St. Peter Was the First Pope




The Catholic Church was organized personally by Jesus Christ in the form it exists in today.  He formed a nucleus of twelve Apostles who were direct eyewitnesses to His life [Mark 3, Mark 10, Luke 6, Acts 1].  These became the first Bishops overseeing a Diocese of several churches within a small geographic area.   Central among these was St. Peter who was granted special authority and given primacy over the others [Matthew 16, Luke 22, John 21].   St. Peter became the Bishop of Rome and the first Pope.


Christ also formed a larger cadre of seventy two disciples [Luke 10] who became the first priests under the authority of a Bishop.   The primary function of a Priest is typically to attend to the spiritual needs of a single parish.  


And lastly the Apostles created ordained ministers of lesser authority called Deacons [Acts 6].   These served as assistants to clergy sometimes as travelling companions or messengers but whose primary function was the maintenance of a church’s secular affairs and property.


This tradition, ordained by Christ Himself, is present in the Catholic Church today.   Holy Orders are one of the seven sacraments with three degrees of ordination namely those of Deacon, Priest (or Presbyter), and Bishop. 




The central concept is that there is an unbroken chain of election to authority dating back to Jesus Christ is what is called “Apostolic Succession.”   In two millennia there have been 266 Popes in a venerable tradition that has survived the tumult of the ages.   It continues to provide solace and comfort to a troubled world today.



      St. Peter           St. Linus        St. Anacletus    St. Clement I      St. Evaristus        St. Alexander         St. Sixtus I

     30-67 A.D.       67-76 A.D.         76-88 A.D          88-99 A.D.       99-105 A.D.        105-115 A.D.       115-125 A.D.


and in unbroken succession, we have in modern times



         Pius XII         John XXIII             Paul VI               John Paul I         John Paul II         Benedict XVI        Francis

     1939-1958       1958-1963         1963-1978               1978               1978-2005           2005-2013           2013


Matt. 10:1-40

            40 He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.


Matthew 18:18

            18 Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.


Luke 10: 1, 16, 17

10 After these things the Lord appointed seventy-two others also and sent them two by two before His face into every city and place where He Himself was about to go.

16 He who hears you hears Me, he who rejects you rejects Me, and he who rejects Me rejects Him who sent Me.

17 Then the seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.


Acts 1:15-26 – The first thing Peter does after Jesus ascends into heaven is implement apostolic succession. Matthias is ordained with full apostolic authority. Only the Catholic Church can demonstrate an unbroken apostolic lineage to the apostles in union with Peter through the sacrament of ordination and thereby claim to teach with Christ’s own authority.


Acts 1:20 – A successor of Judas is chosen by election as all Popes are still selected. The authority of his office (his “bishopric”) is respected notwithstanding his egregious sin. The necessity to have apostolic succession in order for the Church to survive was understood by all. God never said, “I’ll give you leaders with authority for about 400 years, but after the Bible is compiled, you are all on your own.”


Acts 1:22 – literally, “one must be ordained” to be a witness with us of His resurrection. Apostolic ordination is required in order to teach with Christ’s authority.


Acts 6:6 – Apostolic authority is transferred through the laying on of hands (ordination). This authority has transferred beyond the original twelve apostles as the Church has grown.


Acts 9:17-19 – Even Paul, who was directly chosen by Christ, only becomes a minister after the laying on of hands by a bishop. This is a powerful proof-text for the necessity of sacramental ordination in order to be a legitimate successor of the apostles.


Acts 13:3 – Apostolic authority is transferred through the laying on of hands (ordination). This authority must come from a Catholic bishop.




Among all the Apostles, there was always something special about St. Peter.


In the New Testament Bible, St. Peter is the central figure after that of Jesus.  He is mentioned more than 200 times.  The next most frequent references are of the Apostle John who is mentioned some 29 times.  St. James the Greater appears 19 times, St. Philip 15 times, but after that the number of references is significantly less.


When all twelve Apostles are listed together by name, St. Peter is always mentioned first and Judas Iscariot is always listed dead last.  This by itself does not prove the primacy of Peter but is starting to form something of a pattern.


Matt. 16:17-19

17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.

18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.


[ Note the use of the PERSONAL pronoun referring directly to St. Peter, and St. Peter alone.]




