Reasoning From the Scriptures with Ron Matt1618

Reasoning From the Scriptures
with Ron Rhodes
A look at Catholic Traditions,
Mary's Perpetual Virginity,
Papacy, Purgatory,
Deuterocanonicals, Sola Scriptura vs.
Tradition, Justification, Confession

By: Matt1618

I used to listen the Bible Answer Man several years back when there were several people who used to be cohosts along with Hank Hannegraph, who now is the only one hosting the program. Ron Rhodes used to be one of the cohosts who seemed like a well reasoned gentleman. In my personal estimation he seemed to give well-reasoned answers in giving the Protestant perspective, but also gave good answers in dealing with Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses. Of course as a Catholic, I would disagree with his comments on Catholicism, but I thought he was fairly well reasoned in that area as well. I eventually bought two books written by him entitled “Reasoning from the Scriptures with Jehovah Witnesses” and the same with Mormons. Those books were truly helpful in dealing with Mormons (though I haven’t run into too many Jehovah Witnesses recently), because for the most part, our differences with those religions are similar on most points. He has a style that is easy to read, and he makes good points.

Recently, Mr. Rhodes has written a book entitled “Reasoning from the Scriptures with Catholics”. I received an email from someone who received an email from Mr. Rhodes. This email encapsulated some of his book’s critiques of Catholicism. As a Catholic Apologist, I try to keep up with the best arguments of those who attempt to refute Catholicism, so I decided to read this email, consider it, and then respond to it. In his supposedly ‘Scriptural’ analysis of Catholic doctrine portion of the email, are excerpts from his book. I have purchased his book as well, and have critiqued 5 of the chapters of the book, touching on authority, justification, and the deuterocanonicals. Here in this piece I will respond to this email, in the portions in which he addresses doctrinal concerns. In some parts I will also quote from his book when not addressed in this specific email. The writing in red are excerpts from his email. I take out of the email the promos of his book and other extraneous writing that do not address doctrines.

There are four sections in this response to Mr. Rhodes in this specific url. The first section is a historical look at doctrines and practices which Rhodes considers as man-made unbiblical traditions. The second through the fourth sections include a Biblical analysis of Rhodes arguments against the Papacy, Mary’s perpetual virginigy, and Purgatory. The next sections, 5 through 10 are critiques of 6 specific chapters in the book that touch on issues central to the divisions of Protestants and Catholics. There are separate urls for each of the critiques of the chapters of those books.

I. Man-made Catholic Traditions?
II. Was the Apostle Peter a Supreme Pontiff?
III. The Perpetual Virginity of Mary
IV. What About Purgatory?
V. Critique of Chapter 2, "Does the Apocrypha Belong
in the Bible? (Separate Url)

VI. Critique of Chapter 3, Sola Scriptura vs Tradition
- Part 1 (Separate Url)

VII. Critique of Chapter 4, Sola Scriptura vs Tradition
- Part 2 (Separate Url)

VIII. Critique of Chapter 8, Forensic Justification Versus Meritorious
Justification - Part 1 (Separate Url)

IX. Critique of Chapter 9, Forensic Justification Versus Meritorious
Justification - Part 2 (Separate Url)

X. Critique of Chapter 12, Sin and the Sacrament of Penance (Separate Url)

I. Man-made Catholic Traditions?

... The pope exercises sovereign control of Vatican City. He has absolute executive, legislative, and judicial powers within its walls. He also appoints the members of the Vatican's governmental organs.

From this city the pope also rules over the Roman Catholic Church -- said by Roman Catholics to be the one true church on earth. It was allegedly established by Christ through Peter as the first visible head of the church. The governance of the church is said to continue generation after generation via Peter's successors, the popes.

Throughout history, under the leadership of various popes, many of the distinctive Roman Catholic doctrines emerged far after the first century. Here are a few notable dates:

I am truly disappointed that Rhodes uses the Lorraine Boettner method of using little soundbites that are easy to distort attacks on Catholicism that requires alot of effort to rebut in total. Notice in these types of attacks, no sources are given at all. Rhodes also mixes doctrines with practices, not telling us that doctrines are things that must be believed by Catholics, while practices can change at any time, and are not claimed to be apostolic by Catholics. I will respond in depth on the first one (to show that one can fully answer these one sentence charges, but do take time to fully answer). This shows that these type of charges are unhistorical and without foundation. The ones following them will be briefer, although a few of them are answered more than others. (For an example of a fuller rebuttal to similar type of charges: click here. Then I will go on to his critique of some Biblical doctrines that Catholic has, which he claims are unbiblical.

** A.D. 593 -- belief in purgatory;

It is obvious that Mr. Rhodes either has no idea of history or source of the Biblical belief in purgatory. Yes, because Martin Luther decided to throw out 7 books of the Bible, which includes the 2nd Book of Maccabbees, the most explicit Scriptural basis for the Doctrine is not in his Bible. He follows the unfortunate tradition of taking away from Scripture (condemned in Rev. 22:19). Using that rationale, all we have to do is throw out the books of Luke and Matthew, and suddenly the virgin birth is ‘unbiblical’. Nonetheless, even if 2nd Maccabbees was not Scripture, the book gives us a historical belief of the Jews that predates Christianity, that one can be cleansed from their sins after one's death. Christians from the earliest of times believed this as well.

2 Maccabbees 12:44-46 says this:

44 For if he were not expecting that those who had fallen would rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead. 45 But if he was looking to the splendid reward that is laid up for those who fall asleep in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought.
Here there are prayers for those who fought for the Lord, but had sinned beforehand. These people had died in godliness, but still had sins on their soul. This is about 150 years before Christ, about 750 years before Ron Rhodes' dating of belief in purgatory.

We have prayers for the dead linked to the beginning of Christianity in the catacombs of the Christians. These prayers for the dead only make sense if there is a belief in a cleansing needed for Christians after their physical death. I take the following from the: Catholic Encyclopedia that shows the utter foolishness of the Rhodes/Boettner charge:

Monumental inscriptions The inscriptions in the Roman Catacombs range in date from the first century (the earliest dated is from A.D. 71) to the early part of the fifth; and though the majority are undated, archaeologists have been able to fix approximately the dates of a great many by comparison with those that are dated. The greater number of the several thousand extant belong to the ante-Nicene period -- the first three centuries and the early part of the fourth. Christian sepulchral inscriptions from other parts of the Church are few in number compared with those in the catacombs, but the witness of such as have come down to us agrees with that of the catacombs. Many inscriptions are exceedingly brief and simple (PAX, IN PACE, etc.), and might be taken for statements rather than prayers, were it not that in other cases they are so frequently and so naturally amplified into prayers (PAX TIBI, etc.). There are prayers, called acclamatory, which are considered to be the most ancient, and in which there is the simple expression of a wish for some benefit to the deceased, without any formal address to God. The benefits most frequently prayed for are: peace, the good (i.e. eternal salvation), light, refreshment, life, eternal life, union with God, with Christ, and with the angels and saints -- e.g. PAX (TIBI, VOBIS, SPIRITUI TUO, IN AETERNUM, TIBI CUM ANGELIS, CUM SANCTIS); SPIRITUS TUUS IN BONO (SIT, VIVAT, QUIESCAT); AETERNA LUX TIBI; IN REFREGERIO ESTO; SPIRITUM IN REFRIGERIUM SUSCIPIAT DOMINUS; DEUS TIBI REFRIGERET; VIVAS, VIVATIS (IN DEO, IN [Chi-Rho] IN SPIRITO SANCTO, IN PACE, IN AETERNO, INTER SANCTOS, CUM MARTYRIBUS). For detailed references see Kirsch, "Die Acclamationen", pp. 9-29; Cabrol and Leclercq, "Monumenta Liturgica" (Paris, 1902), I, pp. ci-cvi, cxxxix, etc. Again there are prayers of a formal character, in which survivors address their petitions directly to God the Father, or to Christ, or even to the angels, or to the saints and martyrs collectively, or to some one of them in particular. The benefits prayed for are those already mentioned, with the addition sometimes of liberation from sin. Some of these prayers read like excepts from the liturgy: e.g. SET PATER OMNIPOTENS, ORO, MISERERE LABORUM TANTORUM, MISERE(re) ANIMAE NON DIG(na) FERENTIS (De Rossi, Inscript. Christ., II a, p. ix). Sometimes the writers of the epitaphs request visitors to pray for the deceased: e.g. QUI LEGIS, ORA PRO EO (Corpus Inscript. Lat., X, n. 3312), and sometimes again the dead themselves ask for prayers, as in the well-known Greek epitaph of Abercius (see ABERCIUS, INSCRIPTION OF), in tow similar Roman epitaphs dating form the middle of the second century (De Rossi, op. cit., II, a, p. xxx, Kirsch, op. cit., p. 51), and in many later inscriptions. That pious people often visited the tombs to pray for the dead, and sometimes even inscribed a prayer on the monument, is also clear form a variety of indications (see examples in De Rossi, "Roma Sotteranea", II, p. 15). In a word, so overwhelming is the witness of the early Christian monuments in favour of prayer for the dead that no historian any longer denies that the practice and the belief which the practice implies were universal in the primitive Church. There was no break of continuity in this respect between Judaism and Christianity.
Well, apparently Ron Rhodes not only denies an ancient teaching, but denies history when he manufactures a date of 593 AD for purgatory. The amount of Church Fathers who attest to belief in this doctrine well before 593 AD, are well attested to here: click here. Also, to see the statement of the Church Fathers themselves on Purgatory, click here at Joe Gallegos’ Corunum Apologetics web site.

Here is one example found in the just mentioned site in reference to the second century:

"And after the exhibition, Tryphaena again receives her. For her daughter Falconilla had died, and said to her in a dream: Mother, thou shaft have this stranger Thecla in my place, in order that she may pray concerning me, and that I may be transferred to the place of the just." Acts of Paul and Thecla(A.D. 160),in ANF,VIII:490
Besides Mr. Rhodes being historically wrong, the belief in purgatory is also consistent with New Testament teaching. We will see this down below, when Mr. Rhodes critiques the Catholic position from a supposedly ‘Biblical’ perspective.

* A.D. 600 -- prayer to Mary and the saints;

If we notice in the above section, in the Christian catacombs of the first three centuries, there were not only prayers for the dead (implying purgatory), but also prayers to the saints:

There are prayers of a formal character, in which survivors address their petitions directly to God the Father, or to Christ, or even to the angels, or to the saints and martyrs collectively, or to some one of them in particular.
For an examination of the issue of why we pray to Saints, click here.

* A.D. 709 -- the practice of kissing the pope's foot;

Well, there is no doctrinal issue is at stake here. In any case, bowing down before people is not 'anti-biblical' at all. Is this practice sinful in God’s eyes? I guess the purpose of quoting this is because it is supposedly unbiblical. In the Old Testament good believers in God did obeisance to people in authority. In this section of the book Pat Madrid wrote, Any Friend of God’s is a Friend of Mine, the points that he makes apply to (I guess) Rhodes’ idea that bowing down is unbiblical sin, Basilica Press, San Diego, pp. 100-101:

Joshua bowed down and did obeisance before an angel, but committed no sin in doing so (Jos. 5:14). Ruth bowed down to the ground before Boaz in gratitude (Rth 2:8-10), but she was not worshipping Boaz. The Shunamite Woman bowed down before the Prophet Elisha after he had raised her child from the dead (2 Kings 4:37, but she was not committing idolatry by doing so. Neither was Lot, when he “bowed down” before two angels of the Lord in Genesis 19:1. Nor was David sinning against God’s commandment when he “bowed down and did obeisance” before King Saul (1 Sam. 24:8). Bathsheba and Nathan the Prophet were also blameless when they “bowed down in honor” before King David, while the monarch was on his deathbed (1 Kings 1:16, 25). When Jacob and Essau had their dramatic reconciliation, we read:
He himself went on before them, bowing himself to the ground seven times, until he came near to his brother” (Gen. 33:3). The fact is that Jesus gave Peter the keys. As he established a person in office by the name of Peter, the allusion to Isaiah 22:15-21, (especially Mt. 16:19, cf., Isa. 22:15-22) shows that Peter was not only the steward who had authority over the new Davidic kingdom, (we will see this later on) but this allusion to the Davidic Kingdom gives a biblical foundation for the term “Father”, for this office (Isaiah 22:21) that Jesus established (Mt. 16:18-19). Thus, the title (Papa) means Father and the fact that Jesus established this office deserves respect from those in God’s family. We will see more on this issue down below when we examine Rhodes’ attacks on the Papacy.

* A.D. 1079 -- celibacy of the priesthood;

Way off. This tradition is apostolic. This is a fulfillment of Jesus’ words, in fulfillment of his ministry - Lk 18:29:

29 And he said to them, "Truly, I say to you, there is no man who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, 30 who will not receive manifold more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life."
Jesus also says: in Mt. 19:12
For there are eunuchs who have been so from birth, and there are eunuchs who have been made eunuchs by men, and there are eunuchs who have made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to receive this, let him receive it."

