Let's look at the history of Christianity.
None of us dispustes scripture so I ask that you try to use hisorical sources to validate your beliefs of the history of the faith. Yes we can use scripture but you are not meant to use scripture to ignore history.
This topic is meant for all of us to better understand the history of Christianity after scripture. Jesus Christ commanded the disciples to go out into the world and carry on the Gospel bringing together new believers. This topic is about what the disciples did after the Matser's ascension and after they completed scriptural writings.
The book of Acts is a good biblical starting point. We can learn from Acts that the Church was organized and hierarchical. The issue of the papacy is not well defined in Acts, although we do see that God communicates new doctrine through Peter regarding gentile converts.
I believe this quote from Clement, who was the fourth pope and an aquaintance of both Peter and Paul, is a good starting point. The authenticity of this letter is widely accepted and we can read about the existence of the letter from other early sources.
A key quote:
"And thus preaching through countries and cities, they appointed the first-fruits [of their labours], having first proved them by the Spirit, to be bishops and deacons of those who should afterwards believe. Nor was this any new thing, since indeed many ages before it was written concerning bishops and deacons. For thus saith the Scripture a certain place, 'I will appoint their bishops s in righteousness, and their deacons in faith.'... Our apostles also knew, through our Lord Jesus Christ, and there would be strife on account of the office of the episcopate. For this reason, therefore, inasmuch as they had obtained a perfect fore-knowledge of this, they appointed those [ministers] already mentioned, and afterwards gave instructions, that when these should fall asleep, other approved men should succeed them in their ministry...For our sin will not be small, if we eject from the episcopate those who have blamelessly and holily fulfilled its duties." Pope Clement, Epistle to Corinthians, 42, 44 (A.D. 98).
I have no problem with anything you said here. Clement clearly was a leader at the church at Rome, and wrote the letter in question.
However, if one is credulous of the Acts of Peter and Paul, one would have to accept that
1) Peter did not appoint a successor prior to his death.
2) The church at Rome was founded by both Peter AND PAUL, and both were recognized as it's leaders.
Scripture corroborates that both apostles traveled to Rome, and the Paul, at least, died there.
In fact, all of the Scriptures indicate that leadership in the church was plural, and that everyone was meant to participate. The best such example is the instructions on what to do with a brother who is sinning.
First you confront him yourself... this would indicate that each person as an individual exercises some authority as their brother's episkopos
Then you take two or three to confront him... here we simply have the normative Jewish teaching "by the witness of 2 or 3 let it be established." If we assume that the rest of the Jewish system goes along with this teaching, this would also mean that someone is there to judge. That might be a bishop, or at least an elder, but there's no titles associated with this in the NT. Paul does exhort the brethren to judge themselves, and not go before civil courts to settle matters, so some sort of judge must exist.
Finally, you take him before the entire church if he persists in sin. I find it noteworthy that the entire church as an ecumenical body is the final authority. Paul spends a lot of time telling us that we are, collectively, the body of Christ, and that we ought to be in unity, and that we need to work together.
So, while I do see a hierarchy here, it's pretty much the opposite of the one the RCC employs - an inverted triangle, with the group at the top, and an individual at the bottom.