WAS PETER THE FIRST POPE?- Introduction
The Roman Catholic church claims that the papacy can be traced all the way back to Peter. The question is: “Was Peter the first pope?”
WAS PETER THE FIRST POPE?- Twisting Scripture
Catholics often cite Matthew 16:18 as biblical support for the papacy. In this passage Christ says: “I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church.” From this, the Catholic church argues that Jesus built His church upon Peter, and that Peter was the first pope. Is this accurate?
WAS PETER THE FIRST POPE?- The Original Greek Text
Well, in order to resolve this very important question we need to look at two key words in the original Greek: The word “Peter” and the word “rock.” In the original language the text reads: “You are Petros, and on this petra I will build my church.” Notice how Jesus distinguished between Petros (Peter’s name in the Greek, which means “stone”) and petra (the Greek word for “rock”). For Jesus to have avoided any confusion all He needed to do was to simply use the word “Petros” twice. In this way, He would have clearly demonstrated that the church would be built upon Peter. However, as we have seen, He used a different word — namely, “petra” — to make it absolutely clear that He was referring to the foundation of the church. The context of the passage (which, by the way, begins in verse 13) attests to a play, by Jesus, on these two words. In fact, interestingly enough, He used “petra” (or “rock”) to refer to Peter’s confession — that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. Thus, Jesus (not Peter) is said to be the rock upon which the church would be established.
WAS PETER THE FIRST POPE?- Jesus the Foundation of the Church
Peter himself underscores this fact in Acts 4:11 and 1 Peter 2:4-8, when he alludes to Christ as a “stone rejected by builders” and as a “rock that makes unbelievers fall.” Furthermore, the apostle Paul calls Jesus the foundation (1 Cor. 3:11), the cornerstone (Eph. 2:20), and the spiritual rock (1 Cor. 10:4) of the church. And so, in light of this we must conclude that the Bible does not support the idea of Peter being the very first pope. And remember, you and I do not need any go-betweens to get to Jesus Christ — not the pope, not Mary, not anything. In fact, we can come boldly into His presence because of the finished work of Christ Himself.On Peter and the papacy, that’s the CRI Perspective. I’m Hank Hanegraaff.