Acts of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul (2nd century CE)
slightly edited from the full text English translation at newadvent.org
1. IT CAME TO PASS, after Paul [the apostle] left the island Gaudomeleta, that he came to Italy; and it was heard of by the Jews who were in Rome, the elder of the cities, that Paul demanded to come to Caesar. Having fallen, therefore, into great grief and much despondency, they said among themselves: "It does not please him that he alone has afflicted all our brethren and parents in Judaea and Samaria, and in all Palestine; and he has not been pleased with these, but, behold, he comes here also, having through imposition asked Caesar to destroy us."
2. Having therefore made an assembly against Paul, and having considered many proposals, it seemed good to them to go to Nero the emperor, to ask him not to allow Paul to come to Rome. Having therefore got in readiness not a few presents, and having carried them with them, with supplication they came before him, saying: "We beseech thee, O good emperor, send orders into all the governments of your worship, to the effect that Paul is not to come near these parts; because this Paul, having afflicted all the nation of our fathers, has been seeking to come hither to destroy us also. And the affliction, O most worshipful emperor, which we have from Peter is enough for us."
3. And the Emperor Nero, having heard these things, answered them: "It is according to your wish. And we write to all our governments that he shall not on any account come to anchor in the parts of Italy." And they also informed Simon the magician, having sent for him, that, as has been said, [Paul] should not come into the parts of Italy.
4. And... some of those that... had been baptized at the preaching of Peter, sent elders to Paul with a letter to the following effect: "Paul, dear servant of our Lord Jesus Christ, and brother of Peter, the first of the apostles, we have heard from the rabbis of the Jews that are in Rome, the greatest of the cities, that they have asked Caesar to send into all his governments an order that, wherever you may be found, you may be put to death. But we have believed, and do believe, that as God does not separate the two great lights [sun and moon] which He has made, so He is not to part you from each other..."
5. And Paul, having received the two men sent with the letter became eager to go, and gave thanks to the Lord and Master Jesus Christ. And having sailed from Gaudomeleta, he did not now come through Africa to the parts of Italy, but ran to Sicily, until he came to the city of Syracuse with the two then who had been sent from Rome to him. And having sailed thence, he came to Rhegium of Calabria, and from Rhegium he crossed to Mesina, and there ordained a bishop, Bacchylus by name. And when he came out of Mesina he sailed to Didymus, and remained there one night. And having sailed thence, he came to Pontiole on the second day.
6. And Dioscorus the shipmaster, who brought him to Syracuse, sympathizing with Paul because he had delivered his son from death, left his own ship in Syracuse and accompanied him to Pontiole. And some of Peter's disciples having been found there, and having received Paul, exhorted him to stay with them. And he stayed a week, in hiding, because of the command of Caesar. And all the authorities were watching to seize and kill him. But Dioscorus the shipmaster, being himself also bald, wearing his shipmaster's dress, and speaking boldly, on the first day went out into the city of Pontiole. Thinking therefore that he was Paul, they seized him, and beheaded him, and sent his head to Caesar.
7. Caesar therefore, having summoned the leaders of the Jews, said to them: "Rejoice with great joy, for Paul your enemy is dead. And he showed them the head. Having therefore made great rejoicing on that day, which was the fourteenth of the month of June, each of the Jews fully believed it.
8. And Paul, being in Pontiole, and having heard that Dioscorus had been beheaded, grieved with great grief, and gazing into the height of the heaven, said: "O Lord Almighty in heaven, who has appeared to me in every place I have gone on account of your only-begotten Word, our Lord Jesus Christ, punish this city, and bring out all who have believed in God and followed His word." He said to [those who believed] : "Follow me." And going forth from Pontiole with those who believed in the word of God, they came to a place called Baias; and looking up with their eyes, they all saw that city called Pontiole sunk into the seashore about one fathom; and there it is until this day, for a remembrance, under the sea...
