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Peter owned a house in Capernaum. There Jesus healed his mother-in-law (
The crux interpretationis is the statement in
Peter appears as a man of contrasts, esp. in the gospels. He was not always stable and reliable as his name implies. Following his splendid confession at Caesarea Philippi, he objected violently to Jesus’ predictions regarding His passion. This prompted Jesus’ strong rebuke—“Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me; for you are not on the side of God, but of men” (
Another demonstration of this erratic trait in Peter was his attempted walking on the water, reported only by Matthew (
The most tragic scene in the gospels involving Peter is when he denied his Lord, reported by all four gospel writers (
Most significant perhaps is Peter’s encounter with his Master in the courtyard of the house of Caiaphas when, after the denials, “the Lord turned and looked at Peter”—a detail only in Luke (22:61). That weekend must have been a period of remorse, soul-searching, and introspection for Peter; he bitterly regretted his cowardice that night, and it is not surprising that he had a significant place in the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus. Paul indicates that the risen Jesus first appeared to Peter (
The Apostle Peter displayed vital leadership in the early history of the Church as recorded in the first half of the
Peter, however, still retained the limited perspective of Judaism. Although he rightly saw the continuity between the OT and the new “Way,” he was hampered by a Jewish particularism that made it difficult or virtually impossible for him to admit Gentiles. Peter and the others continued to follow the strictures of Judaism—evident in Peter’s and John’s observance of the hour of prayer in the Temple (
That the Pentecost experience had not made Peter fully aware of this mission perspective of the Church is evident from his vision at Joppa (
Following the conversion and baptism of Cornelius at Caesarea, Peter returned to Jerusalem, there to answer the criticism of the “circumcision party” who objected to his ministry to the Gentiles (
Paul in his epistle to the Galatians presents an interesting perspective regarding his relationship to Peter and the Gentile mission. Paul reports that three years after his conversion he visited Cephas (Peter) in Jerusalem for fifteen days (
Another hint of Peter’s activity may be found in the existence of a Petrine party at Corinth (
The NT does not indicate that Peter went to Rome. A Petrine residence in Rome, however, is well attested in early Christian lit. The earliest reference is in a letter (known as 1 Clement) written by Clement, bishop of Rome (c. a.d. 88-97) to the Corinthians. He cites the suffering and martyrdom of Peter and Paul, obviously during the persecutions of Christians by Nero, as the finest examples “among us” to be emulated. About a.d. 200, Tertullian mentions the deaths of Peter and Paul as occurring in Rome under Nero. Also from the early part of the 3rd cent. is the apocryphal containing the moving episode when Peter, upon leaving Rome, met Jesus and asked Him “Domine, quo vadis?” Eusebius (Church History 2:25), citing earlier authorities, indicates that Peter and Paul were martyrs during the Neronic persecutions in Rome. This tradition was not localized in Rome alone, but was apparently widespread throughout the Church.
The time of Peter’s arrival in Rome can be indirectly established from other data in the NT. It is doubtful that he was a victim of the Expulsion Edict of Claudius (a.d. 41-54), since it is unlikely that Peter reached Rome prior to the edict. When Paul wrote the epistle to the Romans (c. a.d. 55), the edict had been relaxed, for Priscilla and Aquila (evacuees from the edict according to
Two of Peter’s companions in Rome were Silvanus (Silas) and Mark. Silvanus was Peter’s amanuensis when he wrote 1 Peter (
Apparently Peter was a victim of the violent anger that Nero vented upon the Christians in a.d. 64. Although Eusebius dates the death of Peter and Paul in the fourteenth year of Nero (a.d. 67-68), he also places the Neronic persecutions in the fourteenth year (which from other sources can be definitely dated in a.d. 64). In
The location of the tomb of Peter and the identification of his bones have been extensively debated in the 20th cent. Some scope of the lit. on the subject can be derived from A. de Marco’s full annotated bibliography entitled, The Tomb of St. Peter (1964). Discussions regarding the location of the tomb of Peter have centered around St. Peter’s Church and the catacombs of St. Sebastian on the Via Appia. The existence of graffiti with invocations to Peter and Paul in the Sebastian catacombs has suggested to some that the remains of Peter (and Paul) resided here for a time—transferred to these catacombs for safe-keeping during the fierce persecution of Valerian in a.d. 258. This “translation theory” is not without serious difficulties and thus far has not been confirmed by archeological research. For others, Eusebius’ citation (Church History 2.35) of Caius’ (a resident of Rome about a.d. 199-217) reference to the “trophies of the Apostles” located in the Vatican and on the Ostian Way indicates that the graves of Peter and Paul were in these places around a.d. 200 and presumably earlier (e.g., Jack Finegan, Light From the Ancient Past , pp. 380-384).
