John asked:

I know Peter was seen as making mistakes and was even rebuked by Paul in Galatians, so I was wondering if you could speak on the subject of the pope’s infallibility.

Tim Staples replied:

"Jesus in many different ways and in many places in scripture lays this out ... I’m just gonna refer to the one that you’re probably most familiar with and that's Matthew 16. The context is very important because Jesus has just asked the apostles in verse 13 'Who do men say that the son of man is?' ... Various apostles say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, there's Jeremiah, one of the prophets. But he says then 'Who do you say I am?' And it's Simon Peter that responds ... You are the Christ, the son of the living God ... Jesus singles out Peter and says 'Blessed are you Simon Barjona for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my father in heaven, and I tell you, you are Peter and upon this rock I will build my church.'

I think this image of the rock is so important because we know back in Matthew Chatper 7, Jesus says the wise man builds his house upon a rock, because if you build your house upon sand, storms will come and it will collapse. So this is just a few chapters before Jesus gives that parable now he's the wise man who's building his house and what does he do? He makes Peter the rock foundation. It's in that context he says 'flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my father in heaven. And I say to you, you are Peter and on this rock' and as you know Peter’s name means rock ... 'upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.' And here's the key: 'I will give you the keys to the kingdom in heaven, and whatever you bind on earth ... shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been bound [Editor note: Tim meant to say loosed] in heaven ...

It’s not that anything at all that Peter says or does is going to be an act that's backed up by heaven, it's whatever he binds ... Peter must say he's binding something on earth in order for it to be bound in heaven ... You mentioned Galatians 2:9. That's a great example because there Paul rebuked Peter for not living up to his own teachings. A lot of people confuse infallibility with impeccability. We do not believe that Peter was somehow wasn't going to sin any more after this ..."


Catholic Answers, "Open Forum for Non-Catholics" (San Diego: Catholic Answers, 2013)

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Show air date: September 9, 2013

Name of show: Open Forum for Non-Catholics

Guest comments by: Tim Staples

Question appeared in show: 36:07

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"...and upon this rock I will build My Church..." Matthew 16:18