the fort' in Jerusalem, and John. Even Paul had still not really come into his own (although it is now a question of 'Paul and Barnabas' rather than 'Barnabas and Saul' a change in precedence - and name - that doesn't occur until after Saul's temporary blinding of Elymas the sorcerer (Acts 13:6ff).
True, Paul had just written to the Galatians informing them that Peter was in Jerusalem. But there is a curious thing here. As we have seen, concerning that meeting, Paul put James first. One of the reasons being, as we said, because it was principally with James he needed to deal; but it is also possible that, by putting Peter second, he was deliberately deflecting Peter's pre-eminence. James was already known to the authorities as 'the head of the Church' and his policy was preserving the peace, no real threat from James - keep it that way, James was safe. But as if to say 'but WE know differently' Paul now inexplicably gives Peter his (Grecisised) Aramaic name: CEPHAS, Rock In fact some commentators have opined that Peter and Cephas are two different individuals in these verses. Could it not be said that Paul is deliberately trying to muddy the waters in a bid to protect Peter? If the letter were intercepted it would simply confirm what the authorities thought they already knew and were comfortable with, i.e. James is 'head' and that's fine. But, lest the Galatians should think that James has really supplanted Peter in the order of priority, Paul reverts to Rock thus establishing Peter's priority over James even though he has put Peter in second place.
The Council of Jerusalem
7 "And when there had been much disputing,"
The Apostles and elders take the floor offering their opinions both for and against the issue to hand. The matter is carefully examined from every angle. Then:
7... "Peter, rising up, said to them: Men, brethren, you know, that in former days God made choice among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel, and believe."
Peter reminds the apostles of Caesarea Philippi where he had been especially chosen. God had made a choice and He had chosen him, Peter, no one else. Peter stakes his claim to divine authority superseding that of anyone else present. Now actually, in the Matthean account, we find no words of Jesus referring to the opening up of the Church to the Gentiles as such, and neither is there any written instruction to be found elsewhere in the Gospel as to what relations with the Gentiles should be with regard eventual admission into the Church. Peter is using the Keys and he alone has the authority to use them in such a definitive manner: 'by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe'
Peter, as we have seen, had probably been in Rome for the past 7 years as I shall provide more on in a future installment. Also, earlier, by baptizing Cornelius and his household (Acts 10), Peter was the first to bring Gentiles into the Church without imposing any Jewish burdens on them. Notice that his action, then, had been the cause of consternation:
1 "And the apostles and brethren, who were in Judea, heard that the Gentiles also had received the word of God. 2 And when Peter was come up to Jerusalem, they that were of the circumcision contended with him, 3 Saying: Why didst thou go in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them? 4 But Peter began and declared to them the matter in order, saying: 5 I was in the city of Joppe praying, and I saw in an ecstasy of mind a vision, a certain vessel descending, as it were a great sheet let down from heaven by four corners, and it came even unto me.
18 Having heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying: God then hath also to the Gentiles given repentance unto life" (Acts 11: 1-5,18).
The issue is really the same as that which had provoked the Council, but with this difference: what Peter could get away with in Acts 11, Paul cannot get away with in Acts 15. When Peter had brought Gentiles into the Church without burden, the conservatives did not like it but they 'held their peace' because, precisely, it was Peter. But when Paul does the same thing, the whole matter has to go to Council.
While Peter comes out, definitively, in Paul's favour, he also makes it known that it is not because of Paul's authority that the Church is opened up to the Gentiles but because of his, Peter's, prior authority.
Any agreed respective Jewish or Gentile mission is strictly relative and subordinate to this. Paul has been called by God to be the Apostle to the Gentiles (in his vast missionary endeavour), but he is not the Apostle of the Gentiles. So Paul is actually put in his place here. He may justifiably glory in his Gentile mission but neither he nor anyone else must think that Peter is in any way restricted: Peter can go to both Jews and Gentiles. Similarly, St. Luke does not miss any opportunity for pointing out that St. Paul, likewise, was never restricted to the Gentiles since Luke tells us that Paul always preached to the Jews first wherever he went.
Peter conveys his teaching and when he finishes: 12 "And all the multitude held their peace;"
The verb "esigese" (hush, hold one's peace, become silent) is past tense aorist-meaning that the assembly remained silent after Peter's address. Once Peter had stood up and taught, all debate stops: the matter is settled. "and they heard Barnabas and Paul telling what great signs and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them."
Perhaps Paul and Barnabas had spoken previously during the debate, we don't know. But what we can see here is that they were NOT debating. They were describing. And what they described was not at variance with Peter, trying to re-open the debate, but in corroborative support of Peter.
13 And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying: Men, brethren, hear me. 14 Simon hath related how God first visited to take of the Gentiles a people to his name. 15 And to this agree the words of the prophets, as it is written...19 For which cause I judge that they, who from among the Gentiles are converted to God, are not to be disquieted."
