I understand that the Catholic Churches teaches the doctrine of Papal Infallibility. How does that account for the Scripture that references Peter's error?

But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, "If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?" Galatians 2:11-14 (ESV)

  • related: List of papal teachings considered infallible
    – Richard
    Nov 7, 2011 at 18:35
  • 1
    It would be better to ask "Is there a biblical basis?". In the Roman Catholic Church (along with others), tradition is a source of faith and practice; doctrines aren't required to all have a biblical basis.
    – Kyralessa
    Nov 11, 2011 at 4:15

2 Answers 2


As this question explains, the Pope is not considered infallible every time he speaks, but only when he speaks ex cathedra. Essentially this means only when he makes a deliberately definitive pronouncement on a matter of doctrine. The quote you give is therefore not relevant. Even if Peter were considered a Pope at this point, the incident described would not invalidate papal infallibility.

The doctrine of papal infallibility is not founded on biblical texts specifically. It is founded on the (biblically supported) doctrine that the church is the custodian of truth, and that St. Peter was appointed by Christ as head of it. This article gives much more detail.

  • 1
    And if anything, the passage quoted supports Papal Infallibility. Having been challenged, Peter went away, prayed and then expounded God's revelation. Infallible statements are not those of a man; they are the revealed will of God put into words by a man. Feb 4, 2013 at 8:20

Here are some biblical sections (NIV):

I will need to go into more detail later but basically, the Holy Spirit is expected by Jesus to help protect the church remain faithful standing against the forces of Hell.

Now, this doesn't mean the Pope will be correct if he is doing math problems. He is infallible in limited instances, and has not been used too often.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .