Cephas is not Peter


#1

Dear Brothers/Sisters in Christ,

For some time I have been reading and trying to reconcile several verses in Acts, Galatians and Corinthians and Church Father Eusebius writings. It is about Peter and Cephas.

In Acts 11:2-3, Peter is seen eating with the uncircumcised Christians. He defended his position and the circumcision party were silenced Acts 11:18.

In Gal 2:7, Paul mentioned Peter has been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised, but in the same sentence, in verse 9, he mentioned James, Cephas and John, who were reputed to be pillars. Many assumed this Cephas is Peter. But that is rather strange, why would Paul switched names in the middle of his sentence unless he is trying to identify different persons? Paul is highly educated and this would seemed sloppy writing. Then in Gal 2:11-13, Paul rebuked Cephas for fearing the circumcision party. This seem to contradict Peter’s position in Acts above. Gal 2:11-13 has been exploited by Protestants to diminished Peter’s standing.

However, one fine day when I was reading Eusebius Church History Book 1 Chapter 12 The Disciples of our Saviour, where he tries to identify the 70 disciples, I saw these:

  1. The names of the apostles of our Saviour are known to every one from the Gospels. But there exists no catalogue of the seventy disciples. Barnabas, indeed, is said to have been one of them, of whom the Acts of the Apostles makes mention in various places, and especially Paul in his Epistle to the Galatians.
  2. They say that Sosthenes also, who wrote to the Corinthians with Paul, was one of them. ***This is the account of Clement in the fifth book of his Hypotyposes, in which he also says that Cephas was one of the seventy disciples, a man who bore the same name as the apostle Peter, and the one concerning whom Paul says, “When Cephas came to Antioch I withstood him to his face.” ***Galatians 2:11
  3. Matthias, also, who was numbered with the apostles in the place of Judas, and the one who was honored by being made a candidate with him, are likewise said to have been deemed worthy of the same calling with the seventy. They say that Thaddeus also was one of them, concerning whom I shall presently relate an account which has come down to us. And upon examination you will find that our Saviour had more than seventy disciples, according to the testimony of*** Paul, who says that after his resurrection from the dead he appeared first to Cephas, then to the twelve***, and after them to above five hundred brethren at once, of whom some had fallen asleep; but the majority were still living at the time he wrote.

If Cephas is one of the 70 and not Peter, then it explains the contradicting verses mentioned above. I have included Eusebius Part3 to highlight “according to the testimony of Paul, who says that after his resurrection from the dead he appeared first to Cephas, then to the twelve, and after them to above five hundred brethren at once,” 1 Cor 15:5 which shows that Paul know Cephas is not one of the Twelve and therefore, there is no reason to presuppose that in Galatians 2:9 that Paul is taking Cephas and Peter to be the same person.

I’d like your inputs to see whether is there a fault in my analysis or is this at variance with Church teachings. If not, I think this analysis may help to clarify some of the inconsistencies. Indeed I have tried to brush off this alternative explanation for quite some time, but this tiny bit of information keeps nagging at me and I know my mind will not be at ease till I get reasonable enlightenment.:smiley:


#2

Why would Christ appear first to some random disciple instead of to Peter? That seems strange.

The problem you encounter could be a grammatical inconsistency between translations, something many who study the Bible don’t take into consideration.


#3

CA has some previous posts on this topic which may be of interest to you:

forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=864250

forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=288609

forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=45958

forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=551156


#4

The two Greek words used here are Πέτρος (Petros) and Κηφᾶς (Cephas). The only place in the Gospels that Peter is called Κηφᾶς is in John 1:42, which reads:

And he brought him to Jesus. And Jesus looking upon him, said: Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is interpreted Peter.

Every other occurrence of Κηφᾶς is found in the letters. We may understand this to mean that his name was Cephas, and his title was Peter. So, when Paul says he confronted “Cephas,” what we understand is that he confronted the man, in his human weakness, not Peter in his office of authority.

They are the same person.


#5

Also, the entire point of recounting the disagreement in Galatians was to establish Paul’s credentials as an apostle (which seem to have been questioned frequently due to his status as a latecomer and former enemy). Describing an occasion on which he corrected Peter would be far more effective for that purpose than describing his correction of “some guy.”

