Biblical Exposition

 Barry wrote in my combox today – in response to my post entitled “Where Does the Bible Say We Should Pray to Dead Saints?”  Resources about Communion of the Saints I thought I would respond briefly.

Barrry wrote: Would you please read the Lord’s prayer. Jesus prayed it. He was giving an example on how to pray. He didn’t pray to Peter, Paul, Mary, or John-who took care of Jesus’s mother and wrote Revelation. No He prayed to His Father. This is Jesus Himself praying, should we not follow Him, like He asked Peter and His disciples to follow Him. This reference in 350AD is close to 270 years or more after the disciples died. The disciples who wrote the gospel. Do their words of what Christ told them mean nothing?

STEVE RAY RESPONDS BRIEFLY:

FIRST, thanks for writing Barry and God bless you. You start out with a seeming tone of condescension. Of course, I have read the Lord’s Prayer, in fact, I have it memorized :-)  By the way, we Catholics refer to John 17 as the Lords’ Prayer. What you call the Lords’ Prayer we usually refer to as the Our Father.

Card-85-Holy-Spirit-backSECOND, is it ONLY to the Father that we should pray? Is Jesus’ example restricting us from “praying” to anyone else? This seems to be your implication. However, should we also pray to Jesus? Is that allowed? And what about the Holy Spirit? Should we pray to him or is that disallowed? According to your statements above we should not pray to Jesus and the Holy Spirit! If you say we are allowed (and should) pray to the Holy Spirit you may be interested to know that nowhere in Scripture are we told to do that nor do we have an example of someone who does. Yes, most Christians would agree we should pray to Jesus and the Holy Spirit as well as to the Father.

THIRD, The words pray and worship are two different words with different meanings. Pray Is to ask for something, it means a petition or a request. Worship means to do just that, worship and adore. Worship is something reserved for the Trinity alone. Protestants tend to see pray and worship as synonyms which is one reason they often react so negatively to the reality of the intercession of the saints.

When we pray to Saint it is not worshiping them. It is asking them to intercede WITH us as we pray to God himself. God is the only one who can answer prayers.

15445tca0714_ChristGlorifiedFOURTH, when Jesus was on the earth the Saints were not yet in glory–heaven had not been opened yet. When Jesus ascended to heaven he brought the dead with him into the presence of God. From that point on they’re in the presence of God himself and can intercede personally for people still on earth (or do you think they can’t or don’t care?) 

Like I asked my mother who doubts the saints are aware of things on the earth and can intercede for us. “Do you think Dad has forgotten you, doesn’t care about you anymore or isn’t ask the Lord to bless you? Dad is sitting in his favorite chair having coffee with Our Lord Jesus waiting for you to arrive to love you better than ever before. In the meantime, he is praying for you and very intent on your well being. (Read my article, “Marriage in Heaven? Will We Know and Love our Spouses in Heaven?”

Transfiguration-1024x670FIFTH, we are commanded to pray for each other and to ask others to pray for us. We believe the church is one organic body not split up and divided. Those in heaven are part of the body of Christ like we are. We ask them to intercede for us just like I could ask you to intercede for me.

Even though right now I can’t see you or talk to you personally I can use technology to do it to ask you to intercede for me. I don’t know how spiritual technology works but I certainly trust the Scriptures and the Church. The Saints are very much alive in the presence of God and they are concerned about what’s going on down on earth (consider Moses at the Transfiguration in Luke 9:30-31). The Saints in the presence of God in heaven can easily request of God benefits on our behalf.

SIXTH, Believers have been asking for the prayers of the Saints since the beginning. All one has to do is look at the graffiti left in the catacombs to see where they said from the first centuries “Peter and Paul pray for us”. In the catacombs of St. Sebastian there’s one segment of wall covering the former tombs of Sts.  Peter and Paul. There are 614 requests for intersession scratched into the wall from the very first Christians. They were (praying=asking) for the intercession of these two great martyrs and saints.

Screen Shot 2017-12-12 at 11.30.10 AMThis is just scratching the surface. There is so much more to say but if you’re interested you’ll find the sources. If you’re not then I feel sorry for you. I am so happy that back in my former years as a Protest-ant it was just “Me and Jesus” but now the heavens have opened and I realize I am part of something much bigger, the Mystical Body of Christ with the Communion of the Saints. Blessed be God forever.

I recommend Patrick Madrid’s book Any Friend of God’s is a Friend of Mine.

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Pope_Francis_(27056871831)_(cropped)There are a lot of discussions this week about the Pope’s comments on the wording of the “Our Father” prayer, especially the line “Lead us not into temptation.” He said it gives the wrong impression — that God Himself leads us into sinful temptations. Of course, taken at face value without understanding the nuances of the wording, it could be incorrectly understood that way.

