Proof that Peter was the first Pope of the Church

“You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18) is probably the most disputed metaphor for the foundation of the Church by protestant thinkers. Some argue that Jesus did not really mean the Church would be build on Peter.
Some relate that in the passage there is some slight difference between “Petros” the Greek term for Peter and “petra” the term for rock. Yet its obvious that one would not refer to a man as feminine since petra, a feminine noun has been modified to have a masculine ending.
We know Jesus spoke Aramaic, and John tell us (John 1:42) that the Lord referred to Peter in everyday life as Kepha or Cephas depending on translation. This term is what’s translated into Greek as petros. So This is what Christ actually used when referring to Peter as “rock”, “Kepha”. If this is taken into account, it means that Christ actually meant Peter would have the Church built upon him. He is First Pope of the Church, the first Prince of the Apostles, and first Vicar of Christ.
And the Fathers agree:

Tatian the Syrian

“Simon Cephas answered and said, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’ Jesus answered and said unto him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon, son of Jonah: flesh and blood has not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say unto thee also, that you are Cephas, and on this rock will I build my Church; and the gates of hades shall not prevail against it” (The Diatesseron 23 [A.D. 170]).


“Was anything withheld from the knowledge of Peter, who is called ‘the rock on which the Church would be built’ [Matt. 16:18] with the power of ‘loosing and binding in heaven and on earth’ [Matt. 16:19]?” (Demurrer Against the Heretics 22 [A.D. 200]). “[T]he Lord said to Peter, ‘On this rock I will build my Church, I have given you the keys of the kingdom of heaven [and] whatever you shall have bound or loosed on earth will be bound or loosed in heaven’ [Matt. 16:18–19]. . . . What kind of man are you, subverting and changing what was the manifest intent of the Lord when he conferred this personally upon Peter? Upon you, he says, I will build my Church; and I will give to you the keys” (Modesty 21:9–10 [A.D. 220]).

The Letter of Clement to James

“Be it known to you, my lord, that Simon [Peter], who, for the sake of the true faith, and the most sure foundation of his doctrine, was set apart to be the foundation of the Church, and for this end was by Jesus himself, with his truthful mouth, named Peter” (Letter of Clement to James 2 [A.D. 221]).

The Clementine Homilies

“[Simon Peter said to Simon Magus in Rome:] ‘For you now stand in direct opposition to me, who am a firm rock, the foundation of the Church’ [Matt. 16:18]” (Clementine Homilies 17:19 [A.D. 221]).


“Look at [Peter], the great foundation of the Church, that most solid of rocks, upon whom Christ built the Church [Matt. 16:18]. And what does our Lord say to him? ‘Oh you of little faith,’ he says, ‘why do you doubt?’ [Matt. 14:31]” (Homilies on Exodus 5:4 [A.D. 248]).

Cyprian of Carthage

“The Lord says to Peter: ‘I say to you,’ he says, ‘that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will not overcome it. And to you I will give the keys of the kingdom of heaven . . . ’ [Matt. 16:18–19]. On him [Peter] he builds the Church, and to him he gives the command to feed the sheep [John 21:17], and although he assigns a like power to all the apostles, yet he founded a single chair [cathedra], and he established by his own authority a source and an intrinsic reason for that unity. Indeed, the others were that also which Peter was [i.e., apostles], but a primacy is given to Peter, whereby it is made clear that there is but one Church and one chair. . . . If someone does not hold fast to this unity of Peter, can he imagine that he still holds the faith? If he [should] desert the chair of Peter upon whom the Church was built, can he still be confident that he is in the Church?” (The Unity of the Catholic Church 4; 1st edition [A.D. 251]). “There is one God and one Christ, and one Church, and one chair founded on Peter by the word of the Lord. It is not possible to set up another altar or for there to be another priesthood besides that one altar and that one priesthood. Whoever has gathered elsewhere is scattering” (Letters 43[40]:5 [A.D. 253]). “There [John 6:68–69] speaks Peter, upon whom the Church would be built, teaching in the name of the Church and showing that even if a stubborn and proud multitude withdraws because it does not wish to obey, yet the Church does not withdraw from Christ. The people joined to the priest and the flock clinging to their shepherd are the Church. You ought to know, then, that the bishop is in the Church and the Church in the bishop, and if someone is not with the bishop, he is not in the Church. They vainly flatter themselves who creep up, not having peace with the priests of God, believing that they aresecretly [i.e., invisibly] in communion with certain individuals. For the Church, which is one and Catholic, is not split nor divided, but it is indeed united and joined by the cement of priests who adhere one to another” (ibid., 66[69]:8).


