IS A SUCCESSOR TO PETER IS SCRIPTURAL?


He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”

Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona!

For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.

And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it.

I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

Matthew 16:15‭-‬19 RSV

Matthew 16 is an appropriate place to view the doctrine of a successor to Peter.

IS A SUCCESSOR TO PETER IS SCRIPTURAL?

Simply put, No.

(1) Peter knew that he would have no legitimate successor and indicated it in 2 Peter 1:13-15 where he WROTE the word of God in order for it to be available, as he said, “after my decease”!

If a successor had been contemplated, that would have been unnecessary.

(2) No mention whatever of a successor to Peter may be found anywhere in the New Testament, although the successor to Judas Iscariot is named.

And, if it is supposed that the difference was due only to the fact that Peter’s death is not recorded in the New Testament, then let it be further recognized that James’ death is recorded, and that no successor was chosen for him.

Why did only Judas receive a successor?

Death did not and could not remove an apostle from office. It did not remove Judas, whose removal was not due to death, but to TRANSGRESSION (Acts 1:25, KJV).

All of the apostles (except the one removed by transgression) are still reigning with Christ and discharging the office of their apostleship (Matthew 19:28).

(3) If there had been a successor to Peter, why was God’s Revelation given through the apostle John and not through the successor, especially since the Revelation was written at a time long after the death of the apostle Peter?

(4) What could a successor to Peter do which has not already been done?

The Lord guided the apostles into “all truth” (John 16:13).

Peter himself said “all things that pertain to life and godliness” had already been given (2 Peter 1:3).

(5) Christ taught that no earthly head of his spiritual body (the church) was possible, even though that earthly head was Christ himself “in the flesh.”

He said, “It is expedient for you that I go away; for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you” (John 16:7).

If it was expedient for the true head not to remain on earth in the flesh, and if the presence of the Christ himself, in the flesh, would thwart the residence of the Holy Spirit in his spiritual body, how could any successor fulfill a need impossible to be met even by Christ “in the flesh?”

(6) No person in subsequent ages could meet the qualifications of a true apostle. Apostles were primarily “witnesses”; and witnesses, by the very nature of things, cannot have successors (Acts 1:22).

Moreover, that prime qualification was not waived, even for Judas’ successor.

(7) Basic requirements of the apostolic office disqualify any claimant of Peter’s office.

For example, the apostles were empowered by the Holy Spirit to be able to “remember” and faithfully report the words of Christ. See John 16:13-15; 14:26.

What successor could possibly “remember” anything that Jesus said?

As to the heresy that the Spirit would operate independently of the word of Christ, it was struck down by Jesus himself who said of the Holy Spirit, “He shall not speak of himself” (John 16:13). The English Revised Version (1885) has “He shall not speak FROM himself.”

(8) Delegated authority is not transferable. In the very nature of plenary authority, it must originate in each new holder of it with the conveying authority.

No ambassador ever named his successor.

Overwhelming evidence to the effect that this principle was recognized as valid, even in the apostolic age, appears in the attempt of Simon the sorcerer to purchase the gift of God, not from Philip (who had it and was personally and more intimately known to Simon), but from Peter, one of the apostles who had conferred the gift on Philip.

(9) Historically, the whole idea of a successor to Peter is fantastic in its long progression through the ages, exhibiting two popes on the throne at once, another refusing the office, and with Italians holding a virtual monopoly, and providing practically the whole list upon whom this distinction was said to be conferred by God (!).

What have we here, another chosen people?

Many other Scriptural refutations to the great heresy of Peter’s successor might be pointed out, but these are sufficient to allow the truth to appear in honest hearts.

Related: THE PRE-EMINENCE OF PETER


I think it right, as long as I am in this body, to arouse you by way of reminder, since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ showed me. And I will see to it that after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things.

2 Peter 1:13‭-‬15 RSV


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