I HAVE belonged to the History Book Club off and on for years. I have appreciated getting the reviews of a wide range of books and occasionally buying one. 
A current review of a book just got my attention--the book, Chronicle of the Popes by P.G. Maxwell-Stuart (former head of the History department and Classics faculty at Chester College, Cambridge). It is asserted that the book is "the Reign-to-Reign Record of the Papacy from St. Peter to the Present." On down in the review it states, "Chronicle of the Popes recounts the lives and deeds of the 266 popes. Here are the martyrs such as the very first pontiff, St. Peter..." etc. 
We never cease to be amazed at the fallacies that undergird much of the accepted, even respected, thought in our modern world. One of these fallacies is the blind assertion that the apostle Peter was the first Pope and the acceptance of so-called apostolic succession (a false premise held by a major segment of so-called Christendom). And typically, but erroneously, the History Book Club and the former head of a college History department present Peter as the first pope, although this is not history nor is it scholarly. The papacy and apostolic succession are not taught in the Scriptures, let alone the apostle Peter being the first pope. 
Consider the following thought: 
Since the entire structure of Catholicism rests upon the premise that Peter was a Pope, this claim will be considered in detail. 
Peter did not fit the Papal pattern, because he was married. (See Matthew 8:14). In following Christ, Peter "left all" (Matthew 19:27), but he did not leave his wife (I Corinthians 9:5). Peter was an elder, as well as an apostle (I Peter 5:1). It is required that elders be married men with faithful children (Titus 1:6). 
Peter did not fit the Papal pattern because he was poor. When asked for alms, he said, "Silver and gold have I none" (Acts 3:6). Peter was unable to pay a half-shekel tax until provided with the money by a miracle (Matthew 17:24-27). He did not dwell in palaces, surrounded by gold and jewels. 
Peter did not fit the Papal pattern because he was humble. He would not allow anyone to call him "Father," since this was condemned by Jesus (Matthew 23:8-11). The only title he ever claimed for himself was "Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ" (II Peter 1:1). Peter was never carried about on a throne for throngs to bow down before him. When Cornelius bowed before him, Peter said, "Stand up, I myself also am a man" (Acts 10:26). Foreseeing the arrogance and pride of false religious rulers who would be powerful, he exhorted elders not to lord it over the church (I Peter 5:3). He spoke of himself humbly as a "fellow-elder" (I Peter 5:1), and when he used the term "chief Shepherd" he was referring not to himself but to Christ (I Peter 5:4).
Peter did not fit the Papal pattern since he did not teach that he was the head of the church. Peter taught of only one "Chief Shepherd" (I Peter 5:4), and that was Christ. Peter taught that the "stone" and "rock" upon which the church was built was not a man but Christ (I Peter 2:6-8). This teaching agreed with the conversation that Jesus had with Peter (Matthew 16:15-19) where they were not talking about on which man to build the church, but the great question Jesus asked was, "Whom say ye that I am?" When Peter gave the correct answer, Jesus answered, "Upon this rock I will build my church." Peter was given the keys of the kingdom of heaven with the power of binding and loosing. This power was shared by the other apostles (Matthew 18:18; John 20:21-23). Since Peter did not consider himself the head of the church, he made no provision for anyone to succeed him. He said nothing about successors.
Peter did not fit the Papal pattern because the other apostles did not regard him as their superior. Paul said, "I was not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles" (II Corinthians 11:5). And it was Paul who publicly rebuked Peter for his erroneous conduct (Galatians 2:11-14). Peter was referred to as one of the pillars of the church (Galatians 2:9). Note, Peter was ONE of the pillars, not head of all the churches. The church had been "built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the chief corner stone" (Ephesians 2:20). The church was built on the "apostles," plural, not on one apostle. Although false teachers have attempted to build the church on Peter, "other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ" (I Corinthians 3:11). Peter was one of the favorite three of the Lord-Peter, James, and John. He was impulsive and a natural leader. He was a beloved and faithful apostle. He was prominent but he was not pre-eminent. 
Peter did not fit the Papal pattern because he was not in Rome. There is no Biblical evidence that he was ever in Rome. Paul wrote to the Roman Christians and saluted 27 persons (Romans 16:3-15) but did not mention Peter. In the last letter Paul wrote to Timothy from Rome, he said, "Only Luke is with me," and "At my first defense, no one took my part, but all forsook me" (II Timothy 4:11,16). Where was Peter? He was not in Rome? 
Peter did not fit the Papal pattern because Peter taught doctrines different from that of the Pope. Peter believed in baptizing only those who had been taught, and who believed and repented (Acts 2:38). There is no record of his baptizing anyone who was too young to understand what he was doing. Peter taught that disciples of Christ should wear the name "Christian" (I Peter 4:16). Peter did not believe in traditions, but taught that God's Word contains "ALL things that pertain unto life and godliness" (II Peter 1:3). Peter agreed with the doctrine that Jesus Christ is the only head of the church (Colossians 1:18; 2:10; Ephesians 1:22; 4:15; 5:23), and that Christ nowhere authorized any man to be head of the church on earth since "ALL authority in heaven and on earth" had been given to Christ (Matthew 28:18). 
SUMMARY: Peter did not fit the Papal pattern, because: 
1. He was poor. 
2. He was humble. 
3. He did not consider himself infallible. 
4. He did not teach that he was the head of the church. 
5. The other apostles did not consider him their superior.
6. He was not in Rome. 
7. He differed in doctrine from the Popes.
When it is proved that Peter was not a Pope, the whole structure of Catholicism falls, with the so-called "successors" of Peter. Catholicism has no true foundation. The doctrine of the supremacy of Peter, and that he had successors is contradictory to the Lord's teaching and plan. 
Let us say a little more about apostolic succession and bring in the testimony of the apostle Peter himself. There are no apostles in the church today, nor can there be apostles in the sense of the apostle Peter. Although Judas was replaced as an apostle, the idea of succession doesn't enter the picture. The very purpose and work of an apostle would make it next to impossible for them to have successors today. Please notice. "In those days" after Jesus had ascended back to heaven Simon Peter stood up and addressed his fellow-disciples about the need of replacing Judas. Illustrating from the Psalms, he says, "Let another take his office." Then he gives the qualifications: "Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection" (Acts 1:15-22). Thus, apostles had to be witnesses and were Christ's official eyewitnesses of his resurrection from the dead. Their unique mission as eyewitnesses had been stressed before his crucifixion (John 15:26,27). Then again in Acts 1:8 Jesus said they would be witnesses. Throughout the early pages of the book of Acts this is continually mentioned. Notice Acts 2:32; 4:33; 5:29-32; 10:39-42; 13:31. The testimony of the apostle Peter is seen again in Acts 10:39-42, when he said, "We [the apostles] are witnesses..." These special witnesses are represented in this capacity again in Hebrews 2:3 and 4. It is very elementary to see that eyewitnesses can have no successors. When they die, they are gone. And there are no apostles, nor apostolic succession, in the church on earth today. These men have done their part in confirming the truth and getting the church started among men. Their writings, as well as that of other inspired men, constitute part of the New Testament Scriptures to guide us today. 
However, let us not be naively taken in by such. To speak of the "Chronicle of the Popes" and include the apostle Peter is not history, nor is it scholarly. (Vol. 35, Number 4, 1997)
to Index Page