St. John Chrysostom on the Apostle Peter

"...If the primacy of St. Peter is so unimportant a fact -- if it gave him no prerogatives, no duties, no successors -- why on earth is it so extraordinarily prominent in Holy Writ?"

"I know no more emphatic testimony to the supreme jurisdiction of St. Peter in any writer, ancient or modern, than the view taken in this homily [of St. John Chrysostom] of the election of St. Matthias, for I know of no act of jurisdiction in the Church more tremendous than the appointment of an apostle."


From Dom John Chapman's Studies on the Early Papacy and originally from the "Dublin Review" (January 1903).

Other comments included from Anglican historian Edward Giles Documents Illustrating Papal Authority AD 96-454 (Hyperion Press, 1979, orig SPCK, 1952)

See also Rome has Spoken; the Case is Closed -- St. Augustine, Pelagianism, and the Holy See

part II is Pope Zosimus and Pelagianism

also St. Cyprian on the Church and the Papacy

also St. Athanasius, Arianism, and the Holy See

also St. Jerome and Rome


St. John Chrysostom and St. Peter

There is one difficulty in proving the primacy of St. Peter from the Fathers. Most Anglicans of any intelligence or reading are willing to admit that the Fathers with one voice proclaim him to be the "first of the Apostles"; and indeed the evidence for this is so obvious and so inevitable that they cannot well ignore it. But one thing they refuse to grant, that is that he had a real primacy, a primacy of jurisdiction over the whole church, extending over the apostles themselves.

Now it is here that the difficulty comes in. The apostles were all inspired and led by the Holy Ghost. There was no necessity to order them about, or to keep them in strict discipline, still less to judge between them or to punish them; hence we see St. Peter's jurisdiction in Holy Scripture principally in the form of leadership. I do not think that any unbiased person could carefully study the place of St. Peter in the Bible without coming to the conclusion that he was really set over the whole Church by Our Lord, and that he actually exercised a real primacy of jurisdiction. Even to the casual reader there are few doctrines that lie so patently upon the surface of the sacred writings. And, I think, few people could read Mr. Allies' admirable digest of Passaglia, St. Peter, His Name and Office, without acknowledging the proofs to be overwhelming. But then, Protestants do not study the place of St. Peter in the Bible, they pass it over. They do not read Mr. Allies' excellent book: they either have never heard of it, or they avoid it.

"If," asks a recent writer, "as de Maistre thought, 'the supremacy of the Pope is the capital dogma without which Christianity cannot subsist,' why is there nothing about it in the Scriptures of Truth?"

If I admitted the supposition, I should merely reply that "the Bible" is not an exhaustive and elaborate manual of theology, like Hurter's "Compendium" and that the Church's teaching is quite sufficient proof of the dogma. But, of course, I do not admit it; I urge on the contrary,

"If the primacy of St. Peter is so unimportant a fact -- if it gave him no prerogatives, no duties, no successors -- why on earth is it so extraordinarily prominent in Holy Writ?"

Outside the Bible the question is less easy to solve, for many of the Fathers have left but few writings, and say little about St. Peter. It is true that they seldom forget, when they do mention him, to call him the first, the prince, the coryphaeus, the leader, of the apostles; but it is, of course, not so natural to them to exhibit him as exercising a coercive jurisdiction over his colleagues. There are numbers of well-known passages which in their obvious meaning suggest a real primacy, but which may easily be "explained away" by ingenious persons, who theological training has largely consisted in learning the art of explaining away the Thirty-nine Articles and the Prayer Book.

Examining 90 Passages on Peter from St. John Chrysostom

St. Chrysostom has left us a huge mass of writings, chiefly sermons. His references to St. Peter are exceedingly numerous, lengthy and explicit. His name has been in the forefront of the controversy as to St. Peter's prerogatives, especially in a contest between the late Dr. Rivington on the one side and Dr. Gore and Fr. Puller on the other [Puller, Primitive Saints and the See of Rome, 3rd ed]. It has seemed to me that the only way to settle a discussion of this sort is to examine the question exhaustively. I have been at pains to find and read whatever St. Chrysostom has said about St. Peter, and I have found more than ninety passages to copy out and set together, having reference either to the primacy of St. Peter or to his relations with the other apostles. The conclusion at which I have arrived, and at which I expect the reader to arrive, is that St. John Chrysostom, at once the most voluminous and the most popular of the Greek Fathers, believed and taught, and was ever anxious and careful to teach, that St. Peter was really the chief ruler of the Church.

The importance of this conclusion is that it leads us naturally to interpret in the same sense the expressions, similar to those of Chrysostom, which we find in other Greek Fathers who have bequeathed us a less amount of material. St. Chrysostom, priest of Antioch and bishop of Constantinople, is a central and typical figure. If the evidence from his writings is found to be clear and unmistakable, it will hardly be necessary to interrogate the rest of the Eastern Church in detail. It will be amply sufficient to examine and verify the copious quotations to be found in such meritorious and useful collections as Mr. Allnatt's Cathedra Petri and Waterworth's Faith of Catholics.

NOTE: I add "verify" for the reader is at liberty to dissent from these writers on minor points; and it is best to be severe in keeping a rule of never trusting anyone's quotations without verifying them. To make this easier, I will try to make my references as accurate as I can. I use Migne's edition, giving his volumes and pages, adding in brackets the pages of Dom Montfaucon's edition (the volumes have the same numbers) which Migne reprinted entire, except vol VII which contains the homilies on St. Matthew; this he gives from Field's edition. The number therefore which I give in brackets, when I quote this volume, refers to Field and not to Montfaucon.

Peter and His Titles

In the first place, let us note St. Chrysostom's habit of showing his extraordinary reverence for St. Peter, by habitually adding to his name a whole list of titles, for instance:

"Peter, that head of the Apostles, the first in the Church, the friend of Christ, who received the revelation not from man but from the Father....this Peter, and when I say Peter, I mean the unbroken Rock, the unshaken foundation, the great apostle, the first of the disciples, the first called, the first to obey." (De Eleemos III, 4, vol II, 298[300])

"Peter the coryphaeus of the choir of apostles, the mouth of the disciples, the foundation of the faith, the base of the confession, the fisherman of the world, who brought back our race form the depth of error to heaven, he who is everywhere fervent and full of boldness, or rather of love than of boldness." (Hom de decem mille talentis, 3, vol III, 20[4])

"The first of the apostles, the foundation of the Church, the coryphaeus of the choir of the disciples." (Ad eos qui scandalizati sunt, 17, vol III, 517[504])

"The foundation of the Church, the vehement lover of Christ, at once unlearned in speech, and the vanquisher of orators, the man without education who closed the mouth of philosophers, who destroyed the philosophy of the Greeks as though it were a spider's web, he who ran throughout the world, he who cast his net into the sea, and fished the whole world." (In illud, Vidi dominum, 3, vol VI, 123[124])

"Peter, the base, the pillar...." (Hom Quod frequenta conueniendum sit, 5, vol XII, 466[328])

"This holy coryphaeus of the blessed choir, the lover of Christ, the ardent disciple, who was entrusted with the keys of heaven, he who received the spiritual revelation." (In Acta Apost VI, I [chap 2, verse 22] vol IX, 56[48])

We shall meet presently with many more passages of the same kind. In the doubtfully genuine homily of SS. Peter and Elias (vol II, 727[731]) we find:

"Peter was to be entrusted with the keys of the church, or, rather, he was entrusted with the keys of heaven, and he was to be entrusted with the multitude of the people....That Peter the head of the apostles, the unshaken foundation, the unbroken rock, the first in the Church, the unconquerable port, the unshaken tower...he who was to be entrusted with the Church, the pillar of the Church, the port of the faith, Peter, the teacher of the whole world...Peter, that column, that bulwark."

