Do Orthodox believe Peter had a primacy among the Apostles, and was it of divine origin?

Do the Orthodox [Eastern Orthodox] Christians believe that Peter had any kind of primacy over the other Apostles, and if so, was this primacy due to divine origin?

I recognize that, historically, Orthodox recognized a primacy of the See of Rome in a sense of honor, but that this primacy was based on the city of Rome’s stature in the Roman Empire.

FYI ~ I’m asking this with these thoughts in mind:
If Orthodox do recognize a sort of primacy in Peter, even of honor, and (b) this primacy is of a divine origin, and © if Orthodox admit that the bishop of Rome is Peter’s successor, then why would not the true church of Christ contain this divine establishment, even now?

In other words, no matter what the primacy is, if Peter’s primacy is of divine institution, then wouldn’t the Church of Christ continue to have that primacy?

Of course my conclusion rests on beliefs that Orthodox may not adhere to, so I am asking.

The Holy see of Rome is considered the first among equals.
The way that the modern papacy is organised is far from our understanding.
Primacy, infallibility and supremecy isn’t compatible with the 1st millennia church from our POV.

What is ment by first among equals is that according to our doctrine all dioceses are considered Holy Sees not just Rome.
The Pope could figure as the leader of the church in the media and in public and could even keep his title, but we don’t see any historical evidence that supports the “super-bishop” organisation of the church.

All desitions in the church has to be made by the council’s in which the pope despite his honorary title has as much to say as the other Holy Sees, but not any more influential than any of the other bishops.

This reflects the Orthodox view on the chair of St Peter and should not be seen as prozetylation of Orthodoxy, but just an question answered.

Thanks for info.
It seems to me the EO does grant authority to the Patriarchs and Metropolitans to a greater degree than to the diocesan bishops; and that the Patriarch does have some supervision over the process of appointing and supervising bishops, though not to the same extent as the Pope in the RCC.

Hey there.

Thanks for the clarifications and input. But could you address the issue of St. Peter? What primacy did he have? And was it of divine origin? And in what sense, if any, did this primacy transfer to Rome?

The promise of Christ that the gates of hell shall not prevail against the church is in Orthodox tradition understood as exactly that, The church is protected by Christ and will not err in doctrinal matters.

This means that a human person, even the first among equals are not necessarily prohibited from erring in dogmatical and doctrinal matters as we see things.

The church is on the other hand infallible and when gather in a council it’s indeed protected by the Holy Ghosts according to the promise of Christ.*
We believe that only God is infallible which is transmitted to his body, The Church, Not a mere human.

We don’t necessarily reject papal primacy, but we define Papal Primacy entirely different from what being practised in the Roman Communion.

The Holy See of Rome was the first See to be established, that’s the reason it is considered first among equals by us.

When you refer to gathering in a council, do you mean specifically to the first 7 ecumenical councils accepted by RCC, EO, and some other Christians? I believe the last one counted as such was 787 AD. Or do you mean doctrinal inerrancy is present in councils after 787 AD, perhaps those recognized only by Orthodox Christians?

If there is a “Pan Orthodox” or similar council held now, who would decide if this particular council is just pastoral or administrative in scope, or if it can express or formalize certain doctrinal points? I assume they would not develop new doctrine, but in theory a council now could make explicit something that has been implicitly understood in the Tradition of the Church.

In the RCC, the pope has the authority to declare a council valid, but who in EO has that authority?

Again, thank you for your reply.
Maybe I’m not being clear. I would like to know more specifically what the Orthodox belief is regarding the primacy of Peter himself – what sense Peter had primacy among the Apostles, if any in Orthodox eyes – and, perhaps more importantly, was this primacy of divine institution?

I ask this because I believe that the answers have certain implications for understanding the nature of the papacy and the Church.


Yes and yes. However, we believe all bishops are successors of all the apostles, so the bishop of Rome isn’t the successor of St. Peter in a way that any other bishop isn’t, except in a historical sense.

Also, while answers may vary among Orthodox as to what primacy means, it for sure doesn’t mean a supreme infallible monarchy.

