Was Peter the first Catholic Pope?
Anyone who is even casually familiar with the Roman Catholic Church knows that the official leader of this church is called the Pope (Father). It is claimed by the Catholic Church that he is Christ’s representative on earth who is charged with being the visible leader of Jesus’ church. It is also claimed that the origin of such a universal office can be traced back to the apostle Peter, who, because of his primary and special position, was designated by Jesus as the first Pope.
But, do the Scriptures teach that Peter was in any way connected with the Catholic idea of a Pope? Did Peter have a special position where he was placed above all the other apostles? The Scriptures teach that Peter was not the first Pope neither would he approve of the present Pope or any other Pope. Here are a few reasons why Peter and all of us should reject the Pope and simply follow the apostles’ teaching as revealed in the New Testament.
1. He had no more authority than any of the other apostles. The Roman Catholic church points to Matthew 16:13-19 to prove that Peter had a superior position of authority compared to the other apostles. However when we observe Matthew 18:15-20 (note verse 1 of that chapter, Jesus is talking to all the apostles), we see the apostles were eual in authrity. Peter even received rebuke from another apostle.Gal. 2:11-14.
MAT 16:13 ¶ Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”
MAT 16:14 And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.”
MAT 16:15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
MAT 16:16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
MAT 16:17 And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.
MAT 16:18 “I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.
MAT 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.”
MAT 18:1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus and said, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
MAT 18:15 ¶ “If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother.
MAT 18:16 “But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed.
MAT 18:17 “If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.
MAT 18:18 “Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.
MAT 18:19 ¶ “Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven.
MAT 18:20 “For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.”
GAL 2:11 ¶ But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned.
GAL 2:12 For prior to the coming of certain men from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to withdraw and hold himself aloof, fearing the party of the circumcision.
GAL 2:13 The rest of the Jews joined him in hypocrisy, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy.
GAL 2:14 But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in the presence of all, “If you, being a Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how is it that you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?
Although it is claimed by the Catholic Church that Peter was endowed with special authority that no other apostle had, the Scriptures above make it clear that all the apostles were given authority. Although they were inspired, it did not make them incapable of sinning for even Peter was rebuked by the apostle Paul. He did not ever claim to be infallible like the Pope does today.
2. He was married and had a God-given right to be married. Matthew 8:14-15, 1 Cor. 9:5. Peter would not even have qualified to be the Pope today for he was obviously married. Not only that but Peter did not forbid any of the other apostles from marrying. It was their God-given right to do so if they wished. Yet today, the Catholic Church forbids not only the Pope from marrying but their priests.
MAT 8:14 ¶ When Jesus came into Peter’s home, He saw his mother-in-law lying sick in bed with a fever.
MAT 8:15 He touched her hand, and the fever left her; and she got up and waited on Him.
1CO 9:5 Do we not have a right to take along a believing wife, even as the rest of the apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas?
3. He refused all exalted human titles. Matthew 23:1-12. How could we ever believe that in light of this statement by Jesus, Peter would then gladly accept the title of Pope, Father or any other human title. These are for the praise of men not for the glorifying of God!
MAT 23:1 Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to His disciples,
MAT 23:2 saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the chair of Moses;
MAT 23:3 therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them.
MAT 23:4 “They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger.
MAT 23:5 “But they do all their deeds to be noticed by men; for they broaden their phylacteries and lengthen the tassels of their garments.
MAT 23:6 “They love the place of honor at banquets and the chief seats in the synagogues,
MAT 23:7 and respectful greetings in the market places, and being called Rabbi by men.
MAT 23:8 “But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers.
MAT 23:9 “Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven.
MAT 23:10 “Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ.
MAT 23:11 “But the greatest among you shall be your servant.
MAT 23:12 “Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.
4. He refused worship and adoration offered to him by men. Acts 10:25-28. Yet today when we see the Pope making various trips, people all too willing kiss his ring, his hand and bow down before him. And, he gladly accepts such shows of adoration. Yet, peter refused them all. We are to worship God and Him only. Matthew 4:8-11.
ACT 10:25 When Peter entered, Cornelius met him, and fell at his feet and worshiped him.
ACT 10:26 But Peter raised him up, saying, “Stand up; I too am just a man.”
ACT 10:27 As he talked with him, he entered and found many people assembled.
ACT 10:28 And he said to them, “You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a man who is a Jew to associate with a foreigner or to visit him; and yet God has shown me that I should not call any man unholy or unclean.
MAT 4:8 ¶ Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory;
MAT 4:9 and he said to Him, “All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me.”
MAT 4:10 Then Jesus said to him, “Go, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and serve Him only.'”
MAT 4:11 Then the devil left Him; and behold, angels came and began to minister to Him.
5. He did not exercise authority as a bishop or elder over more than one local congregation. 1 Pet. 5:1-4. As an apostle before the written word was completed he did have a special authority, along with all the other apostles, that he exercised in teaching Christians everywhere, but elders can only rule over the local church among them and no further. Acts 20:28-32. Yet, the Pope has the audacity to claim that is the ruler over thousands of local congregations. Who gave him such authority? Not God!
1PE 5:1 Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed,
1PE 5:2 shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness;
1PE 5:3 nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock.
1PE 5:4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.
ACT 20:28 “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.
ACT 20:29 “I know that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock;
ACT 20:30 and from among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them.
ACT 20:31 “Therefore be on the alert, remembering that night and day for a period of three years I did not cease to admonish each one with tears.
ACT 20:32 “And now I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.
6. Before he died, he named no successors either for himself or for the other apostles. Instead, he pointed all to the written word. 2 Pet. 1:12-15. It is the Word of God we are to follow and it says nothing about a Pope, the Catholic Church or any other denomination of any type! Acts 2:42.
2PE 1:12 ¶ Therefore, I will always be ready to remind you of these things, even though you already know them, and have been established in the truth which is present with you.
2PE 1:13 I consider it right, as long as I am in this earthly dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder,
2PE 1:14 knowing that the laying aside of my earthly dwelling is imminent, as also our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me.
2PE 1:15 And I will also be diligent that at any time after my departure you will be able to call these things to mind.
ACT 2:42 They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.
By Gary Hunt