From Triablogue blog – file this under reasonable faith: A brilliant example of where lack of real logic can lead in apologetics. Follow this closely and be illumined.
In a recent thread, ANNOYED PINOY asked me to repost something I wrote almost a decade ago. It was a list of 51 Biblical proofs of a Pauline papacy and Ephesian primacy. I wrote it in response to a Roman Catholic apologist’s list of 50 alleged Biblical proofs of a Petrine papacy. Some of the items in my list are meant to parallel items in that Catholic’s list. For example, he cited the performance of a miracle through Peter’s shadow (Acts 5:15) as evidence of Petrine primacy. I paralleled that with a citation of Acts 19:11-12 as evidence of Pauline primacy. I don’t actually think a Pauline papacy is implied by Acts 19 or any other passage I cite below. What I was doing was demonstrating how the same sort of bad reasoning that Catholics often apply to Peter can be cited to justify similar conclusions about other Biblical figures, like Paul.
Catholics can’t object to my list by pointing to post-Biblical evidence for a Petrine papacy, since the issue under discussion is whether the Biblical evidence supports a papacy. Nobody denies that a Petrine papacy eventually developed in Rome. The question in this context is whether that papacy was just a later development or is a teaching of the Scriptures as well. If Ephesus had been the capital of the Roman empire and had possessed other advantages the Roman church had, and the Ephesian church had gradually become more and more prominent, the bishops of Ephesus could have claimed that the Bible teaches a Pauline (or Johannine) primacy. In fact, in other places I’ve noted early patristic material that could be cited in support of an Ephesian primacy.
My list loses some of its force when removed from its original context. But I think it’s mostly understandable, even without much knowledge of the background that led me to write what I did. Here are the 51 Biblical proofs of a Pauline papacy and Ephesian primacy, using popular Catholic reasoning:
1. Paul is the only apostle who is called God’s chosen vessel who will bear His name before Jews and Gentiles (Acts 9:15).
2. Paul is the last apostle chosen by God, apart from the other twelve.
3. The resurrected Christ appears to Paul in a different way than He appeared to the other apostles (Acts 9:3-6).
4. Paul is the only apostle who publicly rebukes and corrects another apostle (Galatians 2:11).
6. Paul is the only apostle to call himself “father” (1 Corinthians 4:15).
7. Paul is the steward of God’s grace (Ephesians 3:2). This means that Paul is the overseer of salvation. Fellowship with Paul and his successors is necessary for salvation.
8. Paul is mentioned more in the New Testament than any other apostle.
9. The book of Acts, which mentions all of the apostles, discusses Paul more than any other apostle.
10. Paul was the first apostle to write a book of scripture.
11. Paul wrote more books of the New Testament than any other apostle.
12. Paul is the first apostle to be taken to Heaven to receive a revelation (2 Corinthians 12:1-4).
13. Paul is the only apostle Satan was concerned about enough to give him a thorn in the flesh (2 Corinthians 12:7).
14. Paul seems to have suffered for Christ more than any other apostle (2 Corinthians 11:21-33).
16. Paul seems to have traveled further and more often than any other apostle, as we see in Acts and his epistles, which is what we might expect a Pope to do.
17. Only Paul’s teachings were so advanced, so deep, that another apostle acknowledged that some of his teachings were hard to understand (2 Peter 3:15-16). Peter’s understanding of doctrine doesn’t seem to be as advanced as Pope Paul’s. Paul has the primacy of doctrinal knowledge.
18. Paul was the first apostle whose writings were recognized as scripture (2 Peter 3:15-16).
19. Paul singles himself out as the standard of orthodoxy (1 Corinthians 14:37-38).
20. Only Paul refers to himself having a rod, a symbol of authority (1 Corinthians 4:21).
23. When the Corinthians were dividing over which apostle to associate themselves with, Paul’s name was the first one mentioned (1 Corinthians 1:12).
24. Paul was the only apostle with the authority to deliver people over to Satan (1 Corinthians 5:5).
25. Paul had the best training and education of all the apostles (Philippians 3:4-6).
26. Paul is the only apostle to call the gospel “my gospel” (Romans 2:16).
27. Paul writes more about the identity of the church than any other apostle does (1 Corinthians 12, Colossians 1, Ephesians 4-5), which we might expect a Pope to do. Paul is the standard of orthodoxy and the Vicar of Christ on earth, so he has the primary responsibility for defining what the church is and who belongs to it.
28. Paul writes more about church government than any other apostle does, such as in his pastoral epistles.
29. Paul discusses church unity more than any other apostle does (1 Corinthians 12-14, Ephesians 4), suggesting that he was the one responsible for maintaining church unity because of his papal authority.
30. Paul writes more about the gospel than any other apostle does (Romans, Galatians). As the leader of Christianity, Paul was most responsible for explaining the gospel and other Christian doctrine.
31. After Jesus, Paul speaks more about the kingdom of God than anybody else does (Acts 14:22, 19:8, 1 Corinthians 4:20,Galatians 5:21, 2 Thessalonians 1:5). After leaving earth, Jesus passed on the responsibility of teaching about the kingdom of God to Paul, the king of the church on earth.
33. Paul was the only apostle other people tried to impersonate (2 Thessalonians 2:2), since he had more authority than anybody else.
34. Paul’s clothing works miracles (Acts 19:11-12).
36. The Jewish exorcists in Acts 19:13 associate themselves with Paul rather than with any other apostle.
37. The demons in Acts 19:15 recognize Paul’s primacy.
38. The Jews in Acts 21:28 recognize Paul’s primacy, saying that he’s the man they hold most responsible for teaching Christianityeverywhere.
41. Paul interprets prophecy (2 Thessalonians 2:3-12).
42. Only Paul is referred to as being set apart for his ministry from his mother’s womb (Galatians 1:15).
43. Jesus Christ is revealed in Paul (Galatians 1:16), meaning that Paul and his successors are the infallible standard of Christian orthodoxy.
44. Paul is the only apostle who works by himself, only later coordinating his efforts with the other apostles (Galatians 1:16-18).
45. Only Paul is referred to as bearing the brandmarks of Christ (Galatians 6:17).
46. Every Christian was interested in Paul and what was happening in his life, looking to him as their example and their encouragement (Philippians 1:12-14).
47. Christians served Paul (Philippians 2:30).
48. Paul worked more than the other apostles (1 Corinthians 15:10), since he had more responsibilities as Pope.
49. Paul was to be delivered from every evil deed (2 Timothy 4:18), meaning that he was infallible.
50. Only Paul is referred to as passing his papal authority on to [Ephesian] successors who would also have authority over the church of God (Acts 20:28).
51. Among the seven churches addressed in Revelation 2-3, the church of Ephesus is mentioned first, since the bishops of Ephesus have primacy as the successors of Paul. The church in Ephesus “cannot endure evil men” (Revelation 2:2), meaning that the bishop of Ephesus is infallible when speaking ex cathedra on matters of faith and morals. The Ephesian church puts false teachers to the test (Revelation 2:2) by exercising its papal authority. The bishop of Ephesus has the responsibility of evaluating all teachers and declaring which are orthodox and which are not. None of the other churches in Revelation 2-3 are described as having this authority.