Was Peter The “First Pope”?

By W. J.Mencarow

And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.” — Rev. 1:17-18

The Lord Jesus, knowing that John was terrified, lovingly laid His right hand upon John, saying “fear not.” Notice that God’s Word is specific – even to which hand Jesus used. Jesus is saying, ‘John, my dear friend, there is nothing to fear: it is I, Jesus, your Lord and your friend!’ “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.” – Heb. 4:15

Christ, for the fourth time in just the first 17 verses of Revelation, calls Himself “the first and the last.” Knowing how dull our senses are, He repeats Who He is: “I am he that liveth, and was dead.”  

No one else in all of history can say that truthfully. There is only one Who fits that description:  The Lord Jesus Christ.

Note that He does not say “I am he that lived,” but “I am he that liveth.” And,“I am alive forevermore.” Christ is alive right now.  

Moreover, He says He cannot die again. He will remain alive forever. “Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.” – Rom. 6:9

He has “the keys of hell and of death.” — Rev. 1:18b. What do keys represent? Think about what keys do for you. They open the doors to your house and keep others out. You, and whomever you may give those keys to, have the authority to admit those whom you welcome and bar the others from entering. Keys in Scripture symbolize authority. One who has the keys has the authority to open locked doors and to lock open doors. Christ told His Church, “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.” – Mt. 16:19. Matthew Henry wrote, “He has the keys of hell and of death, a sovereign dominion in and over the invisible yet very real world, opening and none can shut, shutting so that none can open, opening the gates of death when he pleases and the gates of the eternal world, of happiness or misery, as the Judge of all, from whose sentence there lies no appeal.”

Roman Catholicism claims that Mt. 16:19 was directed to Peter alone, thus making him “the first pope” and giving him and his supposed “apostolic successors (meaning all of the popes, and them alone) divine authority to determine who is saved and who is not. There is nothing in the Bible that supports that.  

In context, this passage simply says that Christ commended Peter’s confession of faith that he had expressed four verses earlier. Christ never says that Peter alone had this authority. He directed it to the Church. 

Just four verses later he said to Peter, “Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.” — Mt. 16:23. Would He say this to the “first pope”?

Despite what the Vatican claims, there is nothing in this verse, nor in any other verse of the Bible, nor in any secular history, that even hints that Peter was the head of the Apostles, much less the pastor of the Church in Rome, (and hardly the first pope; a title that was not invented until centuries after Peter was dead). There is no historical, archaeological, or, most importantly, Biblical evidence that Peter was ever in Rome. The Bible testifies to that in Romans chapter 16, where Paul greets many of the saints in Rome – but never mentions Peter. 

If Peter was the pastor of the Church in Rome, do you think that Paul would have forgotten to greet him?