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Darkness to Light - Vol. II, No.9

Darkness to Light
Volume II, Number 9


Presented by Darkness to Light Web site
Director: Gary F. Zeolla

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Email Exchanges on Catholicism

By Gary F. Zeolla


I'm still going through old email exchanges I saved from the last couple of years. So below are some of these dealing with Catholicism. These emails are follow-ups to various email exchanges on Catholicism already posted on the Web site. These are found at: Catholicism. The emailers' comments are printed in black and enclosed in "greater than" and "lesser than" signs. My responses are in red.

>Subject: Thank you.

Dear Gary,

I have just visited your site and want to thank you for the time and thoughtfulness you have put forth discussing the differences between Catholics and Protestants. I am a born again Christian who has been happily married to an Italian Catholic for 18 years. I received the Lord two years ago, and at that time, I found it difficult to accept the teachings of the Catholic Church to which my children and husband faithfully attended. This caused great strife between me and my family.

After several months in prayer, and the same amount of time faithfully in Scripture, the Lord laid on my heart that faith in Jesus Christ for salvation can be obtained by all who ask no matter what denomination they belong to. My husband is comfortable attending his traditional church, and I am comfortable attending a Protestant church. We both love the Lord and place Him above all else. Our hearts are in the right place and it's nice to see someone recognizes that there are Catholics who are saved.

Not all Catholics pray to idols or pray through saints. They recognize Mary for being a special chosen one in God's plan, but also in need of a savior herself due to her sinful human nature. Many Catholics now know they can go straight to the Lord with their prayers and confessions. Many know their salvation is based on faith in Jesus Christ's atonement on the cross and His resurrection from the dead. A personal relationship with God can be obtained by Catholics, Protestants and all who seek.

I think the biggest problem is that many Christians, no matter what church they attend, do not spend faithful daily time reading Scripture. Thus, they are really ignorant to who God is and what He expects from us. It becomes too comfortable for many to make up a god in their own minds who they can be comfortable with and continue to act in whatever way they have come to accept. This includes believing a certain religion or church will save them. They attend church on Sunday and sit in judgment of those who do not.

Tolerance is a word often overused in today's society. I think it would surprise many to learn that God is merciful, but not tolerant. All should remember, God created everything and He is the only one able to set the rules and He does expect us to abide by them. We need to learn these rules by faithfully praying & reading Scripture and then lovingly obeying them. God's will for us will always be so much better than anything we could try to do on our own. I pray peace to all, especially those still searching for the Lord. He is there knocking, open your heart and invite Him in. And to those who believe, I pray they will spend some time in God's presence today simply thanking Him for all and enjoying just being in His presence.

God Bless.

Thank you for the comments. They are very well thought out.

>Subject: Peter as 1st pope question

Hi Gary,

I have enjoyed reading many of your email conversations. My dad is a staunch traditional Catholic who only attends Latin mass. He reads all the saints books and the Catholic newspapers and so on. He is very strong in his belief. I however and the rest of my family excluding my sister now, are Protestant. My question is, how do you explain that Peter was not the first pope, but just an apostle like the others? They love to throw in the verse "Whatever you unleash on earth will be bound in Heaven" etc. I don't really have a comeback for that one. What do you think those verses mean?

Thank you for your time.

Kevin B

There is nothing in the Bible that indicates Peter somehow had prominence over the other apostles. Matthew 16:18 has been quoted repeatedly over the centuries to try to support this position. But it is just that: one verse. And there are varying interpretations of it. I give one such interpretation in my Bible versions book.

Basically, the interpretation I favor is based on the historical background of the verse. Jesus specifically took the apostles to Caesarea Philippi when He uttered this line (Matt 16:13). At this time, there was a giant boulder in Caesarea Philippi with indents in it. In these indents were idols of gods. When Jesus said He would build His Church on "this rock" He was probably referring to the Church being built on this rock in the sense of crushing the gods of Rome. And, of course, that is what happened. The gods of Rome were crushed and fell out of favor as the Christian faith grew.

Note that in the next line Jesus refers to the "gates of Hades." Gates were defensive, not offensive, weapons. So Jesus is saying that Hades will not withstand the onslaught of the Church. So that is the context of this overused verse.

So what Jesus was doing was using a word play on the name "Peter." It means "a stone" while the word used for "rock" is "petra" which means a large solid rock. A correct translation is important here. So Jesus is saying that Peter himself or any single person is insignificant to this giant solid rock they were standing before, but nevertheless, it would not be able to withstand the onslaught of the whole Church.

Below is my translation of this verse:

Now I also say to you, that you are Peter ["a stone"], and on this solid rock I will build my Assembly [or, Church], and [the] gates of the realm of the dead [Gr., hades] will not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18; ALT).

But also let me say that even if the "rock" is referring to Peter himself, it doesn't say "and on your successors." That interpretation is just assumed by the RCC.

