Was Peter
The First Pope?

The Missing Link or Was Peter The First Pope?

Roman Catholic propagandist, "Rev." John A. O'Brien, Ph.D., wrote the following in his officially endorsed book, "The Faith of Millions":

"THE TITLE DEED OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH. shows the unbroken list of pontiffs from St. Peter to today. That is the evidence of history that the Catholic Church speaks to the world today with the authority of Jesus Christ. Why? Because Christ constituted Peter the visible head of His Church on earth and clothed his office with supreme and infallible teaching authority. We know that our present pontiff speaks to us with that same authority because his title goes back in unbroken succession to Peter and through Peter to Christ."


With the recent death of "Pope John Paul II" or "Ioannes Paulus PP. II" born: Karol Józef Wojtyla many are searching for answers and facts on the "pope" and "apostolic succession". And now Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was named "Pope Benedict XVI." Here is a study reprinted from Sept. 1, 1967 "Sound Words" that is Biblically based and Biblically correct.

But what does the Bible say?

No one can deny or find fault with FACTS. They are actualities! Plain facts concerning the Bible itself, its characters, statements, etc., educates and edifies. This includes Peter, for example, who is introduced in John 1:40-42. "When Jesus saw him He said, thou art Simon [one who hears], the son of Jona; thou shalt be Cephas, which is by interpretation, a stone." "Cephas" is Syriac; "Peter" is Greek. It was Peter who first preached the gospel of Christ to the Jewish nation and to the Gentiles. The fact remains however, that Peter (with the eleven) was an apostle only "to the circumcision," Israel. Galatians 2:7,9 reads: "When they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision [Gentiles] was committed unto me [Paul] as the gospel of [or 'to'] the circumcision was unto Peter; and when James, Cephas [Peter], and John who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me they gave to me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship that we should go to the heathen (Gentiles) and they unto the circumcision" (Israel).

Since "God is taking out of the Gentiles a people for His name" (Acts 15:14), thus forming the church, and since the apostle Paul was appointed to be "THE apostle and teacher of the Gentiles" (stated four times , Rom. 11:13; 15:16; 1 Tim. 2:7; 2 Tim 1:11), did not Paul have the "primacy" among the Gentiles as an apostle rather than Peter? Paul said, "in nothing am I behind the chiefest apostles, though I am nothing." 2 Corinthians 12:11; 11:5.

Who Heads the True Church?

The Jews knew from the old scriptures that the "Son of God" denoted Deity and that the Lord is called "a Rock": "He is THE ROCK... the Rock that begat thee... our Rock. Deut.32:4,18,31. "Who is a rock save our GOD?" Psalms 18:31. Thus the apostles had no misunderstanding of Christ's words after Peter's confession, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God," that not on a mere man, not on Peter ("Petros," a stone), but on this Rock ("Petra," a great rock, Christ) "I will build my church." Matt. 16:16,18.

Evidently, Christ's church is not built upon a mere man, but upon the foundation laid down by the apostles and prophets, "Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone." Eph. 2:20. To this Peter adds his testimony in 1 Peter 2:6-8, that Christ the chief cornerstone was the "stone which the builders (Jewish leaders) disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, a stone of stumbling and a ROCK of offence." All believers, including Peter, "as living stones are built up a spiritual house," v.5. As "one who hears" Simon Peter included himself among the "living stones" who have heard and believed the gospel, who in Christ "are builded together for the habitation of God through the Spirit." Eph. 2:21,22. "Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ." 1 Cor. 3:11.

Truly, it is the Lord Jesus Christ, the FOUNDER of His church (Whom "God hath highly exalted and given a name which is above every name" Phil. 2:9), Who heads His church, NOT a succession of Adamic sinful human beings, elected by men of like Adamic nature, to become "Popes."

Binding And Loosing Stopped

"The keys of the kingdom of heaven" were given to Peter to "bind on earth" and to "loose on earth" (Matt. 16:19) but it is shown in Matt. 18:18 that this power was also allotted to ALL "the disciples" (v.1). This power of binding and loosing (being done simultaneously "in heaven") can be seen in operation in Acts 5, showing Peter had the power to bring judgment of death upon Ananias and his wife, Sapphira, when Peter discerned that Satan had filled their hearts "to lie to the Holy Spirit."

Again, in Acts 13:8-11 we read how the apostle Paul through the power of binding and loosing caused Elymas the sorcerer to become blind "not seeing the sun for a season." This power and other miracles performed during the Acts period were the credentials of the Messiah and His offer of the literal kingdom to Israel, lasting only during that period. Of course, the gospel of free salvation through faith in Christ - that He "was delivered for our offences and raised again for our justification" (Rom. 4:25) - was also preached then and thereafter.

This power of binding and loosing "on earth" definitely was not what Roman Catholics teach it is, for no human being ever had the power over the eternal destiny of souls. That power belongs to God alone!

Peter never claimed powers beyond his fellow apostles.

It was James, not Peter, who seems to have presided at the council at Jerusalem. Acts 15:13-21. The "sentence" concerning the behavior of Gentile believers was announced there by James, not Peter.

Where is it written that Christ appointed any one of His disciples to be the greatest? We read they "had disputed among themselves who would be the greatest... and He saith to them, If any man desire to be the first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all." Mark 9:34,35. Is this true in popery? We see the opposite. The unscriptural heresy of the primacy of any individual over the church at large did not appear in secular writings for 300 years.

Was Peter Ever in Rome?

The Bible supplies no evidence that Peter ever reached Rome; rather the contrary. The Roman Catholic claim that Peter was in Rome from 42 to 67 A.D. is soundly discredited by the following facts:

The apostle Paul was saved about 37 A.D. "After three years" he visited Peter at Jerusalem. Gal. 1:18. Then Peter spent some time in a missionary journey to Lydda, Saron, Joppa and Caesarea. Acts 9:32-42; 10:1. Next mention of Peter is in Acts 15, that he spoke at the conference held in Jerusalem, of which incident Paul wrote in Galatians 2:1 that "after fourteen years" since his first visit to see Peter he "went up again to Jerusalem."  It is now about 54 A.D. and Peter is still in Asia Minor) where Paul "withstood him t the face" for his inconsistent walk. Galatians 2:11-14.

More proof against Peter residing in Rome is to be seen in that Paul, writing to Christians in Rome, made no mention of Peter and when writing from Rome about 64 A.D., he made no mention of Peter in any or his epistles. During Paul's last days there, about 67 A.D., he wrote , "Only Luke is with me." 2 Tim. 4:1.

Bible scholars are generally agreed that Peter wrote his first epistle in 64 or 65 A.D. He wrote from "Babylon." 1 Peter 5:13. There was no reason to make this name an allegory, as though in meant Rome, in Italy. Peter, being sent "to the circumcision" (Israel, Gal/ 2:9), had many such to minister to at Babylon where many Israelites lived ever since the nation went into captivity there about 600 B.C.

Significantly, we know of no writer in the first two centuries of the Christian era who wrote of Peter sojourning in Rome. To think that "history," either secular or religious, supports this tradition is pure deception. Only the Bible contains inspired history and is therefore unquestionably accurate in all its information about Peter.

 It should be clear then to all who humbly desire the truth that the persistent claim of the so-called "Roman Catholic Church" that it is founded on Peter as its "rock" foundation and "first Pope of Rome" has no biblical support whatever. Christ's true church contains all who are saved (Acts 2:47), so it is universal (catholic) but not "Roman" nor "Greek" nor "Protestant." It has no earthly distinction other than that it began in Jerusalem. It is the body of Christ." Ephesians 1:22, 23. Laying aside traditional surmisings about Peter let us rather make sure whether we shall arrive where Peter now is, in heaven above. Eternity is coming! Please read 2 Peter 1:10 and 1 John 5:9-13 with 1 Cor. 15:1-5.


Other Bible Facts About Peter

Peter called himself "an elder," not a "pope" and reminded elders not to be "lords over God's heritage, but being examples to the flock." 1 Pet. 5:1, 3. In Titus 1:5, 7 we are told that an "elder" is the man who holds the OFFICE of "a bishop." An office as "archbishop" is not found in the Bible.

Peter never taught, nor is there the faintest hint in the Bible, that a so-called "apostolic succession" from Peter onwards was to be inaugurated. Neither can such "succession" be historically proved by searching early church history.

All that God wanted man to receive by way of apostolic authority He has supplied in the inspired epistles of apostles Paul, Peter, James, John and Jude. Their epistles are included in "all scripture given by inspiration of God" which are "profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect [complete], thoroughly furnished unto all good works." 2 Timothy 3:16, 17. Subsequently, therefore, there has been no need whatsoever for authoritative "apostolic succession," so-called. This false doctrine originated in the corrupt "natural man," desiring power over souls of men for fleshly reasons - see 2 Cor. 11:20 and 2 Peter 2:3.

Peter definitely taught that men are saved, not by religious rites, but only "by the grace (unearned favor) of our Lord Jesus Christ," "Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree." Acts 15:11; 1 Peter 2:24.

Bible FACTS and false ecclesiastical TRADITION are co-existent today. Take your choice; but God-fearing Christians believe God's truthful Word always and are not deceived.

By: Ed Stevens (1895-1966)

Most Encyclopedias will show a broken chain of "popes". Sometimes there were none, other times there were up to three, all claiming to be "the pope". That would be impossible to happen if it was His Church. Read about the lives of these supposed "vicar’s" of Christ.

The Roman Catholic church claims that it gave us the Bible. However, this claim does not stand up to the test of history.

The "Old Testament" was written by God's inspired prophets, patriarchs, psalmists, judges and kings. It was faithfully copied and preserved by Jewish scribes. The "Old Testament" of modern Protestant (Christian)  Bibles contain the same books as the Hebrew Bible. It doesn't contain any of added the "Apocrypha" or sometimes the "Deuterocanonical" books that the Roman Catholic's include.

The "New Testament" was written by Christian apostles. None of them were Roman Catholics, because there was no Roman Catholic Church at the time. This was over two centuries before Constantine's "conversion" and the formation of the Roman Catholic Church in 314 A.D.

*The "Old Testament" would more correctly be called the Hebrew scriptures and the "New Testament" the Greek scriptures.

Updated notes added by: DFC

ALSO SEE: Which "Catholic" Church Wrote The "New Testament"?

Testing the Roman Catholic Gospel


So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation.

Hebrews 9:28

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Reprinted from Sept. 1, 1967 "Sound Words" Copyright 2005-2014