The preaching of Peter.

A lost text from century I or II.


Attributed author(s).
Peter.

Text(s) available.
On site (present page in Greek or Latin, English).
Early Christian Writings: Preaching of Peter (English only).

Useful links.
Preaching of Peter at Early Christian Writings.
Apocrypha in the Catholic Encyclopedia.

One of our many sources for primitive Christianity.

Known only from patristic quotations, mainly from Clement of Alexandria. It is not entirely certain whether not this book of Petrine preaching is the same as the book of his teaching (refer to the Origenic passage from On First Things below).

Clement of Alexandria.

Late century II or early century III.

From Clement of Alexandria, Miscellanies 1.29:

Εν δε τω Πετρου κηρυγματι ευροις αν νομον και λογον τον κυριον προσαγορευομενον.

And in the preaching of Peter you may find the Lord referred to as law and word.

From Clement of Alexandria, Miscellanies 6.5 (English translation modified slightly from those of M. R. James and Philip Schaff):

Οτι δε ου κατ επιγνωσιν ισασι τον θεον, αλλα κατα περιφασιν, Ελληνων οι δοκιμωτατοι, Πετρος εν τω κηρυγματι λεγει· Γινωσκετε ουν οτι εις θεος εστιν, ος αρχην παντων εποιησεν, και τελους εξουσιαν εχων· και ο αορατος, ος τα παντα ορα, αχωρητος, ος τα παντα χωρει, ανεπιδεης, ου τα παντα επιδεεται, και δι ον εστιν· ακαταληπτος, αεννατος, αφθαρτος, αποιητος, ος τα παντα εποιησεν λογω δυναμεως αυτου, της γνωστικης γραφης, τουτεστι του υιου.

But that the most approved of the Greeks do not know God by direct knowledge, but indirectly, Peter says in his preaching: Know then that there is one God who made the beginning of all things and has power over their end, and: The invisible who sees all things, uncontainable, who contains all, having need of nothing, of whom all things stand in need and for whose sake they exist, incomprehensible, perpetual, incorruptible, uncreated, who made all things by the word of his power, that is, the son.

Ειτα επιφερει· Τουτον τον θεον σεβεσθε, μη κατ τους Ελληνας· ως δηλονοτι τον αυτον ημιν σεβοντων θεον και των παρ Ελλησι δοκιμων, αλλ ου κατ επιγνωσιν παντελη την δι υιου παραδοσιν μεμαθηκοτων. Μη τοινυν, φησι, σεβεσθε, ουκ ειπεν, θεον ον οι Ελληνες, αλλα, μη κατα τους Ελληνας· αυτος διασαφησει Πετρος επιφερων· Οτι αγνοια φερομενοι, και μη επισταμενοι τον θεον, ως ημεις κατα την γνωσιν την τελειαν, ην εδωκεν αυτοις εξουσιας εις χρησιν, μορφωσαντες χυλα και λιθους, χαλκον και σιδηρον, χρυσον και αργυρον, της υλης αυτων και χρησεως, τα δουλα της υπαρξεως αναστησαντες, σεβονται· και α δεδωκεν αυτοις εις βρωσιν ο θεος, πετεινα του αερος, και της θαλασσης τα νηκτα, και της γης τα ερπετα, και τα θηρια συν κτηνεσι τετραποδοις του αγρου, γαλας τε και μυς, αιλουρους τε και κυνας, και πιθηκους· και τα ιδια βρωματα βροτοις, θυματα θυουσιν· και νεκρα νεκροις προσφεροντες ως θεοις, αχαριστουσι τω θεω, δια τουτων αρνοομενος αυτον ειναι· και οτι γε ως τον αυτον θεον ημων τε αυτων και Ελληνων εγνωκοτων φερεται πλην ουχ ομοιως, εποισει παλιν, ωδε πως· Μηδε κατα Ιουδαιους σεβεσθε, και γαρ εκεινοι μονοι οιομενοι τον θεον γινωσκειν, ουκ επιστανται, λατρευοντες αγγελοις και αρχαγγελοις, μηνι και σεληνη· και εαν μη σεληνη φανη, σαββατον ουκ αγουσι το λεγομενον πρωτον· ουδε νεομηνιαν αγουσιν ουτε αζυμα, ουτε εορτην, ουτε μεγαλην ημεραν.

