SAINT PETER IN ROME.
[This excursus is printed in the incomplete state, in which it was left at Bishop Lightfoot's death.]
The subject which I purpose discussing in the present Appendix is essentially mixed up with controversy; but I hope to treat it as little controversially as possible. It would be impossible to overlook the momentous inferences which depend, or have been thought to depend, on the results of the investigation; but I shall pursue it, as far as possible, as a historical study. Where it is not a question of history it is a question of exegesis. The purely theological aspects, however important, have no place here. The first section, which has the closest bearing on theological controversy, seemed necessary as an introduction to the rest, because it sets forth the incidents which form the basis of discussion.
THE PROMISE AND THE FULFILMENT.
Even a cursory glance at the history of the Apostles, so far as it appears in the Gospel records, reveals a certain primacy of S. Peter among the twelve. He holds the first place in all the lists; he has a precedence of responsibility and of temptation; he sets the example of moral courage and of moral lapse. Above all he receives special pastoral charges.
The latest of these is the threefold injunction to feed the flock of Christ. He is appealed to by his patronymic the son of Johanan, the son of God's grace (S. John xxi. 15, 16, 17). In the other evangelists his father's name appears under its more familiar abridgement Jonas or Jona, thus being commonly confused with the ancient prophet's name
'the dove'; but in this latest command, as given by S. John, the name appears in full, Johanan, the grace of God, because our Lord would remind him that he bears about with him in his very name the obligation to the pastoral charge and the promise of grace to fulfil the same, though here again transcribers have substituted the more usual form, thus obscuring the significance.
The case is somewhat similar in the earlier charge to S. Peter, with which I am directly concerned, 'Thou art Cephas, and upon this rock will I build My Church.' Here also the Apostle's name involves a prophecy, which should be unfolded in the future history of the Church. It is important therefore to enquire in what sense the Church of Christ shall be built upon the rock.
Patristic interpretations of the earliest and last ages are mainly twofold.
(1) The rock is Christ Himself. This was the opinion to which S. Augustine, the great theologian of the Latin Church, inclined. Having frequently, as he confesses, explained the 'rock' of S. Peter himself, as his master S. Ambrose had done before him in a well-known hymn, he took occasion in his after-thoughts to express his misgivings as to this explanation. The passage is sufficiently important to deserve quotation in full (Retract. i. 21, Op. I. p. 32).
In quo dixi in quodam loco de Apostolo Petro quod in illo tamquam in petra fundata sit ecclesia; qui sensus etiam cantatur ore multorum in versibus beatissimi Ambrosii ubi de gallo galli-naceo ait
Hoc ipsa petra ecclesiae
Canente culpam diluet;
sed scio me postea saepissime sic exposuisse quod a Domino dictum est Tu es Petrus...meam, ut super hunc intelligeretur quern confessus est Petrus dicens, Tu es Christus filius Dei vivi; ac sic Petrus ab hac petra appellatus personam ecclesiae figuraret, quae super hanc petram aedificatur, et accepit claves regni caelorum. Non enim dictum est illi Tu es petra, sed Tu es Petrus; petra autem erat Christus quem confessus Simon, sicut eum tota ecclesia confitetur, dictus est Petrus. Harum autem duarum sententiarum, quae sit probabilior, eligat lector.
Here, though he gives the alternative, he himself evidently leans to the interpretation which explains the rock of Christ Himself. This is likewise the view of Cyril of Alexandria, who commenting upon Isaiah xxxiii. 16, 'His place of defence shall be the munitions of rocks; bread
shall be given him; his waters shall be sure,' writes, 'And it is probable that our Lord Jesus Christ is named a rock for us in these words; in Whom like a cave or like some sheepfold the Church is meant, which has its permanence in prosperity sure and unshaken; for Thou art Peter, says the Saviour, and on this rock I will found My Church' etc., the bread and the water being spiritual sustenance1.
(2) The rock is connected with S. Peter, being either his confession or his faith or some other moral or spiritual qualification, capable of being shared by others.
This alternative has already appeared in the exposition of S. Augustine. The most explicit declaration of it, however, is found in the typical passage of Origen Comm. in Matt. [xvi. 13] Tom. XII. § 10. 'But if we also, like Peter, say, Thou art the Christ the Son of the living God, flesh and blood not having revealed it to us, but the Spirit from heaven having illumined our heart, we become a Peter and it would be said to us by the Word, Thou art Peter and so forth. For every disciple of Christ is a rock, from whom all they that partake of the spiritual rock which follows did drink; and upon every such rock the whole doctrine of the Church and the polity in accordance therewith is built...But if thou supposest that the whole Church is built by God on that one Peter alone, what wouldest thou say concerning John the Son of Thunder, or any one of the Apostles? Otherwise shall we dare to say that against Peter especially the gates of hell shall not prevail, but that they shall prevail against the remaining Apostles?... Are then the keys of the kingdom of heaven given by the Lord to Peter alone and shall none other of the blessed Apostles receive them?...Many therefore shall say to the Saviour, Thou art the Christ the Son of the living God...and if any one saith this to Him, flesh and blood not revealing it, but the Father which is in heaven, he shall obtain the promises (των ειρημενων), as the letter of the Gospel says, to that particular Peter, but as the Spirit teaches, to every one who becomes like that Peter. For all become namesakes (παρωνυμοι) of the rock who are imitators of Christ the spiritual rock, etc....and so forth as far as shall not prevail against it. What is 'it'? Is it the rock on which Christ builds His
1 Cyril. Alex. In Isai. Lib. iii. Tom. III., p. 460 εικος δε δη που και πετραν `ημιν ωνομασθαι δια τουτων τον Κυριον `ημων Ιησουν τον Χριστον, εν `ω καθαπερ τι σπηλαιον η και προβατων σηκος `η εκκλησια νοειται ασφαλη και ακραδαντον εχουσα την εις το ευ ειναι διαμονην. Ευ γαρ ει Πετρος κ.τ.λ. Yet only a little later in the same work he gives a somewhat different interpretation, 'the unshaken faith of the disciple', In Isai. Lib. iv. Tom. II., p. 593 επι ταυτη τη πετρα θεμελιωσω μου την εκκλησιαν: πετραν οιμαι λεγων το ακραδαντον εις πιστιν του μαθητου.
