WAS PETER THE FIRST POPE?

Mike Johnson

The above question is certainly a good question and needs to be considered.  There are many who think that Peter was the first pope.  However, the Bible does not even teach that there should be the position of a pope, much less that Peter was the first one.  Consider just some of the reasons why Peter could not have been the first pope.

1. The Bible never says that Peter was the first pope.  Peter wrote two books of the Bible.  His actions are recorded in the book of Acts, yet nowhere in the Bible are we told that Peter was a pope, nor did he serve in that capacity. Jesus is the head of the church.  He is referred to in that manner (Eph.  5:23).   There are  other  men  who  served  as apostles,  and they  are referred to as apostles.  Where is the passage that refers to Peter as a pope, or where do we find him serving in that capacity?  Peter referred to himself as an apostle (II Pet. 1:11), but did not put himself over the other apostles.

2.  Peter was a married man.  It is clear that Peter was a married man because Matthew 8:14 tells us that he had a mother-in-law.   It is obvious that he did not abandon his wife when he became an apostle as Paul said that the apostles had the right to “lead about”  a wife and pointed out that Cephas (Peter) did (I Cor. 9).

3. Consider Paul’s attitude and position.  In II Corinthians 12:11,  Paul  said,  ” . . . for in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles . . . ”  Could this have been correctly said if Peter was a pope as well as an apostle?  Galatians 2:11-14,16 points out that on one occasion that Paul rebuked Peter before “them all,” accusing him of what amounted to hypocrisy.  Was this a case of Paul rebuking the “Holy Father?”  If Peter had been pope, surely Paul would not have done this.

4.  Notice the actions of the other apostles.   If Peter was over the other apostles, they seemed totally unaware of any appointment that made Peter head of the church.  Nowhere did they  acknowledge him  as  head, nor did  he  attempt  to exercise authority over them.

5. The Bible never says that Peter was ever in Rome.  The word “Rome” occurs nine times in the New Testament, and Peter is never connected with it.

It is clear that Peter was not the first pope.  He is never called this nor did he serve in such an office.  The office of  Pope  is  a  man-made  office  and  exists  without  Bible authority.