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  Was the Apostle Peter the first Pope? What does the Bible say?


  Well, let's see if we can find some Bible clues:

  1. The first clue we notice is that there is no mention of any "popes", or even of the Bishop at Rome in the New Testament.

   The Catholic Encyclopedia, on line at accepts AD 67 as the date of the Apostle Peter's death, and claims that three "popes" headed the Church of Rome between the death of Peter and 96 AD when the Book of Revelation was written. If that is true, it becomes very strange indeed that there is no mention of these "popes" in the New Testament.

  The Apostle Peter wrote two Books, 1st and 2nd Peter, and didn't even mention a Bishop of Rome.

  Seven books of the New Testament were written while Linus, Anacletus, and St. Clement were supposedly "popes", the Vicars (substitutes) of Christ, and the head of the Church, the "pillar and ground of the truth":


Mark's Gospel, written by Mark, circa 67 AD


Matthew's Gospel written by Matthew, circa 68 AD

70 AD

70 AD Destruction of Jerusalem by Titus

73 AD Fall of Masada


John's Gospel, written by the Apostle John, circa 90 AD

1 John

1 John, 90 AD, written by the Apostle John

2 John

2 John, 91 AD, written by the Apostle John

3 John

3 John, 92 AD, written by the Apostle John

96 AD



Revelation, 96 AD, written by the Apostle John from the Isle of Patmos, closes the Canon of Scripture

  Certainly, if there was a "pope" at Rome when these seven Books were written, shouldn't the writers at least have given him "honorable mention"?

  2. In Acts 15:1-19 we have another clue: Some 18 years after the Cross, James seems to have become the first leader of the church. James presided over the Council at Jerusalem, verse 13 & 19, and the Apostle Peter was just one of the men who testified at the hearing in verse 7!

  3. In Gal 2:7&8 we have another clue: Paul states that Peter was the Apostle to the Jews not the Gentiles, and that he, Paul, was the Apostle to the Gentiles. (The church at Rome is a gentile church).

  4. I do not know of any evidence, Biblical, or historical, that Peter was ever in Rome at all. I know that it is Catholic TRADITION that Peter went to Rome and became the foundation of the church on earth. I'm open to evidence, if anyone has some.

  5. But, Paul is the Apostle who traveled to Rome, wrote at least 6 Epistles from Rome, and even wrote an Epistle TO the Church at Rome, and not once did he mention a "pope" or even a "Bishop of Rome". To me, this evidence alone precludes the presence of a "pope" being at Rome when Paul traveled there and wrote from there.

  6. I do not find where Peter ever claims to be more than one of the Apostles of Jesus Christ, as he states in 1 Pet 1:1 and 2 Pet 1:1.

  7. In 1 Pet 5:1, some 25 years after the Cross, Peter says that he is just an elder among the other church elders.

  8. When we examine the teachings of Peter, we find in 1 Pet. 2: 5 & 9, that Peter states that every believer is a "priest"! (Has direct access to God - no one and no "church" between the believer and God). If Peter taught that every believer is a "priest", how could he possibly be thought to be the founder of a church that has "priests" over the individual congregations?

  9. We have more evidence in Matt 8:14, where we find that the Apostle Peter was married. If the "first pope" was married, how is it that Popes today are not married?

  10. In Gal 2:9-14, some 20 years after the Cross, the Apostle Paul scolded the Apostle Peter to his face for religious hypocrisy! Paul scolded the "pope"?

  11. I understand that the teaching of Peter being the first "pope" primarily comes from Matthew Chapter 16, verses 13-20. So, let's look at this Scripture. In Matt 16:13, Jesus is talking to His disciples and asks the question "Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?"

    a. In verse 16, Peter correctly confesses who he thinks Jesus is , "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God."

    b. In verse 17 and 18, Jesus confesses who He thinks Peter is. Jesus says in verse 17, "blessed art thou Simon (Simon means to hear intelligently) Bar-Jona (son of Jona)", and in verse 18 "And I say unto you that thou art Peter" (Petros, Greek for a small rock, or piece of a rock).

    c. In verse 18 Jesus says that He will build His church upon this "rock " (Petra, massive rock you can build on). I believe that Jesus is saying, Peter you are the small piece of rock, and I will build the church on me, the large foundation Rock. Jesus is using a play on words to emphasize that Peter will have a major role in building the future church, but that Jesus will always have preeminence.