Usagi


#6

The whole point of the story is not just to establish Paul’s authority. He is not putting himself above Peter. He is establishing the authority of his Gospel, to which he says the other apostles added nothing. Nor is Cephas just “some guy” or a “random disciple” if he is not St. Peter. He was evidently reputed to be a “pillar” by some (v. 9). Not being part of the Twelve does not mean that Barnabas, for example was a nobody. Cephas, whether Peter or not, was also a prominent figure to the Corinthian Church. This expression also seems to link the Cephas in question, as well as the James and John, with the “false brethren” mentioned earlier. Far be it from Paul to refer to Peter as a false brother!

I think it is possible from the text that Cephas was Peter or someone else, but one thing most of all inclines me to believe it was someone else. Paul speaks of Peter and then switches suddenly to Cephas in the same passage without any transition or explanation. Although we know that Peter is just a translation of Cephas, and St. John records Christ calling Peter Cephas, the question is whether the readers of Galatians would have known it. John’s Gospel was not written yet even by the earliest datings, and these Gentiles probably did not speak Aramaic so they would have only identified Cephas with Peter if they were familiar with him being called Cephas. It is not evident that this is so. The first three evangelists do not refer to him by that name. In fact, there is no place in the Bible other than John’s Gospel where Peter is identified with the name Cephas. To demonstrate that they are the same, it would br necessary to demonstrate (1) that Paul had good reason to switch without clarification from Peter to Cephas, and (2) that this would not have been lost on his audience.


#7

It is not really accurate to distinguish Cephas as a name and Peter as a title. The man’s name was Simon. He was later given the name Peter by Christ, similar to how Abram was called Abraham or Jacob was called Israel. Compare also with how the Romans had cognomens at the ends of their name which had a certain signifigance to that family. For example, the general Scipio took the name Africanus after his victory over the Carthaginians and the name for his descendants would link them with the glory of their ancestor. So the name Peter had a greater significance for Simon than the name Simon, but there is no reason to regard the name Cephas as different from Peter since they are the same.


#8

I want to follow this discussion. Thanks for the links Chef.

My feeling is that Paul is referring to Peter, but the way it is written is curious. I also thought that the name Cephas, interpreted as Peter, was a very unique name… ???


#9

Thanks for the correction! :thumbsup:

Petros and Kephas are the same name in two different languages; Greek and Aramaic respectively.

Therefore I respond to this:

I have included Eusebius Part3 to highlight “according to the testimony of Paul, who says that after his resurrection from the dead he appeared first to Cephas, then to the twelve, and after them to above five hundred brethren at once,” 1 Cor 15:5 which shows that Paul know Cephas is not one of the Twelve and therefore, there is no reason to presuppose that in Galatians 2:9 that Paul is taking Cephas and Peter to be the same person.

by pointing out Luke 24:33-34

And rising up, the same hour, they went back to Jerusalem: and they found the eleven gathered together, and those that were staying with them, [34] Saying: The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon.

Well… if the Lord appeared to Simon, and Cephas isn’t Simon Peter, then what’s the timeline here? Jesus appear to Cephas, then Simon, then the rest of the Apostles? The obvious answer is that Jesus appeared to Simon Cephas (Peter) first, and then to the rest of the Apostles together.


#10

We do not know Paul’s account is abbreviated or not. Obviously Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene first, then also to the 2 disciples walking to Emmaus which Paul did not mentioned. I wouldn’t want to speculate that Jesus “should” appear to Peter first before everyone else which we know didn’t happen.


#11

Thank you for all your responses!

However, I am still looking for a plausible reason why Peter, being head of the Tier 1 apostles (Twelve) would fear 2 or 3rd tier (not the Twelve) Judaizing Christians the way Paul painted it. As I mentioned previously, Peter already silence the circumcision party in Acts 11:18. This is before Paul wrote his Galatians (according to an Acts/episitles timeline source). Unless Paul is saying Peter changed his stripes/guts?