9. And those who had been saved out of the city of Pontiole that had been swallowed up, reported to Caesar in Rome that Pontiole had been swallowed up, with all its multitude. And the emperor, being in great grief on account of the city, summoned the leaders of the Jews, said to them: "Behold, on account of what I heard from you, I have caused Paul to be beheaded, and on account of this the city has been swallowed up." And the chief of the Jews said to Caesar: "Most worshipful emperor, did we not say to you that he troubled all the country of the East? It is better therefore, most worshipful emperor, that one city be destroyed, and not the seat of your empire; for this Rome would have suffered." And the emperor, having heard their words, was appeased.
10. A report went about in the city of Rome that Paul the brother of Peter was coming. And those that believed in God rejoiced with great joy. And there was great consternation among the Jews; and having gone to Simon the magician, they entreated him, saying: "Report to the emperor that Paul is not dead, but that he is alive, and has come." And Simon said to the Jews: What head is it, then, which came to Caesar from Pontiole? Was it not bald also?
11. And Peter having heard [that Paul was in Rome], rejoiced with great joy; and rising up, immediately went to him. And seeing each other, they wept for joy... And when Paul had related to Peter the substance of all his doings, and how, through the disasters of the ship, he had come, Peter told him what he had suffered from Simon the magician, and all his plots...
Peter and Paul proceed to travel about Rome, preaching ...
12...and the most part of the people believed. And it happened also that Nero's wife Libia, and the wife of Agrippa the prefect, Agrippina by name, thus believed, so that also they went away from beside their own husbands. And on account of the teaching of Paul, many, despising military life, clung to God; so that even from the emperor's bedchamber some came to him, and having become Christians, were no longer willing to return to the army or the palace.
13. When, consequently, the people were making a seditious murmuring, Simon, moved with zeal, roused himself, and began to say many evil things about Peter, saying that he was a wizard and a cheat. And many believed Simon, in awe of his miracles; for he made a brazen serpent move itself, and stone statues to laugh and move themselves, and himself to run and suddenly to be raised into the air. But in contrast to these, Peter healed the sick by a word, by praying made the blind to see, put demons to flight by a command; sometimes he even raised the dead. And he said to the people that they should not only flee from Simon's deceit, but also that they should expose him, that they might not seem to be slaves to the devil.
14. And thus it happened that all pious men abhorred Simon the magician, and proclaimed him impious. But those who adhered to Simon strongly affirmed Peter to be a magician, bearing false witness as many of them as were with Simon the magician; so that the matter came even to the ears of Nero the Caesar, and he gave order to bring Simon the magician before him. And he, coming in, stood before him, and began suddenly to assume different forms, so that on a sudden he became a child, and after a little an old man, and at other times a young man; for he changed himself both in face and stature into different forms, and was in a frenzy, having the devil as his servant. And Nero beholding this, supposed him to be truly the son of God; but the Apostle Peter claimed he was both a liar and a wizard, base and impious and apostate, and in all things opposed to the truth of God, and that nothing remained except that his wickedness, made apparent by the command of God, might be made manifest to them all.
15. Then Simon, having gone in to Nero, said: Hear, O good emperor: I am the son of God come down from heaven. Until now I have endured Peter only calling himself an apostle; but now he has doubled the evil: for Paul also himself teaches the same things, and having his mind turned against me, is said to preach along with him...if you shall not contrive their destruction, it is very plain that your kingdom cannot stand.
16. Then Nero, filled with concern, ordered everyone to be brought speedily before him. And on the following day Simon the magician, and Peter and Paul the apostles of Christ, came in to Nero, and Simon said: "These are the disciples of the Nazarene [Jesus}, and it is not at all well that they should have the protection of the Jews." Nero said: "What is a Nazarene?" Simon said: "There is a city of Judah which has always been opposed to us, called Nazareth, and to it the teacher of these men belonged." Nero said: "God commands us to love every man; why, then, do you persecute them?
Simon and the apostles are each given time to speak to Nero. Simon complains about the Christians' disruptiveness and disregard for authority while the apostles try to teach Nero about Jesus and their faith. After describing Jesus' miracles, they complain about Simon's deception...
17. And Peter said, "O good emperor. This Simon is full of lies and deceit, even if it should seem that he is what he is not--a god. And in Christ there is all excellent victory through God and through man. But in this Simon there are two essences, of man and of devil, who through man endeavours to ensnare men."