Even if not all priests originally were single, the ones who were married were celibate. That is the testimony of ancient tradition.
Canon 33 of Elvira, a Council of the Spanish Church in the early 4th century, promulgated 81 canons which concerned themselves with those important areas of ecclesiastical life that had been in need of clarification and renewal. The canons aimed at reaffirming ancient discipline as noted by Alfonso Maria Cardinal Stickler, The Case for Clerical Celibacy, 1993, pp.21-22. Canon 33 of the Council entitled: “Concerning bishops and ministers (of the altar) who must live in abstinence with their wives” says:

It has seemed good absolutely to forbid the bishops, the priests, and the deacons, i.e., all the clerics engaged in service at the altar, to have [sexual] relations with their wives and procreate children; should anyone do so, let him be excluded form the honor of the clergy.
Thus, even if some priests were married, they had to have a vow of celibacy and if they broke that vow, they were barred from the ministry. As Stickler notes:
It is impossible to hold that in canon 33 we have a new law. It was instead a reaction to the prevalent nonobservance of a traditional obligation that was well known, and to which now was also added a sanction: either observe the obligation that had been undertaken or renounce the clerical office, Stickler, p. 23.
This tradition of celibacy is apostolic. The Council of Carthage, in 390 AD declares:

Bishop Epigonius...says: The rule of continence and chastity had been discussed in a previous council. Let it now be taught with more emphasis what are the three ranks that, by virtue of their consecration, are under the same obligation of chastity, i.e., the bishop, the priest and the deacon, and let them be instructed to keep their purity.

Bishop Genetlius says: As was previously said, it is fitting that the holy bishops and priests of God as well as the Levites, i.e., those who are in the service of the divine sacraments, observe perfect continence, so that they may obatin in all simplicity what they are asking from God’; what the apostles taught and what antiquity itself observed, let us also endeavor to keep.

The bishops declared unaminously: It pleases us all that bishop, priest, and deacon, guardians of purity, abstain from [conjugal intercourse] with their wives, so that those who serve at the altar may keep a perfect chastity.

Thus, the Council declares that there were indeed clergy who were married. However, even those who were married, were obliged to continence (celibacy). Importantly, the Council explicitly declares that this teaching of celibacy is a teaching and tradition of the apostles.

The papal delegates confirm this teaching in 419 AD, affirming the Carthage Council, when it read:

“Concerning the grades of sacred orders that must abstain from conjugal relations with their wives”, added: “It pleases us that the bishops, priests and deacons, in other words, those who touch the sacred mysteries, guardians of chastity, abstain [from conjugal relations] with their wives.” To this all the bishops responded: “We agree that all those who serve at the altar should keep perfect chastity.”
Also, previous to that, the Roman Church in 385 AD, in response to a letter wrote that from the day of ordination, priests were obliged to live in perpetual continence, even if married, Stickler, p. 30.

Thus, Rhodes analysis is way off. Clerical celibacy not only is indeed of apostolic origins, but was the tradition of the ancient church. Rhodes’ dating of this supposed man-made tradition is about 1000 years off.

* A.D. 1090 -- praying the rosary;

This specific prayer, the start of which references the gospel of Luke, indeed did not start until then. However, this is a devotion, and the Church has never declared that this prayer was apostolic. It certainly beats the supposed ‘sinners prayers’, certainly a tradition of men, with unlike the Rosary, no Biblical basis at all, by about 900 years. I could theoretically put as an unbiblical, tradition of men, 'sinners prayer': 1950 A.D.

* A.D. 1215 -- transubstantiation and confessing sins to a priest;

Jesus proclaims, “This is My Body” (Mt. 26:28). He also said in John 6:

53 "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; 54 he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. 55 For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. 56 He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.
Every single Christian Father who alludes to the Eucharist, sees it as both truly Christ present and a sacrifice. St. Justin Martyr shows his understanding of what the Eucharist is when he writes:

"For not as common bread and common drink do we receive these; but in like manner as Jesus Christ our Saviour, having been made flesh and blood for our salvation, so likewise have we been taught that the food which is blessed by the prayer of His word, and from which our blood and flesh by transmutation are nourished, is the flesh and blood of that Jesus who was made flesh." Justin Martyr, First Apology,66(A.D. 110-165),in ANF,I:185

This is in addition to a similar statement by Ignatius, who took his learning directly from the apostles. Thus, the idea that transubstantiation was invented in 1215 AD is ridiculous.

Jesus in John 20:23 says to his apostles:

If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained."
Jesus tells the apostles that they have the commission to forgive sins. Any rationalization to say, 'well, he is preaching the gospel, and if they accept Jesus as Lord and Savior their sins are forgiven, if they do not, they are not forgiven' is a twisting of Jesus' words. He tells the apostles that they have the power to forgive sins. ‘If you forgive the sins of any’ not, ‘If they hear and accept the message they will get their sins forgiven’. If he gave this power to forgive sins to the apostles, it is obvious that this power was meant to be passed on. The very first Christians understood that here Jesus established a sacrament.

"In church confess your sins, and do not come to your prayer with a guilt conscience. Such is the Way of Life...On the Lord's own day, assemble in common to break bread and offer thanks; but first confess your sins, so that your sacrifice may be pure" Didache,4:14,14:1(A.D.70),in ACW,6:18,23

"Confess your sins. Do not come to prayer with a guilty conscience." Epistle of Barnabas,19:12(A.D. 74),in ACW,6:63

From the earliest of times, Christians recognized this power. The other churches, such as the Orthodox and the Coptic Christian Churches also recognize this power as apostolic. Hardly a man-made tradition, unless you consider the fact that Jesus is man.

*** A.D. 1439 -- belief in the seven sacraments.

No Church that claims apostolicity, including the Catholic Church, Orthodox Church and the Coptic Church believe in Seven Sacraments, believes anything close to the Zwinglian view put out by Mr. Rhodes. In fact, there is a human invention, created by the tradition that Rhodes now represents: Disbelief in the seven Sacraments, created about a century later than his dating of the sacraments here. The idea that belief in the Seven Sacraments began in 1439 is laughable. All the Unbiblical Traditions of men that denied what the Church taught for 1500 years started at the time of the invention of the unbiblical doctrine of Sola Scripture. As it would be much too much to give quotes for each of the seven sacraments in this piece, I give the following link for perusal, which gives documentation from the Early Church of those about 1500-1900 years before Mr. Rhodes was even thought of, that the Church did believe all of the sacraments and their grace-giving efficacy. I borrow this from Joe Gallegos’, Corunum Apologetics web site: click here .

Protestants, who believe the Bible alone is our authority (NOT tradition, and NOT the ex cathedra pronouncements of the popes), hold that such doctrines are human inventions and go against the teachings of Scripture.

Well, indeed it is Rhodes’ own private interpretation of those verses that ignore the plain language used in the gospels, but also by Luke in the First 15 chapters of Acts, and Jesus’ positioning of Peter in a preeminent place just when the foundation of the church was being established. You are following the tradition of ignoring the plain reading of those Scriptures. The denial of apostolic succession and the invention of Sola Scriptura are indeed man-made traditions started 15 centuries after Christ established his Church.

II. Was the Apostle Peter a Supreme Pontiff?

Scripture gives no indication that Peter was supreme over all the other disciples. In fact, the four gospels indicate that NO apostle held a supreme position in New Testament times. All the New Testament verses that speak of Peter are virtually silent regarding any alleged supremacy on his part.

The only way that anybody can possibly say that Peter is given no prominence in the gospels surely has not read the Gospels in an unbiased manner. The fact is that in the gospel, he is at the forefront of all the actions of the apostles. Only he is the first one to confess Christ’s divinity (Mt. 16:17). Only he is called the Rock, (Mt. 16: 18) only he is given the keys of the kingdom of heaven, (Mt. 16:19), only he is told to confirm the other apostles (Lk. 22:32), only he is called to shepherd the other apostles, using language of authority (Jn. 21:15-17). Only he is consistently listed as First of the lists of the apostles, while Judas is always listed last (Mt. 10:2). When the story of the First 15 chapters of Acts is given which gives the beginning history of the Church who is the preeminent one except Peter? Only he is the one who takes the initiative to replace Judas with another apostle (Acts 1:26). Only he is the one who one who speaks, and Paul and everybody else stops their arguing in Acts 15. Yes, after Acts 15, Peter is ignored, but the fact is, that it is merely because Luke is Paul’s companion. Whereas in the establishment, predominance and authority of the Church is Luke’s concern in the first 15 chapters of Acts, who is foremost except Peter, including the establishment of the rule that no one is forced to be circumcised in order to be Christian, a huge change in doctrine for the people of God? This is in rule over the other apostles, exactly as spoken of by Jesus in the establishment of Peter as head of the Church. Now in Acts 15 to 28, Paul rules over no other apostles, and all we get are his travels and great deeds. Whereas in the first 15 chapters we get the binding authority of the whole Church with Peter as head, the last 13 chapters we have Paul’s mere travels with absolutely no equivalent rule over the other apostles, although he does have authority over churches, as an apostle.

Actually, I find it interesting that Rhodes claims that Peter was never given any more authority than any other apostle. He tells Simon Barjona:

17 Blessed are you Simon Barjona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you but my Father who is in heaven. 18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.'

Mr. Rhodes, what part of you don’t you understand? If this doesn't put Peter in a place of primacy, there is nothing I can do for you. Right in the midst of the promises that are made to Peter, and Peter alone, he gives the keys which signifies authority that is given to a person in charge, reflective of stewardship over the house. Protestant scholars admit the reference (in v. 19) here goes back to Isaiah 22:15-22, where stewardship is clearly given, in the context of the Davidic kingdom. Here Jesus talks of giving Peter the keys to the new kingdom. Again, for a fuller examination of the keys of Isaiah 22 and Jesus drawing from that passage in Mt. 16:18-19, and and the issue of the Rock of Mt. 16:18, and which I have written on, click here.

Now, when I address these objections, I am only addressing this email, and issues and challenges that arise from this email, some of which are excerpts from his book. Here I do not go into depth on issues I have written on elsewhere (Scripture passages Mt. 16:17-19 and Jn. 21:15-17, for example. For a fuller elaboration on those passages, Peter as Rock, the keys, so-forth, click here), especially since in this email, Rhodes did not go into those specific items. I do not want to copy and paste what I’ve already written on the subject. In this refutation of Rhodes and the papacy, I do go into areas where I didn’t touch on in my other piece on the issue, and give a response to what he writes in this specific portion of the email which does have excerpts from his book. As an aside on “the Rock” issue of Mt. 16:18, Rhodes does display in his book the bias that another Protestant reveals: David Hill, a Presbyterian minister at the University of Sheffield wrote,

It is on Peter himself, the confessor of his Messiahship, that Jesus will build the Church. Attempts to interpret the 'rock' as something other than Peter in person (e.g. his faith, Jesus, etc.) are due to Protestant bias, and introduce to the statement a degree of which is highly unlikely (David Hill, The Gospel of Matthew, Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1972), 261).

Mr. Rhodes in his book (pp. 102-105, the type of arguments that are addressed in the piece I just referred to) does unfortunately run into that same bias. I address that type of bias in my other piece)
It is noteworthy that in Luke 22:24-30 -- just prior to the time of Christ's arrest and crucifixion -- some of the disciples got into an argument regarding who among them would be considered the greatest. One must wonder why the disciples would continue to even ask this question if the issue had been settled, with Peter having emerged as God's choice for some supreme position?! The very fact that such discussions took place shows that NO apostle had attained a supreme position during Jesus' three-year ministry. Jesus treated each of the disciples on an equal level of respect and trust.

I find it interesting that Rhodes cuts it off at v. 30. We will see a little later why this is a convenient cutoff point to avoid papal primacy. Using the argument used by Rhodes, then we must conclude that Jesus never told the disciples that he was to die for them and rise from the dead. Why did they not know that he was going to rise from the dead?

There were times that Jesus explained things to the disciples, who were notoriously slow in grasping their meaning. For example, Jesus told them to stay away from the leaven of the Pharisees, and explained explicitly that is what it meant, but they still did not grasp it, until he had to say it again to them (Mt. 16:5-12). Here is another example, Mark 9:31-33:

31 for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, "The Son of man will be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him; and when he is killed, after three days he will rise." 32 But they did not understand the saying, and they were afraid to ask him.
We thus see that he apostles always weren't quick to grab things that Jesus taught them. Prior to his resurrection, despite being repeatedly told that Jesus had to suffer and rise from the dead, they never grasped the fact that Jesus had to do both. In fact, even after being told by Jesus himself that he would rise from the dead, and by apostolic witnesses that Jesus had done so, Thomas doubted. Thus, being slow on grasping things seemed to be a part of the disciples' mindset. Thus, it is of no surprise that as of this time that you refer us to, they were still asking who would be the leader, even though Jesus had told them. Well, besides being envious at the time, sometimes the disciples were slow, weren't they? How many times did Jesus tell them personally that he had to die and rise from the dead? He told them many times, and they didn't get it. Thus, Rhodes charge that ‘well, the apostles were never told of Peter’s primacy’ makes as much sense as saying, ‘well, Jesus didn’t tell the apostles that he was going to suffer and rise from the dead‘.