Secondly, in Gal 2:7-8, Paul already stated that the ministry was divided so that Peter would take care of the Jewish population. For Peter to eat with the Jews would be in conformity with his job. Why would Paul admonish Peter for doing that in his next breath?

Thirdly, although Cephas/Kephas/Peter was Simon’s new name, even after his resurrection, Jesus never used that name to address Peter. John 21:15. I believe(need to check) none of the Gospel writers address Peter’s new name directly. Simon, Simon Peter was usually used.

Fourthly, although Paul mentioned Cephas’s name 6 times:

1 Cor 1:12 I indeed am of Paul; and I am of Apollo; and I am of Cephas; and I of Christ.
1 Cor 3:22 For all things are yours, whether it be Paul, or Apollo, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to some; for all are yours;
1 Cor 9:5 Have we not power to carry about a woman, a sister, as well as the rest of the apostles, and the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas?
1 Cor 15:5 And that he was seen by Cephas; and after that by the eleven.
Gal 1:18
Gal 2:9-14 And when they had known the grace that was given to me, James and Cephas and John…

Cephas name is always mentioned relegated to the back and not with the Twelve, but in the company of Tier 2 apostles. In 1 Cor 15:4, Cephas was mentioned first, but since Paul wasn’t an eyewitness in these appearances, he would gotten his information through revelation or another source and he would report in the sequence he received this information. In Gal 2:9, we do not know whether James and John is of the Twelve or James the Just and John someone else i.e. Tier 2 apostles. But for Peter to be sandwiched between James and John is really unheard off. This is really odd treatment for Peter head of the apostles.

Adding to the confusion, is that some Bibles uses Peter in some places and others uses Cephas. I hope my RSV CE 2nd ed is true to its source documents. It is good not to assume every time we see Cephas , Peter is assumed to be that person and vice versa. Cephas is mentioned as one of the seventy in other documents besides Eusebius.

This is a head scratcher.:confused:


#12

credo.stormloader.com/Doctrine/cephas.htm

The Jesuit Father D. Pujol published in “Etudes” in the last century some remarkable articles effectively demonstrating that the Apostle Peter and the Cephas of Antioch and Corinth could not have been the same person.


#13

That’s interesting. I thought Jesus appeared first to Mary Magdalene, then to two other disciples (one named Cleopas) on the road to Emmaus. And I thought in the Gospels it says Jesus appeared to the remaining eleven apostles, meaning Judas was already dead and Matthias had not been chosen yet. :shrug:


#14

Excellent article! :thumbsup:Any idea whether any of the assertions that Cephas is not Peter has been refuted?


#15

Luke 24:32-34

32 Then they said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning (within us) while he spoke to us on the way and opened the scriptures to us?”

33 So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem where they found gathered together the eleven and those with them

34 who were saying, "The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!"


#16

When trying to discern meanings in Scripture, and coming across an apparent “new” idea or “conflict” that has not been taught before, are we not FIRST supposed to look at OUR lack of understanding of culture, times and the mind of the writer and not assume it is some problem with Scripture or Holy Mother Church?

  1. I’m a cop, I have used different names / titles for the same person in my reports. One time I may say “Deputy Smith” another time “The Deputy” and still again “Smith”. I have yet to have a case thrown out because no one can find the three “different” people mentioned in my report.

  2. I have no clue what the literary style was in 50AD Palestine. I doubt anyone but a dedicated Scholar does.

  3. What did Paul mean? Did Paul mean to hint at a difference between “the man” and “the office” but still refer to the same person? We do that all the time in Catholicism: The man, Jorge Bergoglio, can speak and teach error - even when speaking of Faith and Morals. But the Office of Pope, the Successor to Peter, cannot.

When Catherine of Sienna told Gregory IX, “Esto Vir!” Be a Man! was she confronting the Office of Pope or the man, Pierre?

  1. Did anyone but Eusebius mention this? How about anyone closer to the source? Is it more or less likely that Eusebius got it wrong, or the whole of Church History got it wrong?

When I think I “discover” something like this, I try to look at me first: Where did I get it wrong?

