What is the origin of the title of POPE?
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Have you ever wondered where the Pope, the head of the Roman Catholic Church, got his title? While some might THINK the title came from the Bible, it did not.
First use Tertullian, in the early part of the second century A.D., is believed to have been the first person to apply the term Pontifex Maximus (Supreme Pontiff or Pope) to the head of the Catholic Church. He used the term, however, in sarcastic rebuke of Callixtus I whom he felt was exercising too much unilateral power in the church.
But where did Tertullian get the term that is the basis of the title of Pope? Did it come from the pages of the Bible? Was it related at all to the apostle Peter's status in the early church?
One of the foundational dogmas of the Catholic church is that the Popes, in an unbroken chain, have received their authority to rule the church directly from the apostle Peter. But, you can search the New Testament in virtually any translation and you will NEVER find Peter given or referred to by any title that even remotely acknowledges any supremacy over all Christians.
Nineteen years after the death of Jesus, in 49 A.D., the early church was in turmoil. An all-out doctrinal war erupted between those who firmly believed that a person MUST be circumcised before they can be saved and those who felt the ritual had no bearing on a person's salvation. The discussions in the churches got so heated that it was decided that the matter needed to be settled, once and for all, through a gathering of church elders and brethren in Jerusalem.
This gathering (known as the Jerusalem conference - Acts 15), which included Jesus' original apostles (Peter, John, etc.), ALSO was attended by the Apostles Paul and Barnabas, Titus, and many others (see Galatians 2). If ever there was a time for Peter to assert his AUTHORITY over the church and to let everyone know 'who is the boss' it was now. The first century church would never again gather in the way it did in 49 A.D., with all the well-known church leaders in attendance.