Church; or the Church itself, for the expression is ambiguous; or the rock and the Church, being one and the same thing?'
With more to the same effect; where nothing could be fuller or more explicit than the language.
This with some modification is the universal interpretation of the fathers for many centuries with those few exceptions represented by S. Augustine's after-thoughts, who explain it of Christ the rock. They understand it to mean S. Peter's confession or S. Peter's faith or S. Peter's firmness. In other words it is some quality or action in the Apostle at this crisis, which calls forth the Lord's promise, and to which the same promise attaches wherever it is found in others. Thus Chrysostom says (In Matth. Hom. liv. p. 548 A, II. p. 108, Field) επι ταυτη τη πετρα οικοδομησω μου την εκκλησιαν, τουτεστι, τη πιστει της `ομολογιας. Thus again Cyril of Alexandria, as we have seen, explains πετραν...λεγων το ακραδαντον εις πιστιν του μαθητου.
The lesson which the great Alexandrian father, Origen, draws from the Lord's promise to Peter is recognised also by his contemporary, the great African father, Cyprian. He too distinctly states that nothing is given to Peter here which is not given to all the Apostles; but he superadds another inference. From the fact that a single Apostle is the recipient of the general promise he derives the further lesson of the unity of the Church. Writing on this special subject (De Unit. Eccl. 4, p. 212 ed. Hartel), he explains
'The Lord speaketh to Peter: I say unto thee that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. ...I will give thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound also in heaven. He builds His Church on one, and although He gives equal authority to all His Apostles after His resurrection (et quamvis apostolis omnibus post resurrectionem suam parem potestatem tribuat) and says, As My Father sent Me, so send I you. Receive the Holy Spirit; whosesoever sins ye remit they shall be remitted, and whosesoever sins ye retain they shall be retained; yet, that He might declare the unity, He arranged the origin of the same unity to begin from one by His authority (tamen ut unitatem manifestaret, unitatis ejusdem originem ab uno incipientem sua auctoritate disposuit). The rest of the Apostles verily were what Peter was, endowed with an equal partnership of honour and power (pari consortio praediti et honoris et potestatis), but the beginning proceeds from unity (exordium ab unitate proficiscitur) that the Church of Christ may be shown to be one, which one Church also the Holy Spirit in the Song of Songs defines and says My dove is one, etc.'
This statement however was very unsatisfactory to a later age; and the sentence 'et quamvis apostolis etc.' is interpolated thus
et quamvis apostolis omnibus parem tribuat potestatem, unam tamen cathedram constituit et unitatis originem [atque] orationis suae auctoritate disposuit; hoc erant utique et ceteri quod Petrus, sed primatus Petro datur ut una ecclesia et cathedra una monstretur: et pastores sunt omnes, sed grex unus ostenditur, qui ab apostolis omnibus unanimi consensione pascatur etc.
Again after the words 'exordium ab unitate proficiscitur' comes another interpolation
et primatus Petro datur, ut una Christi ecclesia et cathedra una monstretur, et pastores sunt omnes, sed grex unus ostenditur, qui ab apostolis omnibus consensione pascatur.
Cyprian also elsewhere (Epist. lxxv. 16, p. 820, ed. Hartel) has recourse to the same argument.
Qualis vero error sit et quanta caecitas ejus qui remissionem peccatorum dicit apud synagogas haereticorum dari posse nec permanet in fundamento unius ecclesiae, quae semel a Christo super petram solidata est, hinc intellegi potest quod soli Petro Christus dixerit: quaecumque ligaveris super terram erunt ligata et in caelis, et quaecumque solveris super terram erunt soluta et in caelis, et iterum in evangelio [quando] in solos apostolos insufflavit Christus dicens: Accipite Spiritum sanctum; si cujus remiseritis peccata remittentur illi; et si cujus tenue-ritis, tenebuntur. Potestas ergo peccatorum remittendorum apostolis data est et ecclesiis quas illi a Christo missi constituerunt et episcopis qui eis ordinatione vicaria successerunt.
But, though for controversial aims there is little to choose between the two interpretations which divided patristic opinion for many centuries, we cannot let the matter rest here. An essential difference lies at the root of the two explanations. We are fain to ask, Is Christ the rock, or is Peter the rock, on which the Church is built (however we may explain the latter alternative)? Exegetically they have nothing in common.
Now there are two arguments which mainly weigh with those who explain the rock of Christ, (1) the one from the etymology; (2) the other from the imagery.
(1) The etymological argument is based on the different form of the words πετρα, πετρος, the rock, the stone. The one should signify the whole mass; the other the detached piece. Hence the one appropriately denotes Christ the body; the other Peter the member.
The force of this argument however is altogether shattered on two considerations; (1) S. Peter's name was Aramaic Kephas, before it was Greek Πετρος, and in the Aramaic form the one word serves for 'a rock' and 'a stone'; (ii) When Grecized, the proper name became perforce Πετρος, a masculine form being necessary, just as it would have been Πετρα, if a woman's name had been wanted.
(2) The imagery supplies, or seems to supply, another potent argument. In the Old Testament the Lord Jehovah is the rock on which His people Israel is built. In the New, Christ is in like manner the solid basis on which the Christian Church rests. More especially is this the case when the image takes the definite form of a building. Should we not expect, that the same application of the image would be carried out here?
As a question of fact, however, Scriptural analogy does not subject us to the tyranny of one application of the image. The relation of Christ to His Church, regarded as a building, is represented in two different ways.
(i) He is the foundation (θεμελιος I Cor. iii. 12). The Evangelist is the architect who must erect his building on this, that it may stand. In this sense He is not only the foundation, but the only palpable foundation.
