Before Peter could die in Rome, it is fairly obvious that he must previously have arrived there. The Bible omits to mention such a momentous event. Its evidence, as we shall see, points AWAY from Rome in the opposite direction towards Mesopotamia and the Euphrates River, east of Jerusalem, where Peter had every reason to go and preach the gospel.
There are two authorities that reveal the true situation regarding Peter and Rome during the first century. The first is the New Testament; the second is the letter written from the congregation at Rome to the congregation at Corinth circa 96 AD by the hand of Clemens Romanus. These two sources clearly reveal the errors, confusion and deliberate obfuscation to be found in Roman Catholic sources. We will first deal with the evidence from the New Testament regarding the ministries of Peter and Paul, then, later in this series, we will turn our attention to Clemens' letter to the Corinthians.
Evidence from the New Testament
A clear division of ministries
Peter and Paul each had a clear division of duties to which both were in agreement. Read about it in Paul's letters to the Romans, Galatians, 2nd Timothy, and in the Book of Acts. It is stated very clearly:
"For God who made Peter an apostle to the Jews also made me an apostle to the Gentiles. Recognising the favour bestowed on me, those pillars of our society James, Cephas (Peter) and John accepted Barnabas and myself as partners and shook hands on it." (Gal. 2:8)
The Catholic Encyclopaedia article St. Peter, Prince of the Apostles, makes an interesting comment:
"Betweeen Peter and Paul there was no dogmatic difference in their conception of salvation for Jewish and Gentile Christians. The recognition of Paul as the Apostle of the Gentiles (Gal.2:1-9) was entirely sincere, and excludes all questions of a divergence of views. St. Peter and the other Apostles recognised the converts from paganism as Christian brothers on an equal footing; Jewish and Gentile Christians formed a single Kingdom of Christ. If therefore Peter devoted the preponderating portion of his apostolic activity to the Jews, this arose chiefly from practical considerations, and from the position of Israel as the Chosen People."
This point of division of ministries to Jew and Gentile is reaffirmed by both Peter and Paul many times in their later writings; Rom. 11:13, 15:16-20, 1 Pet. 1.1. Paul always claimed his mission to the Gentiles to be directed by God and not a delegation from men; Acts 22:21, 23:11, 2 Tim 1:11. Equally, he denied several times that he built on other men's foundations or works; 2 Cor. 10:15, Rom. 15:20.
Peter's ministry was to the Jews, Paul's to the Gentiles.
Stay tuned for more evidence from the New Testament on the question of Peter's presence in Rome...