Because of their mistaken beliefs about the church's foundation, Catholicism placed Peter and popes into a place God intended to be reserved for Jesus alone, head of the earthly church. As such, Catholics treat popes, who they consider descended by authority transmission from Peter, as heads of the churches and major authority figures.
This is quite different from what the Bible says, that all Christians are simply fellow-servants of Christ, and that Christ alone is the Head of the Body, the Church:
- Ephesians 5:23-24 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.
- Ephesians 1:20-23 Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.
- Colossians 1:15-19 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;
- 1 Corinthians 11:3 But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.
- Matthew 28:18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
Again, when Cornelius sought to worship Peter, Peter told him, "Stand up, I myself am also a man." (Acts 10:26) When the people of Lystra sought to worship Paul and Barnabas, they tore their clothes and begged the people not to, emphasizing how they were both just men of similar passions to everyone else. (Acts 14:14-15)
Catholics are taught to call priests "father" in direct contradiction to what Jesus said, and condemned the Jewish Pharisees for!
- Matthew 23:8-10 But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.
The Apostles always recognized they were just men like everyone else. They would be as appalled today at the worship shown to popes as they were in the 1st century, A.D. As a commenter on the Reuters article, "Vatican takes legal action over Benetton pope kiss ad", aptly put it, "He deserves respect why? It’s just a dude in a dress with an odd hat."
Jesus the Rock
The Catholic Church teaches that Peter was the first pope and appointed as such by Jesus, that Peter was the rock on which the church of God on earth would be built. This is however, a very clear and wrong interpretation of Matthew 16:18. Just in looking at the English translation, it's not as clear, but when looking at the original Greek, it becomes apparent what is happening:
- Matthew 16:18-19 And [de] I say [lego] also [kago] unto thee [soi], That [hoti] thou [su] art [ei] Peter [Petros], and [kai]upon [epi] this [taute] rock [petra] I will build [oikodomeo] my [mou] church [ekklesia]; and [kai] the gates [pule] of hell [hades] shall [katischuo] not [ou] prevail against [katischuo] it [autos]. And [kai] I will give [didomi] unto thee [soi] the keys [kleis] of the kingdom [basileia] of heaven [ouranos]: and [kai] whatsoever [hos] [ean] thou shalt bind [deo] on [epi] earth [ge] shall be [esomai] bound [deo] in [en] heaven [ouranos]: and [kai] whatsoever [hos] [ean] thou shalt loose [luo] on [epi] earth [ge] shall be [esomai] loosed [luo] in [en] heaven [ouranos].
Catholics want to say Peter is "the rock" being mentioned in Matthew 16:18. However, they are actually two different words. Peter is from the Greek word "Petros" while the word "rock" is "petra". Peter you may recall was originally called Simon, but Jesus renamed him "Cephas", which means "stone":
- John 1:42 And [kai] he brought [ago] him [autos] to [pros] Jesus [iesous]. And [de] when Jesus [iesous] beheld [emblepo] him [autos], he said [epo], Thou [su] art [ei] Simon [simon] the son [huios] of Jona [ionas]: thou [su] shalt be called [kaleo] Cephas [kephas], which [hos] is by interpretation [hermeneuo], A stone [petros].
The word "petra" translated "rock" is according to Strong's Greek, defined as "feminine of the same as 4074; a (mass of) rock (literally or figuratively):--rock." The word "Petros" translated "Peter" is defined, "apparently a primary word; a (piece of) rock (larger than 3037); as a name, Petrus, an apostle:--Peter, rock. Compare 2786."
Essentially it was a play on words. Jesus was the Rock. Peter, because of some similarity, was called "little rock" or "stone".
However, there is undisputable proof that Peter was not the rock being discussed. You see, that word "petra" translated "rock" in Matthew 16:18 is never once used of Peter in the entire New Testament. It is only used 14 times in the Bible, including Matthew 16:18. By looking at the other 13 times, it is apparent that it is used typically to refer, not to Peter, but to someone else:
- 1 Corinthians 10:4 And [kai] did [pino] all [pas] drink [pino] the same [autos] spiritual [pneumatikos] drink [poma]: for [gar] they drank [pino] of [ek] that spiritual [pneumatikos] Rock [petra] that followed them [akoloutheo]: and [de] that Rock [petra] was [en] Christ [Christos].
- 1 Peter 2:5-8 Ye [autos] also [kai], as [hos] lively [zao] stones [lithos], are built up [oikodomeo] a spiritual [pneumatikos] house [oikos], an holy [hagios] priesthood [hierateuma], to offer up [anaphero] spiritual [pneumatikos] sacrifices [thusia], acceptable [euprosdektos] to God [theos] by [dia] Jesus [Iesous] Christ [Christos]. Wherefore [dio] also [kai] it is contained [periecho] in [en] the scripture [graphe], Behold [idou], I lay [tithemi] in [en] Sion [Sion] a chief corner [akrogoniaios] stone [lithos], elect [eklektos], precious [entimos]: and [kai] he that believeth [pisteuo] on [epi] him [autos] shall [kataischuno] not be [ou me] confounded [kataischuno]. Unto you [humin] therefore [oun] which [ho] believe [pisteuo] he is precious [time]: but [de] unto them which be disobedient [apeitheo], the stone [lithos] which [hos] the builders [oikodomeo] disallowed [apodokimazo], the same [houtos] is made [ginomai] [eis] the head [kephale] of the corner [gonia], And [kai] a stone [lithos] of stumbling [proskomma], and [kai] a rock [petra] of offence [skandalon], even to them which [hos] stumble [proskopto] at the word [logos], being disobedient [apeitheo]: whereunto [eis] [hos] also [kai] they were appointed [tithemi].
- Romans 9:33 As [kathos] it is written [grapho], Behold [idou], I lay [tithemi] in [en] Sion [Sion] a stumblingstone [lithos] [proskomma] and [kai] rock [petra] of offence [skandalon]: and [kai] whosoever [pas] believeth [pisteuo] on [epi] him [autos] shall [kataischuno] not [ou] be ashamed [kataischuno].
Simply reading the verses, it is said as plain as day, and never plainer than Paul puts it in 1 Corinthians 10:4 when he says, "and that Rock was Christ". That same word translated "rock", "petra", in Matthew 16:18 is the exact same one Paul uses here in saying it refers to Christ. Peter in 1 Peter 2:5-8 says the same thing, pointing out that we are all simply stones (small rocks) built into a spiritual house and holy priesthood to offer up sacrifices to God through Jesus Christ. Peter says the same thing, that it is Jesus, not himself, who is the "rock of offence" and "chief corner stone" that the builders rejected, who was prophesied of as such in the Old Testament:
- Isaiah 8:13-14 Sanctify the LORD of hosts himself; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. And he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offence to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.
- Isaiah 28:16 Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste.
- Psalms 118:22 The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner.
It is, in other words, Jesus who is the Rock on which the Church was built. When Jesus spoke in Matthew 16:18 to Peter, He was essentially saying to him, You are Peter (a little rock) and on this big Rock (Jesus Himself) I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it. It is as plain as day from reading the Bible.
As for the keys to the kingdom of heaven, and the ability to bind and loose, it was given to all disciples, not Peter only:
- Matthew 18:18-20 Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.
- John 20:20-23 And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord. Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.
It is plain all the disciples were given such power, not Peter only, as seen from the above verses. Peter was not being given some special privilege, but Jesus was revealing the nature of the Church to be built on Himself, and the power He would give all the disciples.