(ii) He is the chief-corner stone (ακρογωνιαιος Ephes. ii. 20) which binds the parts of the building together (εν `ω πασα οικοδομη συναρ μολογουμενη κ.τ.λ.). In the latter sense the Apostles and prophets of the Christian ministry are themselves regarded as the θεμελιος on which the edifice is built (εποικοδομηθεντες επι τω θεμελιω των αποστολων και προφητων).
This latter is the application in the Apocalypse (xxi. 14) where the Church is not a house, but a city, and its twelve foundations are the twelve Apostles. It appears also in S. Peter (I Pet. ii. 4 sq) where stress is laid on Christ as the chief corner-stone, though the corresponding function of the Apostles as θεμελιοι is not mentioned.
It will be seen then that Scriptural analogy leaves us quite free in the application of the image; and our only guide is the logical connexion of the passage. But here there can be little doubt that the sense points not to Christ the speaker, but to Peter the person addressed, as the rock. After the opening sentence, 'Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona, for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but My Father which is in heaven,' which only then obtains its full significance, when we remember (as I have already pointed out) that Barjona, as interpreted by the form in the parallel passage in S. John
means Bar-johanan, Son of the Grace of God, the words which follow are directed with all the force which repetition can give them to the person addressed. 'And I say unto thee (καγω δε σοι λεγω) that thou art Peter (`οτι συ ει Πετρος), and upon this rock (επι ταυτη τη πετρα) I will build My Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it, and I will give thee (δωσω σοι) the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatsoever thou shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven,' etc.
The promise must therefore, as I understand it, describe some historical manifestation which sprang from S. Peter himself, 'not from a confession or a faith or a constancy such as thine, but from thy confession, thy faith, thy constancy.' As a matter of exegesis, it seems to be more strictly explained not of Peter himself; for then we should expect επι σοι rather than επι ταυτη τη πετρα; but 'on this constancy, this firmness of thine, to which thy name bears witness, and which has just evinced itself in thy confession.'
Though it denotes a certain primacy given to S. Peter, yet the promise is the same in kindso far Origen is rightas pertains to all the faithful disciples, more especially to all the Apostles. It is said of Peter here; but it might be said, and is said elsewhere, of the other Apostles. They too are the θεμελιοι (Ephes. ii. 20, Rev. xxi. 14); they too have the power of the keys (John xx. 22 sq).
But still it is a primacy, a preeminence. There is a historical, as well as a numerical value, in the order πρωτος Σιμων `ο λεγομενος Πετρος (Matt. x. 2) in the list of the Apostles. In what does this primacy consist?
Obviously Peter cannot be the rock, in any sense, which trenches upon the prerogative of Christ Himself. His primacy cannot be the primacy of absolute sovereignty: it must be the primacy of historical inauguration. When we turn to the Apostolic records, we find that this work of initiation is assigned to him in a remarkable way in each successive stage in the progress of the Church. The same faith, the same courage, which prompted the confession and called forth the promise of Christ, follows him all along, leading him to new ventures of faith.
But, lest we should misinterpret the position thus assigned to him and attribute to it a continuity and permanence which does not belong to it, he vanishes suddenly out of sight; another more striking personality assumes the chief place, and achieves conquests which he could not have achieved; his name is hardly ever mentioned. He has fulfilled his special mission, and his primacy is at an end.
I ventured to say above (p. 481) that the primacy of S. Peter was manifested not only in the preeminence of his faith and courage, but in the preeminence of his lapse and fall. Of the eleven faithful Apostles he exhibited the most disastrous failure of faith, a failure which was aggravated by the circumstance that it followed immediately upon his confident assertion of fidelity (Matt. xxvi. 35).
In the Christian dispensation the redemption is the sequel to the fall. In the individual believer the sense of weakness must precede the gift of strength. 'When I am weak, then am I strong.' Strength is made perfect out of weakness. Peter is warned by the Master beforehand (Luke xxii. 31) that he must 'be sifted as wheat' by temptation. This is the price to be paid, that when at length converted (συ ποτε επιστρεψας) and not till then, he may 'strengthen the brethren.' Hence his fall. Not till after his fall the threefold charge is given him (John xxi. 1517) to feed the sheep and lambs of Christ's flock. The charge is given specially to him, because he bears a special love to Christ.
Then comes the resurrection. The Lord is removed, the Apostles meet together with Peter at their head (Acts i. 13). At the first meeting of the general body of disciples he takes the initiative, and the vacant place in the college of the Apostles is filled up (i. 15 sq). On the day of Pentecost he addresses the multitudes of Jews and strangers, but it is especially mentioned that he was not alone responsible (συν τοις `ενδεκα, ii. 14). As with the appeal, so with the response. The conviction and the conversion of the assembled crowd is communicated not to Peter alone, but to Peter and the rest of the Apostles (ii. 37, προς τον Πετρον και τους λοιπους αποστολους), though Peter is necessarily the spokesman.
So Peter asserts his primacy in the foundation of the Christian Church. For a long period it remains a strictly Hebrew Church, as the Israelites were a strictly Hebrew people. Here not unnaturally Peter takes the initiative at all the great crises of its development. The first occasion when it exercises its miraculous power of grace and healing Peter is the chief agent (iii. 1 sq). Yet even here he is not allowed to act alone. The solidarity of the Apostolate is vindicated in the Apostolic record. The association of John with him is emphasized with almost irksome reiteration at each successive stage in the incident (iii. ver. 1 Πετρος δε και Ιωανης ανεβαινον, ver. 3 ιδων Πετρον και Ιωανην, ver. 4 ατενισας δε Πετρος εις αυτον συν τω Ιωανη ειπεν Βλεψον εις `ημας, ver. 11 κρατουντος δε αυτου τον Πετρον και τον Ιωανην, iv. ver. 19 `ο δε Πετρος και Ιωανης αποκριθεντες). After the first gift of grace, comes the first
visitation of anger in the punishment of Ananias and Sapphira. Peter asserts his primacy here also (v. 3 sq); and the guilt is punished.
