In the references to Peter’s nameless wife attention is focused upon her equally name-less mother. Although the Roman Catholic Church, falsely claiming Peter as its first pope, would like to discredit the fact that the Apostle had a wife, the Scripture is emphatic in its assertion that he had both a wife and that his wife’s mother, living with them, was healed by Jesus. From Paul we learn that Peter’s wife accompanied her husband on some of his missionary journeys, caring for his many needs (1 Corinthians 9:5). We do not know why the name of this noble woman who was a faithful partner of Peter during the days he fished for a living, and then during the long years of his apostleship, is hidden from us. Peter’s writings in the New Testament were written after his surrender to the claims of Christ, but behind him, as behind many men attaining eminence, is a sympathetic, discreet and understanding woman.
Naturally, Peter was an impulsive man, and had a tendency to quit when things went against him. Coming home in such a mood we can imagine how his wife would reason with him, caution him to go slowly, and encourage him to rise above trials and disappointments. In sickness she would be his comfort, as she was when her mother was stricken with fever. We are not told whether there were any children in their Capernaum home. If there were we are sure that Peter’s wife was the best of mothers. When the Apostle came to write his two epistles, and described in them ideal womanhood and wifehood, did he have before him the example of his wife, as one who was equal to, subject to, her husband, and worthy of all honor as the weaker vessel (1 Peter 3:1-12)? Did she inspire Peter’s description of a modestly dressed woman who thought more of the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit than gaudy apparel? We feel that she was a most worthy wife who was willing to be hidden in order that the cause of the Master to whom Peter and she were dedicated, might be advanced and adorned.
Tradition has it that Peter’s wife was the daughter of Aristobulus, so that while Mark is described as “sister’s son to Barnabas” he was also brother-in-law to Peter. There is also a touching legend concerning Christians in Rome who ceased not to urge Peter to escape when seized and cast into prison so that he might continue to be of service to the church at large. The Apostle yielded to their entreaties and somehow escaped, but when free on the open road he was arrested by a vision of Christ, and he asked Him, “Whither art Thou going?” The glorified One replied, “I am come to Rome to be crucified a second time.” Peter, humiliated, turned back to prison. When death came, his wife was martyr first, and as she was led out to die, Peter comforted her with the words, “Remember the Lord.” When Peter’s turn came he begged his crucifiers to crucify him head downward, feeling he was unworthy to die in exactly the same way as his Lord. In heaven, Peter and his loyal wife shine together as stars for having turned many to righteousness.
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