Defending the Faith: Why was Peter in Rome?

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  • Don Bugg Prince Frederick, MD
    June 16, 2014 12:54 p.m.

    Clifton Palmer McClendon and Ron Hilton take a restrictive view of what constitutes resurrection, suggesting that all the same molecules that composed Peter's body at the time of his death must necessarily be rounded up and reconstituted in order for Peter to be resurrected.

    That view is unwarranted, and quite problematic: If a man dies and his body rots, some of the materials from his body find their way into soil, worms, and plants. Those plants may find their way into animals or people, directly or indirectly. Thus, my body almost certainly contains some atoms and molecules that used to be part of someone else's body. I don't see how we can share those atoms once we are resurrected. It seems, then, that being resurrected consists of having some matter--no matter what matter--formed into a new body that is similar to the one lived in while in mortal life. It does not require that we take up the very same dust we left behind. Thus, there's no problem with Peter being resurrected while his bones lie in the ground.

  • Ron Hilton Holladay, UT
    June 16, 2014 9:17 a.m.

    If St. Peter's bones are still under the Vatican, how did a physically resurrected St. Peter lay hands on Joseph Smith in 1830 to restore the Melchizedek Priesthood?

  • Dennis Harwich, MA
    June 15, 2014 11:34 a.m.

    This is kind of simple. Peter never was in Rome. On it's best day it's a fictional account of anything that might have happened 2000 years ago. Believing everything you read can send you down some very strange roads.

  • Lindy-Lou San Antonio, TX
    June 15, 2014 4:06 a.m.

    @ joe5

    After reading all these comments and arguments, YOU, and only YOU summed it up so very well . . . !

  • christoph Brigham City, UT
    June 14, 2014 4:18 p.m.

    The Gospel of Mark was written to the saints in Rome, and stresses on nearly every page emphasis to be clean, and Mark was a close companion to Peter, both of whom had strong ties to the city.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    June 14, 2014 10:08 a.m.

    Peter and The Cross or Petrine Cross is an inverted cross traditionally used as a Christian symbol, but in recent times also used as an anti-Christian symbol. Peter was crucified upside down Per,Origen

    RE: Twin Lights. In John 21:18, Christ told Peter how he would die at the hand of others. Then Peter asked the Lord what would happen to the apostle John,(Jesus) “If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?”

    A mild rebuke was misunderstood by JS as a promise that John would never die. I.e…,The introduction to D&C 7: 1–3, John the Beloved will live until the Lord comes. John is still alive somewhere on the earth.

    A Modern translation, “So the rumor spread among the community of believers that this disciple wouldn’t die. But that isn’t what Jesus said at all. He only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?”(John 21:23 NLT).

    Biblical scholars outside of the LDS Church tend to believe that John, though not dying as a martyr, probably lived out his days in Ephesus.

  • GD Syracuse, UT
    June 14, 2014 8:58 a.m.

    It seems these articles tend to bring out the non-believers in mass.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    June 13, 2014 8:08 p.m.

    Tyler D,

    Semi-Strong here.

    I am not sure how helping the poor or loving ones neighbor qualify as objective principles. Good yes. But subjectively good in my view.

    Aren’t nearly all principles simply part of a belief system – a system not open to purely scientific examination as to rightness or wrongness?

    If one were to die defending art or poetry, aren’t the definitions of beauty being defended only within the realm of imagination and opinion?

    Aren’t the politics behind many wars really just matters of subjective beliefs (including those we ourselves see as just)?

    I can hardly think of a situation where someone dies in defense of a dry fact provable by science. I suppose there are some. Just none that come to mind.

  • Michigander Westland, MI
    June 13, 2014 2:55 p.m.

    Clifton Palmer McLendon,

    The Apostles Peter and James (who was beheaded) are resting in the paradise of God. They have not resurrected yet and will not return to the earth until the 1st resurrection (Christ's 1000 year reign upon the earth with all His saints from all ages past and present).

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    June 13, 2014 12:35 p.m.

