By Keith Thompson
This is a response to a recent video put out by Sedevacantist Romish apologist Peter Dimond. In his video “Stunning: Acts 15 Proves the Papacy,” he offers several arguments, not limited to the Acts 15 issue, in an attempt to prove the Catholic papacy is biblical. We will be critiquing these arguments. We will deal with the last argument first.
Acts 15 and 1 Chronicles 28
The main argument of this video is that the Acts 15 council in Jerusalem is supposedly foreshadowed by an assembly in 1 Chronicles 28 where David stands up and speaks (1 Chronicles 28:2). Therefore, since Peter stood up and spoke first at the Acts 15 council (Acts 15:7), he must fulfill David’s role as leader of the kingdom.
Dimond argues the assembly in 1 Chronicles 28:11-12 discussing how to build the temple of God is similar to Acts 15 allegedly speaking on how to build the new temple, i.e., the church. Dimond claims in Acts 15:16 James’s quotation of Amos 9:11, which mentions the tent of David, refers to the tabernacle housing the Ark of the Covenant prior to the construction of the temple, and thus he believes Acts 15 purposefully included a reference to the temple in order to connect itself with the assembly in 1 Chronicles 28 (since it also mentioned the temple). However, the tent or tabernacle mentioned in Amos 9:11 James quoted from is not referring to the tent in which the Ark of the Covenant was housed prior to the construction of the temple. World renowned Acts scholar David G. Peterson notes that the tent in Amos 9:11 “. . .refers to the restoration of the ‘house’ or family of David. . . Amos 9:11 LXX has skene (‘tent’), instead of ‘tabernacle, tent, hut’, conveying the sense of shelter rather than permanent abode” (David G. Peterson, Acts of the Apostles, ed. D. A. Carson, The Pillar New Testament Commentary, [Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2009], p. 431). This is about David’s line being restored. It is not about the temple. The other world renowned scholar I. Howard Marshall agrees and rejects the idea that its about the temple (I. Howard Marshall, Acts, eds. D. A. Carson, G. K. Beale, Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament, [Baker Academic, 2007], p. 590). Dimond’s idea of Amos 9:11 referring to a temple of David makes no sense since Solomon built the temple, not David. Thus, Dimond’s attempt to insert the idea of the temple into Acts 15 in order to connect it to the temple mentioned in 1 Chronicles 28 fails.
Secondly, what took place in 1 Chronicles 28 was not a council. A council is where multiple people offer input to each other and come to conclusions. This is not what happened in 1 Chronicles 28. There David just assembled his officials, officers and commanders telling them what he planned to do. David was the only one who spoke at this event from vv. 2-10 and then it was over. Acts 15 was actually a council on the other hand. James, Paul, Barnabas, Peter and the elders all “gathered together to consider this matter” (Acts 15:6). Each spoke giving their piece and reached conclusions. Again, that is not at all what happened in 1 Chronicles 28. It was a leader telling his brass what was going to take place which is very different.
Thirdly, if we accept this parallel for a second, there is something interesting to note that further refutes Dimond. In 1 Chronicles 28:2 after David stands to speak he says, “Hear me, my brothers and my people.” This is quite similar to James’ opening remarks at the Acts 15 council where in v. 13 he says “Brothers, listen to me.” Therefore, this must mean both James and Peter fulfill the role of David as equal leaders of the kingdom since they both mimic his patterns. This is further proved by James and not Peter giving the final decision of the council in v. 19 and concluding it when he says, “Therefore my judgment is that we should not trouble those of the Gentiles who turn to God. . .” (Acts 15:19). So even if this parallel is adopted it refutes papal primacy and shows James is on the same level as Peter!
Lastly, this is not something Dimond’s church has affirmed about 1 Chronicles 28. This is interesting since Dimond and other papists often accuse Christians of private interpretation and claim private interpretation is bad. In fact, by offering his private interpretation of 1 Chronicles 28, Dimond rebels against his pope, Pope Pius IV, who, in Iniunctum Nobis mentions, “. . . Holy Mother Church . . . whom it belongs to judge of the true meaning and interpretation of the Sacred Scriptures” (Pius IV, Iniunctum Nobis, ). And since in this video Dimond boasts that, with regards to his Acts 15 argument, “I’ve never seen this point made before by anyone,” one has to question his true commitment to holding to the pope’s interpretations.