18. Simon said: "I wonder, O good emperor, that you reckon this man of any consequence--a man uneducated, a fisherman of the poorest, and endowed with power neither in word nor by rank. But, that I may not long endure him as an enemy, I shall forthwith order my angels to come and avenge me upon him." Peter said: "I am not afraid of thy angels; but they shall be much more afraid of me in the power and trust of my Lord Jesus Christ, whom thou falsely declarest thyself to be. "
19. Nero said: "Are you not afraid, Peter, of Simon, who confirms his godhead by deeds? Peter said: "Godhead is in Him who searches the hidden things of the heart. Now then, tell me what I am thinking about, or what I am doing. I disclose to your servants who are here what my thought is, before he tells lies about it, in order that he may not dare to lie as to what I am thinking about." Nero said: "Come hither, and tell me what you are thinking about." Peter said: "Order a barley loaf to be brought, and to be given to me secretly." And when Nero ordered it to be brought and secretly given to Peter, Peter said: Now tell us, Simon, what has been thought about, or what said, or what done."
20. Nero said: "Do you mean me to believe that Simon does not know these things, who both raised a dead man, and presented himself on the third day after he had been beheaded, and who has done whatever he said he would do?" Peter said: "But he did not do it before me." Nero said: "But he did all these before me. For assuredly he ordered angels to come to him, and they came." Peter said: "If he has done what is very great, why does he not do what is very small? Let him tell what I had in my mind, and what I have done." Nero said: "Between you, I do not know myself." Simon said: "Let Peter say what I am thinking of, or what I am doing." Peter said: "What Simon has in his mind I shall show that I know, by my doing what he is thinking about." Simon said: "Know this, O emperor, that no one knows the thoughts of men, but God alone. Is not, therefore, Peter lying?" Peter said: "Do you, then, who claims to be the Son of God, know what I have in my mind? Disclose, if you can, what I have just done in secret." Peter had blessed the barley loaf which he had received, and had broken it with his right hand and his left, had heaped it up in his sleeves. Then Simon, enraged that he was not able to tell the secret of the apostle, cried out, saying: "Let great dogs come forth, and eat him up before Caesar." And suddenly there appeared great dogs, and rushed at Peter. But Peter, stretching forth his hands to pray, showed to the dogs the loaf which he had blessed; which the dogs seeing, no longer appeared. Then Peter said to Nero: "Behold, I have shown thee that I knew what Simon was thinking of, not by words, but by deeds; for he, having promised that he would bring angels against me, has brought dogs, in order that he might show that he had not god-like but dog-like angels. "
21. Then Nero said to Simon: "Well, Simon, I think we have got the worst of it." ...Then Nero, turning to Paul, said: "Why do you say nothing, Paul?" Paul answered and said: "Know this, O emperor, that if you permit this magician to do such things, it will bring the greatest mischief to thy country, and will bring down thine empire from its position." Nero said to Simon: "What do you say?" Simon said: "If I do not manifestly hold myself out to be a god, no one will bestow upon me due reverence." Nero said: "And now, why do you delay, and not show yourself to be a god, in order that these men may be punished?" Simon said: "Give orders to build for me a lofty tower of wood, and I, going up upon it, will call my angels, and order them to take me, in the sight of all, to my father in heaven; and these men, not being able to do this, will be put to shame." And Nero said to Peter: "Have you heard, Peter, what has been said by Simon? From this will appear how much power either he or your god has."
22. Peter said: O mighty emperor, it you were willing, you might perceive that he is full of demons." Nero said: "Why do you make to me roundabouts of circumlocutions? Tomorrow will prove you."And when Nero said, "Tomorrow will prove yon," he turned to Paul, saying: "You, Paul, why do you say nothing? ... I think that you have no wisdom, and are not able to accomplish any work of power." Paul answered: "Do you suppose that I ought to speak against a desperate man. a magician, who has given his soul up to death, whose destruction and perdition will come speedily? For he ought to speak who pretends to be what he is not, and deceives men by magic art. If you consent to hear his words, and to shield him, you shall destroy you soul and your kingdom, for he is a most base man... But as for the word of the devil, which I see has been poured out through this man, with groanings of my heart I am dealing with the Holy Spirit, that it may clearly be shown what it [the word of the devil] is; for as far as he appears to raise himself towards heaven, so far will he be sunk down into the depth of Hades, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth...