    d. I know that a lot has been made of the fact that Jesus spoke Aramaic and Hebrew, and that there is not a word in those languages for a "small rock", or "piece of rock" as there is in the Greek, but, the Apostle John clears that point up for us, in John 1:42. The Apostle John was present when Jesus changed Simon's name to "Peter". John states in John 1:42 that Jesus changed Simon's name to "Cephus", which is the Aramaic for "rock" or "stone", and then adds, which IS BY INTERPRETATION "Petros" (not "petra"), or "little", or "piece of" stone in the GREEK.

    e. Jesus, not Peter, is the Rock (Petra), a foundation rock that you can build on, in the Scriptures. Jesus is called "petra", in the Greek and never "petros". Peter is called "petros" in the Greek, and never "petra":

(1) Jesus is the "Rock" (petra) that was smitten for us that the Spirit of life may flow from Him to all who will drink, Ex 17:6, 1 Cor 10:4, & Jn 4:13&14 & 7:37-39.
(2) To the church, Jesus is the Chief "Cornerstone" on the foundation laid by the Apostles and Prophets, Eph 2:20.
(3) To the Jews at His first coming, Jesus is a stumbling "stone" (Greek "lithos", or primarily a "building stone"), Rom 9:32&33.
(4) To Israel at His Second Coming, Jesus is the "Headstone of the corner", Zech 4:7.
(5) To the gentile nations at His Second Coming, Jesus is the smiting "Stone cut without hands", Dan 2:34.
(6) After Jesus smites the nations at His Second Coming, Jesus is the Stone that "grows to fill the whole earth", Dan 2:35.
(7) To unbelievers, Jesus will be the Stone that will grind them to powder, Matt 21:42-44.(Greek "lithos")
(8) In Matt 7:24, Jesus says "therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them, I will liken him to a wise man, who built his house upon a rock" (Petra, not petros).

    f. In Matt 16:21-23, in the immediate context of Jesus building the church on the Rock (petra), and seemingly to emphasize that Peter is a fallible human being, Jesus says to Peter "get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence to me".


  12. In 1 Pet 2:4-9, Peter is very careful in his writings to clear up any misunderstanding and state that Jesus is the "Rock" (Petra, or massive rock) upon which the church is built:

    a. Verse 4, Peter says that Jesus is the "Living Stone". (Greek lithos, as in Rom 9:32 & 33, and 1 Cor 1:23)

    b. Verse 5, Peter says that we are "living stones" (lithos), being built up into a dwelling place for God.

    c. Verse 6 & 7, Peter says that Jesus is the chief cornerstone (lithos) of the building (the church).

    d. In verse 8, Peter calls Jesus the Rock (Petra). Jesus is the "stone of stumbling (lithos), and the "Rock" (petra) of offense, to those who "stumble at the Word". So, by Peter's own testimony, some 17 years after the Cross, Jesus is the "petra", not Peter. Again, Jesus is called "petra", in the Greek and never "petros". Peter is called "petros" in the Greek, and never "petra". This adds emphasis to the "petra" upon whom the Church is built, in Matt. 16:18 being JESUS, not Peter.

  13. Peter said in 1 Pet 2:1-9 that every believer is a PRIEST, that the whole church is a HOLY PRIESTHOOD. (We take the place of the Old Testament priesthood) (Also stated in Rev 1:6 that we are now "priests") As a "priest", there is now no "thing" and no "body" between us and Jesus. (The whole book of Hebrews, especially chap 9:11). After Jesus' death on the Cross, we Christians are "priests", and Jesus is our "High Priest".

  14. An illustration of the drastic difference between the previous "Jewish age" and the present "Church age" is the relevance of the Old Testament Law that God gave the Nation of Israel. The "Old Testament Law" refers to the "decalogue" or "Ten Commandments", and the "Ceremonial Law" and the "Dietary Law" that God gave the Jews in the book of Leviticus.

