Peter not in Rome?


Hi All! I’m involved in an interdenominational Bible study. The notes for this week say that:

“Peter went into hiding-to another place. Much speculation and tradition have evolved concerning this unknown place. Tradition points to Rome; however, history offers no final proof.”

Does anyone have any historical references I can quote? I need more than, “well that’s where he’s buried!”


Like other Protestants, Fundamentalists say Christ never appointed Peter as the earthly head for the simple reason that the Church has no earthly head and was never meant to have one. Christ is the Church’s only foundation, in any possible sense of that term.

The papacy, they say, arose out of fifth- or sixth-century politics, both secular and ecclesiastical; it has no connection with the New Testament. It has not been established by Christ, even though supposed “successors” to Peter (and their defenders) claim it was. At best the papacy is a ruse; at worst, a work of the devil. In any case, it is an institution designed to give the Catholic Church an authority it doesn’t have.

A key premise of their argument is the assertion that Peter was never in Rome. It follows that if Peter were never in Rome, he could not have been Rome’s first bishop and so could not have had any successors in that office. How can Catholics talk about the divine origin of the papacy, Fundamentalists argue, when their claim about Peter’s whereabouts is wrong?

Let’s look at this last charge, reserving for another tract a look at Peter’s position among the apostles and in the early Church.

How to Understand the Argument

At first glance, it might seem that the question, of whether Peter went to Rome and died there, is inconsequential. And in a way it is. After all, his being in Rome would not itself prove the existence of the papacy. In fact, it would be a false inference to say he must have been the first pope since he was in Rome and later popes ruled from Rome. With that logic, Paul would have been the first pope, too, since he was an apostle and went to Rome.

On the other hand, if Peter never made it to the capital, he still could have been the first pope, since one of his successors could have been the first holder of that office to settle in Rome. After all, if the papacy exists, it was established by Christ during his lifetime, long before Peter is said to have reached Rome. There must have been a period of some years in which the papacy did not yet have its connection to Rome.

So, if the apostle got there only much later, that might have something to say about who his legitimate successors would be (and it does, since the man elected bishop of Rome is automatically the new pope on the notion that Peter was the first bishop of Rome and the pope is merely Peter’s successor), but it would say nothing about the status of the papal office. It would not establish that the papacy was instituted by Christ in the first place.

No, somehow the question, while interesting historically, doesn’t seem to be crucial to the real issue, whether the papacy was founded by Christ. Still, most anti-Catholic organizations take up the matter and go to considerable trouble to “prove” Peter could not have been in Rome. Why? Because they think they can get mileage out of it.

“Here’s a point on which we can point to the lies of Catholic claims,” they say. “Catholics trace the papacy to Peter, and they say he was martyred in Rome after heading the Church there. If we could show he never went to Rome, that would undermine—psychologically if not logically—their assertion that Peter was the first pope. If people conclude the Catholic Church is wrong on this historical point, they’ll conclude it’s wrong on the larger one, the supposed existence of the papacy.” Such is the reasoning of some leading anti-Catholics.


Catholic Answers has a couple tracts that address this issue:


Peter in Rome


Johann Sebastian Bach is never referred to in the Scriptures either but I am pretty sure I know where he lived and died. The Scriptures are silent on the place and manner of Peter’s death; the historical accounts are not.

Ignatius of Antioch

“Not as Peter and Paul did, do I command you [Romans]. They were apostles, and I am a convict” (Letter to the Romans 4:3 [A.D. 110] ).

Dionysius of Corinth

“You [Pope Soter] have also, by your very admonition, brought together the planting that was made by Peter and Paul at Rome and at Corinth; for both of them alike planted in our Corinth and taught us; and both alike, teaching similarly in Italy, suffered martyrdom at the same time” (Letter to Pope Soter [A.D. 170] , in Eusebius, History of the Church 2:25:8) .


“Matthew also issued among the Hebrews a written Gospel in their own language, while Peter and Paul were evangelizing in Rome and laying the foundation of the Church” (Against Heresies, 3, 1:1 [A.D. 189]).

