Origins of the Roman Catholic Church
1 Tim. 3:15
But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.
Many Catholics are deceived into believing that this scripture is speaking of the “Roman” Catholic Church. Thus they are bound to remain in a church that has fallen into paganism and false doctrine, believing that it “IS THE CHURCH OF GOD”!
Catholic verses “Roman” Catholic
The term “Church” in scripture does not mean “the Roman Catholic Church”. The word “church” means “assembly, meeting, a calling out, a religious congregation” (Strongs #1577 “ekklesia”) When a scripture verse is quoted pertaining to the “church”, Catholics are taught that the reference to "the church" means the "Roman Catholic Church"! This is not true!
The term “Catholic,” was not the name of a denominational group in the early church days, and had no resemblance to the Roman Catholic church of today.
The word “Catholic,” was a term that meant “Universal or General”. Its implication was that of inclusion of any and all Christian church's as a whole from each and every city where a Christian church was alive.
Here is its definition by Webster's Dictionary (1828 edition)
Catholic 1. Universal or general; as the Catholic church. Originally this epithet was given to the Christian church in general, but is now appropriated to the Romish church, and in strictness there is no Catholic church, or universal Christian communion. The epithet is sometimes set in opposition to heretic, sectary or schismatic.
Catholic epistles, the epistles of the apostles which are addressed to all the faithful, and not to a particular church.
The term was used to identify all of the Christian churches together. In the early church days, each church was identified by its location. For example, "the church of Ephesus, the church of Smyrna, the church of Pergamos" ect. (Rev. 2:1, 8, 12). You will also note how the church's were addressed by name at the beginning of the epistles such as “the saints…at Philippi (Phil.1:1), the saints at Colosse (Col. 1:1), the church of the Thessalonians (1 Thess. 1:1).
The “Catholic” church, at that time, was not a “head church” that ruled over the whole church.
But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God. (1 Cor. 11:3)
The Biblical head of man, is Christ himself, not a representative of Christ!
Today, as it was in the beginning, the true “Catholic” church, is not the “Roman Catholic” denomination, but rather it is the WHOLE Christian church of “born again” - “saved” Christians who profess Jesus Christ as their Lord no matter what denominational group they belong to. The True “Catholic" Church has existed within and apart from the “Roman” Catholic Church thoughout the past 2,000 years.
The TRUE “Catholic” Church are those whom have repented of their sins, and surrendered their lives to Jesus Christ as Lord. Just because the “Roman Catholic” church holds the word “Catholic” within its denomination name, does not make it the SAME “Catholic” church of the writings of the early church fathers and places this group in the rebuke made by Paul when he wrote:
1 Cor. 1:10-12
Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.  For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you.  Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.
The "Roman Catholic Church" is of those who say "I am of Cephas (Peter)"!
Bishops and Popes
The word "Pope" means "Papa" or "Father"! They even call him "Holy Father"! The Apostles were careful not to take this honor upon themselves in respect to the words of Jesus Christ:
And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Matthew 23:9
The ONLY Holy Father, is God the Father!
While Catholics today are taught to bow to the Pope, and kiss his hand, we see a totally different response by the Apostles. When the people of Lycaonia came to honor Paul and Barnabas for healing a man, they quickly refused it....
Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out,  And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein: (Acts 14:14-15)
And when John bowed to worship an angel, he too was corrected NOT to do such a thing:
And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. Rev. 19:10
Today, the Bishop of Rome has become "Holy Father", "infallable", the "Vicar of Christ" claiming to be "Christ on earth", receiving the honor and glory due to God alone! The apostles and angels refused to receive the glory that todays Pope gladly receives!
There were NO Popes in the origin of the church, nor is a Pope ever commissioned in the scriptures, although the term Bishop is (1 Tim. 3:1; Titus 1:7; 1 Peter 2:25). The Bishop was an overseer, watching over the church, not ruling it. The earliest Bishop recorded, is James the Just, the brother of Jesus Christ! He was the Bishop of Jerusalem, and in Acts chapter 15, he was the decision maker on the issue of the requirements that were imposed upon the newly converted Gentiles.