Between Judaism and Heathendom is a great border-land. There are the Samaritans, who can hardly be classified with the one or the other. These must be drawn within the fold. It is a fresh venture of faith, and Peter has the courage to push the frontier forward into the enemy's country. But here again he does not act alone. The mission to Samaria, which gives its sanction to Philip's action, is the mission of the whole apostolate, and here again John is associated with him (viii. 14 ;σολυμοις εποστολοι...απεστειλαν προς αυτους Πετρον και Ιωανην). But this new conquest involves a new difficulty. The Christian Church in the early centuries was assailed by two opposite forms of heresy in diverse modifications, Ebionism and Gnosticism, the aberrations of Judaic and Gentile thought respectively. The first beginnings of both these conflicts are discerned in the infant Church; and in both Peter stands in the van of the fight as the champion of the Church. He had confronted the leaders of the Jewish hierarchy (iv. 18 sq, v. 28 sq); and he was now brought face to face with Gnosticism in the person of Simon Magus, 'the father of the Gnostics.' Thus his primacy was vindicated in the conflict with heresy also.
But the great conquest of all still awaited him. The Church must become a world-wide Church. A thousand religious fences must be broken down; a thousand prejudices of convention and tradition must be sacrificed; a thousand cherished safeguards, which had hitherto been the life and the purity of the nation, must be abandoned. Who would have the courage to face a change so mighty? By virtue of his primacy Peter is chosen as the recipient of this revelation of revelations. He is taught by a special vision to regard nothing as common or unclean, whereas the law divinely imposed on his country had regarded very many things as common and unclean. Yet unhesitatingly he obeys the command. Cornelius the heathen is baptized; and at one stroke all the privileges of the Christian Church are laid before the whole heathen world. Do we marvel that this vision, which was attended by consequences so momentous, was emphasized at the time by a triple repetition (x. 16 τουτο δε εγενετο επι τρις), and that the recorded vision itself is enforced upon ourselves in the reiteration of the historian (x. 10 sq, xi. 4 sq)?
Thus the Lord's promise is fulfilled: the primacy is completed; the foundations are laid on the rock, whether of Peter's confession or of Peter's courage or of Peter's steadfastness. From this time forward the work passes into other hands. The 'wise master-builder' piles up the
later storeys of the edifice, for which his manifold gifts and opportunities had fitted himhis Hebraic elementary training, his Greek academic culture, his Roman political privileges. Paul completes what Peter had begun. The silence of the later Apostolic history is not less significant than the eloquence of the earlier as to the meaning of Peter's primacy. In the first part he is everything; in the subsequent record he is nowhere at all. He is only once again mentioned in the Acts (xv. 7), and even here he does not bear the chief part. Where the Church at large, as an expansive missionary Church, is concerned, Paul, not Peter, is the prominent personage: where the Church of Jerusalem appears as the visible centre of unity, James, not Peter, is the chief agent (Acts xii. 17, xv. 13, xxi. 18, Gal. ii. 9, 12). Peter retains the first place, as missionary evangelist to the Hebrew Christians, but nothing more.
Moreover, when S. Paul appears on the scene, he is careful to declare emphatically his independence and equality with the other Apostles. 'I reckon,' he says in one place, 'that I fall short in no whit of the very chiefest Apostles' (2 Cor. xi. 5 μηδεν `υστερηκεναι των `υπερλιαν αποστολων); then again while devoting two whole chapters to recording the achievements of his Apostleship, he repeats almost the same words, 'I am become a fool; ye have compelled me; for I fall short in no whit of the very chiefest Apostles, even though I am nothing' (2 Cor. xii. 11). Accordingly he claims all the privileges of an Apostle (1 Cor. ix. 5). Moreover especially, he asserts his absolute equality with Peter (Gal. ii. 7 sq); and he gives practical proof of his independence by openly rebuking Peter, when Peter's timidity endangered the freedom and universality of the Church. If there was any primacy at this time, it was the primacy not of Peter, but of Paul.
THE ROMAN VISIT OF PETER.
The work of the primacy being completed as I have described it in the last section, and S. Peter being miraculously delivered from prison, we are told that having sent a message to James and the brethren he went out and departed to another place (Acts xii. 17 εξελθων επορευθη εις `ετερον τοπον). This has been supposed to mark the crisis when he transferred his residence to Rome and his labours to the far west.
There is nothing in the language itself, except its mysterious vagueness, which could suggest such an inference, which is quite inconsistent with known facts. The simple interpretation is doubtless the correct
one, that he retired out of the way of Herod. Indeed so important a fact as his visit to the metropolis of the world would not have been slurred over in this way. When we meet with him again he is still in the East; at the Council of Jerusalem about A.D. 51 (Acts xv. 7); and at Antioch a little later (Gal. ii. 11). Indeed his recognised position as the Apostle of the Circumcision would suggest Palestine as his headquarters and the East as his sphere of action. Whether within the next few years he paid a visit to Corinth or not (1 Cor. i. 12, 2 Cor. i. 19, x. 12 sq) I need not stop to enquire. A personal visit is not required to explain the power of his name with a certain party at Corinth; and the silence of S. Paul, though not conclusive, is unfavourable to any visit to Greece.
One thing seems quite certain. The departure from Jerusalem during the persecution of Herod took place about A.D. 42; the Epistle to the Romans was written about A.D. 58. During this period no Apostle had visited the metropolis of the world. If silence can ever be regarded as decisive, its verdict must be accepted in this case. S. Paul could not have written as he writes to the Romans (i. 11 sq, xv. 2024), if they had received even a short visit from an Apostle, more especially if that Apostle were S. Peter.
Nevertheless reasons existto my own mind conclusive reasonsfor postulating a visit of S. Peter to Rome at a later date, on which occasion he suffered martyrdom there. If these reasons are not each singly decisive, the combination yields a body of proof, which it is difficult to resist.
