Was Peter’s wife martyred?

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Does the Bible refer to Peter’s wife being martyred?

Anonymous GodWords Reader

The Bible doesn’t mention that Peter’s wife was martyred. After doing a bit of looking, it appears that Clement of Alexandria wrote the following:

They say, accordingly, that the blessed Peter, on seeing his wife led to death, rejoiced on account of her call and conveyance home, and called very encouragingly and comfortingly, addressing her by name, “Remember thou the Lord.” Such was the marriage of the blessed and their perfect disposition towards those dearest to them.

This comes from Clement’s The Stromata, or Miscellanies: Book VII. Tradition, then, rather than Scripture give us this story. If you’d like to read Clement’s words, you can. I wouldn’t bother, to be honest…if you’re curious, it’s interesting. If you’re not that curious, it’s very tedious. =)


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16 responses to “Was Peter’s wife martyred?”

  1. Lee Silber says:

    Peter had a wife, who was she; and who was Peter’s children?

    • Tony says:

      Lee:

      Good question. The Bible doesn’t mention Peter’s wife directly. We know he had been married because his mother-in-law is mentioned, but we have no record of his wife or, if they had any, children.

      We do have a mention outside of Scripture. Clement of Alexandria, in Stromata III (written around 202 AD), said that Peter was married, had children and witnessed his wife’s martyrdom in Rome. The general speculation is that Peter’s wife died before Jesus called him, but that too can’t be substantiated.

    • willem pasterkamp says:

      Peter is the Father of the Church (Andromeda) And her mother is Cassiopeia who was the wife of Cepheus (Kephas). Andromeda was married with Perseus (Christ) who had slain Medusa (Satan) in the underworld.

      • Tony says:

        Um…no. That’s a nice try, Willem…but there’s no evidence that the real-life Peter and the real-life Jesus are actually the characters of mythical stories. Was there a point you were trying to make?

  2. Lee Silber says:

    I know that the apostle Peter was a happily married man, with a wife, daughter, and a son, am I right? Please tell me what was the name’s of Peter’s wife, daughter ( Petronia?), son’s name.How many sons’, daughters’ did Peter have? Also, I believe the apostle Paul was married. I believe he was a widower, or he was divorced; what is the truth about the apostle Paul? I also read Paul was gay with Timothy, am I right?

    • Tony says:

      Lee:

      As I wrote earlier, we don’t know much of anything about Peter’s family. We know he was married, but don’t know if he was happily married. We don’t know his wife’s name. We don’t know that they had any children.

      Paul was single. We don’t know if he had ever been married, but it seems doubtful. As for Paul being gay, don’t believe everything you read.

  3. Karen says:

    Paul was a Pharisee, and therefore had to be married at least prior to his conversion in Damascus

    • Tony says:

      Karen:

      Thanks for commenting. You may be overstating the case. Rabbis were required to be married, but Pharisees were not. To be sure, most Pharisees married. It’s likely that Paul was married, and was either divorced or widowed prior to becoming a follower of Jesus…but it’s not something we know with certainty.

  4. Mary says:

    Why do catholics claim Peter was the first pope?

    • Tony says:

      A good question, Mary.

      The idea is based on a single passage of Scripture: Matthew 16:13-20. Here’s the passage:

      When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?” They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”

      The Roman Catholic church believes that the ‘rock’ that Jesus referred to (petra) was Peter (Petros). This idea suggests that, as they teach, the entire Body of Christ was built with Peter as its leader. They teach that Peter was first among the disciples, and that he passed his authority down to Linus, and he passed his authority down to Anacletus, and so on.

      There are several problems with this idea, of course. First among them is that this idea, that Peter was first among the other disciples, has no basis in Scripture. It’s not stated anywhere, of course. It’s also not supported anywhere. Peter was certainly, being one of the twelve, a huge influence in the early church. In fact, one could make the case that he was in the ‘top three,’ along with James and John. They formed a kind of inner circle among the disciples. However: the idea that there was any kind of hierarchy can’t be found in the Bible. On the contrary, at no time is anyone instructed to welcome Peter or any other leader on the basis of their personal authority. Instead, they were to be seen as fellow laborers in Christ. They may have been the first to follow Jesus, but there’s nothing to suggest that Peter had any more authority than James, or John, or Andrew, or even Paul.

      The Roman Catholic church used to teach that one could not be saved outside of their church. They have since relaxed that position, stating that God can save whomever He wishes, but is unlikely to do that for someone outside Catholicism. They certainly teach that salvation would be impossible without the Roman Catholic church, as – from their position – nobody would even know the Gospel without Peter, the first pope. Either way, this non-Catholic, bible-believing man considers that nonsense. It doesn’t stand up to scrutiny.

      Finally, there’s the matter of context. Jesus didn’t say this while sitting in Peter’s living room. He and His disciples had walked around 40 miles to Caesarea Philippi. This was the actual place where the actual ‘gates of Hades’ was located…a world-famous cave in a rock cliff, where pagan gods had been worshiped for hundreds of years. Here’s a video where we can see this cave, and learn about the rock that Jesus spoke about:

      • Joanne Schmidt says:

        Whenever the apostles are named in the Gospels, Peter’s name always comes first (Judas is always last). Peter is mentioned more than any other apostle in the gospels. Even John acknowledged his preeminence at the Resurrection; arriving at the tomb before Peter, he nevertheless waited for Peter to enter first. Christ appears to Peter first among the apostles. And it is Peter who settles the question whether Jews converted to Christianity need to be circumcized at the first Church council at Jerusalem. After Peter’s martyrdom, there is a line of succession, with Clement the next pope.