Eusibius writes that James, the Brother of Jesus, “was the first to receive the episcopate of the church at Jerusalem. Clement, in the Sixth Book of his Institutions, represents it thus: `Peter, James and John after the ascension of our Saviour, though they had been perferred by our Lord, did NOT contend for the honour, BUT CHOSE JAMES THE JUST AS BISHOP OF JERUSALEM. (Eusibeus' Ecclesiastical History, Pg 49, Bk. 2 Chapt. I)
As a sidenote about James being the brother of Jesus Christ, I quote:
"But I saw none of the other apostles except JAMES, THE LORD'S BROTHER" Apostle Paul Gal. 1:19
And again, Eusibeus Pamphilus (265-339 AD) in "Ecclesiastical History" identifies James as, and I quote, "the brother of our Lord because he is also called the son of Joseph the esteemed Father of Christ." (Pg 48 Bk. II Chap. 1)
The reason the Roman Catholic church needed to implicate Peter as the first pope, was to identify him with Matthew 16:18
And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
Although early church fathers identify that the "rock" on which the church was built, was Jesus Christ himself, and the confession of faith by which Peter declared his belief in Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God, the church has today changed this "rock" to represent Peter himself. So then, instead of Jesus as being the rock by which the church is built, the Church now declares that Peter, a created man, is the rock!
1 Cor. 10:4 ..... and that Rock was Christ.
While each city had its own Bishop and succession of Bishops who were to follow, it was the church in Rome that eventually chose to appoint itself as the sole ruler over the whole church, even taking charge over the other Bishops! Therefore, the scripture in Matthew 16:18 later became important for the church in Rome to designate itself as master over the entire church! Thus, the truth that James was the first Bishop over the first church in Jerusalem, was lost to the appointment of Peter in Rome.
The truth is, the early church, up to about 300-400AD, had its own Bishop in each city overseeing each church, all of equal authority, none being a superior "ruler" over the other. According to Eusibeus, Peter, along with Paul, were BOTH considered “Bishops” of Rome, as they were the first to evangelize the city and win souls to Jesus Christ in that city and both of them guided the newly founded church there. They are recorded in Eusibeus's writings as Bishops of Rome, not as a Pope.
When a doctrinal issue arose in the early Christian church, these Bishops of each city gathered together to decide the truth or error of the issue, and would return to their home churches and teach this to the saints of the city. You can read of such an account in Eusibeus' Eccalesiatical History when the heresy of Arius was presented. (Arius declared that Jesus was "created by God", and thus Jesus was NOT God. This heresy was rejected by the 300 Bishops that gathered together to deal with the issue. This heresy has been renewed today in the cult of the Jehovah's Witnesses)
“Beginning with Leo I's accession to the episcipal throne in 440, the Roman bishop began to claim his supremacy over the other bishops.” “His abilities won him the name “great.” He made much use of the title papas from which our word “pope” is derived.”
(Christianity through the Centuries, pg. 157, Earle E. Cairnes, Academie Books, Zondervan Publishing House)
Origin and rise of the “Roman” Catholic Church
In the early church of the first 300 years, the Christians were forced into hiding from persecution by wicked emperors. When Constantine conquered Rome, and the church was free to worship without persecution, an established church was formed. Constantine basically “used” the Church as a springboard for Political power as well as Religious power and by all practical purposes, the “Roman Catholic Church” was the “first” denomination, and its founder was Constantine. At this time, the government stepped in and began to interfere with spiritual matters and the false doctrines of the “Roman Catholic Church” began to thrive.
The “TRUE” Church of “born again” Christians continued to exist, but now they were under the “covering” of the Roman Catholic Church who stepped up as a Political power, as well as the head of the Church exercising power over the souls of the Sheep of God, and eventually, became the murderers of many whom God sent to reform the church to its original virginity.
Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess.  Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also.  Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness.  Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.  Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because ye build the tombs of the prophets, and garnish the sepulchres of the righteous,  And say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.  Wherefore ye be witnesses unto yourselves, that ye are the children of them which killed the prophets.  Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers.  Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?
 Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city:  That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.
(It is an intersting note that the Roman Catholic church burned Joan of Arc on the stake as a heretic, and 500 years later, named her a Saint, fulfilling the above words of Jesus Christ as a witness against the rulers of this church!)
A history of the persecutions of Christians by the Roman rulers, and then by the Roman Catholic Church can be read in Fox's Book of Martyrs.
The formation of the newly established church by Constantine, was broken into two parts. The Western church, which is known today as the Roman Catholic Church, and the Eastern Church, which is known today as the Greek Orthodox Church, which had its headquarters in Constantinople where Constantine later moved. So the earliest form of a “denomination,” began with Constantine as creator. The first two denominations formed where the Roman Catholic Church and the Greek Orthodox Church, both of which were birthed in the fourth century (300-400 AD)! Although the two church's eventually parted ways, they were in agreement at their beginnings.
