PETER REALLY THE FIRST POPE?
Before we answer this
historical question, students of the Bible and church history, should be encouraged
to ask, why would certain "ecclesiastical parties" want everyone to give an affirmative yes to
this question? Because if this can be substantiated and unequivocally be
found in Scripture, then it might give the pope of Rome his dictatorial and tyrannical authority,
which he has enjoyed for many centuries, even though it is very difficult to find
early Christians even discussing the "primacy of Peter," let alone an alleged
unbroken Apostolic chain to the incumbent pope of the day.
Gregory the Great (590-604AD) rejected outright the title of "pope," but his successor,
Boniface II, cherished it (Catholic Encyclopaedia, Vol. II, pg. 660.)
Damasus (366-384AD) was the first to call himself pope (Catholic
Encyclopaedia, Vol. IV, pg. 614.)
The same encyclopaedia
makes the non-biblical claim that the pope is "lord of heaven, earth and hell" (Vol.
VI, pg. 48.)
Rome also adheres to
a strange eastern religious view, which seems to border on the lines of reincarnation,
for it states that Peter's spirit somehow speaks through living popes, and it
was Leo I (449AD) who first introduced this view into the Catholic church
(Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Vol. III, pg. 744.)
If there's one verse
a Catholic can cite off the top of their head, it will always be Matthew's Gospel,
chapter 16, and here it is from the Catholic Douay-Rheims
I say to thee: That thou art Peter [petros]; and upon this rock [petra] I will build
my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."
believes that there are Aramaic and Hebrew manuscripts for the New Testament. However,
if this is true, then they are as elusive as Iraq's weapon of mass destruction, for
no scholar, religious or secular, has ever found one fragment. Some
may also be interested to learn that the meaning of the Aramaic word for Peter (Cephas)
is sand. Not the best foundation to build upon. Matt. 7:26, 27.)
Now on the surface it
all appears rather simple. The Lord makes Peter the church on which He will build
when one reads the whole Bible, problems soon occur. First, the Greek word for Peter
is petros, meaning a small stone. Second the Greek word for rock is petra, meaning
a large stone.
also note that in John 1:42, Jesus calls Peter "a" stone. Not "the" stone.
The term "the" stone is given to Jesus alone by Peter himself in Acts
4:11. And not only does Peter twice in the NT call Jesus "the" stone or "rock,"
but Martha practically echoes the same words of Peter from Matt. 16, in John 11:27:
"Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which
should come into the world." So both Peter and Martha affirm that Jesus is the Rock.
it would appear that a careful play on words has just taken place. Jesus is not making
Peter the church/rock, but rather He is the Rock Himself, with Peter being a small
stone - one of many. We also learn that Jesus has to be the Rock, when we read Matt.
7:24;1 Pet. 2:4-9.
see this video I did which goes into more detail.
The Apostle John,
who outlived all the apostles, never mentions "pope" Peter's death, burial or even
Church "fathers" such
as Irenaeus, Polycarp, Origen, Cyprian, Jerome, Hilary and Ambrose, never acknowledged
or taught that Peter was the first Pope (A Handbook On The Papacy, Bishop
William Kerr, pgs. 48, 49.)
James and John
were given special places of position with Jesus in the future Kingdom, yet Peter
wasn't consulted once nor did Jesus refer them to him. We also read in John's Gospel,
how certain Greeks went to Philip to have him introduce them to Jesus. Philip
then went to Andrew (not Peter) to speak with Jesus. And at the
end of this Gospel, Peter is rebuked by Jesus again, but this time for asking what
John's future fate would be. If anybody is to be considered as "Papal" material, it
would not be Peter (a man who tried to kill Malchus; deny Jesus three times and preach
a false gospel in Gal. 2, but Paul the Apostle. Yet even he was more modest and humble
then most modern day preachers are, whether Protestant or Catholic.