By pointing out here the succession of the bishops of the greatest and most ancient church known to all, founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul, that church which has the tradition and the faith which comes down to us after having been announced to men by the apostles. With that church [of Rome], because of its superior origin, all the churches must agree, that is, all the faithful in the whole world, and it is in her that the faithful everywhere have maintained the apostolic tradition" (ibid., 3, 3, 2).

“The blessed apostles [Peter and Paul], having founded and built up the church [of Rome], they handed over the office of the episcopate to Linus. Paul makes mention of this Linus in the letter to Timothy [2 Tim. 4:21]. To him succeeded Anacletus, and after him, in the third place from the apostles, Clement was chosen for the episcopate. In the time of Clement, no small dissension having arisen among the brethren in Corinth, the church in Rome sent a very strong letter to the Corinthians, exhorting them to peace and renewing their faith. … To this Clement, Evaristus succeeded . . . and now, in the twelfth place after the apostles, the lot of the episcopate [of Rome] has fallen to Eleutherius. In this order, and by the teaching of the apostles handed down in the Church, the preaching of the truth has come down to us” (ibid., 3, 3, 3).


“It is recorded that Paul was beheaded in Rome itself, and Peter, likewise, was crucified, during the reign [of the Emperor Nero]. The account is confirmed by the names of Peter and Paul over the cemeteries there, which remain to the present time. And it is confirmed also by a stalwart man of the Church, Gaius by name, who lived in the time of Zephyrinus, bishop of Rome. This Gaius, in a written disputation with Proclus, the leader of the sect of Cataphrygians, says this of the places in which the remains of the aforementioned apostles were deposited: ‘I can point out the trophies of the apostles. For if you are willing to go to the Vatican or to the Ostian Way, you will find the trophies of those who founded this Church’” (Disputation with Proclus [A.D. 198] in Eusebius, Church History 2:25:5).

Clement of Alexandria

"The circumstances which occasioned . . . [the writing] of Mark were these: When Peter preached the Word publicly at Rome and declared the gospel by the Spirit, (Sketches [A.D. 200] , in a fragment from Eusebius, History of the Church, 6, 14:1).


Peter becomes Head of the Apostles. In especially solemn fashion Christ accentuated Peter’s precedence among the Apostles, when, after Peter had recognized Him as the Messias, He promised that he would be head of His flock. Jesus was then dwelling with His Apostles in the vicinity of Caesarea Philippi, engaged on His work of salvation. As Christ’s coming agreed so little in power and glory with the expectations of the Messias, many different views concerning Him were current. While journeying along with His Apostles, Jesus asks them: “Whom do men say that the Son of man is?” The Apostles answered: “Some John the Baptist, and other some Elias, and others Jeremias, or one of the prophets”. Jesus said to them: “But whom do you say that I am?” Simon said: “Thou art Christ, the Son of the living God”. And Jesus answering said to him: “Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona: because flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but my Father who is in heaven. And I say to thee: That thou art Peter [Kipha, a rock], and upon this rock [Kipha] I will build my church [ekklesian], and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven. And whatsoever thou shalt bind upon earth, it shall be bound also in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth, it shall be loosed also in heaven”. Then he commanded his disciples, that they should tell no one that he was Jesus the Christ (Matthew 16:13-20; Mark 8:27-30; Luke 9:18-21).


Papal Infallibility

Peter the Rock

**Peter’s Roman Residency

**Was Peter in Rome?

Peter’s Successors


Many of the church fathers said Peter went to rome. Esubrius (sp) said peter was crucified upside down there. THere are more references that state that Peter was in ROme then Caesar crossed the Rubicon.

You could try reading some of the things on in the “fathers” section or do a google search for it.


Peter ends his first epistle by saying “The church that is Babylon, chosen together with you, sends you greeting, as does Mark my son.” “Babylon” was at the time a code word for Rome. (There were no Christians in the actual Babylon at the time.)

(Note also that he considers himself a spiritual “father” to Mark!)