If the matter were finished, how is it that James now intervenes and appears to have the deciding say?
1. James did not have 'the final say'. The final 'say' was said when Peter definitively closed all further debate.
2. He introduced nothing new.
3. He based his comments on two observations:
Who had been troubling the Gentiles? Peter hadn't. Paul hadn't. The only people troubling the Gentiles were members in St. James' Jerusalem church. James must have known what his own men were saying but he had allowed it. Why? Probably because diplomacy and expediency dictated. Indeed Peter, on leaving for Rome, may very well have left James with the specific task of keeping the Church from looking like a threat to the Jewish authorities. Now keeping Jewish practice may have been all very well and good for the Jewish converts (it could be retained without compromising the Gospel). But now men, apparently from St. James, had tried to extend this 'Jewish accommodation' to Gentile converts and were seriously undermining Paul's ministry.
James' 'Therefore I judge' is not a judgement directed at St. Peter or St. Paul or meant for the universal Church. It is a judgement directed to, and concerning solely, that Judaising party in his own local Jerusalem church. That is the significance of the 'that we do not trouble the gentiles'.
Peter binds the whole universal (Catholic) Church with His solemn (in Council) teaching which closed the debate. James binds only the Jerusalem church. He renders judgment on the matter for his Jewish party, not as a superior or equal of Peter but simply as a bishop responsible for bringing a fractious party within his own local church to heel.
In Acts 15, Peter appears to be visiting; he does not act as a bishop of an episcopal See but as Pastor of the whole Church. No sooner does he arrive (from out of nowhere) than he disappears not to be heard of again (in Scripture) until around 63 AD, i.e. 13 years or so later, definitely in Rome. Yet, his office and teaching authority are recognised by all.
Part V: St. Paul Rebukes St. Peter
11 But when Cephas was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. 12 For before that some came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them who were of the circumcision. 13 And to his dissimulation the rest of the Jews consented, so that Barnabas also was led by them into that dissimulation (Galatians 2: 11-13)
It is noteworthy is the fact that St. Luke, who was St. Paul's disciple and friend, omits this incident recorded in Galatians 2: 11-13 altogether. Equally noteworthy is that he shows Paul himself practicing the very 'dissemblance' that Paul accuses St. Peter of. (See St. Jerome's comments, below.)
The ancient Antiochan tradition says that, before going to Rome (circa AD 41-43) St. Peter ministered there for 7 years commencing as early as 34 AD. We are not to imagine Peter stationed in Antioch for all that time but that he was there on and off over the course of 7 years. We also know from Acts that Paul was in Antioch, with Peter, around 37 AD. The incident Paul related in Galatians may well date back to this time. In fact if we read the account carefully it has all the hallmarks of being a story that has matured over the course of some years in the author's mind. Don't get me wrong: the 'withstanding' is real enough; but is it likely that Paul would have preached to Peter in the manner we see him doing in 2:14b-21?
I think the sermon, as such, is put in here primarily to justify why Paul had to withstand Peter. But Peter was as aware of the importance of the Gentile mission as Paul was ,and he had no need of a sermon as such.
The 'rebuke' cannot have been after the Council of Jerusalem since shortly afterwards the edicts of that council had been published to the churches and had been received with joy, and Antioch is especially mentioned as one of them.
Let's review this:
11a But when Cephas was come to Antioch…
Paul and Barnabas were in Antioch before Peter arrived. However, Peter was not just visiting since Paul later says that 'before certain men from James arrived' (visiting) Peter 'used to eat with the Gentiles' (the imperfect sunesthio, denoting continuing action in the past). Peter had been around for a while (and this accords with the Antiochan church tradition).
11b I withstood him to the face
Paul, as we said, was still pretty much a 'junior' at that time. In fact he was not yet even called Paul but was Saul. For him to 'withstand' Cephas Rock 'to the face' denotes a certain boldness. It is even more than if a recent convert, or one who had only recently become active in the Church, said 'And I withstood the Holy Father to his face!'. The immediate reaction would be 'Who do you think you are to do that!' Paul has deliberately chosen the rendition Cephas, and not Peter, here to underline Peter's superior rank and his, Saul's, own audacity.
13 And to his dissimulation the rest of the Jews consented, so that Barnabas also was led by them into that dissimulation.
Interesting. Despite the fact that Barnabas was St. Paul's disciple and shared with him the same largesse towards the Gentiles, the mere presence and action of St. Peter makes him behave differently. Paul is shocked: 'even Barnabas, the last one I would have thought!'
I think St. Paul may well have been 'put out' by St. Peter's unquestioned authority, especially when he had had to - and was to - work so hard in establishing his own which had been given directly by Christ without the medium of Peter or 'any man'. And especially when Peter's actions appeared to undermine not only Paul's teaching but even his own (Peter's) teaching.
