From Issue: Discovery 2/1/2004

The Catholic Church claims to have its beginning when Jesus spoke to Peter in Matthew 16:18. Catholics claim that Jesus built His church on Peter. But Jesus actually built His church on what Peter said—that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. The original church of Christ that Jesus built had its beginning after His resurrection in about A.D. 30 in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2). Over the next few years, sev-eral local churches were established in the first century in cities around the Roman empire, including Rome, Corinth, Ephesus, Colosse, Philippi, and Thessalonica. These local congregations, in spite of their faults, were New Testament churches, each independent and self-governing. They were not Protestant denominations; nor were they Catholic churches.

But after the first century, changes began to be made in how some churches were organized. Even though all of the apostles of Jesus were dead, some men began to view themselves as successors to the apostles. Finally, one man, named Boniface, claimed to be the “universal bishop” in A.D. 608. The Latin word “papa,” or pope, was used to refer to the one man who would rule over all the churches on Earth. A big split happened in A.D. 1054. The eastern churches became known as the Greek Orthodox Church, while the western churches became the Roman Catholic Church.

As Roman Catholicism developed, many changes were made that differed from the church that Jesus built, and from His original pattern for New Testament Christianity. Now the Roman Catholic Church has priests and nuns, bishops, archbishops, and cardinals. But the Bible teaches that the church is to have elders, deacons, preachers, teachers, and members. Every Christian is a priest (Revelation 1:6). Catholics worship Mary (Jesus’ earthly mother) as the “mother of God,” and they even worship some people as “saints.” But the Bible teaches that every Christian is a saint (1 Corinthians 1:2). Catholics practice many other traditions that are not found in the New Testament.

Jesus warned that some men would worship Him in vain and teach as doctrine the commandments of men (Matthew 15:9). If we want to be right with God, we must go back to the Bible. We must not rely on what mere men tell us. We must get God’s Word directly from Him. We can only get His Word from the Bible.


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