    @Semi-Strong – “Why is the suffering or death of a religious person less a suffering for principle/integrity?”

    Certainly there’s some overlap here but the key difference for me (admittedly, as a non-believer) is between objective principles based in the here & now – which could be the case for a religious person if they we’re martyred because they refused to stop helping the poor or loving their neighbor – and imaginary (again, for me) principles about theology, metaphysics, deities and an afterlife.

    The latter is in my view extremely dangerous – if a person can be convinced to die over such subjective beliefs, they can no doubt be convinced to kill for the same reason (as history makes abundantly clear).

    Hypatia is interesting – the biography I read on her suggests that her friendship with the Prefect was incidental and largely a pretext for her murder. What really sealed her fate - besides being a strong, brilliant woman… something not well tolerated at that time – was her publically refusing to accept the Christian faith (something she was cornered into).

    After that the Christians were just looking for an excuse/right time.

  • Semi-Strong Louisville, KY
    June 13, 2014 12:13 p.m.

    Tyler D,

    Isn't the concept of martyrdom always one in which the principle mattered to the person more than life? That Peter, Christ, or any one of a host of others could have relinquished their faith (and lived) but choose not to.

    It is not simply about an afterlife, it is about living a principled life here. If that means that the powers that be will not accept it and will take your life for it then that is the price some are willing to pay. Even if one does not believe in God, surely it puts into high relief that person's belief in the rightness of their faith or those principles, true? Even in the field of science are not those who suffered for their principles highly regarded? Why is the suffering or death of a religious person less a suffering for principle/integrity?

    From my brief review, the story of Hypatia seems much more political than simply someone killed for her ideas/ideals.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    June 13, 2014 11:25 a.m.

    @Semi-Strong – “But a martyr's death has long been looked at as one that gives glory to God.”

    I cannot begin to express how repellant I find this view and if for no other reason than this, could never accept Christian (let alone Islam) theology.

    Now if we’re talking about choosing to die rather than be enslaved, oppressed or even because one refuses to conform in some way that would be deeply and personally offensive, than that’s a different matter (i.e., one of integrity vs. an afterlife theology or metaphysics).

    Speaking of which, has anyone heard the story of Hypatia of Alexandria?

    She died a principled martyr’s death but I doubt you’ll be happy to know who the perpetrators of her death were.

  • Clifton Palmer McLendon Gilmer, TX
    June 13, 2014 11:13 a.m.

    "... his very bones have been identified."

    Must have been before the summer of 1829. By then, he was a resurrected being.

  • Semi-Strong Louisville, KY
    June 13, 2014 10:32 a.m.


    You state that "dieing (sic) at the hands of criminals is being the victim, not by choice, not the sacrificial lamb."

    Was not Christ the sacrificial lamb? Did he not die at the hands of those who if not criminals certainly committed criminal acts in the disposition of their public offices? While it cannot be said that Christ had no choice in the matter, he otherwise fits your description. Did his death not glorify God?

    I am not saying that one should seek a martyr's death nor that that there is no honor in a long life lived doing the Lord's work followed by a peaceful death. But a martyr's death has long been looked at as one that gives glory to God.

  • DonO Draper, UT
    June 13, 2014 8:51 a.m.

    It's fascinating to read these posts speculating about who was where when, what may or may not have happened, there's "no evidence" of this or that, etc. Interesting mental gymnastics for certain, but what difference does it make? IMO, in matters of religion it all comes down to one's personal relationship with God and if/how one serves his/her fellow human beings. Everything else is just so much "dust in the wind."

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    June 13, 2014 8:35 a.m.

    Ken Sisler,

    "....There is nothing in the Bible that says Peter visited Rome. At the time Peter was on earth, the Christian Church was based in Jerusalem where all of the Apostles lived."

    That’s certainly true. But in Paul’s epistle to the Galatians we read of his confrontation with Peter in Antioch which is in Asia Minor (modern day Turkey). So Peter did travel outside of Judea. While some the literature of the early church is fanciful and of dubious historicity, the reports that he went to Rome are not at all improbable. The witnesses to that are credible ones.