Extreme Interpretation (Protestant)
The incident shows that Paul had little time for any pretended 'Petrine Primacy'. If Peter's example had carried the day, the very identity of the Church would have been put at risk. The text shows that neither Peter nor any of his pretended 'successors' can lay any claim to 'infallibility'.
The Catholic may accept that Paul roundly rebuked Peter, i.e. a reading 'as is'. Peter may have set a bad example, and sinned in doing so. But since it did not involve actual teaching affecting the whole Church the incident does not detract from Peter's primacy or authority. It just shows that, on this particular occasion, he was weak. The arguments the Protestants bring against the Papacy, using this text, fall flat.
The Modified Interpretation (usual Catholic)
The following is an excerpt from Carsten Theide's Rekindling the Word: In Search of Gospel Truth, 68 - 71, titled: "St. Peter, A New Approach to Biography." I believe Theide is actually Greek Orthodox.
"The different situation required flexibility in the application of the Jerusalem decision. Peter at first sided with the gentile Christians… Yet he then gave in to those who 'came from James' (Gal 2:12) showing the diplomatic skills expected from a 'rock' and 'shepherd' by turning to the Jews - probably for the duration of the stay of James' people - who were his 'responsibility' anyway. In this way he managed to please both parties and avert the threat of a possible split. Barnabas, the old expert on Antioch (Acts 11:22-24) who had proved his diplomatic skills earlier (in favour of Paul, Acts 9:27) sides with Peter (Gal 2:13). Whilst this can be re-constructed in Peter's favour from Paul's sharp attack, Paul's behaviour can also be understood. In his view Peter's action was a betrayal of the Gentile Christians for who he himself had taken special responsibility. He even feared that Peter's example might force them now to join Jewish Christians with all the consequences (Gal 2:14). There is also the question in the background as to whether, when dealing with 'the truth of the Gospel', one has to walk an unalterable path (Paul), or whether one may show some flexibility in the context of the situation (Peter and Barnabas). It was thus that Peter's understanding of his office was tested in the most decisive manner. The people of Antioch obviously decided in favour of Peter. Soon thereafter Paul leaves the city and returns only once, on his way to Galatia (Acts 18:22). Peter stays, possibly for another seven years (Dockx). Paul suffered a defeat here (Dunn), which he realized later and in 1 Cor. 9:20-22 works into his teaching (Tertullian, Adv. Marc. 1.20). Thus this episode and its consequences would be a sign of the stature of both apostles in terms of their ability to learn and grow. Paul v. Peter in Antioch, Galatians 2."
The modified interpretation, then, holds that that it was not a question of hypocrisy in the strict sense, but rather of risky indiscretion caused by diplomatic manoeuvring.
The Patristic Interpretation (as expounded by St. Jerome)
This is the most ancient interpretation and one which Catholics should study more carefully than they usually have. It was expounded 500 years before the Schism with the East, and 1,000 years before the Protestant heresy so there is no partisan axe to grind. Quotes are taken from www.DefendingTheBride.com
Saint Jerome quoting Galatians 1:18; 2:1-2 writes,
"No one can doubt, therefore, that the Apostle Peter was himself the author of that rule with deviation from which he is charged. The cause of that deviation, moreover, is seen to be fear of the Jews. For the Scripture says, that 'at first he did eat with the Gentiles, but that when certain had come from James he withdrew, and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision.' Now he feared the Jews, to whom he had been appointed apostle, lest by occasion of the Gentiles they should go back from the faith in Christ; imitating the Good Shepherd in his concern lest he should lose the flock committed to him."
Peter, like the Good Shepherd, was going to those who were weak in their faith out of fear that he might lose them. Peter knew that he could clarify things to the Gentiles later. It seems as though Paul, in anticipation of what he knew would be Peter's response, provided Peter with an opportunity to clarify his position to the Gentiles. Paul did this by "rebuking" him, in a figurative sense, because he was wrong, if his actions were to be understood that the ceremonial laws were still binding.
If a person takes the words literally and says "Yes, Peter was wrong" he is faced with several examples in Paul's own ministry for which there would be no valid explanation.
Saint Jerome writes, "As I have shown, therefore, that Peter was thoroughly aware of the abrogation of the law of Moses, but was compelled by fear to pretend to observe it, let us now see whether Paul, who accuses another, ever did anything of the same kind himself." He then quotes Acts 16:1-3 "He (Paul) reached (also) Derbe and Lystra where there was a disciple named Timothy… and Paul wanted him to come along with him. On account of the Jews of that region, Paul had him circumcised, for they all knew that his father was a Greek" adding:
"O blessed Apostle Paul, who has rebuked Peter for dissimulation, because he withdrew himself from the Gentiles through fear of the Jews…James, why art thou, notwithstanding thine own doctrine, compelled to circumcise Timothy… a Gentile himself …? Thou wilt answer, 'Because of the Jews which are in these quarters?' If, then, thou forgiveth thyself the circumcision of a disciple coming from the Gentiles, forgive Peter also, who has precedence above thee, his doing some observances (Ed. though not circumcision!) through fear of the believing Jews."