To be clear, the Pope did NOT say he was going to change the Sixth Petition of the Our Father Prayer. The news media again went overboard exaggerating the whole situation. Another example of not trusting the mainstream media.

First, this could never be the case since we learn elsewhere in Scripture that God tempts no one. James 1:13 tells us, “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted with evil and he himself tempts no one.” Along with other similar verses it clear God could never tempt us with sin nor lead us into an alleyway to push us into sin.

The UBS Handbook on Matthew (which is a series I find especially helpful) states, “This final petition is especially difficult to interpret. The Greek word translated temptation may also mean “trial, persecution”… the sense here can be either “to tempt to do wrong” or “to test or try.

For me this line in the Our Father has never been a problem. The Greek word for temptation is also used for testing. For example, 1 Peter 1:6-7, “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while you may have to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold which though perishable is tested by fire, may redound to praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

temptation-of-christ-1872b1Second, Jesus had just been led by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the Devil. St. Matthew tells us, “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil” (Matt 4:1).

The Sermon on the Mount follows Jesus temptation in the wilderness. He had been led by the Spirit to be tempted by the Devil. I have always thought the two were related. We pray that what happened to Jesus does not happen to us. We pray that we will not be put to the test or subjected to trials like the temptation Jesus experienced.  He taught us to pray that we not be subjected to the same kind of testing.

Third, remember when God approached Abraham in Genesis 22 and told him to offer up his son Isaac as a burnt offering? The conversation between God and Abraham begins with, “After these things God tested Abraham.

Abraham-e-Isaac-sacrificanThe Greek Septuagint translation of the Old Testament was the primary translation used by St. Paul and the early Church.  The Greek text of Abraham’s test uses this same Greek root word (test, trial, temptation) when referring to God testing Abraham by asking him to offer up his only son. It was a test of Abraham, not a temptation to sin. After testing the faith and obedience of Abraham, God proclaims, “now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.

Fourth, the Catechism makes it clear that “lead us not into temptation” does not mean God tempts us. It states, [I]t is difficult to translate the Greek verb used by a single English word: the Greek means both “do not allow us to enter into temptation” and “do not let us yield to temptation.” … We ask him not to allow us to take the way that leads to sin. We are engaged in the battle ‘between flesh and spirit’; this petition implores the Spirit of discernment and strength” (Catechism 2846).

Finally, what is needed here is not to change the wording of the prayer—which would be difficult and problematic on many fronts. It is best to educate and teach the meaning and nuances of the petition so people understand the meaning of the passage.

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For Catholic World Reports article “Should the Sixth Petition be Translated, ‘Do Not Let us Fall?’” click here. 
For Jimmy Akins article on this topic here.
For Msgr. Pope’s article on not changing the petition, click here.

Catholic IOn-line here.

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Someone on the Catholic Discussion Forum asserted his opinion and tradition against the papacy in the Catholic Church. I gave short, imperfect, and brief comments in the ten minutes I had free today. This is a thread on whether or not the office of the papacy with qualifications for successors is mentioned in scripture. My comments are in dark blue.

1. In order for the papacy or an earthly head of the church with successors to be true as a definer and protector of truth, it would logically have to be described from the beginning of the church in the apostolic period and not as a later development.

Why does this have to be true? Wouldn’t this claim then be imposed on all development of doctrine such as the canon of Scripture. In other words, for the truth of sola scriptura to be true, it would logically have to have been in existence from the first, which of course not the case. Further, in my book Upon this Rock I demonstrate quite conclusively that the concept of the Primacy of Peter in Rome was quite well understood and practiced in the early Church. By clicking on the link to my book one can also access hundreds of pages of discussion and documentation. For the very few documents that survived the first centuries, we have a very strong case for the primacy of Rome.

2. For the office of papacy to be true, it would need to be described with qualifications for successors, in the inspired writings among the gifts given by Christ for church unity when he ascended into heaven in Ephesians 4:7-16, yet the papacy is conspicuously absent.

How does he know it was NOT described with qualifications. We know that the Alexandrian Library in Egypt was massively stocked with books and documents that no longer exist. We unhappily lost much of what was written and practiced in the early Church. But, even saying that, does this fellow have any documentation from the early Church to affirm a 27 writing canon from the earliest years, or the word “Trinity”? He is very free with “it would logically have to be true” when he points at us but not so freely with his own position.

3. Such a fundamentally important central role as the papacy, in order to be true, would be a central repeated theme of writings by the first Christians: Luke, James, John, Paul, and Peter himself, yet there is not a single mention.