I quote nothing in this article from the certainly spurious sermon on SS. Peter and Paul (vol VIII, 491), though it is interesting, as showing the views of some later and second-rate imitator of the golden-mouthed preacher.

The Meaning of Coryphaeus (Head or Leader)

The commonest title of all is coryphaeus, the head-man, or (of a chorus) leader, conductor. The word of itself implies no idea of jurisdiction. It is used in the singular by St. Chrysostom of St. Peter only, so far as I can discover, but he calls Peter, James and John together, "the coryphaei" :

"He took the coryphaei and led them up into a high mountain apart...Why does he take these three alone? Because they excelled the others. Peter showed his excellence by his great love of Him, John by being greatly loved, James by the answer....'We are able to drink the chalice.'" (Hom 56[57] in Matt, vol VII, 550[566])

"Do you not see that the headship was in the hands of these three, especially of Peter and James? This was the chief cause of their condemnation (by Herod)." (Hom 26 in Acta, vol IX, 198[208] and ibid, 199[209])

"He said not to Peter, 'If thou lovest Me, do miracles,' but, 'Feed My sheep'; and everywhere giving him more honor than the rest, with James and John, wherefore, tell me, did he prefer him?" (Hom 46[47] in Matt 3, vol VII, 480[485])

"It seems to me that He washed the feet of the traitor first...Though Peter was the first, it is probable that the traitor being impudent, reclined even above the Coryphaeus." (Hom 70[69] in Joann 2, vol VIII, 383[415])

And similarly with Andrew they are "the two pairs of coryphaei" (Hom 37[38] in Matt, vol VII, 424[420]), or James and John, or Peter and John, are "the two coryphaei" (Hom 32[33] in Matt, vol VII, 380[368] and Hom 10 in Acta, vol IX, 85[80]), and so especially are St. Peter and Paul:

"The coryphaei, Peter the foundation of the faith, Paul the vessel of election." (Contra ludos et theatra, 1, vol VI, 265[273])

"The coryphaei, and heads and towers and bulwarks, and the principal persons of those in the N.T." (Hom quod frequenter conveniendum sit, 5, vol XII, 466[328])

Compare also the doubtfully genuine De Precatione, vol II, 784[788] :

"Columns of the Church, coryphaei of the apostles, renowned in heaven, the wall of the world, the common bulwark of all sea and land."

Still "the coryphaeus" par excellence is Peter. [1] It is best to give St. Chrysostom's own explanation.

"In the Kingdom, therefore, the honors were not equal, nor were all the disciples equal, but the three were above the rest; and among these three again there was a great difference, for God is exact tot he last degree; 'for one star differeth from another star in glory.' And yet all were apostles, all will sit upon the twelve thrones, and all left their possessions, and all were with Christ. And yet he selected these three. And, again, among the three, He said that some must yield or excel. For, 'to sit on My right hand and on My left,' he said, 'is not Mine to give, but to them for whom it is prepared,' And He set Peter before them saying: 'Lovest thou Me more than these?' And John loved Him more than the rest. For of all there will be an exact examination; and if you excel your neighbor ever so little, God will not overlook it." (Hom 32, in Rom 4, vol IX, 672[750])

But the holy Doctor does not mean merely that certain disciples (and especially Peter) were honored by their Master because of their greater love. He adds, further, that Peter had a rank, a precedence, accorded to him by the other apostles. Before the Passion they disputed who should be the greatest, and Our Lord told them that their chief (whoever he should be) must not lord it over them after the fashion of a Gentile king, but that he must be the servant of all. Clearly it was not mere precedence and rank that the chief of the apostles was to receive by Christ's institution, but higher duties and work more strenuous than the rest. So thought St. Chrysostom:

"See the unanimity of the apostles," he says, on Acts 2:4: "they give up to Peter the office of preaching, for it would not do for all to preach." "Hear how this same John, who now comes forward (to ask for a seat at Christ's right hand) in the Acts of the Apostles, always gives up the first place to Peter both in preaching and in working miracles. Afterwards James and John were not thus. Everywhere they gave up the first place to Peter, and in preaching they set him first, though he seemed of rougher manners than the others."

Again, he remarks how St. Paul "gives up to Peter the first place." (Hom 4 in Acta 3, vol IX, 46[37]; Hom 65[66] in Matt 4, vol VII, 622[648], ibid Hom 50[51], 506[515]; Hom 35 in 1 Cor 5, vol X, 303[329]; Hom 8 in Acta 1, vol IX, 71-72[64-65]).

This certainly resembles less the primacy of the Duke of Norfolk among English peers (to which the primacy of Peter has been likened) [Puller, Primitive Saints, 489], than it does the position of leader of the House.

Chrysostom on Matthew 16:18ff

In examining the interpretation of certain Petrine passages by this greatest of commentators, we naturally begin with the promise to Peter in the sixteenth chapter of St. Matthew. The rock on which the Church is to be built is regularly taken by St. Chrysostom to be the confession of Peter, or the faith which prompted this confession. It is well known that this oblique interpretation -- "on the faith of Peter" for "on Peter because of his faith" -- was invented as a useful weapon against Arianism:

"It is upon Peter's confession of Christ as the true Son of God that the Church is immovably built." "He who built the Church upon his confession." (Hom 82[83] in Matt 3, vol VII, 741[786]; same in Hom 21[20] in Joann 1, vol VIII, 128[120])

"He received his name for the unchangeableness and immobility of his faith; and when all were asked in common, he says, leaping forth before the others: 'Thou art the Christ,' etc, when he was entrusted with the keys of the kingdom of heaven." (chap 2 of Galat 4, vol X, 640[686]; also Hom 2 in Inscr Act 6, vol II, 86[70], and Hom 19[18] in Joann, vol VIII, 121[111-112]; also Palladius "Upon this rock, that is, upon this confession" Dial de vita Chrys, vol 1, 68).

This does not prevent Chrysostom from enunciating with equal emphasis the direct form: "He was made the foundation of the Church" (Hom 3 in Matt 5, vol VII, 38[42]) and continually entitles Peter "The Foundation of the Faith" or even "of the confession." Some instances have been quoted, some will appear as we proceed.

It is in the fifty-fourth homily on St. Matthew that we find a complete commentary on the passage:

"[When Christ has asked: 'Whom say ye that I am?] What, then, does the mouth of the apostles, Peter, everywhere fervent, the Coryphaeus of the choir of the apostles? All are asked, and he replies. When Christ asked what were the opinions of the people, all answered; but when He asked for their own, Peter leaps forward, and is the first to speak: 'Thou art the Christ.' And what does Christ answer? 'Blessed art thou,' etc....Why, then, said Christ: 'Thou art Simon, son of Jona, thou shalt be called Cephas' [John 1:42] ? Because thou hast proclaimed My Father, I name thy father, as though I said: 'As thou art son of Jona, so am I son of My Father....And I say to thee: Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church, that is upon the faith of this confession.'

