Q. Where did the word originate?

A. It comes from the Greek word Katholikos, which was later Latinized
into Catholicus.

Q. What is the meaning of the word?

A. It means 'Universal', which in itself means, 'of or relating to, or affecting
the entire world and all peoples therein'. It means, all encompassing,
comprehensibly broad, general, and containing all that is necessary.
In summation, it means all people in all places, having all that is
necessary, and for
all time.

Q. But is it Biblical?

A. Yes it is. It is in Matthew 28:19-20, "Go, therefore and make disciples
all nations...teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you;
And behold, I am with you
all days, even unto the consummation of
the world."
That is a statement of Universality, Katholicos, Catholicus, Catholic.

Q. I have heard that the word 'Catholic' did not come into use for hundreds
of years after Jesus Christ founded His Church.

A. Not true. The first recorded use of the word that I could find, is in
St. Ignatius of Antioch's letter to the
Smyrneans, paragraph 8,
of 107 A.D., "Where the Bishop appears, there let the people be, just as
where Jesus Christ is, there is the
Catholic Church."
Undoubtedly the word was in use before the time of that writing.

Q. Some say the Catholic Church ended with Constantine (285-337), with
the "Edict of Milan" which he issued in 313, which allowed the Church
to practice openly. Others say that is when the Church began. Who is right?

A. Neither is right. The Catholic Church is the true Church founded by
Jesus Christ and He guaranteed its perpetuity, Matthew 28:20, and its
unfaltering truth, 1Timothy 3:15. Now if either of the arguments in the
question were true, than don't you think the Church Fathers would have
mentioned it somewhere? Instead, the Church Fathers mention the Catholic Church
by Name in hundreds of their writings and spanning many centuries.
Ask the ones who say these things to show you documented proof.

In the Apostles Creed, the word "Catholic" is clearly written within:

I believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again. He ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.

Many non-Catholic sects also recite the Apostles Creed during their services. However, several of those who do, have substituted the word "Universal", for "Catholic". Thus they have substituted the meaning of the word for the word itself.

Here is what Church Fathers had to say. In every case the word "Catholic"
is used. Notice the dates, as they span over a century before and after
Constantine. The JXXXX refers to the paragraph numbers in "The Faith
of the Early Fathers", by William A. Jurgens.

Catholic Church...

Ignatius, Letter to the Smyrneans 8:1-2. J65. 106AD
Martyrdom of St. Polycarp 16:2. J77,79,80a,81a, 155AD
Clement of Alexandria, Stromateis 7:17:107:3. J435, 202AD
Cyprian, Unity of the Catholic Church 4-6. J555-557, 251AD
Cyprian, Letter to Florentius 66:69:8. J587, 254AD
Lactantius,Divine Institutions 4:30:1. *J637, 304AD
Alexander of Alexandria, Letters 12. J680, 324AD
Athanasius, Letter on Council of Nicea 27. J757, 350AD
Athanasius, Letter to Serapion 1:28. J782, 359AD
Athanasius, Letter to Council of Rimini 5. J785, 361AD
Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures 18:1. J836-*839, 350AD
Damasus, Decree of Damasus 3. J910u, 382AD
Serapion, The Sacramentary 13:1. J1239a, 350AD
Pacian of Barcelona, Letter to Sympronian 1:4 J1243, 375AD
Jerome, Against the Pelagians book 1-2 417 A.D.
Augustine, Letter to Vincent the Rogatist 93:7:23. J1422, 408AD
Augustine, Letter to Vitalis 217:5:16. J1456, 427AD
Augustine, Psalms 88:2:14, 90:2:1. J1478-1479, 418AD
Augustine, Sermons 2, 267:4. *J1492, *J1523, 430AD
Augustine, Sermon to Catechumens on the Creed 6:14. J1535, 395AD
Augustine, The True Religion 7:12+. *J1548, *J1562, J1564, 390AD
Augustine, Against the Letter of Mani 4:5. *J1580-1581, 397AD
Augustine, Christian Instruction 2:8:12+. *J1584, J1617, 400AD
Augustine, Baptism 4:21:28+. J1629, J1714, J1860a, J1882, 411AD
Augustine, Against the Pelagians 2:3:5+. *J1892, *J1898, 421AD
Innocent I, Letter to Probus 36. J2017, 417AD
Fulgence of Ruspe, Forgiveness of Sins 1:19:2, J2251-2252, 517AD

The following writings attest to the antiquity of the Catholic Church.

