Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):

Did the Apostle Peter EVER Visit Rome?

The Roman Catholics claim Peter was the first pope of their church. The Protestants claim Peter NEVER set foot in Rome! Is either of these viewpoints correct; or is it just possible BOTH claims are wrong? Is there evidence to show Peter actually preached and died in the Imperial City? And what role did the infamous Simon Magus play in the stream of events? This article uncovers the truth about Peter's purported residence in Rome and sets the record straight regarding his connection to the Roman Catholic Church!

John D. Keyser

Down through the years, numerous Protestant groups have gone to great lengths in trying to prove that the apostle Peter never set foot in the city of Rome. Flying in the face of historical, traditional and archaeological evidence to the contrary, they have even gone so far as to say he never set foot in Italy -- let alone the Imperial City!

Is this true? Did Peter bypass the CAPITAL of the Roman Empire -- a city of tremendous importance at that time, and one that had, incidentally, a LARGE JEWISH POPULATION? And WHY have these Protestant groups been so ADAMANT in their refusal to believe that Peter could have ever visited Rome?

The answer to this last question is quite easy to grasp. The Protestants, in their rejection of many Catholic traditions and doctrines, ALSO rejected the PRIMACY OF PETER and the papal succession that was based upon the Catholic insistence that the apostle was the first pope! In their ardent clamor to shoot down the theory of papal succession, they tried to place Peter as FAR AWAY from Rome and Italy as possible!

This is understandable -- but was it really necessary? The mere FACT of Peter having been in Rome for a relatively short period of time in NO WAY INSINUATES that he was the first "pope" and founder of the Catholic Church!

One honest Protestant historian and theologian -- Adolph Harnack -- wrote that "to deny the Roman stay of Peter is an error which today is clear to every scholar who is NOT BLIND. The martyr death of peter at Rome was once contested by reason of Protestant prejudice."

These groups have FAILED TO REALIZE that there were TWO "Peters" who evangelized Rome in the first century -- one of whom was INDEED the founder of Roman Catholicism. In the historical references, as well as in the many legends that have reached us today, these two personalities are quite often confused, and the exploits of one applied to the other. But with discernment and an OPEN MIND the truth regarding the apostle Peter can be uncovered.

Total Unanimity

Peter had to die and be buried somewhere; and the OVERWHELMING CHRISTIAN TRADITION has been in agreement, from the EARLIEST TIMES, that it was actually in Rome that Peter died. F. J. Foakes-Jackson, in his book Peter: Prince of Apostles, states "that the tradition that the church [in Rome] had been founded by...Paul was well established by A.D. 178. From hence forth there is NO DOUBT whatever that, NOT ONLY AT ROME, but throughout the Christian church, Peter's visit to the city was an ESTABLISHED FACT, as was his martyrdom together with that of Paul" (New York, 1927. P. 155.).

Historian Arthur Stapylton Barnes agrees:

The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge corroborates this by saying:

John Ignatius Dollinger claims that the evidence "St. Peter worked in Rome is a FACT SO ABUNDANTLY PROVED and so deeply imbedded in the earliest Christian history, that whoever treats it as a legend ought in consistency to treat the whole of the earliest church history as LEGENDARY, or, at least, QUITE UNCERTAIN" (The 1st Age of Christianity and the Church, London. 1867. P. 296).

Strong words those!

As author James Hardy Ropes states:

The belief that Peter was martyred in Rome was NOT due to the vanity or ambition of the LOCAL Christians, but was ADMITTED, at an early date, THROUGHOUT THE CHURCH. No testimony later than the middle of the 3rd century really needs to be considered; by this time the Roman church claimed to have the body of the apostle and NO ONE DISPUTED THE FACT.

It is more than interesting to realize that there IS NOT ONE SINGLE PASSAGE or utterance to the contrary in ANY of the literary works dealing with the foundations of Christianity -- until AFTER the Reformation. Don't you think that's odd? Don't you think SOMEONE would have seized upon this claim of Rome, and used it as a point of contention if there were ANY doubt at all regarding its validity? Don't you think the eastern churches would have gotten UNLIMITED PROPAGANDA MILEAGE out of this claim if it were not true? For centuries the eastern churches were in almost CONSTANT conflict with Rome over Easter, the Sabbath, and many other doctrinal issues. If they could have seized upon Rome's claim that Peter had worked and died there, they SURELY would have used this against the Roman church! But they didn't. WHY? Because there was ABSOLUTELY NO DOUBT WHATSOEVER about Rome being the site of Peter's death!

Adds William McBirnie:

Unger's Bible Dictionary states unequivocally that "the evidence for his [Peter's] martyrdom there [in Rome] is COMPLETE, while there is a TOTAL ABSENCE of any contrary statement in the writings of the early fathers" (3rd Edition, Chicago. 1960. P. 850).

George Edmundson, in his book The Church in Rome in the 1st Century, dogmatically repeats the same conclusion:

Ancient Evidence

From the 1st century an apocryphal work called the Ascension of Isaiah has come down to us; and this is probably the FIRST AND EARLIEST document that attests to the martyrdom of Peter IN ROME. In a passage (Chap. 4:2f) we read the following prediction:

This is a clear reference to Emperor Nero who murdered his mother Agrippina in 59 A.D., and put Peter to death in February of 68 A.D. It cannot refer to Paul -- he was beheaded in January of 67 A.D. by Helius, one the prefects who was left in charge of Rome while Nero was away in Greece entertaining the fawning citizens of this vassal province.