"Hence He shows that many will believe, and raises his thoughts higher, and makes him Shepherd. 'And the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.' If they prevail not against it, much less against Me: so be not terrified when thou shalt hear 'I shall be betrayed and crucified.' And then he speaks of another honor: 'And I will give thee the keys of the king of heaven.' What is this: 'And I will give thee' ? 'As the Father hath given thee to know Me, so will I give thee'....Give what? The keys of heaven, in order that whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth may be bound in heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth may be loosed in heaven.' Now, then, is it not His to give to sit upon His right hand and on his left, since He says: 'I will give thee' ? Do you see how He Himself leads Peter to a high consideration of Himself, and reveals Himself and shows Himself to be the Son of God by these two promises? For what is proper to God alone, that is, to forgive sins, and to make the Church in so great an onset of waves, and to cause a fisherman to be stronger than any rock, when the whole world wars against him, this He Himself promises to give; as the Father said, speaking to Jeremias, that He would set him as a column of brass and as a wall; but Jeremias to a single nation, Peter to the whole world.

"I would willing ask those who wish to lessen the dignity of the Son: Which are the greater gifts, those which the Father gave to Peter, or those which the Son gave him? The Father gave to Peter the revelation of the Son, but the Son gave to him to spread that of the Father and of Himself throughout the world, and to a mortal man He entrusted the power over all that is in heaven, in giving the keys to him who extended the Church throughout the world, and showed it stronger than the world." (Hom 54[55] in Matt VII, 531[546] seq)

I think this passage alone would have made it clear that the Rock is Peter, in St. Chrysostom's view, as well as, and because of, the firmness of his confession. He has no idea of the two notions, "Peter is the Rock" and "his faith is the Rock" being mutually exclusive, as, in fact, they are not. It is equally clear that the promise is understood as granting him an ecumenical jurisdiction in a way which is not given to the other apostles.

Chrysostom on John 21:15ff

The charge to St. Peter "feed my sheep" is referred to very often by St. John Chrysostom. [Anglican] Father Puller says:

"According to St. Chrysostom's view, the Pasce oves restored to St. Peter the apostolical office, which had been suspended, so far as he was concerned, in consequence of his denial of Our Lord." [Primitive Saints, 126]

I have been quite unable to find in the thirteen volumes of the Saint's works anything which supports this statement of Fr. Puller's. I will remind the reader of the passage already quoted, "And He sets Peter before them, 'lovest thou Me more than these,'" where this text is cited by Chrysostom as the most obvious proof of St. Peter being set above the others. There is only one place in which any "suspension" of office or of honor is suggested, and there, as everywhere else, St. Chrysostom uses words which show that he considered that something special, not given to the rest, was conferred upon St. Peter. He says:

"After that grave fall (for there is no sin equal to denial) after so great a sin, He brought him back to his former honor and entrusted him with the headship of the universal church, and, what is more than all, He showed us that he had a greater love for his master than any of the apostles, for saith he: 'Peter lovest thou Me more than these?'" (Hom 5 de Poen 2, vol II, 308[311])

Of course if we urge that all the apostles had the headship of the universal Church committed to them (which is in a sense quite true) we may understand the "former honor" to be the apostleship. But it seems obvious that if St. Chrysostom meant this, he would have said: "he entrusted to him in union with the other apostles," or something to that effect, and would not have joined the mention of a particular headship in jurisdiction over the faithful, with the mention of a singular primacy over the apostles in love.

But Father Puller urges the passage: "Since they -- Peter and John -- were to receive the care of the world, they must no longer be joined together, else a great loss would have happened to the world." (Hom 88[87] in Joann 1, vol VIII, 480[528])

This shows, of course, that all the apostles together had the care of the world, but it certainly does not show that St. Peter had not a real primacy over the apostles themselves, nor is it easy to see how Father Puller managed to conclude that it does. We must take next St. Chrysostom's commentary on the text in question:

"He saith to him, 'Feed My sheep.' Why does He pass over the others and speak of the sheep to Peter? He was the chosen one of the apostles, the mouth of the disciples, and the head of the choir; for this reason Paul went up to see him rather than the others. And also to show him that he must have confidence now, since his denial had been purged away, He entrusts him with the rule over the brethren; and the fervent love which thou hast shown throughout, and in which thou didst boast, show now; and the life which thou saidst thou wouldst lay down for Me, give for My sheep." (Hom 88[87] in Joann 1, vol VIII, 477-9[525-6])

As if St. Chrysostom was prescient of some future critic who would wish to explain that any of the apostles might be said to preside over the brethren, and that what is said to Peter as head of the choir is meant for all, he adds further on:

"If anyone should say 'Why then was it James who received the See of Jerusalem?' I should reply that He made Peter the teacher not of that See but of the world."

[ Giles has: "And if anyone would say 'How did James receive the chair of Jerusalem?", I would reply that he appointed Peter a teacher not of the chair, but of the world..." (Chrysostom, on John, Homily 88, Migne PG 59:478, Giles page 164)

[ Giles adds: "And he [Christ] did this [John 21:22] to withdraw them [Peter and John] from the unseasonable sympathy for each other; for since they [Peter and John] were about to receive the charge of the world, it was necessary that they should no longer be closely associated together." (Chrysostom, on John, Homily 88, ibid)

[ Giles adds: "...The merciful God is wont to give this honor to his servants, that by their grace others may acquire salvation; as was agreed by the blessed Paul, that teacher of the world who emitted the rays of his teaching everywhere." (Chrysostom, on Genesis, Homily 24, Migne PG 53:211, Giles page 165)

[ Giles comments: "The translation of the verb [Greek] by "rule" follows the English Bible and is accepted by Puller. L.F. (Oxford Library of the Fathers, 1838) has "preside over." Gore points out the honor which Chrysostom does to John and Paul. At the end of the last document [above] we see that John as well as Peter was to receive the charge of the world." (Giles page 164) ]

It would be difficult to imply more clearly that the rule [Greek word] was given to Peter alone, than by this anticipating surprise at his not at once assuming the episcopal throne on the spot where the Holy Ghost was given. The passage continues:

"Peter, therefore, turning seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved, who also reclined on His breast at supper, following, and saith: 'Lord, what shall this man do?' Why did he mention the reclining? Not without reason or by chance, but to show what confidence Peter had after his fall. For he who then had not dared to ask a question, but committed it to another, was given the presidency over the brethren. And he not only commits his own case to another, but even himself puts a question to the Master about another, and John this time is silent, while it is Peter who speaks....Peter loved John greatly...Since then He foretold great things for Peter, and entrusted him with the world, and predicted his martyrdom and testified that his love was greater than that of the others, Peter wishing to receive John as his fellow, saith: And what of this man? Shall he not go the same way?"

Obviously St. John is here said to have understood that to Peter, not to himself, was entrusted the world. As to the meaning of [the three Greek words], if we translate: "Be the first among the brethren," then "the brethren" will be the Apostles. If we translate "Rule over the brethren" (so Puller) then it is doubtful whether the apostles are meant, or the faithful, or the faithful including the apostles. It will be safest to take "the brethren" to be the faithful, and we shall see presently that the apostles are included among them.