There follows another interlude of preaching, with Peter and Paul talking to Nero about their teacher, Jesus, and the work they have been doing in his name...
23. Simon said: "O good emperor, these men have counted upon your clemency, and have bound you." Nero said: "But neither have you yet made me sure about yourself." Simon said: "Since so many excellent deeds and signs have been shown to you by me, I wonder how you can be in doubt." Nero said: "I neither doubt nor favor any of you; but answer me rather what I ask...The three of you show that your reasoning is uncertain; and thus in all things you have made me doubt, so that I find that I can give credit to none of you."
Each of the three takes a turn making his case...each side attacking the other...and then Simon speaks again...
24. Simon said: "Listen, O Caesar Nero, that you may know that these men are liars, and that I have been sent from the heavens: tomorrow I go up into the heavens, that I may make those who believe in me blessed, and show my wrath upon those who have denied me." Peter and Paul said: "God long ago called us to His own glory; but you, called by the devil, are rushing to punishment." Simon said: "Caesar Nero, listen to me. Separate these madmen from yourself, so that when I go into heaven to my father, I may be very merciful to you." Nero said: "And how shall we prove this, that you go away into heaven?" Simon said: "Order a high tower to be made of wood, and of great beams, and I will go up upon it so that my angels may find me in the air; for they cannot come to me upon earth among the sinners." Nero said: "I will see whether you can carry out what you say."
25. Then Nero ordered a high tower to be made in the Campus Martins, and all the people and the dignitaries to be present at the spectacle. And on the following day, all the multitude having come together, Nero ordered Peter and Paul to be present, and he said to them: "Now the truth will be made manifest." Peter and Paul said: "We do not expose him as false, but our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, whom he has falsely declared himself to be, will expose him."
26. And Paul, turned to Peter and said: "I will bend the knee and pray to God; and your part is to produce the effect, if you should see him attempting anything, because you were first taken in hand by the Lord." And Paul, bending his knees, prayed. And Peter, looking steadfastly upon Simon, said: "Accomplish what you have begun; for both your exposure as a fraud and our call to God is at hand: for I see my Christ calling both me and Paul." Nero said: "And where will you go to against my will?" Peter said: "Wherever our Lord calls us." Nero said: "And who is your lord?" Peter said: "Jesus the Christ, whom I see calling us to Himself." Nero said: "Do you also then intend to go away to heaven?" Peter said: "If it shall seem good to Him that calls us." Simon said: "In order that you may know, O emperor, that these are deceivers, as soon as ever I ascend into heaven, I will send my angels to you, and will make you come to me." Nero said: "Do at once what you say."
27. Then Simon went up upon the tower in the face of all, and, crowned with laurels, he stretched forth his hands, and began to fly. And when Nero saw him flying, he said to Peter: "This Simon is true, but you and Paul are deceivers." To whom Peter said: "You shall know soon enough that we are true disciples of Christ, but that he is not Christ, but a magician, and a malefactor." Nero said: "Do you still persist? Behold, you see him going up into heaven." Then Peter, looking steadfastly upon Paul, said: "Paul, look up and see." And Paul, having looked up, full of tears, and seeing Simon flying, said: "Peter, why are you idle? Finish what you have begun, for already our Lord Jesus Christ is calling us." And Nero hearing them, smiled a little, and said: "These men see that they have lost already, and they have gone mad." Peter said: "Now you shall know that we are not mad." Paul said to Peter: "Do at once what you must."
28. And Peter, looking steadfastly against Simon, said: "I adjure you, you angels of Satan, who are carrying him into the air to deceive the hearts of the unbelievers, by the God that created all things, and by Jesus Christ, whom on the third day He raised from the dead, no longer from this hour to keep him up, but to let him go." And immediately, being let go, Simon fell into a place called Sacra Via, that is, Holy Way, and was divided into four parts, having perished by an evil fate.
