Q. Where in Scripture does the Catholic Church get the idea of a Pope?
A. In several places.
In the Old Testament, after God brought Israel out of Egypt, He provided for a living, continuing authority in the Levitical priesthood.
2 Chronicles 19:11 “Amariah the chief priest will be over you in any matter concerning the LORD, and Zebadiah son of Ishmael, the leader of the tribe of Judah, will be over you in any matter concerning the king, and the Levites will serve as officials before you.”
Malachi 2:7 “For the lips of a priest ought to preserve knowledge, and from his mouth men should seek instruction—because he is the messenger of the LORD Almighty.
God gave the Israelites guidance through the various offices in the Old Testament (Moses, Joshua, Priests, Judges, Kings, and Prophets); all mere men subject to sin. So, it makes sense that He would also give men guidance in the New Covenant and not leave it up to each individual to try to figure out how to please God by reading the Bible. All of the infallible Old Testament books were written by men in these various positions of authority by the inspiration and grace of God.
And again, all of the infallible New Testament books were written by mere men in positions of authority in the Church. All Christians believe that the books of the Bible are infallible, written by men subject to sin. So, on what basis would anyone doubt that God could and would continue, for all of time, to inspire one Bishop in order to guide and teach the Church infallibly?
After all He is the Good Shepherd. And a Good Shepherd does not lead the sheep to a pasture and then let them wander all over the place on their own having to fend for themselves against predators. No, He leads and protects his sheep. The Bible alone is like a green pasture full of good food to eat. But, as we have seen the Protestant sects have splintered into over 40,000 groups over the years without the concrete guidance of Christ through His chosen representative.
We believe God leads His sheep through the Bishop of Rome, the Pope. But not only that, all the bishops of the world together and under the authority and in agreement with the pope are also able to infallibly teach and guide the Church established by Jesus Christ in her councils.
Matthew 16:18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hell will not overcome it.
Jesus specifically appointed Simon Peter to be the first Pope in Matthew 16. (CCC869)
Matthew 16:13-19 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”
They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter,and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
The phrase “keys of the kingdom” is an idiom meaning “you have all authority in my Name” The keys symbolize the authority given to the chief official–the Prime Minister–of the Kingdom, as in Isaiah 22:19-22. Also, in the Isaiah passage the Prime Minister is a father figure and the word Pope is simply Italian for “Papa”. So, Christ is the King of Heaven and the Pope is His earthly representative.
Binding and loosing, opening and shutting are Hebrew idioms meaning the authority to rule. And this authority Jesus also gave to the other apostles, our first bishops in order to rule the Church. But, He only gave Peter the Keys of the Kingdom.
THE FIRST CHURCH COUNCIL
In Acts 15 we see the early Church dealing with the first controversy. Since God had commanded his people to be circumcised many, especially the Jewish Christians, argued that all must be circumcised. Others argued that circumcision was no longer necessary. Looking to scripture alone there was no reason to think circumcision would ever pass away. So, Paul and Barnabas decide to go to Jerusalem (the location of Authority–Peter and other Apostles –at that time).
So, a meeting was called to consider the question of the circumcision of the Gentiles. Everyone was discussing the question. But after a while PETER STOOD UP and proclaimed that the Gentiles were saved by grace which God also had poured out on the uncircumcised. In a delicate non-combative way Peter decides not to place the yoke of circumcision on the Gentiles.
Everyone was silent…..
Then James, proclaims how the decision of Peter will be applied in a practical way to the Gentiles. Just as our bishops today apply to their people the decisions of the Pope and the councils.
If Peter had not been give the authority to rule the Church and stop circumcision then he was guilty of nullifying the law of God in Genesis 17:9-19 where circucision is said to be “throughout their generations” and an “everlasting covenant”.