"He so wiped away the denial that he even became the first of the apostles, and was entrusted with the whole world" (Adv Judaeos 8, 3, vol I, 931[677]), that is, "to be first" and "to be entrusted with the world," were two things (or rather one) granted to Peter, after his denial, by the commission "Feed My sheep." And so he acts upon the commission:

"In those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples and said: 'as being fervent, and as having the flock entrusted to his care, and as the first of the choir (or, as preferred in honor) he is always the first to begin to speak." (Hom 3 in Acta (i,15), vol IX, 33[23], also Hom 4, 3, 46[36]: "He was the mouth of all")

I must give another passage on which Father Puller has relied, from the treatise De Sacerdotio. The saint is proving to his friend Basil that he must not complain of being made a bishop, since there is no way so perfect of showing love to Christ as to feed His sheep. The same doctrine is found elsewhere, with the same proof from the charge to St. Peter:

"For this reason to him, who was the coryphaeus of the apostles, and who loved Him more than the rest, He entrusted this (to feed His flock) having first asked him if he loved Him, that you may know that He sets this above all else as a testimony of love towards Himself, for it needs a noble soul." (Hom 29 in Rom c. 15, vol IX, 660[737])

"Peter, the coryphaeus of the choir, the mouth of all the apostles, the head of that company, the ruler [Greek] of the whole world, the foundation of the Church, the fervent lover of Christ (for He said: 'Peter, lovest thou Me more than these?') I speak his praises, that you may learn that he truly loves Christ, for the care of Christ's servants is the greatest proof of devotion to Him; and it is not I who say this, but the beloved Master: 'If thou lovest Me,' saith He, 'Feed My sheep.' Let us see whether he has truly the primacy [Greek] of a shepherd, whether he really cares for and truly loves the sheep and is a lover of the flock, that we may know he also loves the Shepherd." (In illud, scitote quod in noviss, diebus, 4, vol VI, 275[282-3])

"Addressing the coryphaeus of the apostles, he says: 'Peter, lovest thou Me?' and on his declaration that he does, He adds: 'If thou lovest Me, feed My sheep.' The Master asks the disciple if He is loved by him, not that He may learn (how should He, who searches the hearts of all?), but that He may teach us how much at heart He has the headship [Greek] over these sheep. Since that is plain, it will also be evident that a great and unspeakable reward will be laid up for one who has labored at a work so greatly honored by Christ." ....

Thus far it is clear that the charge to Peter is taken as the type of the commission given to all pastors of souls. Father Puller's quotation begins after this point:

"It was not Christ's intention to show how much Peter loved Him, because this already appeared in many ways, but how much He himself loves His Church; and He desired that Peter and we all should learn it, that we may also be very zealous in the same work. For why did God not spare His Son and only-begotten, but gave Him up, though He was His only One. That He might reconcile to Himself those who were His enemies, and make them a people for Himself. Why did He also pour forth His blood? To purchase those sheep whom he committed to Peter and his successors."

Here Father Puller stops, remarking correctly that "his successors" does not mean the Popes, but all bishops. But how this citation assists his theory I utterly fail to discover. St. Peter is very commonly said by the Fathers to be the type of mon-episcopacy [2], precisely because of his unique position above the other apostles. If Father Puller is anxious to emphasize here the episcopal office of St. Peter over the flock, he should recollect that this office is essentially both singular and authoritative. It is not, however, necessary to dig more out of the passage than the perfectly plain argument, i.e. "Since St. Peter is set above the rest of the apostles by being given the supreme headship of the flock because his love was greater than that of the rest it is to be understood that the pastoral office involves the highest act of love." If, on the other hand, we are to suppose that what is given to St. Peter is simply what all the apostles had received, the edifice of St. Chrysostom's reasoning falls to the ground.

The saint continues (and Fr. Puller has not, I suppose, seen any importance in the passage, or he would have quoted it all) :

"Rightly therefore, did Christ say, 'Who is that faithful servant and prudent, whom the Lord will set over His house?' The words are again as of one who knows not; but He Who spoke them did not speak in ignorance. But, as when He asked Peter whether he loved Him, He questioned His disciple's love, not because He did not know it, but because He desired to show the excess of His own love, so now when He says: 'Who is that faithful servant and prudent?' He says it not because He knew not that faithful and prudent servant, but because He wished to show the rarity of the thing and the greatness of the rule [Greek]. See how great is the reward: 'I will set him,' saith He, 'over all My goods.' Will you, then, still complain that I have deceived you, when you are to be set over all the goods of God, and when you are doing those things in doing which Christ said that Peter would be able to surpass [Greek] the other apostles? For He said: 'Peter, lovest thou Me more than these? Feed My sheep.'" (De Sacerdotio, 2, I, 632[371-2])

It would seem the words, "He says it, not because He knew not that faithful and prudent servant," that St. Chrysostom takes our Lord's words (from Matt 24:45-7) as designating St. Peter, and as applying in a general way to bishops.

Chrysostom on Luke 22:31ff

It was to prepare Peter for a unique position that he was allowed to sin beyond the rest: "He allowed the coryphaeus to fall, to make him more self-restrained, and to anoint him for yet greater love." (Hom 82[83] in Matt 4, vol VII, 743[787]) This training of St. Peter is to be understood in another famous text, where Peter is told to "strengthen his brethren" (Luke 22:32). It is curious that St. John Chrysostom habitually quotes the text incorrectly: "Satan hath desired to have thee that he may sift thee as wheat"; whereas in St. Luke all manuscripts give "To have you," and "may sift you," meaning all the apostles. The holy doctor necessarily loses the contrast between Satan's lying in wait for all, and Our Lord's prayer for one, who is to strengthen the rest. Yet he understands the passage rightly in spite of this. It is true that in his commentary on St. Matthew chapter 26 he explains simply that Our Lord prays for Peter, because his fall was to be the gravest (Hom 82[83] in Matt 3, vol VII, 741[785]).

He next asks, why did Our Lord pray? "For He Who built the Church upon his confession, and so fortified it that ten thousand dangers and deaths should not prevail against it, He Who gave him the keys of heaven, and made him lord (possessor) of so much authority, and Who needed not prayer for this (for He said not 'I have prayed' but with authority 'I will build' and 'I will give'), how did He need prayer that He might save the soul of one man?" The answer is, to give confidence to the disciples, whose faith was weak.

But elsewhere he says:

"Again, that coryphaeus Peter, after a thousand wonders and signs and so much warning and counsel, did He not rebuke him when he had fallen this grave fall? Nay, He passed it over, and appointed him first of the apostles. Wherefore He said: 'Simon, Simon, behold Satan hath desired to sift thee as wheat, and I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not'." (In Psalm 129, 2, vol V, 375[369])

And yet more plainly:

"God allowed him to fall, because He meant to make him ruler of the whole world [Greek], that, remembering his own fall, he might forgive those who should slip in the future. And what I have said is no guess, listen to Christ Himself saying, 'Simon, Simon, how often hath Satan desired to sift thee as wheat, but I have prayed for thee that thy strength fail not, and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren'." (Hom quod frequenter conveniendum sit, 5, vol XII, 466[329])

Another quotation to the same effect will be given when we come to the election of St. Matthias. The same intention is attributed to Our Lord when He rebukes Peter's boasting by prophesying his fall:

"When he is told, 'Thou canst not follow Me now,' he says, 'Though all should deny Thee, yet will not I deny.' Because, then, it appeared likely he would be puffed up even to madness, since he practiced contradicting, He warns him not to rebel. This is what Luke refers to when he says that Christ said: 'And I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not,' viz. that it may not be lost to the end, throughout teaching him humility, and proving that human nature is nothing by itself. For since his great love made him contradictory, He moderates him, that he might not in the future have the same fault, when he should receive the government of the world, but that remembering his fault he might know himself." (Hom 73[72] in Joann 1, vol VIII, 395[429])

