Some folks think that Peter was picked by the Catholic Church long after his death to be the one who was the “first” pope. They figure this whole pope thing is all made up anyway and this is just more proof. After all, Paul was a great speaker and traveler, why wasn’t he the first pope? James was well loved and was the bishop of Jerusalem, who better to be the head of the early church than James? Why was Peter supposedly the first pope?
Because Jesus said so. In Mathew 16:18 Jesus said he’d build his Church upon Peter. That’s not a statement to be taken lightly. Jesus also said he’d give him the keys and whatever he binds will be bound in heaven. The keys are a throwback to Isaiah 22:19-23 where King David is given a royal steward who has keys and who also can open and no one will shut.
The royal steward is the one who rules while the king is away. When David went to war, or on diplomatic missions then the royal steward made all the decisions for the kingdom.
At the Ascension, Jesus left earth in his physical form. By doing so, he passed authority to make decisions to his royal steward, Peter.
You can see. Peter was the first pope because Jesus told him to be.