Hope this helps,
God Bless
PoorKnight for Christ and His Church


#17

Poor Knight, the hypothesis that Cephas and Peter are different people in Paul’s letters is by far a minority opiniom, but not a new one or even unpatristic. The earliest surviving example in writing is from Clement of Alexandria (b. 150), probably writing in the early third century. I guess to put that in perspective, it would be close tonus writing about the (American) Civil War. This is early enough that oral traditions that later died out were still alive. Besides Eusebius, we also have Jerome, who, while disagreeing with the opinion, acknowledges that some people in his day believed that Cephas in Galatians was not Simon Peter. In summary, it is possible that St. Paul intended Cephas to be a different person from Simon Peter, but the awareness of this fact gradually died out with time.


#18

I think you are absolutely right that Jesus appeared to Simon Peter before the rest of the Apostles. BUT, does this mean that Cephas and Peter are always the same person? There is no clear place where Jesus appears to Peter before the rest of the Apostles recorded by the Evangelists. All we have is the brief, second-hand mention that it happened in Luke. Let’s assume for a second, however, that there is another Cephas besides Simon Peter.

All Paul says is that Jesus appeared to Cephas before the Eleven. However, Jesus appeared to quite a few people before he appeared to the Eleven, so it is is not necessary to equate Simon Peter with Cephas here. Here’s a possibility. St. Luke records that Jesus appeared to two disciples on the road to Emmaeus. One of them is identified as Cleophas. Is it possible that the other one is Cephas (non-Simon)? Whoever it is, it is probably not Simon Peter, as he would have undoubtedly be identified, and he was together with John, not Cleophas, that morning anyway. Whoever the unnamed disciple is, it is not Peter, so the statement that the Lord appeared to Simon does not clearly apply to any part of the narrative. If the unnamed disciple were the other Cephas, it would simplify things a little bit.

That’s just a possible hypothesis. The unnamed disciple being someone besides Cephas does not mean there is necessarily not another Cephas.

It probably was pretty unique, but Simon was not the first person tp be given the name as James Likoudis’ article (see JM3’s post) points out.

The common opinion identifying Peter and Cephas has been based on the supposition that the name Cephas was borne by only one person in history, Simon Peter. The name Kepa (Kephas or Cephas) was surely more common than has been thought. Fr. Joseph A. Fitzmeyer has noted an ancient non-Palestinian Aramaic legal document (dated c. 416 B.C.) which witnesses to the existence of “Aqab, son of Kepa” (See his “To Advance the Gospel”, Crossroad, N.Y., 1981).

It is also possible that a Christian missionary who was not originally named Cephas took the name after Simon. Or it is also possible that he just happened to be named Cephas by his parents by some coincidence of fate.


#19

While this is all true, I just don’t see any reason to suppose a second Cephas.

From Ericc

Argument 1:

However, I am still looking for a plausible reason why Peter, being head of the Tier 1 apostles (Twelve) would fear 2 or 3rd tier (not the Twelve) Judaizing Christians the way Paul painted it. As I mentioned previously, Peter already silence the circumcision party in Acts 11:18. This is before Paul wrote his Galatians (according to an Acts/episitles timeline source). Unless Paul is saying Peter changed his stripes/guts?

That’s not what’s going on in that passage. Actually, the context of the passage makes it more proper to understand that this is Peter, rather than a second Cephas.

We have established that Paul was to minister to the Gentiles, and Peter was to minister to the Jews. In this instance, Peter had been eating with the Gentiles, and when the new Jewish converts arrived from James, Peter separated himself from the Gentiles for fear of offending or scandalizing the new Jewish converts. Why? Because being the minister to the Jews, they were looking to him for direction, and he was either afraid of “losing” them, or of scandalizing them.

Notice that because Cephas separates himself, so do the rest of the Jews, and so does Barnabas, Paul’s ministry companion. If Cephas weren’t Peter, then why do all the Jews, and even Barnabas, follow his lead here?

Argument 2:

Secondly, in Gal 2:7-8, Paul already stated that the ministry was divided so that Peter would take care of the Jewish population. For Peter to eat with the Jews would be in conformity with his job. Why would Paul admonish Peter for doing that in his next breath?

