The Origin of the Eliakim-Peter Typology, Part 2: Rambling Reformers

St. Bartholomew's Day massacre of 1572 formed the geopolitical backdrop for "defenders and interpreters" of the papacy
Perhaps the most notorious episode of Roman Catholic Counter-Reformation violence. In 1572, during marriage celebrations for a Catholic princess and a Protestant king, 2,000+ French Protestants were murdered on the streets of Paris. News of event sparked more massacres around the country. The “popular” element of the violence was striking: victims were often known to perpetrators and Catholic powers praised the killings. French Protestants saw a wave of exile and conversion.[1]Gibbons, Katy. “Five of the Most Violent Moments of the Reformation.” The Conversation. (The Conversation US, Inc., 24 Jan. 2022).
(image source: Cantonal Museum of Fine Arts, via Wikimedia Commons)

An apologetic army seeks reinforcements from defenders and interpreters of the past

In the first post of this series, we saw how the Eliakim-Peter typology claim has become a popular defense for the papacy in recent years and how it appears to have made it’s first appearance in the U.S. in the early 1990’s, courtesy of a popular “Protestant” convert to Roman Catholicism. I mentioned how the claim was dredged from the recesses of the Roman Catholic Counter-Reformation, after laying dormant for around four centuries. The claim grew slowly after it’s reintroduction but now the curious case of theological amnesia is fully cured and a new generation of philosophers is poised to twist and distort Scripture, using their newfangled typology as bait, fishing for men who are wading in the Tiber, hungry with angst. To accomplish their mission, the new army of sacramental soldiers will need to improve upon the work of the defenders and interpreters of old, who we will meet in this post. The new army is scrounging for morsels in church history and is only just beginning to rediscover their forgotten fathers from the Early Modern period. The historical reinforcements they seek are ones I spent months searching for and I’ll these Rambling Reformers here.

Setting the stage and re-orienting our modern perspective

Before identifying the defenders and interpreters of old, I want to quickly revisit a statement I made: “modern American Protestantism suffers many ills and it’s rare to find Protestants that are historically informed and grounded in their faith.” We need to acknowledge our shortcomings. Unfortunately, the comforts we’ve enjoyed for many years seem to have produced a few generations of what I call “Country Club Christians.” The seeker-sensitive movement of recent generations may fill pews and picnic tables but it’s largely void of the true and complete Gospel, which necessarily includes not just the grace we love to embrace but also sin, repentance, mercy, justice, and our desperate need for a savior. My finger is pointed in the mirror…

There are certainly strong, healthy veins of faith in the U.S. and I’m very blessed, only by the mercy and grace of God, to be part of a thriving faith family, but secularizing cultural, sheepish wolves, and deceptive philosophers loom all around us. Perhaps decades of nominalism, easy-believism, and our own forgotten past have led to the Gospel being treated as an inspirational cultural commodity, rather than a uniquely redemptive, miraculous work of God. Before visiting those long gone Counter-Reformers, I’d like to share a few links to help anyone with the time and interest to re-orient their perspective a bit. There are some great men of faith that fled the chaos of Europe in the centuries after feudalism and after the papal states began losing their religio-political grip (no, it wasn’t Martin Luther’s fault). America has a rich heritage of faith. Revisiting our roots and the men that planted fruitful seed for inspiration may be a useful step towards curing our own amnesia. Here are a few stories that maybe less familiar than the names of the men they involve:

Counter-Reformers defend the papacy amid chaos

The picture at the top of this post depicts the St. Bartholomew’s day massacre of 1572 it wasn’t directly related to any of the 16th-17th century Roman Catholic Counter-Reformers who appear to have given birth to the Eliakim-Peter claim but it does capture the religious and political climate of the time. It also occurs mid-way through the century-long period when the claim seems to have circulated. Protestants (perhaps mostly powerful elites and nobility that merely bore the label for political gain) certainly contributed to persecution and chaos in Europe but we must not forget events that led up to the Reformation, nor should we forget how long persecution and tyranny persisted after calls for reform were largely ignored. It’s astonishing how long it took to convene and complete the Council of Trent (1545-1563) and how little it accomplished beyond dogmatizing scholastic philosophies and traditions of men. The men below, who introduced the Eliakim-Peter link were right in the thick of things. Click to expand and read an extract from their writings[2]Minor edits were made to some of the texts to allow Scripture passages to dynamically display, to incorporate punctuation for clarity (e.g. for quotes), and standardize the spelling of names for … Continue reading, then we’ll examine how meandering and inconsistent their interpretations of Scripture were, and how far they are from today’s highly evolved philosophical typology that even goes so far as to claim a “prophetic application” of Isaiah 22:20-23 in Matthew 16:18-19:

“Clearly the kingdom of heaven is the supreme end, the one corresponding to the power of the keys promised to Peter. All…matters of a temporal character must at some time be ordered to this end. Consequently, this power given Peter entails the power of commanding all kings and princes with reference to the kingdom of heaven. Such power or rule is simply to open and shut the kingdom of heaven, as is obvious…

The…Holy Scripture speaks, as in Isaiah, of the full authority of the High Priest Eliakim: ‘I will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David and he shall open and none shall shut and he shall shut and none shall open’ [Isaiah 22:22]. In the New Testament, we read in Revelation 3, ‘He who has the key of David opens and no one shall shut, shuts and no one shall open.’ It is no objection that…[Matthew 16:19] does not say that if Peter opens none shall shut and if he shuts none shall open. Though these words do not occur, the meaning is there. For the Gospel does refer to the lesser actions included in the power of the keys: ‘Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven‘ [Matthew 16:19]…

