Chapter 10

    STANDING AT THE HEAD of the Roman Catholic church is the Pope of Rome. This man--according to Catholic doctrine--is the earthly head of the church and successor of the apostle Peter.

    According to this belief, Christ appointed Peter as the first pope, who in turn went to Rome and served in this capacity for twenty--five years.  From him, it is claimed, a succession of popes has continued to this day--a very important part of Roman Catholic doctrine.  But did Christ ordain one man to be above all others in his church?  Did he institute the papal office?  Did he appoint Peter as the Supreme Pontiff?

    According to the Scriptures, CHRIST  "is the head of the church" (Eph. 5:23)--not the Pope!

    The photo to the right shows the toe--less toes of Peter, that is located in St. Peter's at Rome.  Long lines of people wait daily to pass before it and kiss its foot.  Bronze statue of St Peter - the feet have been made toe-less from thousands of people touching them over the years.  More on the toes in the next chapter.

    James and John once came to Jesus asking if one of them might sit on his right hand and the other on his left in the kingdom. (In Eastern kingdoms, the two principal minsters of state, ranking next in authority to the king, hold these positions.) If the Roman Catholic claim is true, it seems that Jesus would have explained he had given the place on his right to Peter, and did not intend to create any position on the left! But to the contrary, here was the answer of Jesus: "Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise dominion upon them, but it shall not be so among you" (Mark. 10:35-43). Certainly this argues against the concept that one of them was to be a Pope ruling over all others in the church as Bishop of bishops!

    Jesus further taught the concept of equality by warning the disciples against the use of flattering religious titles such as "Father" (the word "Pope" means father), "Rabbi," or "Master."  "For one is your Master, even Christ," he said, "and all ye are brethren" (Matt. 23:4-10).

    But Roman Catholics are taught that Peter was given such a superior position that the entire church was built upon him! The verse that is used to support this claim is Matthew 16: 18: "And I say unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."

    If we take this verse in its setting, however, we can see that the church was not built on Peter, but on CHRIST.  In the verses just before, Jesus asked the disciples who men were saying that he was. Some said he was John the Baptist, some Elijah: others thought he was Jeremiah or one of the prophets. Then Jesus asked: "But whom say ye that I am?" To this Peter replied: "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God."  Then it was that Jesus said, "Thou art Peter (petros--a stone, a rock), and upon this rock (petra--a mass of rock, the great foundation rock of truth that Peter had just expressed) I will build my church."  The true foundation upon which the church was built was Christ himself, not Peter.  It is, in fact, Christ's church, not St. Peter's!

    Peter himself declared that Christ was the foundation rock (1 Peter 2:4-8). He spoke of Christ as "the stone which was set at naught of you builders...neither is there salvation in any other" (Acts 4:1 1,12).  The church was built on Christ.  He is the true foundation and there is no other foundation: "For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is JESUS CHRIST" (1 Cor, 3:11).

    When Jesus spoke of building his church upon a rock, the disciples did not take this to mean he was exalting Peter to be their Pope, for two chapters later they asked Jesus who was the GREATEST (Matt. 18: 1).  If Jesus taught the church would be built on Peter, the disciples would have automatically known who was the greatest among then!

    Actually, it was not until the time of Calixtus, who was bishop of Rome from 218 to 223 that Matthew 16: 18 was used in an attempt to prove the church was built on Peter and that the bishop of Rome was his successor.

If we take a close look at Peter in the Scriptures, it becomes apparent that he was not a Pope!

1. Peter was married. The fact that Peter was a married man does not harmonize with the Catholic position that a pope is to be unmarried. The Scriptures tell us that Peter's wife's mother was healed of a fever (Matt. 8: 14). Of course there couldn't be a "Peter's wife's mother" if Peter didn't have a wife!  Even years later, Paul made a statement which shows the apostles had wives--including Cephas ( I Cor. 9:5). Cephas was Peter's Aramaic name (John l:42)

2. Peter would not allow men to bow down to him.  When Peter came into his house, "Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshiped him. But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself am a man" (Acts l10:25,26). This was quite different from what a pope might have said, for men do bow before the pope.

