**My brother in Jesus Miguel,
Your statement "Peter is “first” in rank, but equal in authority to all others. He is a “fellow elder.”, is incorrect.
Yes, Peter is equal as far as the love of God, but Jesus gave Peter primacy in matters of Faith & Morals exactly for these type of situations, where numerous, well meaning people disagree on interpretation of God’s Word!
There is no doubt Peter was chosen by Jesus to head His Church. Read the entirety of Sacred Scripture, don’t cherry pick verses or just one Gospel!
Peter’s name always heads the list of the Apostles, Peter’s name is mentioned 191 times in the New Testament, which is far more than all of the other Apostles combined, (about 130 times).
Read Sacred Scripture, in it’s entirety, Peter is involved in all of the Church’s important “firsts”; Peter led the meeting which elected the first successor to an Apostle (Acts 1:13-26), and received the first converts(Acts 2:41), Peter performed the first miracle after Pentecost (Acts 3:6-7), inflicted the first punishment on Annais and Saphria (Acts 5:1-11), and excommunicated the first heretic, Simon the magician (Acts 8:21), Peter is the first Apostle to raise someone from the dead (Acts 9:36-41), Peter first received the revelation to admit gentiles into the Church(Acts 10:9-16), and commanded that the first Gentile converts be baptized (Acts 10:44-48)
“Please note that the Early Church always accepted the Bishop of Rome as the head of the Church. Around AD 80, the Church of Corinth deposed it’s lawful leaders. The fourth bishop of Rome, Pope Clement I, was called to settle the matter even though St. John the Apostle was still alive and much closer to Corinth than was Rome.
St Irenaus, who was taught by St. Polycarp (a disciple of St. John the Apostle), stresses that Christians must be united to the Church of Rome in order to maintain the Apostolic Tradition. He then lists all the bishops of Rome up to his time.
St. Irenaeus was Bishop of Lyons from about AD 180-200. He is considered one of the greatest theologians of the immediate post Apostolic period. In his work Against Heresies, St. Irenaeus makes the following statement about the Church of Rome & the successors of St. Peter: “…the successions here of the bishops of the greatest & most ancient Church known to all, founded & organized at rome by two of the most glorious Apostles, Peter & Paul, that Church which has the tradition & the faith comes down to us after having been announced to men by the Apostles. For with this Church, because of its superior origin, all the churches must agree, that it is in her that the faithful have maintained the Apostolic Tradition” (William A. Jurgens, The Faith of the Early Fathers (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 1970)3,3,3; Jurgens #211)
St. Irenaeus then goes on to name all the Popes succeeding Peter up to his time—12 in all. (3,3,3 Jurgens # 211)
For 250 years the Roman emperors tried to destroy Christianity through persecution. In the first 200 years of Christianity, every Pope but one was martyred-the Romans certainly knew who the head of the Church was!”
A Roman emperor’s greatest fear was a rival to the throne. Never the less, the Emperor Decius, one of the harshest persecutors of the early Christian Church, made the following remark: “ I would far rather receive news of a rival to the throne than that of another Bishop of Rome.” Decius said this after he executed Pope Fabian in AD 250. (Christian History, Issue 27, entitled “Persecution in the Early Church” (1990, Volume IX, no. 3, 22)
St. Ignatius of Antioch (AD 110) appointed by St. Peter also recognizes Rome’s Primacy.
Excerpts from; Father Frank Chacon and Jim Burnham, in ‘Beginning Apologetics 1 (www.catholicapologetics.com)
Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, Ora Pro Nobis Peccatoribus!