Among the ossuary inscrs. from the Franciscan chapel (Dominus Flevit) on the Mount of Olives, P. B. Bagatti (Liber Annuus 3 , p. 162) published one that he read as “Simon Barjonah” (שׁמעון בר יוהנה). Some concluded from this that Peter was buried on the Mount of Olives and therefore never went to Rome. Such a conclusion, however, is hardly warranted from this ossuary text, because the text itself is uncertain. J. T. Milik, although granting the possibility of the above reading for the patronymic, suggests another reading: Zena (זינה) (Gil Scavi del “Dominus Flevit,” Part I , p. 83). The ossuary fragment is in the museum of the Church of the Flagellation on the in Jerusalem. An examination of the charcoal inscr. on the fragment in 1964 showed that the reading cannot be established with certainty. In addition, the names Simon and Jonah are common Sem. names—i.e., frequently in Josephus, inscrs., and other ossuaries (ibid., p. 77). Elsewhere Milik has published five ossuaries in three Jewish tombs with the name Simon (Liber Annuus 7 [1957, pp. 241-271]). This ossuary text hardly negates the evidence for a Petrine residence and martyrdom in Rome.
On 26 June 1968, Pope Paul VI announced that the bones of Peter had been positively identified by Margherita Garducci, who claims to have located the bones that were originally in a marble chest found in “Wall G” under St. Peter’s Church in the Vatican. According to Garducci, the bones were removed secretly from the chest before the authorized excavators opened it in 1943. Grydon F. Snyder has discussed a number of serious and damaging objections to Garducci’s theory (BA 32 , pp. 2-24). Furthermore, since St. Peter’s was developed as a Christian burial ground, precise identification of certain bones as Peter’s is very precarious, if not impossible.
In conclusion, it can hardly be disputed that Peter spent the latter part of his life at Rome, that he died a martyr’s death and that he was seemingly buried there, prob. in the vicinity of the Vatican. Further precision regarding these details can hardly be derived from the existing evidence and data, but will have to await some distinct new discovery.
A full comprehensive study of the literary, liturgical, and archeological evidence regarding the life and work of the Apostle Peter can be found in Oscar Cullmann’s Peter: Disciple—Apostle—Martyr (1953).
A study of the life and character ofreveals noble traits. His enthusiasm and boldness are worthy of emulation. He was extremely devoted and committed to Christ. He also illustrates, however, the danger of misdirected and superficial enthusiasm. Some of the sharpest rebukes in the NT were directed at him. His positive traits are inspiring and challenging; his negative traits are a warning. Enthusiasm and devotion must be tempered by a balanced and informed perspective. Peter could be overconfident in his enthusiasm, at times bordering on arrogance (as in the Upper Room; nonetheless he stands as a stellar example of bold allegiance and glowing achievements in the proclamation of the Gospel.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
pe’-ter, si’-mon): 1. Name and Early Career
2. First Appearance in Gospel History
(1) First Period
(2) Second Period
(1) First Epistle
(2) Second Epistle
(1) Messianic Teaching
(5) Holy Scripture
(6) Apostasy and Judgment
The data for this article are found chiefly in the four Gospels; in
1. Name and Early Career:
2. First Appearance in Gospel History:
The life-story of Peter falls into two parts: first, from his call to the ascension of Christ; secondly, from that event to the close of his earthly career.
(1) First Period:
It will be seen that the story of Peter’s fall is thus related by all the evangelists, but, to quote another, "None have described it in a more heinous light, than Mark; and if, as is generally supposed, that Gospel was reviewed by Peter himself and even written under his direction this circumstance may be considered as an evidence of his integrity and sincere contrition."
Nothing more is heard of Peter until the morning of the resurrection, when, on the first tidings of the event, he runs with John to see the tomb (
(2) Second Period:
After a while another persecution arose against the church, and Herod Agrippa, having put James to death, imprisons Peter with the thought of executing him also. Prayer is made by the church on his behalf, however, and miraculous deliverance is given him (
Subsequently, he is found at Antioch, and having fellowship with GentileChristians until "that certain came from James," when "he drew back and separated himself, fearing them that were of the circumcision," for which dissembling Paul "resisted him to the face, because he stood condemned" (
Little more is authentically known of Peter, except that he traveled more or less extensively, being accompanied by his wife (
The tradition is that he died a martyr at Rome about 67 AD, when about 75 years old. His Lord and Master had predicted a violent death for him (
It should be observed, however, that the tradition that he visited Rome is only tradition and nothing more, resting as it does partly upon a miscalculation of some of the early Fathers, "who assume that he went to Rome in 42 AD, immediately after his deliverance from prison" (compare
The character of Peter is transparent and easily analyzed, and it is doubtless true that no other "in Scriptural history is drawn for us more clearly or strongly." He has been styled the prince of the apostles, and, indeed, seems to have been their leader on every occasion. He is always named first in every list of them, and was their common spokesman. He was hopeful, bold, confident, courageous, frank, impulsive, energetic, vigorous, strong, and loving, and faithful to his Master notwithstanding his defection prior to the crucifixion. It is true that he was liable to change and inconsistency, and because of his peculiar temperament he sometimes appeared forward and rash. Yet, as another says, "His virtues and faults had their common root in his enthusiastic disposition," and the latter were at length overruled by divine grace into the most beautiful humility and meekness, as evinced in his two Epistles.