FROM THE "FATHERS" AND OTHERS
Origen: "But if you think that the whole Church
was built by God upon Peter alone, what would you say about John, the son of thunder,
or each of the apostles? Or shall we venture to say that the gates of hell shall not
prevail against Peter but shall prevail against the other apostles and those that
are perfect? Are not the words in question 'the gates of hell shall not prevail against
it' and 'upon this rock I will build my Church' said in the case of all and each of
them?" (Com. in Matt., xvi, 18 Migne, pg. 13:1000.)
Cyprian: "Certainly the rest of the apostles were
what Peter was, endued with an equal fellowship of dignity and power" (De Unitate,
Jerome: "But you say that the Church is founded
upon Peter although the same thing is done in another place upon all the apostles,
and all receive the kingdom of heaven, and the solidity of the Church is established
equally upon all, nevertheless among the twelve one is therefore chosen that by the
appointment of a head an occasion of dissension may be taken away" (Adv.
Jovianum, 1:26 Migne P.L. 23:258.)
Chrysostom: "This is, upon the rock of the confession."
Paul was equal in honour to Peter (Hom. Liv. in Matt. xvi. 2.)
Cyril of Alexandria: "Calling, I suppose, nothing
else the rock, in allusion to his name, but the immovable and firm faith of the disciple
on which the Church of Christ is founded and established" (De SS. Trinitate,
dial. iv P.G. 75:856.)
St. Hilary: "Upon this rock of the confession
is the building up of the Church.....This faith is the foundation of the Church" (De
Trinitate vi, 36. P.L. 10:186-7.)
St. Ambrose: "Faith in then the foundation of
the Church, for not the human person of St. Peter but of faith is it said that the
gates of hell shall not prevail against it" (De Incarn., v. 34, P.L. 16:827.)
Cyprian: "To all the apostles after His resurrection
He gives equal power and says, 'As the Father sent Me so I send you." (De Unitate,
also say, much to the horror of today's Catholic apologists:
[Peter and James]: "Were
of equal rank with each other as apostles" (Ad. Nest, pg. 77:112.)
[Peter & Paul were]:
"The presidents of the Churches" (Catech. vi, 15, pg. 33:561.)
Cyril and would give Paul the much-deserved credit that today's Catholic Church often
[Paul was] "The teacher
of the word, the planter of the Church. If therefore he receives a greater crown than
the apostles and be greater then they, it is manifest that he shall enjoy the highest
honour and pre-eminence" (Hom. viii, pg. 48:772.)
"Where Paul was, there
also was Christ. He is the light of the Church, the foundation of the faith, the pillar
and ground of the truth" (Hom i in Rom. xvi, pg. 51:191.)
[Paul was]: "The apostle
of the world" (Hom. xxi in Ep. I ad Cor, pg. 61:171.)
[Paul]: "He had the care
not of one household but also of cities and of peoples and of nations and of the whole
world" (Hom. xxv in Ep. Ii ad Cor, pg. 61: 571.)
[Paul was]: "The chief
and leader of the choir of the saints" (Hom. xxxii in Rom. xvi, pg. 60:678.)
also add the following:
"When apostle is said,
if it be not expressed what apostle, none is understood save Paul" (Contra duas Ep.
Pelag., iii, 3. P. L. 44:589.)
Here we have two Jesuits with their views on this. The first was Juan
Maldonatus who said the following:
"There are among ancient authors some who interpret 'on this rock,'
that 'on this rock' or 'on this confession of faith in which thou hast called Me the
Son of the living God,' as Hilary, Gregory Nyseen, Chrysostom, and Cyril of Alexandria.
St. Augustine, going still further away from the true sense, interprets 'on this rock'
that is 'on myself Christ, because Christ was the rock.'" (Catholic Encyclopaedia,
Vol. ix, pg. 567.)