That said, it could be said that Peter was the first bishop or patriarch of Rome, and there is an early list of "successors" to Peter to this office recorded in the writings of Eusebius. However, in the early Church there were initially five such patriarchs, in Rome, Jerusalem, Constantinople, Antioch, and one other place that I forget exactly, maybe Ephesus.

But the point is, these five patriarchs were considered to be equals. It was only much later that the Roman patriarch asserted his priority over the others.

Moreover, during the time in which the first two successors to Peter were supposedly in office (still in the first century AD), John and possibly other of the apostles were still alive. And it is hard to believe that a "successor" to an apostle would somehow have priority to a still living apostle.

Given all of this, there simply is no early evidence that Peter is somehow supposed to be the head of the entire Church, let alone his successors.

----Original Message-----

>Subject: Re: Peter as 1st pope question

That's a good interpretation. But I'm not quite sure how that answers my original question about Matthew 16:19. Can you please further elaborate on that verse? I appreciate your taking the time to talk to me.


Oops. Based on your subject line I thought you were mainly concerned about Matt 16:18 not the next verse.

The important point on this verse is to get a correct translation. Below is how I rendered it:

And I will give to you the keys of the kingdom of the heavens, and whatever you bind on the earth will have been bound in the heavens; and whatever you loose on the earth will have been loosed in the heavens" (Matthew 16:19; ALT).

The "will have been bound" renderings are due to the verbs being in the perfect tense. They are not future tense as the "will be bound" rendering makes it look like they are. This difference is very important.

The future tense means, of course, that the event will happen in the future. But the Greek perfect tense indicates something that happened in the past but has continuing results in the present (of the time of writing or speaking).

So what Jesus is saying is NOT that Peter's actions will cause someone's sins to be bound or loosed in heaven. What He is saying is that the person's sins have already been either bound or loosed in heaven and then Peter will "pronounce" which is the case. So Peter is NOT causing someone's sins to be forgiven. He simply is to declare to the person that based on their faith or lack thereof that their sins have been forgiven or not forgiven. It is a deceleration of what has already happened.

Note also, that what Jesus says here to Peter He says to all the apostles in John 20:23:

If any of you* forgive their sins, they have been forgiven to them; if any of you* retain [their sins], they have been retained" (ALT).

Note the asterisk after "you." I used this in my translation to indicate the original is plural. And in context, Jesus is speaking to all of the apostles. So again, there is nothing "special" about Peter in comparison to the other apostles.

Moreover, I would say all believers have the ability to pronounce that someone's sins have been forgiven when they believe in Christ. Again, this is a declaration of what God has already done, not somehow a "power" for a human being to actually cause the forgiveness of someone.

So by looking at an exact translation and by comparing Scripture with Scripture it can be seen what is the correct interpretation of Matt 16:19. It in no way "exalts" Peter over the other apostles nor gives him the power to forgiven or not to forgive sins.

----Original Message-----

>Subject: Re: Peter as 1st pope question

Thanks. I appreciate the help in better understanding this.

God Bless.


>Subject: Catholic Idolatry

Dear Gary,

Praise the Lord for your website and your ministry! I have been reading through some of the correspondence you have with Catholics. I really liked the comments by one lady who said she doesn't understand the Catholic Church having statues when the Bible states that we are not to worship idols. Your response was really wonderful.

[Note: My response was as follows: Again, I would agree the practice is wrong. What the RCC says is that you're not really praying to the stature, but you asking the person it represents (who now assumedly is in heaven) to pray to God for you, the same as you would ask someone on earth. But this distinction is often loss on the masses. Moreover, the problem with this is, how can a "saint" in heaven hear all of the people praying to him/ her at once. Has the saint now become omniscient? I don't think so.]

One thought that I'd like to add, that occurred to me a couple of years back when my Catholic parents threw that old argument at me that they don't pray to the statue, but to the person behind it, is that while I know that is the official Catholic teaching, in so doing they have made an idol out of that person! They stopped saying that to me when the subject came up after that -- they couldn't handle it because those words had placed them under deep conviction. This is why I thought I'd share them with you, for I truly believe that the Holy Spirit inspired me to say that. And every time I say them to a Catholic, deep conviction is always reaped, so they are very powerful, as most Catholics have never thought of it that way before (I know, because I was raised as one myself).

It took me a few more years to get them convinced that what I was saying is true, but Dad converted shortly before his death and was gloriously saved -- praise the Lord! Mother is living with us now, and fully understands, and hopefully will convert soon herself. Her name is Joan, and your prayers for her would be greatly appreciated.

In His Love, Mercy & Grace,

Thank you for the email. Good observation. And PTL for you father's salvation. And I'll keep your mother in prayer.