Quoting Acts 18:18 where Paul cuts his hair in accordance to the Nazirite vow, Jerome comments:
"Be it granted that he was compelled through fear of the Jews in the other case to do what he was unwilling to do; wherefore did he let his hair grow in accordance with a vow of his own making, and afterwards, when in Cenchrea, shave his head according to the law, as the Nazirite, who had given themselves by vow to God, were wont to do, according to the law of Moses?"
He also quotes Acts 21: 18-26 where Paul gives instructions for four men to have their heads shaved, which was according to the Nazirite vow, and then purified himself with them and made an offering in the temple, all in accordance with the Old Covenant ceremonial laws.
"And the day following, Paul went in with us unto James; and all the ancients were assembled. Whom when he had saluted, he related particularly what things God had wrought among the Gentiles by his ministry. But they hearing it, glorified God, and said to him: Thou seest, brother, how many thousands there are among the Jews that have believed: and they are all zealous for the law. Now they have heard of thee that thou teachest those Jews, who are among the Gentiles, to depart from Moses: saying, that they ought not to circumcise their children, nor walk according to the custom. What is it therefore? the multitude must needs come together: for they will hear that thou art come. Do therefore this that we say to thee. We have four men, who have a vow on them. Take these, and sanctify thyself with them: and bestow on them, that they may shave their heads: and all will know that the things which they have heard of thee, are false; but that thou thyself also walkest keeping the law. But as touching the Gentiles that believe, we have written, decreeing that they should only refrain themselves from that which has been offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangles, and from fornication. Then Paul took the men, and the next day being purified with them, entered into the temple, giving notice of the accomplishment of the days of purification, until an oblation should be offered for every one of them."
Commenting on this passage Jerome says,
"Paul, here again let me question thee: Why didst thou shave thy head, why didst thou walk barefoot according to I (the) Jewish ceremonial law, why didst thou offer sacrifices, why were victims slain for thee according to the law? Thou wilt answer, doubtless, 'To avoid giving offense to those of the Jews who had believed.' To gain the Jews, thou didst pretend to be a Jew; and James and all the other elders taught thee this dissimulation. But thou didst not succeed in escaping, after all. For when thou wast on the point of being killed in a tumult which had arisen, thou wast rescued by the chief captain of the band, and was sent by him to Caesarea, guarded by a careful escort of soldiers, lest the Jews should kill thee as a dissembler, and a destroyer of the law; and from Caesarea coming to Rome, thou didst, in thine own hired house, preach Christ to both Jews and Gentiles, and thy testimony was sealed under Nero's sword."
The Doctor continues:
"We have learned, therefore, that through fear of the Jews both Peter and Paul alike pretended that they observed the precepts of the law. How could Paul have the assurance and effrontery to reprove in another what he had done himself? I at least, or, I should rather say, others before me, have given such explanation of the matter as they deemed best, not defending the use of falsehood in the interest of religion, as you charge them with doing, but teaching the honourable exercise of a wise discretion; seeking both to show the wisdom of the apostles, and to restrain the shameless blasphemies of Porphyry, who says that Peter and Paul quarrelled with each other in childish rivalry, and affirms that Paul had been inflamed with envy on account of the excellences of Peter, and had written boastfully of things which he either had not done, or, if he did them, had done with inexcusable presumption, reproving in another that which he himself had done. They, in answering him, gave the best interpretation of the passage which they could find; what interpretation have you to propound ? Surely you must intend to say something better than they have said, since you have rejected the opinion of the ancient commentators."
(Chapter 4, section 12) "You say in your letter: 'You do not require me to teach you in what sense the apostle says, "To the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews;" ' and other such things in the same passage, which are to be ascribed to the compassion of pitying love, not to the artifices of intentional deceit. For he that ministers to the sick becomes as if he were sick himself, not indeed falsely pretending to be under the fever, but considering with the mind of one truly sympathizing what he would wish done for himself if he were in the sick man's place. Paul was indeed a Jew; and when he had become a Christian, he had not abandoned those Jewish sacraments which that people had received in the right way, and for certain appointed time. Therefore, even when he was an apostle of Christ, he took part in observing these, but with this view, that he might show that they were in no wise hurtful to those who, even after they had believed in Christ, desired to retain the ceremonies which by the law they had learned from their fathers; provided only that they did not build on these their hope of salvation, since the salvation which was foreshadowed in these has now been brought in by the Lord Jesus."
