The Martyrs - A Response


By Peter Kirby

It is generally agreed that Paul ended his life in Rome. Written by a companion of his only a couple of decades later, Acts 28 describes Paul in Rome. Letters of Paul such as Romans also indicate that Paul went to Rome. The Church Fathers further confirm that Paul ended his life in Rome. For example (as I pointed out previously), Caius challenged skeptics to examine the graves of Peter and Paul in Rome.

We can be confident that Peter also ended his life in the Capital. You did nothing to refute the discovery of his tomb under Vatican Hill in Rome. His very bones are pretty conclusive evidence that he died there! Written by a contemporary only a couple of decades later, First Peter gives a very reliable reference to Peter being in Rome. The Church Fathers also tell us that Peter ended his life in Rome.

You did nothing to refute the Gospel of John. Written by a contemporary only a couple of decades later, Jn 21:18-19 provides us with a very reliable reference to Peter's martyrdom by crucifixion. On the basis of this alone we may conclude that Peter died by martyrdom, yet we also have the testimony of Church Fathers such as Dionysius of Corinth. Clement of Rome describes the deaths of Peter and Paul in parallel: These "champions who lived nearest to our time" both "were persecuted and contended even unto death" and "by reason of unrighteous jealousy endured" and "had borne his testimony" and "went to his appointed place of glory." This proves that Paul also died by martyrdom.

The next person to mention Peter and Paul together is Ignatius of Antioch, a contemporary c. A.D. 35-107. On his way there to be thrown to the lions, he writes to the church at Rome: "Not as Peter and Paul did, do I command you [Romans]. They were apostles, and I am a convict" (Letter to the Romans 4:3 [A.D. 105]). We already know that Peter and Paul were in Rome, and this tells us that they were leaders of the church at Rome before they were martyred together there.

Thus - on the basis of Acts, Peter's tomb, First Peter, the Gospel of John, First Clement, and Ignatius to the Romans - we may conclude that Peter and Paul were martyred together in Rome during the Neronian persecution. This conclusion is fully borne out by Dionysius of Corinth, Irenaeus of Lyons, Caius, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, and other Church Fathers.


My response in bold

It is generally agreed that Paul ended his life in Rome. Written by a companion of his only a couple of decades later, Acts 28 describes Paul in Rome. Letters of Paul such as Romans also indicate that Paul went to Rome. The Church Fathers further confirm that Paul ended his life in Rome. For example (as I pointed out previously), Caius challenged skeptics to examine the graves of Peter and Paul in Rome.

I agree that Paul says in Romans that he intended to visit Romans and that Acts says that Paul went to Rome, if not voluntarily. These do not ever state that Peter ever went to Rome. The chronology of Acts indicates that Paul would have arrived about 60 or 61 AD. It then states that he spent two years under house arrest. This makes it hard for him to be a martyr under Nero after the fire in Rome in 64 AD. Caius's writings are late and record only that Christians had built a shrine to Peter and Paul, in about 160 AD.

We can be confident that Peter also ended his life in the Capital. You did nothing to refute the discovery of his tomb under Vatican Hill in Rome. His very bones are pretty conclusive evidence that he died there! Written by a contemporary only a couple of decades later, First Peter gives a very reliable reference to Peter being in Rome. The Church Fathers also tell us that Peter ended his life in Rome.

It is amazing to be told that I did nothing to refute your points, when you have never even noticed any points I made and simply repeated what you said previously.

For a more realistic assessment of the evidence about Peter's body read Peter's Bones?. I have also checked Catholic encyclopedias, which also give a more sober assessment. How could anybody identify Peter's body? Dental records? DNA fingerprinting?

1 Peter is by someone who forged Peter's name. Forging a letter in the name of somebody else is not what I call a reliable reference. It includes very little detail about Peter, such as a companion ought to know. May I remind you of 1 Peter 2:13-15 'Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution , whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to praise those who do right.... Honour the emperor'

Are you saying that these are the words of somebody who knew that Peter had been unjustly put to death by the Emperor Nero? I am just astonished.

You did nothing to refute the Gospel of John. Written by a contemporary only a couple of decades later, Jn 21:18-19 provides us with a very reliable reference to Peter's martyrdom by crucifixion. On the basis of this alone we may conclude that Peter died by martyrdom, yet we also have the testimony of Church Fathers such as Dionysius of Corinth. Clement of Rome describes the deaths of Peter and Paul in parallel: These "champions who lived nearest to our time" both "were persecuted and contended even unto death" and "by reason of unrighteous jealousy endured" and "had borne his testimony" and "went to his appointed place of glory." This proves that Paul also died by martyrdom.

May I remind you, yet again, that I already dealt with 1 Clement in my original article, which you have quite ignored? I shall repeat them again, so that you have an opportunity to ignore them again.

Just a few lines before, Clement wrote that Joseph had been persecuted "even unto death". As Clement can hardly mean that Joseph died a martyr's death, the phrase "even unto death" does not mean that Peter and Paul died a martyr's death. In fact, Peter and Paul are mentioned in the context of such figures as Jacob, Joseph, Moses, and David, none of whom were martyred.

As for the phrase "went to his appointed place of glory". I shall point out , yet again, that this does not mean martyrdom. To give one example, Pope Pius XII said about the Virgin Mary that she might be taken up body and soul to the glory of heaven. He did not mean that she had been martyred.

John 21 says nothing about Rome and is very cryptic and written by an an anonymous author . Besides which, the context of the original article is that martyrdoms are often used to prove the truth of the Bible. From that point of view, it is just circular reasoning to use the Bible to prove the truth of martyrdoms.

The next person to mention Peter and Paul together is Ignatius of Antioch, a contemporary c. A.D. 35-107. On his way there to be thrown to the lions, he writes to the church at Rome: "Not as Peter and Paul did, do I command you [Romans]. They were apostles, and I am a convict" (Letter to the Romans 4:3 [A.D. 105]). We already know that Peter and Paul were in Rome, and this tells us that they were leaders of the church at Rome before they were martyred together there.

Once again, I point out that Ignatius says explicitly that Peter and Paul were not convicts. Once again, I point out that you do not have to be in a place to command the people in it. Ignatius says explicitly that Peter and Paul were free.

Thus - on the basis of Acts, Peter's tomb, First Peter, the Gospel of John, First Clement, and Ignatius to the Romans - we may conclude that Peter and Paul were martyred together in Rome during the Neronian persecution. This conclusion is fully borne out by Dionysius of Corinth, Irenaeus of Lyons, Caius, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, and other Church Fathers.

Your quotes establish nothing of the sort. I point out once again that the early Christians also said that John was plunged alive into boiling oil and that Simon the Zealot lived to be 120. If you do not believe them here , why do you believe them when they talk, a century or more after the supposed events, of what happened to Peter and Paul.

Furthermore, Irenaeus and Tertullian were not adverse to rewriting history when it came to Peter and Paul. In Against Heresy, 3.13.3, Irenaeus said that Paul wrote in Galatians 2:5 that 'for a time we did yield to subjection". Tertullian does the same in Against Marcion, Book 5 Chapter 3.

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