How was Peter able to start the church in Antioch?


Catholic history tells us that St. Peter was the first bishop of Antioch followed by St. Evodius and St. Ignatius; and it was he who started the church there where the followers of Christ were first called Christians. However, in Acts 11:19-30 and 12:1-17 we read that the dispersed Christians went to Antioch and it was they who converted the people there. When news of this reached the Jerusalem church, they sent Barnabas to Antioch and it was Barnabas who brought St. Paul there. It was during this time when Herod arrested members of the church and had St. James, the brother of John, put to death by the sword. Following this, he had St. Peter arrested but he escaped with the help of the angel and went to the house of Mary, the mother of John who was also called Mark, where he tells how he escaped. After instructing the people in the house to tell James and the others of his escape, he left for another place. How is it even possible for him to establish the church in Antioch when Luke tells us clearly that St. Peter was in Jerusalem during the time when the church there was founded and when Barnabas and Paul were already teaching the people there? History and Luke’s testimony are in conflict so how can this be clarified? Thank you!


It appears that St. Peter was in Antioch for a time, as St. Paul’s letter (to the Galatians, I believe) mentions St. Paul chastising St. Peter (who Paul always calls Cephas) there. Regardless, what you stated does not mean that Peter wasn’t the first bishop of Antioch. At first, the only “diocese” in the Church was Jerusalem (of course, they didn’t call them “dioceses” yet). The other areas were considered “mission areas”. Even today, mission areas do not yet have their own bishops - their Catholic population is too small.

Peter would not have gone to Antioch to stay an extended period of time until the community was large enough to need him there. After he went to Antioch, he left St. James the Just (the kinsman of Jesus) as bishop in Jerusalem. After a while, Antioch was able to have a bishop from its own people - and the community at Rome was growing. He thus left St. Evodius in charge of Antioch and went to Rome.


Look at “Missionary journeys in the East; Council of the Apostles”


People also have to recognize the difference between apostolic founder and bishop.

In the strictest terms, Peter was not bishop as he was founder and spent his time setting up the hierarchical structures and exhortations.

Peter and Paul both taught Scripture…as well as the traditions of faith we were to follow in forthcoming generations and to not deviate from them.


The Antiochian Orthodox Church asserts that Peter was in Syrian Antioch in 34 AD and stayed there for eleven years before going to Rome. There was a large community of Jews in Antioch and it is possible that Peter went there to evangelize prior to Paul and Barnabas.

Remember that Acts of the Apostles covers a period of 29 years.
*]Acts 1:1 to 8:3 covers the first two years of the Church. The story revolves around Peter and it centered in Jerusalem.
*]Acts 8:4 to 12:25 covers the next ten years. The story still revolves around Peter but the setting expands to all of Samaria.
*]Acts 13:1 to 28:31 covers the next seventeen years. Paul is the main character and the setting expands much wider, to Asia Minor, Masedonia and beyond.

The outline above is given by Luke in the opening lines of Acts of the Apostles:

But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Sama’ria and to the end of the earth." (Acts 1:8)

The locations in red in the verse above are three distinct parts of Acts of the Apostles.



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