What is the doctrine of the supremacy of the pope?


By BibleAsk Team

The Doctrine of the Supremacy of the Pope

The Catholic Church teaches the supremacy of the pope on the assumption that he is the successor of Peter. Its catechism presents the papacy as a divinely appointed institution that presides over the life of the church and exercises its rule over God’s flock: “The Roman Pontiff, by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ, and as pastor of the entire Church has full, supreme, and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered” (882).

The Catholic Church claims to base the doctrine of the supremacy of the pope on the following verse: “And I say also unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 16: 18,19).

But the doctrine of the supremacy of pope as the successor of Peter is not Biblical because:

  1. Peter, to whom these words were addressed, emphatically states by his teachings that the “rock” of which Jesus spoke referred to God (Acts 4:8-12; 1 Peter 2:4).
  2. Jesus used the same figure of speech to refer to Himself (Matthew 21:42; Luke 20:17).
  3. From very early times the figure of rock was used by the Hebrews as a specific term for God (Deuteronomy 32:4; Psalms 18:2).
  4. Paul affirms that Christ was the Rock (1 Corinthians 10:4; 1 Corinthians 3:11).
  5. It is the faith in Jesus that saves (John 1:12).
  6. Had Christ made Peter chief among the disciples, they would not thereafter have been involved in repeated arguments about which of them “should be accounted the greatest” (Luke 22:24, Matthew 18:1).

Could Peter or any human qualify to be the “Rock”? The scriptures say NO because Peter himself erred after Jesus said the following statement, “And I say also unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18).

  1. The gates of Hell prevailed against Peter when He allowed Satan to speak through him (Matthew 16:22). Then Jesus rebuked Peter saying, “Get thee behind me, Satan thou art an offense unto me” (Matthew 16:23).
  2. The gates of Hell prevailed again against Peter when he denied his Lord three times (John 18:25).

What Jesus meant in Matthew 16:23 was that the church of God was to be built on the FAITH in Christ, which Peter expressed (Matthew 16:16).

The Bible presents Christ as the only supreme head of the church. The strength of the church is based on one God, one faith, and one baptism (Ephesians 4:4–5), with no mention of the necessity of the pope to unify the church.

For these reasons, the Roman Catholic teaching about the supremacy of the pope should not be accepted because it is not in harmony with the teachings of the New Testament.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team


The contents of this article and website are not intended to be against any individual. There are many priests and faithful believers in Roman Catholicism who serve God to the best of their knowledge and are seen by God as His children. The information contained herein is directed only towards the Roman Catholic religio-political system which has reigned in varying degrees of power for nearly two millennia. This system has established an increasing number of doctrines and statements that directly go against the Bible.

It is our purpose to lay the clear Word of God before you, the truth-seeking reader, to decide for yourself what is truth and what is error. If you find anything here contrary to the Bible, do not accept it. But if you desire to seek for Truth as for hidden treasure and find herein something of that quality and feel that the Holy Spirit is revealing Truth to you, please make all haste to accept it.

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