The NEXT REFERENCE, in order of time, is the Epistle of Clement to James. Although many historians have placed this letter in the last ten years of the 1st century, there are some objections to this. The largest objection, of course, is that James could not have possibly been alive at that late a date. All indications are that James was killed during the interfactional warfare that occurred in Jerusalem just prior to the Roman destruction of the city in 70 A.D. Also, there is an abundance of material to show that Peter ordained Clement TO REPLACE LINUS as overseer of the Roman Church after the latter's martyrdom in 67 A.D. The list of bishops of Rome in the Ante-Nicene Fathers show that Clement was an overseer from 68-71 A.D.

Evidently, his first item of business as overseer was to inform James of Peter's death:

A cryptic reference to the death of Peter occurs in the Book of John in the Bible which, most authorities believe, was written in the last decade of the first century. Here, in verses 18 and 19 of chapter 21, we read:

The stretching out of the hands refers to Peter's crucifixion in his old age; however, the passage does not indicate WHERE this crucifixion was to take place.

In the first few years of the 2nd century an Ebionite document, called The Preaching of Peter, was written. Its time-frame is indicated by the fact that the Gnostic Heracleon used it in his writings during the time of Emperor Hadrian (117-138 A.D.). According to John Ignatius Dollinger, The Preaching of Peter brings "St. Peter and St. Paul together AT ROME, and divides the discourses and utterances which took place there between the two...it is notoriously founded on the UNIVERSALLY ADMITTED FACT of St. Peter having laboured AT ROME."

It is INCONCEIVABLE to think that such a document (claiming acceptance as a genuine product of the apostolic age) would have presented a groundless fable about the presence of Peter at Rome AT A TIME WHEN MANY WHO HAD SEEN THE APOSTLE MUST HAVE STILL BEEN ALIVE!

At this same time (circa 107 A.D.) Ignatius, one of the early church fathers, says in his epistle to the ROMAN CHURCH: "I do not, LIKE PETER AND PAUL, issue commandments unto you" -- an oblique reference to Peter's residence in Rome.

Thomas Lewin, in The Life and Epistle of St. Paul, mentions that a work entitled Praedicatio Pauli -- ascribed to the second century -- tells of PETER and Paul meeting AT ROME (Vol. 2. London. 1874).

The events which led up to the death of Peter are described at length in a work called the Acts of Peter, which was in circulation at Rome approximately 85 years after the apostle's death. Once again, those who would have read this work would have been second-generation Christians, whose parents would remember the places and personalities concerned.

There is NO HISTORICAL RECORD that this narrative was ever challenged on the grounds of Peter's death in Rome. Therefore, a thread of truth must be enshrined in this Acts of Peter that link together the events described. Even the SPIRIT of the apostle Peter breaks through the verbose and often sugary language of the author's presentation.

Unger's Bible Dictionary attests to the ANTIQUITY of the universal belief that Peter died in Rome:

The writer and philosopher Origen (185-254) (known as the father of the Eastern Church's science of Biblical criticism and exegesis in the early part of the 3rd century) writes that, after preaching in Pontus and other places to the Jews of the Dispersion, Peter "finally CAME TO ROME, and was crucified with his head downward."

Likewise Irenaeus, who was bishop of Lyons in Gaul (circa 202) claims (Cont. Haeres, iii.1) that "PETER and Paul were preaching AT ROME, and laying the foundation of the church." Further on, in Cont. Haeres, iii.2, he adds: "Indicating that tradition derived from the apostles, of the very great, very ancient, and universally known church, founded and organized AT ROME by the two most glorious apostles, PETER and Paul."

Tertullian, the eminent church father mentions, around the year 218, "those whom Peter baptized IN THE TIBER [RIVER] (On Baptism, 4). In his work Prescription Against Heretics (36), he says that the church of Rome "states that Clement was ORDAINED BY PETER."

Clement of Alexandria (circa 220), as cited by Eusebius, adds another detail when he mentions PETER'S VISIT TO ROME to contend with SIMON MAGUS.

A little later, in the 4th century, Arnobius (307 A.D.) says: "IN ROME ITSELF...they have hastened to give up their ancestral customs, and to join themselves to Christian truth, FOR THEY HAD SEEN THE CHARIOT OF SIMON MAGUS, AND HIS FIERY CAR BLOWN INTO PIECES BY THE MOUTH OF PETER" (Adv. Gentes, ii. 12).

Lactantius of Africa -- who flourished around 310 A.D. -- tells how the apostles, including Paul, "during 25 years, and until the beginning of the reign of the emperor Nero...occupied themselves in laying the foundations of the church IN EVERY PROVINCE AND CITY. And while Nero reigned, THE APOSTLE PETER CAME TO ROME, and...built up a faithful and steadfast temple unto the Lord. When Nero heard of these things...he crucified Peter, and slew Paul (Handbook of Biblical Chronology, by Jack Finegan. Princeton, N.J. 1964).

Hegesippus, who also wrote in the 4th century, describes the contest between Peter and Simon Magus -- IN ROME -- over a kinsman of the Emperor Nero who was raised from the dead; and then how the deceiver (Simon Magus) reached a tragic end. Because of Magus' death (67 A.D.) Nero (who treated him as a favorite) was so enraged that he had Peter cast into prison to await his return to Rome.