Then he goes on: This God you worship, not after the manner of the Greeks, showing that we and the approved Greeks worship the same God, though not according to perfect knowledge, for they had not learned the tradition of the son. Do not worship, he says, after the manner of the Greeks; he does not say the god whom the Greeks worship. He would change the method of worship of God, not proclaim another God. What then is meant by [the words] not after the manner of the Greeks? Peter himself will explain, for he continues: Carried away by ignorance and not knowing God as we do, according to the perfect knowledge, but shaping those things over which he gave them power for their use, even wood and stones, brass and iron, gold and silver, forgetting their material and proper use, they set up things subservient to their existence and worship them. And what things God has given them for food, the fowls of the air and the creatures that swim in the sea and creep upon the earth, wild beasts and four-footed cattle of the field, weasels too and mice, cats and dogs and apes, yes, their own edibles do they sacrifice as offerings to edible gods, and in offering dead things to the dead as to gods they show ingratitude to God, by these practices denying that he exists. He will continue again in this fashion: Neither worship him as do the Jews, for they, who suppose that they alone know God, do not know him, serving angels and archangels, the month and the moon, and if no moon be seen they do not celebrate what is called the first sabbath, nor keep the new moon, nor the days of unleavened bread, nor the feast, nor the great day.

Ειτα τον κολοφωνα του ζητουμενου προσεπιφερει· Ωστε και υμεις, οσιως και δικαιως, μανθανοντες, α παραδιδομεν υμιν, φυλασσεσθε, καινως τον θεον δια του Χριστου σεβομενοι. ευρομεν γαρ εν ταις γραφαις, καθως ο κυριος λεγει· Ιδου, διατιθεμαι υμιν καινην διαθηκην, ουχ ως διεθεμην τοις πατρασιν υμων εν ορει Χωρηβ. νεαν υμιν διεθετο· τα γαρ Ελληνων και Ιουδαιων παλαια, υμεις δε, οι καινως αυτον τριτω γενει σεβομενοι, Χριστιανοι. σαφως γαρ, οιμαι, εδηλωσε τον ενα και μονον θεον, υπω μεν Ελληνων εθνικως, υπο δε Ιουδαιων Ιουδαικως, καινως δε υφ ημων και πνευματικως γινωσκομενον.

Then he adds the colophon of what is required: So then do, learning in a holy and righteous way that which we deliver unto you; observe it, worshipping God through Christ in a new way. For we have found in the scriptures how the Lord says: Behold, I make with you a new covenant, not as the covenant with your fathers in mount Horeb. He has made a new one with us, for the ways of the Greeks and Jews are old, but we are they that worship him in a new way in a third race, even Christians. For clearly, as I suppose, he showed that the one and only God was known by the Greeks in a gentile way, by the Jews in a Jewish way, and by us in a new and spiritual way.

Προς δε και οτι ο αυτος θεος αμφοιν ταιν διαθηκαιν χορηγος, ο και της Ελληνικης φιλοσοφιας δοτηρ τοις Ελλησι, δι ης ο παντοκρατωρ παρ Ελλησι δοξαζεται, παρεστησεν, δηλον δε κανθενδε. εκ γ ουν της Ελληνικης παιδειας, αλλα και εκ της νομικης, εις το εν γενος του σωζομενου συναγονται λαου οι την πιστιν προσιεμενοι, ου χρονω διαιρουμενων των τριων λαων, ινα τις φυσεις υπολαβοι τριττας, διαφοροις δε παιδευομενων διαθηκαις, του ενος κυριου οντως, ενος κυριου ρηματι· επει οτι, καθαπερ Ιουδαιους σωζεσθαι εβουλετο ο θεος, τους προφητας διδους, ουτω και Ελληνων τους δοκιμωτατους, οικειους αυτων τη διαλεκτω προφητας αναστησας, ως οιοι τε ησαν δεχεσθαι την παρα θεου ευεργεσιαν, των χυδαιων ανθρωπων διεκρινε, δηλωσει προς τω Πετρου κηρυγματι ο αποστολος λεγων Παυλος· Λαβετε και τας Ελληνικας βιβλους, επιγνωτε Σιβυλλαν, ως δηλοι ενα θεον και τα μελλοντα εσεσθαι· και τον Υστασπην λαβοντες αναγνωτε, και ευρησετε πολλω τηλαυγεστερον και σαφεστερον γεγραμμενον τον υιον του θεου, και καθως παραταξιν ποιησουσι τω Χριστω πολλοι βασιλεις, μισουντες αυτον, και τους φορουντας το ονομα αυτου, και τους πιστους αυτου, και την υπομονην, και την παρουσιαν αυτου. ειτα ενι λογω πυνθανεται ημων· Ολος δε ο κοσμος και τα εν τω κοσμω τινος; ουχι του θεου; δια τουτο φησιν ο Πετρος ειρηκεναι τον κυριον τοις αποστολοις· Εαν μεν ουν τις θεληση του Ισραηλ μετανοησαι, δια του ονοματος μου πιστευειν επι τον θεον, αφεθησονται αυτω αι αμαρτιαι. μετα δωδεκα ετη εξελθετε εις τον κοσμον, μη τις ειπη· Ουκ ηκουσαμεν.