Election of successors

Travel by twos

Go forth and teach all nations




In order to maintain and promulgate the literal words of Jesus Christ, the Catholic Church assembled the Bible in a conclave of Catholic Bishops directed by a Catholic Pope at the Council of Nicea in 325 A.D.  Catholics believe the Bible starting with the Epistles of St. Paul from as early as perhaps 42 A.D. or nine years after the death of Jesus Christ and ending with St. John’s Book of Revelation in perhaps 95 A.D. are the divinely inspired word of God.


But every Protestant sect has re-written the original Bible which was painstakingly preserved for more than 1500 years by Catholics.  Every Protestant precept differing from the original Catholic teaching is a substitution of the interpretation of MAN, i.e. some Protestant “Reformer” for that of the literal word of Jesus Christ.


To remain a member of a Protestant Church, one must generally accept what the Minister believes in accordance with his conscience and predispositions.  Those who express a difference of opinion, for instance believing Catholics are correct on something which contradicts the local cannon, are not generally welcome despite the oft-cited principle of freedom of conscience.  Today there are somewhere between 20,000 to 30,000 distinct Protestant sects, each with a different version of Christian theology.  All may be, but at least some must be, wrong.


Without the consistent scholarship of the Catholic Church over more than 2000 years and the authority granted by Christ Himself, Protestants have hopelessly diluted and corrupted the Christian message bringing confusion and discord.  Refusal to accept medical treatment, snake handling which demands God’s intervention to protect the foolish, irrational and mistaken assumptions that the Bible denies the possibility of evolution or an ancient age of the earth, interminable demands for never ending miracles, and even a rejection of the moral basis of Christian theology in favor of the economic, are all insidious corruptions.  We might note the commentary on Genesis in the early fourth century by the Catholic Bishop of Hippo given in the following Appendix.



Nor in Christian theology is the Catholic Church without divine guidance.  In the Bible, Christ endowed His successors, that is Catholic clergy, the power to forgive us our sins (through the intercession of Christ) if we do our part by being sincerely sorry and resolving to do never repeat sinful acts and intending to make physical reparations to the best of our ability.


To preserve Christ’s legacy for all generations, written records.




Biblical Support for St. Peter being the first Catholic Pope.


1. Specifically in Mathew Chapter 16, Jesus singles out St. Peter

Upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.

I will give you (singular) the keys to the kingdom of heaven

Whatever you (singular) bind on earth will be bound in heaven and

Whatever you (singular) loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

Christ was speaking directly to St. Peter and conferring authority on him distinct from the

other Apostles as the first Pope.  St. Peter was apparently Christ’s second in command.


2. Luke Chapter 22: 31-32 Christ says directly to St. Peter that “I have prayed for you

(singular)” to be protected from the devil.”  And he gives the leadership position to St.

Peter to “strengthen the other Apostles.”


3.  In John Chapter 21 , Christ asks St. Peter if he loves Him.  Peter says  yes and then

Christ gives St. Peter the injunction to “feed my sheep.”


4. In Matthew 18 Christ confers authority on all the Apostles as the first Bishops of the Catholic

Church but in this case uses the term you (plural).


5.  This conferring of authority is nearly identical to a situation in the Old Testament, Isaiah

Chapter 22 in which God intends to remove an evil Prime Minister and replace him with

good men. The idea of this office is that the Minister will have the “keys of the kingdom”

and will act in accordance with God’s will.


6. In Matthew Chapter 14, Christ walks on the water.  Everyone was fearful, but only St. Peter

was singled out to walk on water.   St. Peter had more faith than anyone else but even that

failed him when he doubted and began to sink.  But typically, and not for the first or last

time, Christ forgave him, held out His hand, and saved St. Peter from drowning.


7.  After the resurrection St. Peter and St. John ran to the tomb when they were told it was

empty.   In John, Chapter 20, St. John being younger arrived first but then waited for St. Peter

as a mark of special respect.


8. In Mark Chapter 16, after Mary Magdalene, Christ appeared to St. Peter first.


9. In Luke Chapter 24, Christ appeared to St. Peter before the other Apostles.


10. In Luke Chapter 5, Christ was being pressed by a large crowd on the shore of the Sea of

Galilee.   Christ stepped into a boat to better teach the crowd along the shore.  But the

interesting point is that boat was owned by St. Peter.



1.  “Did Jesus really make Peter Pope?”, by Fr. W. Saunders, The Arlington Catholic Herald, Oct. 20, 1994, Diocesan Newspaper of Arlington, VA.