The eminent Eusebius (circa 324) remarks that Peter "appears to have preached through Pontus, Galatia, Bithynia, Cappadocia and Asia, who also FINALLY COMING TO ROME, was crucified head downwards, at his own request." Elsewhere in his writings, Eusebius states that "Paul is said to have been beheaded AT ROME and Peter to have been crucified...."

The philosopher Macarius Magnes, who was probably bishop of Magnesia in Caria or Lydia around the year 400 A.D., tells in one of his dialogs how Peter escaped from prison under Herod, and then says, in reference to Peter's commission from Christ to "feed my lambs," that "it is recorded that Peter fed the lambs for SEVERAL MONTHS only before he was crucified." This probably means "several months" of activity in Rome BEFORE being APPREHENDED and put to death. Magnes then refers to Paul along with Peter: "This fine fellow was overpowered AT ROME and beheaded...even as Peter...was fastened to the cross and crucified."

The classic history of the ancient popes known as the Liber Pontificalis (which can be dated, in its most ancient form, to the 6th century) contains a biography of Peter. In this biography it is stated that the apostle was buried near the place where he had been crucified, i.e. "NEAR THE PALACE OF NERO, IN THE VATICAN, CLOSE TO THE TRIUMPHAL REGION."

Even the venerable Bede (British historian of the 7th century) mentions this UNIVERSAL understanding in his book entitled A History of the English Church and People:

Also Simeon Metaphrastus, who lived 900 A.D., is quoted as saying, "that Peter stayed sometime in BRITAIN; where having preached the word, established churches, ordained bishops, priests, and deacons, in the 12th year of Nero [66 A.D.] HE RETURNED TO ROME."

William Cave, in his scholarly book on the lives of the twelve apostles, echoes the historian Onuphrius:

The Eastern Texts

Even ancient Ethiopic texts translated by the late Egyptologist E. A. Wallis Budge mention Peter's connection with Rome:

Further on, in the same volume, we find more confirmation: "And after all the apostles finished their work, and had gone forth from this world -- now PETER HAD BEEN CRUCIFIED IN THE CITY OF ROME, and they had cut off the head of Paul in the SAME CITY, and Mark they had flayed alive in the city of Alexandria...." (Page 254).

An ancient Syriac (eastern part of the Roman Empire) document called The Teaching of Simon Magus in the City of Rome, asserts the following:

Another Syriac document, which is an extract from a book concerning Abgar the king and the apostle Thaddeus, outlines the areas of responsibility given to each apostle: "To Simon [Peter] was allotted ROME, and to John Ephesus; to Thomas India and to [Th]Addaeus the country of the Assyrians. And, when they were sent each one of them to the district which had been allotted to him, they devoted themselves to bring the several countries to discipleship" (The Ante-Nicene Fathers, p. 656).

And finally, from the same part of the world, another ancient document entitled The Teaching of the Apostles, says: "And Nero Caesar dispatched with the sword* Simon Cephas IN THE CITY OF ROME." *Footnote adds, "crucifying him on a cross."

What I have quoted here is just a small sampling of the voluminous amount of material extant that CLEARLY shows Peter visited Rome and finished his long life there. And, as I mentioned earlier, NOT ONE IOTA of information refutes Rome's claim to be the final resting place of Peter. That, in itself, IS REMARKABLE!

The Modern Evidence

Let us now cross the frontiers of time and see what MODERN SCHOLARSHIP has to say about the residence and death of Peter in Rome. Have the centuries diminished the validity of Rome's claim? Has the UNANIMITY of the early centuries vanished and been trampled underfoot by modern criticism and scholarship?

Engelbert Kirschbaum -- one of the four archaeologists who excavated the area under the altar of St. Peters in Rome -- wrote, in 1959: "What we DO KNOW is that Peter suffered a martyrs death in the reign of Nero and that from the earliest time his grave was known to be ON THE VATICAN NEAR NERO'S GARDENS." (The Tombs of St. Peter and St. Paul, New York).

According to George Armstrong ("Opinion" section of the Los Angeles Times):

"When the man named Simon Peter was brutally executed, some 1,915 years ago IN ROME, there passed away one of that small band of historical personalities who deserve to rank as monumental" (The Bones of St. Peter, by John Evangelist Walsh. New York, 1982. P. 1).

In 1953 authors Fulton Oursler and April Oursler Armstrong stated that "before he left Puteoli, Paul had heard the full story of PETER'S QUIET CONQUEST OF ROME, beginning with the poor, then extending Christ's baptism EVEN TO MEN IN NERO'S OWN COURT. With Mark at his side, PETER HAD WALKED WIDE-EYED IN ROME, down to the Trastevere, center of Jewish life" (The Greatest Faith Ever Known. New York. P. 312).

Herman L. Hoeh of Ambassador College (now Ambassador University) admits the following: "Granted, Paul was brought to Rome about A.D. 67. He was beheaded, then buried on the Ostian Way. But are his remains still there? Granted, too, that UNIVERSAL TRADITION declared the apostle PETER WAS ALSO BROUGHT TO ROME in Nero's reign and martyred about the same time" (Where Did the 12 Apostles Go?)

