Pope Issues Apostolic Letter on 24th Anniversary of His “Petrine Ministry”

By Jason Jackson

October 16th, 2002 was the 24th anniversary of Pope John Paul II.
I don’t track papal news from day to day. I was curious, however, when a broadcast noted that only four other “popes” had a longer tenure than John Paul II: Pius IX, Leo XIII, Pius VI — and Peter himself! (Note: the use of the word “pope” is accommodative in this article, and the use of the term in no way legitimizes the office.)

Sadly, from one standpoint, the inaccuracy of this statement will not be acknowledged. But from a biblical view, it is blatantly wrong. The evidence that Peter was not the first pope is so abundantly clear, that any person who attributes to him the infamous title indicates substantial biblical ignorance.

John Paul II repeatedly includes his claim of “apostolic succession” in his various speeches and letters. In his “apostolic letter” released on October 16th, he mentioned his “Petrine ministry” several times, continuing his claim as “the successor of Peter.” While {glossSub(“Sola Scriptura: A Response to a Catholic Writer”, “Catholic tradition”)} elevates itself over the Holy Scriptures, it simultaneously relies on the Bible’s credibility, hoping to skim from its pages some sort of authenticity.

In reality, the Bible refutes Catholic doctrine. There is no way to harmonize the teaching of the Bible with the teaching of the Catholic Church.

Here is one example of the Bible v. Catholicism. Consider this statement from Pope John XXIII about what he calls “the law of ecclesiastical celibacy”:

“It deeply hurts us that…anyone can dream that the Church will deliberately or even suitably renounce what from time immemorial has been, and still remains, one of the purest and noblest glories of her priesthood. The law of ecclesiastical celibacy….” (John XXIII, to Roman Synod, January 26, 1960).

But Peter was married, a fact that not even Catholics can deny (cf. Mark 1:30). Catholic apologists struggle to reconcile their doctrine of celibacy with the biblical facts concerning Peter’s family life, and here is how they try.
John Paul II speculates:

“According to the Gospel, it appears that the Twelve, destined to be the first to share in his priesthood, renounced family life in order to follow him” (General Audience, 17 July 1993).

“Appears?” Doesn’t he know for sure?

So, Peter was married, but he left his wife. How noble! Here is the biblical truth. When Paul wrote 1 Corinthians — about twenty years after the resurrection of Christ — Peter was still married. Here is what Paul wrote:

“Do we not have the right to take along a believing wife, as do the other apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas?” (1 Cor. 9:5, emp. added).

Peter was still married decades after he supposedly “renounced family life.”

Interestingly, the “Catholic Bible” (i.e., the Rheims-Douay version) translates the verse in this way:

“Have we not power to carry about a woman, a sister as well as the rest of the apostles and the brethren of the Lord and Cephas?”

Although Rheims-Douay translates the original term, gune, to “woman,” it curiously translates the same word by “wife” fifteen times in 1 Corinthians 7. While gune can refer to a woman as well as a wife, there is no reason to translate it “a woman” in this context — unless there is some preconceived bias.

Other biblical information supports the fact that Peter remained married as well. According to 1 Peter, which was probably written more than 30 years after the establishment of the church, Peter was an elder (1 Pet. 5:1). An elder, or bishop, must be the husband of one wife, having believing children (1 Tim. 3:2,4; Tit. 1:6).

Regardless of Peter’s marital status, he never acted like a pope. He never claimed to be head of the church, for Christ is. He never had anyone kiss his ring or bow down to worship him. He refused it (Acts 10:26).

Peter was not the first pope. The papal office evolved over a period of centuries; it is contradictory to the teaching of the New Testament (cf. 2 Jn. 9).