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Bible Commentaries

William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament

1 Peter

- 1 Peter

by William Baxter Godbey

1 AND 2 PETER

PROLOGUE

Petros, Peter, means a rock, the cognomen given to Simon by our Savior on their first meeting, designative of his firmness, which the world never saw till after the fires of Pentecost consumed his vacillation and cowardice and ever afterward rendered him so conspicuous for that unflinching integrity and redoubtable courage, which enabled him to live a hero and die a martyr. Peter was the Apostolical senior, about forty years old and encumbered with a family when Jesus called him to leave his boats and tackles on the sea of Galilee and become a fisher of men. His seniority was uniformly recognized by the Savior and his comrades during their ministry, and especially at Pentecost, where it was his honor to preach the first Gospel sermon. Peter is not only the author of the two epistles which bear his name but is believed to have dictated Mark’s Gospel. When I was in Rome in 1895 I visited the old judgment hall where Nero, the merciless tyrant, arraigned and condemned Peter and Paul, incarcerating them in the dismal Mamertine prison entered perpendicularly by descending through a circular aperture excavated in the solid strata down into a dismal, gloomy, filthy, rayless, artificial cavern, hewn out of the solid limestone, where they awaited the day of their execution. The guide escorted me out through the western wall of the city one mile, to the spot where Paul was beheaded, and then he led me back into the city upon the Campus Martins to the spot where he said Peter was crucified with his head downward, at his own request, asseverating his unworthiness to die in the same posture in which his Master had been crucified. Peter testifies that he wrote this letter in Babylon, which is the prophetic name of Rome, and doubtless means Rome, as the ancient capital of the Assyrian Empire had been a heap of ruins and uninhabited for ages, having gone into dilapidation from the time of its destruction by the Medes and Persians. Not only is Babylon the prophetic name of Rome, but it was a well known appellation of Rome in the apostolic age. Hence I verily believe that this epistle was written at Rome, corroborating the history of Peter’s ministry and martyrdom at the world’s metropolis.