Why did Peter not preside over the Council of Jerusalem?

If Peter, our first Pope, was present at the Council of Jerusalem, why did James and not Peter preside over the council? Wouldn’t we expect to see the Pope presiding, if he was present (which we know he was)? The Eastern Orthodox use this as illustration that Peter did not hold a place of primacy in the early church. They also claim that Peter’s opinion about the circumcision of the Gentile’s was overruled by the other Bishops, which they claim is further evidence that Peter was first among equals and had no authority over the other Bishops.

There are different styles of leadership. Some people are very forceful and exact, others are more collegial and persuasive. Both styles have their own positives and negatives. But just because a leader chooses to direct a dispute in a dialogue style does not make him less in charge.

The 12 apostles were a kind of “band of brothers.” They went through thick and thin together, St. Peter probably felt no need for external signs of authority.

At the Council of Jerusalem the Apostles were all able to agree together and thus there was no need for an intervention from St. Peter.

The statement that “Peter’s opinion about the circumcision of the Gentile’s was overruled by the other Bishops” is blatantly false. In chapter 10 of the Book of Acts St. Peter baptizes the gentile Cornelius without demanding he be circumcised first.

There is no record of St. Peter requiring gentiles to be circumcised. However, some early Christians did apparently insist on this and it caused controversy and arguments. In chapter 2 of his Letter to the Galatians St. Paul writes that he confronted St. Peter about the fact that he had stopped eating with the circumcised. He accused St. Peter of hypocrisy, not error in teaching.

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