Saturday, October 13, 2012


As a Roman Catholic, I was taught that the Apostle Peter was the first Pope.  To be honest, I can see why that assumption makes sense.  Jesus did give the "keys to the kingdom" to Peter, and told His disciples that Peter would determine who would be allowed to enter His kingdom, and who would not (Mt. 16:16-19).  However, there is a difference to being a "gate-keeper," and being the leader of the Church.  In Acts 1:8, Jesus told His disciples that the Gospel would be preached in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and then "unto the uttermost part of the earth" (Gentiles).  Peter was witness to the Jews receiving the Gospel (Acts 2), to the Samaritans having received the Gospel (Acts 8), and to the Gentiles receiving the Gospel (Acts 10).  After the Samaritans and the Gentiles accepted the Lord, Peter reported back to the Apostles in Jerusalem (Acts 8:14; 11:18). 

There are several indications that Peter was not the leader.  First, he is not mentioned in Acts after Acts 15:7, while James is obviously in authority in Acts 21:18.  When Peter was freed from prison, he told those who had been praying for his release, to go tell James he had be set free by an angel (Acts 12:7-17).  Another clue is that James, the half-brother of Jesus, was the one who made the final decision in the debate over circumcising the Gentile believers (Acts 15:19).  The word "sentence" is translated "judge or judgment" eighty-eight times, and "sentence" only three times (Acts 15:19; Lk. 23:24; 2 Cor. 1:9), all of which indicate the final say in a matter.  And then, there is the order of names:  James is named first when Paul and "his company" reported in Jerusalem (Acts 21:8, 18), and also listed first in Paul's sarcastic statement about James, Peter, and John being "pillars" of the Church (Gal. 2:9). 

And, Peter frequently demonstrated his lack of spirituality.  He was called "Satan" by Jesus after he had been told he would control who was accepted in God's kingdom (Mt. 16:23).  He attacked and cut off the ear of the high priest's servant, one minute, and then he denied he knew Jesus three times (Jn. 18:10, 18-27).  And finally, there is Peter's hypocrisy when a group of men, sent by James, arrived in Antioch (Gal. 2:11-14).

Since a Pope is said to infallible and to answer only to God,
James would be much more likely to be the "first pope," than would Peter.          

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