St. Chrysostom also calls attention to the episode of the tribute money (Matt 27:23). Christ, he says, had to pay the didrachma as being a first-born son, "and as Peter seemed to be the first of the disciples," the collectors came to him for information. When Our Lord by a miracle pays for Peter as well as Himself, "Do you see" cries the commentator:

"the excellence of the honor? See also the philosophy of Peter's disposition: Mark, his disciple, did not write down this incident....'In that hour the disciples of Jesus came to Him, saying: Which is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?' The apostles felt a human passion, wherefore the evangelist notes it, saying, 'in that hour,' when Christ honored Peter above the rest. For either James or John was a first-born, yet He did nothing of the sort for them. Then being ashamed to acknowledge their feeling, they say not openly: 'Why hast thou honored Peter more than us?' and 'Is he greater than we?' for they were ashamed. But they inquire vaguely: 'Who is greater?' For when they saw the three preferred they did not mind, but when the honor was given to one instead, they were distressed. And not only at this, but putting many things together, they were angry. For He had said to Peter: 'I will give thee the keys,' and 'Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona' and now 'give to them for Me and thee': and seeing his great boldness besides, they were irritated." (Hom 58[59] in Matt 1-2, vol VII, 566-9[584-7])

Chrysostom is apparently imitating Origen in loco. See also: "'he was seen of Cephas.' He mentions at once the most worthy of credit." (Hom 38 in 1 Cor 3, vol X, 326[354]); "Among men He was seen by him first who most desired to see Him." (ibid, 326[355]); "It was not because Paul was the least that He was seen by him after the others, since though He called him last, he appeared more illustrious than many who were before him, or rather than all." (ibid, 327[355]) "The first who was thought worthy to see Him, needed much faith....Therefore He appears first to Peter. For the first who confessed Him to be Christ, was rightly though worthy to be the first to see His resurrection. But not only for this does He appear first to him, but since he had denied Him, consoling him abundantly, and showing that he has not been reprobated, He both vouchsafed to him this sight before the others, and gave to him first the sheep." (ibid, 327[356])

This is a good instance of the way St. Chrysostom gives many reasons for one event -- and also different reasons in different places.

Chrysostom on Peter in the Book of Acts

It is in the Acts of the Apostles that the primacy of St. Peter is seen in exercise. St. Chrysostom's commentary on the first chapter is very remarkable. I give his words according to the Oxford translation, which renders the "short text" from good manuscripts:

"'And in those days,' it says, 'Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples and said: Both as being ardent, and as having been put in trust by Christ of the flock, and as having precedence of honor, he always begins the discourse. (The number of names together were about a hundred and twenty). 'Men and brethren,' he says, 'this Scripture must have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost spake before, etc. Why did he not ask Christ to give him some one in the room of Judas? It is better as it is. For, in the first place, they were engaged in other things; secondly, of Christ's presence among them the greatest proof that could be given was this: as He had chosen when He was among them, so did He now being absent. Now this was no small matter for their consolation. But observe how Peter does everything with the common consent, nothing imperiously [Greek from long text]. And he does not speak thus without a meaning. [Long text adds: 'And he did not simply say, "Instead of Judas, we choose such a one."'] "But observe how he consoles them concerning what had passed. In fact, what had happened had caused them no small consternation." (Library of the Fathers, Homilies of St. J. Chrys on the Acts, Oxford 1852, hom 3, page 37; Migne, vol IX, 33[23])

That St. Peter might have been expected to appoint a new apostle without betaking himself to lot, or consulting the brethren, is what strikes St. Chrysostom.

"Wherefore at the beginning he said: 'Men and brethren, it behoves us to choose from among you.' He defers the decision to the whole body, thereby making the elected objects of reverence, and himself keeping clear of all invidiousness with regard to the rest....'Must one be ordained to be a witness,' that their college [Greek] might not be left mutilated. Then why did it not rest with Peter to make the election himself? What was the motive? This: that he might not seem to bestow it of favor. And, besides, he was not yet endowed with the Spirit. 'And they appointed two, Joseph, called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias.' Not he appointed them, but it was he that introduced the proposition to that effect, at the same time pointing out that even this was not his own, but from old time by prophecy, so that he acted as expositor not preceptor." (ibid Oxford, page 40, Migne, 35-6[25])

"Again consider the moderation of James. He it was who received the bishopric of Jerusalem, and here he says nothing. Mark, also, the great moderation of the other apostles, how they concede the throne to him [James] and no longer dispute with each other." (ibid Oxford, page 42, Migne, 36[26])

"Here is forethought for providing a teacher; here was the first who was ordained a teacher. He did not say: 'We are sufficient.' So far was he beyond all vain glory, and he looked to one thing alone. And yet he had the same power to ordain as they all collectively. [3] But well might these things be done in this fashion, through the noble spirit of the man, and in regard that prelacy [Greek] then was not an affair of dignity, but of provident care for the governed. This neither made the elected to become elated, for it was to dangers that they were called, nor those not elected to make a grievance of it, as if they were disgraced. But things are not done in that fashion now; nay, quite the contrary. For observe they were a hundred and twenty, and he asks for one out of the whole body; with good right, as having been put in charge of them [Benedictine text has different Greek here]; for to him Christ had said: 'And when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren'." (Oxford, page 42, Migne, 37[26])

Thus, if we prefer the Benedictine text, we have a rhetorical question with its answer: "Could Peter not have appointed Matthias himself? Of course he could." If we prefer the short text, we have a plain statement, "And yet he had the same power to appoint as they all collectively."

I know no more emphatic testimony to the supreme jurisdiction of St. Peter in any writer, ancient or modern, than the view taken in this homily of the election of St. Matthias, for I know of no act of jurisdiction in the Church more tremendous than the appointment of an apostle.

Further, I will venture to say that perhaps St. John Chrysostom goes too far. Would it not be more natural to think that Christ only can make an apostle, and that it was because the eleven knew this, that they did not venture to elect one, but chose two, asking for a direct intervention of the Divine Head of the Church in so great a matter?

And, I ask, will anyone venture, after considering the last sentence of the passage quoted, to maintain that the apostles were excluded from the "brethren" over whom Peter was told to rule? [Greek given]

Chrysostom on Acts 15 and the Council of Jerusalem

Next in importance is St. Chrysostom's account of the Council of Jerusalem. This was the matter of a very fruitless discussion between Dr. Rivington and Mr. (now Bishop) Gore. The latter scored heavily in a wholly unimportant point. He showed that in the true text, St. James, not St. Peter, is said to have the [Greek] that is, the bishopric of Jerusalem. But he certainly gained nothing for his general argument, for neither he nor anyone else pretends that St. James had rule over St. Peter, nor does he attempt to show that St. Chrysostom thought so. If he had carefully considered the third homily on the Acts, from which I have just been quoting, it is to be hoped that he would have modified his opinions.

