The Popes


The church is often compared to the human body in the Scriptures. The members of the church are represented as the various parts of the body. Christ is always said to be the head. (See 1 Cor. 12:12-27; Eph. 1:22-23; 4:15-16). Question , “What part of the body is the Pope?”


While Jesus is the head of the Church, the Pope is the visible head. Analogies can only take us so far. The Pope is similar to the position in ancient times to the King. There was usually someone appointed to be second in charge, to whom the “keys to the kingdom” (the king’s authority) were given when the king was out of town or otherwise unavailable to rule the kingdom in person. Same is true with the Pope. In Matthew 16, Jesus gave Peter, the first person to hold the office we now call “Pope”, the “keys to the kingdom of heaven.” The person in this office has all earthly authority over the Church.


Depends on how inclusive is your concept of Church.
As Catholics, we believe in the:

  1. Church Triumphant: those in heaven
  2. Church Suffering: those in purgatory
  3. Church Militant: those on earth “work[ing] out [our] salvation in fear and trembling.”

Christ is the Head over ALL the Church.

For the Church Militant, the pope is our visible “head” - but as Scooby stated above, the position is as explained in Is 22:15-23 and Mt 16:18-19.

BTW, re: your signature:

“When we come to ask ourselves, “Where did I learn this?” it is astonishing to find how much we have imbibed from man, and from tradition; and not directly and for ourselves, from the Word of God.”

Tell me, did you learn from Scripture what books make up Scripture? If so, please provide chapter and verse that contains the list of books to be in the Bible.

If you cannot provide such, then it appears you have “imbibed from man, and from tradition; and not directly and for [yourself]” what books are deemed inspired and worthy of inclusion in Scripture.


The analogy in question doesn’t necessarily provide an answer to what part any one of us are. Scripture says we are all members of one body with different functions. Paul tells us that we all can’t be an eye because then we could not hear, we all can’t be an ear because then we could not smell. Follow that to the end of the chapter and we see that all are not teachers, and all are not prophets, all do not speak in tongues, all do not have the gift of healing, etc.

So we see the issue is not necessarily just one of Jesus is the head so who is the Pope? He is obviously a teacher, though some have been better than others in that regard. However, the greater message in that chapter of Scripture is that we should look to our own gifts and not the gifts of others. Those who have the gift of teaching should teach, those who have other gifts should use those other gifts.

What is more, when speaking specifically of the Pope and not the Body of Christ as a whole as Paul was here, we see other functions of the office. Jesus says in Luke 22 that Peter, and subsequent Popes, would serve as an anchor securing the faith of others. He prayed that Peter’s faith would not fail and that he could strengthen his brother’s faith. We also see in Scripture that Peter serves an organizational role, he presides over the selection of Mathias to replace Judas, he presides over the Jerusalem Council, he also excommunicates Ananias and Sapphira. These are a few specific examples of Peter exercising his office as bishop and Pope.

You should not be concerned that the Pope’s role is similar to that of Jesus. The Pope is the visible head of the Church. We know that God is the rock, yet Peter is also a rock, we know that is our Father, yet Paul says he is the spiritual father of many. These similar roles are both dependent upon and subordinate to the primary role of God in these regards. Just as you may help bring someone to know Jesus, and yet that is primarily the role of the Holy Spirit.


The head is the Holy Father, who guides the Church with the mind of Christ.
The voice is the Magisterium, the teaching authority of the Church.
At the heart of the Church are the Sacraments, which nourish the body of the Church.
The hands and feet are each of us, who reach out to the world and take with us the love of God.


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