See my essay Biblical Evidence Against Peter being Pope for a refutation of the other erroneous arguments papists raise to falsely claim the Acts 15 council proves Peter was the pope.
In the video Dimond starts off saying,
“. . . Jesus gives Simon the new name 'Peter' which means 'rock,' says that he will build his church upon him, says that he will give him the keys of the kingdom of heaven, says that whatever he binds upon earth will be bound in heaven, and says that whatever he looses upon earth will be loosed in heaven.”
However, he does not explain why he thinks any of this proves the fundamental components of papal primacy. He just lists things the text says and assumes they support such tenets. However, firstly, he is wrong about Jesus giving Simon the name Peter here. R.T. France notes that Peter’s name: “. . .is not now given for the first time, for Matthew has used it throughout in preference to ‘Simon’ (which never occurs without ‘Peter’ until v. 17), and Mark 3:16 and John 1:42 indicate that it was given at an earlier stage” (R.T. France, The Gospel According to Matthew, TNTC, [William B. Eerdmans, 1985], p. 254).
Also, Peter being called the rock upon which the church is build means Jesus used Peter as a foundation to build or grow the church through Peter’s preaching. This is why Peter was such a prominent preacher in Acts, building or growing the church in number. It is in that sense Peter is the rock upon which the church is “built.” See our essay Does Matthew 16 Teach Peter was Pope? for a full exegetical and historical case proving this.
In regards to Peter being given the keys of the kingdom of heaven and binding and loosing, we prove in that essay this has to do with Peter unlocking the door of the kingdom. His keys of the kingdom signify him opening the door and admitting new converts into the kingdom through his preaching. Peter thus binds and looses people into the kingdom with these keys (D.A. Carson, Matthew, Frank E. Gaebelein, ed. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 8, [Zondervan, 1984], p. 372). Binding and loosing is what one does with keys. How does this prove the papacy? All it proves is Peter was used mightily in the growth or building of the church through his powerful evangelism to the lost. If this text shows prominence it shows prominence in church growing through preaching.
Lastly, Dimond is incorrect since the Greek does not say whatever Peter binds and looses will then be bound or loosed in heaven, as if God has to obey Peter. Instead, the Greek literally says whatever Peter binds and looses will have already been bound and loosed in heaven. In other words, when Peter binds and looses the door of the kingdom with his keys admitting new converts through preaching, such people, in God’s eyes, are meant to enter, as it were. As Gundry notes, “Will have been bound in heaven” and “will have been loosed in heaven” indicates Peter’s binding and loosening will have already been determined in heaven” (Robert Gundry, Commentary on the New Testament, [Hendrickson Publishers, 2010], p. 73). So, far from supporting papalism, this actually supports the Calvinist view of predestination.
This general understanding of Matthew 16 we have enunciated (which is a clear rejection of the papist understanding) was held by early church writers such as Tertullian, Maximus of Turin and Peter Chrysologus. It is also held by serious contemporary exegetes such as D. A. Carson, Leon Morris, R. T. France, and Frederick Dale Bruner. Thus, this is not simply this writer’s view of Matthew 16, but an historical and popular view of today among scholars.
“There is also Luke chapter 22. There Jesus speaks to his apostles about his kingdom, meaning the church of God on earth. In Luke 22:29 Jesus says, ‘and I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom.’ In the context of discussing that kingdom, how it will be structured, and who will be the greatest in it, see Luke 22:24-25, Jesus singles out saint Peter from the rest of the apostles. In Luke 22:31-32 Jesus says, ‘Simon, Simon, behold, Satan has desired to have all of you, that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you, that your faith fail not. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.’ It’s important to note that when Jesus says here, ‘Satan desired to have you,’ the ‘you’ is in the plural. This is clear in the original Greek text even though it’s not clear in many English translations. Satan desired to have all the apostles, plural, Jesus says. But Jesus prayed for Simon Peter alone, singular, that his faith fail not. According to Jesus, Saint Peter, the one who will receive the keys of the kingdom of heaven, will also have an unfailing faith. Jesus only says this about Saint Peter, separating him from the rest. Jesus makes this guarantee about Saint Peter in the context of discussing how his kingdom will be structured and who will be the greatest in it. The promise of Saint Peter’s unfailing faith is connected with infallibility in the office of Saint Peter. That promise is known as papal infallibility.”
