Before the fall of the Roman Empire you must stop and look at the power that was held within the millions of miles of land, building, people, cities, kings, and customs. The Roman Empire was not known for being just another city or empire but it was known for its strength, power and victories in the times of conflict and wars. The roman empire was built up to what it was right up until the fall by powerful kings and rulers who never imagined that the once untouchable empire would one day fall but not everyone had that same mind set of the great empire according to Katell Berthelot in their writings in the Journal for the Study of Judaism they wrote that, Philo’s perception of Rome is less positive than has generally been argued. Although Philo appreciated the pax romana and the religious freedom generally enjoyed by Jews in the Roman Empire, he was nevertheless critical of Rome.
In particular, he rejected the idea that the Roman Empire was the outcome of divine providence and would last forever. He opposed the spiritual kingship of Israel to the worldly and transitory dominion of Rome. Moreover, he expected Roman rule to fade away in the end, and Israel to blossom as no other nation ever had in the past. Even though the great Roman Empire did eventually fall you must stop and see it for what it was and the vastness of its content and glory. The Roman Catholic Church has a great history that is tied into the life of some of the greatest prophets, preachers, speakers and evangelist. The church was set aside from other churches and religions due to its emphases on meditating salvations according to Walter A. Elwell in his book Evangelical Dictionary of Theology; The most distinctive characteristics of Roman Catholicism has always been its theology of the church (its ecclesiology). The church’s role in meditating salvation has been emphasized more than in other Christian traditions. The Power of the Papacy of Rome
The start of the Roman Catholic Church took place through misinterpreted words when Jesus said to Peter in Matthew 16:18, on this rock I will build my church. Some would argue that the bishop of Rome is to come after the great Peter and then would be called the “rock” of the church. Matthew 16:19 says, I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. These scriptures were meant to show that Jesus was giving peter a great authority as well as passing it on to those who come after Peter in Rome. There are very many misconstrued thoughts and theories on these two scriptures but it is all brought to light in verse sixteen of what Jesus was really trying to say on that day in those words in Matthew 16:16, Simon Peter answered, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.
Throughout the centuries the Roman Catholic Church has been at the center of most of these theories we have just discussed and we as a church in general must realize that we as “the church” must understand that the keys of heaven were not only laid into the hands of the great men and women of old but it is still being placed in the hands of the church of today and we must take possession of it and put it into works so the fruits of our labor will come forth out of the seeds of the harvest. I have tried to cover some of the history of the great Roman Empire because I feel it is important to see what was there and the power that was ripped away before the great power was in return handed over to the papacy. Looking at part of time without looking at what came before that period is like looking at a painting but not caring whom the artist is behind it. The Great Division
When looking into the great division that took place in the Roman Empire one must first look at the multiple patriarchs that were put into place at Chalcedon. What is a patriarch? According to Webster’s Dictionary a patriarch is, one of the scriptural fathers of the human race or of the Hebrew people, a man who is father or founder, the oldest member or representative of a group, a venerable old man, a man who is head of a patriarchy, any of the bishops of the ancient or Eastern Orthodox sees of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, and Jerusalem or the ancient and Western see of Rome with authority over other bishops, the head of any of various Eastern churches, a Roman Catholic bishop next in rank to the pope with purely titular or with metropolitan jurisdiction and a Mormon of the Melchizedek priesthood empowered to perform the ordinances of the church and pronounce blessings within a stake or prescribed jurisdiction. The authority given to the archbishops made the most significant bishops throughout all the empire.
The archbishops were spread all throughout the land including Rome, Constantinople, Alexandria, Jerusalem and Antioch but the issue in this situation was that the east contained four out of the five archbishops while the west simply had one archbishop, so there was not equal balance to both sides. A great division began to take place between the two sides as time passed and their political views as well as their cultural views began to shift and changes began to take place to separate the two sides. Throughout everything taking place Rome took precedents over all other areas as the theological headquarters per say. There were many cultural differences throughout the two sides and one of the most impacting differences would be that of language. Those of the west were mostly speaking the Greek language while those of the east were primarily speaking Latin. The Rise to Power
Todd Fletcher writes in his article for theologyfis.com about the rise of the Papacy in Rome and he says that, in 366 the Bishop of Rome was Damasus I, who was known as the founder of the Papacy in Rome. He had a high view of Rome and of his position as Patriarch of Rome. As stated earlier, Damasus believed that he had received direct authority by Jesus Christ through Peter, and that every Bishop of Rome held “the keys of the kingdom of heaven.” This, in turn, made Rome the most influential city in all of Christendom. His ideas had an extreme impact on his successors, so much so, that in AD 495 a synod of Rome hailed the Pope (meaning ‘father’ first used by Siricius) as the “Vicar (substitute) of Christ.” Around the time of Damasus there was no strong leadership in Rome, which only served to impart even more power to the Roman Catholic Church. A century later, there was no emperor in Western Empire. Leo I was the Pope who reigned from 440 to 461 AD. Leo I was known as “the most resolute, able, and successful.
The lack of leadership created an issue because the problems of the time were then left up to the Catholic Church to solve and to create a plan to fix the issues but at the same time other Issues began to arise of others planning attacks on Rome so Leo make a decision to try and change the mind of those who were planning attacks. According to Phillip Smith’s writings, Leo took it upon himself to dissuade Attila from attacking Rome. “At the emperor’s wish, Leo, accompanied by the Consul Avienus and the Prefect Trigetius, went in 452 to Upper Italy, and met Attila at Mincio in the vicinity of Mantua, obtaining from him the promise that he would withdraw from Italy.” Over time the power and authority set in place for the papacy and the church in those times due to the lack of leadership. The papacy had no choice but to step into that role and authority and take full reins of all situations and eventually the church became a place of protection for the people of Rome. The Reformation and the Loss of Power
In his article “The Papacy” Brother Rush writes that, The Bishop of Rome was one of the most important Bishops of Western Europe up until the Reformation because of a number of factors; including being the city which boasted of having the first martyr, (Peter), Rome was the most prestigious city in the Western Mediterranean and with the title of bishop of Rome came the prestige that was so highly associated with Rome. Another factor which led to the City of Rome being the most dominant City in Western Europe leading up until the Reformation was the fact that there had never been a heresy that was publicly implemented within the city’s gates, few cities of this era could make this claim, leading to the preeminent position and title of leader of the Catholic Church within Western Europe. Throughout the rise of the papacy the Roman people witnessed a number of changes throughout the Empires and in the end Italy was left in ruins but the Roman Catholic Church still proved to be a haven for the people throughout this period of time. The Papacy and its Ramifications
To close this paper I will focus on the positive ramifications that took place due to the papacy. In my book the number one positive ramification would be impact the Roman church had of fulfilling the great commandment of taking the Gospel and getting it into hand s of the people in western Europe. I am sure there were negative things we could focus on but this one
positive thing outweighs those any day in my book.
Smith, Phillip. “The History of the Christian Church During the First Ten Centuries.” The Student’s Ecclesiastical History 1, no. 1 (1879): 395.
Bush, Brother. “The Papacy.” Give Your Witness 1 (2009): 1.
Fletcher, Todd. “Papacy’s Power in Rome.” Theology Fish 1, no. 1 (2011): 1.
Webster, Noah. An American dictionary of the English language. New York: Johnson Reprint Corp., 1970.
Berthelot, Katell. “Philos Perception of the Roman Empire.” Journal for the Study of Judaism 42, no. 2 (2011): 166-187.