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probably be concluded from the request of St. Paul, writing from Rome to Timothy, the Bishop of Ephesus, to bring with him Mark, "for he is profitable to me for the ministry';" that Mark was afterwards again at Rome, before the martyrdom of that Apostle.
Subsequently, St. Mark is presented to our notice in Ecclesiastical History as Bishop of Alexandria, the capital of Egypt, and as having been sent thither by St. Peter'. Egypt and its neighbouring countries was the third great spiritual sheep-walk of the dispersed of Israel: and Alexandria was their central fold3. Accordingly, Egypt and the parts of Libya toward Cyrene are mentioned in the third place by the Historian of the Acts of the Apostles, in his enumeration of those to whom St. Peter preached on the Day of Pentecost.
St. Peter, as far as we know, never went in person into Egypt, nor did he ever write an Epistle to the inhabitants of that country; but he sent thither "Marcus his son," and fed the flock there by his instrumentality, both by his Gospel, written under St. Peter's superintendence, and by the pastoral ministrations of St. Mark, the first Bishop of Alexandria.
Thus then, in another sense, St. Peter executed Christ's commission to him, "Feed My Sheep," "Tend My Sheep." And he did this in the same order as that which is set down by the Holy Spirit in the Acts of the Apostles, describing St. Peter's first preaching, as the Apostle of the Circumcision, when he had just been empowered to preach by the "Holy Ghost sent down from heaven," and when he gathered in that spiritual harvest of souls, which may be regarded as the first-fruits of his labours.
The Tending of Christ's flock by personal presence, and preaching; the Feeding of Christ's flock with the healthful food of sound Doctrine, in the writing of Epistles, to endure for all ages after his decease; the continual oversight of Christ's flock by the appointment of Chief Pastors to be continued in succession ;—these were the acts of this Apostolic Shepherd, done in obedience to the pastoral Charge of the Chief Shepherd and Bishop of our souls. And by doing these things St. Peter set an example to all Christian Bishops and Pastors, and cheers them with a blessed hope, that if they follow him, as he followed Christ, then, when "the chief Shepherd shall appear, they will receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away 7."
But the crowning act of St. Peter's pastoral Ministry still remained to be performed.
The Good Shepherd layeth down His life for the sheep, and Peter had received a commission from the Good Shepherd, "Follow thou Me"." He would imitate the Good Shepherd, and obey His command. When he had become old, he had provided for the oversight of the lost sheep of the house of Israel, scattered abroad in Parthia, in Asia, and in Egypt. But his commission was not yet fulfilled. It extended to the uttermost parts of the earth. He had been to the East, to Chaldæa; he must also go to the West, to Italy; he had been to the Eastern Babylon; he must also go to the Western Babylon; he must visit Rome.
Here also he followed the order set down by the Apostolic Historian. There the mention of Mesopotamia is succeeded by the mention of Asia, and the mention of Asia is succeeded by that of Egypt, and the mention of Egypt is succeeded by that of Rome 10. At Rome his course was
Our Lord had charged him to prove his love to Him by feeding His lambs, and by tending His sheep, and by feeding His sheep". And immediately after the delivery of this charge to St. Peter, He had proceeded to utter a prophecy concerning the manner of St. Peter's death: "This He spake, signifying by what manner of death he would glorify God". And when He had spoken this, He said, Follow thou Me." So it came to pass. After St. Peter had tended Christ's sheep by his presence and preaching, and had fed Christ's sheep by his doctrine and writings, and by the ministry of Marcus his son, it remained only that he should perform the finishing work of a Christian Shepherd, in following Him Who is the Good Shepherd, and Who showed His love for His sheep by laying down His life for them 13. "Follow thou Me," were the words of Christ to him; and Christ pre-announced to Peter that he would have grace to follow His Master, not only in His death, but in the manner of it", and would thus prove his love for the Great Shepherd of the Sheep, and would glorify God.
This the blessed Apostle did, in the great city of the West, the Metropolis of the world 15.
1 2 Tim. iv. 11.
2 See Euseb. ii. 16. Epiphan. Hær. li., and the authorities
quoted above in the Introduction to St. Mark, p. 112.
3 See on Acts ii. 9-11.
41 Pet. i. 12.
$ See 2 Pet. i. 15.
71 Pet. v. 1-4.
9 John xxi. 22.
10 Acts ii. 9, 10.
11 John xxi. 15-17.
12 ποίῳ θανάτῳ, John xxi. 19.