Constantine became emperor and declared himself “the representation of God on earth,” which was later to become the term used by the Popes, and he made Christianity the state religion of the Roman Empire. (pg. 256 The New International Dictionary of the Christian Church, Regency Reference Library, Zondervan Publishing House)
Constantine held the title of “Pontifex Maximus” until his death. (Christianity through the Centuries, pg 124)
This is when the church began to formulate a single man as the head of the church, which is now known as “Pope”. This gave the head of the Church political and religious power. The Popes of that day excelled in power so much that they were nearly “Emperors,” having power over all men politically and theologically.
At this time, there were two heads of the church! One over the Greek (Eastern) Church, where the Emperor was Pope and one over the Roman (Western) Church, where the Pope was the Emperor!
The first schism took place in 1054 AD when the Greek Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic church began to disagree on various doctrines. As the Roman Catholic church began allowing “doctrines of Pagans” to infiltrate the church, the Greek Orthodox Church of the East separated itself from the Roman Catholic Church of the West.
The Roman Catholic Church has, through the years, created new doctrines, which are in disagreement with the Word of God. This gave rise to the great “Inquisition” of the 1200's. As people would read the New Testament and find the disagreements with the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church, the Church responded by giving the Synod of Toulouse in 1229, which forbade laymen the use of vernacular translations of the Bible. Eventually, they began the “inquisition,” a secret ecclesiastical court that used torture to punish heretics and turned them over to the state for punishment in the form of loss of property or burning at the stake. (Thus multiplying the rebuke of Jesus Christ quoted above in Matthew 23:25-35)
In 1233, Pope Gregory IX assumed control of the “inquisition” and commissioned the Dominicans to punish the heretics.
Laymen who attempted to reinstate the Bible as its authority were balked and therefore set up movements outside of the Roman Catholic Church in order to practice Christianity according to the Bible.
Wycliffe translated the Bible into English in 1384 and made it available to the laymen. Wycliffe proclaimed that the writings of the Bible was our authority, not the Pope. He opposed the dogma of “transubstantiation” where the Roman Catholic Church and its priests claim to have power over salvation by withholding the Eucharist from individuals. This doctrine taught that only the priest can change the substance of Bread and Wine into the body and blood of Christ. Thus, the church's heresy gave the idea that, by withholding the Eucharistic substance from the parishioner, the Church can withhold an individual's salvation.
In London in 1382, the Roman Catholic church condemned Wycliffe's opposition to the dogma of Transubstantiation and his writings that declared that the Bible, not the Pope, was our authority. Wycliffe's opposition obviously undermined the church's growing power to control the souls of most Europeans who were now captive to Roman Catholic control and bowed to their every demand. All who held to Wycliffe's doctrine were punished by death.
Oh how very far the Roman Catholic church had fallen from being a servant, to exercising lordship over the souls of men, and murdering the righteous who believed God's Word, contrary to the following words of Jesus Christ:
Matthew 20:27 And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:
Matthew 23:11 But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.
Mark 10:42-43 But Jesus called them to him, and saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them.  But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister:
One of those who held to Wycliffe's doctrine, was John Hus, who was burned at the stake in 1415 when he refused to confess the doctrine of Transubstantiation. His followers started a group, which is still known today as the Moravian Church.
A Dominican Monk named Savonarola, also tried to reform the church from within, but his preaching against the evil life of the pope, resulted in his death by hanging in 1498.
So it was after the attempts of the Greek Orthodox Church, the inquisition martyrs, Wycliffe, Hus, Savonarola, and many others who lost their lives in an attempt to reform the Roman Catholic Church of its false doctrines and heresies, that Martin Luther took stage.
As the true gospel message of the power of Jesus Christ to completely forgive all of our sins by his death on the cross began to fade away from the Roman Catholic doctrine, the Roman church began to offer "indulgences" which is a price paid by the sinner, in order to have his or her sins forgiven!
The first indulgences that involved absolving all sin were introduced in the 11th centuary, perhaps initially by Pope Urban II in 1095. In 1517, Pope Leo X offered indulgences for those who gave alms to rebuild St. Peter's Basilica in Rome, a postition that critics took on the appearance of "selling indulgences." The aggressive marketing practices of Johann Tetzel in promoting this cause provoked Martin Luther to write his 95 theses, protesting what he saw as the purchase and sale of salvation. From this controversy the Protestant Reformation was launched. (Wikipedia)
Up to this point in time, the TRUE Christian church of "born again" believers were within Roman Catholic church, being persecuted and merchandised by its Biships and priests. The reformation opened the door for these believers to exit the Roman Catholic church to worship the living God freely according to the Bible! The Roman Catholic church had become a monster; ruling over, robbing and killing the Christian worshippers who desired to be close to Jesus and trust his living words of life and liberty!
