Where Did Peter Write From?
The question of Peter being in Rome has been a source of debate for many years. There are two main theories concerning the location from which Peter wrote his first epistle. The controversy centers on the identity of “the church that is at Babylon” (1 Peter 5:13).
A Literal Babylon on the Euphrates River
This would seem to be the natural interpretation of the passage. Furthermore, the list of countries in 1 Peter 1:1 is from East to West, which suggests that the writer was in the East at the time of the writing.
J. Vernon McGee writes: “There was at this time a large colony of Jews in ancient Babylon who had fled Rome due to severe persecution under Claudias and at the time of writing bloody Nero was on the Throne” (Through the Bible, p. 256).
In addition to this, the descendents of those Jews taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar were still living in and around Babylon.
Babylon is Rome
Charles Ryrie writes: “The place of the writing was ‘Babylon’ (5:13), a symbolic name for Rome much used by writers who wished to avoid trouble with Roman authorities… Peter was in Rome during AD 63, just before the outbreak of Nero’s persecution in 64. Peter was martyred about 67 (The Ryrie Study Bible, p. 425).”
Furthermore, it is argued that Peter states Mark (5:13) was with him at the time the epistle was written. However, just prior to this, Paul had written Timothy to bring Mark to Rome with him (1 Timothy 4:11). Basic Stages in the Book of Ages (New Testament), p. 325.
The second theory is presented in the Liberty Bible Commentary, Vol. 11, p. 733. “Date and place of writing: Peter wrote from ‘Babylon’ (5:13), which is an esoteric symbol of Rome.”
The question of Peter being in Rome is very ambiguous, and therefore something one must be careful in assigning ‘doctrinal’ importance to – as in the case of the Roman Catholic belief that Peter was the first Pope, etc. The real question should not be so concerned with where Peter was when he wrote the epistles but, do we believe what Peter wrote?
Our position as Christians is simply that we believe the verbal inspiration of the Word of God. We hold that Peter wrote under the inspiration of God the Holy Spirit, and we believe every word he wrote was absolutely correct – infallible.