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Was Peter Head of the Church, First Pope?

Was Peter the First Pope and Head of the Church?We often hear it said that Peter was the first head of the church and modern Popes are his successors. If this is true, surely we would expect such a major doctrine to be plainly stated in the Bible. So consider what we find in Scripture.

We hear it said that Peter was the head of the church, but Ephesians 1:22,23 says that Jesus was head over the church and all things are under His feet. Ephesians 5:22,23 says Jesus is head of the church like a husband is head of his wife, but the Bible clearly teaches that a woman can have only one husband as her head. So how could the church have both Peter and Jesus as head?

We hear it said that Peter's office is the foundation on which the church is built. But 1 Corinthians 3:11 says no one can lay any foundation other than Jesus Christ.

We hear it said that the man who heads the church cannot be married. But in Matthew 8:14 Jesus healed Peter's mother-in-law, so Peter was married. And 1 Timothy 4:1-3 speaks against the doctrine that forbids marriage.

We hear it said that people should bow to honor the man who heads the church. But in Acts 10:25,26 Peter refused to allow a man to bow to him. He said, "Get up, I myself also am a man."

We hear people use terms like "holy Father" to exalt the man who is said to be the head of the church. But in Matthew 23:9 Jesus said not to exalt men with such religious titles, because "one is your Father, who is in heaven."

We hear it said that modern religious leaders are successors of the apostles. But Acts 1:21,22 shows that, in order to be an apostle, one had to be an eyewitness that Jesus had been raised from the dead.

Surely Peter was an important and influential apostle in the early church. But why does the Bible nowhere describe him as participating in these things that the head of the church is supposed to do?

For more information about Peter as Pope, please visit our Bible Instruction web site at /instruct/ and study our in-depth article on that topic. 

(c) Copyright David E. Pratte, 9/2007

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