St. Chrysostom has perceived what some overlook, that in the "council" St. Peter speaks at the end of the discussion. And he notices also the vehemence of his speech. St. Peter takes one side, and reproves the opponents with violence. "See how terrible his conclusion." (Hom 32 in Acta, vol IX, 236[250]) And indeed his words are not those of a debater, but of an inspired teacher: "Why tempt ye God to place a yoke on the neck of the disciples, which neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear?" (Acts 15:10) "Observe," says Chrysostom, "he first permits the question to be moved in the Church, and then speaks." (Oxford tr, page 446-7) He was not obliged, then, to have a council. The ruler who might have appointed an apostle might also have decided himself the question of the obligation of the ceremonial law.

"'And after they (Barnabas and Paul) were silent.' He (James) was bishop of the Church of Jerusalem, and therefore he speaks last. [From Bishop Gore's translation of the shorter Greek text]: 'There was no arrogance in the Church. After Peter, Paul speaks, and no one silences him. James refrains and does not leap up. Great is the orderliness. Nothing (speaks) John here, nothing the other apostles, but hold their peace; for he (James) was invested with the chief rule [Greek] and they think it no hardship.' Then after a sentence follows: Peter, indeed, spoke more strongly, but James more mildly; for thus it behoves the one in great power to leave what is unpleasant for others to say, while he himself appears in the milder part." (from translation by Charles Gore, Roman Catholic Claims, preface to 3rd edition, page ix)

[ Giles has: "Neither John nor the other apostles say anything; they kept silence, for James was invested with the chief rule, and they think this was no hardship, for their soul was clean from the love of glory. Peter certainly spoke more emphatically, but James more mildly; for it is necessary for one in high authority to leave what is unpleasant for others to say, while he himself appears in the milder part." (Chrysostom, On the Acts of the Apostles, Homily 33, Migne PG 60:239, Giles page 167-168) ]

Obviously, it is James who has the "rule" and the "great power" as bishop of those believing Pharisees who had initiated the discussion. But the idea that he had "rule" over Peter is, of course, ludicrous, and the notion that he could possibly be the president of the council certainly never occurred to Chrysostom's mind. He only draws out a moral lesson from the fact that James was mild for fear of offending his subjects and alienating their confidence. (Note: In reality, St. James modified St. Peter's decision by proposing a compromise, which was admitted. It does not appear that it was long observed, and we all eat chickens now without scruple).

[ Giles comments: "...Chrysostom contrasts James' position as bishop of Jerusalem with that of Peter as teacher of the world. But in dealing with the council of Jerusalem (Acts 15:9-29), he points out that James speaks last, and he seems to imply that he had higher authority than Peter..." (Giles page 167) ]

But it was Peter who "allowed the discussion to arise" and who gave the decision. Other passages from the commentary on the Acts cannot be wholly passed over. When prayer is offered up by the church for Peter in prison, "The contest was now for life and death" (Hom 26, I, 198[208], Oxford tr, page 370 or Dr. Rivington translated "a vital part" which is equally correct). There is a fine passage on Acts 10:32 "Peter, as he passed through, visiting all," where he is described as a general visiting the ranks of bishops always the first -- first when an apostle was to be elected, first to speak to the Jews, to heal the lame man, etc; when there is no peril nor management of affairs, he is first; yet he asked for no higher honor when there was peace, etc. (Hom 21, 2, vol IX, 165[170])

Peter in Relation to Paul (Galatians 2:11ff)

The order of the twelve apostles, according to this doctor of the Church, is therefore that our Lord preferred three to the rest, and among them put Peter in the first place, giving to him, after the Resurrection, the government of the whole Church. We have yet to examine the relation of Peter to the new apostle, who was the last in time, but the greatest in labors, and of whom St. John Chrysostom is especially the interpreter.

In a well-known homily on the words "I withstood him to the face" (Gal 2:11) St. Chrysostom explains the dissimulation of Peter at Antioch and the rebuke boldly administered by Paul as a sort of play got up for the edification of the Christians, since he holds it impossible that the two great coryphaei should have disagreed, that Peter should have been afraid, and that Paul should have been wanting in respect. The discussion of the same question by St. Jerome and St. Augustine in a series of letters, which passed (not always by the quickest route) between Bethlehem and Hippo, is sufficiently famous. St. Jerome in his study of Greek writers, had assimilated the same traditional Eastern exegesis which Chrysostom inherited, while the mystical Augustine is actually found on the side of plain literal interpretation against the greatest commentator of the school of Antioch!

"'And when Peter was come to Antioch I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.' Does not this trouble every man who hears it? That Paul should have resisted Peter, that the pillars of the Church should collide and dash against each other! For, indeed, these are pillars which uphold and support the roof of the Faith, and columns and bulwarks and eyes of the Body of the Church, and fountains of good, and treasures and harbors; and whatever we may say, we shall not attain their worth." (In illud, 'in faciem ei restiti' vol III, 373[363])

In the first place, who can believe that Peter really "feared them that were of the circumcision," Peter who confessed Christ before all the others, and was the first to break the onset of the Jews?

"So that even though John, though James, though Paul, though any other whatsoever, appears to perform any great deed after this, yet Peter excels them all, he that was the first to make way for their boldness, and open the entrance, and to enable them to enter with great confidence, like a river carried in mighty flood....Was he such after the Cross? Before the Cross, also, was he not more fervent than all? Was he not the mouth of the apostles? Did he not speak when all were silent, etc....And much more might he have said about Peter, to show his fervor, his courage, and his love for Christ." (In illud, ibid, 376-7[365-7])

Similarly St. Paul's habitual deference to St. Peter makes it impossible that he should have rebuked him:

"Paul was the servant not only of the coryphaeus of those saints, but absolutely of all the apostles, and this though he excelled all by his labors, in spite of which he thought himself to be the last. For he says: 'I am the least of the apostles, who am not worthy to be called an apostle,' and, the least, not only of the apostles, but simply of all the saints : 'To me,' he says, 'the least of all the saints, was this grace given'."

"You see his humble soul? You see how he sets himself below all saints, not merely below all the apostles? And feeling this towards all, he was aware how great a superiority [Greek] Peter must enjoy, and he reverences him more than all men, and he esteemed him according to his dignity. The whole world was looking to Paul, the care of the Churches throughout the world was hung upon his soul, every day he transacted a thousand matters, all surrounded was he with business, presidency, corrections, counsels, warnings, instructions, the management of a thousand things; and setting all this aside, he went to Jerusalem, and there was no other pretext for his journey but to see Peter, as he himself says: 'I went up to Jerusalem to visit Peter,' so greatly did he honor him and set him before all. And then? When he had seen him, did he return at once? By no means; but he abode with him fifteen days. Tell me, then, if you should see some general, noble and famous, who when war was begun, when the armies were in array, when the fight was at its hottest, when a thousand matters called him, should leave the ranks to go off and find some friend -- would you seek for a greater proof, tell me, of his goodwill to that man? I think not. Think the same, then, with regard to Paul and Peter. For in this case, also, there was a cruel war, and battle array, and fighting not against men, but against principalities, against powers, against the world-rulers of the darkness of this world, and fighting for the salvation of men. Yet so much did he reverence Peter, that, with such necessity weighing upon him and pressing him, he ran for Peter's sake to Jerusalem, and remained with him fifteen days before returning." (In illud, ibid, 378[368] seq)

In his commentary on Galatians, St. Chrysostom deals with this passage in just the same way, but adds that in reality St. Paul had no need of Peter nor of his voice, being equal in honor [Greek].