In any case, immediately after the verses that Rhodes refers us to (Lk 22:24-30) we do see in Luke 22:31-32 a confirmation of Peter's authority. Notice the grammatical structure of Jesus’ words. Jesus specifically says to Peter alone:

Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you (humas, plural), that he might sift you (humas, plural) like wheat, but I have prayed for you (sou, singular) that your (sou, singular) faith may not fail; and when you (sou, singular) have turned again, strengthen your (sou, singular) brethren." Greek grammar courtesy of Scott Butler, Norman Dahlgren and Daniel Hess in their book, Jesus, Peter and the Keys, Queenship Press, pp. 141)

The structure of Jesus' words are of paramount importance. Jesus notes that Satan wants to have all of the apostles. However, he prays only for Peter as the one who will strengthen the brethren. The backdrop for Jesus saying this (Luke 22:24-32) is exactly on what type of leaders that Jesus was looking for. He was looking for one to serve his people. The word that Jesus uses for ‘strengthening’ is sterixo. He prays for Peter as one who confirms and supports the others; and what is this but to declare him head of the others? Truly one could not give Peter the command to confirm the Apostles without charging him to have care of them . . . Is this not to again call him foundation of the Church? If he supports, secures, strengthens the very foundation-stones, how shall he not confirm all the rest? Strengthen means to confirm, fix, establish, make stable, place firmly, and set fast. (Steve Ray, Upon This Rock, Ignatius Press, 1999, p. 48). The Book, Jesus, Peter and the Keys, p. 143, notes that this verb sterixo means to prop, to support, to make fixed or firm. However, Jesus uses this of no other apostle. No fellow apostle is told by Jesus to strengthen Peter. It is Peter who does that for his fellow apostles. So the charge that by Rhodes that in Lk. 22:24-30: The very fact that such discussions took place shows that NO apostle had attained a supreme position during Jesus' three-year ministry Lk. 22:24-30 is destroyed by the fact that in the very context, where the question of leadership is brought up, after noting the type of servant leadership that he is looking for, Jesus again refers them to Peter as the one who will so strengthen the rest of the apostles. The important thing to note, that this leadership is in the context of the other apostles. Yes, likewise throughout the world as the apostles are sent, they will confirm and strengthen the faith of those who they evangelize and turn to the faith. The apostles will lead other people. However, in the midst of all the apostles, Peter is the one who thus confirms the other apostles, and thus leads them. Thus, Jesus is saying to the fellow apostles that he really meant what he said in Matthew 16:17-19, just like he had to remind the apostles that he was going to rise from the dead.

(By the way, this eisogeis is reflective of Mr. Rhodes’ eisogesis on other issues in his book. For example in ‘proving’ salvation by faith alone, which he alleges is mentioned over 200 times in the Bible(a term never used in the Bible except by James when we are told that one is not justified by faith alone), he quotes John 5:24 (pp. 153-154, 225-226) where Jesus supposedly says that one is eternally secure and supposedly shows salvation by faith alone, and all you have to do is believe. He does not refer his readers to the fact that Jesus repudiates Rhodes’ theology a few verses later. Rhodes ignores Jesus’ statement a few verses later the very opposite of what Rhodes writes: vv. 28-29 says 28 Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice 29 and come forth, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment. )

Now in reference to the gospel testimony of Jesus’ primacy what can we conclude? The delegation of authority that Jesus gives to Peter in reference to keys, head of household authority of Shebna, opening and shutting, in Isa. 22 as compared to keys, authority, giving Peter a name of Rock, and binding and loosing in Mt. 16, is apparent to anyone who is unbiased that Jesus gives authority to Peter that is over the rest of the apostles.

Further, there is not a single epistle in the New Testament where we find any evidence of Peter being called a "pope," nor is there any mention of a papacy. Instead, we find all the disciples working together on a seemingly equal level of authority.

Actually, when all the apostles are present, Peter is clearly the one in charge, exactly as Jesus predicted in Jn 21:15-17, Mt. 16:18-19, and Luke 22:31-32. A quick look at the first 15 chapters of Acts shows that they are not on an equal level of authority. Most of the apostles are named only in the very beginning, First chapter, and after that, most individual apostles are not even mentioned by name, while Peter is taking the initiative in doing very important things at the time of the establishment and initial growth of the Church. On the fact that the word ‘pope’ is not used, does that mean that since the word incarnation was not made, does that mean that God did not become man?

Christian apologist James White suggests that if indeed Peter were in a supreme position of power, he would have said something in his second epistle (2 Peter) to the effect that his readers should be sure to follow his successor in Rome. After all, Peter was getting on in years, and would have supported the papacy had such a papacy existed. But Peter did no such thing -- because there was no such papacy.

Well, after Jesus’ strong affirmation in the gospels not only in the context of the Lucan passage you referred us to, and his confirmation of his new name of rock, and giving him the keys alone, telling him to strengthen the apostles, and telling him to rule the sheep, and we see in Acts how again Peter is the predominant one in the foundation of the Church, that is enough information to verify it. After all, if the Bible just says it one time, that should be enough for anyone who calls themselves Bible believers. We have it confirmed in the gospels and the Acts of the apostles and by Peter’s actions. Using Rhodes and White’s theory, because Jesus said nothing about his own virgin birth, or absolutely none of the epistles say anything about Jesus’ miraculous conception by the Holy Spirit, that means that there is no belief that Jesus was conceived in that manner. That kind of rhetoric would discount the virgin birth of Jesus.

Another argument we can make note of is the fact that the apostle Paul affirmed in 2 Corinthians 12:11 that he was not inferior to any of the other apostles. Paul would not have said this had a papacy been in existence. It is also highly revealing that while Peter is prominent in the first 12 chapters of the Book of Acts, the apostle Paul is the prominent figure in chapters 13--28. This would not make sense if Peter were the pope. Further, when Paul lists the authority structure in the early church in 1 Corinthians 12:28, there is no mention of a pope: "And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers" (1 Corinthians 12:28).

Of course Peter is a fellow apostle. However, we don’t discount the fact that Peter is indeed shown to be the predominant apostle as shown in the gospels and Acts 1-15. You leave out chapter 15 where Peter is prominent, and Paul bows down to the authority of the apostle Peter. Acts 16-28, Paul is given priority because he is the one who travels with Luke. There is nothing showing the power over the other apostles that Peter shows. Paul, as an apostles has authority over the churches, but Peter has authority over the other apostles. There is a big difference.

Does the fact that Paul list some as teachers, mean teachers are all of the same authority? Paul does not list teachers at different levels, even though there certainly teachers in the church who are at different levels an of higher authority, so why does the fact that there are not different levels of apostles explicitly mentioned in this letter mean that there are no levels of authority? Paul surely shows in his letters that he has authority over others.

Further, in the Book of Acts we find a detailed history of the early church, and there is no mention or even a hint of the existence of a papacy. Nor is there the slightest hint of Petrine supremacy. Instead we find verses that indicate that Peter WAS NOT in a supreme position. For example, we read that the apostles "sent" Peter and John to Samaria after they heard about God's work in Samara (Acts 8:14). (Peter would have done the sending had he been supreme.)
Borrowing from Dave Armstrong's piece documenting Papal primacy in the Bible , I renumber these items between Acts 1-15, and show indeed that Peter had authority and practiced it in the first part of the book of Acts.

1. Peter's words are the first recorded and most important in the upper room before Pentecost (Acts 1:15-22).
2. Peter takes the lead in calling for a replacement for Judas (Acts 1:22).
3. Peter is the first person to speak (and only one recorded) after Pentecost, so he was the first Christian to "preach the gospel" in the Church era (Acts 2:14-36).
4. Peter's proclamation at Pentecost (Acts 2:14-41) contains a fully authoritative interpretation of Scripture, a doctrinal decision and a disciplinary decree concerning members of the "House of Israel" (2:36) - an example of "binding and loosing."
5. Peter was the first "charismatic", having judged authoritatively the first instance of the gift of tongues as genuine (Acts 2:14-21).
6. Peter is the first to preach Christian repentance and baptism (Acts 2:38).
7. Peter (presumably) takes the lead in the first recorded mass baptism (Acts 2:41).
8. Peter works the first miracle of the Church Age, healing a lame man (Acts 3:6-12).
9. Peter utters the first anathema (Ananias and Sapphira) emphatically affirmed by God (Acts 5:2-11)!
10. Peter's shadow works miracles (Acts 5:15).
11. Peter is the first to recognize and refute heresy, in Simon Magus (Acts 8:14-24).
12. Peter was the first traveling missionary, and first exercised what would now be called "visitation of the churches" (Acts 9:32-38,43). Paul preached at Damascus immediately after his conversion (Acts 9:20), but hadn't traveled there for that purpose (God changed his plans!). His missionary journeys begin in Acts 13:2.
13. Peter is the first person after Christ to raise the dead (Acts 9:40).
14. Cornelius is told by an angel to seek out Peter for instruction in Christianity (Acts 10:1-6).
15. Peter is the first to receive the Gentiles, after a revelation from God (Acts 10:9-48).
16. Peter commanded the first Gentile Christians to be baptized (Acts 10:44-48).
17. Peter instructs the other apostles on the catholicity (universality) of the Church (Acts 11:5-17).
18. Peter is the object of the first divine interposition on behalf of an individual in the Church Age (an angel delivers him from prison - Acts 12:1-17).
19. The whole Church (strongly implied) offers "earnest prayer" for Peter when he is imprisoned (Acts 12:5).
20. Peter presides over and opens the first Council of Christianity, and lays down principles afterwards accepted by it (Acts 15:7-11).

Since Rhodes thinks that all the apostles are the same, I would like him to give me a list of all the apostles who do all the things that Peter did in the First 15 chapters of Acts (as this is where the apostles are all together and the Church begins and we see how the Church works as a unit, and we see in Councils how the apostles interplay). Of course, it would be impossible for Rhodes to show these things.

As well, Peter certainly plays no supreme role in the Jerusalem Council (see Acts 15:1-35), for he is portrayed as one among a number of apostles. Instead, James seems to be the person of dominance there (see verses 13-35).

Actually, a quick look at the text shows us what the problem is, that Paul and Barnabas could not settle, as they submit this problem to the apostles. If all the apostles were at the exact same level, why could Paul not settle the issue by himself? Acts 15 shows that they were told to submit to a higher authority, thus proving that there are different levels of authority that Paul himself recognized by his own actions. Thus, this drives a stake in the argument that Paul meant in 1 Cor. 12 that the apostles were all the same. Paul himself had the same view as Peter, but he could not silence those who spoke against his view. Who settles the issue on circumcision, is it James or Peter?

1 But some men came down from Judea and were teaching the brethren, "Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved." 2 And when Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and debate with them, Paul and Barnabas and some of the others were appointed to go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and the elders about this question. 3 So, being sent on their way by the church, they passed through both Phoenicia and Samaria, reporting the conversion of the Gentiles, and they gave great joy to all the brethren. 4 When they came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and the elders, and they declared all that God had done with them. 5 But some believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees rose up, and said, "It is necessary to circumcise them, and to charge them to keep the law of Moses." 6 The apostles and the elders were gathered together to consider this matter. 7 And after there had been much debate, Peter rose and said to them, "Brethren, you know that in the early days God made choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe.> 8 And God who knows the heart bore witness to them, giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us; 9 and he made no distinction between us and them, but cleansed their hearts by faith. 10 Now therefore why do you make trial of God by putting a yoke upon the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? 11 But we believe that we shall be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will." 12 And all the assembly kept silence; and they listened to Barnabas and Paul as they related what signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles. 13 After they finished speaking, James replied, "Brethren, listen to me. 14 Simeon has related how God first visited the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name....

After Paul and Barnabas submitted the issue on whether one had to be circumcised to the other apostles, who settled the issue? Did the Apostles go by the Bible alone in deciding the issue? Actually, if their theory would have been the Bible Alone, Circumcision surely would have been retained as it is called an everlasting covenant (Gen. 17:1-17). There is no appeal to Scripture to settle the issue, but apostolic authority under the authority of Peter!!! Why do I say Peter, and not James? Well, because the issue was circumcision, not on what people can and can not eat. Peter teaches that living by the law no one is saved. Circumcision is to be done away with. Peter’s decree brings silence. Paul’s input had only brought arguments. Only after Peter’s declaration did the people begin to listen to Paul.

If Paul and Barnabus were equal to Peter (in authority, not on being an apostle), why did they not have the authority to bring silence back in verses 2 and 3? It is clear for anybody to see. One must bring a preconceived notion against the plain meaning of the text, to miss the clear implications. Only after Peter spoke, did the multitude keep silent while "they were listening to Barnabas and Paul as they were relating what signs and wonders God had done through them among the Gentiles."(v.12) They certainly were not silent when he was arguing with them before. The difference is now, he had papal authority behind them.

