No, it is NOT TRUE! We know the Roman Catholic Church believes and teaches that Peter was the first Pope and that the Papacy, which supposedly had its beginning with Peter, is the only true church whose authority and teachings are infallible. They base this mainly on Matthew 16:15-18, which we now quote: “He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter answered and said, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 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” (NKJV). Let’s break this down by asking two questions.

  1. Is Peter the “rock” upon which the church is built? Before we answer this, we do NOT want to take away from Peter the blessing that the Lord gave to him, for he did indeed make a grand confession when he said that Jesus was “the Christ, the Son of the living God.” No one had ever confessed the truth that Jesus is the One who was anointed by the Father to be the Savior of the world (this is what the word “Christ” implies) and that He was God’s eternal Son. But we then learn HOW Peter learned this great truth; it was REVEALED TO HIM BY THE FATHER. It wasn’t through a great intellect or holy living that he grasped this precious truth, but by God’s gracious revelation to him.

Now we will answer the pivotal question, “Is Peter the rock?” It has been pointed out, and rightly so, that the Greek words for ‘Peter’ and for ‘rock’ are quite similar, but they are NOT the same. Peter is the Greek word PETROS and means “a stone or loose rock.” Rock is the Greek word PETRA and has the thought of a “solid rock” such as a “rocky ledge.” The “rock” then is a “firm foundation” upon which the church would be built. We could hardly think of Peter as a firm foundation, for in just a few minutes the Lord would be saying to him, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men” (verse 23). The Lord spoke those words to Peter because after He announced His impending death Peter tried to hinder Jesus from going to the cross. At that moment Peter was thinking just like men under the influence of Satan! Thus he is surely NOT the rock upon which Christ would build His church. Yet Peter’s “confession of Christ” IS the truth on which the church is being built, so we believe the truth as to Christ’s Person is the rock. Ephesians 2:19-20 support this view for it reads, “Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, JESUS CHRIST HIMSELF BEING THE CHIEF CORNERSTONE.”

  1. Is the Roman Catholic Church the infallible teacher of Christian doctrine? We know that this view is founded upon their teaching that Peter is “the rock” and thus the first in a long line of “Popes” who preside over the Papacy. We have already seen that the meaning of Peter’s name and his being subject to failure refutes this view, so the whole system of Rome’s supposed infallibility comes crashing down. There is only one “infallible teacher” who “preserves the truth of Christianity” and that is the Holy Spirit. It is NOT a mere man who calls himself “the Pope,” but the Divine Author of the Scriptures. This is borne out in John 14:26 and 16:13 which say: “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, HE WILL TEACH YOU ALL THINGS…..However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, HE WILL GUIDE YOU INTO ALL TRUTH.” (263.7) (DO)