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was Linus, who, by the Catholics, is placed next to St. Peter in the episcopal see. Irenæus, about 178, speaks of the church of Rome as “ founded and established by the two great apostles, Peter and Paul.” But Epiphanius calls them the first apostles and bishops of Roine; after whom, he says, were Linus, Cletus, Clement.
The following description of the person of St. Peter, by Nicephorus, an ecclesiastical historian of the early part of the fourteenth century, is entitled to very little credence. But it may
be regarded as a curiosity, if not a true portrait. “ His body was somewhat slender, of a middle size, but rather inclining to tallness; his com- plexion very pale and almost white; the hair of. his head and beard curled and thick, but withal short; though St. Jerome tells us that he was bald, which probably might be in his declining age; his eyes black, but specked with red; his eyebrows thin, or none at all; his nose long, but rather broad and flat than sharp.”
It is certain that he was a married man, and probable that his wife accompanied him in his journeys. St. Paul is thought to intimate as much, when he says, in his first epistle to the Corinthians, (ix. 5.)
“ Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apos
tles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas?"
That he was married when he was called to be an apostle, is certain, as the Scriptures mention his “ wife's mother.” But staunch Catholics, with Jerome at their head, will have it, that he left his wife when he left all to follow Jesus. This, however, does not well agree with the testimony of Paul. Clemens Alexandrinus relates, that Peter, seeing his wife going to be martyred, exceedingly rejoiced that she was elected to so great an honor, and that she was now returning home, and calling her by her name, encouraged and exhorted her, bidding her to be mindful of our Lord. The apostle is also said to have had a daughter, by the name of Petronilla.
Two epistles of Peter are received into the Canon of the New Testament. The authenticity of the first is well established and generally allowed. It is addressed “ to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia.” By these “strangers" is most probably meant the Jewish Christians who sojourned in those regions; though some commentators would have the term to apply both to Jewish and Gentile converts. The epistle was written from Rome, which is figuratively denomi
nated Babylon, in the concluding salutation. purpose was to strengthen and comfort those to whom it was addressed, who were suffering under the persecutions which had begun to be fiercely waged against them by the heathens. The topics urged in it, are equal to its design, and are highly consolatory and animating. Of the whole epistle, Erasmus says, “It is worthy of the Prince of the Apostles, and full of apostolical dignity and authority. It is sparing in words, but full of sense."
The genuineness of the second epistle has been called in question, from early times. It never was fully disproved, however, and there was good reason for numbering it at last among the sacred books. The testimony of Eusebius concerning it is as follows: “One epistle of Peter, called his first, is acknowledged. This the presbyters of ancient times have quoted in their writings, as undoubtedly genuine. But that called his second, we have been informed by tradition, has not been received as a part of the New Testament. Nevertheless, appearing to many to be useful, it hath been carefully studied with the other Scriptures." Origen, who flourished in the third century, says of the two epistles, “ Peter, on whom the church is built, hath left an epistle universally acknowledged. Let it be granted that he has also written a second; for it is doubted.” That it was doubted, is no proof of anything more than that the evidence in its favor was not so complete as that which could be produced for other sacred books. ' And it may be said, both of this epistle and the few other writings of the canon which were not fully received, that they manifest in their history, how careful the first Christians were in examining the claims of alleged apostolical compositions, and adopting them as of authority in the church. The learned and candid Lardner observes, that so well founded was the judgment of those early Christians, concerning the books of the New Testament, that no writing which was by them pronounced genuine, has, since their time, been found spurious; neither have we, at this day, the least reason to think any book genuine, which they rejected.
We may be authorized, therefore, in accepting the second epistle of Peter as his true work, notwithstanding the rather doubtful character of its evidence. If it was written by him, it was probably written to the same persons, and from the same place with the first. It was written, also, not long after the first, and not long before the death of the apostle.