…Peter opens the kingdom of heaven in such a way that no one shall shut, and so shuts that no one shall open…the keys given Peter will carry out their proper actions in a higher and not a lower manner…Note also that the words of Isaiah 22 speak of Eliakim with reference to ChristJohn…repeats the same thing about Christ [Revelation 3:7], so as to show he was prefigured in Eliakim. Isaiah himself wrote of Christ in 9 [:6], “And the rule will be upon his shoulder,” to show that the key on his shoulder is the rule on his shoulder. Hence we also understand that “the keys of the kingdom of heaven” refer to the fullness of authority. In addition to these testimonies there is the custom that the keys of the realm are presented to a king as a sign of his supreme authority.”

Cajetan Responds, p. 115-116[3]Cajetan, Tommaso de Vio. Cajetan Responds: A Reader in Reformation Controversy. (United States, Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2011).

“…By putting Peter in charge, not of a part, but of all the sheep, He gave him the fullness of power required to keep the faithful in the pasture of Christian life and religion, and to guide them to the pasture of eternal joy in the Kingdom of Heaven.

To the other apostles Christ our Lord gave delegated authority. To Peter and his successors He gave ordinary and full authority so that it could be communicated to the other pastors according to their needs. They must obtain it from the supreme pastor and recognize him as their superior. As a figure of this power God our Lord says in Isaiah, speaking of Eliakim, the High Priest: ‘Et dabo clavem domus David super humerum ejus; et aperiet, et non erit qui claudat; et claudet, et non erit qui aperiat’ (Isaiah 22:22). Here we find Saint Peter and his successors prefigured for they possess the complete power represented by the keys, which are usually given as a sign of real and effective jurisdiction. So Your Highness should thank God our Lord that during your reign He should have had great mercy on your kingdoms, by sending them true pastors of souls united to the Supreme Pastor and Vicar whom Christ our Lord left on earth, from whom they have received their extensive authority.”

Woodstock Letters, p. 431[4]Ignatius of Loyola. Letter to Claudius, King of Abyssinia (February 23, 1555) in: Woodstock Letters, Ignatian Ecclesiology, Vol. LXXXV, No. 4. Woodstock College Press. (Woodstock, Maryland, November, … Continue reading

“We have now shewn plainly enough that this history does not suit the times of Manasseh. And the argument which led Bellarmine to cast it in those times is utterly destitute of force. Eliakim, says he, was at this time high priest, as he is called in the fifteenth chapter of Judith; and in the time of Hezekiah there was a certain Eliakim priest, the son of Hilkiah. But Bellarmine did not observe that that Eliakim, who is mentioned in the history of Hezekiah, was not a priest, but a certain officer, of the tribe of Judah and the family of David, as appears from Isaiah 22 and 2 Kings 18. For he succeeded Shebna, who was either the royal scribe, as some render it, or the chancellor, as others, or the master of the royal household, as others; but who neither was, nor could have been, a priest. Josephus, in the last book of his Jewish antiquities, gives a list of all the pontiffs of the Jews, from Aaron down to the last, yet names no Eliakim or Joakim about these times. You see what sort of foundation Bellarmine had for his opinion concerning the history of Judith.”

“His first argument is taken from the authority of scripture, from which he cites some passages. In the first place he reasons thus: David was ignorant of many things, therefore much more we; consequently, the scriptures are obscure. Now that David was ignorant of many things, he proves from Psalm cxix., where it is said, “ Give me understanding, and I will search thy law where also the psalmist entreats God “ to teach him ” his law, to “ illuminate his eyes and in many places of that same Psalm he ingenuously confesses his ignorance of many things. To the same purpose he alleges what Jerome writes of David, to Paulinus, Ep. 13, de Institit. Monachi: ‘If so great a prophet confesses the darkness of ignorance, with what night of ignorance do you suppose that we, mere babes and hardly more than sucklings, are surrounded1?” From all which he concludes that the scriptures are obscure. I answer, in the first place, these things do not touch the question. There is no one amongst us who does not confess with David, that God is to be constantly besought to teach us his law, to illuminate our hearts, &c. Therefore the example of David is objected to us in vain. Who would believe that these men know what they are saying ? Do we indeed affirm that the scripture is so plain, that God needs not to be prayed to to teach us his law, his will, and his word ? No one was ever so impious and so mad. Therefore we ought continually to pray with David, that God would give us understanding, that he would open our eyes, illuminate our minds, and teach us himself: otherwise we shall never understand any thing aright. For it is not enough to know the words, the letter or the history, but a full persuasion is required. This it was that David sought, that he might more and more make progress in true understanding and faith. Secondly, David speaks there not principally of the external understanding (for doubtless he knew the letter, and the grammatical and historical sense of most passages), but of that internal full assurance whereof we read Luke i. 1, in order to the obtaining of which we maintain that we must labour with continual prayers. Thus David was ignorant of some things, and did not perfectly penetrate the meaning of God and the mysteries of his word; which is plain from Jerome himself in that same place quoted by Bellarmine. For thus he subjoins: ‘Unless the whole of what is written be opened by him who hath the key of David, who openeth and no man shutteth, and shutteth and no man openeth, they can be unfolded by no other hand.'”

