The Early Church in Jerusalem Followed the Pope: 7 Quotes from History

“In the power of the same Holy Spirit, Peter, also the foremost of the Apostles and the key-bearer of the Kingdom of Heaven, healed Aeneas the paralytic in the name of Christ.”
Cyril, Catech. xviii. n. 27

St Cyril of Jerusalem, pray for us.

Listers, St. Peter is the Prince of the Apostles and our First Pope. Protestantism at its heart is divorced from history. Protestant “ecclesial communities” sprout up amongst shared value systems generally centered on one dynamic individual. These cults of personality are a far cry from our Early Church Fathers who toiled and died to bring us Scripture and the dogmas on Christ, Mary, and the Trinity. SPL has reproduced a portion of a popular article that has been published on many Catholic sites – though we think it originated with Fisheaters – cataloguing Eastern Fathers of the Church and their statements on St. Peter and the Keys of Heaven. Below are the historical comments of those who served Holy Mother Church in Jerusalem.1 Many of the quotes focus on the Keys of the Kingdom and other biblical images that denote the power and authority Christ gave to St. Peter. Those unfamiliar with these themes and their biblical foundation should familiarize themselves with the following lists:


True Christians Follow the Pope


St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles, Vicar of Christ, pray for us.

Jerusalem & The Primacy of St. Peter


1. St. Cyril of Jerusalem, Patriarch (d. A.D. 386)

“Our Lord Jesus Christ then became a man, but by the many He was not known. But wishing to teach that which was not known, having assembled the disciples, He asked, ‘Whom do men say that the Son of man is?’ …And all being silent (for it was beyond man to learn) Peter, the Foremost of the Apostles, the Chief Herald of the Church, not using the language of his own finding, nor persuaded by human reasoning, but having his mind enlightened by the Father, says to Him, ‘Thou art the Christ,’ not simply that, but ‘the Son of the living God.'”
Cyril, Catech. xi. n. 3

“For Peter was there, who carrieth the keys of heaven.”
Cyril, Catechetical Lectures A.D. 350

“Peter, the chief and foremost leader of the Apostles, before a little maid thrice denied the Lord, but moved to penitence, he wept bitterly.”
Cyril, Catech ii. n. 15

“In the power of the same Holy Spirit, Peter, also the foremost of the Apostles and the key-bearer of the Kingdom of Heaven, healed Aeneas the paralytic in the name of Christ.”
Cyril, Catech. xviii. n. 27


2. St. Sophronius, Patriarch of Jerusalem (d. A.D. 638)

“Teaching us all orthodoxy and destroying all heresy and driving it away from the God-protected halls of our holy Catholic Church. And together with these inspired syllables and characters, I accept all his (the pope’s) letters and teachings as proceeding from the mouth of Peter the Coryphaeus, and I kiss them and salute them and embrace them with all my soul … I recognize the latter as definitions of Peter and the former as those of Mark, and besides, all the heaven-taught teachings of all the chosen mystagogues of our Catholic Church.”
Sophronius, Mansi, xi. 461

“Transverse quickly all the world from one end to the other until you come to the Apostolic See (Rome), where are the foundations of the orthodox doctrine. Make clearly known to the most holy personages of that throne the questions agitated among us. Cease not to pray and to beg them until their apostolic and Divine wisdom shall have pronounced the victorious judgement and destroyed from the foundation …the new heresy.”
Sophronius, [quoted by Bishop Stephen of Dora to Pope Martin I at the Lateran Council], Mansi, 893


3. Stephen, Bishop of Dora in Palestine (c. A.D. 645)

“And for this cause, sometimes we ask for water to our head and to our eyes a fountain of tears, sometimes the wings of a dove, according to holy David, that we might fly away and announce these things to the Chair (the Chair of Peter at Rome) which rules and presides over all, I mean to yours, the head and highest, for the healing of the whole wound. For this it has been accustomed to do from old and from the beginning with power by its canonical or apostolic authority, because the truly great Peter, head of the Apostles, was clearly thought worthy not only to be trusted with the keys of heaven, alone apart from the rest, to open it worthily to believers, or to close it justly to those who disbelieve the Gospel of grace, but because he was also commissioned to feed the sheep of the whole Catholic Church; for ‘Peter,’ saith He, ‘lovest thou Me? Feed My sheep.’ And again, because he had in a manner peculiar and special, a faith in the Lord stronger than all and unchangeable, to be converted and to confirm his fellows and spiritual brethren when tossed about, as having been adorned by God Himself incarnate for us with power and sacerdotal authority …..And Sophronius of blessed memory, who was Patriarch of the holy city of Christ our God, and under whom I was bishop, conferring not with flesh and blood, but caring only for the things of Christ with respect to your Holiness, hastened to send my nothingness without delay about this matter alone to this Apostolic see, where are the foundations of holy doctrine.”