3. Peter did not place tradition on a level with the word of God.  To the contrary, Peter had little faith in "traditions from your fathers" (l Peter I :18).  His sermon on the day of Pentecost was filled with the Word, not traditions of men.  When the people asked what they should do to get right with God, Peter did not tell them to have a little water poured or sprinkled on them. Instead, he said: "Repent and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost" (Acts 2:38).

4. Peter was not a pope, for he wore no crown Peter himself explained that when the chief shepherd shall appear, then shall we "receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away" (1 Peter 5:4). Since Christ has not yet appeared again, the crown that the Pope weans is not one bestowed upon him by Christ. In short, Peter never acted like a pope, never dressed like a pope, never spoke like a pope, never wrote like a pope, and people did not approach him as a pope!

    In all probability, in the very early days of the church, Peter did have the most prominent ministry among the apostles.  It was Peter who preached the first sermon after the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost and 3,000 were added to the Lord. Later, it was Peter who fir,st took the gospel to the Gentiles.  Whenever we find a list of the twelve apostles in the Bible, Peter's name is always mentioned first (Matt. 10:2; Mk. 3:16; Luke. 6:14; Acts 1:13).  But none of his--not by any stretch of the imagination-would indicate that Peter was the Pope or universal Bishop of bishops!

    While Peter apparently took the most outstanding role of the apostles at the very beginning, later on, Paul seems to have had the most outstanding ministry.  As a writer of the New Testament, Paul wrote l00 chapters with 2,325 verses, while Peter only wrote 8 chapters with 166 verses.

    Paul spoke of Peter, James, and John as pillars in the church (Gal.2:9). Nevertheless, he could say, "In nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles" (2 Cor. 12:1 1).  But if Peter was the Supreme Pontiff, the Pope, then certainly Paul would have been somewhat behind him! On one occasion, Paul even gave a rebuke to Peter "because he was to be blamed" (Gal. 2:11).  This is strange wording if Peter was regarded as an "infallible" pope!

    Paul was called "the apostle of the Gentiles" (Rom. 11:13), whereas Peter's ministry was primarily to the Jews (Gal. 2:7-9). This fact--in itself--would seem sufficient to show Peter was not bishop of Rome, for Rome was a Gentile city (Acts 18:2).  All of this is indeed highly significant when we consider that the entire framework of Roman Catholicism is based on the claim that Peter was Rome's first bishop!

    There is no proof, Biblically speaking, that Peter ever went near Rome! We read about his trips to Antioch, Samaria, Joppa, Caesarea, and other places, but not Rome!  This is a strange omission, especially since Rome was considered the most important city in the world!

    The Catholic Encyclopedia (article: 'Peter") points out that a tradition appeared as early as the third century for the belief that Peter was bishop of Rome for twenty--five years--these years being (as Jerome believed) from 42 A.D. until 67 A.D. But this viewpoint is not without distinct problems.  About the year 44, Peter was in the council at Jerusalem (Acts 15). About 53, Paul joined him in Antioch (Gal. 2:l1). About 58, Paul wrote his letter to the Christians at Rome in which he sent greetings to twenty-seven persons, but never mentioned Peter! Imagine a missionary writing to a church, greeting twenty--seven of the members by name, but never mentioning the pastor!

    The keys in the above picture and to the right are supposed to represent the "keys of the kingdom" that was given to Peter in Matthew 16:19. According to Roman Catholicism, these keys represent all authority in heaven and in Earth, and she (Catholicism), as the "rightful possessor" through the passing of those keys, has all authority. Pope Gregory VII (the "only pope to canonize himself") drew up a Dictatus (list) of twenty- seven theses outlining his powers as "Peter’s vicar, Prince of the Apostles and Chief Shepherd".

  It is Catholic doctrine, that, by changing Simon’s name to Peter, was making him the first pope and head of the Roman Catholic church as well as establishing apostolic succession. Catholic popes would be given these keys of Peter to reign as "Pontifex Maximus" in Rome, a title held by the Caesars of Rome as well.
“Signs and symbols rule the Sun Worship world, not words nor laws.”