  • joe5 South Jordan, UT
    June 13, 2014 7:33 a.m.

    @crimendelsigloL It's easy for some people to cherry pick the parts of the gospel that appeal to them the most. For you, it is love and other virtues while choosing to ignore the bigger picture. For others, it is something else. But remember that God's thoughts are not our thoughts. For you to impose your beliefs on God is just as incorrect as an Islamic martyr imposing his beliefs on God.

    Hopefully someday people will get over themselves and start trying to hear all of what is revealed rather than just the selected items that make it through their personal filters.

    If death is the greatest tragedy, the God has played a huge joke on all of us since all of us will die. But if you would open your eyes to a more expansive perspective, you wouldn't make such a big deal out of death. To you, God would never ask someone to die but that it an artifact of your much more limited vision of what life is all about. It is more than just continuing to live.

  • joe5 South Jordan, UT
    June 13, 2014 7:11 a.m.

    Why do some people go to such lengths and try so hard to be willfully blind?

    Why do they reject any data that does not fit their already existing paradigm?

    Why do they assume their own knowledge to be so superior that no new thoughts are allowed to enter?

    Why do people think if they personally haven't read about it, it must not have happened?

  • sharrona layton, UT
    June 13, 2014 6:28 a.m.

    RE: Semi-Strong “he would follow Christ’s manner of death”. True,

    “…‘stretch out your hands’, and others will tie you up and bring you where you do not want to go.” Now Jesus said this to indicate clearly by what kind of death Peter was going to Glorify God. After he said this, Jesus told Peter, “Follow me.” John 21:18,19). The kind of death, the hands of the person crucified are ‘stretched out’ and nailed to the cross.”

    (Peter)Jesus Christ has shown me that I must soon leave this earthly life,( 2 Peter 1:14 NLT)

    Hegesippus said that Nero (in Rome) sought to put Peter to death. Jerome said that he was crucified, his head being down and his feet upward, himself so requiring, because he was (he said) unworthy to be crucified after the same form and manner as the Lord was.

    (Peter) for‘flesh and blood hath not revealed it’ unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. (Mt 16:17). Or,God[is]Spirit (John 4:24 Greek N.T.)

  • crimendelsiglo Spanish Fork, UT
    June 13, 2014 12:54 a.m.

    "translation" should read "interpretation".

    if ye love me keep my commandments. love and the other virtues have everything to do with being a follower of Christ

    granted "we have associated those that die defending their testimony" as glorifying God, but (many times more) X (many times more) X (many times more) (seventy times seven) glorify God by living lives of virtue, honesty, faithfulness etc etc etc than have been martyred

    dieing at the hands of criminals is being the victim, not by choice, not the sacrificial lamb. God is not glorified by the death of people. one's death does not impress God

    or possibly so in the case of allah and insane extremists
    or the koolade clan
    or lemmings

    nahhhh, i don't think so

  • Ken Sisler Newmarket, Ontario
    June 12, 2014 10:08 p.m.

    I have never read any evidence that Peter ever was in Rome. Anything said about Peter ever being in Rome may or may not be true. There is nothing in the Bible that says Peter visited Rome. At the time Peter was on earth, the Christian Church was based in Jerusalem where all of the Apostles lived.

  • Semi-Strong Louisville, KY
    June 12, 2014 9:01 p.m.


    (and hopefully you have not committed that)

    Not sure what you mean by translation. I checked several translations. All seem to indicate the same. That when Peter gets older he will be girded by others, his hands outstretched, and taken where he does not wish to go and that in doing so he would follow Christ’s manner of death.

    If Christ meant a simple death from complications due to old age, the phrasing does not seem to fit. Agreed that a faithful life is a wonderful thing. But through long ages we have associated those that die defending their testimony to have glorified God in so doing. It is hardly original to me. Hence it was said of Joseph and Hyrum “He lived great, and he died great in the eyes of God and his people; and like most of the Lord’s anointed in ancient times, has sealed his mission and his works with his own blood; and so has his brother Hyrum.”

