What are the biblical arguments against the papacy and papal succession?
Peter, with a view to his immanent death, writes that his words will bring to remembrance not his successor.
2 Peter 1:13-15 Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this
tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance; Knowing
that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus
Christ hath shewed me. Moreover I will endeavour that ye may be able
after my decease to have these things always in remembrance.
Peter does not mention an enduring succession of popes who will be a source of authority for the people upon which they can rely.
2 Peter 3:2 That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken
before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles
of the Lord and Saviour:
The ability to avoid the error of false teachers lies with each believer rather than the protection of a successive pope.
2 Peter 3:17 Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things
before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the
wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.
The overseer (bishop) of souls is Jesus not a pope or priest.
1 Peter 2:24-25 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the
tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by
whose stripes ye were healed. For ye were as sheep going astray; but
are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.
The “keys" that Peter is given in Matthew 16 are not special powers of binding and loosening. Peter (and the other Apostles) are being given a special responsibility.
Matthew 16:19 And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of
heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in
heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in
A more accurate rendering of the Greek is;
I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind (declare to be improper and unlawful) on earth must be what is already bound in heaven; and whatever you loose (declare lawful) on earth must be what is already loosed in heaven.
We have an example of this in Acts;
Acts 15:13-20 And after they had held their peace, James answered,
saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me: Simeon hath declared how
God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people
for his name. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is
written, After this I will return, and will build again the
tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the
ruins thereof, and I will set it up: That the residue of men might
seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is
called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things. Known unto God
are all his works from the beginning of the world. Wherefore my
sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles
are turned to God: But that we write unto them, that they abstain
from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things
strangled, and from blood.
Here James exercised the binding a loosening by placing on gentile believers no more of a burden than was given in Leviticus for the sojourner in Israel.
Peter towards the end of his life addresses “elders” regarding their responsibilities not a successor.
1 Peter 5:1-2 The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an
elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker
of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is
among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but
willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;
The role of a elder or teacher in the church was to help the Christian approximate Christ-likeness.
Ephesians 4:11-12 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and
some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the
perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the
edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the
faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man,
unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
Instead we turned Christianity into a system of rules, rituals, and procedures. Corinth, Galatia, and some of the churches mentioned in Revelation were already going off track. God has preserved his word for us by which we can compare what is taught with that which is written.
Acts 17:10-11 And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas
by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the
Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they
received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the
scriptures daily, whether those things were so.