“But what is his error . . . who does not remain on the foundation of the one Church which was founded upon the rock by Christ [Matt. 16:18], can be learned from this, which Christ said to Peter alone: ‘Whatever things you shall bind on earth shall be bound also in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth, they shall be loosed in heaven’ [Matt. 16:19]” (collected in Cyprian’s Letters74[75]:16 [A.D. 253]). “[Pope] Stephen [I] . . . boasts of the place of his episcopate, and contends that he holds the succession from Peter, on whom the foundations of the Church were laid [Matt. 16:18]. . . . [Pope] Stephen . . . announces that he holds by succession the throne of Peter” (ibid., 74[75]:17).

Ephraim the Syrian

“[Jesus said:] ‘Simon, my follower, I have made you the foundation of the holy Church. I betimes called you Peter, because you will support all its buildings. You are the inspector of those who will build on earth a Church for me. If they should wish to build what is false, you, the foundation, will condemn them. You are the head of the fountain from which my teaching flows; you are the chief of my disciples’” (Homilies 4:1 [A.D. 351]).


“You cannot deny that you are aware that in the city of Rome the episcopal chair was given first to Peter; the chair in which Peter sat, the same who was head—that is why he is also called Cephas [‘Rock’]—of all the apostles; the one chair in which unity is maintained by all” (The Schism of the Donatists 2:2 [A.D. 367]).

Ambrose of Milan

“[Christ] made answer: ‘You are Peter, and upon this rock will I build my Church. . . . ’ Could he not, then, strengthen the faith of the man to whom, acting on his own authority, he gave the kingdom, whom he called the rock, thereby declaring him to be the foundation of the Church [Matt. 16:18]?” (The Faith 4:5 [A.D. 379]). “It is to Peter that he says: ‘You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church’ [Matt. 16:18]. Where Peter is, there is the Church. And where the Church is, no death is there, but life eternal” (Commentary on Twelve Psalms of David 40:30 [A.D. 389]).

Pope Damasus I

“Likewise it is decreed . . . that it ought to be announced that . . . the holy Roman Church has not been placed at the forefront [of the churches] by the conciliar decisions of other churches, but has received the primacy by the evangelic voice of our Lord and Savior, who says: ‘You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it; and I will give to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. . . . ’ [Matt. 16:18–19]. The first see, therefore, is that of Peter the apostle, that of the Roman Church, which has neither stain nor blemish nor anything like it” (Decree of Damasus 3 [A.D. 382]).


“‘But,’ you [Jovinian] will say, ‘it was on Peter that the Church was founded’ [Matt. 16:18]. Well . . . one among the twelve is chosen to be their head in order to remove any occasion for division” (Against Jovinian 1:26 [A.D. 393]). “I follow no leader but Christ and join in communion with none but your blessedness [Pope Damasus I], that is, with the chair of Peter. I know that this is the rock on which the Church has been built. Whoever eats the Lamb outside this house is profane. Anyone who is not in the ark of Noah will perish when the flood prevails” (Letters 15:2 [A.D. 396]).


“If the very order of episcopal succession is to be considered, how much more surely, truly, and safely do we number them [the bishops of Rome] from Peter himself, to whom, as to one representing the whole Church, the Lord said, ‘Upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not conquer it.’ Peter was succeeded by Linus, Linus by Clement. … In this order of succession a Donatist bishop is not to be found” (Letters 53:1:2 [A.D. 412]).

Council of Ephesus

“Philip, the presbyter and legate of the Apostolic See [Rome], said: ‘There is no doubt, and in fact it has been known in all ages, that the holy and most blessed Peter, prince and head of the apostles, pillar of the faith, and foundation of the Catholic Church, received the keys of the kingdom from our Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior and Redeemer of the human race, and that to him was given the power of loosing and binding sins: who down even to today and forever both lives and judges in his successors’” (Acts of the Council, session 3 [A.D. 431]).

Sechnall of Ireland

“Steadfast in the fear of God, and in faith immovable, upon [Patrick] as upon Peter the [Irish] church is built; and he has been allotted his apostleship by God; against him the gates of hell prevail not” (Hymn in Praise of St. Patrick 3 [A.D. 444]).