“The first testimony is contained in Matthew 16:19, where Christ says to Peter, ‘I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.’ From these words the Jesuit infers that the authority of interpreting scripture is given to Peter and all his successors, and, as it were, the chief judgment of scripture. I answer: We shall have to speak elsewhere at large of the power of the keys; however, sufficiently for the purposes of the present place, we thus briefly reply. First, the keys do not here denote, as the Jesuit would have it, the authority of interpreting the scriptures and opening all those things which are obscure in scripture, but they denote the authority of preaching the gospel. For when the gospel is preached, the kingdom of heaven is opened to those who believe, but closed against those who will not believe.”

A Disputation on Holy Scripture, p. 85-86, 367-368, 425[5]Whitaker, William. A Disputation on Holy Scripture: Against the Papists, Especially Bellarmine and Stapleton. (United Kingdom, Printed at the University Press, 1849).

“…Let us then see what it is to promise the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And who knows not that when a master, going away from his house, leaves the keys with some one, what he does is to leave him the charge and governance thereof. When princes make their entrance into cities, the keys are presented to them as an acknowledgment of their sovereign authority.

It is then the supreme authority which Our Lord here promises to S. Peter; and in fact when the Scripture elsewhere wishes to speak of a sovereign authority it has used similar terms. In the Apocalypse (Revelation 1:17-18), when Our Lord wishes to make himself known to his servant, he says to him: “I am the first and the last, and alive and was dead: and behold I am living for ever and ever, and have the keys of death and of hell.” What does he mean by “the keys of death and of hell,” except the supreme power over the one and the other? And there also where it is said: “These things saith the Holy one and the True one, who hath the key of David: he that openeth and no man shutteth, shutteth and no man openeth” (Revelation 3:7)— what can we understand but the supreme authority of the Church? And what else is meant by what the Angel said to Our Lady (Luke 1:32): “The Lord God shall give unto him the throne of David his father, and he shall reign in the house of Jacob forever”?—the Holy Spirit making us know the kingship of our Lord, now by the seat or throne, now by the keys. But it is the commandment which in Isaiah 22:22 is given to Eliakim which is parallel in every particular with that which Our Lord gives to S. Peter. In it there is described the deposition of a sovereign-priest and governor of the Temple: “Thus saith the Lord God of hosts: go get thee in to him that dwelleth in the tabernacle, to Shebna who is over the temple; and thou shalt say to him—what dost thou here?” And further on: “I will depose thee.” See there the deposition of one, and now see the institution of the other. “And it shall come to pass in that day that I will call my servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, and will clothe him with thy robe, and will strengthen him with thy girdle, and will give thy power into his hand: and he shall be as a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to the house of Juda. And I will lay the key of the house of David upon his shoulder; and he shall open, and none shall shut: and he shall shut and none shall open.” Could anything fit better than these two Scriptures? For: “Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona, because flesh and blood have not revealed it to thee, but my Father who is in heaven”—is it not at least equivalent to: “I will call my servant Eliakim the son of Hilkiah I And I say to thee that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell…”—does this not signify the same as: “I will clothe him with thy robe, and will strengthen him with thy girdle, and will give thy power into his hand, and he shall be as a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Juda?” [Isaiah 22:22] And what else is it to be the foundation or foundation stone of a family than to be there as father, to have the superintendence, to be governor there? And if one has had this assurance: “I will lay the key of the house of David upon his shoulder,” the other has had no less, who had the promise: “And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven.” And if when he has opened no one shall shut, when he has shut no one shall open; so, when the other shall have loosened no one shall bind, when he shall have bound no one shall loosen. The one is Eliakim son of Hilkiah, the other, Simon the son of Jonas; the one is clothed with the pontifical robe, the other with heavenly revelation; the one has power in his hand, the other is a strong rock; the one is as father in Jerusalem, the other is as foundation in the Church; the one has the keys of the kingdom of David, the other those of the Church of the Gospel; when one shuts nobody opens, when one binds nobody looses; when one opens no one shuts, when one loosens nobody binds. What further remains to be said than that if ever Eliakim son of Hilkiah was head of the Mosaic Temple, Simon son of Jonas was the same of the Gospel Church? Eliakim represented Our Lord as figure, S. Peter represents him as lieutenant Eliakim represented him in the Mosaic Church, and S. Peter in the Christian Church.

The Catholic Controversy, p. 253-255 [6]Gasquet, Francis Aidan, et al., Library of St. Francis de Sales—III: The Catholic Controversy. (United Kingdom, Burns & Oates, 1909).

