Acts of Peter

The Acts of Peter is one of the earliest of the apocryphal Acts of the Apostles. The majority of the text has survived only in the Latin translation of the Vercelli manuscript, under the title Actus Petri cum Simone. It is mainly notable for a description of a miracle contest between Saint Peter and Simon Magus, and as the first record of the tradition that St. Peter was crucified head-down.

The Acts of Peter was originally composed in Greek during the second half of the 2nd century, probably in Asia Minor.[1] Consensus among academics points to its being based on the Acts of John, and traditionally both works were said to be written by Leucius Charinus, whom Epiphanius identifies as the companion of John.

In the text, Peter performs many miracles, see Acts 5 verse 12. He healed a crippled beggar. Acts 3. Peter preaches that Simon is performing magic in order to convert followers through deception. In his outrage, Peter challenges Simon to a contest in order to prove whose works are from a divine source and whose are merely trickery. It is said that Simon Magus takes flight and Peter strikes him down with the power of God and prays that Simon be not killed but that he be badly injured. The Acts then continue to say that he was taken to Terracina to one Castor "And there he was sorely cut (Lat. by two physicians), and so Simon the angel of Satan came to his end."[2] Peter's confrontation with Simon Magus has some resemblance to the Prophet Elijah's confrontation with the Priests of Baal, as depicted in the Old Testament's Book of Kings [3] - a text with which the writer of the Acts of Peter was likely familiar.

Following this incident, Peter is going to flee the city; however, he sees an apparition of Jesus and takes it as a message that he must stay and be crucified to see Jesus again in Heaven (see Quo vadis?). Peter had been preaching to Agrippa's concubines that they should practice abstinence and chastity. The enraged Agrippa ordered Peter to be crucified; Peter requested to be crucified upside-down.

A common misconception is that Peter requested to be crucified upside-down because he felt he was unworthy to die in the same manner as Jesus. No canonical text refers to the death of Peter, or that Peter ever set foot in Rome. According to the text of the Acts of Peter, Peter claimed that the values of mankind are upside-down and that we need to look beyond the inverted values of this world and adopt the values of Jesus. Peter requested to be crucified upside-down to make this point.[4]

These concluding chapters describing Peter's crucifixion are preserved separately as the "Martyrdom of Peter" in three Greek manuscripts and in Coptic (fragmentary), Syriac, Ethiopic, Arabic, Armenian, and Slavonic versions. Because of this, it is sometimes proposed that the martyrdom account was an earlier, separate text to which the preceding chapters were affixed.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Acts of Peter". Retrieved 2018-04-19.
  2. ^ The Acts of Peter.
  3. ^ 1 Kings 18:21
  4. ^ Pick, Bernhard (1909). "Martyrdom of the Holy Apostle Peter". The Apocryphal Acts of Paul, Peter, John, Andrew and Thomas. Chicago: The Open Court Publishing Co. pp. 106–22. ISBN 9780837019123. Unless ye make the right as the left, and the top as the bottom and the front as the backward, ye shall not know the Kingdom (of heaven).


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