"'Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter.' What could be more humble than this soul? After such great deeds, having no need of Peter, nor of his voice, and being equal in honor to him [Greek] -- for I will say no more at present -- yet he goes up as to the greater and elder, and the only cause of his journey is to visit Peter. Do you see how he gives him the proper honor [Greek] and not only thinks himself not their superior, but not even their equal. Thus, as many of our brethren journey to holy men, so Paul went then to Peter; or, rather, with far greater humility. For they do it for the sake of advantage to themselves, but this saint went not to learn anything from him, nor to receive any correction, but for this alone, that he might see him, and honor him by his presence. 'To visit [Greek] (enquire, examine), Peter,' he says; he did not say to see Peter but to [Greek word] Peter, which is the word employed by those who visit great and famous cities -- so great was the trouble he thought fit to take merely to see him.

"And this is further evident from his actions. When he came to Jerusalem, after converting many of the Jews, and after doing greater works than any of the others, having brought Pamphylia, Lycaonia, Cilicia, and all that part of the world into the right path, and having converted them to Christ, he first goes up to James, as to a greater and more honorable, with much humility. Then he bears with him when he gives counsel, and counsel contrary to the doctrine of this epistle." (Commentary on Galatians, I, 11, vol X, 631[677])

Of course St. Paul had no need of Peter, nor could Peter teach him anything; as to the promise to say more about [Greek] ("I will say no more for the present"), it is apparently fulfilled in the passage given in the text from page 638 of the same commentary, where it is explained as meaning that St. Paul had been made by Our Lord apostle of the Gentiles, as St. Peter of the Jews. Here, also, he explains (In illud, ibid, 379[367]) that our Lord committed the Jews to Peter, and over the Gentiles He set Paul:

"Christ [like a wise king who has one general for the cavalry and another for the infantry] divided His army, the Jews to Peter, the Gentiles to Paul." (In illud, ibid 379[369])

And elsewhere:

"'For He who operated in Peter for the apostleship of the circumcision, worked also in me among the Gentiles.' As by the name of uncircumcision he means the Gentiles, so by the circumcision he means the Jews. And he shows himself to be equal in honor and compares himself, not with the others, but with the coryphaeus [Peter, the head], showing that each enjoyed the same dignity [Greek]." (In Galat II, 3, vol X, 638[684-5])

Thus St. Paul looks up to all the apostles out of humility, to James, and especially to Peter, while at the same time he is well aware that he is the superior of all but Peter, and equal to him. This placing of Paul above the rest is not astonishing; in East and West they are always "the princes of the apostles." We may, however, ask why he is twice called "equal in honor to Peter." The answer is plainly that St. Paul shares in that ecumenicity of apostleship which St. Chrysostom so frequently attributes to Peter, "to whom were committed the sheep," "who was entrusted with the whole world." St. Paul receives the Gentiles, as St. Peter the Jews.

It did not, of course, enter into St. Chrysostom's head to doubt that Peter remained the "coryphaeus" of the apostles, or to suppose that Paul received any such jurisdiction over the others as he ascribes (as we have seen) to Peter. Still less is he likely to have asked himself whether Peter had theoretically any jurisdiction over Paul. We have learnt how inconceivable it is to him that they should disagree even about a matter of prudence and policy. He regards them here as two equally inspired captains of the Church: Peter, the original generalissimo, Paul, a colleague, sent afterwards to relieve him of half the command.

St. Chrysostom is careful to point out how St. Paul recognized the primacy of St. Peter over the others:

"See Paul's wisdom," he says (after quoting 1 Cor 9:5 "Have we not power to carry about a sister, as well as the rest of the apostles, and the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas"), he puts the coryphaeus last, for in that position he places his most powerful point. For it was not so wonderful to represent the others taking about a sister as the primate [Greek], he who was entrusted with the keys of heaven." (Hom 21 in 1 Cor, vol X, 175[181])

On "I am of Paul, I am of Apollo, I am of Cephas" (1 Cor 1:12) compare also:

"If they must not be partisans of the teacher and first of the apostles who had instructed so great a multitude, much more must they not attach themselves to nobodies....It was not as preferring himself to Peter that he put him last, but because he put Peter far above himself. For he arranged his sentence in an ascending scale, that he might not be suspected of ding this out of envy, and to be taking away the honor of the others because he was jealous. This is why he placed himself first. For he who discredits himself before the others, does so not for love of honor, but because he greatly despises all such glory. He therefore receives the whole shock himself, and next places Apollo, and then Cephas." (Hom 3, in 1 Cor, 24[16])

Chrysostom on Rome and the Successors of Peter

The reader will ask what St. Chrysostom says of the successors of St. Peter. Fr. Puller remarks of the treatise De Sacerdotio that,

"when St. Chrysostom wrote this treatise, he neither was nor ever had been in communion with the Church of Rome, and, in fact, he remained outside of that communion for at least seventeen more years, perhaps for as many as twenty-six." (Puller, Primitive Saints)

As he proceeds to prove this in 146 large octavo pages, together with about fifty pages of extra notes, I cannot reply to it here. It is only necessary at present to state that there is no evidence that St. Chrysostom himself was ever out of communion with Rome. The bishops of the patriarchate of Antioch for the most part recognized St. Meletius and his successor St. Flavian as rightful patriarchs, while Rome and Alexandria (that is, St. Athanasius and his successors) thought that their rival Paulinus had the better title. But the rest of the East sides with Meletius, though remaining in full communion with Alexandria, Rome and the West. It is certain that neither St. Meletius nor St. Flavian was ever formally excommunicated by the Apostolic See. It is still more certain that their adherents -- whether the bishops within the patriarchate, or the priests (including St. Chrysostom) and people within the city -- were never excommunicated.

When St. Chrysostom became Bishop of Constantinople, he was consecrated as a matter of course by Theophilus, patriarch of Alexandria. Paulinus was now dead, and Theophilus and Pope St. Siricius were induced by Chrysostom to recognize St. Flavian as patriarch of Antioch. The idea that there was any schism of the whole Church is absurd (I am perfectly aware that so short an account of the difficulty is inadequate). Still, we might expect St. Chrysostom to say little about Rome and Alexandria. As a fact, he is enthusiastic about Rome.

Antioch, where he was born, where he lived, and where he preached his most famous homilies, was the third see in Christendom, and claimed its high rank, as Rome and Alexandria did theirs, on the ground of its Petrine foundation:

"God has had great account of this city of Antioch, as He has shown in deed, especially in that he ordered Peter, the ruler [Greek] of the whole world, to whom He entrusted the keys of heaven, to whom he committed the office of bringing all in [or to sweep the whole world of its plunder] to pass a long time here, so that our city stood to him in the place of the whole world. And in mentioning Peter, I have perceived that a fifth crown is woven from this, for Ignatius received the episcopate after him." (Hom in S. Ignat M 4, vol II, 591[597])

But as Peter could not make Jerusalem his see, because Christ "made him teacher not of that throne, but of the world," so Antioch could not permanently "stand to him in place of the whole world."