In the Jewish Age, the Jews were required to live by these Laws, but in the Church Age, we are no longer under these Laws:

    a. No longer under the Law, but under grace, Rom 6:14.

    b. The Law was a curse, Gal 3:13, and Christ redeemed us from it.

    c. The Law was our "schoolmaster" to bring us to Christ. No one can keep the Old Testament Law, so that leaves us hopeless and helpless and in need of a Savior. Gal 3:23-26.

    d. Jesus nailed it to His cross and took it out of the way Col 2:14.

    e. Under the Old Testament Law, there was a priest who operated in a temple, the Spirit of God resided in the temple, and the priest offered sacrifices to God in accordance with the Law.

    f. Now, in the Church Age, as a child of God:

(1). We are a priest, 1 Peter 2:5 & 9 and Rev 1:6 - replacing the Old Testament priesthood, which was BETWEEN God and the people.
(2). Our body is God's temple, 1 Cor 6:19 - replacing the Old Testament Temple.
(3). The Spirit of God lives in us, 1 Cor 6:19 - instead of in the Old Testament Temple.
(4). And we offer spiritual sacrifices to God, through our High Priest Jesus Christ - replacing the Old Testament Priesthood. Our Church Age sacrifices are stated to be:
    (A). Our body, a living sacrifice, Rom 12:1
    (B). Our praises to God, Heb 13:15
    (C). Our sharing and fellowshipping with one another, Heb 13:16
    (D). Our Divinely motivated good works, Phil 2:17
    (E). Our Divinely motivated giving, Phil 4:18

  15. As far as the "keys", and "binding and loosing" of Matt 16:19 are concerned, I believe the "keys of the kingdom of heaven" is simply speaking of Jesus dying on the Cross and leaving the Apostles behind to proclaim the gospel. Peter was used in a mighty way to "open the door" to the gentiles in Acts chapter 10. But, It is perfectly clear from Rev 1:18 that Jesus alone has the keys of death and hell. No "church" or "person" on this earth has those "keys".

No human being can die unless Jesus turns the key, and no human being can go to hell unless Jesus turns the key, Rev 1:18! Jesus said in John 6:65 "no man can come to me, except it were given unto him of my Father". No human or organization on earth has the authority to make a person a child of God or to state that they cannot become a child of God!

Scripture states that the authority of salvation, death, and hell, is retained by God and not given to any man or church.

    a. The word "bind" in Matt. 16, means "to place a burden on", and "loose" means to "allow". The words "bound in heaven" and "loosed in heaven" are Greek "perfect" tense verbs, meaning action which has already taken place before Jesus spoke in Matt 16 and the action will keep on in continuance .

Jesus again is simply saying that whatever you tell men they must "DO" (bind on them) on earth, had better be those things which heaven has already said to DO (bound on them), and those things which you "ALLOW", had better be those things which heaven has already ALLOWED ("loosed" or said it is OK to do). In this passage, Jesus is simply telling Peter and the other Apostles to preach the Word of God that liveth and abideth forever, without any compromise! (And there is no "binding of Satan or demons" here, or anywhere else in the Scriptures).

  16. Peter himself points us, not to a man or a church on earth, but to the Lord Jesus Christ and to the Word of God, when you read the books of 1st and 2nd Peter:

    a. 1 Pet 1:24 & 25 "For all flesh [is] as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you."

     b. 1 Pet 2:2, "As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby".

     c. 2 Pet 3:18, "grow in grace, and [in] the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him [be] glory both now and for ever. Amen."

  17. I must trust the Word of God and the Lord Jesus Christ, and not the tradition of man. Tradition is a bad word in the Bible:

    a. Mark 7:8 "Laying aside the commandments of God, ye hold to the tradition of men".

    b. Mark 7:13 "Making the Word of God of none effect through your tradition".

    c. Col 2:8 "Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men." Verses 9 - 17 go on to to describe how false teachings and the traditions of men can steal the joy of our salvation.

    d. Even the Apostle Peter, in 1 Pet 1:18 speaks of the vain manner of life passed down by the tradition of your fathers!

  May the Lord have mercy on the man or church that teaches that there is ANYTHING between us and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and help them see the truth.

  The Scriptures teach "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved" (Acts 16:31), and, Col 2:10 states, "you are complete in Him".

  I hope and pray these comments and Bible quotes and the Spirit of God will help you to understand the truth concerning our wonderful salvation by grace brought about by Jesus Christ alone and His finished work on the Cross.

  Written in Christian Love,

   Bob Jones