And where do we find these same men repeating the express doctrine of a New Testament canon or the clearly expressed theologies of the two natures of Christ or the three Persons in the hypostatic union of the Trinity? In fact, there are many things that are taken for granted today that were not expressly stated in the NT. Protestants live with this every day with their traditions. Reading the writers of the NT within the context makes it pretty clear about the papacy if someone takes the blinders off. By the way, none of these writers mention the Rapture, Sola Scriptura, the Trinity, faith alone, or any host of other Protestant traditions.

4. Although “head of the church” is a phrase, office, and title in scripture, only Christ and never Peter was ever referred to as such.

This would of course be true in that the NT is more expressly interested in establishing who Jesus was in the documents of Scripture. One does not have to find something expressly stated in order to find it believed and universally practiced. I would suggest Dave Armstrong’s book about proofs of the Papacy from the Bible. Jesus is the head of the Mystical Church and baptized believers are the members. But the Church is not just an amorphous invisible blob or some sort of non-descript brotherhood. It is a real organization of real people in the Body of Christ. The Church has an address! We are to have a visible unity as Jesus intended, not an invisible imaginary “unity.” Jesus left a shepherd, a head of the visible church as the source of unity and teaching. This can be substantiated in the NT unless one refuses to remove the blinders. Even Protestants have their pastors who function effectively as the “head of their church” though they would quickly claim that it is actually Jesus, but in reality, in the day-to-day the pastor effectively functions as the head or CEO.

5. Peter is not explicitly identified as the head of the church in the Jerusalem council in Acts.15; rather James makes the closing summary, although even James is not identified as sole head or bishop of the Jerusalem church.

James quotes Peter and the OT as the infallible source of theology on the matter. It doesn’t to say Peter was the head expressly as it was quite clear to those who attended and by the theological determination who was the head. James was the bishop of Jerusalem sitting in the chair that was vacated by Peter to become the teacher of the world as St. John Chrysostom says. Our friend makes too much of “explictely” and this can certainly and effectively be turned on him much more so than on us. His tradition falls far short if he wants to apply the same standard to himself. Too often Protestants judge Catholic practice by Protestant ideals. What happens if we judge Protestant practice by Catholic ideals?

6. Peter is never identified in scripture as the singular bishop of the Jerusalem diocese or of any diocese.

Peter alone was given the keys in Matthew 16 and singularly headed the Church in the book of Acts. It seems that there was a college of bishops that worked together with one at the lead. This is very likely regarding Peter. In Scripture no one is expressly stated as bishop of Jerusalem and yet anyone who knows history knows that this is what existed and from the earliest times.

7. If there was an infallible head of the church and voice of Christ on earth with successors after Peter, there are no claims, writings, or pronouncements from them until Victor blunders onto the scene with his error, even though the period was fraught with heresies, and the entire NT was written when the apostles and church were persecuted from the beginning.

Maybe our opponent has never heard of St. Clement? This guy really needs to read my book Upon this Rock which documents the primacy of Rome from the apostolic age.

If the church was intended to be built on none other than the pope or person of Peter, why is he not mentioned at all by one of the most important first Christians in the following passage speaking of who the church is built upon?  Ephesians 2:19-22 “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.”

In another place 1 Cor. Paul writes that it is Jesus that is the foundation, and does not mention Peter or any of the apostles. Does that mean that Paul is wrong in Ephesians or 1 Corinthians 3 and that John is wrong in Revelation? We see various “foundations” in various metaphors used by NT writers. Peter is the rock in Matthew, Jesus in 1 Cor., the apostles and prophets in Ephesians, and the 12 apostles in Rev. In one metaphor Jesus is the foundation and in others it is all the apostles. But one cannot dismiss Matthew where another metaphor — the one in which Jesus is not the foundation but the builder — and in this metaphor, Peter the Rock is the foundation and is given the keys of the kingdom.

The Achilles Heal of the Papacy Theory (yeah, right :-)
If indeed Peter was the head of the church with successors as the voice of Christ and the basis of unity, where is this voice during the turbulent years of persecution and heresy before Constantine? Someone will say, “They went to their deaths as martyrs.” But so did the apostles, yet we have their writings well-preserved for us. Where are the writings of the popes from 60 AD to 325 AD? (Clement’s letter is not from him as a singular bishop but from the church of Rome to the church of Corinth, not to the singular bishop of Corinth.) We have something recorded ABOUT some of the other alleged popes but not a single written word FROM them. But correct me if I am mistaken. I would find their writings most interesting.

First, 1 Clement WAS writtten by St. Clement as both Catholic and Protestants agree, and also mentioned as such by those who refer to the letter in the first centuries. Like I said, I gave pages and pages of documentation from the early Church. Just because one doesn’t read history or do their research does not mean it does not exist. I would also suggest that this friend read the Treatise on the Development of Doctrine by Cardinal Newman. The papacy can be demonstrated from the first centuries, but we also accept the concept of the development of doctrine (as must the Protestant, especially with the canon and their sola scriptura) which puts everything in its proper place. I am proud to be a Catholic rooted in Scripture and the early Church!