Jerome sums up his commentary in section 17 with:
"…for I say that both Peter and Paul, through fear of the believing Jews, practiced, or rather pretended to practice, the precepts of the Jewish law; whereas you maintain that they did this out of pity, 'not with the subtlety of a deceiver, but with the sympathy of a compassionate deliverer.' But by both this is equally admitted, that (whether from fear or from pity) they pretended to be what they were not. As to your argument against our view, that he ought to have become to the Gentiles a Gentile, if to the Jews he became a Jew, this favours' our opinion rather than yours: for as he did not actually become a Jew, so he did not actually become a heathen; and as he did not actually become a heathen, so he did not actually become a Jew. His conformity to the Gentiles consisted in this, that he received as Christians the uncircumcised who believed in Christ, and left them free to use without scruple meats which the Jewish law prohibited; but not, as you suppose, in taking part in their worship of idols. For 'in Christ Jesus, neither circumcision availeth anything, nor uncircumcision, but the keeping of the commandments of God.'"
At this point we must give the challenge that Jerome makes in section 4 of his letter.
"If anyone be dissatisfied with the interpretation here given, by which it is shown that neither did Peter sin, nor did Paul rebuke presumptuously a greater than himself, he is bound to show how Paul could consistently blame in another what he himself did."
However fiery and indignant Paul may have been at the time he wrote Galatians, by the time he wrote 1 Corinthians 9:20-23 he had certainly mellowed:
"And I became to the Jews, a Jew, that I might gain the Jews: To them that are under the law, as if I were under the law, (whereas myself was not under the law,) that I might gain them that were under the law. To them that were without the law, as if I were without the law, (whereas I was not without the law of God, but was in the law of Christ,) that I might gain them that were without the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might gain the weak. I became all things to all men, that I might save all. And I do all things for the gospel's sake: that I may be made partaker thereof."
The Question of 1 Corinthians 1:12-13
12 Now this I say, that every one of you saith: I indeed am of Paul; and I am of Apollo; and I am of Cephas; and I of Christ. 13 Is Christ divided? Was Paul then crucified for you? or were you baptized in the name of Paul?
It is objected that this text does not permit any idea of Petrine Primacy. Not so. While there is a clear message against partisanship, Paul was addressing the divisions in Corinth at the time and not leadership in the Church as such. He said there was no Church of Peter, Paul or Apollos, but only the one Church of Christ.
Firstly, who was Apollos? Why should his name crop up here?
Apollos (a Jewish Christian from Alexandria), is mentioned several times in both Corinthians (1 Cor. 3:6, 4:6, 16:12) and Acts (18:24-28). He was an important member of the Corinthian congregation, especially known for his eloquence in presenting Christian doctrine. Paul thought highly of him.
It is not at all surprising that we find his name here. We can quite easily see how there was a 'party' who perhaps preferred Apollos' preaching to Paul's, and who were perhaps jostling to ascribe him greater authority than he had.
The real question is: How is it that Peter (or, rather, Cephas) is mentioned? Why should there be this mention of the Rock when Peter has no recorded connection with Corinth (unlike Antioch which proudly records his stay)? Peter may have visited Corinth but he did not evangelise it and any stay there was probably brief. Yet the text demonstrates that there was a group there especially devoted to him, at the expense of Paul, who they knew very well.
Peter's reputation as Rock goes before him. The text in fact implies that Peter is the (delegated) head of the Church but that his leadership may not be invoked to cause dissension or disunity. The doctrine of Peter, Paul and Apollos is one and united in Christ, Who is the Supreme Head of the entire Mystical Body, in Heaven and on earth.
In the part six, I shall hopefully demonstrate that, given the extreme importance attached to the primacy and person of St. Peter, the First Generation deliberately shrouded his movements (particularly when in Rome) from the authorities; and that we can detect this 'secret' in St. Luke, St. Paul, and St. Peter's writings. This will confirm why St. Paul had to withhold the identity of the Restrainer, Katechon, and why later generations lost the key to interpreting 2 Thessalonians 2:6-7 satisfactorily.
Part VI: The 'Secret' and The Roman Connection
"Now to tie all this in. In Thessalonians, St. Paul has told us that a future 'Katechon' (whom he has identified as a 'chief high priest'), is going to quit the Church: he's going to come right out of 'the middle' of it and, in his defection, he is going to lead practically the whole Church into apostasy. Only those who have steadfastly held to the Katechesis (the original Apostolic Deposit of Faith - and a body of Faithful shown in the rest of sacred Scripture to be a pitifully small remnant) do not follow him. Having given us the Restrainers's very broad location (the Church in her highest priestly office, i.e. the Papacy) if my subsequent comments regarding Peter in Rome hold water, Paul has also given us his precise geographical location as well: Rome."