Papal Infallibility is just a natural conclusion flowing from (1) Belief in an infallible Church, which both Orthodox and Catholics understand to be so (as far as I’m aware), and as testified by the faith and practice of the Early Church; and
(2) the universal jurisdiction of the pope. If the pope is final court of appeals, then in it’s not a huge claim but a natural consequence.

Hence the question:

If St. Peter had a divinely-instituted primacy, then, as you say, what does this primacy entail?

Am I to understand that the primacy of Rome is not connected to the divine primacy given to Peter?

You are prozetylating Catholicism with the way you express yourself in this post which you are more than welcome to do no doubt, but since you’ve started this thread in the apologetics sections I’m far from comfortable to answer your question honestly as it’s against the rules of the forum to prozetylate Orthodoxy in any forum except the Non Catholic Religion section.

I am more than willing to continue this subject of yours as soon as it’s moved or restarted at the proper forum.

Thanks for understanding our predicament.


I’m asking genuine questions

Yes you are, I didn’t intend to say otherwise but in order for us to answer your question we have to violate the forum rules for the apologetics subforum.

Orthodox Christians are barely tolerated at CAF so I will not risk getting kicked of the forum.
That’s why I’m more comfortable discussing the Roman Pontiffs role in a forum where critics of the pontiff is allowed.

The See of Jerusalem was the first See. St. James was its Archbishop.

The See of Byzantium (later called Constantinople, the See of the Greek Orthodox Church) was founded (by St. Andrew) in AD 38. The See of Rome wasn’t founded (by St. Peter) until AD 60. I think Rome was actually the last of the Five Great Sees of Antiquity.

Michael Francis can correct me if I’m wrong, but I think you have an overly strict interpretation of the Forum guidelines.

Non (Roman) Catholics are welcome here and they are free to present the views of their faith, and compare and contrast them with ours (this is, after all, an *apologetics *forum. It’s kinda what we do here). You’re just not allowed to say, “we’re right and you’re wrong.”

Orthodox Christians are barely tolerated at CAF so I will not risk getting kicked of the forum.

That’s a very peculiar thing to say (especially for a guy that joined the Forum just yesterday). We have very highly respected Orthodox members participate here all of the time. You’ll see.

You must have had your head buried in the sand for the last 10 years.

Says the guy who wasn’t here.

What are you talking about? There’s a whole Forum dedicated to Eastern faiths.

Check out the posts by prodromos (an eleven-year veteran with almost 2,500 posts).

Or wynd (since 2005, 1,500+ posts)

Or ByzCathCantor

Or you. Has anyone been disrespectful to you here?


If you, or other Orthodox Christians, feel disrespected on the forum, we all have to do a better job of respecting you. Orthodoxy is the branch of Christendom I know least about. I welcome any and all posts that inform me.

And yes, many of us, my self included, get a little too assertive at times. Part of that is natural egotism. But another part is that, starting around 1960, Catholics stopped affirming their faith in the public forum. Some of what passed for ecumenism was really “hide your Catholic light under a bushel”. Then after about 1975 the media began going after Catholics with a vengeance. Hope this may understand why some of us are a little over the top in our posts. Consider yourself among friends, anywhere in CAF. Imperfect Catholic friends.

I am fine with this. Basically the disagreement is in how much jurisdiction that the Pope holds.

Noted as per Orthodox view.

Just an information, Catholicism would see it more than just that but that it was the seat of Peter. He was an apostle and therefore would function as any one of them but he was certainly special which the other apostles did not have. Peter was given the key to the kingdom (of heaven) and the command to look after the Lord’s sheep, not just a few designated sheep but the whole of them. This made him different, at least in this role. There is not much room to wiggle in that, I think.


I’d hate to be that guy, but I think that Prodromos is well aware of his own decade-long participation on this forum.

It is also worth pointing out that the Eastern Catholicism board is specifically not for topics which only concern Orthodoxy. Those topics must be posted elsewhere.

I am prodromos, I am well aware of what has gone on over the last 11 years.
Perhaps you remember Fr Ambrose, StMarkEofE ,Hesychios, gurneyhalleck1 and a number of other Orthodox who were either banned or suddenly were not able to post anymore despite their profile not indicating they were banned (this is still the state of Fr Ambrose’ profile). Even Irish Melkite, an incredibly knowledgable and polite Eastern Catholic fell under the same bus.

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