Was Peter the first pope? Catholic doctrine says so, but saying something does not mean it is true.
Catholicism has spent a lot of time and effort trying to defend the idea that Peter was the first pope. All such attempts, however, are “wresting” the scriptures (2 Pet. 3:16).
This blog entry is not designed to address all the elements of why Peter was not the first pope or all the errors of the Catholic faith. It will briefly three issues, all of which are based on 1 Cor. 9:5.
In 1 Cor. 9 Paul was defending his apostleship. He argued that he had certain “rights” (privileges), one of which was marriage. He also said the “rest of the apostles” had these same rights. Of course, Peter was an apostle. In 1 Cor. 9:5 Paul asked he could not lead about a wife like “Cephas” (Peter) did. Paul affirmed Peter was married. This point is also established in Mt. 8:14. When the Catholic church claims Peter was the “first pope,” how often do you hear them say “Peter was the first married pope”? If Peter is the example of the first pope, then the example to follow is for popes to be married! Furthermore, the Bible says that forbidding someone to marry is a sign of “falling away from the faith” and “giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons” (1 Tim. 4:1-3). Men who promote such a doctrine are “branded in their own conscience, as with a hot iron” (1 Tim. 4:2).
According to Catholic doctrine, Mary and Joseph never had any “natural children” (this is referred to as the “perpetual virginity of Mary”). Paul denies this in 1 Cor. 9:5. He refers to the “brethren of the Lord,” a statement consistent with information in the gospels saying Mary and Joseph had other children (Mary never had sexual intercourse with Joseph after the Lord’s birth). Mary gave birth to children other than Jesus (Mt. 12:46-47; 13:55; Lk. 8:19; Jn. 2:12; 7:3, 5; Acts 1:14). Not only did Joseph and Mary have a normal marital relationship, the half-brothers of Jesus became involved in evangelism and received support for their “church work” (1 Cor. 9:5).
In 1 Cor. 9:5 we also see that Peter (“Cephas”) is listed last. Were the Peter the “first pope,” he should have been in “last place.” If Peter were the first pope, Jesus could have easily said so on an occasion such as is described in Lk. 9. The disciples were asking “who was the greatest among them.” Jesus could have said “Peter is the greatest.” Rather than do this, He “called a little child” and set that young person “in the midst of them” (Mt. 18:2).
Follow the Bible and only the Bible. Catholic doctrine does not match up with the information Jesus and the apostles provided in the New Testament scriptures.
Find the truth about God and become a New Testament Christian. Find out more about New Testament Christianity by running some Internet searches for “church of Christ” and “churches of Christ.” You may also want to visit http://www.abiblecommentary.com for Bible study information.
Remember, in order to be saved and enjoy all God’s blessings (not the least of which is salvation), a person must have faith (Jn. 8:24), be willing to repent (Lk. 13:3), and after confessing Christ as Lord, the final step is water baptism (Rom. 6:3; 1 Cor. 12:13; 1 Pet. 3:20-21). Bible baptism is by immersion only (“burial,” Rom. 6:4), and once it is done, heaven puts that person “into Christ” (Gal. 3:27; Rom. 6:3). After proper baptism a person has their sins forgiven (Acts 2:38).