In the verses we have been studying, all agree that St. Paul is speaking with great caution, evidently not wishing to publish what he had communicated to them previously; the hints he drops being sufficient to call everything to their remembrance. Whatever Paul told the Thessalonians by word of mouth, he meant for it to remain secret at that time.
We've noted that commentators have said that this cryptic reticence is because it probably refers to the Roman Empire: Paul didn't want to provoke the Roman authorities since any talk of the (eventual) downfall of Rome would have been high treason.
How do we explain this evident wish for secrecy if it is not with reference to the Empire?
I propose that St. Paul enjoined secrecy NOT for fear of being accused of treason but because he was protecting St. Peter (who was most probably in Rome at the time).
Follow the thread.
St. Luke. Acts 12
Herod had Peter arrested, intent on beheading him as he had done James, the brother of St. John. Herod died in 44 AD and the imprisonment probably took place around 42AD. After his escape from prison, and stop-over in the safe-house of Mary the mother of John Mark (Acts 12), St. Luke tells us that St. Peter then 'left for another place' (12:17). This is remarkable since St. Luke in Acts never misses an opportunity to tell us where Paul, Barnabus, Silas, etc went or what they did next. But with St. Peter there is an embargo of silence. (This has precisely nothing to do with any so-called 'ascendancy' of St. Paul). We do not hear of Peter again until the Council of Jerusalem some 8 years later! It is not eisegesis to see something definitely cryptic here. Many have commented on it.
"The mysterious reference in 12:17 (Peter "went to another place") opens the door to speculation that Rome was the destination. Later church tradition asserts that Peter's ministry as bishop of Rome spanned 25 years. While the biblical evidence rules out a continuous presence in Rome, it is surmised that Peter could have founded the church in A.D. 42 and then continued his leadership over the church even when in other locations. Finally, Romans 15:20-24 could contain an allusion to Peter's ministry to the Romans, which dissuaded Paul from focusing his outreach in Rome. (Greg MaGee. www.bible.org - The Origins of the Church at Rome).
Having escaped from prison, Peter tells the church assembled in Mary's house to 'tell James and the brethren about this'. Now he had been telling the assembled about his miraculous escape; and it seems at first hand as if Mary, Rhoda and the others were to tell James and the Brethren about that. But wouldn't they have done so anyway without being told? The emphasis must be put on 'he went to another place'. James was to know where he was going. Peter was known in Jerusalem, he was known in the immediate Jewish 'diaspora' at least as far as Antioch. Peter was going somewhere where he wasn't recognisable. Perhaps this 'tell James' is Peter letting the church in Jerusalem know that James is to take precedence during his, Peter's, absence and, possibly, that he himself was off to Rome?
To repeat: after 'he left for another place', we hear of St. Peter only once more in Acts when he makes a magisterial appearance (as if out of nowhere) at the Council of Jerusalem in AD 50. After that, St. Peter disappears from view completely and we hear no more until his encyclical (1 Peter) issued at Rome ('Babylon') in around AD 64. By AD 65/67 St. Peter is dead, martyred as we know under Nero. The Roman authorities had evidently cracked the 'Babylon Code/cipher' and tracked Peter down.
So what was our Pope doing between AD 50 and AD 65?
Both Sts. Eusebius and Jerome count Peter's episcopacy in Rome from 42AD. Extra-biblical in detail so it is, but there is every indication that they are right and that their dating corresponds to the internal biblical evidence.
But, if in Rome, how is it that he makes an appearance at the Council of Jerusalem in AD 50? Suetonius relates how the Emperor Claudius expelled the Jewish population at Rome in, precisely, AD 49. The expulsion was due to public infractions of the peace (Suetonius says 'riot') over someone named "Chrestus". This would seem to be a reference to Christ. The Jewish Christians were making advances among the Jews in the large Jewish population at Rome. This would naturally have provoked outrage among the Jews for whom the Nazarene was a 'blasphemer'. Here were Jewish 'apostates' (Christians) causing other Jews to apostatise. The Roman authorities saw this as in-house fighting but it was such as to have become a threat to the public order
Between late AD 49 and AD 54 Peter was probably mostly at Antioch. Claudius died in AD 54 and the Jews were allowed to return. Peter went back with them and continued a clandestine ministry until his death in AD 64 (?).
Following a sharp dispute with emissaries from Jerusalem (the mother local church, now, in Peter's absence, under the authority of St. James), the church at Antioch appointed Paul and Barnabas to 'go up to Jerusalem to see the apostles and presbyters about this question' (circumcision, conforming to Jewish law etc.). Meanwhile, as said I believe elsewhere, Catholics would like to read here 'to see Peter and the Apostles about it' or 'Peter and the Eleven' (St. Mark 16:7; Acts 3:14, 5:29; the apostles as a group are never mentioned without specific mention of Peter; and Paul makes a point of singling out Peter/Cephas whenever it is a question of the original apostolic nucleus).
