|WHO THEN WERE THE FIRST BISHOPS OF ROME?
As we have seen from our studies that it was Paul and not Peter who founded the Church at Rome, and IF Peter ever entered Rome, he did not do so until after the Death of Paul in 65 AD. And IF Peter did arrive in Rome, it was for just a short stay [probably as a prisoner], seeing he suffered martyrdom in about 67 AD.
Now the question begs to be asked, if Peter was not the first Bishop of the Roman Church, then who might it be? Certainly his name would be mentioned in the writings of Paul, either to the Church of Rome, or those letters he wrote from Rome.
When the Epistle to the Romans was written in about 56 AD, the scattered brethren at the time was not yet established as a congregational body, so it is not a necessity that we find his name in this epistle (Romans 1:11). But we may rightly expect to find it mentioned in the second epistle to Timothy, which was penned in 65AD, shortly before the death of Paul. The following are those of Rome of whom he names:
2 Timothy 4:21 Do thy diligence to come before winter. Eubulus greeteth thee, and Pudens, and Linus, and Claudia, and all the brethren.
Eubulus and Puden are said to be Roman brethren and Members of the Roman Senate. Claudia being the wife of Puden, a princess from the west (according to MARTIAL [Epigrams, 4.13; 11.54]). And here, as in other Epistles, Paul distinguishes the household of Caesar first (see Philippians 4:22). But who is this Linus?
Linus was a disciple of Paul and a high ranking member of the Church in Rome, as seen by his placement in Paul’s closing to Timothy. The fact that Linus was a disciple of Paul is also testified by Ignatius, who lived late in the first century [Ignatius – To the Trallians Chapter 7]
Was Linus the first Bishop of Rome?
It is testified by the earliest writers that Linus received the Bishopric of Rome from Paul, and he labored with Anacletus (Cletus), a co-presbyter. [Ignatius – To the Trallians Chapter 7]
“The blessed apostles, then, having founded and built up the Church, committed into the hands of Linus the office of the episcopate. Of this Linus, Paul makes mention in the Epistles to Timothy.” (Irenaeus book 3 chapter 3)
Even the spurious fourth century forgery “Constitution of the Holy Apostles” recognizes that Linus was ordained by Paul as the first Bishop of Rome. It states: “Of the church of Rome, Linus the son of Claudia was the first, ordained by Paul” [Book 7, Section 4]
Notice we recognize that this document is spurious, but we also realize that it was highly regarded in the late second and third century, and it contains doctrines and information which was commonly held among the churches.
Linus who was with Paul in Rome (2nd Timothy 4:21) and ordained by him, was martyred after being Bishop for fourteen years in 79 AD.
Who was the second Bishop of Rome?
After the death of Linus, his fellow laborer Anacletus received his position, Anacletus was a Gentile convert and also a disciple of Paul.
“To him succeeded Anacletus;”. (Irenaeus book 3 chapter 3)
Many of the Roman writers totally ignore the Bishopric of Anacletus, if they do not totally deny it, since he received his Bishopric in 79 AD, and held it until 92 AD by which time the Apostle Peter has met his demise. Thus destroying the doctrine of Papal succession. Please notice again there is no throne of Peter or successor of Peter mentioned. It is clearly Paul who has established the Church of Rome and ordained its first Bishop. The second Bishop being also the disciple of Paul and not Peter.
During their labors together, Linus and Anacletus, was joined by a disciple named Clement. Clement was a disciple of Paul and had probably labored in the Church at Phillipi in about 60 AD (Philippians 4:3). Eusebius calls him the “Friend of Paul” (Hist. Eccl., 3. 15), which is agreed with by Paul in Chapter four of Philippians. Not only was he a friend and a disciple of Paul, but he had probably heard the Apostle Peter speak during his former travels. When Anacletus died prior to the turn of the century (92 AD), Clement received the Bishopric of the Roman Church.