Notice what the specific issue was in dispute now. Circumcision is the issue and Peter decides. After Peter speaks, all become silent. Case settled. And then we have the testimony of Barnabus and Paul of the signs and wonders done through them among the Gentiles, as proof of Peter's words. As F.F. Bruce, renowned Protestant New Testament scholar writes in regards to Paul and Barnabus:

"During the silence which followed Peter's appeal, Barnabas and Paul added further evidence which could only support Peter's argument. But Barnabas and Paul spoke as witnesses, not as consultants or as participants in the debate, and in Jerusalem their WORDS CARRY NOTHING LIKE THE WEIGHT THAT PETER'S DID." FF Bruce, "The Book of Acts", p. 291.
Remember, when they spoke earlier, this had caused the dispute in the first place. Their experience, now that Peter had decided, now had credence in the eyes of the people. One may make an objection. These are words of another Protestant, who though not Ron Rhodes, held to the same reasoning that Rhodes does (in a past discussion I had on the issue):
“If you believe what the text says there is little doubt among "honest" people about who announced the verdict on this issue. And after they had stopped speaking, James answered, saying, "Brethren, listen to me.(v.13) "Therefore it is my judgment that we do not trouble those who are turning to God from among the Gentiles,(v.19) These need no further comment, being prima facie. .. And finally we have James' appeal to the written Word, in that the prophets testified that God would save a people from among the Gentiles.(vv. 14-18) *SAYS THE LORD, WHO MAKES THESE THINGS KNOWN FROM OF OLD.* Then who do we see but the Lord's brother James making the final judgment on the matter! (v.19)
One must read the context. Nowhere in v. 19 does it say that James settled the issue on circumcision. Remember, it was settled when Peter spoke (vv. 7-12, v. 13).

The verse that you translated as 'my judgment' is actually rendered 'eigo krino' which means'It is my opinion' (London: United Bible Societies, 1972). The Lutheran scholar Lenski (The Interpretation of the Acts of the Apostles) paraphrases the phrase to be, ' I for my part judge,' noting that James is posing a question to the members of the assembly rather than an emphatic declaration of fact... G. Campbell Morgan, Protestant scholar points out "It has been pointed out that the pronoun 'I' decide, is emphatic in the Greek. An emphatic pronoun depends after all upon the tone and emphasis. The emphatic 'I' must be interpreted in harmony with the rest of the New Testament. IT IS ABSURD TO BELIEVE THAT JAMES at this moment gave his personal opinion as the final word, from which there could be no appeal... The very emphasis on the 'I' shows that he was only expressing a personal conviction. Morgan "The Acts of the Apostles", 362-363.

Thus, Rhodes’ argument is labelled ‘abusrd’. In regards to James’ authority in Acts 15, what do other Lutherans admit?

“James set forth only a few regulations to be observed by the Gentile Christians, seemingly lest they scandalize the followers of Moses who lived alongside of them (15:21),” Raymond Brown, Karl P. Donfried, and John Reumann, ed., Peter in the New Testament, 50.
The letter that was sent (vv. 28-29) came in not the name of James, but of all the apostles and elders. This letter only touched on Noachite covenant regulations, not on the issue of circumcision. Peter’s declaration (James own words) is taken as a starter, and the issues discussed in the letter are only pastoral issues. Notice that James has to consult with the rest of the Council, before this issue is settled., and it goes in their name, not only in his name. It says absolutely nothing affecting Peter’s decree, and is a complement.

Notice, true unbiased Protestant exegetes admit that it is absurd to believe that James is shown here to be the leader. In fact the first words that he speaks, are "Simon has declared", and he is now onto discussing how to implement Peter's decision in regards to the Gentiles with the Jewish believers in Christ. Nowhere does he question anything Peter said in regards to circumcision. Remember, that was the issue at hand, not the secondary matter James brings up.

We actually see Peter’s papal authority on this issue way back in Acts 10-11 that Rhodes happily ignores. Why was not the vision that God gave to Peter, given to James, and why did not James decide? Because it was only for Peter to do so. The circumcising party did not understand and even disputed some with Peter, (just like the apostles would often dispute Jesus) in Acts 11:1-2. Peter explained , Acts 11:4-5:

“11:4 But Peter rehearsed [the matter] from the beginning, and EXPOUNDED [IT] BY ORDER unto them, saying, 11:5 I was in the city of Joppa praying: and in a trance I saw a vision, A certain vessel descend, as it had been a great sheet, let down from heaven by four corners; and it came even to me.

Notice, Peter expounds by order. He does not even consult with the other apostles, including James, even though they are there (vv. 1-2). How come no mention of James here if he supposedly has more authority than Peter. Peter concludes in Acts 11:16-18 - :

“11:16 Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost. 11:17 Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as [he did] unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God? 11:18 When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.”

Another thing that clearly emerges from the pages of the New Testament is that Peter was not infallible. The apostle Paul in the Book of Galatians provides us this key example: "When Cephas [Peter] came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For prior to the coming of certain men from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to withdraw and hold himself aloof, fearing the party of the circumcision. And the rest of the Jews joined him in hypocrisy, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas [Peter] in the presence of all, 'If you, being a Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how is it that you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?'" (Galatians 2:11-14) Peter was clearly not immune from error. He made a mistake --AND IN A MATTER OF FAITH, AT THAT. Peter also shows an attitude of hypocrisy in his behavior, something hardly fitting for a "supreme pontiff."

Actually, when we examined Acts 15, we just saw the key background to the Galatians epistle. Another thing to note is if Peter was just one of the guys, and had no authority more than the other apostles, (as we saw Rhodes earlier argue) why does Paul specifically go to Peter? It is clear that he saw Peter as the leader, but the leader was making a bad mistake. Papal authority and primacy does not mean that they are immune from hypocrisy and error. It just means that when he speaks for the entire Church on issues on faith and morals (as he clearly did in Acts 15) he is immune from error. We do not see Peter here repudiating what he earlier taught. We just saw on this very issue that Paul appealed to the apostles and Peter in Acts 15. What is Paul doing but reminding Peter of what Peter himself had said?

Here are Peter’s words in Acts 15, and compare what Paul said in Gal. 2:15-16

Acts 15:9-11 9 and he made no distinction between us and them, but cleansed their hearts by faith. Now therefore why do you make trial of God by putting a yoke upon the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? 11 But we believe that we shall be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will."

Gal. 2:15-16 15 We ourselves, who are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners, 16 yet who know that a man is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ, and not by works of the law, because by works of the law shall no one be justified.

Peter himself had officially taught (under the realm of infallibility) that there was no distinction between Gentiles and Jews based on circumcision. Living by the law is not a yoke that one can live by, as it brings condemnation, or works of the Law as termed by Paul. Living by grace through faith as Peter himself taught is the way to go. Paul uses his own language to say the same thing that Peter did. Thus, what Peter taught in Acts 15 still applies. Paul is reminding Peter what he teaches. Papal hypocrisy is not above criticism. If Peter is a hypocrite, it means that though what he teaches is correct, his activity in withdrawing from the Gentiles is not in keeping with his own decree. Thus, what he teaches is correct, it is just that his activity is not going along with his teaching. If Peter was actually teaching error, he would not be a hypocrite at all. What makes him a hypocrite is that the way he is living (in avoiding the uncircumcised) is contrasted with what he teaches.

Rhodes and other Protestants at least believe that Peter is infallible in some sense. They believe that he was inerrant in his writings (1st and 2nd Peter, and serving as the witness to Mark’s gospel). If they believe that his teaching is not inerrant, why do they read Peter’s letters? The charge that Peter is errant in his teachings thus undercuts the teaching authority of the Bible if man can not teach infallibly.

If hypocrisy renders one an errant teacher than why do you read Paul at all? Though Paul doesn’t mention it in Gal. 2, we see Paul himself having much more hypocrisy than Peter did. At least Peter didn’t force others to be circumcised as Paul did, explicitly after being instructed not to do so!!!

Now what does Paul himself do in Acts 16:1-4, directly after getting the decree that says that they are not to circumcise others? Let us see:

1 And he came also to Derbe and to Lystra. A disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer; but his father was a Greek. 2 He was well spoken of by the brethren at Lystra and Iconium. 3 Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him; and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews that were in those places, for they all knew that his father was a Greek. 4 As they went on their way through the cities, they delivered to them for observance the decisions which had been reached by the apostles and elders who were at Jerusalem.
Paul forces Timothy to be circumcised for appearances sake, for the Jews, despite the letter from the apostles, that confirm Peter’s teaching, saying otherwise. How in the world is this not hypocrisy? Does that mean that Paul is an errant teacher, and that when he writes all those epistles we should disregard their teachings because of this hypocrisy? In attempting to find papal errancy, Rhodes has just indirectly charged Biblical errancy. Actions sometimes unfortunately don’t match up to what is taught. However, the teaching on the matter is still valid. Thus, if you attack papal infallibility you attack Scriptural infallibility. If you understand that Catholics can admit that Catholic popes can be hypocrites, and how they live, or even if they are weak in their teaching on things that does not match up to what the Church has officially taught, then you are on your way to understanding at least part of what papal infallibility is.

Note also that if Peter were considered a supreme pontiff during this time, the apostle Paul would have been WAY OUT OF LINE in publicly correcting Peter like he did. The fact that Paul corrected Peter shows quite clearly that Peter was not considered supreme in any way.

This being the case, we can only conclude that the Roman Catholic teaching on the pope has virtually no support in biblical history.

Just as it would have been proper for the apostles and elders to reprove Paul for his hypocrisy when he circumcised Timothy, so if the Pope becomes a hypocrite, it is not beyond the realm of Catholics to fairly criticize him. Besides Paul criticizing the Pope, they have not been beyond reproach if their actions don’t match up with their words. As Stephen Ray notes:

If Popes are guilty of imprudent or immoral conduct, they can be, should be, and often have been reproved. A classic example of this occurred when Catherine of Siena (c. 1347-1380) severely reproved Pope Gregory XI and ultimately persuaded him to return the Papacy from Avignon to Rom. “Catherine arrived at Avignon on June 18, 1376, and soon had a converence with Pope Gregory, to whom she had already written six times, ‘in an intolerably dictatorial tone, a little sweetened with expressions of her perfect Christian deference’” (Alban Butler, Butler’s Lives of the Saints, Rev. Herbert Thurston and Donald Attwater [Allen, Tex.” Christian Classics, 1995], 2:195-96. Can anyone imagine a fourteenth-century woman reproving the Pope, especially with an “intolerably dictatorial tone”? And imagine, she was not only canonized a saint, but she was declared a Doctor of the Church! So much Pope’s insulation from reproof and criticism. (Ray, Upon This Rock, p. 57, footnote 77.

Thus, with our perusal of Galatians and Acts we see papal primacy at the forefront.

III. The Perpetual Virginity of Mary

*** Is there any biblical support for the Roman Catholic doctrine of the perpetual virginity of Mary?

The Roman Catholic teaching that Mary was a perpetual virgin -- that is, that she REMAINED a virgin following the birth of Jesus (which is allegedly befitting for the "Mother of God") -- is directly contradicted by the biblical account. Indeed, in Matthew 1:25 we read that Joseph "kept her a virgin UNTIL she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus" (Matthew 1:25). The word "until" implies that normal sexual relations between Joseph and Mary took place following the birth of Jesus.

I am surprised that Rhodes is so confident that the word ‘until’ in Mt. 1:25 automatically means that after the point in question Mary’s lost her virginity, and the situation changed. When Matthew uses the word 'until' he gives absolutely no hint that after that point in time, that there is a change of the circumstance of Mary's virginity. Yes, he emphasized her virginity until the time of Jesus' conception to emphasize Jesus' miraculous conception, but gives no hint that afterword there is a change in Mary's virginal status.

In fact, though Rhodes assumes that when the word ‘until’ is used, the situation automatically reverses after that point (and thus Mary lost her virginity”, the Bible shows nothing of the sort. Matthew elsewhere uses the very word ‘until’ in such a situation that it does not reverse. For example, in Mt. 22:44, he writes in Jesus’ words: “'The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at my right hand, till I put thy enemies under thy feet'?”. Does it mean that after his enemies are put under God’s feet, Jesus leaves the Father’s right hand? Of course not, but using Rhodes logic, that surely implies so. Surely Rhodes would not say so. Other verses that show the foolishness forcing the word ‘until’ to always mean that there is a change of status include 2 Sam. 6:23:

And Michal the daughter of Saul had no child til the day of her death.
Using Rhodes’ logic, does 2nd Samuel 6:23, obviously imply that after Michal die, she started bearing children? Of course not. (Gen. 8:34, 1 Mac. 15:54, and Dt. 34:6 give other examples where the word ‘until’ obviously does not mean that after the time mentioned occurs, the situation reverses.