And I mentioned that there was perhaps good reason not to mention Peter here, not this time to do with secrecy as to his whereabouts (nor to imply, as the Protestants do, that Peter held no universal jurisdiction) but to the simple fact that they probably didn't know Peter had returned from Rome and was in Jerusalem in the first place. For all they knew, he was still in Rome. Peter's turn-up at the Council also smacks of a 'hit-and-run' job (if I may say that!), and there is a reverence attached to Peter's presence there that bespeaks a certain distance, a lack of personal familiarity (see St. Paul and the Papacy: The First Generation)
With St. Luke's 'secrecy' in mind, let's return to St. Paul. For it is not only in his epistle to the Thessalonians that we discover a cryptic tone.
St. Paul. Epistle to the Church in Rome
Romans, Chapter 1
8 First I give thanks to my God, through Jesus Christ, for you all, because your faith is spoken of in the whole world. 9 For God is my witness, whom I serve in my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make a commemoration of you; 10 Always in my prayers making request, if by any means now at length I may have a prosperous journey, by the will of God, to come unto you. 11 For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual grace, to strengthen you: 12 That is to say, that I may be comforted together in you, by that which is common to us both, your faith and mine. (Romans 1: 8-12)
By A.D. 57 (the likeliest date St. Paul wrote to the Romans) the faith of the Church in Rome is 'spoken of in the whole world.' So solid is this (Roman) faith that Paul wishes not only to offer it 'some spiritual gift' but he himself wishes to be comforted by the Romans' faith. The NIV brings this out better than the Douay in this instance: 'I long to see you that I may impart some spiritual gift to make you strong - that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other's faith.'
Notice how the Apostle corrects, or explains what he means by 'strong' ('that is to say') - he has not chosen the wrong word for his epistle is indeed very strong and will strengthen the Roman church - but it could be misconstrued as though the Romans were not already strong, and so he puts the Romans faith on a par with his own. To no other Church is he so effusive - and almost apologetic about writing to.
St. Paul's epistle to the Romans is a doctrinal treatise of powerful theological argument written to largely unknown readers. He was aware that he was not writing to neophytes but to a church already well-established and grounded in the Faith. N. T. Wright writes in The New Interpreter's Bible: A Commentary in Twelve Volumes (Nasanville: Abingdon Press, 2002)on page 395 that Romans is "by common consent his masterpiece. It dwarfs most of his other writings, an Alpine peak towering over hills and villages.... What nobody doubts is that we are here dealing with a work of massive substance, presenting a formidable intellectual challenge while offering a breathtaking theological and spiritual vision".
Who could have established an originally heterogeneous and split church so solidly in the Faith? There is only one: ST. PETER.
Romans, Chapter 15:
20 And I have so preached this gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man's foundation. (Romans 15: 20)
One of the reasons, then, Paul had not written to the Romans, or gone to Rome himself (despite the fact that, he says, he had long wanted to) is that was someone else had been laying the foundations in Rome and he didn't want to interfere. Now where someone else had laid foundations in other churches, before Paul had preached, Paul tells us their names. For example he acknowledges that Epaphras founded the church at Colossae (Colossians 1: 7). So why does he fail to greet or acknowledge the one who had founded, or at least strengthened and matured, the church in Rome?
Now that the foundations of that church were secure (and he had done his work in the East) there was no longer any reason for Paul not coming to Rome; and he hoped to do so on his way to Spain.
Now, Peter was a wanted man in Jerusalem where he would have been beheaded, as St. James had been. He would also have been wanted in Rome where he would have been crucified (he was not, like St. Paul, a Roman citizen) as an 'atheist' (someone who did not give even lip-service to the pantheon of gods). The capture of the leader of the 'sectarian misanthropes' (as we Christians were known!) would have been prized by the Romans. Peter's whereabouts had to be kept secret for as long as possible.
St. Paul wrote his epistle to the Romans around AD 57 or 58. He wrote His Second Epistle to the Thessalonians in 53 or 54 according to the commonly received scheme of Pauline chronology.
OBJECTION: Why 'was probably in Rome as early as 42 AD'?
1. Because there is no record of him at all in the Jerusalem church which is clearly under the immediate authority and jurisdiction of St. James by 49 AD. Even Protestants admit that, at least until the arrival, or, better, active ministry, of Paul, Peter was recognised as the 'leader'.
2. St. Peter probably did not go to Rome and 'found' the Church there as such. It is more likely that the Faith was carried there by the first Jewish converts present in Jerusalem for Pentecost but resident in Rome (Acts 2:10). For the first few years, the church in Rome would have been maintained by presbyters (Andronicus and Junias - Rom.16:7 - among them). The Church grew rapidly there but became increasingly problematic not because of any heresy (Paul does not warn the Romans of apostasy as he does the other churches) but because of the strife reported with the Roman synagogues, and no doubt because of Rome's strategic importance. An Apostle was needed.