Bo Reicke, an authority on New Testament times, notes that the city of Rome WAS an important center during the growth of the gospel: "After the martyrdom of James at Jerusalem in 62, ROME, THE MOST IMPORTANT STOPPING PLACE OF THE APOSTLES PETER and Paul, came to the fore; and even after THEIR MARTYRDOM THERE...the capital of the Empire remained in the limelight for the church" (The New Testament Era. Fortress Press, Philadelphia. 1981. P. 211).

Since the Reformation and the ensuing establishment of the various Protestant churches, there has been a vocal and persistent chorus of voices proclaiming the fallacy of Rome's claim to be the site of Peter's residence and death. A serious examination of these counterclaims, however, almost always shows some lack of scholarship and a decided theological bias that is generally vindictive in nature. It has, over the years, turned into a literal vendetta!

An example of a recent voice is found in Babylon Mystery Religion, by Ralph Woodrow:

Strange indeed! Mr. Woodrow makes a blanket statement here that Peter never went near Rome, but offers no evidence to support that. There is no proof, Biblically speaking, that Peter DIDN'T go to Rome! Why can't the phrase "other places" INCLUDE Rome? This is typical of the arguments put forth by a vocal minority which just can't seem to understand that the presence of Peter in Rome DOES NOT have to mean he became the first pope!

Serious scholarship -- and true discernment -- show that the passage of time HAS NOT negated the overwhelming evidence that Peter did indeed visit Rome and die there.

Did Peter Visit Rome More Than Once?

Did you notice something unusual in several of the previous quotes about Peter? Did you discern what Simeon Metaphrastus said -- and Dean Stanley? Notice! "...Peter stayed sometime in Britain, where having preached the word, established churches, ordained bishops, priests, and deacons, in the 12th year of Nero he RETURNED to Rome." Can this possibly mean Peter was in Rome ON MORE THAN ONE OCCASION? Note what Dean Stanley says: "...the vision that came to St. Peter...(2 Peter 1:14), appeared to St. Peter on this his last visit to Britain....Shortly afterwards Peter RETURNED to Rome, where he was later executed."

Is this a coincidence? The word "RETURNED" certainly implies a previous visit!

In Eusebius' Ecclesiastical History we read: "Under the REIGN OF CLAUDIUS [41-54 A.D.] by the benign and gracious providence of God, Peter that great and powerful apostle, who by his courage took the lead of the rest, WAS CONDUCTED TO ROME." Now, both the Latin (Hieronymian) and Syriac translations of Eusebius' Chronicle make PETER TO HAVE GONE TO ROME IN THE SECOND YEAR OF CLAUDIUS and to Antioch TWO YEARS LATER. Here we have proof positive that Peter indeed visited Rome ON MORE THAN ONE OCCASION. The two years mentioned here actually represent the time spent IN ROME at this time -- according to tradition and conscientious scholarship. More of this later.

According to George Edmundson, in his work The Church in Rome in the 1st Century:

Since Jerome claims the 14th year of Nero's reign was his last, and history records Nero died in June of 68, then, using the reckoning of Jerome, the 2nd year of Claudius must have been 43 A.D. This AGREES, as Mr. Edmundson noted, with the date of Peter's imprisonment and escape under Herod, and agrees with the historical dates for the reign of Claudius.

Chronologers agree that Herod died in 44 A.D.; and the Book of Acts shows that after Peter's escape, Herod went to Caesarea where he spent some time in negotiations with envoys from Tyre and other Phoenician cities before his death. This, coupled with the UNIVERSAL GREEK TRADITION that the apostles did not leave the Syro-Palestinian region UNTIL THE END OF 12 YEARS MINISTRY, fits in well with the dating of Eusebius and Jerome.

Before continuing, it should be mentioned WHY Edmundson refers to "certain confusion" in Jerome's statement. What we are seeing here is the difficulty early historians have had in separating the actions of the apostle Peter and those of Simon Magus. After all, the names are similar -- Peter was called SIMON PETER.

Notes Ralph Woodrow:

The word "Peter" also means "opener" -- referring to one who opens or reveals the intricacies of the mystery religion that originated in Babylon. Since Simon Magus was a "peter" in this sense, we can see how all the confusion arises in some of the historical references. We have to be on guard against this.

After the death of Simon Magus his followers saw a golden opportunity to "Christianize" the pagan theology that Magus promulgated in Rome during his lifetime. By associating the "Peter" or Grand Interpreter (Opener) of Rome with Peter the apostle they were able to fool the members of God's Church and have them think that the pope was the representative and successor of Peter the apostle. "And so," writes Alexander Hislop in The Two Babylons, "to the blinded Christians of the apostasy, the Pope was the representative of Peter the apostle, while to the initiated pagans, he was only the representative of Peter, the interpreter of their well-known mysteries" (P. 210).

Thus Satan (through his tool Simon Magus) was able to build a huge, universal, counterfeit church that millions of people have come to believe is the true Church of God on the earth today!

The "episcopate" of Peter at Antioch, mentioned by Jerome, is nothing more than the time spent in Antioch BY SIMON MAGUS before he went to Rome in 42 A.D. Other references make this to be 7 years in length. Also, the 25 years Jerome assigns Peter to the "sacerdotal chair" at Rome is the time spent BY SIMON MAGUS IN ROME between his arrival in 42 A.D. and his death in 67 A.D.

