Ask a Franciscan

Why No Mention of Peter in Rome?

Q: Why doesn’t Acts of the Apostles say anything about St. Peter’s time in Rome? It covers a period of time up to the time he is said to have died.

A: If Acts of the Apostles were intended as a history textbook, you could rightfully expect it to mention St. Peter’s time in Rome. Acts, however, is written to explain the gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church at Pentecost and then the Spirit-led expansion of the Church, first to Jewish people and then to the gentiles. Peter figures prominently in chapters 1 through 5 and in chapters 10 through 12, with short references in chapters 9 and 15.

After Paul’s conversion is described in chapter 8, his ministry is described in the first part of chapter 9 and then in chapters 13 through 28.

Acts of the Apostles and the Gospel of Luke are addressed to a certain Theophilus, presumably a gentile. The Gospel describes Jesus’ life and ministry, emphasizing the role of the Holy Spirit. Acts describes the Spirit’s role in the spread of Jesus’ message until St. Paul arrives in Rome, the capital of the empire. From there it spread to the rest of the known world. At this point the author’s purpose had been accomplished. In fact, Peter and Paul are still alive when Acts ends; its account is not primarily about them but about Jesus and the spread of his message.

Peter’s presence in Rome is attested to in second-century Christian writings and in a crude cemetery marker (now under the Vatican basilica). More evidence is summarized in an excellent book, Antioch and Rome: New Testament Cradles of Catholic Christianity, by Fathers Raymond Brown, SS, and John Meier.

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1 thought on “Why No Mention of Peter in Rome?”

  1. David J Jr. Wireback

    Why do you explain why Paul never mentions Peter being in Rome in second Timothy chapter 4 starting the verse nine where he urges Timothy to come quickly he mentions Luke and Mark and Titus in this passage. But Peter is not mention.

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