…Bellarmine recites (l. I de Pontiffs c. 12), where in like manner he proves at length that this is the meaning of S. Augustine, when he says that Peter bore the figure of the Church, because indeed Peter was a representative of the Church as a king of a kingdom: for so indeed S. Augustine explains himself (Tract, ult. upon S. John), where he says: “Of this Church the Apostle Peter, on account of the primacy of his Apostleship, was a kind of general representative.”…Wherefore for the good of the Church Peter, as her head, received the keys from Christ; from which it is also plain that Christ promised the keys to Peter as a future Pontiff, and consequently promised the same keys to the other Roman Pontiffs, successors of Peter. For Christ in this place had regard to a most necessary matter, and of the highest moment to His ever-abiding Church—that is to say, to its perpetual head; and He ordained the best and most abiding constitution for her, namely, the monarchical, that the one Church of Christ should be ruled by the one Roman Pontiff, as S. Cyprian teaches on the Unity of the Church…The keys—you will ask what the keys here signify. Calvin answers (l. 4, Inst. c. 6, sec. 3), that they signify both the power to preach the Gospel, as well as the forgiveness of sins to him who believes the Gospel which promises forgiveness. But this is a jejune and worthless explanation. For by keys doors are opened, not the mouths of preachers. Whence keys specially belong to kings and rulers; not to doctors, and teachers, and preachers; wherefore the keys here signify properly the right to rule; whereunto pertains not only power to preach the Gospel, but also to absolve sins, to admonish, to ordain priests, to interpret Holy Scripture, to excommunicate, and to do all other things which pertain to the good government of the Church.

I say therefore, by the keys is here signified the chief power, both of order and jurisdiction, over the whole Church, promised and delivered in this place by Christ to Peter. For with such an object in view the keys of the cities are delivered to kings and princes. And Christ thus explains the keys in what follows, when He says: Whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, &c. For he who hath the keys of a house, or of a city is its lord, to open or shut it at his pleasure: to admit into it, and to shutout of it whom he will. There is an allusion to [Isaiah 22], where God promising the principality of the synagogue to Eliakim, the Pontiff of the Old Testament, says: “And I will lay upon his shoulder the key of the house of David, so he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut and none shall open.” Moreover, Eliakim was a type of Christ as a priest, of whom it is said (Revelation 21), “I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.” The sense then is this—I, Christ, will give to thee, Peter, as a Pontiff, and consequently to all the other Popes who come after thee, the keys of the kingdom of heaven, by which I mean supreme authority to rule the universal Church dispersed throughout the whole world, that by the keys, i.e., by thy power in opening or shutting the Church to men, thou mayest open or shut heaven to them.

The Great Commentary of Cornelius A Lapide, p. 223-225[7]Geikie-Cobb, William Frederick, and Lapide, Cornelius A. The Great Commentary of Cornelius À Lapide: S. Matthew’s gospel, chaps. 10-21. 4th ed. (United … Continue reading

Jacobus Tirinus was a Belgian Jesuit scholar. His major work is the Commentarius in Sacram Scripturam, a two-volume Bible commentary. I do not have a proper English translation but the Latin text linked here has a commentary on Isaiah 22 on pages 591-592 of the pdf (page numbers 470-471 in the text). I’ve included the Latin text of the commentary on Isaiah 22-23, as well as the English text from Google Translate. It seems adequate for general understanding.

Latin Text

v.22. Clavem domus David. Id est, summam potestatem & praeposituram cempli: quod,quia sumptibus i Davide praeparatis, eiusdemque designatione ac iussu construdum suit, vocatur merito domus David.

Nota, hanc clavem, id est, supremam pontificiam potestatem, non nisi unam esse. Nam si plures essent & penes plures, falsum esset, quod de pio & fideli Eliacim successore Sobna hic dicitur, quod sua clave claudet, & non erit qui aperiat, &c. Hic ergo innuitur, Pontificatum esse Monarchicum. Allegorice, per Eliacim designatur Messias, inquit Cyrill. & Theodoretus. Et huc alludit S. Ioannes Apoc. 3. vbi de Christo dicit, Qui habet clavem David, qui aperit & nemo claudit. Et Christus Vicario suo Petro eandem clavem, cum aliis annexis se delegaturum promisit, Matthaeus 16. Tibi dabo claves regni caelorum.

English Text (via Google Translate)

v.22. The key to the house of David. That is, the supreme power and presidency of the temple, which, at the expense of David, were prepared and properly constructed by the same designation and order, it is rightly called the house of David.

Note that this key, that is, the supreme pontifical power, is only one. For if there were many, and in the hands of many, it would be false that Sobna is here said of the pious and faithful successor of Eliakim, because he will shut the key, and there will be no one to open it, &c. To imply, therefore, that the pontificate is here a monarchy. The Messiah is allegorically represented by Eliakim, says Cyril. & Theodoretus. And here St. John observes [in Revelation 3:7]. where he speaks of Christ, he who has the key of David opens and no one closes. And Christ promised to delegate the same key to his Vicar Peter, [in Matthew 16:19]. I will give to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven.

General observations

Cardinal Thomas Cajetan

Cajetan Responds is a copyrighted translation so the extract here is fairly short. It’s from a page that was available on Google Books preview for a while. It’s plenty sufficient for this analysis. The first thing to note is the beginning and end of the excerpt as it provides insight into Cajetan’s mind and objectives, relative to his time in history. When he speaks of “commanding all kings,” even in “matters of a temporal character” and then eventually arrives at “keys of the realm are presented to a king as a sign of his supreme authority,” the pope is the contemporary king whom he has in mind. Cajetan is defending the notion of the pope as a supreme, absolute monarch, to whom all the monarchs of other kingdoms are subject in both religious and civil submission. This is not equivalent to the repackaged idea of the pope as the supreme head of Christian “faith and morals” that emerges as a subtle shift at Vatican II, nearly a century after the papal states had fallen. The infamous, authority claims of Vatican I were a last-ditch effort to maintain medieval ambitions, which could no longer be realized by the time Vatican II was convened. Religious and civil authority over the kingdoms of the world (geopolitical entities we call “nations” or “countries” didn’t yet exist), is what Cajetan had in mind. The Roman Catholic church of the day was intent to forcefully convert territories with the ultimate goal of “Christianizing” the world and incorporating every heathen culture into the papal states.