Considering that the Church then was already reeling from persecution, from both Jews and pagans alike, it was wise and necessary for any responsible leader of the Church to use code words, instead of making direct references for the security of the faithful. ‘Babylon’ for instance, is an example of such a code word, in reference to the city of Rome.

Besides, even if the Bible does not explicitly say Peter was in Rome, neither does it say he was never in Rome, so the argument is untenable.

St. Irenaeus, writing in the 2nd century states the following concerning Peter’s presence in Rome:

** “…in their own dialect, while Peter and Paul were evangelizing at Rome, and laying the foundations of the Church.”** “Against Heresies”, 180 A.D.

Gerry :slight_smile:


In the Catholic view of things, Easter changes everything; it certainly changed Peter. After encountering the Risen Christ on Easter Sunday morning and along the lakeshore of the Sea of Galilee, Peter truly is the rock. Filled with the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, fifty days after Easter, he becomes the Church’s first great evangelist; the tale is told in Acts 2:14-41, where the crowd initially assumes that this suddenly eloquent Galilean fisherman must be drunk — and then converts in great numbers, each hearing Peter in his own language. Peter welcomes the centurion Cornelius, a Gentile, into the Christian fellowship, enabling his fellow Jews to see that God intends the saving message of Christ for the whole world (Acts 10:1-11:18). As the early Church struggles with what it means to be a Christian, Peter is recognized as the center of the Church’s unity, the man before whom issues of Christian identity and practice are thrashed out (Acts 15:6-11). Later, according to the most ancient traditions, Peter goes to Rome, where he meets his death thus fulfilling what the Risen Christ said to him at breakfast along the Sea of Galilee after the miraculous catch of fish: “when you are old, you will stretch out your hands and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish to go” (John 21:18). :blessyou:


Thanks Exporter!!!

How marvelous to find out your info!!!

This is EXACTLY the assumption one of my Protestant Pastor relatives has told me–how pitiful! Of course they don’t acknowledge the Church Fathers do they? Only “what is mentioned in Scripture”…

How how can I print your reply?


[quote=sparkle]Thanks Exporter!!!

How marvelous to find out your info!!!

This is EXACTLY the assumption one of my Protestant Pastor relatives has told me–how pitiful! Of course they don’t acknowledge the Church Fathers do they? Only “what is mentioned in Scripture”…

How how can I print your reply?

You should bring up this point. The church fathers are the people who tells who who wrote Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts and the cathoolic epistles and Revelation. THey are the witnesses to history of which writer wrote waht book and you accept their testimonay on that however when they say Peter was in ROme you deny that. Why are you so sure about the authoriship of the books of the Bible of which our only witnesses are the church fathers yet when they calim Peter was in ROme and his his office had succession you deny that. Isn’t that contradictory?


I’ve been trying to get my head around this.

We know the Church Fathers say Peter was in Rome. We all know where the Vatican is.

But does it actually matter whether Peter was in Rome? Does it make any diffference to apostolic succession? Does it make valid or invalid the Vatican ending up where it is? Does it make a difference to the primacy of Peter? Does it make a difference to him being the apostle through whom the papacy followed?

As a protestant I claimed he was never in Rome - therefore the papacy, Vatican etc were invalid. On my journey to catholicism I now can’t see that it makes the slightest bit of difference to the claims of the church for succession, the Papacy, the site of St Peters etc.

Does it make a difference?




You’re correct. It doesn’t make a difference because it has nothing to do with Rome. It is the office.


[quote=Aris]You’re correct. It doesn’t make a difference because it has nothing to do with Rome. It is the office.

We know that but this goes to very root of the problem here. The protestant overreaction to catholic cliams have them cliaming the absured just becuase it is a catholic claim even though any objective study points to the fact Peter was in Rome. As most historians know Peter had a bishopric in Antioch he ordained others there as well but he didn’t leave his office of succesion there but in Rome.THus the early christian identification with the Bishop of Rome with the office of Peter that as well if easily proven in church history but denial is more than a river in Egypt it is the river that flows through every protestant interpretation of history.


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