"In speaking of Peter, the recollection of another Peter has come to me" (viz. St. Flavian, his bishop) "our common father and teacher, who has succeeded to the virtue of Peter, and also to his chair. For this is the one great prerogative of our city, that it received the coryphaeus of the apostles as its teacher in the beginning. For it was right that she who first was adorned with the name of Christians [cf. Acts 11:26] before the whole world, should receive the first of the apostles as her pastor. But though we received him as teacher, we did not retain him to the end, but gave him up to Royal Rome. Nay, but we did retain him till the end; for we do not retain the body of Peter but we retain the faith of Peter as though it were Peter himself; and while we retain the faith of Peter, we have Peter himself." (Hom in inscr Act II, 6, vol III, 86[70])

And since Paul shared the world with Peter, so he also must go to Rome. "He prophesies, saying: 'I must also see Rome'" (cf. Acts 19:21, Hom 42, 1, vol IX, 295[317]); and in accordance with this prophecy, thither he goes, and there Peter and Paul, "greater than Kings and Princes" (c. Jud et Gen, 6, vol I, 821[565]) are buried:

"They who were dragged hither and thither, who were despised and bound with fetters, and who suffered all those thousand torments, in their death are more honored than kings; and consider how this has come to pass: in the most regal city of Rome to the tomb of the fisherman and the tentmaker run emperors and consuls and generals." (c. Jud et Gent, 9, vol I, 825[570])

I need not apologize for quoting a longer piece of the magnificent peroration of the last homily on Romans:

"There (in heaven) we shall behold Paul, if we have heard him here, even though we be not near him; yet shall we see him in glory by the Royal Throne, where the Cherubim praise, and the Seraphim fly. there we shall see Paul with Peter, (Paul) the coryphaeus and leader [Greek] of the choir of the blessed, and we shall enjoy his true-hearted love. for if on this earth he so loved men, that when he might choose to be dissolved and to be with Christ, he preferred to be here, much more will he in heaven show his love yet more fervent. And for this it is I love Rome : though I might praise her on other grounds, for her greatness, her antiquity, her beauty, her numbers, her power, her wealth, her victories in war; but passing over all these, I bless her because Paul, when living, wrote to the Romans, and love them so much, and was among them, and spoke to them, and there ended his life.

"Whence also the city is more renowned for this than for all else; and like a great and mighty body, she has two eyes, the bodies of those two saints. The heaven is not so bright when the sun shoots forth his rays as the city of the Romans, shedding forth the light of these two lamps throughout the world. Thence shall Paul be caught up, thence Peter shall rise. Consider and be amazed! What a sight shall Rome then behold, when Paul sudden shall arise with Peter from the tomb, and be caught up to meet the Lord. What a rose shall Rome send forth to Christ! What diadems are those two, with which the city is crowned, with that chains of gold it is girded; what fountains it hath! [4] It is for this that I admire the city, not for its much gold, for its columns, or any other fantasy, but because of these two pillars of the Church. Who will grant me to embrace the body of Paul, to cling to his sepulchre, and to see the dust of that body which 'filled up what was wanting' to Christ [cf. Col 1:24], which bore His stigmata, and sowed His teaching everywhere!" (Hom 32 in Rom 2, vol IX, 678[757])

Further on in the same splendid passage:

"Would I could see his tomb, where are laid the arms of justice, the armor of light....This body fortifies that city more surely than any tower or than ten thousand circumvallations, and with it the body of Peter; for while living he honored him: 'I went up to visit Peter.' Therefore when Paul left this world, grace vouchsafed that he should share Peter's resting place." (ibid, c. 4, 680[759])

In the course of the terrible troubles which overwhelmed St. Chrysostom's last years, he appealed for sympathy and for assistance to the bishops of the West, and principally to Pope St. Innocent, to whom he wrote a grateful letter in return for the efforts made on his behalf. Of course he was aware of the tremendous "papal claims" made by that great Pope and by his predecessors. It would be mere special pleading, without any ground whatever, to pretend that he disallowed them.

[ Giles comments: "Dom Chrysostom Baur, who has made an exhaustive study of Chrysostom's life and writings, tells us that in his copious works 'there is no clear and direct message in favor of the primacy of the Pope.' (Catholic Encyclopedia, volume 8:457A) How then was unity to be preserved? Chrysostom's answer is that the Holy Ghost was given to bind us together 'by the glow of charity.' " (Giles page 169) ]

But it is to be remembered that the Popes interfered very little in the East, except when the wrongdoings of a patriarch were in question. It was on this ground that Innocent rebuked the Patriarch of Alexandria for persecuting the bishop of the Imperial City, and after the saint's death refused his communion to Theophilus, in token of his displeasure.

Note that the Pope did not depose Theophilus or deprive him of jurisdiction, nor could the rest of the Egyptian bishops be said to be in schism because they were necessarily in communion with him. This will help us to understand the case of St. Meletius and St. Flavian. A penal refusal of actual Papal communion, without deposition, was common enough. The punished bishop was in mediate communion with Rome through his comprovincials.


ENDNOTES

(some of the longer technical notes have been edited for brevity or included above)

[1] To the dozens of instances which occur in the course of the article, I add: In inscript Act ii, 4, vol III, 83[66]; Hom 54[55] in Matt 4, vol VII, 536[550]; Hom 33[32] in Joann, 3, vol VIII, 191[193]; ibid Hom 72[71], I, 390[423]; Hom 73[72], I, 396[430]; Hom 22 in Acta I, vol IX, 171[177]; Hom in 1 Cor, 4, vol X, 36[29], etc. So when the saint compares the Apostles with the philosophers, he contrasts Peter with Plato, "the Coryphaeus of philosophers" (Hom 4, in Acta 4, vol IX, 48[39]). St. Jerome has the same idea. "As Plato was prince of philosophers, so is Peter of the apostles, upon whom the Church is founded in massive solidity, which is shaken by no surge of floods nor any storm" (Dial C. Pelag I, 14, 506[707]). The homilies of the Acts were preached at Constantinople about the year 400; St. Jerome wrote his dialogue in 415, so he may have borrowed from Chrysostom, who had been dead eight years. This is worth noticing, in view of the fact that the Homilies on Acts were considered spurious by Erasmus (though his opinion has not been followed), whilst the first certain reference to them is said to be in Cassiodorus.

[2] I quoted some rather out-of-the-way examples of this doctrine in the Revue Benedictine, Jan 1903, in a third article on the Cyprianic interpolations, page 29 note. The argument is this: as Peter had power over the others, so have bishops in their own sphere. Peter was to the ancients the type of centralized power.

[3] Oxford translator's note: [Greek] which Erasmus justly renders, Quanquam habebat jus constituendi par omnibus; i.e. the ordination by Peter singly, would have been as valid as the ordination by the whole body. DF have [Greek] i.e. and yet he possessed a power of ordaining, in which they were not all on a par with him; which reading is accepted by Morel. Sav. and Ben., and is rendered by the last: quanquam non pariforma apud omnes ejus uigebat auctoritas. This reading originated in a mistake as to the meaning of the other, as if that asserted only that St. Peter has the same power of ordaining as any of the rest.

[4] The chain of St. Paul is kept at S. Paulo fuori le mura, that of St. Peter (to which Eudoxia is said to have added the chain with which he was bound at Jerusalem, by gift to St. Leo the Great) is at St. Peter in Vincoli. The fountains are, of course, the tre fontane on the Ostian way on the spot where St. Paul was beheaded.


See also Rome has Spoken; the Case is Closed by Dom John Chapman

also St. Cyprian on the Church and the Papacy by Dom John Chapman

also St. Athanasius, Arianism, and the Holy See by Dom John Chapman

also St. Jerome and Rome by Dom John Chapman


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