July 6, 2020

The Council

A modern day council!

It is believed by some that Peter and Paul went to Rome and started a Church there. It is difficult for them to imagine that there exists next to nothing to suppose that those Apostles started the Church of Rome. Here are a few statements from a book on Catholicism:

Beyond the supposed founding on Peter, there would also have to be a shift in continent, land, and city in order to get the job done. Consider that Peter most likely made his confession (to which Jesus responded) in Caesarea Philippi, a city on the edge of the northern part of Israel, about 150 miles north of Jerusalem. More to the point, Caesarea Philippi was well over 1,000 miles from Rome, so any attempt to complete the requirements of the Petrine theory would be forced to engage in considerable geographical gymnastics in order to do so. Judging from the evidence of the NT, we affirm that Peter is strongly associated with the city of Jerusalem, where the church was first established at Pentecost and where he likely participated in the first council of the church in 50.
Moreover, when Paul the apostle wrote the book of Romans about seven or eight years later, he gave no indication in this letter that such an illustrious leader as Peter was then resident in the imperial city. In fact, when Paul offers his greetings to key people at the end of this missive, the name of Peter is not among them. In addition, when the letters written by Paul from Rome are taken into account, such as Philippians, Colossians, Ephesians, and Philemon, as J. B. Lightfoot has observed, here also Peter is not mentioned at all. 77 Add to this that Peter is nowhere to be found in 2 Timothy, and the picture beginning to emerge is one in which “St. Peter’s visit to Rome must have been brief, and probably during St. Paul’s absence, a period which is not represented either by the Acts or his Epistles.” 78


After his significant and foundational work in Jerusalem, where the church was born, Peter is largely associated once again not with Rome but with Antioch, the city in which the followers of Christ were first known as Christians. In terms of Peter’s own personal journey, then, he is surely a latecomer to Rome, and his stay there did not likely last very long. Some of the best evidence that Peter was actually in Rome, however briefly, comes from one of his own epistles, which states: “She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you her greetings” (1 Pet. 5: 13). The name Babylon in this context most likely refers to Rome and, interestingly enough, suggests how first-century Jews viewed this gentile city.

Beyond this biblical evidence, Clement of Rome, writing toward the latter part of the first century, recounts the martyrdom of Peter in the following fashion: “Peter, through unrighteous envy, endured not one or two, but numerous labors; and when he had at length suffered martyrdom, departed to the place of glory due to him.” 79 Later tradition added to Clement’s account and maintained that Peter died at the hands of Emperor Nero in Rome around 64.80 Indeed, by the middle of the second century it was generally accepted that Peter had been executed in Rome. 81 This fact of his untimely death, in conjunction with his prior imprisonment, seems to be Peter’s strongest link to the city. Such a curious, and in some sense strange, linkage prompted Calvin to observe even in his own day: “And how does he [the pope] prove it [the papal primacy in Rome]? Because Peter died at Rome; as if Rome, by the detestable murder of the Apostle, had procured for herself the primacy.” 82 Despite these traditions that have grown up around the larger-than-life Acts or his Epistles.” 78 After his significant and foundational work in Jerusalem, where the church was born, Peter is largely associated once again not with Rome but with Antioch, the city in which the followers of Christ were first known as Christians. In terms of Peter’s own personal journey, then, he is surely a latecomer to Rome, and his stay there did not likely last very long. Some of the best evidence that Peter was actually in Rome, however briefly, comes from one of his own epistles, which states: “She who is in Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you her greetings” (1 Pet. 5: 13). The name Babylon in this context most likely refers to Rome and, interestingly enough, suggests how first-century Jews viewed this gentile city. Beyond this biblical evidence, Clement of Rome, writing toward the latter part of the first century, recounts the martyrdom of Peter in the following fashion: “Peter, through unrighteous envy, endured not one or two, but numerous labors; and when he had at length suffered martyrdom, departed to the place of glory due to him.” 79 Later tradition added to Clement’s account and maintained that Peter died at the hands of Emperor Nero in Rome around 64.80 Indeed, by the middle of the second century it was generally accepted that Peter had been executed in Rome. 81 This fact of his untimely death, in conjunction with his prior imprisonment, seems to be Peter’s strongest link to the city. Such a curious, and in some sense strange, linkage prompted Calvin to observe even in his own day: “And how does he [the pope] prove it [the papal primacy in Rome]? Because Peter died at Rome; as if Rome, by the detestable murder of the Apostle, had procured for herself the primacy.” 82 Despite these traditions that have grown up around the larger-than-life apostle Peter, not all the details of his later life, or his death for that matter, can be so easily confirmed. For example, though Duffy points out that by the second century, church tradition taught that Peter was martyred in Rome, 83 as we have just noticed, yet “on this particular matter,” 84 he adds, “the New Testament, itself, was utterly silent.” 85 Moreover, in his own scholarship Daniel O’Conner urges caution in making claims in terms of Peter’s relation to Rome: “That Peter founded the Church at Rome is extremely doubtful and that he served as its first bishop . . . for even one year, much less the twenty-five-year period that is claimed for him, is an unfounded tradition that can be traced back to a point no earlier than the third century.” 86 A number of extrabiblical legends surrounding Peter did emerge, one of which had Peter struggling with “the magician and father of heresy, Simon Magus.” 87 Another account had the apostle meeting his fate crucified “upside down in the Vatican Circus.” 88 These stories (Duffy refers to them as “pious romance” 89) even came to be accepted by Origen, Ambrose, and Augustine, 90 though “we have no reliable accounts either of Peter’s later life or of the manner or place of his death.” 91 Given such difficulties, when it comes to Peter’s activities beyond the pages of the NT, it is exceedingly difficult to distinguish fact from fiction. Duffy’s claim that “neither Peter nor Paul founded the Church at Rome, for there were Christians in the city before either of the Apostles set foot there” further muddles the interpretive situation surrounding Peter. 92 What then becomes of the specific claim of Irenaeus in the second century that the church was organized and founded in Rome by the apostles Peter and Paul? 93 It is a claim in search of a historically grounded argument, one that therefore was and remains dubious.

Walls, Jerry L.; Collins, Kenneth J.. Roman but Not Catholic: What Remains at Stake 500 Years after the Reformation (Kindle Location 5690- 5730). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.

The truth is that no evidence exists for this idea that Paul and Peter founded the Church at Rome. The only reason people believe it is because of one mistaken quotation from Irenaeus of Lyons (Against Heresies 3.3). Eastern(Oriental) Orthodox and Catholics place a lot of faith in Early Church myths.

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