The Primacy of Peter

Was Peter the leader of the twelve apostles?
Was Peter the leader of the twelve apostles?

I was recently told by someone that Saint Peter was not the leader of the twelve apostles, but that they all lead equally. In this short blog I’d like to offer five reasons for thinking that this person, well intentioned as I’m sure he was, is absolutely wrong!

I wont be dealing with Papal infallibility. Click here to watch a short clip of my boss address that question.

Alright, you ready? Get those Bibles out. Here we go:

1. At the Top of the List

Whenever they were named, Peter headed the list (Matt. 10:1-4, Mark 3:16-19, Luke 6:14-16, Acts 1:13). Sometimes the apostles were referred to as “Peter and those who were with him” (Luke 9:32).

2. Speaking for the Apostles

Peter was the one who generally spoke for the apostles (Matt. 18:21, Mark 8:29, Luke 12:41, John 6:68-69), and he figured in many of the most dramatic scenes (Matt. 14:28-32, Matt. 17:24-27, Mark 10:23-28). On Pentecost it was Peter who first preached to the crowds (Acts 2:14-40), and he worked the first healing in the Church age (Acts 3:6-7).  It was to Peter that the revelation came that Gentiles were to be baptized and accepted as Christians (Acts 10:46-48).

3. Shepherding Christ’s Flock

It is Peter’s faith that will strengthen his brethren (Luke 22:32) and Peter is given Christ’s flock to shepherd (John 21:17).

4. Signs of Leadership

He headed the meeting that elected Matthias to replace Judas (Acts 1:13-26), and he received the first converts (Acts 2:41).He inflicted the first punishment (Acts 5:1-11), and excommunicated the first heretic (Acts 8:18-23). He led the first council in Jerusalem (Acts 15), and announced the first dogmatic decision (Acts 15:7-11).

5. Word Count

How many times do you suppose Peter is mentioned in the New Testament? 195 times! This is astoundingly high when you consider that the next most-mentioned apostle is John, who was mentioned 29 times.

 

4 thoughts on “The Primacy of Peter

  1. I would also add that he, and he alone, was told by Jesus, “Simon, Simon, behold Satan has demanded to sift all of you like wheat, but I have prayed that your own faith may not fail; and once you have turned back, you must strengthen your brothers.” (Luke 22:31-32)

    And it was he, and he alone, not the Beloved disciple who stood at the foot of the cross while all the others fled, who was tasked with “Feed my lambs, tend my sheep, and feed my sheep” (John 21:15-17).

  2. Here’s another. If you look at Luke’s Gospel in the original Greek, you’ll notice that, whilst Peter is often referred to as Simon, or even Simon Peter, in the case of the Resurrection account in chapter 24 he is referred to as Peter. I can’t help feeling that this is theologically significant – when he is referred to as Simon he is acting in his own right. When he is referred to as Peter he is acting as the representative of the Church. Peter is his TITLE, not his name. Peter, on behalf of the Church, stooped down into the tomb and witnessed the folded linens in the otherwise empty tomb.

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