As an aside, we are centuries removed from the mentality of the late middle ages. Anyone considering swimming the Tiber should realize that representative, democratic republics and other similar forms of government, were unknown in the 16th century. Separation of civil and religious authority (which I believe approximates the Acts 2 and Acts 4 church and is consistent with Acts 5 and Romans 13), weren’t even a concept at the time of the Reformation, not until the Anabaptists came along.

If you truly think the Theonomist magisterial Reformers and Imperialist Roman Counter-Reformers had the right ideas about civil governance, ideas that were certainly behind Cajetan’s “linking” of Eliakim and Peter, just consider your prospective journey “home to Rome” in light of history. We may have a difficult time imagining such consolidation of power and influence under an earthly religious monarch, but history does tend to repeat itself. Submission to papal authority could eventually involve more than it does today. RC dogma is ever open to expansion and fallen men have a tendency to repeat the mistakes of history, not learn from them, especially when they are obscured by the passage of time. Just an observation but the Vatican has gotten very cozy in recent years with both secular and the broader religious community. See, for example their involvement in sectors like science, medicine, finance and economics, other major religions, other minor religions, and technology. Even though the pope has no direct authority over the civil rulers of the modern world, I’ll venture a guess that Cardinal Cajetan would at least be be pleased with the influence Rome is enjoying in “matters of temporal character.”

In contrast to medieval governing mindsets, consider just how “set apart” the early church in Acts was from imperial rule. As far as we know, Paul only invoked his Roman citizenship when his life depended on it (Acts 16:37-38, Acts 22:25-28) and presumably to get the Gospel message to the Emperor (Acts 25). As a tax collector, Matthew walked away from his “government” job (Matthew 9:9, Mark 2:14, Luke 5:27–28), and Paul tells us (those of use blessed enough to understand him) our citizenship is in heaven (Philippians 3:20), not Rome.

Regarding the details of his Eliakim-Peter link, Cajetan does draw a parallel but it’s not typological, it concerns authority, in differing degrees. He dismisses the idea that “open and shut” is unrelated to “bind and loose,” viewing the later as a lesser form of the former. Then he states that Peter’s keys when used to open the kingdom of heaven, “carry out their proper actions in a higher and not a lower manner.” There is no Scriptural exegesis, no discussion of the ancient Jewish context of “binding and loosing,” and nothing offered as an explanation for these ideas. Something that should be to the uncomfortable for modern RC typology advocates is that Cajetan does employ typology, just not for Eliakim and Peter. He says: “the words of Isaiah 22 speak of Eliakim with reference to Christ,” then explains that the apostle John uses those words: “so as to show [Christ] was prefigured in Eliakim.” According to the modern theological authorities at Catholic Answers, there’s a problem with that argument.

Ignatius of Loyola

The context of the Ignatian letter is an attempt to leverage a relationship with the King of Portugal to convince the King of Ethiopia (Abyssinia) to accept a delegation of 12 Jesuit priests (modeled off the 12 apostles), thus bringing “the true pastors of souls united to the Supreme Pastor and Vicar” to his kingdom and protecting the Ethiopians from “infidels and enemies of [the] holy faith” (probably Muslim) that surround it. In other words, to Christianize Ethiopia from the top down. Once again, we see an imperialistic mindset, not at all consistent with the methods of evangelization that we see in Scripture or those most of us are familiar with today (whether RC or Protestant).

The Jesuit mission in Ethiopia lingered for about 75 years and has a little known history, but there’s hardly a better example of failed imperialistic evangelism. Sadly, Jesuits endured a good bit of persecution there but one has to wonder how much of it was provoked. To even begin to understand the situation, one has to understand that Christianity almost certainly arrived in Ethiopia before Rome. The area was never “Latinized” and an Orthodox Christian monarchy ruled there from about the time of Pentecost, all the way to 1974. Nobody in Ethiopian history (before the Jesuits arrived) ever had delusions of submitting to a pope in Rome. When one group of “true pastors of souls” tried to impose their pure version of politicized, imperial Christianity on another culture with similarly exclusivist ideas, it didn’t go well. As Derek Cooper in his book Introduction to World Christian History describes in telling the story of Jesuit, Jeronimo Lobo:

“[In 1625], Lobo was keen to establish a Roman Catholic presence in Ethiopia. As he gazed upon the state of the Ethiopian Church, Lobo marveled at how the Ethiopian (Orthodox) Christians, though tracing their heritage all the way back to the first century, were ‘possessed with a strange notion that they [were] the only true Christians in the world”[8]Cooper, Derek. Introduction to World Christian History. (United States, InterVarsity Press, 2016).[9]Lobo, Jeronimo, A Voyage to Abyssinia, ed. Joel Gold (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1985)

It’s not surprising that the fiercely independent Ethiopians resisted papal takeover, they are also the only sub-Saharan country and one of only two countries in all of Africa (Liberia, the other) that resisted European colonization.[10]Boddy-Evans, Alistair. “Which African Countries Were Never Actually Colonized?” ThoughtCo, (ThoughtCo, 6 Sept. 2020).