The historian Jean Danielou corroborates the date of Peter's departure from Jerusalem:

In the book, The Drama of the Lost Disciples, author George F. Jowett states that "Peter FIRST went to Rome 12 YEARS AFTER THE DEATH OF JESUS..." (Page 113).

Author John Evangelist Walsh also corroborates this timeframe: "After escaping from prison IN THE YEAR 43, he [Peter] pays a hasty visit to MARK'S HOUSE, leaves certain instructions and, as Acts laconically finishes, 'Then he departed and went to another place.' " (The Bones of St. Peter, p. 34).

The immediate events after Peter's departure from Jerusalem are revealed in an ancient Ethiopic text called The Contendings of the Apostles:

Hippolytus, bishop of Pontus, also confirms an early visit to Rome by Peter:

The historian Onuphrius, as recorded by William Cave, affirms that Peter "WENT FIRST TO ROME; whence returning to the council of Jerusalem, he thence went to ANTIOCH...and having spent almost the whole reign of Nero in SEVERAL PARTS OF EUROPE [INCLUDING BRITAIN], RETURNED, in the last of Nero's reign, TO ROME, and there died..."

Here we see, once again, PLAIN EVIDENCE showing Peter was in Rome TWICE during his life. William Cave states (a few pages earlier in his book The Lives of the Apostles (p. 200)): "What became of Peter after his deliverance out of prison is not certainly known....After this [escape from prison] he resolved upon A JOURNEY TO ROME; where most agree he arrived ABOUT THE SECOND YEAR OF THE EMPEROR CLAUDIUS."

Another clue showing Peter was in Rome on more than one occasion is furnished by George Edmundson: "Of St. Peter's FIRST ROMAN VISIT AND PREACHING early tradition has handed down few details; a series, however, of witnesses affirm that MARK ACCOMPANIED THE APOSTLE TO ROME and there WROTE HIS GOSPEL."

The Gospel of Mark

Early writers such as Clement, Eusebius and Jerome affirm that Mark's gospel was FIRST made public in Rome -- at an early date! In Eusebius' second book of church history we are informed as to how Simon Magus escaped from Peter to Rome, and how Peter followed shortly after "carrying with him the proclamation of the glorious gospel. Being AT ROME, Peter approved the work of MARK'S GOSPEL." Clement of Alexandria asserts that Peter preached at Rome, and that MARK WROTE HIS GOSPEL AT THE REQUEST OF PETER'S HEARERS. (Hipol. Lib. VI. Apud Euseb. H. E. ii. 14).

Papias (70-155 A.D.), as recorded by Eusebius, tells us that Mark wrote his gospel (based on Peter's sermons) in the city of Rome.

William Steuart McBirnie, in his book The Search For the 12 Apostles, records:

A careful study of the Book of Mark shows that it was indeed written for a Gentile audience. Mark's quotation of Aramaic words (followed by a translation of them) and his many explanation of Jewish customs prove this.

But how can we be sure Mark wrote his gospel during AN EARLIER VISIT to Rome by Peter? Isn't it conceivable he wrote it just before or after Peter's death in 68 A.D.? There are a number of ways we can resolve this!

During 1947, when the Dead Sea Scrolls were being recovered from the hillside caves adjacent to the community of Quram, 19 tiny scraps of papyrus (identified as fragments of Mark's gospel) were found. Subsequent dating by Professor Jose O'Callaghan at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome, showed these fragments to be part of a scroll kept at a Palestinian library IN 50 A.D. This indicates that Mark's gospel may have been in circulation WITHIN ABOUT A DOZEN YEARS OF CHRIST'S DEATH IN 30 A.D. This fits perfectly with the time-frame of an EARLY VISIT to Rome by Peter and Mark.

The Protestant historian Harnack agrees, saying "...there can...be no objection to accepting the VOICE OF TRADITION which makes the gospel [of Mark] to have been written for the use of St. Peter's Roman converts ABOUT THE YEAR 45 A.D." (The Church in Rome in the 1st Century, pp. 67-68).

In the old Chronicles of Matthew of Paris (an English monk and Chronicler -- circa early 13th century), we find listed Peter as having arrived in Rome in 41 A.D. and the writing of Mark's gospel in 42 A.D. If we correct the dates herein, we get 44 A.D. for Peter arriving in Rome and 45 A.D. for Mark's gospel. (The Coming of the Saints, by John W. Taylor. London 1969. P. 138).

The appendices of The Church in Rome in the 1st Century (page 239), show a chronological table of events that reveals Mark's gospel to have been written AT ROME IN 44-45 A.D. It continues by saying Peter and Mark left Rome in 45 A.D. and arrived at Jerusalem in the spring of 46.

The Other Three Gospels

Another way we can determine if Mark wrote his gospel during an earlier stay in Rome with Peter, or around the time of Peter's death, is to ascertain when the gospel was written in relation to the other three gospels.

In the first of Origen's (185-254 A.D.) commentaries on the gospel according to Matthew, he testifies that he knows only four gospels -- written in the following order:

It appears that the present New Testament PRESERVES THE ORDER in which the four gospels were originally written.

Subscriptions appearing at the end of MATTHEW'S GOSPEL in numerous manuscripts (all being later than the 10th century), say that the account was written about the 8th year after Christ's death. (Aid to Bible Understanding, p. 1971). This would place it in the year 38 A.D. Other sources claim it was written in 41 A.D. A number of experts consider the gospel of Matthew to represent a MORE PRIMITIVE text than Mark.