The tragic holocaust of the Roman Catholic Church against its own sheep has caused such a great exodus of Christians to form other groups outside of their boundry where they could freely worship the Living God. This mass exodus has humbled the Catholic church today to a powerless shell of rituals and traditions. Still attempting to cling to the remaining souls they have in bondage to heresy, they no longer have the political power to (openly and publicly) murder those who oppose it and will one day stand on trial in the court room of the righteous judge, Jesus Christ the King! Instead, they continue to deceive their remaining followers with the threat of losing their salvation if they leave the Roman Catholic Church. They belittle God's Word and make every excuse why it is OK to disobey God's Word because of "tradition!"
Matthew 15:3 But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?
* As a footnote to the above paragraph, I have a good friend in Ireland whom is a street preacher like myself. I met him while carrying the cross there in 2000. A Romans Catholic priest tried to have him murdered on two occassions and has attempted to take his children away from him and his wife! The Story
They stand on statements such as "We were the FIRST church started by Peter!" And with like reasonings, they continue to transgress the commanments of God by their traditions!
Anyone who is in bondage to the Roman Catholic Church, and has the belief that it is the same church founded by Christ, is simply deceived. A look at history, will show you how the Israelites, in like manner, trusted in their religion to save them. When Jesus came, it was these religious people, who held to their traditions, that nailed Jesus to the cross. Like the people of Israel throughout history, the Roman Catholic church has become the modern day Pharisees holding to dead religion and rituals of the New Testament church and refuse to let the sheep of God to enter into His kingdom! Like the Pharisees of the Jewish religion, they have become too prideful and too far indoctrinated into their heresies, to humble themselves, repent, and return to the truth of God's word for correction and instruction!
Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. Matthew 16:6
Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples,  Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat:  All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.  For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.  But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments,  And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues,  And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.  But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren.  And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.  Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.  But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.  And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.
 But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.  Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows' houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.  Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves. ...
You may want to read the rest of Matthew chapter 23 for more charges against the priests and "Masters" of the Roman Catholic Church!
The TRUE “Catholic” Church still exists today!
The confession of faith by Saint Irenaus around 200 AD, which I will post at the end of this study, is the confession of faith by which every believer, whom has turned his life over to Jesus Christ, is a part of the original “Catholic” Church. So every believer, that is “born again” by the Holy Spirit by faith in Jesus Christ, and repentance from sin, is a child of God and heaven bound, and a true member of the original “Catholic”, or "Universal" Church, no matter which denomination they choose to worship in.
The passage from death to life, is through Jesus Christ our Lord, not the door of a church denomination. Jesus said:
I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.
That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
When people begin to claim that the passage to eternal life is through their own denomination or group, they are deceived. We are all accountable to search the scriptures independently and through prayer and seeking the face of our Lord Jesus Christ, we are to find the truth. Simply trusting your denomination to be infallible and perfect, is immaturity and ignorance.
1 John 2:27
But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.
But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
Although many denominations disagree on many minor issues which has separated them, the key doctrine required for a man to pass from death to life, is the correct belief on the person of Jesus Christ, that he is Lord and GOD (John 20:28-29) and our relationship with him through repentance from sin and surrendering our lives to Him as obedient children of God.
Those who reject the deity of Jesus Christ, the born again message of salvation through Jesus alone by repentance from sin and submitting to the Lordship of Jesus Christ and have another method of salvation, are “cults” and “false religions” and, in the end, will be damned to eternal punishment in the Lake of Fire!
He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.
John 8:24, 58
I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.
Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.
Confession of Faith written by Irenaus.
1. The Church, though dispersed throughout the whole world, even to the ends of the earth, has received from the apostles and their disciples this faith: [She believes] in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are in them; and in one Christ Jesus, the Son of God, who became incarnate for our salvation; and in the Holy Spirit, who proclaimed through the prophets the dispensations of God, and the advents, and the birth from a virgin, and the passion, and the resurrection from the dead, and the ascension into heaven in the flesh of the beloved Christ Jesus, our Lord, and His [future] manifestation from heaven in the glory of the Father “to gather all things in one,” and to raise up anew all flesh of the whole human race, in order that to Christ Jesus, our Lord, and God, and Savior, and King, according to the will of the invisible Father, “every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess” to Him, and that He should execute just judgment towards all; that He may send “spiritual wickedness,” and the angels who transgressed and became apostates, together with the ungodly, and unrighteous, and wicked, and profane among men, into everlasting fire; but may, in the exercise of His grace, confer immortality on the righteous, and holy, and those who have kept His commandments, and have persevered in His love, some from the beginning [of their Christian course], and others from [the date of] their repentance, and may surround them with everlasting glory.