(1) In S. Peter's First Epistle, he sends a salutation at the close (v. 13) to his distant correspondents in Asia Minor; 'The fellow-elect (lady) in Babylon greeteth you, and so doth Marcus my son.' Who or what is meant by 'the fellow-elect'? On turning to the opening of the Epistle, we find that it is addressed 'to the elect sojourners of the dispersion (εκλεκτοις παρεπιδημοις διασπορας) in Pontus, Galatia, etc.' and this suggests that 'the fellow-elect' at the close is the Church from which he writes. Indeed there is no individual woman, for whom we can suppose such a salutation appropriate, for we can hardly imagine S. Peter's wife, if she were still living, placed in this prominent position. Nor again is the context `η εν Βαβυλωνι συνεκλεκτη natural as the description of a person. I should add also that several early authorities (including Aleph) add εκκλησια; and that the figurative expressions in this epistle (i. 1 παρεπιδημοις διασπορας, comp. ii. 11) are in character with this interpretation.
The Second Epistle of S. John presents a close parallel. A salutation
is sent in the opening verse to the elect lady (εκλεκτη κυρια); at the close is a message 'the children of thine elect sister (της αδελφης σου της εκλεκτης) salute thee.' The intermediate language shows that we have here the personification of the communities. It is not an interchange of greetings between individuals, but between Churches; see for instance ver. 4, 'I have found some of thy children walking in the truth;' ver. 6, 'this is the commandment which ye heard from the beginning;' ver. 8, 'look to yourselves' after the warning of Antichrist; ver. 10, 'if any one cometh to you and bringeth not this doctrine.'
But what is this fellow-elect congregation in Babylon? Can we doubt that it is the Church in Rome? It cannot be the Egyptian Babylon, which was a mere fortress (Strabo xvii. p. 807). If therefore it was not the Great Babylon, it must have been Rome. To this latter more especially the mention of Mark points; for Mark is designated by a very early tradition as S. Peter's companion and interpreter in Rome. This appears from Papias and the Elders, whose traditions are reported by him (Euseb. H. E. iii. 39); from Irenaeus (Haer. iii. 1. 1); from Clement of Alexandria (Euseb. H. E. ii. 15), and from Origen (Op. III. p. 440 Delarue; comp. Euseb. H. E. vi. 25), the writing of his Gospel being connected with the preaching of Peter in Rome. This tradition is in full accordance with the latest notices in the New Testament (Col. iv. 10, Philem. 24, 2 Tim. iv. 11), which represent him either as staying in Rome or journeying towards Rome.
Nor was Babylon a new name for Rome, dating from the Neronian persecution. It had been a mystical name for this world-wide power with the Jews before it was inherited by the Christians. As such it appears even in the early Sibylline Oracles (v. 158).
Και φλεξει ποντον βαθυν αυτην τε Βαβυλωνα
Ιταλιας γαιαν θ' `ης `εινεκα πολλοι ολοντο
`Εβραιων `αγιοι πιστοι και ναος αληθης
(2) The prophecy in John xxi. 18 'When thou shalt grow old, thou shalt stretch out thy hands and another shall gird thee, this He said signifying by what death he should die,' has always been explained of the crucifixion of S. Peter; and it is difficult to see what other explanation can be given. Nothing, it is true, is here said about the place of martyrdom. But the crucifixion of S. Peter is always connected by tradition with Rome, and with no other place. It would be arbitrary therefore to separate the locality from the manner of martyrdom. Unless we accept the Roman residence of S. Peter, we know nothing about his later years and death.
(3) The reference in the Second Epistle of S. Peter (i. 14) has much the same bearing as the last; 'Knowing that the putting-off of this tabernacle is at hand, as the Lord Jesus Christ also declared unto me.' It may be said indeed that grave doubts are thrown on the genuineness of this document. If it were otherwise than genuine it would express from another quarter the belief of the early Church respecting S. Peter's death; for it certainly belongs to the primitive ages.
(4) The Epistle of the Roman Church to the Corinthians, by the hand of Clement of Rome, belongs to the year 95 or 96. The writer, turning aside from the Old Testament worthies, of whose heroism he had spoken, directs the attention of his readers (c. 5) to the examples of Christian athletes who 'lived very near to our own times'. He reminds them of the Apostles who were persecuted and carried the struggle to death (`εως θανατου ηθλησαν). There was Peter, who after undergoing many sufferings became a martyr and went to his appointed place of glory. There was Paul, who, after enduring chains, imprisonments, stonings again and again, and sufferings of all kinds, preached the Gospel in the extreme West, likewise endured martyrdom and so departed from this world. If the use of the word μαρτυρησας in both cases could leave any doubt that they suffered death for the faith, the context is decisive. But why are these two Apostles, and these only, mentioned? Why not James the son of Zebedee? Why not James the Lord's brother? Both these were martyrs. The latter was essentially 'a pillar,' and his death was even more recent. Obviously because Clement was appealing to examples which they themselves had witnessed. Paul was martyred in Rome, as is allowed on all hands. Is not the overwhelming inference that Peter suffered in this same city also? This inference is all the more certain, when we find that outside this testimony of Clement tradition is constant in placing his death at Rome.
(5) Some ten or twenty years later, in the early decades of the second century, Ignatius (Rom. 4) on his way to martyrdom writes to the Roman Church: 'I do not command you, like Peter and Paul; they were Apostles, I am a condemned criminal; they were free; I am a slave until now.' Why should he single out Peter and Paul? He is writing from Asia Minor; and the locality therefore would suggest John. He was a guest of a disciple of John at the time. He was sojourning in the country where John was the one prominent name. The only conceivable reason is, that Peter and Paul had been in a position to give directions to the Romans, that they both alike had visited Rome and were remembered by the Roman Church.
EPISTLES OF S. CLEMENT.
