[quote=DavidB]As the last living Apostle, John was the highest ranking member of the Body of Christ - period. But he was in exile on Patmos, so not in a position to exercise broader authority, except via letters. Thus, the letters to the 7 churches in the beginning of Revelations addressed those churches he had direct authority over, even from exile. The bishop of Rome did not have that authority at the time. No historian disputes that. All of the bishops held equal authority. All of the bishops over the churches were all referred to as “pope” for centuries. The bishop of Rome grew in authority as disputes/issues cropped up in some churches that needed an external voice to help resolve. The church in Rome was, by far, the largest, estimated in the tens of thousands at the time, plus the fact that they were in Rome, the heart of the empire, made the bishop of Rome the logical voice of authority to help out. This was particularly useful in disputing heresies that cropped up. By deferring to a single authority based on that special Apostle, Peter, bishops in dispute with heretics used the “Chair of Peter” as a means to surpress the false teachings. Over time, it became important to maintain that image publically, which internally operating with an understanding that all bishops are equal and doctrinal decisions can only be made in council. Making “Peter” the first among equals worked for the first thousand years of the Church . . . and then we come to the fililoque, when “Peter” decided he wanted to be able to make the rules without having to consult the other bishops. Which of course led to the idea of “papal infallibility” . . . and the Great Schism.
And there you have it, the history of the Church leading to the concept of a divided Church in a nutshell.
I think you are forgetting about St. Ignatius of Antioch (martyred in 107 A.D.) who was a disciple of St. John and thus received revelation and the interpretation of revelation directly from the Apostles. In the Ignatian letters, he affirms the primacy of Rome.
If John was the highest ranking member of the Body of Christ, I wonder why his disciple didn’t think so?
Your explanation of the filioque makes it appear that the Pope at the time of the filioque estrangement came up with some wild idea that no one had ever believed before and forced his opinion on the Church. This is simply untrue:
Secondly, the filioque estrangement did not “lead” to the idea of “papal infallibility”. This was understood by eastern Bishops way before the Schism. For example, in 517 the Eastern bishops assented to and signed the formula of Pope Hormisdas, which states in part:** “The first condition of salvation is to keep the norm of the true faith and in no way to deviate from the established doctrine of the Fathers. For it is impossible that the words of our Lord Jesus Christ who said, ‘Thou are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church’ [Matt 16:18], should not be verified. And their truth has been proved by the course of history, for in the Apostolic See the Catholic religion has always been kept unsullied.”
In a letter from Pope Agatho, accepted by Constantinople III, the Pope says the Roman Church “has never erred,” has never yielded to “heretical innovations,” and “remains undefiled unto the end.” Agatho links this claim directly to the “divine promise” found in Luke 22:32, where the Lord prays that Peter’s faith would never fail. Declarations that the Apostolic See “has been kept unsullied” are claims of papal infallibility.
Anyway, Vern Humphrey is right, "Read Revelation – John (like all inspired writers) is writing for a purpose. His purpose is clearly not to write a history of the early Church, nor to present an organization diagram of the same.