Peter the first Apostle and father of the Church.

I start this meditation on this verse: Jesus Christ’s calling the apostle Peter "rock": "You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it" (Matt. 16:18). It starts here in V 15, with Jesus asking them (the disciples): “...But who do you (yourselves) say that I am? V16 Simon Peter replied, You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God. V17 Then Jesus answered him, Blessed (happy, fortunate and to be envied) are you Simon Bar-Jonah. For flesh and blood have not revealed this to you, but My Father Who is in heaven. V18 And I tell you, you are Peter (Greek Petros/Petra – a large piece of rock), and on this rock I will build My church and the gates of Hades (hell) will not overpower it. Some interpretations of this are that Jesus is talking about faith but clearly He is talking about His Church. The gates of Hell shall not prevail against His Church – us - the people of His Church and Peter the father of the Church on earth.
Jesus will build His church on Peter, the apostle. Ephesians 2:20 says: “You are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets with Christ Jesus Himself the chief Cornerstone. Jesus also referred to Peter as Cephas or Kephas which is Aramaic for rock. John 1:41-42: ”He findeth first his brother Simon, and saith to him: We have found the Messiah, which is, being interpreted, the Christ. And he brought him to Jesus. And Jesus looking upon him, said: Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is interpreted Peter.” Jesus is also referred to as the foundation as well as the cornerstone. And in Revelation 21:14 the 12 Apostles are referred to as the 12 foundation stones. In Matthew 16:19 – Peter is given the keys of the kingdom of heaven (something that Jesus had/owned) and ...”whatever you bind on earth must be bound in heaven and whatever you loose on earth must be loosed in heaven.” In John 21 verses 15-17, Jesus says: feed My lambs, tend My sheep, feed My sheep. Possibly the commands were given three times to counteract the three times Peter denied Jesus when Jesus was arrested.
Cyprian of Carthage says: If someone does not hold fast to this unity of Peter, can he imagine that he still holds the faith? If he [should] desert the chair of Peter upon whom the Church was built, can he still be confident that he is in the Church?" (The Unity of the Catholic Church 4; 1st edition [A.D. 251]). "There is one God and one Christ, and one Church, and one chair founded on Peter by the word of the Lord. It is not possible to set up another altar or for there to be another priesthood besides that one altar and that one priesthood. Whoever has gathered elsewhere is scattering" (Letters 43[40]:5 [A.D. 253]). You ought to know, then, that the bishop is in the Church and the Church in the bishop, and if someone is not with the bishop, he is not in the Church. They vainly flatter themselves who creep up, not having peace with the priests of God, believing that they are secretly [i.e., invisibly] in communion with certain individuals. For the Church, which is one and Catholic, is not split nor divided, but it is indeed united and joined by the cement of priests who adhere one to another" (ibid., 66[69]:8).
If Jesus wanted one true Church and unity in the Church – when did it start if not at the beginning. Early in the church history it was recognised that Peter had been called as head of the Church on earth. Optatus states: "You cannot deny that you are aware that in the city of Rome the episcopal chair was given first to Peter; the chair in which Peter sat, the same who was head—that is why he is also called Cephas [‘Rock’]—of all the apostles; the one chair in which unity is maintained by all" (The Schism of the Donatists 2:2 [A.D. 367]).
The word Pope comes from the Latin and Greek words for father. Peter was the first father of the church, therefore he was also the first Pope. Early popes helped spread Christianity and resolve doctrinal disputes. Paul and Peter were both martyred in Rome. James the Just, known as "the brother of the Lord", served as head of the Jerusalem church, which is still honored as the "Mother Church" in Orthodox tradition. The title of Pope was from the early third century an honorific designation used for any bishop in the West. In the East it was used only for the Bishop of Alexandria. From the 6th century, the imperial chancery of Constantinople normally reserved it for the Bishop of Rome. From the early sixth century it began to be confined in the West to the Bishop of Rome, a practice that was firmly in place by the eleventh century. After the fall of Rome, the Church served as a source of knowledge, authority, and continuity. Gregory the Great (c 540-604) administered the church with wisdom and stern reform.
I don’t think there is any doubt that Peter was the first Apostle and father of the Church that Jesus left behind but if readers want to know more about how that apostleship was handed on to the first popes then they can get lots of research on line on various sites. The early history of the Church makes for some excellent reading. Some info from wikepedia.org

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