(6) Papias of Hierapolis may have been born about A.D. 6070, and probably wrote about A.D. 130140. He related on the authority of the presbyter John, a personal disciple of the Lord (Euseb. H. E. iii. 39) that Mark, not being a personal disciple of the Lord, became a companion and interpreter (`ερμηνευτης) of S. Peter, that he wrote down what he heard from his master's oral teaching, and that then he composed this record.
I have no concern here whether this is or is not the Second Gospel, as we possess it. For my immediate purpose this notice suggests three remarks; (i) When Mark is called `ερμηνευτης 'the interpreter' of Peter, the reference must be to the Latin, not to the Greek language. The evidence that Greek was spoken commonly in the towns bordering on the Sea of Galilee, and that S. Peter must therefore have been well acquainted with it, is ample; even if this had not been the necessary inference from the whole tenour of the New Testament. (ii) This notice seems to have been connected by Papias with I Pet. v. 13, where Mark is mentioned in connexion with the fellow-elect in Babylon, presumably the Church of Rome. Papias was acquainted with, and quoted from, this Epistle of S. Peter; for Eusebius tells us that he 'employs testimonies' from it: and it is plain also from the context of the passage cited by Eusebius that Papias had spoken at greater length about the connexion of Mark with Peter, 'as I said (`ως εφην)'; (iii) Papias was so understood by writers like Irenaeus, who had his book before them. It seems a tolerably safe inference therefore that Papias represented S. Peter as being in Rome, that he stated Mark to have been with him there, and that he assigned to the latter a Gospel record which was committed to writing for the instruction of the Romans.
(7) Dionysius of Corinth, from whom Eusebius gives an extract (H. E. ii. 25), writes as follows:
'Herein ye also by such instructions (to us) have united the trees of the Romans and Corinthians, planted by Peter and Paul (την απο Πετρου και Παυλου φυτειαν γενηθεισαν `Ρωμαιων τε και Κορινθιων συνεκερασατε). For they both alike came also to our Corinth and taught us; and both alike came together to Italy, and having taught there suffered martyrdom at the same time (κατα τον αυτον καιρον)'.
This letter was written about A.D. 170 in answer to a communication from the Romans under his contemporary bishop Soter (see I. p. 369). I need not stop to enquire whether the correct reading is φυτευσαντες or φοιτησαντες. The statement may be taken as representing the belief of both Churches. The expression κατα τον αυτον καιρον need not be pressed to mean the same day or the same year.
(8) Irenaeus about A.D. 190 is still more explicit (Haer. iii. 1. 1):
'Matthew published also a written Gospel (γραφην ευαγγελιου) among the Hebrews in their own language while Peter and Paul were preaching and founding the Church in Rome. Again after their departure, Mark, the disciple and interpreter of Peter, himself also handed down to us in writing the lessons preached by Peter.'
A little later he says (Haer. iii. 3, 2, 3); 'The greatest and most ancient Churches, well known to all men, the Churches of Rome founded and established by the two most glorious Apostles, Peter and Paul [hand down] announced to mankind that tradition and faith, which it has from the Apostles reaching to our own day through its successions of bishops. So having founded and built up the Church the blessed Apostles entrusted the ministration of the bishopric to Linus.'
Irenseus spent some time in Rome about A.D. 177, and appears to have paid repeated visits.
(9) The Muratorian Canon is generally placed about A.D. 170. I have given reasons already (II. p. 405 sq) for surmising that it may have been an early work of Hippolytus, the pupil of Irenaeus, in which case it may date twenty years later. The writer explains that S. Luke in the Acts of the Apostles only records incidents which took place in his presence, and that therefore his silence about the Martyrdom of S. Peter, or the journey of S. Paul to Spain, evidently shows that he was not present on either occasion. Though the actual text is not certain in all points, there can be no reasonable doubt that this is the meaning of the words.
(10) The testimony of Clement of Alexandria (A.D. 193217) in the Hypotyposeis appears from Eusebius (H. E. vi. 14). He stated that 'when Peter had preached the word publicly in Rome and declared the Gospel by the Spirit, the bystanders being many in number exhorted Mark, as having accompanied him for a long time and remembering what he had said, to write out his statements, and having thus composed his Gospel, to communicate it to them; and that, when Peter learnt this, he used no pressure either to prevent him or urge him forwards.' See also Adumbr. p. 1007 (Potter).
(11) The testimony of Tertullian is chiefly of value as showing the prevalence of the tradition in another important branch of the Church at the close of the second and the beginning of the third century. The passages need no comment.
'We read in the lives of the Caesars, Nero was the first to stain the
rising faith with blood. Then Peter is girt by another, when he is bound to the cross; then Paul obtains his birth-right (consequitur nativitatem) of Roman citizenship, when he is born again there by the nobility of martyrdom.'
De Baptismo 4.
'Nor does it matter whether they are among those whom John baptized in the Jordan or those whom Peter baptized in the Tiber.'
De Praescriptione 32.
'The Church of the Romans reports that Clement was ordained by Peter.'
De Praescriptione 36.
'If thou art near to Italy, thou hast Rome, whence our authority also is near at hand. How happy is that Church on whom the Apostles shed all their teaching with their blood; where Peter is conformed to the passion of the Lord, where Paul is crowned with the death of John, where the Apostle John, after being plunged in boiling oil without suffering any harm, is banished into an island.'
(12) Gaius the Roman presbyter, of whom I have had something to say already (see above, II. p. 377 sq), lived under Zephyrinus and was a contemporary of Hippolytus [c. A.D. 200220] if not actually identical with him. Arguing against the Montanists of Asia Minor, who asserted the precedent of Philip's daughters for their special views about prophecy, he claims for his own Church the authority of the Apostles S. Peter and S. Paul, whose martyred bodies repose in Rome:
'But I can show you the trophies (the reliques) of the Apostles. For if thou wilt go to the Vatican or to the Ostian Way, thou wilt find the trophies of those who founded this Church.'
This shows that at least at this early date the sites of the graves of the two Apostles were reputed to have been the localities where now stand the basilicas of S. Peter and S. Paul.