    Love has nothing to do with any of this. It is a separate issue entirely.

  • crimendelsiglo Spanish Fork, UT
    June 12, 2014 8:38 p.m.

    Louisville, KY

    the john scriptural passage may "actually usually be cited to mean ... " ... whatever ... usually ...

    which of course is a "intrepretation" of something that isn't implied: young vs old , no crucifiction (inverted or not,) in rome or not, etc. that is a lot of reading in

    i can't see that translation as anyway near the correct meaning

    peter had to remain faithful and diligent in his calling as apostle, of testifying of Christ's divinity to glorify God; one glorifies God by living a true and faithful life of righteousness and love - the same as all christian followers glorifying God. i can't see evidence that a martyr's death is more glorious than a lay follower of ancient age dieing bearing testimony of Christ. will God love one more than the other ?

  • Semi-Strong Louisville, KY
    June 12, 2014 6:45 p.m.


    Actually, that scripture is usually cited to mean that Peter would be crucified and thus glorify God (being faithful even in death).

    How would death from old age/natural causes glorify God?

  • crimendelsiglo Spanish Fork, UT
    June 12, 2014 5:41 p.m.

    Westland, MI

    interesting interpretation of john 21:18-19, but it isn't my interpretation, and it doesNOT tell peter where,when,why,how or by whose hand/command he will die.

    18 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not.
    19 This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me.

    (New Testament | John 21:18 - 19)

    peter, when you were young you directed your own life and you were capable, but when you get old and feeble you will need someone else to help you along, and sometimes to places you would not want to go. follow Me

  • crimendelsiglo Spanish Fork, UT
    June 12, 2014 2:55 p.m.

    1. a careful reading and addition of the deaths ordered by God/Moses in the torah-pentateuch shows that moses, author of 5th (6th or 7th depending on the choice of texts) commandment isrealites to kill 600K MEN/WOMEN/CHILDREN (and oft times all the stock animals.) 600,000 may be an exaggeration by moses "himself", but the sum remains at 600,000 human lives killed

    2. samuel the prophet was commanded by the Lord to annoint saul, king of israel. the Lord remembered what the Amalek kingdom did to Israel, so the Lord via samuel told saul to "slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and (DN banned word)." (I Sam 15)

    saul decided to spare some. saul's throne was removed; the Lord said "to obey is better than sacrifice" and the Lord "repented that He had made Saul king over Israel"

    sometimes it is hard to read the Bible when it tells us what we don't want to believe abt it, but the numbers and words are there

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    June 12, 2014 2:55 p.m.

    @kvnsmnsn – “I find it very hard to believe that God would actually tell anyone "to torture and burn their fellow countrymen for 500 years"”

    If you read the histories of European middle ages it becomes quite clear that otherwise good Christians were utterly convinced they were doing God’s will in burning heretics, pagans, “witches,” and other non-conformists.

    We only judge these actions wrong in retrospect, which raises the question “if God cannot do a better job of communicating his will in real time, is it rational to question the entire theistic believe system?” I think so…

    Again, so we have the proper perspective and scope, we’re talking 500 years of burning heretics! This is not one isolated outbreak of passionate violence but year after year, decade after decade, generation after generation of systemic violence perpetrated by “followers of Christ.”

    And it actually makes sense if you believe the worldview of the OT (e.g., Exodus 22:18).

    But this is not atypical of institutional religion – read the Grand Inquisitor chapter in Brothers Karamazov.

    All of this should give us great pause when submitting our will to “men of God.”

  • Weber State Graduate Clearfield, UT
    June 12, 2014 2:40 p.m.

    "I think the key is to be sure what God is telling you to do..."

    That's the problem...religious believers are sure they are doing what God is telling them to do based upon subjective, supernatural authentication.

