In 2002, Pope John Paul II wrote a letter to the Bishop of Limburg, Germany over-ruling the decision by the Bishops in connection with abortion. The Pope introduced his directive by stating that he was responsible for the well being and unity of all individual churches according to the the will of Jesus Christ. He insinuated in his directive that as Pope, he was the successor of Saint Peter. This papal directive over Catholic Bishops in 2002 opened up interesting debates about the origins of the papacy and whether or not St. Peter was the first Pope.
It is crucially important to note that the idea that it was acceptable for one man to seek prominence over his fellow believers began to take root while the apostles of Jesus were still alive. Apostle Peter told men who were taking the lead in the congregation in Rome not to be lording it over those who were God’s inheritance, rather they were to gird themselves with lowliness of mind towards one another. This counsel was intended to have the church managed with restrained ambition from those who appeared to be seeking undue prominence in the church.
When the last disciple died towards the end of the first century, individuals in Rome began to gain more prominence in the Church although there were still no Bishops in Rome then. By the third century however, the Bishop of Rome established himself as the highest authority in the Church. Available lists of the earliest Bishops in Rome, support very little claim that Peter was the first Bishop or Pope. Those who doubt the view that St. Peter was the first Bishop and head of the congregation often refer to the letter of Apostle Paul who in his letter to the Romans, wrote an extensive list of Christians there, but not a single mention was made of St. Peter. If Peter was Head of the congregation, would anyone imagine that Paul in all his six letters he wrote could overlook or forget to mention Peter even once as the head of the congregation there?
Even if it were assumed that Paul could have had a conflict with Peter and wanted to snub him, about 30 years after him, John also wrote three letters including the book of Revelation and again, no where did he mention Peter as the leader of the congregation in Rome. It appears neither the Bible nor the evidence from secular writing support the claim that Peter was the first Bishop of Rome. Where then does the idea that St Peter was the first Pope come from?