        • Tony says:

          Joanne:

          We must be careful to say what the Bible says, and not say what it doesn’t say. We must also be careful to not draw conclusions that aren’t drawn in Scripture. Peter’s name does not always come first. You should make sure to check these things out before you make such claims. Yes, it’s first in many verses, but not all. Also, Peter is not the one who settled the question in Acts 15. I don’t know how you can read that passage and come away with that conclusion… so I’m guessing you haven’t read the passage. Peter is mentioned, but it’s James who appears to have the lead. That matches our understanding of the history of the church at Jerusalem.

          Peter is a very prominent person in the ministry of Jesus, and in the early church. There’s no doubt about that. However: it’s a very large leap to say that because Peter’s name is always first (false) and that because Peter decided the question of gentiles and the Law (false) that the Roman Catholic Church’s idea of popes and papal succession is what Jesus had in mind.

          Don’t hear what I’m not saying, Joanne. I’m not saying that Peter was not the first pope. That’s something that is obviously is dispute, considering both the Schism and the Reformation. I’m simply saying that you can’t use false information to create a true conclusion.

      • Levi says:

        Greetings through Christ, I pray this message finds you well.

        Jesus, who is God, changed Simon to Rock the moment he called him to be an apostle, please read John 1:42,

        “He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called Cephas” (which means Peter).”

        God changes many people’s names in the Old Testament as well, and their new name always reflected their true role and relationship to God in God’s salvation plan.

        In your referenced scripture of Matthew 16, Jesus would have actually said, to him you are Kepha/Cephas and on this Kepha/ Cephas I build my church. Thus, you are Rock and on this Rock I build my church. That’s the moment when Peter nose why The Lord changed his name to Rock- which was a first in Jewish history. First time in antiquity that some one was called Rock.

        Also in John 21, please read :
        15When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 18Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” 19(This he said to show by what kind of death he was to glorify God.) And after saying this he said to him, “Follow me.”
        The entire ” belief” being on that scripture alone is preposterous. There’s actual history in the Catholic Church. Show me which congregations in the world have direct lineage back to the apostles; it’s only the Catholic Church.

        Jesus Christ our Lord and God, right before he acsends back into heaven tells Simon Peter to feed his lambs, tend his sheep and feed his sheep. That’s the job for a shepherd or the shepherd’s right hand man. Since Jesus Christ left the earth to someday return for the final judgment, he bestowed a leader for the Church, his Holy Church. Jesus gave the keys to Peter. This calls back to the Old Testament.

        • Tony says:

          Greetings, Levi!

          I appreciate you writing to me. I understand the Roman Catholic point of view, that Peter was the first pope, and that Jesus said He would build His church on Peter, and that Jesus gave to Peter the keys of the kingdom. These lead to the conclusion that the Roman Catholic church is the only true church. This is not a new idea to me.

          It is, however, a controversial idea. It was an issue in 451 at the Council of Chalcedon. It’s the source of the Great Schism in 1054, for example. It’s the source of the Protestant Reformation. It was contested in the patristic writings, and is still contested today. It was Cyprian of Carthage (born in 200) who wrote that there could be only one true and universal church, and this idea is behind the Roman Catholic church’s idea that they are the One True Church. It’s also the idea behind the same claim from the Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, certain Churches of Christ, and so on.

          As for “direct lineage back to the apostles,” your church history appears to be incomplete. Depending on who’s talking, there is only one – Catholic – or else there are a bunch. Among them are Orthodox churches (Coptic, Syrian, Indian, Ethiopian, and Armenian. Today, there are more than a dozen and a half Orthodox churches that trace their history to the apostles. Some Anabaptists make the same claim, but I don’t think that holds water.

          Here’s something to think about. The context of any passage of Scripture helps us interpret it, and we should look at the context of Peter’s confession in Matthew 16. There were in the region of Caesarea Philippi. What was in that region that might have relevance to the context of Matthew 16? A place… a grotto known at that time as “the gates of Hell.” It was a cave in a cliff face, and a stream came out of the cave. On the cliff were carved niches, where statues of pagan gods were placed. Primary among them was Pan, the god of wild places, shepherds, and flocks. Pan wasn’t worshiped in temples, but caves and grottoes. There’s a picture of the place below… it’s pretty well-known.

          It’s entirely possible that Jesus was saying that that Gates of Hell – that is, the paganism and spiritual warfare of the culture around them – would not prevail against His church. He may have been saying that it was on THAT rock that He would build His church. This may be a new idea to you, but it’s not new to many. I’m not claiming that it’s fact. We don’t know enough to know for sure. I’m claiming that there are a number of plausible ways to understand Jesus’ statements in Matthew 16 that don’t include the idea that Peter was raised to supremacy among the apostles.

          Certainly Peter never wrote as if that were the case, and neither did the other disciples. Paul certainly didn’t bow to Peter, but saw Him as an equal. In Acts 15 we see a council of elders, if you will, answering a theological question about Christians obeying the Law of Moses. Peter was there, but they acted as a group. We see no indication in the text that Peter was a focal point. James is as prominent in the passage as Peter, and there’s no indication that either man was to be considered a vicar of Christ.

          The Gates of Hell near Caesarea Philippi
          The Gates of Hell near Caesarea Philippi
  5. Mary says:

    Thank you for you reply. What catholics believe has no basis from the Scriputre.

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