The content of the Ignatian letter relative to the Eliakim-Peter link is rather limited. Ignatius doesn’t mention Matthew 16 or Revelation 3, though it seems obvious he has a connection to the former in view. It’s less obvious he is aware of the direct allusion in Revelation 3 to Isaiah 22, but his objective is not Scriptural exegesis or commentary, it’s merely to justify “real and effective” jurisdictional authority of the church. To that end, he was probably better served quoting Isaiah 22:22 because of the more obvious imperial/dynastic context, which Matthew 16 lacks. Besides, the Ethiopian Orthodox likely had a different interpretation of Matthew 16 — one they had probably held for over 1500 years, at the time.

If Ignatius had mentioned Revelation 3:7, he may have needed to explain Christ holding the “key of David” (as opposed to Peter). This could indicate a lack of awareness of that passage or that he had simply not endeavored to think that through. In speaking of Isaiah 22:22, Ignatius does say: “Here we find Saint Peter and his successors prefigured,” an indication he may have understood a typological relationship between the passages but given his apparent objective in writing the letter and the fact that Scriptural exegesis or commentary is NOT in view, that can only be speculated. I’m not sure how Ignatius would have worked out the claimed “successors” of Peter, one can only speculate about that too, or chalk it up to a baseless claim.

Robert Bellarmine (cited by William Whitaker)

I am unable to find any freely available English translations of Bellarmine. I’ve included him in this list as a potential witness to an Eliakim-Peter connection (or notable lack thereof). He was probably the most prominent RC theologian of his time (now a “Doctor” of the church), so if he had ever commented on the passages of Scripture in question, it would be notable if he did NOT make a connection. The excerpt provided here is from a work I located by William Whitaker, an English Calvinist, that wrote against Bellarmine (cites him over 400 times) and Thomas Stapleton, another Jesuit. The paragraphs cited are separate passages from the book where Whitaker discusses Bellarmine’s views on Eliakim, the keys of Matthew 16, and one where the “key of David” is mentioned. None of them suggest Bellarmine understood a connection to exist between Isaiah 22 and Matthew 16:

Francis de Sales

The text from Francis de Sales explaining Peter’s preeminence is a meandering, confusing, mish-mash of Scripture, imagination, and paraphrased references to some of the church fathers (not quoted here). It would be interesting to examine his use of the fathers to see how closely he actually tracks with things they said. The excerpt included here is limited to the portion where he discusses Peter and Eliakim, and the relevant passages of Scripture. If anyone ever wanted to derive a wildly fanciful Eliakim-Peter story from de Sales, it wouldn’t be hard. He draws every parallel he can imagine and emphatically states: “it is the commandment which in Isaiah 22:22 is given to Eliakim which is parallel in every particular with that which Our Lord gives to S. Peter.” Wow! Where does one begin? Just a few bullets this time:

  • I’m not a medieval military historian but the statement: “When princes make their entrance into cities, the keys are presented to them as an acknowledgment of their sovereign authority,” might suggest more imperialist mentality. It sounds like the conquering of a territory and transfer of authority over that territory are in view.
  • Revelation 3:7 is mentioned but he doesn’t discuss a direct allusion to Isaiah 22:22. He only says: “what can we understand but the supreme authority of the Church” — in Christ? It can be safely be concluded that he does see Isaiah 22:22 and Revelation 3:7 to be related because he later (see below) identifies Eliakim as a “representation” of Christ.
  • I’m not sure why Luke 1:32 is referenced. Perhaps de Sales intends for the reader to imagine Peter receiving an equivalent of the throne of David. Scripture never suggests anything of the sort.
  • He anachronistically draws parallels with terms like “father” (“papa” or “pope” only began to be used as a title for bishops in mid-3rd century Alexandria, and not for a bishop of Rome until much later). I think the use of the term “father” in Isaiah 22 is one that mentally hooks people when they hear the typology drawn out. Most people don’t realize how long it takes to come into common use for bishops. It initially spread with monasticism but it’s only really familiar today because it’s used for priests, something that didn’t begin in the West until the 19th century, courtesy of Cardinal Edward Manning in England.
  • He blends ideas and Scriptural phrases to create his own ideas (e.g. “keys of the kingdom of David” is a fusion of “keys of the kingdom of heaven” and “key of [the house of] David”)
  • He refers to Eliakim as the “head of the Mosaic Temple” but Eliakim was set over royal palace (“master of the household”) not the Temple. Further, it was Solomon’s temple, not Moses.
  • To round out his rambling, de Sales says: “Eliakim represented Our Lord as figure, S. Peter represents him as lieutenant; Eliakim represented him in the Mosaic Church, and S. Peter in the Christian Church.” — the problem here for the modern typology crowd is that he does NOT view Eliakim as a “type” of Peter, but rather says Eliakim and Peter each represent Christ in similar ways (parallelism). His use of “figure” can’t imply typology because in the parallel, he replaces it with “lieutenant.”

That’s it for Francis de Sales. It’s a rambling mess. I’m not sure much else can be said. One can certainly draw a number of parallels across the the three passages of Scripture in question but not a typology, unless they borrow ideas from others and combine them, which happens often. It’s rather alarming to see how unfamiliar he seems to be with Scriptural terms and concepts.