A good Sola Scripturist that Rhodes is, how would his use of the word ‘until’ be interpreted where Paul writes here in, 1 Tim. 4:13?:

Till I come, attend to the public reading of scripture, to preaching, to teaching.
Does this mean that after Paul comes, he wants the people to stop publicly reading Scripture or preach the gospel, or to teach? Using Rhodes’ logic, that is clearly implied here!!! As Father Mateo, in the booklet “Refuting the Attack on Mary” cites, other uses of the word until does not mean the reversal of the situation include 1 Cor. 15:25, Eph. 4:13, 1 Tim. 6:14, and Rev. 2:25-26, and Rom. 8:22.

Other Protestants besides Rhodes, who even attack the status of Mary’s perpetual virginity will admit that the use of the word ‘until’, or ‘heos’ in and of itself does not prove that afterward, Mary had sex. James White, for example, a notorious anti-Catholic, noting the weakness of the Rhodes’ argument per se, tries to use another argument on the word ‘until’ or ‘heos’ used in Matthew 1:25. He argues that yes, the word ‘heos’ or ‘until’ in and of itself does not mean the reversal of the situation (Mary’s virginity) thus showing that Rhodes’ implication is not valid. However, he claims that the use of the words ‘heos hou’ together, as used in Mt. 1:25 does imply the change of the situation. For example White writes:

We have insisted that the basic meaning of heos hou, in the New Testament, when it means 'until,' always implies a change of the action in the main clause"
White argues that because of this particular combination, it does imply this. I heard him in a debate, arguing with people like Gerry Matatics, a Catholic apologist, that in Greek literature, whenever words ‘heos hou’ is used together it always does so. White challenged Matatics to provide any instance in Greek literature, using the Bible but also any Greek literature where the combination of the Greek words ‘heos hou’ did not mean a reversal of the situation after the point in time mentioned.

As Matatics was caught off guard in debate, and had not heard this particular argument, he did not answer this supposed point. However, Rev. Ronald Tacelli, someone who has taught Greek in Colleges and High School and obviously fluent in classical and Koine Greek, addresses this supposed implication of the words ‘heos hou’ at the following site: In that article, he shows that there are many instances in both the Old and New Testament where, just like the word ‘until’‘heos’ does not imply a reversal of the situation mentioned neither does ‘heos hou’. He notes that the use of the words ‘heos hou’ is used here:

Acts 25:21: "But when Paul demanded to be kept in custody until [eis] the Emperor's verdict, I gave orders that he should be kept in custody until [heos hou,] I could send him on to Caesar"

2 Pet. 1:18-19 "Moreover, we possess the prophetic message that is altogether reliable. You will do well to be attentive to it, as a lamp shining in a dark place, until (heos hou) the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts."

As Tacelli notes in these passages:
Now when St. Paul was to be sent on, he was surely going to remain in custody; for his original request was to be kept in custody until the Emperor's verdict. Hence the use of heos hou, in this verse does not imply that Paul ceased to be kept in custody after he had been remanded to Caesar. It implies the very opposite....

Clearly, St. Peter was not insinuating that we should cease being attentive to the truths he was presenting after "the day dawns and the morning star rises in [our] hearts." Here, as in Matthew 1:25, heos hou, does not imply a change.

Then Rev. Tacelli goes on to note that St. John Chrysostem, surely more schooled in Greek than Mr. White, and in particular looking at Mt. 1:25, saw the use of the passages ‘until’, as not implying the situational changes, both heos hou, and heos. He saw absolutely no differences in the use of heos hou, or heos. The Saint refers to both uses of the word ‘until’ in Gen. 8:7, Psalm 90:2, and Psalm 72: 7. Again, absolutely nothing is inferred that after the situation, there is a change of status. As Rev. Tacelli says that St. John Chrysostem’s analysis of the phrase, rendered by a Church Father who may be the greatest Master of the Greek language, shows no difference at all in either phrase. Thus, White’s admission that Rhodes argument is weak, but his attempting to buttress the argument in another fashion because of this supposed Greek interplay of words, is totally destroyed by a cursory look at the Bible’s use of the words ‘until’, as well as by the best Greek Master of the Greek language.

John McHugh also notes the following argument on the use of tenses which undercuts even further the Rhodes’ argument on Mt. 1:25:

Those who see in this phrase (Joseph did not know her until...) a hint that the marriage was later consummated overlooks a most significant fact: the very use of ‘know’ stands in the imperfect tense, not in the aorist, and therefore lays the stress on the duration of the period throughout which Joseph and Mary abstained from intercourse. The meaning is that Joseph had no carnal knowledge during the period which preceded the birth of her son. This interpretation suits the context perfectly, for the whole of Mt. 1:18-25 is concerned with the virginal conception of Jesus and its consequences for paternity. If the author had wished to imply that after the birth of Jesus, Joseph and Mary consummated their marriage, it is more likely that he would have used here the Aorist. (John McHugh, The Mother of Jesus in the New Testament, Doubleday and Company Inc. Garden City, New York, 1975, p. 204.
Another telling argument is the fact that nowhere in the New Testament at all is there a mention of any children of Mary or Joseph at all. Especially in the Hebrew mindset, where there are so many instances of “she bore this child, and etc.”, this would be a perfect place (Mt. 1:25) to list the children who followed after Jesus. The absence of any children of Mary speaks volumes against the Rhodes’ argument.

I repeat Rhodes’ argument: Indeed, in Matthew 1:25 we read that Joseph "kept her a virgin UNTIL she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus" (Matthew 1:25). The word "until" implies that normal sexual relations between Joseph and Mary took place following the birth of Jesus. Thus, no such implication exists.

Further, when Jesus spoke in His hometown, some of the people there inquired: "Is not this the carpenter's son? Is not His mother called Mary, and His brothers, James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And His sisters, are they not all with us?" (Matthew 13:55-56).

There are a couple of things to note as we deal with this argument. Supposedly there are 4 blood brothers of Jesus and all his sisters. That surely sounds like a lot of sisters. So theoretically Mary had at least 3 other children, besides the supposed 4 blood brothers, although the term ‘all’ sounds like a whole lot of sisters. So theoretically after Mary had God the Son, she churned out as many as at least 7 children and probably alot more (the use of the word ‘all his sisters’ sounds like he had a ton of them). However, an important point to note is that in Luke 2:41-51 we have the instance at the age of 12 Jesus going up to Jerusalem for the Passover. Surely he must have had streams of brothers and sisters either with him, or his parents. Let us focus on the first few verses:

41 Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the Passover. 42 And when he was twelve years old, they went up according to custom; 43 and when the feast was ended, as they were returning, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents did not know it, 44 but supposing him to be in the company they went a day's journey, and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintances; 45 and when they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem, seeking him.
Notice there is absolutely no notice of any children at all with either Mary or Joseph, or acquaintances. If there were 7 or 8 brothers or sisters, how in the world can Luke mention this, but not his blood brothers and sisters? Why didn’t Joseph or Mary look where the rest of their children were? It should have been they sought him among their own children! Instead we get the phrase kinsfolk and acquaintances. How can those other 7 or more children not be involved in either the search or why are they not at least tagging along with Jesus? It is obvious because there are no other children of Mary. Unless you take the absurd proposition that ‘well, Mary had no children up to the age of 12, then she started producing children like rabbits’. Unlikely to say the least.

What about the identification of the children, James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? They are called in Matthew 13:55 brothers.

What does the word, brothers in Greek adelphos mean? Does it automatically mean blood brothers? Let us look at the range of meaning. This is from the Protestant Dictionary:

Adelphos: denotes a brother, or near kinsman; in the plural, a community based on identity of origin or life. It is used of: 1) male children of the same parents, Mt. 1:2; 14:3. . . ; 2) male descendants of the same parents, Acts 7:23,26; Hebrews 7:5; 3) male children of the same mother; (Mt. 13:55; 1 Cor. 9:5, Gal. 1:19; 4) people of the same nationality, Acts 3:17,22; Romans 9:3 . . . ; 5) any man, a neighbour, Luke 10:29; Matthew 5:22, 7:3; 6) persons united by a common interest, Matthew 5:47; 7) persons united by a common calling, Revelation 22:9; 8) mankind, Matthew 25:40; Hebrews 2:17; 9) the disciples, and so, by implication, all believers, Matthew 28:10; John 20:17; 10) believers, apart from sex, Matthew 23:8; Acts 1:15; Romans 1:13; 1 Thessalonians 1:4; Revelation 19:10 (the word 'sisters' is used of believers, only in 1 Timothy 5:2). (W.E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger, William White, Jr. Vines Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words,, Thomas Nelson Publishers, p. 82
Yes, due to its 20th century bias, the example used for item number three attempts to show examples of blood brothers of Jesus. The point is however, that adelphos has such a wide meaning that this Protestant Dictionary shows, that to try to say this is ‘proof’ of Mary having other children shows that the argument against the perpetual virginity is weak indeed. Rhodes admits that there is such a very wide range of meaning, which further down he wants to dismiss. However, most of Christendom until the late 19th century accepted as a given Mary’s perpetual virginity.

Who are the brothers of Jesus, by the way? Since we are given names of the supposed blood brothers of Jesus, I think it is best to look at how Scripture identifies their parents. Are they identified as Joseph and Mary? Now, let us look at the first identification that we were just given by Rhodes, Mt. 13:54-56, but also Mt. 27:56 and John 19:25:

Mt. 13:54-56 54 and coming to his own country he taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, "Where did this man get this wisdom and these mighty works? 55 Is not this the carpenter's son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? 56 And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all this?"

Matt. 27:56 among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.

John 19:25 So the soldiers did this. But standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.

So we start off by seeing that there are indeed people called ‘brothers’ in our translation, though as we noted it has a wide range of meaning. Who are these brothers? In Mt. 13:55 they certainly do not name Joseph or Mary as Parents of Joseph and James. The names of these children include James and Joseph. But note who the parents are, in Mt. 27:56. Yes, indeed there is a Mary who is at the cross who is the mother of James and Joseph. But if we notice in John 19:25 who the Mary is we find it not to be Jesus’ mother. This other Mary is called Mary’s adelphe in John 19:25. Thus we have the identification of those who are supposedly the Virgin Mary’s sons as the sons of another Mary, the wife of Clopas. That destroys the whole argument that Mt. 13:55 is ‘proof’ of no Marian perpetual virginity. And we also have Mary’s adelphe being used in a sense where more than likely means cousin, since it is highly unlikely that a parent would name two children the same name.

We also read that Jesus "went down to Capernaum, He and His mother, and His brothers, and His disciples; and there they stayed a few days" (John 2:11-12). The fact that Jesus had brothers clearly shows that Mary gave birth to other children following the birth of Jesus. Not too long prior to the crucifixion, we find some of Jesus' brothers taunting Him, not having yet placed faith in Him: "Not even His brothers were believing in Him" (John 7:5). Again, the fact that He had brothers shows that Mary and Joseph gave birth to other children following His own birth.

We must remember that the brothers that you identify as Mary’s sons are identified as another Mary’s children. We have a biblical witness that they are the other Mary’s children, where you have no identification of these ‘brothers’ as the children of Jesus’ mother.

In later books in the New Testament, we discover that Jesus' brothers indeed did end up coming to faith. We read that on one occasion the apostles gathered for prayer "along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers" (Acts 1:14). James, "the Lord's brother" (Galatians 1:19), became a leader in the church at Jerusalem (Galatians 2:9-12).

And of course we saw who James’ mother was:

Matt. 27:56 among whom were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.

John 19:25 So the soldiers did this. But standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother, and his mother's sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.

It surely wasn’t Jesus’ mother Mary, but the Mary who is the wife of Clophas.

The Roman Catholic claim that references to Jesus' "brothers" actually refer to cousins is not convincing. It is true that the Greek term for brother (ADELPHOS) can be used in a sense not referring to a literal brother (for example, it can refer to Jewish brothers, just like we today refer to our Christian brothers). Yet, unless the context indicates otherwise, Greek scholars agree that the term should be taken in its normal sense of a literal brother.

What Greek scholars are you talking about? Those Greek Fathers who were brought up in the Greek made no such argument. In any case, this attack on the perpetual virginity started up in the late 19th century, because the whole range of Protestant founders of the so-called ‘reformation’ actually affirmed Mary’s perpetual virginity, from Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, and so-forth. Only a man-made tradition of the late 19th century began this wholesale attack on the historic Christian truth of Mary’s perpetual virginity.

Further, there was a perfectly appropriate word in the Greek language that could have been used in the biblical text for "cousin" (ANEPSIOS), but this word is not used in the verses cited above. And since these "brothers" are always mentioned as being WITH Mary, the context is clear that LITERAL brothers are in view.

That is totally ignoring the Hebrew Aramaic influence on the New Testament language. In the Hebrew language there was no such term as a blood brother that was distinct from the term ‘cousin.’ The same term is used for both in Hebrew. Thus, in the Greek Septuagint, which translates the Hebrew word for cousins, we see Abraham identified as not anepsios (cousin), but he is identified as adelphos (brother). Thus, the translation in Gen. 14:8, speaks of Abraham and Lot as ‘brothers’ (adelphos), even though in fact Lot was actually Abraham’s nephew (Gen. 11:26-28). Even though there was a Greek word for ‘nephew’, the Septuagint translated it as brothers. This is the very word used of Jesus’ brothers.