The problem wasn’t that Peter left to eat with the Jews. The problem was that Peter separated himself from the Gentiles for fear of offending the Jewish converts. As Christians, there is no Jew, or Gentile, or man, or woman, or slave, or master, etc. So, Peter, rather than separating himself from the Gentiles when the Jews arrived, should have invited the Jews to join them instead.

What Peter was doing was “giving in” to the exclusivity of the Jewish Law. But Jesus fulfilled the Law, and as such they were no longer bound by it. Christ is their justification, not the Law, and He is the justification of not just Jews, but also Gentiles. Therefore, practicing their old exclusivity was wrong because it denied what Christ had done. This is what Paul was admonishing him for.

Argument 3:

Thirdly, although Cephas/Kephas/Peter was Simon’s new name, even after his resurrection, Jesus never used that name to address Peter. John 21:15. I believe(need to check) none of the Gospel writers address Peter’s new name directly. Simon, Simon Peter was usually used.

That’s right. “Peter” was added to Simon’s name, as either a surname or a title (or both), which is why he is called Simon Peter. But Peter is the Greek name, and Cephas is the Aramaic name. You would be as correct calling him Simon Cephas as calling him Simon Peter.

Argument 4:

Fourthly, although Paul mentioned Cephas’s name 6 times:

1 Cor 1:12 I indeed am of Paul; and I am of Apollo; and I am of Cephas; and I of Christ.
1 Cor 3:22 For all things are yours, whether it be Paul, or Apollo, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to some; for all are yours;
1 Cor 9:5 Have we not power to carry about a woman, a sister, as well as the rest of the apostles, and the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas?
1 Cor 15:5 And that he was seen by Cephas; and after that by the eleven.
Gal 1:18
Gal 2:9-14 And when they had known the grace that was given to me, James and Cephas and John…

Cephas name is always mentioned relegated to the back and not with the Twelve, but in the company of Tier 2 apostles. In 1 Cor 15:4, Cephas was mentioned first, but since Paul wasn’t an eyewitness in these appearances, he would gotten his information through revelation or another source and he would report in the sequence he received this information. In Gal 2:9, we do not know whether James and John is of the Twelve or James the Just and John someone else i.e. Tier 2 apostles. But for Peter to be sandwiched between James and John is really unheard off. This is really odd treatment for Peter head of the apostles.

But let’s follow this logic. Consider 1 Cor 1:12. If being named later in the list is “being relegated to the back” and is to be considered of a “lower tier,” then do we consider Christ to be the lowest tier, since He’s listed after Cephas? I should hope not.

1 Cor 3:22 just uses the same order as 1 Cor 1:12, so I wouldn’t treat it any differently than 1:12.

And again, in 1 Cor 9:5, if we’re employing the logic that being listed later means you’re of a lower tier, then women and sisters are higher tier than the apostles. I’m not going to denigrate women here by saying they’re “lower tier.” I’m just pointing out that the logic is flawed. The only “tier” system in Catholocism is found in the clergy, wherein you have the Pope, then the Bishops, then the Priests, then the Deacons, etc. Within the clergy structure, women only have access to the position of Deaconess (in the early Church, anyway), but as far as the tiers go, the ordering would be all helter skelter if we think that listing the highest tier first is how it works in 1 Cor.

Considering that listing people doesn’t necessarily point to their hierarchical order, I wouldn’t put much stock in “sandwiching” Cephas between James and John. Indeed, it seems to me that Paul is simply referencing three Apostles who were responsible for witnessing to the Jews.

In short, none of these arguments give good reason for supposing a second Cephas.


#20

Also, consider the fact that Paul lists “woman”, a general group of people, “sisters”, a general group of people, “the Apostles”, a specific group of people, “brothers”, a general group of people, and “Cephas”, a particular person. Don’t you think that’s a little odd, if Cephas is just another Disciple/Apostle? Paul’s specific mention of Cephas only makes sense if he’s talking about Peter, and not just Peter the Apostle, but Peter the Pope. Why? Because if he only meant Cephas the Apostle, then he would have already “captured” him when he listed “the Apostles.” Rather, here he is mentioning him specifically along with various other categories of the Christian community: sisters, Apostles, brothers.


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