13 John x. 15.
14 John xxi. 18.
61 Pet. ii. 25.
8 John x. 11-15.
15 Probably in A. D. 68. See the ancient authorities cited above
Rome. St. Peter himself declares that he foresaw the approach of his death; and probably it was not without divine direction that he went to that place, where the evidence of his own love for Christ, in dying after His example, would be most edifying to the Christian Church. His Master had gone up to Jerusalem to die; St. Peter went for the same purpose to Rome.
Thus he fulfilled the pastoral commission which he had received from Christ, and completed the work which had been given him to do, and which had been delineated in outline by the divine record of his preaching on the Day of Pentecost, when he received the gifts of the Holy Ghost, which enabled him to feed the flock committed to his care.
St. Peter's First Epistle derives special interest from his personal history.
One of its characteristics is its quiet tone of Christian gentleness and humility. This is the more remarkable, because the Author was distinguished among the Apostles by the eager forwardness and fervid vehemence of his character. This natural impetuosity seems to be subdued and chastened, in his Epistle, by an inward self-restraint. That self-restraint was probably produced by a recollection of the former confidence of his professions, and by the result of his self-reliance in the hour of trial. He seems to write under the remembrance of the transactions of the High Priest's hall, at the arraignment of Christ. His Epistle breathes the spirit of Christian meekness and humility, and of submission for Christ's sake. "If ye be reproached for Christ's sake, happy are ye 3." "If any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf." Memorable words from one who had denied his Master.
The example of Christ's demeanour in the last days of His earthly ministry, which St. Peter had seen, seems to have wrought its full effect in his heart.
"Be ye clothed with humility," writes St. Peter". The word there used by the Apostle has been aptly illustrated by a reference to our Saviour's actions when He took a towel and girded Himself, like a servant, and poured water into a basin and washed His Apostles' feet'. St. Peter's language on that occasion, as recorded by St. John, shows that he was much affected by that gracious act of humility; and in his Epistle he seems to refer to it, and to commend it for imitation.
The patient bearing of our Lord before Caiaphas and the Sanhedrim, which St. Peter had witnessed, is also presented as a pattern to his readers. "Even hereunto were ye called: for Christ also suffered for us, leaving you an example, that ye should follow His steps; Who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth; Who being reviled was not reviling again; when He was suffering, He was not threatening; but was committing Himself to Him that judgeth righte ously 10" And again, "It is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing. For Christ also once suffered for sins, just for unjust, that He might bring us to God "." And again, "Forasmuch then as Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm ye yourselves also with the same mind 12 ››
All these exhortations come with special force from him who was a witness of Christ's sufferings 13, and received a solemn charge from Him, "Follow thou Me;" and who had been commanded by Christ to "strengthen his brethren "."
Other characteristics also of this Epistle receive light from St. Peter's personal history.
The Epistle itself contains frequent intimations of the near approach of "a fiery trial" of severe persecution; and of the exposure of Christians to indignities and sufferings for Christ ". But the Apostle was not dismayed by what he foresaw. He not only manifests a spirit of resignation under suffering, but even of joy and exultation. The mention of trial is ever coupled in this Epistle with the language of triumph. The source of that language is to be found in his personal intercourse with Christ.
St. Peter had been with Christ on the Mountain of Transfiguration. Our Lord then talked
with Moses and Elias, who appeared in glory. He conversed with them concerning that future event which, though sorrowful and shameful in itself, was to be His passage to glory. He talked of His death' which He should accomplish at Jerusalem. After the accomplishment of that decease, St. Peter was a witness of Christ's victory and majesty in His Ascension into heaven.
Accordingly, in his Epistle, St. Peter views all the sufferings of Calvary as glorified by triumph. He sees Christ's decease, he sees his own decease, he sees the decease of all Christ's faithful followers, as invested with a heavenly radiance, by the light of the Transfiguration. He writes his Epistle in the joyful light of that prophetic Vision of Glory. And soon after the date of the Epistle he went to Rome, and proved the sincerity of his words by dying joyfully for Christ.
At the time of the Transfiguration St. Peter had attempted to dissuade Christ from suffering1; and in the hour of his human frailty had shrunk from bearing witness to Christ, and denied his Master. But when he wrote this Epistle he rejoiced in the prospect of suffering for Christ, because he saw the "glory that would follow "," and he teaches others to do the same. Great indeed was the spiritual change which had now been wrought in him by the Holy Ghost; and we may thence derive a cheering assurance, that the same Divine Comforter, whose perpetual presence was promised to the Church by Christ, will never fail to shed His gracious influences on the soul, and inspire it with courage in distress.
One of the most interesting characteristics of St. Peter's history is his connexion with St. John. In the Gospel history the riper age of St. Peter is blended in happy combination with the youthful years of St. John; and the ardour of the one is mellowed by the calmness of the other. The one is the Apostle of practical energy, the other of quiet contemplation. And both are joined together in tender bonds of fraternal love. What Mary and Martha were as sisters, St. John and St. Peter were as Apostles. By the side of the Lake of Galilee, after the Resurrection of Christ, they are seen together in the society of their risen Lord, Who uttered a prophecy concerning the future lot of both. And in the Acts of the Apostles, this holy pair of Apostolic friends and brothers is joined together by the Holy Spirit in a sacred union. They go up to the Temple together; they pray together; they preach to the people together; they are sent to prison together; they are delivered together; they go to Samaria together. Then, as far as the Sacred History is concerned, their union seems to be severed. But there is reason to believe that this union subsists for ever in their Epistles in Holy Scripture. St. Peter wrote his Epistle from Parthia to the Churches of St. John's province-Asia Minor; and St. John, it would seem, wrote from Asia to the Christians of Parthia, after St. Peter's death. And if this was so, then this circumstance confirms the arguments already adduced, to prove that the Babylon of St. Peter's first Epistle is the Assyrian city of that name. The evidence of this Epistolary intercourse will be produced hereafter'; in the mean time, let it be enough to have submitted it here for the reader's consideration. Lastly, this Epistle possesses a special interest and value in regard to the relation of St. Peter, the Apostle of the Circumcision, to St. Paul, the Apostle of the Gentiles.
St. Peter received the Keys from Christ1o: and he was the first to unlock the door of the Church to the Jewish and Gentile world.
He admitted the Jews of the Dispersions, by the ministry of the Word and Sacraments ", on the Day of Pentecost. He afterwards admitted the Gentiles in the house of Cornelius at Cæsarea 1. After this initiatory work had been performed by St. Peter, a division of Missionary labour was made between him and St. Paul.
'He that wrought effectually in Peter to the Apostleship of the Circumcision," says St. Paul 13, was mighty in me also toward the Gentiles "4",
About five years after this partition, a difference arose between St. Paul and St. Peter, at the Syrian Antioch.
Whether St. Peter was Bishop of Antioch 15 at this time, is uncertain; but he had great influence in that city. In a moment of vacillation he yielded to the solicitations of those, who, in
their zeal for the ceremonial Law, desired to impose it on the Gentile Christians; and he withdrew himself from the communion of those who declined to receive that Law as necessary to salvation.
In this critical emergency, St. Paul came forward to plead the cause of Evangelical Liberty, and to maintain the plenary and all-sufficient efficacy of Christ's Sacrifice, as the only cause of Justification, and to demonstrate the transitory and preparatory character of the Levitical Ritual, and its fulfilment in Christ; and he openly resisted and rebuked St. Peter'.
About four years after this difference, St. Paul, in the vindication of his own Apostolic claims, and in the maintenance of the doctrine of Christian Liberty, and of Justification by faith in Christ, was constrained to make a report of the circumstances of that controversy in writing his Epistle to the Churches of Galatia; which had been seduced by Judaizing Teachers from the foundation, on which he had settled them, of faith in Christ Crucified'.
Here was a severe trial for St. Peter.
He, to whom Christ had given the Keys; he who had been admitted to His nearest intimacy and most private retirements; he, whose house at Capernaum had harboured Christ'; he who had preached to the Jews and Jewish strangers on the Day of Pentecost; he whose preaching had been sealed with sanctions and benedictions from heaven; he who had been twice miraculously delivered from prison by an Angel; he who had opened the door of the Church to the Gentiles; he was publicly reproved at Antioch-perhaps his own Episcopal city-by one who had not been of the Twelve, and had been a Persecutor of the Church; and the narrative of this rebuke had been communicated to the world by his reprover in an Epistle addressed to the Churches of Galatia, and was openly read in Christian Congregations.
Yet further, many persons, especially the Judaizing Christians, were jealous of St. Paul's influence, and were zealous for St. Peter. They were desirous of claiming him as their champion, and of setting him up as a rival to St. Paul. And the fervid spirit and impassioned temper of St. Peter may have led them to expect that he would have been stung to the quick by the rebuke of St. Paul, and would be ready to accept the leadership which his partizans would have assigned to him. What, then, was the conduct of the blessed Apostle St. Peter under these circumstances? This is an interesting inquiry; and, happily, St. Peter's Epistles supply the answer.
The question debated between him and St. Paul was concerning Christian Liberty; and the circumstances of that debate had been narrated by St. Paul, the Apostle of the Gentiles, in his Epistle to the Gentile Christians of Galatia, and was doubtless familiar to other Churches of Asia. St. Peter, the Apostle of the Circumcision, wrote this his First Epistle to the Jewish Christians
of Asia-"Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia."