And further, he shows that the same God that furnished both covenants was the giver of Greek philosophy to the Greeks, by which the almighty is glorified among the Greeks. And it is clear from this. Accordingly, then, from the Hellenic training and also from that of the law are gathered into the one race of the saved people those who accept faith, not that the three peoples are separated by time, so that one might suppose three natures, but rather trained in different covenants of the one Lord, by the word of the one Lord. For, in addition to the preaching of Peter, the apostle Paul will show that, as God wished to save the Jews by giving to them prophets, and also by raising up prophets of their own in their own tongue as they were able to receive the beneficence of God, he distinguished the most excellent of the Greeks from the common herd, saying: Take also the Hellenic books, read the Sibyl, how it is shown that God is one, and how the future is indicated. And, taking Hystaspes, read and you will find much more luminously and distinctly the son of God described, and how many kings shall draw up their forces against Christ, hating him and those that bear his name, and his faithful ones, and his patience, and his advent. Then in one word he asks us: Whose is the world and all that is in the world? Are they not of God? Wherefore Peter says that the Lord said to the apostles: If anyone of Israel then wishes to repent and by my name to believe in God, his sins shall be forgiven him. After twelve years go forth into the world so that no one may say: We have not heard.

Confer the sole reference to the preaching of Peter by Origen.

From Clement of Alexandria, Miscellanies 6.6:

Αυτικα εν τω Πετρου κηρυγματι ο κυριος φησι προς τους μαθητας μετα την αναστασιν· Εξελεξαμην υμας δωδεκα μαθητας, κρινας αξιους εμου, ους ο κυριος ηθελησεν και αποστολους πιστους ηγησαμενος ειναι, πεμπων επι τον κοσμον ευαγγελισασθαι τους κατα την οικουμενην ανθρωπους, γινωσκειν οτι εις θεος εστιν, δια της του Χριστου πιστεως εμημ δηλουντας τα μελλοντα, οπως οι ακουσαντες και πιστευσαντες σωθωσιν, οι δε μη πιστευσαντες ακουσαντες μαρτυρησωσιν, ουκ εχοντες απολογιαν ειπειν· Ουκ ηκουσαμεν.

Again in the preaching of Peter the Lord says to his disciples after the resurrection: I elected you twelve disciples, having judged you worthy of me, whom the Lord also wished to be apostles, having considered you to be faithful, sending you unto the world to evangelize the men on the inhabited earth, that they may know that there is one God, showing the things that were about to be through the faith of Christ, that those who have heard and believed should be saved, but those who have not believed, after having heard, should testify, not having a defense to say: We did not hear.

A bit farther down in the same passage Clement writes:

Πασαις δ ανωθεν ταις ψυχαις ειρηται ταις λογικαις· Οσα εν αγνοια τις υμων εποιησεν μη ειδως σαφως τον θεον, εαν επιγνους μετανοηση, παντα αυτω αφεθησεται τα αμαρτηματα.

And to all reasonable souls it has been said above: As many things as any of you did in ignorance, not knowing God clearly, if he should recognize them and repent, all his sins shall be forgiven him.

From Clement of Alexandria, Miscellanies 6.15 (English translation modified slightly from that of Philip Schaff):

Αυτικα ο προφηται παντες οι προθεσπισαντες την παρουσιαν του κυριου και συν αυτη τα αγια μυστηρια εδιωχθησαν, εφονευθησαν· καθαπερ και αυτος ο κυριος, διασαφησας αυτοις τας γραφας, και οι τουτου γνωριμοι, οι κηρυξαντες τον λογον ως αυτος, μετ αυτον το ζην παρεβαλοντο, οθεν και ο Πετρος εν τω κηρυγματι περι αποστολων λεγων, φησιν·

Now all the prophets who foretold the advent of the Lord and with it the holy mysteries accompanying it were persecuted and killed. As also the Lord himself, in explaining the scriptures to them, and his disciples who preached the word like him, and subsequently to his life used parables. Whence also Peter in his preaching, speaking of the apostles, says:

Ημεις δε, αναπτυξαντες τας βιβλους, ας ειχομεν των προφητων, α μεν δια παραβολων, α δε δι αινιγματων, α δε αυθεντικως και αυτολεξει τον Χριστον Ιησουν ονομαζοντων, ευρομεν και την παρουσιαν αυτου, και τον θανατον, και τον σταυρον, και τας λοιπας κολασεις πασας, οσας εποιησαν αυτω οι Ιουδαιοι, και την εγερσιν, και την εις ουρανους αναληψιν, προ του Ιεροσολυμα κτισθηναι, καθως εγεγραπτο· Ταυτα παντα α εδει αυτον παθειν, και μετ αυτον α εσται. ταυτα ουν επιγνοντες, επιστευσαμεν τω θεω δια των γεγραμμενων εις αυτον.