Pope Leo I

“Our Lord Jesus Christ . . . has placed the principal charge on the blessed Peter, chief of all the apostles. . . . He wished him who had been received into partnership in his undivided unity to be named what he himself was, when he said: ‘You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church’ [Matt. 16:18], that the building of the eternal temple might rest on Peter’s solid rock, strengthening his Church so surely that neither could human rashness assail it nor the gates of hell prevail against it” (Letters 10:1 [A.D. 445]).

Council of Chalcedon

“Wherefore the most holy and blessed Leo, archbishop of the great and elder Rome, through us, and through this present most holy synod, together with the thrice blessed and all-glorious Peter the apostle, who is the rock and foundation of the Catholic Church, and the foundation of the orthodox faith, has stripped him [Dioscorus] of the episcopate” (Acts of the Council, session 3 [A.D. 451]).


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  1. The GOD said to Peter; ” On this rock I will build my Church, I have given you the keys of the kingdom of heaven [and] whatever you shall have bound or loosed on earth will be bound or loosed on heaven…” {Matt.16:18-19} The Catholic church which was founded upon the rock by Christ and one chair founded on Peter by the word of the God. The keys of the people on earth are full faith and full trust to God in one Catholic church. But many religious groups on earth were founded and built by their owned church, They were twisted the words of God by their own faith, beliefs and interests, they were loosed on earth and loosed in heaven.

  2. Based on my bible “The New American Bible”, the names of 264 Popes are written – showing St. PETER as the 1st POPE who died in the year 67 and JOHN PAUL POPE II as the 264th POPE in 1978 (Written as the last Pope in my bible) who died in 2005. So,we add the 265th POPE BENEDICT XVI and the reigning 266th POPE FRANCIS in 2014 .

  3. God does not build his work on any man. The church of God is built on Jesus christ who is the solid rock. Peter is not the foundation of God’s church. Jesus is the author and the finisher of the christian Faith not peter, or any church

    • The Catholic Church never said Peter was the sole foundation of the church. Christ is still the sole foundation of the church, the author of the Christian Faith, fountain of all holiness, the beginning and the end of the church. Chris established the Catholic Church on Peter, which means Christ built the Church and gave the authority to Peter to lead His church. Therefore, Peter is the first Pope of the Roman Catholic Church.

    • Some of you “so called Christians” are just unteachable. Be patient when you stand before Christ on the day of judgement, make sure you correct him for finding his church on Peter and tell him never to make that mistake again. Tell him to come to you for advice before he make any pronouncement, you are obviously the fountain of Divine knowledge.

    • Thats your pastor’s beliefs, Read the 2nd letter of St. Paul to St. Timothy….for the time is coming when people wil not endure sound teaching but having itching ears, they will accummulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings…..Matthew 24 v 11 And many false prophet shall rise and shall seduce many.

    • The “keys” explain Peter’s role- you would need to understand the position of the Prime Minister when the king was away in the culture of the time.

  4. May our Lord bless us all, those with the honor of becoming the sacred few included in service of Jesus Christ, and those of us still deciding what our Lord’s plan is for us all.

  5. men of the world today are mislead by their own will over the interpretation of the bible. let us all know that what has been the earliest approved interpretations on all passages on it shall remain true through all ages, because it is said, Christ was the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. if we will insist in ourselves to listen in our own opinions only, without listening to the CHURCH (catholic), how shall we fulfill the words of the Lord that the CHURCH (catholic) is the pillar and ground of truth? how shall we obey God if we ourselves never listen on this CHURCH?

  6. You must send whoever explained it here in this article in a summit/debate in Cebu City Philippines a couple of days ago where they battled this particular topic:
    “Resolved that Apostle Peter was chosen by Christ as the Visible Head of the Church founded by Christ”
    “Resolved that Brother Felix Y Manalo is the Messenger of God in these Last Days.” (from Iglesia Ni Cristo)
    It was a biased debate and even though I didn’t understand their language I only understand the ones that were in English still I felt that the one who defended the catholic church was still that weak…
    Here is a link for your review:

  7. The word Pope given to the head of Our Catholic Family (i.e. Church) came into existence much, much later – after centuries….. So it would be wrong to say that Peter was the first Pope – for such a title did not exist then….. He was the First Leader of the Church for sure….. The Foundation of the Church is Christ (who is FOREVER) – whereas all the Leaders (Popes, cardinals, bishops and who have you – wielding some power) come and go…. When Jesus said that upon this rock I will build my church, He simply meant that HE will begin the formation of HIS Church (Community/Family of believers) with Peter as the First Chief Priest of the Community/Family (i.e. Church) of believers – whom He (THE LORD) will build…. The Community of believers are not built by the Chief Priest or Popes or whoever but by the Lord Himself….. And the gates of Hell will not prevail against it i.e. ALL believers (not necessarily Peter or the present Pope) whom the Lord has chosen to be kept under HIS Protection and ALL those who put their faith in the Lord)…. And what the Church (Catholic or Christian family/community – not Peter or Pope – the Church is ONE BODY and not any particular person) loses on earth will be lost in Heaven and what is bound by the Church (Catholic or Christian family/community) will be bound in Heaven…. Therefore the responsibility of the Church (i.e. ALL GOD”S PEOPLE) is indeed very, very grave and most crucial in retaining every member into the fold at all cost and not letting them go astray and left to be damned…..
    What we as a Family/Flock (Church) lose on earth due to our hatred, heartlessness, unconcern, unfairness, selfishness, discrimination, rigidity and unforgiving stance – will be lost in Heaven…. And what we bound (bind) and keep well tended in the Flock/Family with our constant love, kindness, deep concern, utter fairness, graciousness, leniency and ever forgiving stance – will be bound in Heaven….. For the Lord Our God does not wish that ANY of the sheep should perish….

  8. Pope is just a greek derive word for “Father”. No complex thing on that. Peter was the first Bishop of Rome or Patriarch of Rome or Father of Rome or Pope of Rome. The most important thing that the Bishop of Rome holds is its Apostolic Authority. It holds the “keys to heaven” as received from Peter which was given by Christ and which was passed to his successors. The Bishop of Rome is the prime minister of the kingdom of God in earth. The concept of Apostolic succession is very important for any Church to be affirmed to be true. Just ask the early Christian fathers. Given that any Bishop of Rome is the successor of Peter, therefore it has the primacy of authority that no other Bishop has.
    Holy Trinity is not written in the Bible only was coined later does that mean that it is not true. Of course not! Always, remember that the Church did not start with the start of reformation or should I say revolution. Just look at the eastern Christians in the Middle east. They do the Eucharist. They believe what the Catholics believe. Some of them are not Catholics but in terms of theology almost 99% the same. They also do use statues on their worship and veneration. They also call their pastors “Father”. They also do the sign of the cross.

  9. I need so much help I’m. Catholic my wife is from a different religion at times I cant even tell my son about my Catholic faith . My wife would quiqly state to our son her beliefs.

    • Christianity is the completed form of the ancient Jewish religion, it is a pity that many of those who were ethnically Jewish did not recognise his role as messiah, for this many did not accept Christianity, the completed form of Judaism instead they remained with the religion.
      It wasn’t long before it was understood through the direction of the Holy Spirit that one did not need to be ethinically Jewish to be the follower of Christ. This is the apostles began to preach to and baptize many gentlemen converts to Christian faith.
      So, Paul speaks about ethical and religious Judaism.
      For he is not real Jew who is one outwardly, nor is true circumsicion something external and physical. He is a Jew who is inuardly, and real circumcision is a matter of the heart, spiritual and not literal “Romans 2:28-29”.
      As time went on, unfortunately some Christian broke away from the Church founded by Christ, so that a name became necessary to disguish one Church from another. It was later besided that, the Church Jesus founded be called “Universal “ from Greek Kataholos which means “according to the whole”, this is the term “Catholic “ was applied to this Church.

  10. Better to read the Holy Bible and believe in It. Yes not hard if you believe what Jesus Christ said to Simon (Peter) Matt 16.13-20
    We. Understand this but need to believe like Peter believed Jesus Christ the son of God. Jesus give Peter the authority to build His church on this …. As we all understand ‘Why’ because he believed so we have to do the same as writen in the Holy Bible that Peter the first leader for the church selected by Jesus Christ so Peter is the first leader n Pope of the Church ( catholic) believe like Peter

  11. Some of you “so called Christians” are just unteachable. Be patient when you stand before Christ on the day of judgement, make sure you correct him for building his church on St. Peter and tell him never to make that mistake again. Tell him to come to you for advice before he makes any pronouncement, you are obviously the fountain of Divine knowledge.