Now we turn to John McKenzie:
"The position of Peter in the apostolic group was one of pre-eminence;
this is a commonplace in Catholic theology, and it has within recent years been set
forth very clearly by the Protestant scholar, Oscar Cullmann. It is also beyond dispute
that to call Peter the "Pope" of the apostolic college is to imply a position of which
the New Testament knows nothing. Here again the Acts of the Apostles and the epistles
of Paul are our best witnesses; in these Peter appears as a leader, but not endowed
with supreme jurisdiction. We cannot define the position of Peter exactly in any of
the terms which we use; and the New Testament has left his position undefined in its
own language. The thesis of the primacy is weakened if one attempts to find in Peter
the jurisdiction which has long been exercised by the Roman Pontiff for some 1700
years. This is a long time, and it takes one back very near to the apostolic Church;
but Peter lacks that position in the New Testament which he ought to have if he or
anyone else thought of him as Pope" (The Power and the Wisdom: An Interpretation
of the New Testament, 1965, pgs. 179, 80.)
With the rather interesting
quotes from above, may we now cite one more interesting statement taken from pope Gregory
[Paul] "Obtained the
principate OF THE WHOLE CHURCH" (In 1 Reg., lib. iv, cv. 28. P. L. 79: 303.)
"Pope Boniface VIII in
his Bull Unam Sanctum, cites John xxi. 17 as authorising HIS SUPREMACY NOT
ONLY OVER THE CHURCH BUT OVER KINGS" (Kerr, pg. 55.)
To show that the "fathers"
were far from united on Peter's "supremacy" we discover, for example, that Irenaeus taught
that Linus was in fact the first bishop of Rome.
was the most popular one and subsequently was ratified by the apostolic constitution
in 270AD (Peter De Rosa, Vicar's Of Christ.)
Yet Chrysostom believed:
[That John] "is the pillar
of the churches throughout the world, who hath the keys of the kingdom of heaven (Hom.
i in Joan, pg. 59:480.)
[John and Peter received]
"the charge of the world" (Hom. i in Joan, pg. 59:25.)
So for an overview of
how the "fathers" universally understood this doctrine to be, please see the following
breakdown, taken from Kerr:
Forty-four for it
meaning the faith Peter confessed.
for it being Christ Himself.
eight for it [being] all the apostles.
Kerr then goes on to
quote Catholic Archbishop Kenrick:
"From this it follows
either that no argument at all, or a feeble one, can be drawn in proof of the primacy
of Peter from the words on this rock will I build my church. If we ought to follow
the greater number of the fathers on this question then certainly it is to be held
that we should understand by the rock the faith professed by Peter and not Peter professing
the faith" (pg. 47,48.)
If only more bishops
in Rome were as honest as this, how different their church and the world would be!
The title and fable that
Peter was the first pope, with all its lavish sacraments and power, has slowly and
gradually been woven into Vatican history over the centuries.
I would also refer the
reader to a verse that most Catholic apologists conveniently miss,
when trying to propagate their false notion that Peter was in Rome with Paul:
so I have made it my aim to preach
the gospel, NOT WHERE CHRIST WAS NAMED, lest I should build on ANOTHER MAN'S FOUNDATION" (Rom.
is quite clear from the above Scripture that Paul would not and did not visit and
lay a foundation to a new or existing church, if an apostle or evangelist had already
I would also point the
reader to the 1st Peter 5:13, written around 66AD, the year Peter died:
"The church that is at
BABYLON, elected together with you, saluteth you; and so doth Marcus my son."
(The Catholic Church likes to say that Babylon
is the code name for Rome. Yet when Bible believers point out to them Babylon is listed
again in Rev. 17 - the whore of Rome - they quickly dismiss this by claiming
that this is ancient Rome. However, that won't do! John the apostle who had travelled
far with the Gospel, when shown this beast by the angel in Revelation 17:6, looked
at it with "great admiration." Why would he have admired it, if he had lived under Roman
occupation ALL OF HIS LIFE?)
So the reader is presented
with three options:
1. Peter died in
2. He died in Babylon?
3. Or he went to Rome
and died there? This of course being the most unlikely and difficult to prove, for
Scripture is silent on this.
