After the crucifixion, Peter's whereabouts are stated in the Bible to be:
- Palestine (Acts Chapters 8-12)
- Syria (Gal. 2:11)
- Babylon (1 Pet. 5:13)
Peter's Logical Mission
Centuries before Jesus was born, the nations of Israel and Judah had both been defeated in war and part of their populations deported to the East: Israel by the Assyrians circa 700 BC and Judah by the Babylonians circa 600 BC.
A substantial number of Jews returned from Babylon but not the captured tribes of Israel from Assyria. Josephus, a contemporary of Peter and Paul, recorded that "...while the ten tribes are beyond the Euphrates even till now, and are an immense multitude and not to be estimated by numbers...: (Ant. XI V 2).
So, east of Jerusalem there were a substantial number of both Jews and Israelites who had never heard the gospel of Jesus of Nazareth. Peter, being an apostle to the circumcised, had every reason to travel EAST with the "good news" to the dispersed brethren of both Israel and Judah while Paul, as the apostle to the Gentiles, travelled WEST to Greece, Asia Minor and Rome.
The Roman Catholic Church lays claim to Peter's presence in Rome on a single biblical reference in 1 Pet. 5:13:
"She who is in Babylon salutes you and so does my son Mark"
(There is much scholarly dispute over whether the Petrine letters were indeed written by the apostle Peter, but for the purposes of this argument let us assume that they were.)
1 Pet.5:13 is the ONLY biblical "proof" text that the Roman Catholic Church can adduce in support of their claim.
Official Roman Catholic publications proclaim with one voice that when Peter made reference to his physical location in "Babylon", it was in fact a CRYPTIC or MYSTICAL reference to the city of Rome. It is inferred that Peter did so in order to avoid the possibility of bringing down persecution upon the local congregation in Rome. The Catholic Commentary on the Holy Scriptures states that Peter wrote his first letter in the period between Paul's first and second captivity in Rome, i.e. between 62 and 64 AD, yet Nero's persecution did not begin until August 64 AD so why the necessity for secrecy? Paul openly referred to Rome in his letters to and from that city so he obviously did not share in the paranoia concocted by Roman Catholic theologians.
Read what the following Catholic authorities say regarding the text of 1 Pet. 5:13:
Douai-Rheims Bible footnote;
"...verse 13. Babylon. Figuratively, Rome."
Monseigneur Ronald Knox translation from the Latin Vulgate footnote;
"There can be little doubt that Babylon here means Rome; cf Apoc. 17:5."
Good News Bible footnote;
"Babylon: As in the Book of Revelation, this probably refers to Rome."
A Catholic Commentary on the Holy Scriptures, pp949 & 951;
"Hence when the Apostle concluded with: "the church in Babylon saluteth you," 5:13, we may reasonable presume that Babylon here as in Apoc 14:8; 16:19; 17:5; 18:2, 10, 21 refers to Rome as the place of composition..."
The alacrity with which the Roman Catholic authorities assert the figurative use of "Babylon for Rome" in 1 Pet. 5:13 suddenly, and amusingly, disappears when it comes to the Book of Revelation where commentaries and footnotes bend over backwards to confine the same figurative use to pagan Imperial Rome only, or to evil cities generally.
As stated in Apostolic Succession : The Petrine Hoax, there are two authorities that reveal the true situation regarding Peter and Rome during the first century. We have looked at the first authority - evidence from the New Testament - now we can turn our attention to the second authority, the letter written from the congregation at Rome to the congregation at Corinth circa 96 AD by the hand of Clemens Romanus.
Stay tuned for Clement's Letter...