I have always been told that Peter was the head of the entire Church at the time of Christ. However, James was apparently leader of the Church in Jerusalem, and Paul started a number of churches outside the Holy Land. Who is considered to be the first leader of the Church established by Jesus according to the various Protestant denominations?
- Anybody can ask a question
- Anybody can answer
- The best answers are voted up and rise to the top
Protestants do not recognize the necessity of a single worldwide leader other than Christ. So it is not as if Peter is dethroned so that Paul can take his place. Both are recognized as important leaders, but not one over the other.
An example of this thinking can be found from John Calvin in the Institutes. In Book 4, Chapter 6, he writes:
After a number of scriptural examples, Calvin concludes:
As I Protestant I can safely say yes some groups of Protestants reject the whole notation that Peter was the basis of the church. Instead they say that the revelation of Christ as the Son of the living God is the revelation for which the Church is founded upon. Making Christ Himself the basis and founder of Church not a man. Random pastors whose names we do not know did the primary amount of "leading" in the church. They were very troubled many died martyrs death and many were sadly drawn into error. (My group called Word of Faith and many other protestants say some of those in error wrote their errors down and it is still practiced today.) Paul provided most of the foundational doctrine along with the other apostles and special helpers. The person in the highest office leading the body of Christ is always the person who was the greatest servant so that will not be known until heaven.
Πέτρος, Petrus -- the Greek name of Peter -- means little pebble. But Jesus says that he will build his church on this rock (πέτρα, petra), so clearly this is not referencing Peter. Protestants have always considered the first (and only true) leader of the Church to be Christ.
Sorry for the late response. Your question, "Who is considered to be the first leader of the Church established by Jesus, according to the various Protestant religions?" I felt was more about finding secondary sources (non-scriptural) because you want to know how various Protestant denominations view scripture, rather than asking "Who does the scripture appoint as the leader?"
So I have found a few answers to your question:
I tried to find more sources that were as clear and this, but I was not successful. This is to say, while I know from experience that this is the opinion of all(most) Protestants, I could not find the wording as illuminating as it is in the excerpt from PCA's website.... Wow! Look the title of the section says everything!
Although, I'm tempted to believe that you are looking for some other type of answer; because you acknowledge that "the Church [was] established by Jesus", so you perhaps mean "were there any leaders of the various churches (not Churches)?" I make the distinction between "Church" and "church" because for Protestants the leader of the Church is Christ (as I said above), whereas the leader of "a church" we might say is an ordinary man. In the sense that, such a "leader" may have preached publicly and traveled, challenged the established norms of tradition and ultimately establish a new earthly church/denomination. For example, on the one hand many Lutherans may identify Martin Luther as the "earthly" leader/founder of the Lutheran church... on the other hand, these same Lutherans (and Luther himself) would say that Christ is the leader, of not only the Lutheran church but also the "Church" (that is all denominations). The same could be said about Presbyterians and John Calvin, they would look at him historically as the "leader" but only in so far as an earthy leader orders below Christ himself.
So I hope this answers your question, and that it is evident that the term "leader" perhaps takes on many interpretations.