Father William Most shows the influence of the Hebrew as sometimes over riding the Greek language in another example in a audiocassette tape which clearly impacts this issue. For example, in Luke 14:26, Jesus says:

26 "If any one comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.
Now in Hebrew, according to Most, there are no degrees of more or less in the language. For example, in Aramaic, there is nothing that can be said which says one loves less than another. So to make a point that one loves less than another, one would have to say, ‘You must hate his own father and mother’. Of course, Jesus does not mean that we should hate our parents as that would be violating the commandment to honor our parents. On the other hand, in the Greek language, one can translate what Jesus meant by saying, “One must love their Mother or Father less than they love me”. Such degrees can be relayed in the Greek language, according to Father Most. However, the Aramaic influence is so overwhelming that in Luke, it does not properly translate the Greek to say, ‘you must love them less than you love God.’ Instead Luke gives the translation of Jesus’ words “You must hate your own Father”. Thus, the critique of saying, well, they should have said ‘cousin’ if they meant it totally ignores the impact of the Hebrew/Aramaic language on the writing of the New Testament.

Protestant commentaries note the following of the impact of Greek Septuagint:

The vocabularies of the Greek Old Testament and the Greek New Testament have a great measure of similarity; and research into the syntax of the Greek of the Septuagint has revealed its remarkable likeness to that of the New Testament...The language of the New Testament ...reveals in its syntax and its vocabulary a strong /Semitic cast, due in large measure to its indebtedness to the Jewish biblical Greek of the Septuagint. (David Hill, Greek Words and Hebrew Meanings(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1967), 16-18.
The conclusion on this issue I borrow from Father Mateo, who writes:
The writers and the very early readers of the New Testament, being Jews of that period, were “Septuagint conditioned.” They were accustomed to the Septuagint usage of adlphos/adelphe as the ordinary Greek rendering of the Hebrew word ach in all its familial and extra-familial meanings, meanings much broader than uterine brother/sisterhood. Texts which call James, Joses, Simon, Judas, and the unnamed woman the adlphoi and adelphai of Jesus cannot be understood except by calling these people Jesus’ relatives, not his uterine brothers and sisters.
Furthermore, in a messianic prophecy in the Old Testament that was literally fulfilled in the life of Jesus, we read: "I have become estranged from my brothers, and an alien to my mother's sons" (Psalm 69:8). That this psalm is messianic in nature is clear at numerous points of comparison: * compare verse 8 with John 7:3-5;

* compare verse 9 with John 2:17 and Romans 15:3;

* compare verse 21 with Matthew 27:34;

* compare verse 25 with Matthew 23:38.

Clearly, then, Psalm 69:8 is a messianic reference to Christ's alienation from "my mother's sons." Mary most definitely had other children besides Jesus.

The first thing that I note here is that to actually find a text that Mary has other children besides Jesus, Rhodes must go to the Old Testament. He goes there in the hope that this prophecy will apply to her. Of course there is nothing in the New Testament that says anything about Jesus being alienated from his mother’s sons, but let us follow Rhodes’ reasoning here. The proof is based on the fact that parts of Psalm 69 are indeed fulfilled in events that happen in Christ’s life. Thus, he attempts to say that since this is so, it automatically makes Psalm 69:8 ‘proof’ for Mary having other children.

What do we see in Psalm 69:8:

I have become a stranger to my brethren, an alien to my mother’s sons.
The context is that of David’s life in Psalm 69. Now, parts of this Psalm are indeed fulfilled in Jesus as prophetic, but only on a very limited basis. The proof is supposedly comparing John 7:3-5 to Psalm 69:8. Well, there is no mention in John 7 of Jesus being alienating from my mother’s sons at all. Remember, we have been through the meaning of brothers. And there is no mention in John 7:3-5 of this particular aspect being a fulfillment of Psalm 69:8.

The other texts that Rhodes cites, (such as Psalm 69:9 in comparison to John 2:17) are indeed proper citations. The other citations from the Psalm are directly cited in the New Testament passages Rhodes alludes to. On the other hand, there is no mention anywhere in any New Testament text, of a citation of Psalm 69:8, and that applying to Jesus and thus by inference Mary. If John 7:3-5 did cite Psalm 69:8, Rhodes would have a point. However, Rhodes is reading something into the text that does not exist.

In any case, if the fact that Psalm 69 is cited a few times, and thus by that way, all of the Psalm applies to Jesus and by inference Mary in Psalm 69:8, proves that Mary had other children, Rhodes runs into some serious problems in his own theology. For example, Psalm 69 would have Jesus say about himself in the following verses:

5 O God, thou knowest my folly; the wrongs I have done are not hidden from thee.

18 Draw near to me, redeem me, set me free because of my enemies!

29 But I am afflicted and in pain; let thy salvation, O God, set me on high!

So by using Psalm 69 and looking at a few quotes that are shown in the New Testament, Rhodes argues that it supposedly proves that Mary had other children. If that is so, then Jesus committed sins (v. 5). Jesus needed a redeemer (v. 18), and needed to be granted salvation (v. 29). Obviously these verses apply only to David and not Jesus. Does Rhodes agree that Jesus is a sinner in need of redemption? He must throw out his own theology on Jesus in a desperate attempt to prove something that isn’t there (the loss of Mary’s virginity.) It shows the length that people will go to in order to prove something that is not true. Apparently this is the best Rhodes can do on the issue.

Is there any further positive inferences that indicate Mary’s celibacy? A little background: Celibacy is commended by Jesus and Paul (Mt. 19:12, 1 Cor. 7), though it is totally against the Protestant mindset. Celibates in the Bible include Elijah, Elisha, John the Baptist, Anna, Judith (though Protestants threw out that book of the Bible), Jeremiah, Paul, and of course Jesus. As Paul describes in 1 Cor. 7, those who are celibate can totally themselves to the service of God.

As Christians we must put our opinions in accord with the text of Scripture and History. Unfortunately Sola Scripturists such as Rhodes do not find history binding. They ignore the fact that most of Christendom taught Mary’s perpetual virginity almost unanimously for about 1900 years, including all the so-called Reformers, like Zwingli, Calvin, Luther, etc.. The Orthodox Church, holds to similar doctrines as Catholics on Mary.

When the angel said that Mary in the future will have Jesus, Mary said I do not know man (Luke 1:34.) Greek scholars note that it is a present with an intention for the future. She did not say, “I have not had sex yet”, in the sense of merely talking about the past tense.

Why did she make a pledge? Such a life makes it easier to give oneself totally and directly to the service of God, either by prayer of complementation, or by putting oneself entirely at the disposal of others or by a life which combines both.

Mary and Joseph’s motive was to put themselves entirely & exclusively at the service of Jesus, and to renounce everything that might conceivably divert or distract them from playing their full part in this mission. They were motivated exclusively by the fact of the virginal conception, by the desire to serve this child. As they were married, Joseph provided the support for Jesus as any Father would provide.

In a normal family, each child adds something of his own which ennobles the family, but this was not a normal situation. In Jesus dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead bodily (Col. 2:9). “In Jesus dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. May we not add “In him dwelt all the fullness of humanity too’? What additional desirable qualities could any further children bring? The virginal conception itself, being a word of God to man, was both an invitation and a call, to her who was to be the mother of the Lord. She made an exclusive dedication to the word of a great and mighty God, who did great things for her (Lk. 1:47).

Her virginity was prophesied in Ezekiel 44:2-3:

2 And he said to me, "This gate shall remain shut; it shall not be opened, and no one shall enter by it; for the LORD, the God of Israel, has entered by it; therefore it shall remain shut. 3 Only the prince may sit in it to eat bread before the LORD; he shall enter by way of the vestibule of the gate, and shall go out by the same way."
Who is the prince of peace except Jesus (Isaiah 9:6). Who did he enter but Mary, whose gate was shut?

Think of it, one is to bear God, and raise the God man, Jesus Christ. Why in the world, right after bearing God, would one bears 6 or 7 Tom, Dick or Harries? That would be a retrogression, to say the least.

IV. What About Purgatory?

*** What is the big problem with the doctrine of purgatory?

Consider what Roman Catholics are saying in regard to the doctrine of purgatory. Let's say you are a good-hearted Catholic, and you do all the things required of your church throughout life. You regularly attend Mass, you work hard to maintain sanctifying grace in your soul by being faithful, and you confess your sins to a priest when you do wrong. You are always careful to participate in the sacrament of penance after committing what you think may be a mortal sin. You do all this AND MORE, in keeping with what your church tells you. When you die, you will likely STILL have to go to purgatory before being granted entrance into heaven. Throughout one's lifetime one could attend over a thousand Masses, and STILL die not fully purified from sin. Protestants respond that this hardly seems like the "good news" of the gospel (Ephesians 2:8-9).

The doctrine of purgatory is an outgrowth of the insufficient Roman Catholic view of justification. Since only perfectly righteous people get into heaven, and since in the Roman Catholic view of justification one IS NOT absolutely and once-for-all declared righteous by God, then somehow one must BECOME perfectly righteous before entrance into heaven is granted. This happens via purgatory (among other things).

The good news is that God does not participate in a lie that the legal fiction theory by Protestantism as advocated by Rhodes does. Well, the Catholic system believes, as the Bible specifically says, that “Nothing impure can enter the kingdom of heaven”, Rev. 21:27. As God is perfectly holy, yes, one can get into heaven only after being fully cleansed of any trace of uncleanliness. There is no text in the Bible which says that one gets into heaven based on a forensic imputation of Christ’s righteousness that is imputed to one’s account. God does not participate in a legal fiction that Rhodes bases his hope on.

From a scriptural perspective, when Jesus died on the cross He said, "It is finished" (John 19:30). Jesus completed the work of redemption AT THE CROSS. No purgatory is needed for those who trust in Christ. In His high priestly prayer to the Father, Jesus said, "I have brought you glory on earth by COMPLETING the work you gave me to do" (John 17:4). First John 1:7 says, "The blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from ALL sin." Romans 8:1 says, "Therefore, there is NOW no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."

Yes, Jesus said what he had to do on the cross was complete, and Jesus completed his redemption on the cross, no doubt. His death is indeed sufficient. However, the issue is not that, but how one applies what he did on the cross, to our lives. Rhodes does not believe that ‘it is finished’ means that we don’t have to do anything, otherwise it would not matter whether we believe or not. Otherwise everybody would be saved, something that is unbiblical. Thus, the fact that Rhodes says that you have to believe, means that one must do more than just declare that Jesus did his work of redemption at the cross.

In fact, the reference to 1 John 1:7 actually shows that the Protestant view is insufficient, and perfectly explains the need for purgatory. Protestant theology does not say that the blood of Jesus actually purifies us from sin. Why do I say that? Because 1 John 1:7-9 says that one will be cleansed from all iniquity. We are to be perfectly cleansed, not half-way cleansed, and only covered with Christ's righteousness. No Protestant will honestly say that they are interiorly cleansed of all sin. They will say, 'well Christ's perfect righteousness is applied to my account, and in that way, even though we are ontologically ‘filthy rags’ we are totally clean and we appropriate that righteousness through faith alone'. However, John does not write that at all. He writes Jesus cleanses us from all iniquity. Thus, this shows that we must be perfectly cleansed by Christ’s blood. To get in while we are ontologically 'filthy rags' is an affront to God's holiness. Purgatory is only the last stages of the cleansing promised in 1 John 1:7-9. Purgatory applies the fruit of what Christ did on the cross to our lives. On the other hand, the Protestant view contradicts 1 John 1:7-9 as it says that this cleansing is not actually necessary. This is an affront to God’s holiness, and renders the Protestant view on the cross as insufficient to actually purify us from all unrighteous.

In fact in his book, he indirectly admits that 1 John 1:7-9 does not apply to his own view. This is what Rhodes writes:

The Protestant view is often referred to as “forensic justification.” Forensic comes from a Latin word meaning “forum.” This word has its roots in the fact that in the ancient Roman forum, a court could meet and make judicial or legal declarations. Forensic justification, then, involves God’s judicial declaration of the believer’s righteousness before him. The believer is legally acquitted of all guilt, and the very righteousness of Christ is imputed to his account. Henceforth, when God sees the believer, He sees him in all the righteousness of Christ.

Note that this declaration is something external to man. It does not hinge on man’s personal level of righteousness. It does not hinge on anything that man does. It hinges solely on God’s declaration. It is a once-for-all judicial pronouncement that happens the moment a sinner places faith in Christ. Even while the person is yet a sinner and is experientally not righteous, he is nevertheless righteous in God’s sight because of forensic justification.

Thus, the term legal fiction. While one is not actually cleansed of sin, God just looks the other way and only declares us clean. Thus, 1 John 1:7-9 not only shows us the need for purgatory, it outright contradicts the forensic view offered us by Rhodes.