One must also appreciate
that from the third to the tenth century, all Catholic bishops were addressed as pope
Even today, Italians
still call the pope, "papa."
(During the recent visit of Benedict XVI to
the UK, as he stayed at the Apostolic Delegate's mansion in South London, a small
group of eastern Europeans, that camped out all night to see him, were heard each
morning chanting "papa.")
Please also note that
the following "fathers" such as Cyprian, Origen, Cyril, Hilary, Jerome, Ambrose and
Augustine, never acknowledged that the keys the Lord gave Peter in Matt. 16:19 would
The early Church understood
this commission to be solely for Peter alone; and subsequently no transfer of power
or authority was ever practised in the early church. However, when taking a broader
look at Scripture, one should understand that all the disciples, and especially the
apostle Paul, were also given the keys/authority to present the Kingdom of God to
a lost world. And
this commission has been given to all believers, vicariously; for all believers, according
to the apostles Peter and John, are royal priests (1 Pet. 2 9; Rev. 1:6.)
It must also be stated
that all the church councils from Nicaea (4th century) to Constance (15th century)
affirmed that Christ and Christ ALONE was the Foundation and the Rock to which the
So to recap whom the
Rock is: the Foundation/Church is Christ (Acts 4:11,12); He is also the Rock
that Paul taught (1 Cor. 3:11; 10:4); and Peter later affirmed this himself (1 Pet.
2:6, 7); David
trusted in the ROCK (Ps. 18:2); Christ is the express image of God (Heb. 1:3);
There is only one GOD (Deut. 6:4); Jesus affirms this (Mark 12: 29); Christ states
unequivocally that He is the Lord God (John 8:58.) Therefore
David trusted in one God-Jesus Christ. Peter trusted in one God-Jesus Christ. Jesus
Christ's Church is His body, and only those that are in Him and trusting in Him, will
be saved (John 1:12; Eph. 4:30.)
The reader may be interested
to know that Peter only wrote two epistles, which contained 8 chapters and 166 verses.
(Some Catholic "scholars" even doubt he wrote the second epistle.) Yet
Paul wrote 13 epistles, possibly 14 (that being Hebrews) and his chapters total 87,
with 2,023 verses.
If Peter was the first pope, why is it that Paul
dominates the New Testament with his writings? Why is it that James, the Lord's half
brother, is mentioned before Peter in superiority in Galatians 2:9? Why did Paul have
to rebuke Peter in front of the entire church? Why isn't Peter the first to see the
resurrected Christ? Why is it that he doesn't close the churches first meeting
in Acts 15, but James does?
we read through the book of Acts, we notice the following and very important facts:
"Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: Who, when
they were come down, prayed for them, that they
might receive the Holy Ghost.
church sent Peter and John. Peter didn't send himself.
"But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he
had seen the Lord in the way, and that he
had spoken to him, and how he
had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus"
apostles are spoken of as a group, not one person intotal command.
"Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church. And he killed James the brother of John with
the sword. And because
he saw it pleased the Jews, he
proceeded further to take Peter also."
to note that James, the brother of John-they were also both given new names
by Jesus in Mark 3:17-was chosen BEFORE Peter to be killed. If Peter was "supreme"
why not go for him first?
"But he, beckoning unto them with
the hand to hold their peace, declared unto them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, Go shew these things unto James, and to
the brethren. And he departed,
and went into another place."
Peter's escape from prison he calls for James and then the brethren to be made aware
of his safety. James was clearly the main leader in Jerusalem.
"And certain men which
came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye
be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they
[the church] determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should
go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question. And being brought
on their way by the CHURCH, they
passed through Phenice and Samaria, declaring the conversion of
the Gentiles: and they caused great joy unto all the brethren."
is the first church conference in Scripture and we note how the church sent
Paul and Barnabas on their way. They didn't go up on their own authority. They were
I leave the reader with these wise words from a former Jesuit George Tyrrell:
of later the historical lie of the Papacy must be realised by every educated Roman"
(Life, Vol II, pg. 383.)