In it he delivers a memorable precept concerning Christian Liberty.
That sentence is as follows; it consists of three clauses
1. "As free;
2. "And not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness;
3. "But as servants of God.”
Turn now to St. Paul's Epistle to the Gentile Christians of Galatia.
There also we find a precept concerning Christian Liberty. That sentence is as follows; it also consists of three clauses
1. " Brethren, ye were called to Liberty;
2. "Only use not your Liberty as an occasion to the flesh,
3. "But by love serve one another 5"
Thus we see in both these Epistles the same triple division; the same assertion of Liberty; the same caution against its abuse; the same rule for its use.
The resemblance between these paragraphs from these two Epistles is more remarkable, because they were addressed by the two Apostles to the same Countries; and because they concern that very question of Christian Liberty, on which those two Apostles had formerly been at variance; and because the history of that altercation had been communicated by one of them, St. Paul, in his Epistle to the Galatians, who are also specially addressed by St. Peter in this Epistle.
St. Peter therefore, we see, did not manifest any resentment toward St. Paul for the rebuke given at Antioch, and for the publication of its history to the world. He frankly comes forward
1 See Notes above on Gal. ii. 11-14, and the Review of the
controversy, in the note at the end of that chapter.
2 See Introduction to that Epistle, and the note at the end of the Second Chapter.
3 Matt. viii. 14. Mark i. 29. Luke iv. 38. 40. Cp. Matt. xvii. 24-27.
41 Pet. ii. 16.
5 Gal. v. 13.
and adopts St. Paul's own language on that very question which had been the subject of their dispute.
Here is a noble specimen of victory over self, and of generous confession of error; here is a beautiful practical application of his own precepts concerning Christian humility, meekness, and gentleness, and of love for the sheep whom Christ purchased with his blood.
Would to God that they who call themselves St. Peter's successors would copy St. Peter's example!
Here also was clear evidence to the Jewish and Gentile Christians, and to the world in every age, that the two great Apostles, of the Circumcision and of the Gentiles, who had formerly differed at Antioch, were now in perfect unity with each other, in preaching the great doctrines of Evangelical Liberty, and of the all-sufficient efficacy of the Death of Christ; and in guarding their hearers against abusing that Doctrine, and in exhorting them to regulate their use of Liberty by the law of Love.
Again. St. Paul had addressed another Epistle to the greatest Gentile Christian city of those Asiatic regions to which St. Peter was now writing-the Epistle to the Ephesians.
The Holy Spirit, who had spoken by St. Paul in that Epistle, now speaks by St. Peter to the Jewish Christians of the same country. He proclaims here the same doctrines; and applies them in the same way to the inculcation of the same duties, and almost in the same language as He had done by the agency of St. Paul in the Epistle to the Ephesians.
He declares, that our Regeneration, and filial Adoption in Christ, by the Love of our heavenly Father, sending His only begotten Son to take our nature, and to incorporate us into Himself, and to reconcile us to God by His blood shed for us on the Cross, are the very source and well-spring of all Christian Duty, of man to God, and of man to man; of subjects to kings; of servants to masters ; of wives to husbands; and of husbands to wives; and are the origin of all personal holiness, and of all comfort under sufferings on earth, and of all hope of future glory and endless felicity in heaven.
This great argument had been handled by the Apostle of the Gentiles, St. Paul, in his Epistle to the Gentile Christians of Asia'; it is now treated by the Apostle of the Circumcision, St. Peter, in this Epistle to the Jewish Christians of the same country.
Thus the consent of Apostolic Teaching on the fundamental verities of Christian Faith and Practice is manifested to the world.
This brotherly unity exhibits itself also in incidents of a private character.
The person chosen by St. Peter to be the bearer of this Epistle to the Asiatic Churches is Silvanus3. Silas, or Silvanus, had been taken by St. Paul as his companion in his second missionary tour in Asia; and he had been associated by that Apostle with himself in writing his two earliest Epistles 5.
St. Peter's choice of Silvanus as a messenger for the conveyance of this Epistle to the Jewish Christians of Asia Minor, and his designation of him "as the faithful brother," are happy expressions of his own love, not only to Silvanus, but to St. Paul.
The value of this testimony is enhanced by the addition of another name to that of Silvanus, at the close of this Epistle. Silvanus, "the faithful brother," is joined with "Marcus my son.” Some years before, St. Paul had declined to take Mark with him into Asia, because Mark "had