We are cleansed not by some alleged fire of purgatory but by the blood of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 9:14). Jesus "Himself is the propitiation for our sins" (1 John 2:2). It is through Jesus' work on the cross that we are made righteous (2 Corinthians 5:21). The apostle Paul spoke of his life as "not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith" (Philippians 3:7-9). It is through this wonderful work of Christ on the cross that believers are "blameless," and hence are in no need of some alleged purgatory (Jude 1:24; see also Ephesians 1:4).

Absolutely none of the passages Rhodes cites say that the blood of Christ makes it so that Christ’s righteousness is legally imputed to our account, and that is how we are just before God. Yes, Christ is offered on our behalf as propitiation for our sins. It says nothing about his righteousness forensically getting applied to our account(nor does it do so anywhere in the Bible). Yes, it is through Christ’s work on the cross that we are made righteous, not merely declared (Rom. 5:19). As we just saw, Rhodes doesn’t believe that our justification is based on us actually being made righteous, but only being declared righteous. The quotation of 2 Cor. 5:21 only undercuts his position. The process of being made righteous, is indeed ongoing, not a once and for all position that is only a declaration of it. From my project on Paul’s view of salvation, I quote 2 Cor. 5:21, and the surrounding context Here I am addressing a similar misguided attempt, by James White to use 2 Cor. 5:21 for the same view that Rhodes holds. Here we look at the context, which is something that neither White nor Rhodes does:

21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 6 - 1 Working together with him, then, we entreat you not to accept the grace of God in vain. 2 For he says, "At the acceptable time I have listened to you, and helped you on the day of salvation." Behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.

This is a continuation of Paul’s prior plea for the Corinthian believers (vv. 17-20) to be reconciled with God. Some Calvinists take verse 21 to mean that it shows our justification to get Christ’s righteousness. For example, James White, in his book “Roman Catholic Controversy’ writes the following: “The righteousness of Christ is the actual and real possession of the believer. This is the righteousness a Christian pleads before the judgment throne of God. Christ is our Substitute. Our sins are imputed to him; His righteousness is imputed to us... by God’s grace Christ’s righteousness becomes ours, and we have eternal life because of Christ’s righteousness, not because of our own.” He then claims that there are tons of verses that prove this, and supposedly 2 Cor. 5:21 is the perfect proof for this. Of course, White neither quotes the verses before or after this verse, which shows Paul writing of the necessity of constantly being reconciled with God, or the following verses which speak of the possibility of receiving the grace of God in vain. If one is forensically imputed with Christ’s righteousness, it would be impossible to receive God’s grace in vain. On the contrary, nowhere in the text is the word impute even used. First, it does not say that our sins are imputed to Christ. Second, there is no hint in this passage that Christ’s righteousness is imputed to our account.

What does v. 21 actually teach on the matter? It does not say that Christ became imputed with sin. He became a sin offering. As Robert Sungenis notes, there are parallels which notes that this is a sin offering. For example, Paul calls Christ elsewhere a sin offering (Eph. 5:2, Heb. 7:27), a propitiation (Rom. 3:25), and a sacrifice (1 Cor. 5:7, Heb. 9:28). (Sungenis, pp. 104-106). Paul writes in Rom. 8:3-4 that God sent “His own Son in the likeness of sinful man to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in sinful man in order that the just requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” Paul wrote earlier in the context of Christ being a sin offering that we meet the righteous requirement of the law by us walking according to the Spirit. Something we do. Not something Christ does by imputing his righteousness. He puts his righteousness into our life. That is exactly what Paul is speaking of also in 2 Cor. 5:21. White’s interpretation contradicts Paul’s earlier understanding of Rom. 8:2-4 on the same subject. Another very relevant point is if even if we granted that the first clause of v. 21 “Christ became sin for us” is to be interpreted (as White does) as Christ actually becoming imputed with our sin, it does not necessarily follow that the righteousness of Christ is imputed to our account for our justification. In fact, the surrounding context belies that interpretation. The second clause of the verse (that has to do with righteousness) is so that “we might become the righteousness of God.” Again, Paul writes that Christ did this so that we might become the righteousness of God. The word might become is very important, as it says that it is a possibility, not a guarantee. If one was automatically guaranteed an imputed righteousness as the grounds of our justification , there would be no might or maybe. However, the inspired writer Paul writes that one might become the righteousness. Thus, it is conditional upon our continuing reconciliation with God. (vv. 18-20). In fact, this whole section of 2 Cor. 5 & 6 shows that there are impediments that believers might allow to happen that will in fact interrupt our relationship with God.

How might we become the righteousness of God? (Infused, not imputed) Paul answers in the very following verses by writing that (6:1) “Working together with him, then, we entreat you not to accept the grace of God in vain”. Thus, to maintain this righteousness we must work together with God. And we must do this or else we can actually accept his grace in vain. Again, grace not only does not exclude, but actually demands that we work together with him, in order for this not to be in vain. Salvation is a ‘now’ (6:2), not a past time event. The whole section (2 Cor. 5:17-6:2) shows not that salvation is not merely a punctiliar event, but a process, where Christ makes us righteous, and we must cooperate with God for our salvation.

St. Augustine gives a good summary of the section including 2 Cor. 5:21 when he writes: -"That we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. This is not the righteousness whereby God is himself righteous, but that whereby we are made righteous by him" (Augustine, On the Spirit and the Letter, ch. 31, Schaff, NPNF, First Series, Vol. 5, p. 97).

Thus, the forensic justification scenario is nowhere found in Rhodes’ citation. The fact that we must become righteous, in addition to the fact that though in his grace, we are not all the way cleansed of all sin, shows the need for purgatory.

A key verse you will want to share with the Roman Catholic is Hebrews 10:14: "For by one offering He has PERFECTED FOR ALL TIME those who are sanctified." In other words, no further purging is necessary because Christ has perfected "for all time" those who have believed in Him. THAT WHICH IS ALREADY PERFECT "FOR ALL TIME" NEEDS NO FURTHER PURGING. There is no need for purgatory for those who have truly trusted in Christ as Savior.

The use of this isolated passage which ignores the theme of the book of Hebrews, the meaning of the passage, and the context surrounding Hebrews 10 is not a way of proving anything, much less ‘disproving purgatory’. In fact in Hebrews, 50% of the passages have to do with Paul’s concern of believers’ need to persevere in the faith in order to attain salvation. For example, Hebrews 2:1-3, Hebrews 3:1, 5-6, Hebrews 3:12-14, Hebrews 3:16-19, 11:29, Hebrews 4:1-3, Hebrews 4:11-14, Hebrews 5:9, Hebrews 6:4-6, Hebrews 6: 9-12, Hebrews 10:22-29, Hebrews 10:35-38, Hebrews 11:4-8, Hebrews 12:5-11, Hebrews 12:12-17, and Hebrews 12:25-26, show that salvation is progressive, not once for all, and that there is indeed an ongoing need to persevere in the faith to attain salvation. Without holiness no one will see the Lord (Heb. 12:14). Paul doesn’t say without ‘declared holiness’ no one will see the Lord. In fact in Hebrews 12:9, it says that God disciplines us, and though it seems painful rather than pleasant, it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. (Heb. 12:11). Although in that instance Paul is referencing how this discipline is while we are living, it shows a principle that is played out in purgatory. Yielding a peaceful fruit of righteousness (Heb. 12:11) in order to attain the holiness by which we can see God (Heb. 12:14) is foundational to purgatory.

Now, back to Hebrews 10:14, Robert Sungenis directly rebuts the type of argument that Rhodes is making on Heb. 10:14. As Sungenis writes in the book Not By Bread Alone, Queenship Press, 1999, on this specific verse, p. 105:

Although some opponents (such as Rhodes) may interpret the clause in Hebrews 10:14(“...made perfect forever those who are being made holy”) as suggesting that the salvation of Christian is complete and totally secure with no possibility of falling away, this is not what the verse is teaching. We can see this by the way the word "perfect" is used in the book of Hebrews. According to Hebrews 10:1-2, the individual's "perfection" refers to having his sins completely forgiven in order that the conscience may be free of guilt, something which the Old Covenant law could not provide (cf., 7:19;9:9). Thus, the individual stands "perfect" because his past sins have been completely forgiven, not because he has reached a perfect state which eliminates the possibility of losing his state of grace. It follows, then, that the use of "perfect" here does not mean that the individual cannot retard the sanctification process, or that his eternal perfection is a foregone conclusion (cf., Hebrews 11:40; 12:23). The verbal form chosen for "being sanctified" is a Greek participle of continuing action, which specifies the process of sanctification, a process by which we are continually forgiven of our sins, albeit now it is a complete or "perfect" forgiveness for the sins we have confessed. In other words Christ did not make a blanket forgiveness of sin but has perfected the process by which sin is forgiven when it is confessed.
Thus, the language that Paul uses in the very verse that Rhodes refers us to, shows us that salvation and sanctification is an ongoing process. Purgatory is only the last stages of the sanctification progress that Paul refers us to here.

On the idea that this 'once and for all' idea means that one can not lose one's salvation is refuted not only throughout the verses I showed earlier, but also in this very chapter.

Here is what Paul writes that follows upon the Hebrews 10:14 passage that Rhodes referred us to.

22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful; 24 and let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. 26 For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, 27 But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. 28 A man who has violated the law of Moses dies without mercy at the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much worse punishment do you think will be deserved by the man who has spurned the Son of God, and profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and outraged the Spirit of grace?
I borrow the following comments from my own article on Hebrews, available at hebrews2.html. Though these comments are not directly purgatory related, they directly show how the above passage, which surrounds Hebrews 10:14, reveals that salvation as well as sanctification is a process. Purgatory is the final step of the sanctification process.
In the beginning of this passage, Paul encourages believers to draw near with a true heart. The effects of baptism are alluded to, when Paul mentions that we can draw near with a clear conscience because of our washing with pure water (v. 22). This is similar to how Peter says that baptism saves us and gives us a clear conscience (1 Pet. 3:21). The grace from baptism survives and cleanses us, just as Peter writes that baptism now does save us. This grace helps us as he then tells us to hold fast the confession of our hope in Christ (v. 23). God is faithful to his promise and will give grace to those who cooperate and persevere in faith. Then Paul encourages the believers to not neglect to meet together, and encourage one another. Thus, there is a clear allusion to attending worship services (v. 25) (or the Mass for Catholics).

Paul writes that there is a mortal sin by sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth. (v. 26). We know he is speaking of believers as we see later Paul write that these are sanctified people who will be punished (v. 29). However, isn’t every sin that we do in fact deliberate? So is Paul writing that if anyone sins after being a believer that they are condemned? No. Paul elsewhere shows that there are distinctions between types of sins (Heb. 12:5-15, 1 Cor. 3:14-17). Not every sin causes our disinheritance. However the immediate background to the sin of v. 26, is vv. 24-25. Paul had warned of not neglecting of the assembling together. Remember earlier, even the sin of neglecting had salvific consequences. Heb. 2:3 says, “How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; The sin mentioned in Hebrews 10 is not going to Mass. V. 26 is a continuation of the preceding passage. Often, when people go out to prove that this passage proves that one will lose salvation (It does, but not in the way that they say that it does) , they leave out the important context. V. 26 says, For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth. In other words, it is a continuation of what he had been writing earlier (the forsaking of assembling together). He is not speaking of sin in a general sense, but a specific sin that separates one from God. Thus, v. 26 makes a lot of sense when Paul writes that there no longer remains a sacrifice for sin, when one willfully refuses to come to worship. It is thus a mortal sin to neglect the worship instituted by Christ.. The sacrifice of the Mass, which is a renewal and re-presentation of what Christ did on the cross, thus will be of no avail to those who deliberately refuse to come to worship. In much of the book of Hebrews, Paul writes that Christ’s work is much superior to the Old Covenant. Worship and grace provided in the New Covenant far surpasses the Old Covenant worship and grace. Paul thus lambastes those who do not stay in the worship of the New Covenant. One actually spurns the Son of God and profanes the blood of the covenant when he commits the sin of absenting himself from the Sacrifice of the Mass (vv. 24-26)

The sacrifice spoken of here is the same sacrifice prophesied in

Malachi 1:11-12: For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name is great among the nations, and in every place incense is offered to my name, and a pure offering; for my name is great among the nations, says the Lord of hosts. 12 But you profane it when you say that the Lord’s table is polluted, and the food for it may be despised.
Notice that the sin in Malachi 1:12 is to despise the sacrifice. We know that Christ’s offering of himself is the only pure offering that suffices. This offering is that which is offered in many places is pure. There is no other pure sacrifice so mentioned in the Old Testament. Since it is offered in many places the sacrifice can not possibly be merely the one time sacrifice of Christ on the cross. Thus, the only way that this is fulfilled is in the sacrifice of the Eucharist. All the Church Fathers saw Malachi 1:11 as applying to the sacrifice of the Eucharist. As early as the 1st century, the Didache when alluding to the Eucharist refers to Mal. 1:11. Note also for our specific attention here in Heb. 10:29, in Mal. 1:12, the sin is when the people despise the Lord’s table, and profane it. This is exactly the sin spoken of (in v. 29) when Paul writes of one who has spurned the Son of God, and profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and outraged the Spirit of Grace? Those who treat with contempt the food at the Lord’s table, are condemned, according to Paul.