When Dimond claims the kingdom of God or heaven Jesus referred to is the Catholic Church, this is misleading. The kingdom Jesus ushered in refers to God’s rule and sovereignty in both grace and power. The Old Testament envisioned a time when YHWH would trample the nations (Obadiah 1:15) and literally rule on the earth forever (Daniel 2:44-45). Jesus ushered this in with a two-stage implementation. First, there is God’s rule or sovereignty through grace and the person of Christ in the heart of man. Then, as this seed grows it culminates with the second coming where God’s full sovereign rule in power comes into being. This is the second stage of the kingdom. This is when God literally tramples the nations and sets up a world kingdom ruling the earth in the New Jerusalem. As George Eldon Ladd notes,
“The kingdom has come among men but not with power which compels every knee to bow before its glory; it is rather like seed cast on the ground which may be fruitful or unfruitful depending on its reception (Matt. 13:3-8). The kingdom has come, but the present order is not disrupted; the sons of the kingdom and the sons of the evil one grow together in the world until the harvest (Matt. 13:24-30; 36-43). The kingdom of God has indeed come to men, not as a new glorious order, but like the proverbial mustard seed. However, its insignificance must not be despised. The same kingdom will one day be a great tree (Matt. 13:31-32)” (George Eldon Ladd, “Kingdom of Christ, God, Heaven,” in Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, pp. 609-610).
So, to say the kingdom of God or heaven simply refers to the Catholic Church is misleading and too simplistic. The fact Jesus in John 18:36 said, “my kingdom is not of this world” proves the kingdom is not the Catholic Church as Dimond claims, but is more sophisticated than that. And the fact that in Luke 17:21 Jesus says “the kingdom of God is within you” further proves the kingdom is not the Catholic Church.
In regards to Dimond claiming Jesus affirmed Peter was the leader of the kingdom in Luke 22:24-32, why is it if the apostles knew of the papacy does Luke 22:24 say, “A dispute also arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest.” Shouldn’t the apostles have already known Peter was the greatest since, prior to this, he was allegedly promised he would be pope and leader of the kingdom in Matthew 16 with universal jurisdiction?
Also, to claim Jesus singles Peter out in v. 31 because he was to be leader of the kingdom is false, since, what do you do with v. 29 where it says Jesus assigned all the apostles the kingdom? That means they are all the leaders.
The reason Jesus goes onto single Peter out in vv. 31-32 was not because he was to be leader of the kingdom, but because Jesus knew that very night Peter was going to betray him and have his faith shaken as the same chapter goes onto mention in Luke 22:54-62 (cf. Mark 14:72; John 20:20). This is why Peter was singled out. Jesus was telling Peter even though he would deny Him, He is praying Peter’s faith won’t totally fail or give out, and that when Peter turns back to Christ after denying him, he is to strengthen his brothers who go through similar experiences.
Peter’s faith not failing has nothing to do with papal infallibility. Instead, as Walter L. Liefeld notes, it means Jesus prayed that night Peter’s faith “‘may not give out’ or ‘may not disappear completely’ (as the sun in a total eclipse)” (Walter Liefeld, Luke, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Vol. 8, Frank E. Gaebelein, ed. [Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1984], p. 1029). This has to do with Peter’s faith or trust in God after denying Him, not his beliefs about theology. Hence, it has nothing to do with papal infallibility which does deal with theology. The Reformed scholar Keith Mathison observed,
“Jesus prays that Peter’s faith will not fail during the temptation that is about to come that very night. There is absolutely nothing explicit or implicit in the text concerning the faith of potential successors of Peter. Nor is there anything in the text even remotely suggesting that Jesus’ prayer involved the bestowal of any gift of infallibility upon either Peter or any successors. A prayer that Peter’s faith will not fail in a specific coming test simply does not entail infallibility (Keith Mathison, The Shape of Sola Scriptura, [Canon Press, 2011], p. 192).