But we, unrolling the books of the prophets which we possess, who name Jesus Christ partly in parables, partly in enigmas, partly expressly and in so many words, find his advent and death, and cross, and all the rest of the tortures which the Jews inflicted on him, and his resurrection and taking up into heaven previous to the capture of Jerusalem, thus written: These are all the things that he must suffer, and what should be after him. Recognizing them, therefore, we have believed in God in consequence of what is written respecting him.

Και μετ ολιγα επιφερει παλιν, θεια προνοια τας προφητειας γεγενησθαι παριστας ωδε· Εγνωμεν γαρ οτι ο θεος αυτα προσεταξεν οντως, και ουδεν ατερ γραφης λεγομεν.

And after a little again he draws the inference that the scriptures owed their origin to the divine providence, asserting as follows: For we know that God enjoined these things, and we say nothing apart from the scriptures.

Origen.

Early century III.

From Origen, On John 13.17:

Πολυ δε εστι νυν παρατιθεσθαι του Ηρακλεωνος τα ρητα, απο του επιγεγραμμενου Πετρου κηρυγματος παραλαμβανομενα, και ιστασθαι προς αυτα εξεταζοντας και περι του βιβλιου, ποτερον ποτε γνησιον εστιν, η νοθον, η μικτον, διοπερ εκοντες υπερτιθεμεθα, ταυτα μονον επισημειουμενοι φερειν αυτον, ως Πετρου διδαξαντος, μη δειν καθ Ελληνας προσκυνειν, τα της υλης πραγματα αποδεχομενους, και λατρευοντας ξυλοις και λιθοις· μητε κατα Ιουδαιους σεβειν το θειον· επειπερ και αυτοι, μονοι οιομενοι επιστασθαι θεον, αγνοουσιν αυτον, λατρευοντες αγγελοις και μηνι και σεληνη.

It is too much to set forth now the quotations of Heracleon taken from the book entitled the preaching of Peter and dwell on them, inquiring about the book whether genuine or spurious or compounded of both elements, so we willingly postpone that, and only note that according to him Peter taught that we must not worship as do the Greeks, receiving the things of matter, and serving stocks and stones, nor worship God as do the Jews, since they, who suppose that they alone know God, are ignorant of him, and serve angels and the month and the moon.

Manifestly this passage reflects one quoted at length by Clement.

Is the preaching of Peter the same book as the teaching of Peter? From Origen, On First Things 1, preface 8:

Si vero quis velit nobis proferre ex illo libello qui Petri doctrina appellatur, ubi salvator videtur ad discipulos dicere: Non sum daemonium incorporeum, primo respondendum est ei quoniam liber ipse inter libros ecclesiasticos non habetur, et ostendendum quia neque Petri est ipsa scriptura neque alterius cuiusdam qui spiritu dei fuerit inspiratus.

If someone truly wishes to recite to us from that little book which is called the teaching of Peter, where the savior is seen to say to the disciples: I am not an incorporeal daemon, it must first be responded to that person that this book is not held among the ecclesiastical books, and [then] demonstrated that it was written neither by Peter nor by any other one who was inspired by the spirit of God.

Confer Jerome, On Famous Men 16, on the gospel according to the Hebrews.

Gregory of Nazianzus.

Century IV.

From Gregory of Nazianzus, epistle 20:

Καμνουσα γαρ ψυχη εγγυς εστι θεου, φησι που θαυμασιωτατα λεγων ο Πετρος, και παντι διαφυγοντι κινδυνον πλειων οικειωσις περι τον περισωσαντα.

For the afflicted soul is near to God, Peter says somewhere, most marvellously; and to every man who escapes a danger there is a greater relation concerning the one who preserved him.

Gregory gives the same saying, but without the attribution to Peter, in one of his orations (17.5):

Επειδη καμνουσα ψυχη εγγυς εστι θεου.

Oecumenius.

Century X.

From Oecumenius, On James 7, commenting on James 5.16 (from the section 5.13-18):

Και γινεται εφ ημιν το του μακαριου Πετρου· Εις οικοδομων και εις καθαιρων, ουδεν ωφελησεν η κοπους.

And it happens to us which the blessed Peter [says]: One building and one destroying, they earn nothing but the labor.