  1. Corrections: SPL made a few minor corrections to this list by double-checking it against other sources. If any lister sees an error or has another papal-supporting quote to add from Jerusalem, please comment below. Cheers. []
  • Ben in SoCal

    St. Peter did not call the Jerusalem Council of Acts. His opinion was key in the gathering, but St. James, bishop of Jerusalem, made the final decision.

    Acts 15 is not quite a roaring approval of papal supremacy. Go bless.


      I agree with your comment about Acts 15.

    • Brian

      Peter’s “opinion” was backed up by the Holy Spirit and settled the dispute regarding doctrine. His decision became binding on the whole church. James’ concern was pastoral in nature.

  • 1) We don’t know who called the Council of Jerusalem; we only know that they met there. Stating definitively that St. Peter did not call it, therefore, goes beyond the known facts.
    2) His statement was more than key — it stopped the debate in its tracks. St. James, you’ll remember, was the leader of the circumcision party (at least according to St. Paul); the resolution he proposed — NOT “decided” — therefore looks like he was saving as much as he could for those he represented.

    If St. Peter led by creating consensus rather than by issuing commands, that’s an issue of style rather than substance. Perhaps Acts 15 doesn’t give us the stereotype of papal supremacy, but it definitely shows that St. Peter’s words carried great weight.

  • Ben in SoCal

    I’ll saythis about the Roman Papacy: it was a necessary development of doctrine over time. The Roman Patriarch witnessed his brother bishops fall to the sword of Mohammed/Islam. It survived the fall of empires and endured the assaults of social revolutions, especially that of the French. The Papal States were stripped from the Vatican in 1870, and that very year they affirmed papal infallibility.

    However unity comes about, ROme must recognize that ecclesiastical history does not fully endorse its view of Roman papal supremacy. They can not give the Orthodox the “Canossa” treatment. Both sides made mistakes, and now it is time to untie against the grave evil plaguing the world.

    *God bless

  • Jamie the less

    With regard to Acts 15 and Peters role; if you notice before Peter speaks, there is still discussion on the matter, like each side putting forward their case. After Peter speaks, James outlines the details and organizes the letter.

    I used to think the same about James being ‘over’ Peter at Jerusalem. But Peter’s brief input turns the discussion around and James could very well have been delegated to organize the contents of the letter.

    From my limited understanding of biblical history, I think Peter was also doing missionary work, like Paul and Barnabas though not recorded, which left James as head of Jerusalem. Therefore, while Peter had authority over the whole, James had authority over the particulars. Much like what we still see today.

  • The Council in Acts chapter 15 does point to Peter’s Primacy. It must be read in full context of Church history, specifically the reference in Galatians:

    8. Who had more authority in the Council of Jerusalem, Peter or James ? Some say that the reference to James’s “judgment” in Acts 15:13-21 indicated that he had more authority.
    We read in Acts 15:2 “…it was decided that Paul, Barnabas… should go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and presbyters about this question.” At the Council in Jerusalem it is reported that Acts 15:7 “After much debate had taken place, Peter got up and said to them, “My brothers, you are well aware that from early days God made his choice among you that through my mouth the Gentiles would hear the word of the gospel and believe…” Immediately after Peter gives his decision we are told “The whole assembly fell silent…”

    Acts 15:13-14, 19-21 “After they had fallen silent, James responded, ‘My brothers, listen to me. Symeon has described how God first concerned himself with acquiring from among the Gentiles a people for his name… 19 It is my judgment, therefore, that we ought to stop troubling the Gentiles who turn to God, but tell them by letter to avoid pollution from idols, unlawful marriage, the meat of strangled animals, and blood. For Moses, for generations now, has had those who proclaim him in every town, as he has been read in the synagogues every sabbath.”

    However, it should be noted that James begins his discourse with a specific reference to Peter and his declaration. James accepts what Peter proclaimed, and then he just offers his best pastoral judgment on how to implement the Peter’s decision.
    Also, Peter’s voice was not just one of many because we are told that he gave his decision “after much debate” which implies that the debate was over when Peter took the floor.

    Furthermore, Peter doesn’t just voice his decision, we are told that he rose up to do so. Standing in Jewish culture was a posture of affirmation and enforcement. The fact that the “whole assembly fell silent” after Peter had spoken showed the attitude of the Church after the Rock had issued his judgment. The attitude of the Council might well have been characterized by Saint Augustine’s famous quote “Rome has spoken, the cause is finished.” (Sermo 131, 6:10 in 417 AD.)

    Another observation comes to light when we compare the above text of Galatians and Acts 15. It is worth noting that it was the people who ” came from James” that had difficulty accepting the Gentiles in Galatians 2: 12. (see above.) Cf. Acts 11:2-4.

    Since it was the members of James’s own community that had the trouble of accepting the Gentiles, it would have been significant to them that Luke recorded James’s decision to follow Peter.

    Presumably, James’s community would have been left with no other decision but to get in line behind Peter as well.
    All of these points show that is was Peter who had the supreme authority at that first Council.

    The Eastern Church Defends Petrine Primacy and the Papacy!