The leadership above referred to, however, should not lead to the supposition that he possessed any supremacy over the other apostles, of which there is no proof. Such supremacy was never conferred upon him by his Master, it was never claimed by himself, and was never conceded by his associates. See in this Connection
See Power of the Keys.
The two Epistles of Peter were written presumably late in life, as appears especially of the Second (
See also PETER, THE FIRST EPISTLE OF.
(1) First Epistle.
The theme of the First Epistle seems to be the living hope to which the Christian has been begotten, and the obligations it lays upon him. The living hope is expounded in the earlier part of
The writer drops his pen at this point, to take it up again to address those who were suffering persecution for righteousness’ sake, upon whom two more obligations are impressed, submission to authority, and testimony to Christ (
The genuineness of this First Epistle has never been doubted, except of course by those who in these latter days have doubted everything, but the same cannot be said of the Second. It is not known to whom the latter was entrusted; as a matter of fact it found no place in the catalogues of theScriptures of the 2nd and 3rd centuries. The first church employing it was at Alexandria, but subsequently the church at large became satisfied from internal evidence of its genuineness and inspiration, and when the Canon was pronounced complete in the 4th century, it was without hesitancy received.
(2) Second Epistle.
The Second Epistle claims to have been written by Peter (
See PETER, THE SECOND EPISTLE OF.
The theology of Peter offers an interesting field of study because of what may be styled its freshness and variety in comparison with that of Paul and John, who are the great theologians of the New Testament.
(1) Messianic Teaching.
In the first place, Peter is unique in his Messianic teaching as indicated in the first part of the Acts, where he is the chief personage, and where for the most part his ministry is confined to Jerusalem and the Jews. The latter, already in covenant relations with Yahweh, had sinned in rejecting Jesus as the Messiah, and Peter’s preaching was directed to that point, demanding repentance or a change of mind about Him. The apparent failure of the
Passing from his oral to his written utterances, Peter is particularly rich in his allusions to the redemptive work of Christ. Limiting ourselves to his First Epistle, the election of the individual believer is seen to be the result of the sprinkling of Christ’s blood (
(4) Future Life.
(5) Holy Scripture.
(6) Apostasy and Judgment.
This appreciation of the living Word of God finds an antithesis in the solemn warning against apostate teachers and teaching forming the substance of 2 Peter 2 and 3. The theology here is of judgment. It is swift and "lingereth not" (2:1-3); the Judge is He who "spared not" in olden time (2:4-7); His delay expresses mercy, but He "will come as a thief" (3:9,10); the heavens "shall pass away," the earth and its works shall be burned up (3:10); "What manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy living and godliness?" (3:11).
(7) Second Coming of Christ.
Peter’s theology concerning judgment is a further illustration of the Messianic character of his instruction. For example, the Second Coming of Christ of which he speaks in the closing chapter of the Second Epistle is not that aspect of it associated with the translation of His church, and of which Paul treats (
The history of Peter is treated more or less at length in the introductions to the commentaries on his Epistles, and in works on the life of Christ. But particular reference is made to the following: E. W. Farrar, Early Days of Christianity, London, 1882; J. S. Howson, Studies in the Life of Peter, London, 1883; H. A. Birks, Life and Character of Peter, London, 1887; W. M. Ramsay, The Church in the, London, 1893; Mason Gallagher, Was Peter Ever at Rome? Philadelphia, 1895; A. C. McGiffert, The , New York, 1897; W. H. Griffith Thomas, The Apostle Peter, London, 1904; G. Matheson, Representative Men of the New Testament, London, 1905; A. J. Southhouse, The Making of ) New York, 1906; A. C. Gaebtelein, The , New York, 1907; The Ac of the Apostles, New York, 1912; Edmundson, Church in Rome in the 1st Century, 1913; Smith, The Days of His Flesh, New York, 1911.
On theology of Peter, consult the subject in works on Systematic or Biblical, Theology, and see also R. W. Dale The Atonement, 97-148. London 1875: C. A. Briggs, Messiah of the Apostles, 21-41, New York, 1895; Scofield, Reference Bible, where pertinent.
Among commentaries on 1 and 2 Peter may be mentioned: Brown, 3 volumes, Edinburgh, 1848-56; Demarest, 2 volumes, New York, 1851-65; Leighton, republished, Philadelphia, 1864; Lillie, New York, 1869; G. F. C. Fronmuller, in Lange’s Comm., English translation, New York, 1874; Plumptre, Cambridge Bible, 1883; Spitta, Der zweite Brief des Petrus, Halle, 1885; F. B. Meyer, London, 1890; Lumby, Expositor’s Bible, London, 1894; J. H. Jowett, London, 1905; Bigg, ICC, 1901.
James M. Gray
BAR-JONA (JONA, BAR JONAH)
bär-jō’ nə (Βαριωνα̂ς, G981, son of Jonah). The Aram. equivalent of a family name identifying by his father, Jonah (