This month I have written about the leader of the Roman Catholic Church known as “the pope.” I won’t give you his, but rather we will look at the position and check it out through the eyes of the Lord’s holy word, the Bible.
To begin, a visit to “Catholic Answers” tells us what their view is of the pope. While Christ is our high priest with respect to sacrifices (he offered the great sacrifice of himself; see Hebrews 7-10) and is the ultimate head of all God’s people, he has left Peter here to serve as his visible representative in his absence. The pope, as the successor of Peter, thus has a function similar to that of the high priest as the earthly head of God’s people. In imparting to his apostles his own power to forgive sins, the Lord also gives them the authority to reconcile sinners with the Church. This ecclesial dimension of their task is expressed most notably in Christ’s solemn words to Simon Peter: "I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven." The office of binding and loosing which was given to Peter was also assigned to the college of the apostles united to its head. (CCC 1444) The doctrine of infallibility is implicit in these Petrine texts: John 21:15–17 ("Feed my sheep . . . "), Luke 22:32 ("I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail"), and Matthew 16:18 ("And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. ").
Firstly, Jesus did not send Peter as the leader. In John‘s gospel we see that the Lord was to send the Holy Spirit, “whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” (John 14:26) Secondly, the priesthood was stopped as Jesus became our High priest forever. (see Hebrews 7:23-25) The Bible says all believers are priests. (see Revelation 1:6 and 5:10)
When we look at Matthew 16:16-18, we can begin to see the error that following the Catholic tradition maintains in declaring Peter as the first pope. Scriptures tell us that Christ is a rock, (Isaiah 28:16; 1 Peter 2:8) And it has been thought that he turned from Peter to himself, and said, “Upon this rock, this truth that I am the Messiah - upon myself as the Messiah, I will build my church.” In a manner of speaking Peter did hold the keys to the Kingdom when he first presented the Gospel to the Jews on Pentecost (Acts 2). However the so-called the power of “binding and loosing” on earth was given to the other apostles with him. (See Matthew 18:18). Furthermore this is not the power to forgive sins in that only God can forgive sins. The disciples knew of the one true gospel and can now share based upon what a person’s faith is in, whether their sins are or aren’t taken away, again based upon that individual’s understanding of that gospel.
When we look at the Church fathers we see that even, Augustine, considered one of the greatest Church Fathers by both Catholics and Protestants, interpreted this verse as referring not to Peter but to Christ as the Rock that Peter confessed. Peter himself did this. Whether we are considering the preaching of Peter in the book of Acts or his writing in 1 and 2 Peter, Peter always refers to Christ as the one to whom he confessed and not to himself. In Acts 4:8-12 Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit says that the Stone that is rejected by the builders became the chief cornerstone and that there is salvation in no one else. Christ is the cornerstone here and this is the teaching we find throughout the New Testament.
There are two other points I’d like to mention before closing. In Matthew 16:24, Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” Christ had one robe, in which He slept on the ground the night before His crucifixion because He had no house; the Pope has hundreds of the finest silk robes embroidered with gold and lives in more than one palace, two of them with 1,100 rooms each. Christ gives salvation as a free gift which He paid for in full by His sufferings on the cross; the Pope claims partial salvation is dispensed through sacrificing Christ upon RCC altars (thousands of times each day). The contrast between Christ and His professed "Vicar" could not be greater.
In closing, I just want to add that while I was looking for information about popes I came across this wonderful website - http://www.inplainsite.org/html/catholicism.html. It appears to be very accurate and does an outstanding job in showing us the illegitimacy of the pope’s role as a leader in the church. Jesus once told the Pharisees that they were “mistaken, not knowing Scriptures” and like everything else, we’ll know the truth about this subject when we examine what God tells us through the pages of Scripture..