The true church of Jesus

Hello and merry Christmas

My question arises from a discussion I had with a family member today who is a devout Catholic. He was saying that Jesus came to earth to create an organization which is the church and Peter has the keys to it which Jesus gave him. That church he said is the only true way to get salvation.

I would like to know where to start to research about what is the true church of Jesus. My background is a mixture as I have been baptised as Catholic and have been raised going to the Syriac church of the East.

Did Jesus come to make an organisation? If so where in scripture is that located?
Does Peter hold the keys to the kingdom and did he establish the Roman Catholic Church?

There is much more in this but I am sure this question in different words has been asked.

Thank you

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@Zaia_Joudo Hi!

I’m not sure if you’re looking for an immediate time sensitive answer. But here is a shorthand response that I can give as a starting point.
I believe the scripture this person is referring to is:

Matthew 16:16-19 King James Version (KJV)

16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.

17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.

18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

Response to “This Rock”

"…Protestants generally have thought that it refers to Peter in his role of confessing Jesus as the Messiah, and that the other disciples would share in that role as they made a similar confession (see Eph. 2:20, where the church is built on all the apostles; cf. Rev 21:14)…"ESV Study Bible.

Also, another reference about Christ being the “rock”:

1 Corinthians 10:4 King James Version (KJV)

4 And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.

Response about Binding and Loosing

“Peter also has authority to exercise discipline concerning right and wrong conduct for those in the kingdom, an authority that is not exclusive to Peter but is extended to the church as a whole in Matt. 18:18; cf John 20:23. Jesus delegates authority to human leaders in the church who are called to govern his church on earth, under his ultimate authority, through the application of his Word.” ESV Study Bible

"Yeshua gave Shimon Kefa (Simon Peter) the keys, or the authority, to bind and loose concerning scriptural questions within the early Messianic Community, an authority in all likelihood shared by others of the apostolic circle (cf. John 20:23). " The Complete Jewish Study Bible

John 20:19-23 King James Version (KJV)

19 Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you.

20 And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord.

21 Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you.

22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:

23 Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.

Conclusion

The “rock” is a reference to Jesus being the Messiah, and “binding and loosing” is an authority that was given to the church as a whole.

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@Zaia_Joudo Great questions :slight_smile: I’ve included some Connect threads on Catholicism below that I hope you will find helpful. I think you’ve identified 4 key questions in your post and that @joncarp made some excellent observations regarding the question of Peter as the rock versus Peter’s confession of Christ as the rock. Below are some brief thoughts on each of the questions you raised.

Before answering, however, I just want to say that I love and honor all my brothers and sisters in Christ, including those who are Catholic. And I do not think the Catholics I have met would say those outside of Catholicism are condemned.

  1. No organization or denomination can claim that only its members go to Heaven. Salvation in the Bible is not about Church membership. Salvation in the Bible is about knowing the living God through Jesus Christ and no organization controls who God decides to draw to Himself. But as Christians we do affirm that salvation is in Christ alone (Acts 4:12).
  2. No, Jesus did not come to start an organization. Jesus is clear that His Kingdom is both not of this world (John 18:36) and that the movement of the Holy Spirit is both unpredictable and outside of our control (John 3:8). Of course, Churches do need to be organized so that things are done in an orderly and respectable fashion, but in my opinion the Bible does not envision a monolithic organization.
  3. The keys to the Kingdom, in my opinion, are not a supernatural power that others do not possess to anoint new servants of God for service. Think about it - what is they key that unlocks the Kingdom? It is the Gospel. And, as noted in the GotQuestions article below, Peter did bring the Gospel to the Jews, the Samaritans, and the Gentiles in a new and powerful way. Peter himself was not the rock on which Christ would build His Church—it was Peter’s confession of Christ’s true identity as Messiah and Savior. The Gospel is not something that Peter controlled. God used Peter to share the Gospel at a unique moment in history as He continues to use believers to do so today.
  4. The Church in Rome was likely not founded by Peter or Paul, but rather started by Jewish Christians. The Bible never says clearly that Peter visited Rome and it is not clear from historical evidence that Rome even had a bishop / single overseer during Peter’s lifetime.

In Matthew 16:19, Jesus is specifically addressing Peter, so it is significant that, in the book of Acts, Peter figures prominently in the “opening of doors” to three different groups of people so they can enter the Kingdom. In Acts 2, it is Peter who preaches in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost; about three thousand Jewish people are saved that day. Peter’s preaching had “unlocked the door” of heaven for the Jews. Later, in Acts 8, the Samaritans believe the gospel and receive the Holy Spirit; again, Peter (and John) was present for this event. Peter had “unlocked the door” for the Samaritans. Then, in Acts 10, Peter brings the gospel to a Roman centurion’s household, and they, too, receive the Holy Spirit. Peter had “unlocked the door” for the Gentiles. The “keys” that Jesus had given him worked in each case.

Based on a study of relevant biblical and extra-biblical documents, it is generally agreed that non-apostolic Jewish Christians brought the faith of Christ to Rome in the early decades of the church. After generating both interest and controversy within the synagogues, Christianity was forced to reorganize in the wake of Claudius’s edict against the Jews. The resulting Gentile-dominated church that received Paul’s letter in the late 50’s met in small groups around the city of Rome but maintained communication and held onto a common identity and mission. Paul and Peter leave their mark on these believers, though they merely strengthen the work that had already begun to flourish in the capital city.

https://bible.org/article/origins-church-rome

RZIM Connect Threads

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Hi Jonathon
That’s great information, thank you for your time to help me through this.

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HI Sean

Thank you so much as well for your time and information. This all helps a lot and I can read all that has been sent over to get a better understanding

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