The Truth About Peter: He was Never the Head of the Church

Peter first heard about Jesus from his brother Andrew, who heard about Him from John the Baptist. Even so, it wasn’t until Jesus performed a miracle involving fish that caught Peter’s attention and urged Him to respond.

When Jesus said “follow,” Peter did, but that doesn’t mean Peter had everything figured out or knew what he was in for. All he knew for sure was that Jesus was different from anyone else he’d ever met and God was working miracles through Him. 

https://skopos.org/

One day as Jesus was preaching on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, great crowds pressed in on him to listen to the word of God. He noticed two empty boats at the water’s edge, for the fishermen had left them and were washing their nets. Stepping into one of the boats, Jesus asked Simon, its owner, to push it out into the water. So he sat in the boat and taught the crowds from there.

When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, “Now go out where it is deeper, and let down your nets to catch some fish.”

“Master,” Simon replied, “we worked hard all last night and didn’t catch a thing. But if you say so, I’ll let the nets down again.” And this time their nets were so full of fish they began to tear! A shout for help brought their partners in the other boat, and soon both boats were filled with fish and on the verge of sinking.

When Simon Peter realized what had happened, he fell to his knees before Jesus and said, “Oh, Lord, please leave me—I’m such a sinful man.” For he was awestruck by the number of fish they had caught, as were the others with him. 10 His partners, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, were also amazed.

Jesus replied to Simon, “Don’t be afraid! From now on you’ll be fishing for people!” 11 And as soon as they landed, they left everything and followed Jesus.

Luke 5:1-11 NLT
The Vatican website has a strip listing all the “Supreme Pontiffs” and if you scroll all the way, you’ll end with Peter.

Peter was never the head of the church. He was never the Bishop of Rome. He was the bishop of the church in Antioch for a while, but that’s it. Peter did end up in Rome and more than likely he preached there, but he was never the bishop.

Where did they get the Idea that Peter was the Head of the Church?

They derive this from Matthew 16. They claim that Jesus made Peter the head of the church then.

13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”

14 “Well,” they replied, “some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.”

15 Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?”

16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

17 Jesus replied, “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being. 18 Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it. 19 And I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you forbid on earth will be forbidden in heaven, and whatever you permit on earth will be permitted in heaven.”

Matthew 16:12-19

I’m no Bible Scholar, however, I did find one that explains why Peter IS NOT the first Pope and why Peter, himself, would not want to be thought as the head of the church. It’s done in the fashion of an interview using Peter’s own words from the Book of Acts, the Gospels and his letters.

Was Peter the First Pope?


Bible Verses Quoted in this Video…

And now, a word to you who are elders in the churches. I, too, am an elder and a witness to the sufferings of Christ. And I, too, will share in his glory when he is revealed to the whole world. As a fellow elder, I appeal to you. Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly—not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God. Don’t lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your own good example. And when the Great Shepherd appears, you will receive a crown of never-ending glory and honor.

1 Peter 5:1-4 NLT

But everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

Acts 2:21 NLT

He is the one all the prophets testified about, saying that everyone who believes in him will have their sins forgiven through his name.

Acts 10:43 NLT

There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.

Acts 4:12 NLT

20 But Peter replied, “May your money be destroyed with you for thinking God’s gift can be bought! 21 You can have no part in this, for your heart is not right with God. 22 Repent of your wickedness and pray to the Lord. Perhaps he will forgive your evil thoughts, 23 for I can see that you are full of bitter jealousy and are held captive by sin.”

24 “Pray to the Lord for me,” Simon exclaimed, “that these terrible things you’ve said won’t happen to me!”

Acts 8:20-24 NLT (bold emphasis mine)

17 And remember that the heavenly Father to whom you pray has no favorites. He will judge or reward you according to what you do. So you must live in reverent fear of him during your time here as “temporary residents.”

1 Peter 1:17 NLT

10 So why are you now challenging God by burdening the Gentile believers with a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors were able to bear? 11 We believe that we are all saved the same way, by the undeserved grace of the Lord Jesus.

Acts 15:10-11

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. And through your faith, God is protecting you by his power until you receive this salvation, which is ready to be revealed on the last day for all to see.

23 For you have been born again, but not to a life that will quickly end. Your new life will last forever because it comes from the eternal, living word of God.

25And that word is the Good News that was preached to you.

4You are coming to Christ, who is the living cornerstone of God’s temple. He was rejected by people, but he was chosen by God for great honor.

1 Peter 1:3-5, 23, 25, 2:4 NLT (bold emphasis mine)

11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have—Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 3:11 NLT

But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.

1 Peter 2:9 NLT

He personally carried our sins
    in his body on the cross
so that we can be dead to sin
    and live for what is right.
By his wounds
    you are healed.

1 Peter 2:24 NLT

18 Christ suffered for our sins once for all time. He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but he was raised to life in the Spirit.