The introduction to the Synoptic Gospels in the New Testament of the Jerusalem Bible states: "According to a tradition dating from the second century, St. Matthew was THE FIRST to write a gospel and he wrote 'in the Hebrew tongue.' Our Greek 'Gospel according to St. Matthew' is not identified with this EARLY Aramaic book, which is lost, though there are times when it appears to represent a MORE PRIMITIVE TEXT THAN MARK."

LUKE'S GOSPEL, according to the Aid to Bible Understanding, "may have been written at Caesarea sometime during Paul's confinement there for about two years (c. 56-58 C.E.)." The New Testament of the Jerusalem Bible notes that "St. Luke's gospel and The Acts of the Apostles are the two volumes of a SINGLE WORK that today we should call 'a history of the rise of Christianity.' The two books are INSEPARABLY LINKED by their Prologues and by their style."

Since the Book of Acts finishes with the first imprisonment of Paul at Rome, the two volumes may be dated to around 59-61 A.D.

With this evidence we can conclude that the Book of Mark must have been written between 38 and 61 A.D., thus confirming the 45 A.D. compilation date and the PRESENCE OF PETER IN ROME AT THIS TIME.

Philo the Jew

There is yet another intriguing proof for an early visit to Rome by Peter.

In the summer of 38 A.D. Agrippa I visited Alexandria in Egypt, where he seized upon the opportunity to parade his "magnificence" before the Jews of the city. This incited the Greeks of Alexandria to riot and persecute the Jews. The interracial strife that followed became so bad that it spread to other parts of the Roman Empire.

Gaius Caligula -- the mad emperor -- exacerbated the problem by demanding that the Alexandrian Jews worship him as god. Bo Reicke, in The New Testament Era, says: "Agrippa complained to Gaius Caligula, as did a delegation of Alexandrian Jews LED BY THE PHILOSOPHER PHILO, whose books In Flaccum and De Legatione ad Gaium discuss this important struggle" (Fortress Press. Pennsylvania 1981). The delegation, led by Philo, traveled to Rome in 39 or 40 A.D., but was unsuccessful in getting any help from Caligula who was practically insane by this time.

When Claudius ascended the throne in 41, he tried to resolve this conflict -- ordering representatives from both ethnic groups to appear before him at Rome. A SECOND DELEGATION, once again headed by Philo, made the trip to Rome. When they arrived, Eusebius states that Philo "is said to have read before the whole Senate of the Romans his description of the impiety of [Emperor] Caius, which he entitled, with fitting irony, Concerning Virtues, and his words were so much admired as to be granted a place in libraries."

WHILE PHILO WAS IN ROME HE MET WITH PETER!

Notice what William Cave says:

Eusebius comments that "tradition says that he [Philo] came to Rome IN THE TIME OF CLAUDIUS TO SPEAK TO PETER WHO WAS AT THAT TIME PREACHING TO THOSE THERE. This would, indeed, be not improbable since the treatise to which we refer, composed by him [Philo] many years later, obviously contains the rules of the church which are still observed in our own time" (Eusebius' Ecclesiastical History. Harvard University Press, London. 1975. P. 145).

It seems highly likely that Mark was sent, by Peter, to evangelize Alexandria and surrounding areas AS A RESULT OF PETER'S ACQUAINTANCE WITH PHILO! Eastern tradition claims Mark went to Alexandria from Rome at an early date -- and eventually was martyred there.

As a result of Philo's SECOND TRIP TO ROME and the advice of Agrippa, Claudius ordered the Prefect of Egypt to see that the rights of the Jews were not encroached upon. At the same time, he cautioned the Jews of Alexandria to remain peaceful and forbade them to attract more compatriots into the city for political advantage. These directives paved the way for Mark's work in the area and, as firm Coptic traditions in Egypt relate, "MARK TOOK HIS GOSPEL WITH HIM TO ALEXANDRIA."

And when did Mark leave for Alexandria? The History of the Patriarchs mentions explicitly that the revelation to Peter and Mark (that Mark should go to Alexandria) came in the 15th YEAR AFTER CHRIST'S DEATH -- 45 A.D.!! (The Search For the 12 Apostles, by William Steuart McBirnie. N.Y. 1973. P. 255).

Simon Magus and the Primacy of Peter

The Catholic Church anciently claimed Peter was the first pope, and that papal succession originated with him. It was claimed Peter had an "episcopacy" of 25 years in the imperial city -- starting with his arrival in 42 A.D. and ending with his death in 67 A.D.

Jerome states:

We have already mentioned briefly some of the problems with this statement, and have shown that Peter evangelized many different areas (Britain included) during the interval between his first and last visits to Rome.

To whom, then, does this 25-year episcopacy belong? None other than Simon Magus! The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge hits the nail right on the head when it says: "The 25 year episcopate of Peter at Rome is evidently due to the statement of Justin Martyr REGARDING THE LABORS OF SIMON MAGUS AT ROME" (Funk & Wagnall Co., N.Y. & London. 1910).