Cornelius A Lapide

Cornelius A Lapide is one of only two in this list of defenders and interpreters of old to have written an actual Biblical commentary, the other is Jacobus Tirinus. All of the other texts (indeed the earliest ones) are polemic (or political, perhaps) works or in the case of Ignatius of Loyola, just correspondence.

If one would expect to find a gloriously drawn out typology in this cadre, it would be in Lapide’s work. Unfortunately, even commentaries in the 16th-17th centuries were less exegetical than polemic. Nevertheless, Lapide’s rhetoric is bearable and he’s more direct and less prone to employ a fanciful imagination. He quotes extensively from the early church fathers in his commentary but does not represent many of them accurately. Occasionally, he quotes or paraphrases a contemporary’s quote (e.g. Bellarmine) of a church father and textual telephone games seem to be at play. One example of a misrepresented view is a reference to Cyprian’s treatise on unity, which I included in the excerpt. In our time, Cyprian has been vindicated of his alleged view of Roman primacy, by the majority of scholars.

A few observations in the excerpt included here:

  • In the statements: “Peter was a representative of the Church as a king of a kingdom” and “For with such an object [as keys] in view the keys of the cities are delivered to kings and princes” we see a continuation of imperialist thought but there were statements in the commentary I didn’t include which suggest Lapide may have had a more moderate view of the pope/church’s role in civil governance, perhaps one where church and state share power.
  • There are a couple blanket statements about what Rome now calls “Apostolic Succession” but they are only stated as an assumed consequence, they are never explained or defended (e.g. “consequently promised the same keys to the other Roman Pontiffs, successors of Peter”). I noticed this in a few of the other texts, as well. It’s never explained or defended, only declared as a consequential fact.
  • Writing in opposition to John Calvin, Lapide is emphatic that the “keys of the kingdom of heaven” open doors but not by way of the “mouths of preachers.” I wonder what Jesus, Peter, Paul, Stephen, and all those speaking in tongues at Pentecost would have thought about that.
  • He explicitly calls Matthew 16:19 an allusion to Isaiah 22:22 (not typology) and also states: “Eliakim was a type of Christ” (he likely has Revelation 3:7 in mind, though he doesn’t mention it — another passage in Revelation is mentioned, demonstrating his view of Eliakim as a type of Christ).

Once again, this presents problems for the the Catholic Answers lay theologians and proponents of an elaborate Eliakim-as-Peter typology. In Cornelius A Lapide, we find yet more baseless, ill-explained, imperialist authority claims and another view of Eliakim that the modern armchair theologians say is wrong.

Jacobus Tirinus

Analysis of the brief Latin commentary from Tirinus is based on English from Google Translate. Clearly this is not ideal. The Latin text is provided here so if a reader knows Latin and can offer a better translation, it would be helpful. Alternatively, if there is an existing English translation of this text, that would also help. Regardless of the quality of the translation, it seems the main ideas are discernable.

Tirinus, in-line with most of his contemporary “defenders and interpreters,” accurately describes Eliakim in Isaiah 22:22 as representing Christ. Interestingly, he cites two early church fathers as his source for this: Cyril [of Alexandria] and Theodoret [of Cyrus], whom we will visit in part 3. Tirinus Introduces the idea of the “key of David” as mentioned by John in Revelation 3:7 as being a key that was promised to be delegated to Peter in Matthew 16:19 (assuming the translation is accurate). He’s apparently unaware of the chronology problem this presents. Peter was dead by the time the book of Revelation was written, which was written 35-60 years after the book of Matthew was written and considerably longer after the events of Matthew 16 actually took place. This is is not the only detail he is confused about. He seems to think the Davidic palace was the same building as the Temple and that the “house of David” in Revelation 3:7 refers to a physical building, rather than the genealogical line of Christ made clear by the only verse in the entire New Testament to use the phrase, Luke 1:27. This all amounts to the fact that Jacobus Tirinus is Scripturally ignorant. Besides, his concept of key-delegation is not what is described today in the gloriously flowing typology.

Summary of the Rambling Reformers

If Dr. Scott Hahn has spent the last 32 years intentionally avoiding revealing the “defenders and interpreters” of old that he drew from to cobble together his sensational Eliakim-Peter storyline in 1990, it’s understandable. None of their interpretations align with his. At best, one can only borrow from multiple sources and piece together a similar narrative, but Dr. Hahn also added his own creative touch, evolving the “interpretation.” He anachronistically introduced the term “Prime Minister” for Peter, which is far removed from ancient Israel (even the Roman Empire) and the Davidic offices outlined in 1 Kings 4:1-19. He misrepresented a Protestant scholar by attributing the authorship of a commentary to him, when it was actually written by an Anglo-Catholic pedophile that ran an ecumenical institute at a Roman Catholic Seminary. He even went as far as to suggest that the “Protestant scholar” (who had edited the commentary series and had passed away years before Hahn’s revelation) had “admitt[ed] as a Protestant that there is a bias in Protestant anti-Catholic interpreters”. That was only Hahn’s assessment, no such words or any like them appear anywhere in the commentary. Presumably, Dr. Hahn didn’t know about the moral misgivings of the pedophile priest but he should have, at a minimum, identified the commentary as one that represented perspectives from across the ecumenical spectrum. Dr. Hahn had recently taken a job as a Professor of Theology and Scripture at Franciscan University. Did this tale meet the standards of scholarly contributions to research?