“and after him [Anacletus], in the third place from the apostles Clement was allotted the bishopric”. (Irenaeus book 3 chapter 3)
“whilst thou wast at Rome with the blessed father Linus, whom the deservedly-blessed Clement, a hearer of Peter and Paul, has now succeeded [as the third Bishop]. ” – [Ignatius to Mary at Neopolis chapter 4]
A co-presbyter with Linus and Anacletus, Clement succeeded them in the government of the Roman Church. So with this we see that the first three Bishops of Rome were disciples of Paul and not Peter. Though in an attempt to glorify the Roman Church, later writers suggest Clement was a ‘disciple’ of both Paul and Peter since it was rumored that he had heard Peter preach after his conversion, it is eminently clear that Clement was foremost a disciple of Paul, and he was actually ordained as Bishop of Rome decades after Peter had been killed. The ‘tradition’ that Clement was a disciple of Peter was not invented until over one-hundred years after his death, if not later.
The Encyclopedia Encarta tells us that Clement was Bishop “from about 92 to about 101 AD", which would mean that Clement was ordained about twenty-five years after the death of Peter.
THE EPISTLE OF CLEMENT AND OTHER WRITERS
This day we have one Epistle of Clement which is not greatly questioned for authenticity [Be warned dear reader that there are a number of forgeries in the world bearing the title of “Clement”, but only his Epistle to the Corinthians has any real merit]. Clement’s Epistle to the Corinthians was written in about 97 AD, four years before his death.
If Clement was indeed a successor to Peter, a Vicar of Christ, you would think that one could find some evidence of such a position. We thus ask: In his letter does he speak of being a Successor of Peter? Does he speak of Peter previously being the Bishop of Rome? Or does he even hint that Peter was ever in Rome?
There is absolutely no hint of either. But he actually denies that Peter was ever in Rome. Please notice the following:
“Peter, through unrighteous envy, endured not one or two, but numerous labors, and when he had at length suffered martyrdom, departed to the place of glory due to him. Owing to envy, Paul also obtained the reward of patient endurance, after being seven times thrown into captivity, compelled to flee, and stoned. After preaching both in the east and west, he gained the illustrious reputation due to his faith”. [Clement to the Corinthians chapter 5]
Clement here makes a distinction between Peter and Paul. Yes both labored and suffered, but he tells us only Paul preached in both the “East and the West”; If Peter had come west to Rome, then this distinction could not be used.
Any reader of this Epistle of Clement will notice that the things one would expect from a “Pope”, from the Prince of Bishops, as Rome says Clement was, are missing in his writings. For instance, there is no sense of Papal authority with Clement, he is writing as to an equal. There is no mention of Papal succession or of Peter’s throne, or any such doctrine that the Holy See sits in Rome! And you will notice these things to be absent from any of the so called ‘Church Fathers’ who lived and wrote before 300 AD! This list would include such men as Clement, Cyprian, Origen, Ignatius, and Martyr..etc.
Let’s for a moment consider Ignatius’ letter to the Roman Church in the late Second Century. It is utterly inconsistent with any conception on his part, that Rome was the see and residence of a bishop holding any other than fraternal relations with himself. It is very noteworthy that it is void of any expressions, that could be used by a Roman to teach the Supremacy of the Roman Bishop. He even places the Apostle Paul before Peter saying: “I not therefore by any means perfect; nor am I such a disciple as Paul or Peter.” [To the Trallians Chapter 5—Chapter 7 Exhortation To Consistency Of Conduct] This would not be appropriate if Peter was the ‘Prince of the Apostles’ as the Popish persons now teach. And the same things can be observed in the other writings of this era.
THE ONLY SANE CONCLUSION
The Scriptures teach clearly that Peter did not found the Church in Rome, but rather it was Paul; and the Bible clearly denies that Peter was in Rome prior to 65 AD, if ever. First century history testifies that Paul founded the Church of Rome and that he ordained its first Bishop, which was Linus (65AD). Linus was succeeded by Anacletus (79AD) and Anacletus was succeeded by Clement (92AD), all three being Gentiles, and all three being the disciples of Paul. Both the Bishoprics of Anacletus and Clement came AFTER the death of Peter in 67 AD.
It is clear that the churches for the first 150 years of Christianity had never heard of a Papal office, or a successor to Peter as Prince of the Church. This teaching was invented many years after the Apostles in order to ‘boost’ the power of the Roman Church, which had mingled with government and had gone headlong into Apostasy.
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