Let's pick up the story in Eusebius' Ecclesiastical History:

Further, on page 143, Eusebius gives us some more detail:

Since the apostle Peter arrived in Rome in 44 A.D. (AFTER Simon Magus' flight to the imperial city) the date of 42 A.D. must refer to Magus' arrival at Rome. This is verified by a number of sources. Ivor C. Fletcher states: "Eusebius relates that after visiting Antioch, AROUND A.D. 42, and being resisted by Peter (Galatians 2:11), Simon Magus WENT TO ROME" (The Incredible History of God's True Church, p. 117).

This confusion in dating is broached by C. De Lisle Shortt who says: "The statement which asserts that St. Peter was at Rome so early as the year 42 suggests most perplexing difficulties; it entails the necessity of PUSHING BACK THE DATE of the imprisonment of St. Peter by Herod...." It is quite obvious, then, that the date 42 refers to Simon Magus' arrival in Rome -- with Peter arriving two years later in 44 A.D.

Simon Magus made an immediate impact on the city of Rome. It is recorded that shortly after his arrival an attempted revolt by Camillus Scribonianus (the governor of Dalmatia) was put down by the army which remained loyal to Emperor Claudius. The success in putting down this revolt was ascribed to SIMON MAGUS' ARRIVAL IN ROME and the subsequent beguiling of the populace by his "magical" powers.

In her book Sacred and Legendary Art, author Anna Jameson states: "The magician [Simon Magus], vanquished by a superior power, flung his books into the Dead Sea, broke his wand, and fled to Rome, where he became a GREAT FAVORITE OF THE EMPEROR CLAUDIUS AND AFTERWARDS OF NERO. Peter, bent on counteracting the wicked sorceries of Simon, FOLLOWED HIM TO ROME" (Page 209).

Anna Jameson continues:

Simon became so well known in Rome that he was eventually honored as a god. THIS is the man the Catholic Church is founded upon -- NOT the apostle Peter!!

Notice what Hasting's Dictionary of the Apostolic Church says: "The author or FIRST REPRESENTATIVE [POPE] of this baptized heathenism...is Simon Magus, who unquestionably ADULTERATED Christianity with PAGAN IDEAS AND PRACTICES, with the aid and with the sanction of Christianity (so called) to set up A RIVAL UNIVERSAL (OR CATHOLIC) RELIGION" (Vol. 2, pp. 514, 566).

Statue of Simon Magus in St. Peter's at Rome

This amalgam of paganism and Christianity mentioned above, was a result of Simon Magus witnessing the preaching of Philip and Peter in Samaria. He soon saw the awesome potential of Christianity as a TOOL for his own advancement. When Peter returned to Rome (just prior to his death) he "found the minds of the people strangely bewitched and hardened AGAINST the embracing of the Christian religion by the subtleties and magic arts of Simon Magus...." (Cave). By the middle of the second century, when Justin Martyr wrote his Apology (152 A.D.) "the sect of the Simonians appears to have been FORMIDABLE, for he speaks four times of their founder, Simon...." (Dictionary of Christian Biography, vol. 4, p. 682).

As the end of the 2nd century approached, the true Church of God in Rome had all but disappeared; and a LARGE COUNTERFEIT, UNIVERSAL CHURCH was firmly in place with a successive line of bishops or "popes" tracing their office back to -- NOT PETER -- but Simon Magus! The Catholic Church was founded on the PRIMACY OF SIMON MAGUS! Any church (Worldwide Church of God, Philadelphia Church of God included) that believes in the primacy of Peter and apostolic succession is knowingly (or unknowingly) following the system planted in Rome by SIMON THE MAGICIAN!

The approximately 25 years between Peter's first and last visit to Rome were spent in evangelizing all corners of the Roman Empire. The man who spent 25 years in the "sacerdotal chair" was the magician from Samaria -- SIMON MAGUS!

Archaeological Evidence

A considerable amount of evidence has been uncovered by the archaeologist's spade proving an ancient belief in Peter's residence and death in Rome. A large number of early Christian sarcophagi uncovered (now in the Lateran Museum) show scenes of Peter's imprisonment by Herod with his subsequent release by an angel. The French historian of the Persecutions of the First Two Centuries, Paul Allard, points out that the frequency with which this subject was chosen tends to prove a CLOSE CONNECTION between this event and the FIRST VISIT OF PETER TO ROME.

Again and again, the figures of Peter and Paul are found in paintings, artwork, beakers and bowls attributed to the fourth century (Peter: Prince of Apostles, p. 615).

About two miles from Rome, on the Via Appia, stands the ancient church of St. Sebastian. This church was originally called the Basilica of the Apostles because of the tradition that the bodies of Peter and Paul were concealed there (in a vault) during the Valerian persecution (253-260 A.D.). The first attempts to excavate under this church were made in 1892. The excavators discovered an old ROMAN HOUSE with a row of tombs in front -- which dated from the 1st and 2nd centuries. An inscription showed this building to be the house of Hermes (Romans 16:14); and some 80 REFERENCES TO PETER were uncovered at this spot -- dating back to at least the 3rd century. This is CLEAR PROOF that at an early date the name of Peter was associated with this location.

Close by, two fragments of sarcophagi were unearthed showing the figure of Peter.

In the catacombs of Rome the memory of Peter is widespread. Second only in importance to Christ as a subject of catacombal art, Peter is portrayed on the moldering walls of three eerie underground passageways MORE THAN THREE HUNDRED TIMES! There are almost 30 different scenes and incidents from Peter's life -- all from the gospels -- depicted here beneath the Imperial City (See Catacombs, by Hertling & Kirschbaum. Pp. 242-244).