With regard to how the early church writers interpreted Luke 22:32’s statement that Peter’s faith would not fail and that Peter was to strengthen his brothers, they did not teach what Dimond now teaches. Brian Tierney noted,
“The scriptural text most commonly cited in favor of papal infallibility is Luke 22.32. There is no lack of patristic commentary on the text. None of the Fathers interpreted it as meaning that Peter’s successors were infallible (Brian Tierney, Origins of Papal Infallibility, [Leiden: Brill, 1972], p. 11).
Dimond goes on,
“John chapter 21 records that after his resurrection Jesus appeared to Peter and to a number of other apostles. Jesus then singles out Saint Peter once again and entrusts his entire flock to him. Jesus tells Saint Peter to ‘feed my lambs’ and ‘tend my sheep’ and ‘feed my sheep.’ The sheep are the Christians, the members of his church (see John 10:11 and numerous other passages). That means in John 21:15-17 Jesus entrusts his entire flock to Saint Peter and commands him to feed and govern it. In fact in John 21:16, the second of Jesus’ three commands to Peter, he uses the word poimaine. Poimaine is the present imperative active second person singular of the verb poimainō which means 'I shepherd, tend or rule.' The verb poimainō is repeatedly used in the book of Revelation to express Jesus’ own authority to rule. For example, Revelation 2:27, ‘he shall rule them with a rod of iron. . .’ And Revelation 12:5, ‘She gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron. . .’ Jesus uses the very same verb in John 21:16 when commanding Saint Peter to tend or rule the flock because Saint Peter would be the first pope.”
Now, is Dimond correct here that Peter was singled out because he was being elevated as pope above the other apostles? This must be answered in the negative according to the text. This text concerns the reinstatement of Peter as feeder and shepherd of the sheep on an equal level with the other apostles, not an elevation to the role of supreme leader with universal jurisdiction. Peter was singled out here and told to feed or shepherd Christ’s sheep, not because Peter was being exalted in a papal sense, but because preceding this event Peter had denied Christ three times (Mark 14:72) as predicted by Jesus (Mark 14:30). Peter was therefore singled out because he needed special pastoral care and restoration from Jesus after this betrayal. That is why Jesus asked Peter if he loved him three times. In place of Peter’s previous triple denial, Christ now gives Peter the threefold question: do you love me? This replaced Peter’s triple denial with a triple confession of love and loyalty. Peter was thus restored functionally when told by Jesus to feed His sheep, something all the apostles do. Although Peter did not officially lose his office as apostle or his faith by denying Christ three times, Peter was nevertheless extremely distraught for denying Christ to the point to where he broke down and wept bitterly in Mark 14:72 and needed to be made glad again as John 20:20 shows. Thus, Peter in John 21:15-17 needed that reinstatement and forgiving reassurance that he was still worthy to feed and shepherd Jesus’ people as the other apostles did. Merrill C. Tenney observes Jesus’ three-fold command to Peter concerning feeding and shepherding his sheep:
“. . .does not necessarily give Peter the sole responsibility for the oversight of Christ’s followers; all of his spiritually mature disciples were called to be shepherds (cf. 1 Peter 5:2). This challenge to Peter demanded a total renewal of his loyalty and reaffirmed his responsibilities” (Merrill C. Tenney, John, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary with the New International Version, ed., Frank E. Gaebelein, [Zondervan, 1981], p. 202).
The fifth century Bishop Cyril of Alexandria agreed:
“And what is the meaning of the words, Feed my Lambs, and the like? We reply, that the inspired Peter had indeed already been elected, together with the other disciples, to be an Apostle of God, but, when the events connected with the plot of the Jews against Him came to pass, his fall came betwixt; for the inspired Peter was seized with uncontrollable fear, and he thrice denied the Lord . . . Therefore, by his thrice-repeated confession the thrice-repeated denial of the blessed Peter was done away with, and by the saying of our Lord, ‘Feed my lambs,’ we must understand a renewal as it were of the apostleship, already given unto him. . .” (Cyril of Jerusalem, Commentary on John, Book 12 italics mine).
Dimond claims the Greek word for shepherd in v. 16 (Gk. Poimaine) carries the meaning of ruling with power like Jesus in Revelation. However, not only does Paul in Acts 20:28 command the Ephesian Bishops to poimainō the church or shepherd the church (same Greek word used), but Peter himself in 1 Peter 5:2 commands the elect exiles of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia to poimainō the flock of God or shepherd the flock of God exercising oversight (same Greek word used).
