Papal Primacy and Biblical Typology

There is a parallel between the two Davidic kings (David and Jesus) in relation to the Prime Ministerial authority. As St. Augustine says, the New is hidden in the Old, and the Old is revealed in the New; it’s what’s called the Biblical typology, where the Old Testament aspects foreshadow their fulfilment in the New Testament. In the first Davidic kingdom (type, or foreshadowing), the King delegates his authority so that the Prime Minister is able to speak with the authority of the King (Is 22:15-25). This is fulfilled (anti-type) in the New Testament, where the Prime Minister for the New Davidic King speaks with the authority of the New Davidic King (Mt 16:18-19). We see this in various parallels between the two:

  • There is “office” (Is 22:19, Acts 1:20 [which apply to the Apostolic offices])
  • There is succession of office (Is 22:19, Acts 1:20:)
  • Authority is given (Is 22:21, Mt 16:19)
  • Fatherhood is bestowed (Is 22:21, I Corinthians 4:15)
  • Key(s) given: “key of the house of David” (Is 22:22), “keys of the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 16:19)
  • Power to make binding decisions: “he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open” (Is 22:22), “whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Mt 16:19)
  • Stability and protection promised: “peg in a sure place” (Is 22:23), “on this rock.. powers of death shall not prevail” (Mt 16:18)

Now, Matthew 18:18 and John 20:23 show collegiality of the College of Bishops. This in no way reduces the Primacy of the office of Peter, as we see in Luke 22:31-32, where the Primacy we’ve seen above is made explicit in relation to the Apostolic college:

“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you [plural], that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you [singular] that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren.”

Peter is singled among the Apostles to strengthen his brethren. This befits the new name specifically given to him by Christ, of Cephas (Peter, “Rock”; John 1:42), since Christ is the Wise Man who builds His house on the Rock, and not on sand (Matthew 7:24-27).

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