In an abbreviated form, the apostle's name was found present, at least 20 times, on the "Graffiti Wall" next to Peter's grave beneath the high altar of St. Peters in the Vatican. Most often, his initials were arranged as a monogram, which has been found all ALL OVER ROME "scratched in ancient monuments, inked onto old manuscripts, worked subtly into wall mosaics, incised on the margins of public signs, roughly stamped on medals, coins, rings, statuettes, pots and similar household wares, even painted on gaming boards" (The Bones of St. Peter, p. 97).

Nothing occurs in a vacuum -- a memory of Peter's stay and martyrdom in Rome is to be found in many different places, if one is willing to HONESTLY look.

The Daughter of Peter

In the Roman martyrologies for May 31, the notice for one PETRONILLA appears. The Latin historians have been very quiet about this entry because, it is claimed, Petronilla was THE DAUGHTER OF PETER! This presents the Catholic Church with a considerable problem -- Peter, the first "pope," was not supposed to be married! Catholic historians have tried to explain away her existence by saying she was Peter's "spiritual daughter"! However, Petronilla's name keeps popping up in the martyrology of the British historian Bede and in other records of early Christianity.

PETRONILLA'S TOMB IS ALSO FOUND IN ROME!

Tradition has it that Peter's family accompanied him on his travels throughout the Roman Empire; and STRONG TRADITIONS OF PETRONILLA exist to this day IN ENGLAND AND FRANCE. William Steuart McBirnie notes: "The apostle Peter had a daughter born in lawful wedlock, who accompanied him on his journey from the east" (The Search For the 12 Apostles).

She became the SPECIAL PATRONESS OF THE FRENCH and, until recently, the French ambassador to the Vatican would visit Petronilla's shrine in Rome immediately after presenting his credentials to the pope.

Near the town of BURY ST. EDMUNDS in England, her name (abbreviated to St. Parnel) was reverenced; and there still exists a church named after her in WHIPSTEAD. She is depicted on screens at LITCHAM and NORTH ELMHAM (both in Norfolk) and also at SOMERLEYTON. On these three screens she is shown holding a book and a KEY -- the latter being a reference to her father Peter.

Osric, king of Northumbria and founder of the famous Abbey of Gloucester, was laid to rest (729 A.D.) in "Petronell's Chapel" in this same Abbey.

She was martyred and buried in the catacombs on the estate of Flavia Domitilla, which is located on the road to Ardea -- a mile and a half from Rome. Petronilla's remains were moved from the estate at the request of the King of France (755-756 A.D.) and buried in a circular chapel on the south side of the old St. Peter's in Rome. Later on, in 1612, her remains were once more removed to a chapel near the east end of the present St. Peter's.

Here we have POWERFUL PROOF that Peter (along with his family) visited and died IN ROME!

Paul's Foot-Dragging

Do you realize the apostle Paul kept dragging his feet about visiting God's people in Rome? WHY? Because he didn't like to build on another man's foundation!

Notice what Roman 15:19-25, 28-29, and 32 say:

That makes it exceedingly PLAIN -- Rome had already been evangelized prior to the writing of the Book of Romans (57-58 A.D.)! And obviously, from what we have seen, the foundation Paul did not want to build on WAS THAT OF PETER'S!

The Overwhelming Conclusion!

The only conclusion we can come to (unless we are totally blind), based on OVERWHELMING evidence, is that Peter not only came to Rome just before his death there in February of 68 A.D., but also immediately after his release from prison under Herod in 43 A.D. He founded the Church of God in the Imperial City and, in the almost 25 years between his two visits, preached the gospel of Christ throughout Europe, Britain and Asia.

With the loving assistance of his wife and children, he trod the highways and byways of the Roman Empire bringing the message of the Kingdom of God to the descendants of Israel. On his last visit to Rome in the latter part of 66 A.D., he preached the Good News to the people of Rome before being imprisoned in the Mamertine for some nine months. Upon Nero's return to Rome he was put to death -- along with his wife and daughter Petronilla.

In 42 A.D. (just before Peter's first visit) Simon Magus arrived in Rome and, during a 25 year "episcopate," built up a RIVAL RELIGION that amalgamated some aspects of Christianity WITH ELEMENTS OF THE PAGAN BABYLONIAN MYSTERY RELIGION. THIS religion of Simon's eventually became known as the UNIVERSAL OR CATHOLIC CHURCH!

The Catholic Encyclopedia itself admits that Simon Magus "afterwards went to Rome, worked miracles there by THE POWER OF DEMONS, and received Divine honors both in Rome and in his own country. Though much extravagant legend afterwards gathered around the name of this Simon...it seems nevertheless probable that there must be some foundation in fact for the account given by Justin and accepted by Eusebius. The historical Simon Magus no doubt founded some sort of religion AS A COUNTERFEIT OF CHRISTIANITY in which he was to play a part ANALOGOUS TO THAT OF CHRIST" (Vol. 7, p. 699 -- article: "Impostors").

YES, Peter the apostle WAS in Rome, but NO, he did NOT become the first pope -- Simon Magus did!


Hope of Israel Ministries -- Taking the Lead in the Search for Truth!

Hope of Israel Ministries
P.O. Box 2186
Temple City, CA 91780, U.S.A.
www.hope-of-israel.org

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