3. This fits with Eusebius and Jerome and there is no credible reason to abandon the tradition(s) they had received just because it is 'extra-biblical'.
Romans, Chapter 16.
Paul gives a very long list of people to be greeted. He mentions 26 people by name. In no other epistle does he do this. This is only surmise, but could it not be that by being so comprehensive he is saying 'and of course do not miss You-Know-Who (Peter), out'?
16 Salute one another with an holy kiss. All the churches of Christ salute you... 19 For your obedience is published in every place.
To other churches he says that 'the saints greet you' or 'the church at' greets you. There is no universality as such. Similarly, while he tells the Corinthians that they 'do not lack any spiritual gift' (1 Corinthians 17) he spends ten chapters warning and admonishing them.
First Epistle of St. Peter 5: 13
13 The church that is in Babylon, elected together with you, saluteth you: and so doth my son Mark.
No one these days doubts but that by 'Babylon' the Fisherman means Rome. This is intensified by the mention of Mark since the internal evidence of St. Mark's gospel suggests that Mark wrote for a specifically Latin speaking (i.e. predominantly Roman) audience and that Mark's primary source was none other than St. Peter himself.
Peter himself as it were 'claims' secrecy by using the Babylon cipher. I personally think he made a mistake in employing it since the code must have been cracked by then because within a year, perhaps less, he was captured and martyred.
Now to tie all this in. In Thessalonians, St. Paul has told us that a future "Katechon" (whom he has identified as a 'chief high priest'), is going to quit the Church: he's going to come right out of 'the middle' of it and, in his defection, he is going to lead practically the whole Church into apostasy. Only those who have steadfastly held to the Katechesis (the original Apostolic Deposit of Faith - and a body of Faithful shown in the rest of sacred Scripture to be a pitifully small remnant) do not follow him. Having given us the Restrainers's very broad location (the Church in her highest priestly office, i.e. the Papacy) if my subsequent comments regarding Peter in Rome hold water, Paul has also given us his precise geographical location as well: Rome.
There is a distinction to be made between how the Thessalonians read Paul all those centuries ago, and how we should read him today. Being told that a future katechon would defect, the Thessalonians would have noted it and then consigned it, precisely, to the future. It was not their problem. It is ours. Secrecy was enjoined on them not to protect the future apostate, but to protect the present Katechon who was faithful, i.e. St. Peter. We are not under the obligation of secrecy. At the same time, there is still a parallel because 'secrets' are known only to the few; and while the fact that Paul VI (if not John XXIII before him) was the defecting (and defective) Katechon is no secret, yet there are so few who know it. And even if we were able to take out a full-page ad in 'The Times' tomorrow telling all the world, who would believe us?
Such is the depth of the deception. To all intents and purposes the 'katechonic mystery' is still a 'secret.' Unlike the Thessalonians, we are enjoined to preserve no longer a merely pragmatic secret but to carry a crushing burden, a knowledge that few have ears to hear.
This thesis has managed to skirt - yet even so begs - the question: Is the (defective) Katechon to be identified with the Son of Perdition, the Antichrist? Many of the Faithful (even without such identification between the two terms) have concluded that the (stolen, usurped) See of Rome is now the seat of Antichrist. My thesis obviously inclines to that position but must be taken up, with that angle in view, in a later contribution. It will be a question of 'where angels fear to tread.'
The iniquity that has so wantonly installed itself in Mother Church since the massive defection of Paul VI and his successors, and which parades itself before the world as though it is Christ's holy Catholic Church (but isn't, cf. Apocalypse 3: 9 'those who say they are Jews, but are not') is a mystery that calls for 'the patience of the saints, who keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus',(Apocalypse
14: 12. (The word 'hupomonE' [ηυπομονΕ] can be equally well translated 'endurance' and thus many versions give the 'patient endurance of the saints'; the NASB has 'perseverance'). The 'patience' denotes the apparent length of the period of the severe testing (connoted by 'endurance').
Meanwhile, for as long as the Lord permits this frightful situation to continue in His Church, we (like relics) must, with patient endurance yet even so painfully, place ourselves 'sub altare' and, together with the martyrs and witnesses of the ages, cry out 'How long, O Lord (holy and true) dost Thou not judge and revenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?' (Apocalypse 6: 10).
This is unbearable and is going on for far too long. But each was given 'a white robe'; and they were told to wait a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and brethren who were to be slain as they had been was completed. We are told to 'wait just a little longer'. To which, I think, we humanly reply 'Yes, but how long?!' The answer is in the 'white robe'
OUR SCRIPTURAL ROOTS by Stephen Grieve
October issues in 2009, vol 20, nos. 282, 289, 296, 303, 310 and 317