Differences Between Bible Versions
Why do Bible versions differ? Why does the same verse read differently in different versions?
Why do some versions contain words, phrases, and even entire verses that other versions omit?
Which Bible versions are the most reliable?
These and many other questions are answered in this paperback and eBook by Gary F. Zeolla.


ALT-2 Update
Good News; Bad News

I have some good news and some bad news in regards to the forthcoming second edition of the Analytical-Literal Translation of the New Testament (ALT). First the bad news. In the last issue of this newsletter, I had mentioned that I was waiting for the second "gallery" (hardcopy print-out) of the ALT. When I got it, my publisher really messed up the formatting on the book. All of the double spaces had been lost, some of the bolding, and other such mistakes. So they were going to have to basically start over to get the formatting right, and this would delay the publication of the text.

However, these problems led to the good news. During the time I was waiting for the gallery to come, Maurice Robison had contacted me. Robison is one of the two editors of the Byzantine Majority Text. The ALT was translated from the first edition of this Greek text. That first edition had been published in 1991.

Now, in 2001, while I was still working on the first edition of the ALT, Robinson, along with William Pierpont, had been hard at work reviewing and updating their text. So at that time, Robinson had sent me the text as it had been updated up until that time. They were hoping that a second edition would be published soon.

But for various reasons, things got delayed. One of these was that William Pierpont went to be with the Lord in February of 2003. But Robinson continued working on reviewing the text. And it was finally ready for publication. So that was when he contacted me. And when he did, he sent me a list of all of the changes that had been made to the text from the first edition to the forthcoming second edition. He also sent me a list of what will be footnoted, alternate readings in the new text. These represent places where the Byzantine, Greek manuscripts are closely divided.

However, since I had already resubmitted the ALT text to the publisher, there was no way I could update the ALT to include these changes and alternate readings. But then, when I received the new gallery with all of the mistakes, I figured since they were going to start over anyway, I asked them if there was some way I could re-submit the text first. That way, it would give me a chance to update the text to the second edition of the Byzantine text, and they said it would make sense to do so.  So I updated the ALT text to the new Byzantine text and re-submitted it. So once again, I am awaiting the new gallery for me to proofread (hopefully!) one last time.

When I re-submitted the text, I didn't think it would be possible to include the alternate readings. The list was rather lengthy, and I was concerned that it would increase the cost of the final text to the consumer. But I went ahead and translated the readings to be posted on the Web site. But as I translated the readings, I found that for quite a few of them, the difference between the main text and the alternate reading was so minor it did not show up in translation. So if I only included the verses with translatable differences, it would only take about a dozen pages.

So I contacted my publisher and found that I could add that many pages to the text without it increasing the cost of the text. So I will be adding the list of alternate readings as an appendix. But it will have to be the last (sixth) appendix rather than in the more logical placement of being the first appendix.

So what this means is, the new ALT will be based on the most up-to-date and accurate Greek text possible. I am very excited about this. It will add to the overall accuracy of the ALT. And the new ALT will have appendixes listing both "Important Textual Variants" and "Byzantine Majority Text: Alternate Readings." Now, I know that most readers will not be concerned about such things. But that is why they will be tucked away in appendixes, so they can easily be ignored. But the information will be there for those studious among us who wish to study such issues.

A list of the changes made to the ALT text in updating it to the new Byzantine text and the new Alternate Readings appendix have already been posted on the Web site. I also posted a short article concerning the title of the new Byzantine text and how I generally refer to it. These new items are listed at: Byzantine Majority Text: Changes and Alternate Readings.

And for those who are interested, Robinson told me that he had hoped that the second edition of the Byzantine text would be published this year. But his publisher also ran into problems with formatting the text. So its publication has been delayed, and he's not sure if it will be ready this year or not. As for the new ALT, I am still hoping that it will be ready before the end of this year, but it might not be until early next year.

Many thanks to Maurice Robinson for providing the list of changes and alternate readings before the new Byzantine text was even published. I really believe these last minute updates will a big plus for the new ALT. But it was because I was so busy working on these updates that this newsletter is late in being published and why I once again decided to use old emails for it. But I do believe the info in the above emails is timely and important, even if the correspondences occurred a couple of years ago.

And finally, Robinson wrote an obituary for Pierpont that is posted on the Web. It is interesting reading for those of us who believe in the priority of the Byzantine Textform. It is located at: William Grover Pierpont: 26 January 1915 - 20 February 2003.


Scripture Workbook:
For Personal Bible Study and Teaching the Bible
Twenty-two individual "Scripture Studies" on a wide variety of issues.
Invaluable for in-depth, topical studies of the Bible and for preparing Bible study lessons.
Paperback and eBook By Gary F. Zeolla


Also by Gary F. Zeolla:
Fitness for One and All
Web site and FitTips for One and All newsletter.
Helping people to attain their health, fitness, and performance goals.


All material in this newsletter is copyrighted 2004 by Gary F. Zeolla or as indicated otherwise.