    I hope this helps.

  • Thomist

    John Hellman hs provided the facts.

    Already, Peter had exercised his supreme authority in the upper room before Pentecost to have Judas’ place filled. At the first Apostolic Council of Jerusalem Peter settled the heated discussion over circumcising the gentiles and “the whole assembly fell silent” (Acts 15:7-12). Paul made sure that his ministry to the gentiles was recognised by, Peter (Gal 1:I8).

    Tradition shows Pope St Clement exercising his primacy in about 96, on a matter of schism in the Church of Corinth. Of the same generation as Saints Peter and Paul and when St John the Apostle was probably still living in Ephesus, Pope Clement wrote as one commanding to the Church of Corinth in Greece: “If any disobey what He (Christ) says through us, let them know that they will be involved in no small offence and danger, but we shall be innocent of this sin.” (I Clem. ad Cor. 59,1).

    Arnold Lunn in “Now I See”, Sheed & Ward, 1955) could quote from the Anglican Vicar of Oddington, Rev S Herbert Scott, that St Peter and his successors were recognised as the supreme judges in matters of faith by a long succession of great Eastern saints, Ignatius, Irenaeus, Denys, Athanasius, Chrysostom, and others (p 218).

    In his epistle to the Romans (around 110), St Ignatius of Antioch refers to the Church which, “presides in the land of the Romans” remarking that he could not command them the way Peter and Paul did – clearly referring to the leadership of Peter in Rome. (Reference in “Catholicism And Fundamentalism”, Karl Keating, Ignatius 1988, p 202-3).

    About Pope Victor I’s declaration by edict, about the year 200, that any local Church that failed to conform with Rome was excluded from the union with the one Church by heresy, none other than the radical protestant Adolph von Harnack admitted that Victor I was “recognised, in his capacity of bishop of Rome, as the special guardian of the ‘common unity’.. ” (See “And On This Rock”, p 118, 1987, Trinity Communications, Fr Stanley L Jaki).

    Harnack asked: “How would Victor have ventured on such an edict – though indeed he had not the power of enforcing it in every case – unless the special prerogative of Rome to determine the conditions of the ‘common unity’ in the vital questions of faith had been an acknowledged and well-established fact?”

  • Peter also called James “Lord” in his letter to James. The Assembly of Messiah was Jewish. Jesus was a Rabbi. “the church” was the cause of the dark ages the murdered the followers of Rabbi Yeshua and sought to replace them.

    a Few excerpts..

    1:1 ‘Peter to James, the lord and bishop of the holy Church, under the Father of all, through Jesus Christ, wishes peace always.”

    … 2:2-4And these things some have attempted while I am still alive, to transform my words by certain various interpretations, in order to the dissolution of the law; as though I also myself were of such a mind, but did not freely proclaim it, which God forbid! For such a thing were to act in opposition to the law of God which was spoken by Moses, and was borne witness to by our Lord in respect of its eternal continuance; for thus he spoke: “The heavens and the earth shall pass away, but one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law.”3 And this He has said, that all things might come to pass.

    But these men, professing, I know not how, to know my mind, undertake to explain my words, which they have heard of me, more intelligently than I who spoke them, telling their catechumens that this is my meaning, which indeed I never thought of. But if, while I am still alive, they dare thus to misrepresent me, how much more will those who shall come after me dare to do so!…

    3:1 Therefore, that no such thing may happen, for this end I have prayed and besought you not to communicate the books of my preaching which I have sent you to any one, whether of our own nation or of another nation, before trial; but if any one, having been tested, has been found worthy, then to hand them over to him, according to the initiation of Moses, by which he delivered his books to the Seventy who succeeded to his chair; in order that thus they may keep the faith, and everywhere deliver the rule of truth, explaining all things after our tradition; lest being themselves dragged down by ignorance, being drawn into error by conjectures after their mind, they bring others into the like pit of destruction.

    Now the things that seemed good to me, I have fairly pointed out to you; and what seems good to you, do you, my lord, becomingly perform. Farewell.

    “You worship that which you do not know, but we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.” – Yuhanan (John) 4:22

    It seems Peter give warning of this papal lie directly. Truth is found in John 4:22.. There was authority given to bind and loosen this is a Jewish Idiom referring to the authority of the Sanhedrin, however the Lawless “church” was NEVER given any keys. Peter was no pope, he was a Jew also. He was of the “sect of the nazarene” and he observed the torah all the days of his life, he taught men to “convert”.

    “So says יהוה of hosts, In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men out of all the languages of the nations, shall take hold of the skirt of him who is a Jew, saying, We will go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.” – Zäkärya (Zechariah) 8:23

    “Now if you pride yourself, remember that you do not supply the root, but the root supplies you.” – Rühomäya (Romans) 11:18

    I think The greatest issue is realizing what “law” was actually “nailed to the cross” and why did peter also give this warning..

    2pet 3:15-17 “And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; 16 as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. 17 Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.”