Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Biblical Evidence Against The Apostle Peter Being The First Pope

  • Defining The Issues: 
          -The Roman Catholic Church teaches that Jesus Christ made the Apostle Peter its first pope and that He had built His church upon him. It is also asserted that Jesus gave Peter a unique position of authority over His church which was supposed to get passed on through "apostolic succession" to present-day popes (thereby establishing the concept of an infallible church). These claims to authority made by Rome have spewed a great deal of controversy among the Eastern Orthodox and Protestant churches.
  • General Absence Of The Papal Office Throughout The New Testament: 
          -The New Testament contains various passages discussing the types of offices and qualifications necessary for obtaining such positions in the church (Ephesians 4:11-15; 1 Corinthians 12:28; 2 Corinthians 12:12; 1 Timothy 3:1-13; 1 Timothy 5:1-19; Titus 1:5-9). Yet, the concept of a pope is absent in these contexts. Paul does not distinguish Peter from the other apostles in the lists where that specific role is mentioned. Scripture describes individual congregations as being ruled by pluralities of elders (Acts 14:23; 20:28; 1 Timothy 5:17). Moreover, the New Testament says nothing regarding the establishment or existence of a one-head bishop hierarchical church structure. There is no mention of a single human leader rightly claiming to have been bestowed a gift of infallible teaching authority.
  • General Absence Of Papal Titles Throughout The New Testament:
          -Peter was never addressed by titles of exultation such as are used to honor popes of later times. In other words, he was never called "Pope," "Chief Shepard," "Head of the Church," "Holy Father," "Sovereign Pontiff," or any other religious titles used to honor popes today. Instead, he was simply called an "apostle and servant" (1 Peter 1:1; 2 Peter 1:1) and "fellow presbyter" (1 Peter 5:1). Such titles logically place Peter on the same level of authority as any other elder in the church. The Apostle John also referred to himself as an "elder" (2 John 1; 3 John 1), thereby implying that he had the same authority as Peter. 
           *Some may argue that the Apostle Peter avoided these titles because he was humble and modest. But if that is the case, then why do modern popes refuse to follow Peter's example? The truth of the matter is that the Lord Jesus Christ forbade the practice (Matthew 23:8-12).
           *Jesus is the "Chief Shepherd" of the "flock" (John 10:10; 14-16; Hebrews 13:20), not the pope.
          -Christ is the "head of the church" (1 Corinthians 11:3; Ephesians 1:22-23; 4:15; 5:23-25). Roman Catholics believe that the pope is the "visible" head of the church and that Christ is the "invisible" head. However, Scripture reserves no such position for any man. The Kingdom of God is spiritual and so does not require a single earthly leader to guide it.
  • The Apostle Peter Did Not Behave As If He Were A Pope:
          -The Apostle Peter was not a wealthy man as are modern day popes (Acts 3:6-7). In other words, he did not have a throne, crown, or any other types of riches, as successive popes have enjoyed for centuries. The Apostle Peter did not allow men to bow before him religiously (Acts 10:25-26), but modern popes accept and encourage this kind of behavior. We are not to bow before people to honor their religious office or affiliation (Matthew 4:9-10; Revelation 22:8-9).
  • The Absence Of Papal Office In Contexts Relating To Church Unity:
          -Paul never mentioned the Magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church as being the means of preserving ecclesiastical unity in passages relating to that very topic (Ephesians 4:4-7; Philippians 4:2-3). Jesus Christ does not refer to a Papacy in His prayer to God for unity amongst brethren (John 17). That should make one doubt whether the papal office existed in the first century.
  • The Apostle Peter Viewed Himself As Having No Supremacy Over The Church:
          -"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, 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; nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble." (1 Peter 5:1-5)
  • Peter Was Sent By Others To Travel And Preach The Gospel:
          -"Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the Word of God, they sent Peter and John to them." (Acts 8:14)
  • The Apostle Paul Worked Harder Than Peter: 
          -"But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain; but I labored even more than all of them, yet not I, but the grace of God with me." (1 Corinthians 15:10).
           *If the Apostle Peter was the first pope, then why did he not write more Scripture?
  • The Apostle Peter Was Only Known As The Apostle To The Jews:
          -If Peter was appointed by Christ to govern the entire Christian church worldwide, then why is it that Paul was the one commissioned to evangelize the Gentiles (Galatians 2:8)? In that same context, the Apostle Peter is only referred to as "one of four pillars," with James being listed as first in order (Galatians 2:9).
  • The Apostle Paul Rebuked Peter As Though He Were His Equal:
          -The text clearly shows that Peter and Paul had equal authority because the former boldly confronted the latter for his sin. Peter is not in an exulted position. Any person courageous enough to publicly repudiate the claims of a Roman bishop in later centuries would most probably get himself or herself executed, if done in the manner as Paul did in the text of Galatians 2:11-14.
  • Paul Never Mentioned Or Greeted "Pope Peter" In His Epistle To The Romans:
          -If the Apostle Peter was the first pope, then why is it that Paul wrote such a theologically rich epistle to the Romans? How come he never bothered to mention such a prominent figure in his greetings (Romans 16)? Where was "Pope Peter" when everybody else had deserted Paul (2 Timothy 1:15; 4:16)?
  • The Apostle Peter Himself Seemed To Be Unaware Of Apostolic Succession:
          -"I consider it right, as long as I am in this earthly dwelling, to stir you up by way of reminder." (2 Peter 1:13)
          -"And I will also be diligent that at any time after my departure you will be able to call these things to mind." (2 Peter 1:15)
          -"This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you in which I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your apostles." (2 Peter 3:1-2)
           *How come Peter failed to mention his papal office in the two epistles that he authored?
  • The Apostle Peter Did Not Exclusively Exercise Authority In Church Government:
          -The Apostle Peter was not in charge of the replacement apostle after Judas was dead (Acts 1:23-26). In other words, he did not occupy his supreme authority on this issue of church government like popes would. Instead, all of the apostles nominated two candidates (not Peter alone) and prayed to Christ for an answer (not looking to Peter). Afterwards, they all cast lots to see who the new apostle would be (Peter did not cast any). This passage certainly weakens the Roman Catholic claim that the pope has power over church government.
          -"In Acts 11 Peter is called to answer for his actions in going to Cornelius' house. Does he give evidence of Papal prerogatives here? Does he answer as Innocent III, or Alexander VI? Hardly. There is no mention of his position as Pope. Instead, rather than pleading his position as Vicar of Christ, Peter relates the supernatural vision and direction that had been given to him to proclaim the gospel message to the Gentiles. This no more makes Peter a Pope than Paul's guiding vision in Acts 16." (James R. White, The Roman Catholic Controversy, p. 112)


  1. The popes actually took their titles from Constantine. Constantine was known as the “vicar of Christ” (another Christ - representative of Christ) and the papacy took over this title. He was also the head of the pagan priesthood, with the title of Pontifex Maximus, another title taken by the papacy.

  2. Good job, Jesse!

    I like what you said about Peter not using any exalted title of himself because he was just being humble. And you asked, then why don't modern popes do the same?!!!

    Yeah, great question!

    Keep up the good work.