  12. Quoting Early Church fathers does not prove anything , according to scripture Peter never considered himself as pope and neither did anyone else .Scripture is clear “the Church is built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets with Jesus Christ as the chief cornerstone”(Ephesians 2:20 ),NOT PETER. Peter writing to the church leaders in 1st Peter 5:1 addressed them as “fellow elders” not as his subordinates. In the beginning of 2nd Peter he referred to himself as a “servant of Christ” NEVER as Vicar of Christ , and nobody EVER addressed Peter as Holy Father ( a title reserved ONLY for God , John 17:11 ).Peter was a righteous man and did not have many material possessions (Acts 3:6) which is in stark contrast to the wickedness and opulence of most of the popes ( John XII , Benedict IX , Alexander VI to mention very few).Jesus Christ is the Head of both the visible and invisible Church NOT the pope and as Martin Luther once declared “If Jesus Christ was to return and claim to be the head of the Church , the pope would have him crucified again”.Nobody EVER lay down prostrate and kissed the feet of Peter , kneel down before him and kissed his hand or any of the other demeaning acts that Roman Catholics subject themselves to.The papacy is nothing more than a human invention with no biblical authority.

    • Peter also became rather humble after the resurrection, as you see in his letters, in his Gospel (Mark was a disciple of Peter), and in Acts. But there cannot be any doubt that he, Simon, is Peter, Kepha, the “Rock” on which Christ founded His Church.
      We have the biblical evidence for the Primacy of Peter, we have the historical evidence that once Peter established himself at Rome, Christians all around the Mediterranean looked to Rome and the bishop there as the final arbiter of whatever issue they had. Augustine, in the same letter quoted in this article, states that he can’t believe that the Donatists are still pushing the envelope given that Rome had twice previously corrected their error.
      Pope Clement had once written to the church in Corinth, and the Corinthians so revered his letter that for nearly 400 years they venerated the item as dearly as the sacred Scriptures until a later pope told them to stop.
      You speak of the wickedness and opulence of “most of the popes” and while you do name a few (and it’s true, there have been some unworthy successors in the last ~2000 years), only a small handful of the 260+ men would be considered by many to be wicked and opulent. The Church is a divine institution, filled with human beings. If all of that wickedness and opulence existed, as you claim, then how much more miraculous and marvelous is it that not a single one of those men fell into formal error.
      And if people didn’t give honor to Peter, how do you explain Acts 5, when the sick and the ill line the streets in the chance that Peter’s shadow might fall upon them, and even more were brought in from the surrounding area.
      And you know what? Jesus wasn’t a huge fan of people prostrating themselves before him either. When Christ comes back, I feel like the Pope would gladly return to the Lord what he was given, the keys and the authority to bind and loose.

  13. but didnt he also call peter satan.. He rebuked Peter, saying, Get you behind Me, Satan: for you savor not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men.. so i think the catholic church should run with this one..instead of the one where he is referring to his faith is like a rock

    • First of all Jesus was not referring to Peter’s faith like a rock. He was rather referring to Peter as Kepha the “rock” on which Christ founded His Church. In my opinion, Jesus was rebuking the devil who was tempting Peter to “mind the things of men”. If Peter was satan why would Jesus tell him to “feed His lambs” and “feed His Sheep” in St John 21:15-17? Would God allow satan to feed His flock?

  14. It’s stated very clear…that Roman Catholic is the only true church which built by Jesus and Peter was the first Pope…nothing to argue regarding this matter..!

  15. When someone wakes up is when his or her morning starts!!! All this new generation churches are making arguments on what they never experienced or have fact of, only twisting what they read to suite their needs and beliefs and that’s unfortunate… Christ told Peter “‘You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it”, from this statement it is obvious that Christ knew that there would be other churches apart from the one that would be established by St. Peter, and can anyone tell me of any church which is older than Catholic church since the coming of Christ? Can anyone tell me of any church which has stood the taste of time like catholic church? and can anyone tell me of any church which is as strong as Catholic church in the world today? This is to prove to everyone that this Catholic church was established by God Himself through Peter. Catholic Church has faced unspeakable challenges in the past, enough to wipe out any establishment from existence but yet it’s still standing today as the strongest church in the world, this is what Christ meant when he said “‘the gates of hell will not prevail against it”.
    He who has ear should listen!!!
    He who has eyes should see!!!

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Written by Raphael Benedict

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