Bible Question: Who was the first Pope?
As you may know, the Catholic Church itself recognizes the Apostle Peter as the first Pope. Those of us who are Protestant (non-Catholic Christians) see the rise to the office of Papacy as gradual.
Here is a little section from the book, "The Time is at Hand," which gives the history of the rise to power of Papacy. It gives some clues in answer to your question. Reading the entire chapter is beneficial, and you can access this on our web site at:
Volume 2 - Chapter 9
...A Roman Catholic writer*
thus refers to the beginning of this religious empire: "The
coronation of Charlemagne as Emperor of the West, by
Pope Leo, A.D. 800, was really the commencement of the
Holy Roman Empire."+
*The Chair of St. Peter.
+"<The Holy Roman Empire>" was the title of the great political institution ofthe middle ages. It had its start in Charlemagne. Fisher's Universal
History, page 262, describes it thus: "In theory it was the union of the world-state and the world-churchan undivided community under Emperor and Pope, its heaven-appointed [?] secular and spiritual heads." And, since the popes, as in Christ's stead, anointed the emperors, it follows that they were the real heads of it.
Although Papacy was organized, as a religious system,
long before, and was even "set up" in temporal power in
A.D. 539, yet it was Charlemagne who first actually bestowed and formally recognized the <temporal dominion> of the pope...
Papacy... was <organized> as a hierarchy;
i.e., the church came to an organized condition, and
the popes came to be recognized as the Head, representing Christ, reigning in the church and over the nations, gradually, from about A.D. 300 to 494...
The time when the popes <began> to exercise civil authority and power, as will hereafter be shown, A.D. 539...
The popedom struggled long for mastery as the head of the church, and gradually obtained recognition and dominion; and that this dominion was generally recognized as early as A.D. 494, is clearly shown by the Romanist writer of <The Chair of St. Peter>, page 128. After giving in detail acknowledgments of the Roman Bishop as supreme pontiff by various councils, bishops, emperors, etc., he summarizes thus: "These words were written as far back as the year of our Lord 494.... On the whole, then, it is clear, from the foregoing authentic evidence, that the primacy of the Chair of St. Peter [the Bishopric of Rome] had so far <developed itself> in the fifth century, that the pope was then universally regarded as the center of Christian unitythe Supreme Ruler and Teacher of God's church, the Prince of Bishops, the Final Arbiter of appeals in ecclesiastical causes from all parts of the world, and the Judge and Moderator of General Councils, over which he presided by his legates."
The time of exaltation, A.D. 800, when, as already
shown, the "Holy Roman Empire" was formed, and the
pope, crowning Charlemagne emperor, was recognized as
himself King of kings, Emperor of emperors, "another God,
Hope this gives you some insight into the Papacy. Please read the web site quoted for a more thorough and fascinating glimpse into the organization of the Papacy.