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Did Solomon’s Mother Bathsheba Demonstrate Mary is NOT a Good Intercessor?

November 12, 2017

I put up a post a few days ago with a video of my talk in Ephesus about Mary being Queen of Heaven and an Intercessor for the people of God’s kingdom. Someone wrote to object saying, It is interesting Steve, as to what you left out in your reference to 1 Kings 2:19 , Solomon’s Mother […]

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St. Paul Walks Passed the Brothal

November 11, 2017

Every time I visit Ephesus I show my tour group my favorite  things in this ancient city. We filmed here for our Paul and Mary DVDs and have brought groups here on numerous occasions. One of my favorite things to show people in Ephesus is the Billboard for the Brothel that is carved into a […]

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What Does God See When He Opens His Eyes?

November 8, 2017

Since we are in Capernaum today – where Jesus said, “Eat My Flesh and Drink My Blood.” I thought it would be appropriate to post again this popular blog post that explains the Sacrifice of the Mass. Recently we went to Mass with two Protestants.  As we walked in the door — there it was, […]

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Did Jesus Ascend into Heaven from Mount of Olives (Acts 1:12) or from Bethany (Luke 24:50)?

November 4, 2017

One of our past pilgrims wrote with an apparent contradiction in the Bible and what I had said in Israel. The wording in the two verses below is what caused the confusion. Acts 1:12  “[After the Ascension] they returned to Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is near Jerusalem, a sabbath day’s journey away.” Luke […]

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All Souls, Purgatory and Dirty China

November 2, 2017

Gus Llyod’s Reflection on Purgatory Today we celebrate the Feast of All Souls. It is the day we remember all the souls in Purgatory. Purgatory can be a controversial topic, and hard to explain. So, I would like to help you with that. Following is one of the chapters of A Minute in the Church […]

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Are You Born Again?

November 1, 2017

Since we are all renewing our Baptismal Vows at the Jordan River today, thought this post from a year ago might be appropriate :-) It seems that God is kind of predictable in a way :-) since He always starts new things in the same way — with “water and the Spirit“. Consider the following: 1) The […]

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Response to a Southern Baptist

October 27, 2017

I received an e-mail from a Southern Baptist and decided to take a few minutes to respond. Thought others might be edifited by it so I have posted it here without using his name. His email is contained in regular text and MY RESPONSE IS IN CAPITAL LETTERS. **************************************************** HELLO FRIEND: I WILL ANSWER BRIEFLY […]

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Evangelicals Guide To Catholic View of Justification

October 14, 2017

Steve Wood was a Protestant pastor before converting to Catholicism and starting Dads.org. He has just published an excellent book “Grace & Justification: An Evangelicals Guide to Catholics Beliefs.” Steve latest newsletter summarizes some of his book and gives good insights — especially in this 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Revolt. Here is his newsletter […]

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Jesus Was A Jew and Why You Can’t Understand the Bible without Knowing That

September 27, 2017

Jesus was a Jew. This fact may escape the casual reader of the New Testament, but it is crucial to understanding Jesus and the book written about him—the Bible. Unhappily, in 21st century America we are far removed from the land of Israel and the ancient culture of Jesus and his Jewish ancestors. Let me […]

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Nativity and Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

September 8, 2017

The birth and presentation of Mary is described in the early 2nd century document known and loved by the first Christians. It is the source for the names of Mary’s parents Joachim and Anna. It is entitled “The Protoevangelium of James.”  It is fascinating. I have only provided the first 1/3 of the document. The […]

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My Talk at Primacy of Peter: Understanding John 21 and Jesus’ Appearance at the Sea of Galilee

September 6, 2017

Since I am doing a show on this topic today with Spirit Catholic Radio (listen live from 9:10-9:40 AM Eastern time) and since will be at this site called Primacy of St. Peter along the shore of Galilee four more times this year… …I thought I would share my teaching that I give all our […]

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Steve Ray on EWTN’s “Franciscan University Presents…”

September 2, 2017

Join Host Michael Hernon, panelists Dr. Regis Martin and Dr. Scott Hahn, and special guest Steve Ray, Founder of Footprints of God Pilgrimages and Producer of “Abraham: Father of Faith & Works”, as they discuss “Father Abraham” and his role in Salvation History.             Our topic is “Father Abraham” since […]

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“Call No Man Your Father”

September 2, 2017

Why do Catholics call their priests “Father” when Jesus said, “Call no man your father.” If you haven’t heard this question yet, some day you certainly will. We must understand what Jesus was saying and why he was saying it in order to understand his words. I was asked this question again and here is […]

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