(13) Origen in the 3rd volume of his Explanation of Genesis (as reported by Eusebius H. E. iii. 1; comp. Orig. Op. 11. p. 24 Delarue) related that Peter 'appears to have preached in Pontus and Galatia and Bithynia, in Cappadocia and Asia; when at last he went to Rome and there was gibbeted head downward, having himself asked to suffer so'; and that Paul 'having fully preached the Gospel of Christ from Jerusalem as far as Illyricum, afterwards suffered martyrdom in Rome in the time of Nero.'
(14) Lactantius. Instit. Div. IV. 21.
'He disclosed to them all things which Peter and Paul preached at
Rome, and this preaching remained in writing for a record: wherein among many other marvellous things, this also etc.'
But when shall we suppose that this visit to Rome took place? We have seen (see above, 11. p. 491) that as late as A.D. 58, when S. Paul wrote to the Romans, his claim to Rome as virgin soil so far as regards any Apostolic ministrations is fatal to a prior date for the visit. For the next four or five years we have sufficiently precise information in the Apostolic records to preclude this period also. S. Paul spends two years in captivity at Ceesarea, and in the autumn of A.D. 60 he sets sail for Rome, arriving there in the spring of 61. In Rome he is detained two whole years a captive, and then presumably in 63 he is released.
His release is not dependent on any one consideration, but is inferred from several, (i) Early tradition speaks of his paying the intended visit to Spain, of which he speaks in the Epistle to the Romans (xv. 28); (ii) He tells the Philippians that he looks forward to being released shortly (i. 25, ii. 24), and he is so hopeful that he bids Philemon prepare a lodging for him (ver. 22); (iii) The phenomena in the Pastoral Epistles cannot in most instances be placed during the period included in the Acts; (iv) The date given for his martyrdom by the best authorities is the last year of Nero, which was three or four years after the fire which led immediately to the persecution of the Christians.
But, if he was released, it must have been before the outbreak of the persecution, since so prominent a leader of the Christians could hardly have escaped, if he had still been in the hands of his Roman masters. During the period then of his first and second captivities, i.e. between A.D. 6367, we are led to find a place for S. Peter's visit. Thus it will not clash with S. Paul's relations to the Romans, and might well have taken place without our finding any notice of it either in the narrative of the Acts or in the letters of this Apostle.
S. Peter would then arrive in Rome in the latter part of 63 or the beginning of 64. The Neronian persecutions broke out soon afterwards, and he would be one of the most prominent victims. This accords with the ancient tradition of the different places of sepulture of the two Apostles. Gaius the Roman tells us, that whereas Peter was buried in the Vatican, Paul found his resting-place on the Ostian Way. The Vatican gardens were the scene of the hideous festivities, in which the victims of the fire suffered, and among these (we may assume) was S. Peter (A.D. 64). On the other hand an isolated victim who was put
to death some years later (say A.D. 67), as was presumably S. Paul's case, might meet his death anywhere.
On the occasion of this visit to Rome, as we have seen, S. Peter wrote his Epistles. As I am desirous of avoiding controverted documents, I shall say nothing about the Secondnor indeed is it necessary for my purposebut confine my attention to the First. Do we find then in this First Epistle any confirmation of the view here suggested of the date of S. Peter's visit?
(1) It was written during a season of persecution. No other book of the New Testament, except the Apocalypse, is so burdened with the subject. The leading purport of the letter is to console and encourage his distant correspondents under the fiery trial which awaited them. Nothing in the previous history of the Church answers to the conditions. It was no isolated, capricious attack, but a systematic onslaught. Though it raged chiefly at Rome, its effects were felt in the provinces also. More especially was this the case in Asia Minor, which S. Peter had in view. The letters to the Seven Churches in the Apocalypse are evidence of this; and the mention of the martyr Antipas (ii. 13) emphasizes the fact. The emperor's example had let loose the dogs.
'Now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness by reason of manifold temptations, that the trial of your faith being more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ' (i. 6, 7).
'Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles, that whereas they speak against you as evil doers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation' (ii. 12).
'If ye suffer for righteousness sake, happy are ye; and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled......having a good conscience, that whereas they speak evil of you as of evil doers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ; for it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing than for evil doing' (iii. 14, 16, 17).
'Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you; but rejoice inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings' (iv. 12, 13).
'If ye be reproached for the Name of Christ, happy are ye; for the Spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you; on their part He is evil spoken of, but on your part He is glorified...If any man suffer as a Christian let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf (iv. 14, 16).
'Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God' (v. 6).
'Whom resist, stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren which are in the world' (v. 9).
These passages point to the crisis, when the persecution had already broken out, or was imminent, and therefore were probably written not earlier than the summer of 64.
(2) The date thus suggested agrees with other indications. With two Epistles of S. Paul more especially the writer shows a familiar acquaintancethe Epistle to the Romans and the Epistle to the Ephesians. The one was written to Rome; the other from Rome. They both partake of the character of circular letters. They are therefore just the two Epistles which would be most accessible to a person in S. Peter's position. The Epistle to the Romans was written in A.D. 58, but the Epistle to the Ephesians not till A.D. 63.
The following are the parallels to the Epistle to the Romans, and the reader may satisfy himself as to their pertinence.
|Romans||iv. 24||1 Pet.||i. 21|
|vi. 7||iv. 1, 2|
|vi. 18||ii. 24|
|viii. 18||v. 1|
|viii. 34||iii. 22|
|ix. 33||ii. 6 sq|
|xii. 1||ii. 5|
|xii. 2||i. 14|
|xii. 3-8||iv. 10, 11|
|xii. 9, 10||i. 22, ii. 17|
|xii. 14-19||iii. 8-12|
|xiii. 1-7||ii. 13, 14|
The parallels to the Epistle to the Ephesians are equally striking.
