Was the Apostle Peter the first Pope?

For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus . . .

2 Timothy 2:5

The Roman Catholic contention is that Saint Peter was the first Pope and the author of papal succession. Romanism also considers the pope to be the “head of the church” in spite of (and in direct contradiction to) that title already belonging to the Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 5:23).

Romish tradition teaches that not only did the Apostle Peter visit Rome, but that he pastored a church in Rome, died in Rome, is buried in Rome, and St. Peter’s Basilica is standing where Peter is supposed to have been martyred and buried. The Bible never makes mention of any of these things and the word “pope” isn’t even found in the Bible.

 

Below I’ve posted seventeen evidences (not “traditions”) for your consideration. Some of these facts were adapted from this website but the majority of this following information came from John MacArthur’s profound sermon entitled Unmasking the Pope and the Catholic System.

So, was Peter the first pope or not? Let us examine this subject with the following points.

01- The Bible never claioms that Peter was a pope, nor does it say that he was the “head of the church.” The Roman Catholic Church (RCC) takes biblical texts out of their context to support this pretext. One would think that if Peter were a pope (especially the first) that the Scriptures would certainly recognize and reflect this fact.

02- The word “pope” is not even found in Scripture. (It also never mentions the words “monk” or “rosary” either.)

03- There’s no archeological or historical evidence that Peter was ever in Rome.

04- The Bible gives a reason why there’s no archeological or historical evidence that peter was ever in Rome. In Romans 15:20, the Apostle Paul says that he aspired “to preach the gospel, not where Christ was already named, so that I would not build on another man’s foundation.” Had Peter been in Rome, then Paul would not have evangelized there since Paul said he didn’t want to build on another man’s foundation.

05- Paul greets a myriad of people in Romans chapter 16, yet makes absolutely no mention of Saint Peter. If Peter was the pope or “head of the church” in Rome, this would be a grievous oversight/omission on Paul’s part.

06- Paul greets ten people in Rome throughout his letter known as 2 Timothy; none of them are Peter.

07- When mentioning the pillars of the Church (not the heads as Christ is the only head of the Church), the Apostle Paul mentions Peter before John, but after James (Galatians 2:9). Is this any way for a pope to be recognized?

08- Peter was never called to preach to the Gentiles (which would have been those in Rome). Peter was entrusted with the Gospel to the circumcised, the Jews. (Galatians 2:7-8).

09- There’s no mention in Scripture of Peter being the head of the Church in Rome. He wasn’t even the head of the Church in Jerusalem; James was. (Galatians 2 & Acts 15).

10- Peter never considered himself the head of the Church (i.e. the pope). In the introduction of his letter (1 Peter 1:1), he simply calls himself “an apostle of Jesus Christ.” Notice he did not call himself the apostle, pope, or even “head of the church.” And he didn’t even refer to himself with the name “holy father” (a title ascribed to popes).

11- Peter further clarified his view of himself when he referred to himself as a “fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ” (1 Peter 5:1). He equated himself on the same level as the others he was writing his letter to.

12- Who was calling the shots? Scripture reveals that it was not Peter, the supposed “head of the Church.” He was being told what to do by the elders of the Church (Acts 8:14). Shouldn’t the “head of the Church” be the one giving instruction and direction? See additional examples of the leaders and elders of the church giving directions, not Peter, in Acts 11:22, Acts 15:22-27, Acts 21:18, and Acts 21:23-24.

13- The Apostle Paul opposed Peter to his face (Galatians 2:11) because Peter “stood condemned.” Hardly the thing for someone to do to a pope, the supposed Roman Catholic “head of the Church.”

14- Jesus called Peter “Satan,” and said that he was a stumbling block to Jesus (Matthew 16:21-23). Is this any way to talk to a pope?

15- Peter acted cowardly and denied the Lord Jesus (Matthew 26:69-75). Is this any way for a pope to act?

