The Catholic Church boasts that their Church is validated by post-apostolic “doctors of the Church” and history and archaeology, etc., etc., yet the most famous historian in Rome who lived from 37 AD to 101 AD is Josephus and HE NEVER MENTIONED PETER IN ROME.
Was Peter ever the ruler of the church? Of any church any time, any place? Not that anybody knows of. The pastor and leader of the church at Jerusalem was James, the Lord’s brother (Acts_12:17; 15: 13-21; 21:18;Gal_2:9.) This Scriptural account of James is confirmed by Josephus in his Antiquities XX, 9,1, where James’ martyrdom is described. Josephus never heard of Simon Peter, but the Jewish historian knows all about the faithful pastor and leader of the Christian church in Jerusalem.
Roman Catholicism says Peter was the the bishop at Rome from 42 A.D. to 67 A.D, when he was crucified under Nero.
What we have here if Peter was in Rome during those years, is that the New Testament is not reliable.
Sometime during those days Peter made his missionary journey through the western part of Judea, to Lydda, to Joppa, to Caesarea, and back to Jerusalem (Acts 9, 10, 11). Then came the imprisonment under Herod Agrippa I and the miraculous deliverance by the angel of the Lord (Acts 12). Peter then “went down from Judea to Caesarea and there abode” (Acts 12:19). Herod Agrippa died not long after these events (Acts 12:20-23). Josephus says that the death of Agrippa occurred in the fourth year of the reign of Claudius. This would be about 45 A.D., and Peter is still in Palestine.
1. Peter returns the visit and goes to Antioch where Paul is working. This occasioned the famous interview between the two recorded in Galatians 2:11-14. Peter is still in the Orient, not in Rome.
2. After 54 A.D., and after the Antioch visit, the Apostle Peter makes an extensive missionary journey or journeys throughout the Roman provinces of the East. On these missionary tours Peter takes his wife (I Cor. 9:5). They labor in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. This must have taken several years since this is a large territory and a larger work/ministry. This would take us, therefore, to at least 60 A.D., and Peter and his wife are still not in Rome but in the East.
3. In about 58 A.D. Paul wrote a letter to the church at Rome. In the last chapter of that epistle, Paul salutes twenty-seven persons, but he never mentions Simon Peter. If Peter was “governing” the church at Rome, why doesn’t Paul mention Peter?
Romans 1:13 shows that the church at Rome was a Gentile church. At the Jerusalem conference (Gal. 2:9), it was agreed that Peter should go to the Jews and Paul to the Gentiles.
The gospel ministry of Paul was motivated by a statement he makes in Romans 15:20: “Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man’s foundation.” Something similar he repeats in I Corinthians 10:15,16. Having written this to the brethren at Rome, it would have been contradictory for Paul to go to Rome if Peter were already there, or had been there for years.
4. Paul’s first Roman imprisonment took place about 60 A.D. to 64 A.D. from his prison the Apostle to the Gentiles wrote four letters – Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon. In these letters he mentions many of his fellow Christians who are in the city, but he never once refers to Simon Peter.
5. Paul’s second Roman imprisonment brought him martyrdom. This occurred about 67 A.D. Just before he died Paul wrote a letter to Timothy, our “II Timothy.” In that final letter the apostle mentions many people but plainly says that “only Luke is with me.” There is never a reference to Peter.
I have now covered the years of 42 A.D. to 67 A.D., the years Peter is supposed to have been the prince and bishop and ruler of the church at Rome. Yet, there is not even a “peep” that this suggestion is even remotely true. The New Testament denies such fictitious stories.
Peter was never in Rome. Nor was he ruler over any church. Nor did he have any keys to give to anybody else to hand down to others. He was a stone, one out of many with which God is building His spiritual house in earth and in heaven.