We have seen that the oldest tradition, as recorded by Gaius, represents S. Peter as buried in the Vatican and S. Paul on the Ostian Way. But it says nothing about the martyrdom of the two Apostles being synchronous. Dionysius of Corinth states that they were martyred κατα τον αυτον καιρον, but the expression must not be too rigorously pressed, even if the testimony of a Corinthian could be accepted as regards the belief in Rome. On the other hand Prudentius (Peristeph. xii. 5) and others represent them as suffering on the same day, though not in the same year. This highly improbable statement must have had some foundation in fact What was it? In the list of depositions incorporated by the Liberian chronographer (A.D. 354) we find
iii Kal Jul. Petri ad Catacumbas
et Pauli Ostense Tusco et Basso cons. [A.D. 258].
Now at one time the bodies of the two Apostles were lying in the Cemetery on the Appian Way, properly called 'Ad Catacumbas,' in a 'loculum bisomum,' which may be seen to this day and over which Damasus (A.D. 366384) placed the inscription
Hie habitasse prius sanctos cognoscere debes,
nomina [limina?] quique Petri pariter Paulique requiris;
discipulos Oriens misit, quod sponte fatemur:
sanguinis ob meritum Christumque per astra secuti
aetherios petiere sinus et regna piorum.
Roma suos potius meruit defendere cives;
by which he simply meant that the East gave these two Apostles to Rome, where they became Roman citizens. It is in fact the same which Tertullian expresses in a passage quoted above (Scorp. 15). 'Paulus civitatis Romanae consequitur nativitatem, cum illic martyrii renascitur generositate.' But being strangely misunderstood it gave rise to the legend that the Greeks attempted to carry off the bodies of the two Apostles, but being pursued threw them down in the Catacombs1. Plainly however the day, the 29th of June, was not originally regarded as the day of martyrdom of the two Apostles, but the day of their deposition on some occasion. What then was this occasion?
The mention of the consulship happily fixes the year. This must refer to the temporary deposition of the bodies in the catacombs of S. Sebastian; and the notice probably ran originally
iii Kal. Jul. Petri et Pauli ad Catacumbas Tusco
et Basso cons.
but the chronographer of 354 or some intermediate copyist knowing that S. Paul's body lay in his time on the Ostian Way altered it accordingly, inserting 'Ostense' after the name of this Apostle2. This was a few weeks before the martyrdom of Xystus II, who suffered Aug. 6, A.D. 258. The two bodies, we may suppose, were deposited in S. Sebastian for a time, while their permanent memoriae were being erected, which were afterwards developed into the basilicas of S. Peter's at the Vatican and S. Paul's on the Ostian Way. But this temporary deposition fixed the festival of their common celebration in Rome and gave rise to the story that they were martyred on the same day3. On the
1 See a good article Das Alter der Gräber u. Kirchen des Paulus u. Petrus in Rom by Erbes in Briger's Zeitschr. f. Kirchengesch. VII. p. 1 sq (1885).
2 This is the explanation of Erbes, p. 28, and it is accepted by Lipsius Apocr. Apostelgesch. II. 1 p. 392 sq.
3 It is actually entered in Ado, under June 29, 'Romae natalis beatorum Apostolorum Petri et Pauli, qui passi sunt sub Nerone, Basso et Tusco consulibus.' See Erbes, l.c. p. 30.
other hand the true tradition of their suffering in different years survived to the time of Prudentius, albeit he assumed that it referred to successive years. In connexion with this temporary deposition we may place the notice said to be found with exceptional uniformity in all the MSS of the Hieronymian Martyrology on Jan. 25
Romae translatio Pauli Apostoli
which would probably be the day of the restoration to his permanent resting-place, but which was ordered at a later date to be celebrated as the day of his conversion.
THE TWENTY-FIVE YEARS' EPISCOPATE.
The twenty-five years of S. Peter's episcopate had at one time a sentimental and might almost be said to have a dogmatic value. It was unique in the history of the papacy. Though the records of certain periods in its career, more especially its earlier career, are scanty, we know enough to say with certainty that no later bishops of Rome held the see for a quarter of a century until our own day. Now however all is changed. The papacy of Pio Nono has been unique in many ways. It has seen the declaration of papal infallibility: it has witnessed the extinction of the temporal power; and, last of all, it has exceeded by more than a year the reputed term of S. Peter. The twenty-five years therefore have ceased to have any dogmatic or sentimental importance; and, in dealing with them critically, we need have no fear lest we should be doing violence to any feelings which deserve respect.
But there is a still prior question to be settled before we discuss the length of S. Peter's episcopate. Was he bishop of Rome at all? He might have been founder or joint founder of the Church there, without having been regarded as its bishop. No one reckons S. Paul as first bishop of Thessalonica or Philippi, of Corinth or of Athens, though these Churches owe their first evangelization to him.
Now I cannot find that any writers for the first two centuries and more speak of S. Peter as bishop of Rome. Indeed their language is inconsistent with the assignment of this position to him. When Dionysius of Corinth speaks of the Apostles S. Peter and S. Paul as jointly planting the two Churches of Corinth and of Rome, he obviously cannot mean this; for otherwise he would point to a divided episcopate. The language of Irenaeus (iii. 3. 3) again is still more explicit. He describes the Church of Rome as founded by the Apostles S. Peter and S. Paul, who
appointed Linus bishop. After him came Linus; after Linus, Anencletus; after Anencletus 'in the third place from the Apostles Clement is elected to the bishopric,' and the others, when any numbers are given, are numbered accordingly, so that Xystus1 is 'the sixth from the Apostles,' and Eleutherus the contemporary of Irenaeus 'holds the office of the episcopate in the twelfth place from the Apostles.' This is likewise the enumeration in the anonymous author of the treatise against Artemon (Euseb. H. E. v. 28) probably Hippolytus, who numbers Victor 'the thirteenth from Peter.'
1 See on this passage the remarks in I. pp. 271, 284. For the discrepancies in the text of Irenaeus see the note on I. p. 204.
Return to the Table of Contents of J. B. Lightfoot's The Aposstolic Fathers, Part I, Vol. 2
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