16- The history of the early Church as accounted in the book of Acts makes absolutely no mention of Peter after chapter 15. For someone who is supposed to be the “head of the church” and the first pope, you’d think there’d be more mention of him in this inspired book of early Church history.

17- And finally, Peter was a married man (Matthew 8:14, Mark 1:29-31, Luke 4:38-39 & 1 Corinthians 9:5), something a pope could not be.

See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority.

Colossians 2:8-10

 

7 thoughts on “Was the Apostle Peter the first Pope?

  1. #15 – Peter was married to a wife as evidenced by Matthew 8:14, “And when Jesus had come into Peter’s house, He saw his wife’s mother laid out and in a fever.” This account is also given by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in Mark 1:29-31 and in Luke 4:38-39.

    The apostle Paul also clearly indicates this by telling us in 1 Corinthians 9:5, “Do we not have authority to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brothers of the Lord do, and Cephas?” Cephas was a given name for the apostle Peter.

    Aren’t popes required to be celibate (not that they all have been down through history!!)!? Peter would have been a poor example or standard-bearer were he actually the first pope!

    Following Christ the Head of the Church Alone,
    The Desert Pastor

  2. Desert Pastor:
    Thank you for that. I cannot believe I forgot about that one! It truly slipped my mind.
    If you don’t mind, I’d like to add that to the original post as # 17.

    Crajay:
    You are very welcome.

    Sincerely,
    – The Pilgrim

  3. Jesus says, “Thou art Peter.” The Greek word is “petros.” It means “a stone.” It can even mean “a large stone.” The best definition I found is, “a detached but large fragment of rock.”

    Then Jesus says, “…and upon this Rock…” He uses a different word—petra. Here’s the difference. The word “petros” means “a stone.” The word “petra” means “a large, projecting rock,” or “a large boulder,” or even “rocky ground, a bluff, bedrock.” Let me give you an example of the difference. The word “petra” is used 13 times in the New Testament. Listen to how it is used in several verses:

    Matthew 7:24—”Therefore whosoever hears these sayings of mine, and does them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a petra…and it fell not; for it was founded upon a petra.”
    You cannot build a house on a stone. You have to build it on solid rock. Bedrock.

    Matthew 27:59-60—Joseph of Arimathea took the body of Jesus down from the cross, wrapped him in linen, and laid him in a sepulcher which was hewn out of a petra
    Now you cannot build a tomb out of a stone, even a large stone. This “petra” was the rock that made up the hill where He was buried.

    Romans 9:33—As it is written, Behold, I lay in Zion a stumblingstone and petra of offense: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
    Whoever believes in the Petra–not Petros.

    1st Corinthians 10:4—…they drank of that spiritual petra that followed them: and that petra was Christ.

    Every time the word the word “petra” is used, it is used of rock that is part of the earth. The rock which makes up the hills and mountains. The rock which is underneath the grass and dirt, upon which everything sits.

    Now, let’s look at the word “Petros.” This word is used 162 times in the New Testament. Guess how many times it is translated “stone”? Once. The other 161 times, it is used as a name for Peter. It is never used to describe something on which a building could be built. Because that’s not what it means. It means “A detached but large fragment of rock.” And it is not what Christ said He would build His church upon. He said He would build His church upon the “petra.” The solid Rock in which all things consist, by which all things are held together. Jesus Christ, our Lord, our Savior, our Petra.

    OK, now for the keys. These “keys of the kingdom of heaven”—does not mean that Peter is the head of the church. Roman Catholics have got this verse backwards. Jesus is NOT saying that Peter has all authority on earth, and that his word is final. This is one of those places where the KJV doesn’t quite say it the best way. The NASB really has the best translation of this verse. Matthew 16:19—”I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.” (“shall be bound” is in the perfect tense, indicating the action has already been done) In other words Jesus is saying, “Whatever you allow or prohibit on earth will have already been allowed or prohibited in Heaven.” He was not giving them the authority to bind and loosen. He was giving them the ability to determine whether something should be bound or loosened. The “keys to the kingdom” are gifts like discernment and insight to know what God allows and does not allow.

