In response to Roman Apologists who have taken quotes from Scripture, the Fathers, and the Services of the Church out of context in order to claim that St. Peter ruled over the other disciples, and was infallible, I demonstrate here that an even better case can be made for the Apostle John… if one is willing to twist such quotes and ignore the Tradition of the Church.
A Roman Apologist wrote:
“I do not use this as a proof text! I refer to it as one of several words of Our Lord that could indicate a special role bestowed on Peter (and possibly his successors). This word of the Lord is unique and is spoken only to Peter. That is all I attempt to say really.”
On this basis I would like to make a case for the Primacy of St. John.
1) _Only_ Saint John is referred to as “The disciple whom Jesus loved.” (e.g. John 19:26, et al.).
2) When St. Peter wanted to know who would betray Christ, he had to go through St. John (John 13:24-26). This plainly shows that the role of St. Peter was less than that of St. John.
3) Of the Twelve, _only_ St. John was present at the crucifixion.
4) Christ entrusted the care of His Mother _only_ to St. John – and since the Mother of God is in more ways than one symbolic of the Church (see Rev. 12) what can this mean but that he entrusted the care of the Church _only_ to St. John.
5) Christ saw fit to reveal the end times _only_ to St. John.
In response to some citations from the service to Ss. Peter and Paul, which speak highly of St. Peter:
“Here we see the clincher:
“On the rock of thy theology hath Jesus the Master established the Church unshakably, and therein we glorify thee, O Apostle Peter.” (Matins canon, ode 3)!”
1) This service was almost certainly composed in Greek, and so quite naturally (according to the standard practice of Orthodox Hymnody) this service makes many allusions to and plays on St. Peter’s name, which in Greek means “rock”. Likewise the service for St. Athanasius, makes much of the meaning of his name in Greek, “Resurrection”, and so he is called “the namesake of immortality”, etc. Either the troparion or Kontakion of St. Benedict (the patron of my first parish), likewise says “Thou didst prove true to thy name, for thou wast the son of benediction.”
2) I looked at the service of my patron saint (St. John the Apostle) last night, and as I suspected, I found similar exalted language in reference to him:
Doxasticon at small vespers (May 8th):
“Come of ye faithful, and let us bless the ever memorable John, the foremost of the Apostles, the clarion of theology, the spiritual General who hath subdued all the world under God….”
Doxasticon at Great Vespers:
“…. Let us offer goodly praise as is meet to the beloved virginal John, the son of thunder, the foundation of the words of God, the author of theology, the first preacher of the truth of the dogmas of the wisdom of God….”
3) I also looked at the service for Ss. Peter and Paul last night, and interestingly, after one of the hymns cited by David yesterday, there was the following theotokion (roughly… citing this one from memory):
“All my hope I place in thee, O Theotokos, guard me under the shelter of thy protection”.
Essentially the same prayer is also found at the end of the evening prayers, but two prayers latter we prayer:
“My hope is the Father, my refuge is the Son, and my protection is the Holy Spirit, O Holy Trinity Glory to Thee”.
Obviously, “All my hope” in the first prayer cannot be taken to me that our hope is limited to the Theotokos — but rather speaks of a complete and undoubting confidence. However, taken out of context, one certainly could misinterpret this prayer.
“Yes, both St Peter and St Paul are *together* called “Chiefs of the Apostles” (after all this is a joint feast, is it not?)”
Yes, but there is danger in an approach that would say that this title applies to St. Paul only because it was a joint feast.
“The particular citation above calls St Peter the “preeminent disciple.” Does that establish the papacy? Of course not. I never suggested that. In fact, this thread has been on whether Peter is the Rock of Matthew 16. That’s a narrow focus. I cited the other texts from the Eastern liturgical texts which allude to a `preeminence’ for St Peter as corroborating the application of Rock to him.”
But you have to explain why we should take these statements about St. Peter more literally than the statements I have provided about St. John the Apostle from St. John Chrysostom and from his May 8th feast day.
[And here are the quotes from St. John Chrysostom:
“For the son of thunder, the beloved of Christ, the pillar of the Churches throughout the world, who holds the keys of heaven, who drank the cup of Christ, and was baptized with His baptism, who lay upon his Master’s bosom with much confidence, this man comes forward to us now…. By this Apostle stand the powers from above, marveling at the beauty of his soul, and his understanding, and the bloom of that virtue by which he drew unto him Christ Himself, and obtained the grace of the Spirit. For he hath made ready his soul, as some well-fashioned and jeweled lyre with strings of gold, and yielded it for the utterance of something great and sublime to the Spirit” (St. John Chrysostom, First Homily on the Gospel of St. John).
“Were John about to converse with us, and to say to us words of his own, we needs must describe his family, his country, and his education. But since it is not he, but God by him, that speaks to mankind, it seems to me superfluous and distracting to enquire into these matters. And yet even thus it is not superfluous, but even very necessary. For when you have learned who he was, and from whence, who his parents, and what his character, and then hear his voice and all his heavenly wisdom, then you shall know right well that these (doctrines) belong not to him, but to the Divine power stirring his soul…. Not so this fisherman; for all he saith is infallible; and standing as it were upon a rock, he never shifts his ground. For since he has been thought worthy to be in the most secret places, and has the Lord of all speaking within him, he is subject to nothing that is human” (St. John Chrysostom, Second Homily on the Gospel of St. John). ]