Church Antiquity...

Hermas, The Shepherd Vis 2:4:1. J82
Anonymous 2nd Letter of Clement to Corinthians 14:2. J105
Clement of Alexandria, Stromateis 7:17:107:3. J435
Augustine, Letter to Deogratias 102:15. J1428
Augustine, Psalms 90:2:1. J1479
Augustine, Predestination of Saints 9:18. J1985
Gregory I, Letter to John 5:44:18. J2295 595AD

The following writings support the perpetuity of the Catholic Church.

Church Forever...

Clement, Letter to Corinthians 42:1,64. J20,29a 80AD
Anonymous, 2nd letter of Clement to Rome 14:2. J105
Cyprian, Unity of the Catholic Church 4. J555-556
Cyprian, Letter to the Lapsed 33:27:1. J571
Hilary, The Trinity 7:4. J865 Augustine, Psalms 90:2:1. J1479
Augustine, Sermon to Catechumens 6:14. J1535

The following writings tell of the founding of the Catholic Church.

Church Founded...

Clement, Letter to Corinthians 42:1. J20
Hermas, The Shepherd Vis 2:4:1-3:5:1. J82-84 140AD
Anonymous, Letter of Clement 14:2. J105
Irenaeus, Against Heresies 3:16:6. J217a
Tertullian, Demurrer Against Heretics 9:3. J289
Clement of Alexandria, Stromateis 7:17:107:3. J435 202AD
Cyprian, Unity of the Catholic Church 4. J555-556
Cyprian, Letter to the Lapsed 33:27:1. J571
Hilary of Poitiers, The Trinity 7:4. J865
Augustine, Homilies on John 9:10. J1814

The following writings attest to the fact that the Catholic Church
was seated in Rome.

Church Seated in Rome...

Clement, Letter to the Corinthians, Address. J10a 80AD
Ignatius, Letter to the Romans, J52
Irenaeus, Against Heresies 3:3:3. J210-211
Cyprian, Letter to Cornelius 59:55:14. J580
Council of Constantinople, Canon3. J910d
Damasus, Decree of Damasus 3. J910u
Optatus of Melvis, Schism of Donatists 2:2. J1242

The following writings tell of the unity of the Catholic Church.

Church Unity...

Didache 4:3. J1b Ignatius, Letter to the Philadelphians 3:2. J56
Tertullian, Demurrer Against Heretics 20:4. J292
Cyprian, Unity of the Catholic Church 4. J555-556

The following writings attest to the 'Universality' of the Catholic Church.
The Catholic Church is truly 'Universal' as its name implies.

Church Universal...

Didache, 9:1,10:1. J6,7
Clement, Letter to Corinthians 5:1. J11
Ignatius, Letter to the Ephesians 3:2. J38
Martyrdom of St. Polycarp, Address. J77,79,81a
Hermas, The Shepherd Par 9:17:4. J93
Anonymous, Letter to Diogenetus 6:1. J97a
Aristides of Athens, Apology 15. J112
Justin Martyr, Dialogue with Trypho 110. J144
Irenaeus, Against Heresies 1:10:1. J191,192,215,257
The Muratorian Fragment. J268
Tertullian, Against the Jews 7:4. J320a
Clement of Alexandria, Exhortation Greeks 10:110:1. J405
Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures 18:23. J838
Damasus, Decree of Damasus 3. J910u

Written by Bob Stanley, October 9, 1998
Updated December 3, 2003
Updated March 22, 2008

Back to Home Page...