Apostle Peter

Peter and his brother Andrew were fishermen from the Galilean town of Bethsaida in northern Israel. Peter be- came one of Jesus’ twelve apostles and the primary leader in Jerusalem’s early church.

Although it is not mentioned in the book of Acts, in Galatians 2:11-14 the apostle Paul describes how he confronted Peter for false teaching during his visit to Antioch (modern Antakya) around 47. Peter continued to minister in Antioch until around 54, for church tradition tells us that he served as Antioch’s first bishop for about seven years. Because Peter was the first of Jesus’ twelve apostles to live and minister in Antioch, the church there based its authority of apostolic succession on Peter.

During the 50s, Peter engaged in a missionary journey throughout Asia Minor (modern Turkey). Although Peter is considered the first bishop of Rome, when Paul wrote his letter to the Romans about 57, he greeted some fifty people by name, but not Peter. There is also no mention of Peter in Rome during Paul’s two-year imprisonment there from 60 to 62. Peter wrote his letters 1 and 2 Peter during his Rome imprisonment around 65, and according to Acts of Peter he was crucified upside down because he did want to be crucified in the same way as Jesus.

The New Testament does not tell us about Peter’s missionary travels through Asia Minor (modern Turkey), but the early church historian Eusebius does confirm that Peter preached the gospel to those living in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia (1 Peter 1:1), a very large area of northern and central Asia Minor (modern Turkey).

1 Peter 1:1 reads, “From Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the chosen people of God, who live as strangers in this world and are scattered throughout the Roman provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia.”

The geographical sequence of this verse suggests that Peter’s messenger (possibly Silas) followed a specific land route in delivering the letter of 1 Peter. Although we cannot be sure of the exact route, it is possible that the messenger came from Rome and traveled to Byzantium (modern Istanbul). From Byzantium, he took a boat east along the Black Sea coast, stopping at the Pontus ports of Sinope and Amisus. From Amisus, he traveled inland through the mountains to the Ga- latian cities of Amasia and Zela before reaching Cappadocia and its capital, Caesarea (modern Kayseri). Traveling westward through Galatia, he visited Iconium (modern Konya), Pisidian Antioch (modern Yalvaç) and Ephesus in the Roman province of Asia. From Ephesus, he traveled north, visiting Nicea (modern Iznik), Nicomedia (modern Izmit), and Chalcedon (Kadıköy, Istanbul) in Bithynia, before crossing the Bosporus to Byzantium and back to Rome.

This journey required many weeks of difficult travel. It also reveals that churches were spread across Asia Minor (modern Turkey) by the mid-60s.