  4. The following reply to this post was left by George Arman on Reformation Nation. I have copied and pasted it here (for discussion) verbatim:

    “PETER WAS A HEAD OF THE JERUSALEM CHURCH, AS HE WAS THE OLDEST, MATUREST APOSTLE. (LU22:32). IT WAS PETER THAT PREACHED AT PENTECOST. IT WAS PETER THAT TOLD THE LAME MAN
    TO STAND UP AND WALK. IT WAS PETER THAT TOLD ANNANIAS AND
    SHAPIRA THAT THEY WOULD BE TAKEN HOME EARLY FOR LYING TO
    H.S. JAMES, JESUS HALF BROTHER, DID NOT GET SAVED UNTIL AFTER THE RESSURECTION. IT APPEARS THAT HE BECAME AHEAD OF THE CHURCH AFTER PETER LEFT TOWN,ACTS 12:17. IT SEEMS THAT PETERS MISSION FIELD WAS IN TURKEY, 1P1:1. HE WAS AN AMAZING LEADER, NEVERTHELESS, HE WAS THE LITTLE STONE,
    JESUS WAS THE ROCK. IT WAS PETER THAT STOOD UP AND SPOKE
    INACTS 2,3,4,5. AFTER HE WAS RESTORED IN JOHN 21, HE WAS AMAZINGLY TRANSFORMED IN 50 DAYS. HE HAD GUTS, HE WAS CAREFREE. HE WAS LIVING IN FAITH REST.”

    I am not sure what Gerorge’s position is on the matter since he failed to make the case that Peter was the first pope (if that’s what his argument was). He certainly made the case that Peter was a great man of God (I do not disagree) but likewise, so was Paul.

  5. My friends, I have been intrigued by the contents of this website, and in particular some of the posts regarding Roman Catholicism. As a Catholic, I appreciate this opportunity to have my faith challenged, and I am confident that Mother Church will be able to withstand these challenges. That said, before I go off to research a bit on points 3-8, I feel it necessary to point something out about points 9-15.

    None of said points reflect an accurate description of what any catechized Catholic would expect of Peter, the early Church, or any other pope for that matter. In particular, points 13-15 seem to indicate a Catholic belief that the popes are somehow impervious to sin or always as holy as their office calls them to be. Of course, no one is; not popes, not priests, not Protestant ministers, and certainly not me. We are all failures. That’s why we need a savior. Popes aren’t supposed to necessarily be the “holiest-guy-in-the-world” – rather the defender of the faith and leader of the Church. God often uses the weak to show His strength.

    Points 9, 10, 11, 12, and 16 seem to presuppose that the Catholic Church believes Jesus to have handed Peter the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Liturgy of the Hours, and flow chart of Magisterial authority along with the keys to the kingdom. This supposition would be false. The Church simply believes that Christ founded His Church on Peter, that the Church continues to be guided by and protected by the Holy Spirit working through the popes and other religious and laity, and that the apostolic succession, Church Tradition and traditions, and delineation of hierarchical offices were more necessities of ministering to the people of the world than decrees from the mouth of Jesus or Peter.

    And finally, point 17 indicates a lack of understanding of the history of priestly celibacy in the Church, as well as perhaps some Biblical interpretive challenges. I’ll let the ol’ Wikipedia sort some of that out. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clerical_celibacy#The_Catholic_Church_today

    I point these things out because if you are to reject the Roman Catholic Church, let it not be for lack of understanding. I challenge anyone who reads this comment to check out my blog and challenge my assertions or understandings, and let’s see whose belief system holds up to reasonable critiques, the realities we live in, and of course, Scriptural analyses.

    Thank you for your time.

    Shane

  6. I am not Catholic because they persecuted my Huguenot ancestors on both sides of my family. Going Catholic would not honour my mother and my father, and hence would be a violation of the 5th commandment. Thank God I can read the Gospel for myself in my own Bible, and thank God I do not have to eat his flesh and drink his blood on Sundays.

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