What is another hint that what Paul is writing about pertains to the Eucharist? Notice the words that Paul used in profaning the blood of the covenant (v. 29). Paul notes that the believers have already been sanctified by this blood. This means that they have been partakers of the flesh and blood of Christ in the first place (John 6:51-58). They have been sanctified by the grace given. Where is this language used?: Jesus directly uses the term blood of the covenant in his institution of the Eucharist:

Matthew 26:26-28: Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to the disciples and said, "Take, eat; this is my body." 27 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, "Drink of it, all of you; 28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.
This language, “blood of the covenant”, is used in no other place in the New Testament. Thus, Paul in Hebrews 10 uses language that specifically calls us to the Eucharistic feast. The language that Jesus himself uses of blood of the covenant calls us back to Exodus 24, in the institution of the covenant between God, Moses, and Israel and the sacrifice of bulls. At the heart of this covenant is sacrifice. Exodus 24:8, for example relates: And Moses took the blood and threw it upon the people, and said, "Behold the blood of the covenant which the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words." The blood of the covenant represented the sacrifice in the Old Covenant. Here Paul refers us to Christ’s much superior sacrifice in the New Covenant, which is alluded to here, and is the only means through which we appropriate through the Eucharist.

Also notice in v. 26, Paul writes there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins. One who had access to the sacrifice, no longer has access to it. What is the sacrifice? The context which we have examined only points to the Eucharist, which applies the fruits of Christ death on the cross to believers. By direct inference, there does remain a sacrifice for sins, for those who do not forsake the assembly of believers, and come to worship God in the way Christ instituted.

V. 27 shows that those who have so sinned, not only can no longer partake of the sacrifice, but will be facing a fearful judgment. As Moses had two witnesses to suffice to bring condemnation of someone (v. 28), the two witnesses that will so condemn in the New Covenant will be the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ (V. 29). By going back to the Old Covenant, they have spurned the Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ, (v. 29) and the blood of the covenant. However, the people so spoken of by Paul, have already been sanctified by the redeeming blood of Jesus Christ, and deserve to be condemned even more than those who turned their back on Moses and God in the Old Covenant.

Finally, for those who hold that one can never lose salvation if one is justified before God, even if they deny all the Eucharistic implications, this passage (10:22-29)shoots down that Calvinistic theory. Let us say that all these Eucharistic implications are mere coincidences, and Paul means nothing about the Eucharist. Let us say that one appropriates the blood of the covenant, by “accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior” and makes one set for life. Or one appropriates the blood of the covenant by God preordaining and choosing for the person to appropriate the blood of the covenant. Or a combination of both. In any case it says that the people who are to be punished have been sanctified by the blood of the covenant. No one can be sanctified by the blood of the covenant, in any manner in which it is termed to be appropriated, unless they are justified (1 Cor. 6:11). Paul clearly points to these sanctified, justified people who committed this sin mentioned by him, as going to hell. Paul finishes this point by writing:

Heb. 10:30-31 For we know him who said, "Vengeance is mine, I will repay." And again, "The Lord will judge his people." It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

If one is set for life eternally, there would be no reason to fear vengeance from God.

As mentioned earlier, 2nd Maccabbees 12:44-46 is an important passage which reflects the Catholic view of purgatory. The fact that Rhodes goes along with the Protestant tradition of throwing Scripture out because it doesn’t quite fit their view is condemnable. Nonetheless, since he does throw out Scripture, I will look at another passage that Rhodes does comment on in his book in his section on purgatory:

1 Corinthians 3:10-17 10According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and another man is building upon it. Let each man take care how he builds upon it. 11For no other foundation can any one lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12Now if any one builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw--13 each man's work will become manifest; for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14 If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.16 Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you? 17 If any one destroys God's temple, God will destroy him. For God's temple is holy, and that temple you are.
So here we see that there are three places referred to at the time of God’s judgment of them: Heaven (v. 14), Purgatory (v. 15), and Hell (v. 17). Those who are perfectly righteous go right to heaven (v. 14). Those whose works are sinful, but are still within God’s grace, go to purgatory (v. 15) as they are saved only as through fire. Those who destroy God’s temple are destroyed by God and will be eternally punished by God (v. 17). This clearly alludes to purgatory in v. 15.

Let us look at Rhodes’ explanation of 1 Corinthians 3:10-15, as found in his book, p. 245, and he then attempts to ask Catholic questions based on his reading of the verses:

This passage says nothing about purgatory. It indicates that the believer’s works will be tested by fire at the judgment seat of Christ, not that the believer himself will be judged by fire. That is an entirely different thing. The verse has nothing to do with purging sin from a person, but rather has to do with reception or loss of rewards based on works done on earth after one has trusted in Christ and has been saved. The Greek word for reward used here misthos refers to a reward or “recompense given for the moral quality of an action.”) If the saved person’s works withstand the fire, he or she will receive an eternal reward. If the saved person’s works do not withstand the fire, he or she will not receive a reward. Either way, the person is still saved, even if his works should be burned up (v. 15).

Rhodes ignores two main points of this passage of Paul that undercuts his entire argument:

1) Though he attempts to say that this has nothing to do with sin, and God’s judgment of sin, the context shows otherwise. In the same way that he attempted to quote Luke 22:24-30 and thus ignoring verses 31-32, which gives an important text that shows papal primacy, here he cuts off verses 16 and 17 which shows that indeed sins are being judged. V. 17 shows that some of these works are so bad that God will destroy those who were believers, because of the degree of bad actions which were mortally sinful. Thus, to try to say that this has nothing to do with sin ignores the immediate context where we know that believers whose works are very bad will be destroyed by God (and thus go to hell). This also shows us that verses 13-15 also would include sins being judged as well.

Rhodes makes an assumption, when all he says is that bad works in verses 13-15 being judged are not sins. Because his view is that we are ‘accounted righteous’ forensically, he believes that God will not look at our sins, as we have Christ’s imputed righteousness to our account. [Of course this view directly contradicts not only Paul here, but what Jesus said in Mt. 12:36-37: 36 I tell you, on the day of judgment men will render account for every careless word they utter; 37 for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned. The Catholic view of purgatory that those who are in God’s grace are judged for their sins, even if they are not thrown into hell. The Protestant view denies Jesus’ words, because those in God’s grace are not judged for their sins, because they have an forensically imputed righteousness applied to their account]. Thus, he must maintain that these bad works are not sins. It just means that we didn’t do good enough, and we will just have less rewards in heaven. However, we just noted some sins that can send those who were believers to hell (v. 17). Rhodes also assumes that bad works are not sins. That is unbiblical with no biblical basis at all. In fact, bad works are indeed sins. Even not doing what we are supposed to is a bad work, and is sin. As James relates, “Whoever knows what is right to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.” (James 4:17). Thus, when he looks at us, as he does in 1 Cor. 3:13-15, it is obvious that it is sin that is being judged.

The context both before and after this passage shows that Paul is speaking about sins. The surrounding context of 1 Corinthians is Paul lambasting the Corinthians over their sins (chapters 1-6). In fact, in the immediate context of chapter 3, the works are filled with sins, despite Rhodes wanting and needing for his theology the context to have nothing to do with sins. Paul writes of the Corinthians being carnal, filled with jealousy and strife (vv. 1-5). Immediately after telling them they would be condemned for destroying the temple, he speaks of deception, folly, and boasting (vv. 18-22). To say that this passage (1 Cor. 3:10-17) ignores sin, is a desperate attempt to avoid the implications of these verses.

2) Though he argues that v. 15 is only talking about the works being judged (although as we saw, bad works are sins), and it doesn’t apply to us personally, he misses that essential point entirely, as defined by Paul. Yes, in v. 13 he speaks about how are works are judged. However, v. 15 specifically says that based on those works he himself will suffer loss, so as through fire. Thus, judgment includes the person himself, not merely his works. Those works will become the basis of how God will judge us personally, and as we see, if our works are not perfect, will will be saved only as through fire. The word in Greek translated as suffer loss, refers to punishment, as shown by Robert Sungenis at the following url:

The Catholic exegesis of 1 Cor 3:15 is further supported by Paul's use of the Greek word zemiotheseta (translated as "suffer loss" in many translations). Its verbal root zemioo, has a wider meaning than merely suffering loss. It can also refer to punishment. Hence, there is a component of punishment associated with the word that is not brought out in most translations. Interestingly enough, in the Septuagint, zemioo is used only in reference to punishment. Since Catholic doctrine understands purgatory as a place to expiate temporal punishment for sin, then the lexical meaning of zemiotheseta which refers to suffering punishment fits in very well with classical Catholic teaching on 1 Cor 3:15. The Christian will suffer punishment for his bad works.

It should also be noted that the Greek word "houtos" ("yet so") in 1 Cor 3:15 is an adverb modifying the verb "sotheesetai" ("shall be saved") and points to how the man is saved, i.e., by fire. "Houtos" can best be translated as "likewise," "similarly," "just as," "in the same way," "even so," "in the same manner," etc. These words are comparative.

In context, compare the fire of verse 13 with the fire of verse 15. Hence, Paul is saying that in the same way that God's fire will purge any dross or foreign material from the work accomplished (verse 13), similarly, the fire will purge the man himself of any imperfections (verse 15). The Scriptures use two images of God's fire. One is a refining fire which makes good material better by purging out impurities (e.g., Malachi 3:2-3; 1 Peter 1:7); the other is a consuming fire that totally destroys the object in view (e.g., 2 Thessalonians 1:8; Hebrews 12:29). Those who suffer temporal punishment for sin, either in this life or in purgatory, do so under God's refining fire. On the other hand, those destined for eternal damnation suffer God's destroying fire. Catholic theology holds that these respective judgments occur for the individual immediately after death. It is referred to as the "particular" judgment. At the final judgment, one's eternal destiny is finally sealed.

Thus, the grammar involved as shown by Sungenis, shows that the man himself will be punished for these sins, but still be saved. That is a description of purgatory to a tee.

Rhodes’ book continues (p. 244). I put a letter before his questions so my response can be seen to each question:

a - According to this passage, what is subject to the fire-the believer, or the works of the believer?
b - Can you see that there is a big difference between purging a person of sin (the Catholic view), and testing a person’s works to determine if they are worthy of reward (Paul’s statement in 1 Corinthians 3:10-15)?
c - Since this passage is talking about rewards (for faithfulness) and loss of rewards (for a lack of faithfulness), this passage is not dealing with purgatory at all, is it?
a - Answer - both the works (v. 13) and the believer himself based on those works (v. 15). V. 17 shows that bad works to the extreme of destroying the temple will send people to hell, while those whose works are not perfect but stay in his grace will be punished for those sins.

b - Answer - We just saw that we ourselves will be judged based on those works. If we have bad works, those bad works are sins, as the context demands. If our works are not golden (as shown those who are golden in v. 14), we must still be punished for those works (v. 15). The cleansing is so that we will be perfectly cleansed so we can reach the state of those who immediately went to heaven as in v. 14.

c - Answer - Yes it is a perfect summation of purgatory. Those who are perfect in their works go directly to heaven (v. 14). Those believers who destroy God’s temple will go to hell (v. 17). Those whose sins are not so bad as to destroy the temple, and will remain in God’s grace, go to heaven, only after there being some punishment (v. 15). Sins are being judged at the judgment, as the context demands. Since Rhodes says God is judging a lack of faithfulness, since when is a lack of faithfulness not sin that we are judged for? Once Rhodes admits that sins are being judged for, his whole basis for denying purgatory, as well as the basis for judgment is the imputed righteousness of Christ being applied to our account (in reference to whether we get to heaven or hell), is totally destroyed.

For a longer study of the New Testament background of the Biblical teaching on purgatory and an examination of the above and other passages, please: click here and the Robert Sungenis piece I gave above. To see the Church Fathers’ view on the issue, where Joe Gallegos’ Corunum Apologetics web site lists the Fathers view on the issue, click here

We have seen Rhodes misuse Scripture and History when critiquing the Catholic Faith. The Scriptural verses that he says don’t teach Catholic doctrines have been vindicated, and the Scriptures that he puts forth as proving his view actually when in context have been shown to even further vindicate the Catholic doctrines he attempts to destroy.

To all visitors Grace of Christ to you!

Page created by: Matt1618.
Send email with questions or comments on this writing to Matt1618


Go to Critique of Rhodes on Justification


Return to Miscellaneous Page


Return to Matt's Catholic Apologetics Page

© 2000 Reasoning From the Scriptures with Ron Rhodes: A look at Catholic Traditions, the Papacy, Mary's Perptetual Virginity, and Matt1618... This text may be downloaded or printed out for private reading, but it may not be uploaded to another Internet site or published, electronically or otherwise, without express written permission from the author.

Last modified March 30, 2003.