After examining what the defenders and interpreters of old wrote — the very ones that Dr. Hahn likely alluded to in 1990, a different picture has emerged. Central to the story that Dr. Hahn originally presented, is the claim that Eliakim in Isaiah 22:22 was viewed as a prefiguration/representation (now a “type”) of Peter in Matthew 16:19, by 16th-17th century theologians. In recent years, this has become an incredibly popular defense of the papacy, deceptively luring all sorts of vulnerable people into the Tiber river, but it’s not even what these Counter-Reformers themselves believed! As Hahn said, it may have been the “the point above all points” for him, but his claim that: “It was the point that the defenders of the Catholic faith in the 16th and 17th Centuries were very aware of, but for some reason amnesia…set in” is far from accurate. Ignatius of Loyola is the only one of six that we have reviewed, who possibly held a view similar to Hahn. most of them actually correctly viewed Ekiakim as a representation of Christ. Here is a quick summary of the views we’ve looked at:

  • Cardinal Thomas Cajetan – Views Eliakim as typologically prefiguring Christ (not Peter). The connection he draws between Eliakim and Peter is with parallel authority.
  • Ignatius of Loyola – May view Peter “prefigured” in Eliakim but it’s unclear.
  • Robert Bellarmine – Doesn’t appear to understand any relationship between Isaiah 22 and Matthew 16 but this is based on a third-party text and is inconclusive.
  • Francis de Sales – Says that Eliakim represents Christ (not Peter). Also says Peter represents Christ, in a similar way.
  • Cornelius A Lapide – Explicitly calls Matthew 16:19 an allusion to Isaiah 22:22 and but states: “Eliakim was a type of Christ” (not Peter) – the very typological relationship many Protestants view. Thus, it appears he views a typological relationship between Revelation 3:7 and Isaiah 22:22 and a mere allusion between Matthew 16:19 and Isaiah 22:22.
  • Jacobus Tirinus – Says Eliakim represents Christ (not Peter) and cites two prior sources (Cyril and Theodoret). Introduces the idea of the key of David being delegated to Peter in Revelation 3:7, as promised in Matthew 16 (assuming the translation is accurate). He’s apparently unaware of the problem this presents with the order in which the books of Matthew and Revelation were written. This means his concept of delegation is not what is described today. He also confuses the Temple with the Davidic palace and the “house of David” which, according to Luke 1:27 describes the lineage of Christ, with the physical building that probably no longer stood when Christ walked the earth.

Clearly, these RC Counter-Reformers didn’t even agree with one another, let alone were they “very aware of” the “point above all points.” If any two of them were in agreement about Isaiah 22:22, it was Cardinal Cajetan and Cornelius A Lapide. Catholic Answers lay theologians and apologists now tell us there is a problem with their view.

The only point all of these men seem to agree on is defending unfettered papal authority and it’s underlying theocracy. In the 16th and 17th centuries, this was generally based on a belief that the church should be the state, the pope should rule over the world, and new territories should be forcefully converted and incorporated into the papal states of Christendom.

In the next post, we will venture back over a thousand years further into church history to examine what the two witnesses cited by Jacobus Tirinus said about Eliakim and Isaiah 22:22. We will also examine other patristic interpretations of this passage, as well as Revelation 3:7. In doing so, we will see that there is consistent witness to Eliakim representing Christ, as well as evidence that the use of Isaiah 22:22 by “defenders and interpreters” of the Roman Catholic Counter-Reformation to justify papal claims of authority was a novelty of the 16th century. We’ll compete this series with a final post that itemizes the hermeneutic and historical dilemmas presented by the modern typology claim and wrap everything up with a quick review of what we’ve learned about the origins of the Eliakim-Peter typology.


1Gibbons, Katy. “Five of the Most Violent Moments of the Reformation.” The Conversation. (The Conversation US, Inc., 24 Jan. 2022).
2Minor edits were made to some of the texts to allow Scripture passages to dynamically display, to incorporate punctuation for clarity (e.g. for quotes), and standardize the spelling of names for searching, etc.
3Cajetan, Tommaso de Vio. Cajetan Responds: A Reader in Reformation Controversy. (United States, Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2011).
4Ignatius of Loyola. Letter to Claudius, King of Abyssinia (February 23, 1555) in: Woodstock Letters, Ignatian Ecclesiology, Vol. LXXXV, No. 4. Woodstock College Press. (Woodstock, Maryland, November, 1956).
5Whitaker, William. A Disputation on Holy Scripture: Against the Papists, Especially Bellarmine and Stapleton. (United Kingdom, Printed at the University Press, 1849).
6Gasquet, Francis Aidan, et al., Library of St. Francis de Sales—III: The Catholic Controversy. (United Kingdom, Burns & Oates, 1909).
7Geikie-Cobb, William Frederick, and Lapide, Cornelius A. The Great Commentary of Cornelius À Lapide: S. Matthew’s gospel, chaps. 10-21. 4th ed. (United Kingdom, J. Grant, 1908).
8Cooper, Derek. Introduction to World Christian History. (United States, InterVarsity Press, 2016).
9Lobo, Jeronimo, A Voyage to Abyssinia, ed. Joel Gold (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1985)
10Boddy-Evans, Alistair. “Which African Countries Were Never Actually Colonized?” ThoughtCo, (ThoughtCo, 6 Sept. 2020).

Join the discussion...

Scroll to Top
%d bloggers like this: