Apostate church organization: 451-588AD: The reign of the 5 Patriarchs. This was a departure from the simple bible blueprint of a group of equal elders (presbyters) governing only within their own local church.
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The Historical Development of the Papal and Patriarchal Systems of Centralized Church Government.

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John Paul II
Catholic, Bishop of Rome, Pope

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Click to ViewOutline: 33-150 AD
Click to ViewOutline: 150-250 AD
Click to ViewOutline: 250-451 AD
Click to ViewOutline: 588-606 AD
Click to ViewOutline: 606 AD-Today
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Orthodox, Archbishop of Constantinople, New Rome and Ecumenical Patriarch

451-588 AD The Period of the 5 Patriarch and the development of Papal power

A. Our comments and observations:

  1. At the beginning of this period, we have 5 equal "mother churches". At the end of the period, we have the bishop of Rome claiming to be the "Pope" or "Universal Bishop" who alone controlled the church world wide in the west.
  2. Pope Leo, in protesting the fourth ecumenical council, held at Chalcedon in 451, started to make bold claims of Papal power that were ignored by most.
  3. In 590 AD, Gregory acted like a Pope, but denounced the title of Universal Bishop. Two popes later in 606 AD, Boniface III is the first Roman bishop to both act like a Pope and take the name Universal Bishop.
  4. It was truly a power struggle between west (Rome) and east (Constantinople). Claims of universal power were made first by the bishop of Constantinople calling himself the "Universal Bishop", but were quickly renounced by the bishop of Rome as arrogant and paving the way for the "Anti-Christ. Yet a few years later, the new bishop of Rome takes, for the first time, the title of "Universal Bishop". This power grab finally split East and West, creating the Roman Catholic church and the Greek Orthodox church.

B. 452 AD: What Pope Leo I actually said: (Strong claims he was the successor of the chair of Peter. Of course the whole concept of a permanent successor of Peter is unbiblical and a product of the imagination of the Bishops of Rome.)

  1. "After the council fourth ecumenical, the Roman bishop, Leo, himself protested in three letters of the 22nd May, 452, the first of which was addressed to the emperor Marcian, the second to the empress Pulcheria, the third to Anatolius, patriarch of Constantinople." (Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, book 3, chapter 5)
  2. "The connection of the whole body makes all alike healthy, all alike beautiful: and this connection requires the unanimity indeed of the whole body, but it especially demands harmony among the priests. And though they have a common dignity, yet they have not uniform rank; inasmuch as even among the blessed Apostles, notwithstanding the similarity of their honourable estate, there was a certain distinction of power, and while the election of them all was equal, yet it was given to one to take the lead of the rest. From which model has arisen a distinction between bishops also, and by an important ordinance it has been provided that every one should not claim everything for himself: but that there should be in each province one whose opinion should have the priority among the brethren: and again that certain whose appointment is in the greater cities should undertake a fuller responsibility, through whom the care of the universal Church should converge towards Peter's one seat, and nothing anywhere should be separated from its Head. Let not him then who knows he has been set over certain others take it ill that some one has been set over him, but let him himself render the obedience which he demands of them" (Leo I, Letter XIV. To Anastasius, Bishop of Thessalonica, XII. In Case of Difference of Opinion Between the Vicar and the Bishops, the Bishop of Rome Must Be Consulted. The Subordination of Authorities in the Church Expounded.)
  3. "the Lord wished to be indeed the concern of all the apostles, but in such a way that He has placed the principal charge on the blessed Peter, chief of all the Apostles: and from him as from the Head wishes His gifts to flow to all the body: so that any one who dares to secede from Peter's solid rock may understand that he has no part or lot in the divine mystery. For He wished him who had been received into partnership in His undivided unity to be named what He Himself was, when He said: "Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church:" that the building of the eternal temple by the wondrous gift of God's grace might rest on Peter's solid rock: strengthening His Church so surely that neither could human rashness assail it nor the gates of hell prevail against it. (Leo I, Letter X. To the Bishops of the Province of Vienne. In the Matter of Hilary, Bishop of Arles, I. The Solidarity of the Church Built Upon the Rack of S. Peter Must Be Everywhere Maintained.)

B. 452 AD: What scholars say about Pope Leo I: (440-461 AD)

  1. Pope Leo is an historical marker, for he is the first bishop of Rome to that has any similarity with modern popes. That Pope Leo I was never called "universal Bishop", is an historic fact, even though Gregory I, would make the inaccurate claim that Leo was called "universal Bishop". A year after the fourth ecumenical council (Chalcedon 451 AD) gave more power to Constantinople, Pope Leo protests, by appealing solely to the first ecumenical council at Nice, while completely ignoring the power granted Constantinople in the second ecumenical council, which was confirmed in the fourth ecumenical council only a year before. Leo argues his power is rooted in the primacy of Peter, not that Rome was the capital city of the empire.
  2. "During the time of his pontificate he was almost the only great man in the Roman empire, developed extraordinary activity, and took a leading part in all the affairs of the church. His private life is entirely unknown, and we have no reason to question the purity of his motives or of his morals. His official zeal, and all his time and strength, were devoted to the interests of Christianity. But with him the interests of Christianity were identical with the universal dominion of the Roman church." (Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, book 3, chapter 5)
  3. "The title "Universal Bishop" had before been used in flattery by oriental patriarchs, and the later Roman bishops bore it, in spite of the protest of Gregory I., without scruple. The statement of popes Gregory I. and Leo IX., that the council of Chalcedon conferred on the Roman bishop Leo the title of universal episcopus, [universal bishop] and that he rejected it, is erroneous. No trace of it can be found either in the Acts of the councils or in the epistles of Leo." (Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, book 3, chapter 5)
  4. "But the first pope, in the proper sense of the word, is Leo I., who justly bears the title of "the Great" in the history of the Latin hierarchy. In him the idea of the Papacy, as it were, became flesh and blood." (Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, book 3, chapter 5)
  5. "Still less successful was his effort to establish his primacy in the East, and to prevent his rival at Constantinople from being elevated, by the famous twenty-eighth canon of Chalcedon [451 AD], to official equality with himself. His earnest protest against that decree produced no lasting effect." (Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, book 3, chapter 5)
  6. "He marks the same relative epoch in the development of the papacy, as Cyprian in the history of the episcopate. He had even a higher idea of the prerogatives of the see of Rome than Gregory the Great, who, though he reigned a hundred and fifty years later, represents rather the patriarchal idea than the papal." (Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, book 3, chapter 5)
  7. "He [Leo] battled with the Manichaean, the Priscillianist, the Pelagian, and other heresies, and won an immortal name as the finisher of the orthodox doctrine of the person of Christ" (Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, book 3, chapter 5)
  8. "Leo thus made out of a primacy of grace and of personal fitness a primacy of right and of succession. Of his person, indeed, he speaks in his sermons with great humility, but only thereby the more to exalt his official character. He tells the Romans, that the true celebration of the anniversary of his accession is, to recognize, honor, and obey, in his lowly person, Peter himself, who still cares for shepherd and flock, and whose dignity is not lacking even to his unworthy heir. Here, therefore, we already have that characteristic combination of humility and arrogance, which has stereotyped itself in the expressions: "Servant of the servants of God," "vicar of Christ," and even "God upon earth." In this double consciousness of his personal unworthiness and his official exaltation, Leo annually celebrated the day of his elevation to the chair of Peter. While Peter himself passes over his prerogative in silence, and expressly warns against hierarchical assumption, Leo cannot speak frequently and emphatically enough of his authority. While Peter in Antioch meekly submits to the rebuke of the junior apostle Paul, Leo pronounces resistance to his authority to be impious pride and the sure way to hell. Obedience to the pope is thus necessary to salvation. Whosoever, says he, is not with the apostolic see, that is, with the head of the body, whence all gifts of grace descend throughout the body, is not in the body of the church, and has no part in her grace." (Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, book 3, chapter 5)

C. 492 AD: Jerome: Openly states that bishops and elders are the same thing in the apostolic age. Jerome could see what his Bible told him about bishops and elders just as well as it tells us today!

