A friend and brother in Christ, Mac, said the Roman Catholic Church is the one established by Jesus and the Apostles. Of course, I disagree in part. Not because I think the Roman Catholic Church (RCC for short) is illegitimate as a church. I disagree with some main concepts and terms. My position is anyone who believes in the same Jesus Christ is my brother or sister.  Therefore, do not take my disagreement too far.

Too many people using the name of Christ or a particular denomination claim others are not Christian. Did a pope, priest, or pastor of a denomination die for our sins? No! While there is disagreement about how to understand various parts of scripture there is a single understanding of who Christ is and the way of salvation. That understanding is heard and believed by revelation from God, not flesh and blood men. Matthew 16:15-17. Jesus Christ is the very foundation of what is called the church or the saints. (Sidenote: All Christians are saints in the Biblical sense.)

The word Catholic, derived from Greek, means “universal.” Its opposite is sectarian rather than Protestant. Many non-Catholic Christians insist on the use of the adjective Roman to describe the Church that is in union with Rome because they also regard themselves as Catholic or catholic.

The Nicene Creed of 381 reads: “I believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.” It is crucially important to remember, though, that when the early Christians used the term “catholic,” they were not referring to any particular church, denomination, rite, or communion. They were simply referring to all true believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. (Sidenote: The Council of Nicea was convened by a Roman Emporer. The church was now involved with politics and this may mark the beginning of the end of the “primitive church“.)

We know that there were many “churches” in various locations. See the definition of the word “church” at this link. A considerable number were planted by Paul and those who followed him. Paul then had to warn people not to follow him, Apollos or Peter called Cephas but to follow Christ. The whole opening of 1 Corinthians is devoted to this subject. Please read chapter 1 if you are unfamiliar with it.

The Bible itself records various churches that were established. They are called by the cities or regions where the believing people (the church) lived. Rome is listed as one of 39 churches in the New Testament. Six regions and 33 cities. Rome may stand out as it would be like the New York City of today in America. It was known for power, size and corruption much like New York City. Today the United Nations resides in New York City but that does not mean it is the ruler of the world.

The founding of the church at Rome is not clear. However, it is thought that neither Peter nor Paul had anything to do with it. An excerpt from Bible.org is below.

Immediately, the problem surfaces that in comparing Peter to Paul, who arrived to Rome relatively late in the church’s history, Peter’s unique founding influence in the church becomes less likely.62 More likely, relatively obscure Christians made contributions to the church’s establishment, leading to a vital and growing community.

As time went on Rome did become more notable as a safe haven for the Christian faith. Rome went from persecuting the church to becoming the main place where the other churches could meet in relative safety under Constantine around 312 AD. Rome was a center for the civilized world but it was teetering on failure.

In 476, the Germanic barbarian king Odoacer deposed the last emperor of the Western Roman Empire in Italy, Romulus Augustulus, and the Senate sent the imperial insignia to the Eastern Roman Emperor Zeno. As archeology continues to discover more our view of the ancient “barbarians” changes. By this time much of what was considered “barbarian” peoples and territory had been both Romanized and Christianized. Political leaders saw the advantages of using religious leaders for control over the people. Rome had used the gods for centuries to control the masses.

The response the church had to perceived threats differed from region to region. Depending on the severity of the circumstances of the nature of the threat, the church protected itself by identifying opposing Christian sects as heretics and anathematizing their beliefs, or by relying on the use of force from the Roman government to actively suppress heresies. The means by which heresies were suppressed could be from confiscation of their churches and wealth, forbidding them from serving in the government or military, banning them from meeting within towns and cities, or in extreme cases executing them.

The church catholic became the “Catholic Church” and had become as devious and corrupt as the government officials that it now endeavored to control. It went from the church that Jesus and the Apostles would have recognized to becoming more like the corrupt Sanhedrin that called for the crucifixion of Jesus. They became exactly what Jesus told them not to be in Matthew chapter 23.

Do not misunderstand. The truth of the gospel of Christ remained central just as Moses was central to the Jewish faith. However, they strayed far from the central theme and got caught up in various controversies in order to maintain control. So, the truth of Christ remains to this day in that which is called the Catholic Church or the Roman Catholic Church.

There are also godly people in other denominations. As Jesus said, in Matthew 13 Let both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.’ The church of Jesus and the Apostles is invisible to man but is known by God. He will sort it out in the end.

The church that Jesus and the Apostles refer to is often characterized by its humility and simple faith in the sacrifice of Christ. In the New Testament, the church is described as a community of believers who are united in their devotion to Jesus Christ and who seek to follow His teachings.

The church that Christ and the Apostles established is not concerned with status or worldly success, but rather seeks to live lives that honor God and reflect the love of Christ. Through their humble and selfless service, the early church became a powerful force for good in the world, spreading the message of Christ’s love and salvation to all who would listen.

Insomuch as any individual believes in Jesus Christ, regardless of denominational affiliation, he is part of the church that Jesus Christ and the Apostles established. John 18:36