Dimond then goes on to offer various alleged proofs for the papacy such as Peter being named more than the other apostles, Peter leading the church in replacing Judas in Acts chapter 1, Peter speaking for the church at Pentecost in Acts chapter 2, Peter working the first miraculous healing after the ascension, Peter answering for the church before the high priest in Acts 4, Peter meting out the discipline to Ananias and Sapphira, and Peter being listed first in New Testament lists of apostles. He also mentions how in Acts 10 the first Gentile convert is told to find Peter.
However, these things do nothing to establish the five essential components papal primacy is built on. That is, Peter having universal jurisdiction, giving ex cathedra statements, ratifying councils making them dogmatic, having supreme authority on church discipline and government, and interpreting Scripture and tradition for the church. What they do prove, however, is Peter had what Protestant scholars have long called a “salvation-historical-primacy.” This is a historical prominence belonging to Peter in regards to him being first called, speaking for the church, being a leading evangelist, and being named the most in the New Testament etc. This “salvation-historical-primacy,” however, does nothing to prove Romish papal primacy, since again, it doesn’t validate the five essential components of papal primacy we mentioned. It only proves Peter was prominent. Protestants agree.
In regards to Peter leading the Acts 1 selection of the replacement apostle after Judas was gone, this text actually refutes papal primacy. Although Peter led the opening of the situation because he is prominent, he did not exercise supreme power on this matter of church government the way he should have were papalism true. After all, Vatican I gives the pope that very authority (Vatican I, bull Pastor Aeternus). Acts 1:23-26 refutes papal primacy:
"And they put forward two, Joseph called Barsabbas, who was also called Justus, and Matthias. And they prayed and said, ‘You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen to take the place in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.’ And they cast lots for them, and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles" (Acts 1:23-26).
Instead of Peter acting as pope on this matter of church government, all of the apostles put forward the two candidates, not Peter. Then all of the Apostles prayed to Christ for an answer. They did not look to Peter for an answer. Then they all casted lots to see who the new apostle would be. Peter did not cast lots. This text clearly refutes Rome’s claim the pope has power over church government.
Also, the “Peter’s frequency equals papal primacy” argument advanced by Dimond is soundly refuted by the Apostle Paul’s frequency. Using the same sort of criteria, Paul’s frequency must also prove he is the pope. In the book of Acts we see more attention given to the Apostle Paul than to the Apostle Peter. Acts grants to the Apostle Peter special attention only from chapters 1-12 and once more in chapter 15. However, the Apostle Paul is granted attention all through out and in between chapters 7-28! In fact, after Acts 15:11 there is no mention of Peter in any of the next 13 chapters! So much for “Pope Peter." Instead, the focus shifts to Paul’s ministry and he is granted major attention. Moreover, Paul wrote 13 letters in the New Testament. That is more than anyone else. Peter only wrote 2 epistles and one Gospel is based on his eyewitness testimony, that is, Mark.
Yes Peter was prominent, but Dimond has not proven he had Romanism’s papal primacy in regards to those five components.
I want to end this by giving Peter Dimond the gospel. It is clear Dimond is afraid to debate me on the papacy even though he said he was interested in doing so in the past. So all I can do is try to reach him in these kinds of presentations. The reason he believes and teaches so many false ideas is because he is not a Christian with God’s Spirit guiding him. He is not right with God. The way someone becomes right with God is by repenting and believing or trusting in the gospel (Mark 1:15; Romans 1:16). 1 Corinthians 15:1-6 says the gospel to be believed in is Christ’s death and resurrection for sins. Once that is trusted in or relied on for forgiveness (something Dimond and other Catholics do not do since they also rely on their works as leading to forgiveness), Jesus’ sacrifice gets applied to the person wiping away their sin and justifying them in God’s sight. Romans 3:25 says God put forward Christ as a propitious sacrifice to be received by faith. By faith or trust in the gospel alone, Jesus’ atonement gets applied to you expiating your sin and propitiating the Father’s wrath from you. This is how you get justified. This is why Romans 5:1 says we’re justified by faith. It is my prayer Dimond will do this and become a Christian. Then he won’t have to defend the errors, lies and abominations of the satanic Romish system.