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Peter in Rome: Peter went to “another place” in Acts 12:17

Peter is the hero in the first twelve chapters of Acts. We see that the one who formerly denied that he knew Jesus now fearlessly proclaim that the crucified one has been exalted by God as Messiah and Lord. Peter also performs miracles in Jesus’s name. There are multiple instances where Peter suffers trials for his testimony: he is arrested after healing a lame person in the temple courts in Acts 4:1-23, he is re-arrested at the order of the high priests before his prison doors are miraculously opened in Acts 5:17-20, he is arrested a third time when he is discovered in the temple courts rather than in his prison cell and flogged after a trial before the Sanhedrin in Acts 5:21-40, and he is thrown into prison at the order of Herod Agrippa I (ca. 11 BCE – 44 CE) in Acts 12:3-6. After an angel leads Peter out of prison this last time, he returns to a congregation of Christ followers gathered at the house of Mary, the mother of John Mark (Acts 12:7-17). Verse 17 ends with this enigmatic note about Peter: “departing he went to another place” (exelthōn eporeuthē eis heteron topon). Is this a cryptic hint that Peter moved on to Rome in the early 40s CE shortly after he escaped the clutches of Herod Agrippa I? Or was this just a literary way to shuffle Peter off the stage and shift the spotlight over to Paul as the main protagonist of the second half of the book? Peter briefly resurfaces at the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15:7-11 to defend the freedom of non-Jewish Christ followers from having to become proselytes to Torah-observance (Acts 15:1-22; cf. Gal 2:1-10), but Acts is also silent on the incident between Peter and Paul over mixed table fellowship at Antioch in Galatians 2:11-15 (but see the dispute between Paul and Barnabas in Acts 15:35-41) and we do not hear anymore about Peter’s story in the rest of the narrative of Acts.

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