19 So he went and preached to the spirits in prison— 20 those who disobeyed God long ago when God waited patiently while Noah was building his boat. Only eight people were saved from drowning in that terrible flood. 21 And that water is a picture of baptism, which now saves you, not by removing dirt from your body, but as a response to God from a clean conscience. It is effective because of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

22 Now Christ has gone to heaven. He is seated in the place of honor next to God, and all the angels and authorities and powers accept his authority.

1 Peter 3:18-22 NLT

And by the same word, the present heavens and earth have been stored up for fire. They are being kept for the day of judgment, when ungodly people will be destroyed.

2 Peter 3:7 NLT

What Happened to Peter After Acts?

This is a video on the history of the Apostles. It’s set to start on Simon Peter’s story. I urge you to watch the whole thing because the stories of each of the Apostles is fascinating…

Peter goes to Antioch where he became bishop. He sends Mark, his disciple, to Alexandria, once he’s in Rome. There’s nothing anywhere about him being the bishop of Rome or the head of any church besides Antioch. Antioch. He was NEVER the head of the Roman Church.

James, Jesus’ Brother, was the Head of the Church in Jerusalem and Paul was the first to take the Gospel to Europe.

13 When they had finished, James stood and said, “Brothers, listen to me. 14 Peter has told you about the time God first visited the Gentiles to take from them a people for himself. 15 And this conversion of Gentiles is exactly what the prophets predicted. As it is written:

16 ‘Afterward I will return
    and restore the fallen house of David.
I will rebuild its ruins
    and restore it,
17 so that the rest of humanity might seek the Lord,
    including the Gentiles—
    all those I have called to be mine.
The Lord has spoken—
18     he who made these things known so long ago.’

19 “And so my judgment is that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. 20 Instead, we should write and tell them to abstain from eating food offered to idols, from sexual immorality, from eating the meat of strangled animals, and from consuming blood.

Acts 13:15-20 NLT (bold emphasis mine)

248-258 AD – Cyprian, bishop of Rome

The idea that Peter had “primacy” over the other apostles started with Cyprian. He stated in “De catholicae ecclesiae unitate” — “On the Unity of the Church”…

“Certainly the other Apostles were what Peter was, but primacy is given to Peter that it may be shewn that the Church is one and the chair one. And all are pastors, but one flock is indicated which is fed by all the Apostles with unanimous consent…”

Documents of the Christian Church (Amazon Link), 1999, 3rd edition, Edited by Henry Bettenson and Chris Maunder, p.78

680 AD – 1st Time Peter is called a pope.

Paul wrote in Galatians that Peter was just a pillar of the church along with James and John.

“In fact, James, Peter, and John, who were known as pillars of the church, recognized the gift God had given me, and they accepted Barnabas and me as their co-workers. They encouraged us to keep preaching to the Gentiles, while they continued their work with the Jews.”

Galatians‬ ‭2:9‬ ‭NLT‬‬

If one of the three people mentioned is the “head” of the church, you don’t put him in the same level as the others.

You can read all about the history of Papal Succession here. I’m not going to go through it. Basically, they took what Jesus said in Matthew 16 about giving Peter the “keys” to the church literally. It gets me how the Roman Catholic Church takes scripture out of context to explain away man-made “dogmas” — lies — that affect the salvation of billions of people.

If Peter was such a “rock”, then why did he deny Jesus 3 times after Jesus was arrested? Because of that, after the resurrection, Jesus gives Peter a second chance — or should I say 3 – chances.

15 After breakfast Jesus asked Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?”

“Yes, Lord,” Peter replied, “you know I love you.”

“Then feed my lambs,” Jesus told him.

16 Jesus repeated the question: “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

“Yes, Lord,” Peter said, “you know I love you.”

“Then take care of my sheep,” Jesus said.

17 A third time he asked him, “Simon son of John, do you love me?”

Peter was hurt that Jesus asked the question a third time. He said, “Lord, you know everything. You know that I love you.”

Jesus said, “Then feed my sheep.

John 21:15-17 NLT

And that’s just what Peter did. Jesus asked Peter 3 times because he denied him 3 times. Once Peter received the Holy Spirit in Acts 2, the Spirit gave him the boldness to preach the Good News of Jesus Christ’s true salvation. He was feeding Jesus’ sheep with the Word of God. That was his mission, to preach and convert as Jesus told all the disciples…

18 Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. 20 Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

Matthew 28:18-20 NLT

Peter was never the Bishop of Rome, the “head of the church”, nor was he ever Pope.

And that’s the truth.

Soli Deo Gloria — To God Alone Be the Glory!

I highly recommend a 5-day Bible study plan from the free YouVersion Bible App called Peter: A Leader Made Not Born by Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.

Resource – Amazon Kindle Link:

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