29. Then Nero ordered Peter and Paul to be put in irons, and the body of Simon to be carefully kept three days, thinking that he would rise on the third day. And Peter said to Nero: "He will no longer rise, since he is truly dead, being condemned to everlasting punishment." And Nero said to him: "Who commanded you to do such a dreadful deed?" Peter said: "His reflections and blasphemy against my Lord Jesus Christ have brought him into this gulf of destruction." Nero said: "I will destroy you." Peter said: "This is not in your power, even though it seems good to you to destroy us; it is but necessary that what our Master promised to us should he fulfilled." [Peter is saying that Nero only thinks he is acting independently-- he is really just a tool of God, who determined that Peter and Paul should witness their faith through a dramatic death.]
30. Then Nero, having summoned Agrippa, said to him: "It is necessary that men introducing mischievous religious observances should die. Wherefore I order them to take iron clubs, and to be killed in the sea-fight." Agrippa the propraetor said: "Most sacred emperor, what you have ordered is not fitting for these men, since Paul seems innocent beside Peter." Nero said: "By what fate, then, shall they die?" Agrippa answered and said: "It seems to me just that Paul's head should be cut off, and that Peter should be raised on a cross as the cause of the murder." Nero said: Thou hast most excellently judged. Then both Peter and Paul were led away from the presence of Nero. And Paul was beheaded on the Ostesian road. And Peter, having come to the cross, said: "Since my Lord Jesus Christ, who came down from the heaven upon the earth, was raised upon the cross upright, and He has deigned to call to heaven me, who am of the earth, my cross ought to be fixed head down, so as to direct my feet towards heaven; for I am not worthy to be crucified like my Lord." Then, having reversed the cross, they nailed his feet up.
31. And the multitude was assembled reviling Caesar, and wishing to kill him. But Peter restrained them, saying: "A few days ago, being exhorted by the brethren, I was going away; and my Lord Jesus Christ met me, and having adored Him, I said, 'Lord, where are You going?' And He said to me, 'I am going to Rome to be crucified.' And I said to Him, 'Lord, were You not crucified once for all?' And the Lord answering, said, 'I saw you fleeing from death, and I wish to be crucified instead of you.' And I said, 'Lord, I go; I fulfil Your command.' And He said to me, 'Fear not, for I am with you.' On this account, then, children, do not hinder my going; for already my feet are going on the road to heaven. Do not grieve, therefore, but rather rejoice with me, for today I receive the fruit of my labours." And then he said: "I thank You, good Shepherd, that the sheep which You have entrusted to me, sympathize with me; I ask, then, that with me they may have a part in Your kingdom." And having thus spoken, he gave up the ghost.
32. And immediately there appeared men glorious and strange in appearance; and they said: "We are here, on account of the holy and chief apostles, from Jerusalem." And they, along with Marcellus, an illustrious man, who, having left Simon, had believed in Peter, took up his body secretly, and put it under the terebinth near the place for the exhibition of sea-fights in the place called the Vatican. And the men who had said that they came from Jerusalem said to the people: "Rejoice, and be exceedingly glad, because you have been deemed worthy to have great champions. And know that Nero himself, after these not many days, will be utterly destroyed, and his kingdom shall be given to another."
33. And after these things the people revolted against Nero; and when he knew of it, he fled into desert places, and through hunger and cold he gave up the ghost, and his body became food for the wild beasts.
34. And some devout men of the regions of the East wished to carry off the relics of the saints, and immediately there was a great earthquake in the city; and those that lived in the city became aware of the plan, ran to seize the men, but they fled. But the Romans took the apostles' bodies and put them in a place three miles from the city, and there they were guarded a year and seven months, until their followers had built the place in which they intended to put them. And after these things, all having assembled with glory and singing of praise, they put them in the place built for them.
35. And the consummation of the holy glorious Apostles Peter and Paul was on the 29th of the month of June--in Christ Jesus our Lord, to whom be glory and strength.
The full text of the apocryphal Acts of Peter and Paul may be found here.
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