The tradition that the Roman Catholic Church is the true church established by Jesus Christ is based on the following scripture, which we will need to examine in order to come to the correct conclusion.
Mat 16:15-19 (GNB)"What about you?" he asked them. "Who do you say I am?" (16) Simon Peter answered, "You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God." (17) "Good for you, Simon son of John!" answered Jesus. "For this truth did not come to you from any human being, but it was given to you directly by my Father in heaven. (18) And so I tell you, Peter: you are a rock, and on this rock foundation I will build my church, and not even death will ever be able to overcome it. (19) I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of heaven; what you prohibit on earth will be prohibited in heaven, and what you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven."
Jesus says, “on this rock foundation I will build my church”. So we have to ask ourselves what is the “rock foundation”.
Is it Peter?
Is it Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Messiah?
It makes a huge difference.
God gave Jesus 12 Apostles. We know that John was Jesus’ favorite. We also know that Jesus had three favorites: Peter, James and John. We find out later that the Apostle Paul was the Apostle to the Gentiles. The Apostle Paul is the one who started the Roman congregations as well as many in Asia Minor. Not Peter.
We know there are 12 Apostles to the Lamb. In Revelation 12 the woman (who is the church, the Bride of Christ) has 12 stars (the 12 Apostles). The New Jerusalem had 12 foundations, the names of the 12 Apostles.
Rev 21:14 And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.
Twelve is a very important number with God. Israel was made up of 12s as well. Revelation was written sixty years after Jesus’ crucifixion and ascension and still there only the twelve apostles, no more no less. There is no transference of apostleship, no apostolic succession.
To single out one Apostle as the most important, in my estimation would take away from the singleness of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the foundation of the Church.
So we have to go back to the questions. Is Peter the Foundation or is it Jesus as the Messiah?
We cannot build a doctrine around one scripture. We are told in God’s Law that it is by two or three witnesses is a thing established. So we must find other scriptures.
Heb 12:2 looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
1Co 3:11 For God has already placed Jesus Christ as the one and only foundation, and no other foundation can be laid.
Isa 28:16 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.
Act 4:10-12 Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. (11) This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. (12) Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
Eph 2:20-22 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; (21) In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: (22) In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
Eph 4:10-12 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.) (11) And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; (12) For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
1Co 12:27-29 Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. (28) And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. (29) Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?
When I think about the scriptures I just posted, one thing sticks out very strikingly—Jesus is the foundation—the rock which the church is built on and next is the 12 Apostles, not just one. So if that is the case with these scriptures, certainly Jesus’ words must harmonize with the rest of the Word.
Mat 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.
The name Peter which Jesus gave to him, means rock.
Πέτρος Petros pet'-ros
Apparently a primary word; a (piece of) rock (larger than G3037); as a name, Petrus, an apostle: – Peter, rock. Compare G2786.
So he says, “That thou art Petros (a piece of rock), and upon this Petra (mass of rock) I will build my church.
Πέτρα petra pet'-ra
Feminine of the same as G4074; a (mass of) rock (literally or figuratively): – rock.
It is interesting that Jesus doesn’t use the same word that is translated Rock. He made a difference. I think that is an important difference. Jesus is the massive rock.
Rom_9:33 As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
1Co_10:4 And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.
1Pe_2:8 And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.
It is interesting also that in each one of these scriptures that talks about Jesus as a rock—the word is Petra—the massive rock.
So, we can see that this scripture is in harmony with all the others that Jesus is the foundation which the Church is built on and not Peter.
Since this is the only scripture that I know of that the Roman Catholic Church uses to say they are the one and only true Church because Peter was the first pope, and we see what that scripture is actually saying, then we have to come to the conclusion that all 12 Apostles are important and so No, the Roman Catholic Church is not the True Church established by Jesus.
When the word “Church” is used in the scripture it is not talking about an organization, it is talking about the entire congregation of spirit-begotten members. There is no priests/laity taught by Jesus. All are brethren, all have the same standing before God.