  1. "For when the apostle clearly teaches that presbyters are the same as bishops, must not a mere server of tables and of widows be insane to set himself up arrogantly over men through whose prayers the body and blood of Christ are produced? Do you ask for proof of what I say? Listen to this passage: "Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi with the bishops and deacons." Do you wish for another instance? In the Acts of the Apostles Paul thus speaks to the priests of a single church: "Take heed unto yourselves and to all the flock, in the which the Holy Ghost hath made you bishops, to feed the church of God which He purchased with His own blood." And lest any should in a spirit of contention argue that there must then have been more bishops than one in a single church, there is the following passage which clearly proves a bishop and a presbyter to be the same. Writing to Titus the apostle says: "For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain presbyters in every city, as I had appointed thee: if any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly. For a bishop must be blameless as the steward of God." And to Timothy he says: "Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery." Peter also says in his first epistle: "The presbyters which are among you I exhort, who am your fellow-presbyter and a witness of the sufferings of Christ and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: feed the flock of Christ ...taking the oversight thereof not by constraint but willingly, according unto God." In the Greek the meaning is still plainer, for the word used is [], that is to say, overseeing, and this is the origin of the name overseer or bishop. But perhaps the testimony of these great men seems to you insufficient. If so, then listen to the blast of the gospel trumpet, that son of thunder, the disciple whom Jesus loved and who reclining on the Saviour's breast drank in the waters of sound doctrine. One of his letters begins thus: "The presbyter unto the elect lady and her children whom I love in the truth;" and another thus: "The presbyter unto the well-beloved Gains whom I love in the truth." When subsequently one presbyter was chosen to preside over the rest, this was done to remedy schism and to prevent each individual from rending the church of Christ by drawing it to himself. For even at Alexandria from the time of Mark the Evangelist until the episcopates of Heraclas and Dionysius the presbyters always named as bishop one of their own number chosen by themselves and set in a more exalted position, just as an army elects a general, or as deacons appoint one of themselves whom they know to be diligent and call him archdeacon. For what function, excepting ordination, belongs to a bishop that does not also belong to a presbyter? ... Of the names presbyter and bishop the first denotes age, the second rank. In writing both to Titus and to Timothy the apostle speaks of the ordination of bishops and of deacons, but says not a word of the ordination of presbyters; for the fact is that the word bishops includes presbyters also." (Jerome, Letter CXLVI. To Evangelus, 492 AD)
  2. D. Jerome states in "Lives of Illustrious Men" that Peter was in Rome for 25 years, gives an account of his martyrdom. Of course, in 500 AD, much of this is mythical and not verifiable history. There are many good reasons why scholars question whether Peter was ever at Rome at all, let alone 25 years.

  3. "Simon Peter the son of John, from the village of Bethsaida in the province of Galilee, brother of Andrew the apostle, and himself chief of the apostles, after having been bishop of the church of Antioch and having preached to the Dispersion -the believers in circumcision, in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia- pushed on to Rome in the second year of Claudius to over-throw Simon Magus, and held the sacerdotal chair there for twenty-five years until the last, that is the fourteenth, year of Nero. At his hands he received the crown of martyrdom being nailed to the cross with his head towards the ground and his feet raised on high, asserting that he was unworthy to be crucified in the same manner as his Lord. He wrote two epistles which are called Catholic, the second of which, on account of its difference from the first in style, is considered by many not to be by him. Then too the Gospel according to Mark, who was his disciple and interpreter, is ascribed to him. On the other hand, the books, of which one is entitled his Acts, another his Gospel, a third his Preaching, a fourth his Revelation, a fifth his "Judgment" are rejected as apocryphal. Buried at Rome in the Vatican near the triumphal way he is venerated by the whole world." (Jerome, Lives of Illustrious Men, Chapter I, Peter, 492 AD)

E. AD 533: Roman emperor Justinian I, proclaimed the Bishop of Rome, Leo I, to be the supreme head of all the churches. It was the head of state, not a church council that proclaimed Leo, head of the churches. The proclaimation was widely ingored by the rest of the world.

  1. "The victorious Justinian... to John, the most holy archbishop of the fostering city of Rome... we have hastened to make subject to the See of your Holiness, and to unite with it, all the priests of the whole Eastern district...your Holiness...who is the Head of all the holy churches. For in all points...we are eager to add to the honor and authority of your See, now we entreat your Blessedness to pray for us, and to obtain for us the protection of heaven." (Roman emperor Justinian I, Volume of the Civil Law, Codices lib. I tit. I, 533 AD)
  2. "The statement of popes Gregory I. and Leo IX., that the council of Chalcedon conferred on the Roman bishop Leo the title of universal episcopus, [universal bishop] and that he rejected it, is erroneous. No trace of it can be found either in the Acts of the councils or in the epistles of Leo." (Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, book 3, chapter 5)


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