    The bigger problem is when one religion claims a corner on the market in terms of being "sure what God is telling you to do."

  • Michigander Westland, MI
    June 12, 2014 2:28 p.m.

    Craig Clark,

    The Apostle Peter died in old age from natural causes per John 21:18-19. The martyrdom in Rome stories are cunningly devised fables.

  • kvnsmnsn Springville, UT
    June 12, 2014 1:33 p.m.

    Tyler D posted:

    =Yes, religion is a powerful motivator and can be the catalyst for people to do
    =extraordinary things they would not otherwise do – we should find this at least
    =as troubling as it uplifting.
    =If that is not clear, ask yourself what would motivate Christians to torture
    =and burn their fellow countrymen for 500 years or 19 pious Muslims to fly
    =planes into buildings.

    I think the key is to be sure what God is telling you to do, before you do it in the name of religion. I find it very hard to believe that God would actually tell anyone "to torture and burn their fellow countrymen for 500 years" or "to fly planes into buildings" where thousands of innocent people would be killed.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    June 12, 2014 12:39 p.m.


    Although the New Testament makes no mention of Peter going to Rome, the early traditions of him being there are very strong ones. They include mention by Clement, Tertullian, and Eusebius. I find it likely that Peter did go to Rome and suffered martyrdom there. Why he came there in the first place is matter for speculation. I find it more likely he was there as an emissary than as leader of the Rome Christian community as Catholic tradition holds. But if he was there for any appreciable length of time, who can say?

  • Michigander Westland, MI
    June 12, 2014 12:18 p.m.

    The Apostle Peter never stepped foot in Rome. Not even once. Rome was the mission field of the Apostle Paul.

  • Russell Spencer Boise, ID
    June 12, 2014 10:42 a.m.


    I think Dr. Peterson is alluding to Simon-Peter's call to the ministry by Christ and subsequent conversion. Peter could have just as easily lived his life as a fisherman, dying quietly in bed, and been forgotten to history a few generations later. Instead, he answered the call to become a fisher of men, died a martyr for the testimony of Christ, and will be remembered through all generations.

    Editors at DesNews typically write the headlines, not the authors. Sometimes headlines end up a little disconnected from the article.

    As to the headline's question, there is a wonderful story of Simon-Peter coming to Rome to set the Church in order. According to the legend, Simon Magus (the guy from Acts 8) had come to Rome claiming to be an apostle and was leading the Romans astray. Magus claimed supernatural powers and appeared to fly. The people, amazed at Magus' "powers," began to doubt. Peter, calling upon the powers of heaven, commanded Magus to fall, and fall he did. He died shortly thereafter. Magus was a favorite of Nero, who then sought an opportunity to kill Peter. The fire provided the pretext.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    June 12, 2014 10:27 a.m.

    Yes, religion is a powerful motivator and can be the catalyst for people to do extraordinary things they would not otherwise do – we should find this at least as troubling as it uplifting.

    If that is not clear, ask yourself what would motivate Christians to torture and burn their fellow countrymen for 500 years or 19 pious Muslims to fly planes into buildings.

  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    June 12, 2014 10:16 a.m.

    The New Testament makes no mention of Peter ever going to Rome. That’s found in early Church traditions and references in writings. Catholicism identifies Peter as the Bishop of Rome and the first Pope although the Papacy didn’t even exist in Peter’s lifetime. It’s not clear to me whether Peter had any leadership authority at all. But in Acts, he does figure more prominently than any other of the twelve.

  • jsthor St. George, UT
    June 12, 2014 9:45 a.m.

    Obviously, Peter was in Rome fulfilling his apostolic duties as the chief Apostle. More specifically, he was trying to correct the false doctrine that was present in the Rome branch of the Church, which doctrine eventually led to apostasy. Most of Paul's epistles in the New Testament were written for the same purpose.

  • McMurphy St George, Utah
    June 12, 2014 6:53 a.m.

    I guess the column is too subtle for me. So WHY did Peter come to be in Rome ??