Was Paul the leader?

Supposedly Peter couldn’t have of been the first pope because Paul led the apostles more than Peter did, even when Peter was still alive.

Supposedly is the operative here. There’s practically no evidence other than a single instance of Paul being outspoken. That doesn’t equate to leadership or someone else’s lack thereof.


It’s possible in the early Church that Paul was more active than Peter in a leadership capacity, but Peter would still be the first Pope.

A person isn’t Pope based on how active they are in a leadership role or how many obstacle courses they can complete on hard mode. There have been plenty of cardinals or bishops in history who were more involved than Popes in running the Vatican, especially if the Pope was suffering long-term illness or extremely venerable in age. The Pope still has the final say.

Paul wrote a lot and traveled a lot, and he mentions traveling companions other than the apostles. He met with the apostles and argued with them at least once. I don’t see any evidence that he led the apostles.


St Peter was given the position to lead the church by Jesus in the flesh before Jesus died Matthew 16:18…

St Peter actually traveled with Jesus and Jesus worked with him so he would know what was expected of him or future Pope’s.

St Peter met Jesus in the flesh St Paul never did. Jesus had died before St Paul’s encounter with Jesus and his conversion to Christianity.

St Paul was a great evangelist, teacher and very instrumental in the formation of the church but was never made Pope.


you forget paul was in the Diaspora, Peter and James were in Jerusalem

paul was busy writing letters to his communities in the diaspora, to keep them on the straight and narrow .

his letters were also to refute those who were trying to discredit and refute him.

so we get a lot of what paul was like, in his letters.

Nah…St. Paul was definitely louder and wrote more, or at least, his letters were conserved better. But most probably something to do with St. Paul being “more educated” academically than St. Peter.

But to me, nobody replaces St. Peter as the first head of the church. There is no comparison with somebody who actually touched Jesus, and lived and breathed HIM, than with someone who “met” Him after His resurrection, which is all of us actually.

But I did read somewhere that St. Paul did have quite a bit of arguments with the apostles, something to do with him being a roman and not agreeing with new Christian gentiles following Jewish traditions. St. Peter was patient with him, the other apostles…not so much.

Also, to me there were 12 apostles, personally hand picked by Jesus. That St. Paul self-declares himself another apostles, to me is not cool. :slight_smile:

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The key word there is ‘supposedly’. There’s no biblical or historical evidence that Paul was the leader of the apostles. Early church fathers such as Augustine, Irenaeus, John Chrysostom, and Pope Leo the Great all refer to Peter as being the chief authority of the apostles.


Just to clarify: Paul was not a Gentile. He was a Jewish man of the strictest sense (a Pharisee) prior to his conversion. He did butt heads with many of the Apostles, including Peter, on how Gentile converts should be treated.


Good Lord! Thank you for the correction! I meant him being roman. Jeez. I have edited it above.

New Advent gives a thorough and convincing treatment.


Didn’t he have to correct Peter at one time?

I can see this as making sense if you buy into the central idea of Protestantism. That idea is that the Bible is where we get our religion. In that case since we have more letters from Paul then Paul must have been in charge.

But even that isn’t really a good argument. St. Paul could have been instructed by St. Peter to write the canonical letters. St. Paul could have been instructed by St. Peter to be more of a missionary and as part of that to in general write letters. Peter could have just not written many letters. Or maybe Peter did write more letters but they were lost. Maybe the local church didn’t think to keep them, or maybe they were lost or destroyed.

Because the Catholic Church has Sacred Tradition we know that St. Peter was the head of the Apostles. So it doesn’t mattter if he wrote a hundred or no letters he was in fact the head.


He was hand-picked by Jesus to be the Apostle to the Gentiles. Pretty amazing stuff…why does it bother you? His authority came straight from Jesus–he didn’t just declare himself an Apostle on his own authority.

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Yes he did. That doesn’t mean Paul was in charge.

Oh I don’t doubt that, at all. Like I don’t doubt Jesus appeared to other people, I just like the more limited interpretation of apostle to mean the first 12, everybody else to me is a disciple. I know it can be interpreted to mean more than the 12, I just find that, well…… a teeny weeny bit presumptuous. Just a matter of personal interpretation, no offense meant.

Paul ranks himself as the least of the apostles:

1 Corinthians 15:5-9

[Christ] appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at once, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. After that he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. Last of all, as to one born abnormally, he appeared to me. For I am the least of the apostles, not fit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.

Notice also that Paul refers to Peter by the name Cephas, meaning rock, signifying the solid foundation and leader of the Church, as Christ himself ordained:

Matthew 16:15-19

He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter said in reply, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

Peter means rock or stone in Greek, while Cephas has the same meaning in Aramaic. It is probably significant that Paul uses the Aramaic name when writing to a Greek community. I suspect his intention was to show respect for Peter’s authority by using the name Cephas as Jesus spoke it in Aramaic.

Fair enough. One may still argue whether Paul was being presumptuous. In the passage I quoted above, Paul refers to them as the Twelve, a title which sets them apart (and above him). His use of the term apostle to describe himself may be a literal usage. Apostle literally means one who is sent, as on a mission, and Paul certainly was sent by God on a mission. See, for instance, here:

Acts 13:2-3

While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Then, completing their fasting and prayer, they laid hands on them and sent them off.

So Paul was an apostle in the literal sense, but of course not one of the Twelve.

He wrote more.

The original name of Peter was the Hebrew Simeon , the Greek Simon .

In Mtt 16 Jesus confers upon him the name of ROCK , promises him that he will build his Church upon this rock , and gives Peter the keys of the kingdom of heaven and the power to bind and loose .
He is now called by the surname PETROS , a masculine name formed from the feminine noun PETRA , ROCK . The original name was the Aramaic KEPA , ROCK . This is used in the Greek form of KEPHAS in Jn 1 :42 , 1 Cor 1:12 , 3:22 , 9:5 , 15 ;5 , Gal 1:18 , 2:9 , 11 , 14 .

After the Ascension of Jesus Peter is the leader of the Church .

He proposes the election of a successor to Judas ( Acts 1:15-26 ) .

He is the spokesman of the disciples at Pentecost ( Acts 2 ) , after the cure of the lame man ( Acts 3 ) , and before the council ( Acts 4 , 5:29 ) .

He more than any other exhibits the healing power of Jesus ( Acts 3 , 5:15 , 9:32-43 ) .

He is the spokesman of the community in the Ananias and Sapphira affair ( Acts 5:1-11 ) .

He rejects the proposal of Simon Magus ( Acts 8:20-24 ) .

He and John go to Samaria to confer the Spirit on the disciples ( Acts 8:14 ) .

He is the first to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles ( Acts 10 ) , and explains this as a result of a heavenly revelation ( Acts 11:1-18 ) .

His authorative discourse at the council of Jerusalem ( Acts 15:7-11 ) .

Paul sets him apart as a witness of the Resurrection ( 1 Cor 15:12 ) .

On Paul’s first visit to Jerusalem he conferred with Peter but saw no other apostle except James ( Gal 1:18 ) .

1 Peter was written from “Babylon” , a cryptic allusion to Rome ( 1 Pt 5:13 ) .

Thus the beginning of the Petrine ministry in Rome .

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