Was Peter the First Pope?

Was Peter the First Pope?Peter
by Robert L. Moyer
Sword of the Lord Publishers, 23 pages, 2000

Catholicism’s claims to Petrine primacy and the papacy are largely based upon Jesus’s supposed declaration in Matthew 16:18 that He would build His church upon the apostle, Peter:

“And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

For centuries, Protestant apologists argued that the wording of the New Testament Greek manuscripts stipulated that Jesus would build His church upon the Rock (“petra” – solid bedrock) that was Peter’s previous confession in Matthew 16:16 – “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” – rather than upon the person of Peter (“petros”- little stone) himself. Moyer uses that traditional approach in this short booklet published in 2000.

Furthermore, if Jesus had already granted apostolic primacy to Peter in Matthew 16, why did the mother of the sons of Zebedee plead for the ascendancy of James and John in Matthew 20? And why would Jesus have continued in Matthew 20 to repudiate the very model of imperial, authoritarian hierarchy that was later adopted by the increasingly institutionalized, early church? There’s nothing in the New Testament that directly supports Rome’s claim for the Petrine papacy but there’s much that refutes it.

Few of today’s evangelical theologians use the “petra”/”petros” argument anymore. Most concede Jesus’s statement indicated Peter would play a leading role in the early church, as we see in the first half of the Book of Acts, but nowhere near anything approaching Catholicism’s claims for Petrine primacy and the papacy. Evangelical theologian, D. A. Carson, is often credited for popularizing this new, nuanced approach to Matthew 16:18.

What are your thoughts? Is the “petra”/”petros” argument still valid as Richard Bennett writes below, or do you agree with Carson’s approach, as referenced by Keith Thompson in his article?

The Papal Claim to Have the Keys of the Apostle Peter
By Richard Bennett
Berean Beacon Ministries

Does Matthew 16 Teach Peter was the Pope?
By Keith Thompson
Reformed Apologetics Ministries

“For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.” – 1 Corinthians 3:11

Dr. Robert L. Moyer (1886-1944), served as the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Minneapolis, Minnesota, succeeding William Bell Riley, the controversial “Grand Old Man of Fundamentalism.”


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