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The Home of the Apostle Peter

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Jesus Lived in this Home in Capernaum


This site is always part of our live Octagon Tour.


Location - Capernaum

Map Coordinates - 32.880999, 35.575371

Merged Gospels stories - Many

 

Of all of the many homes uncovered in Capernaum, this one draws the most attention. That’s because it is believed to have once belonged to Jesus’ Apostle, Simon Peter. As you look at these rocks, you might wonder what all of this is. The quick answer is that you’re looking at the ruins of a church that was built on the site of Peter’s home.


Above these ruins you can see a building floating directly over these stones. This building is a modern Catholic church constructed in 1990, and this church has a glass window on the floor, through which you can look down into the very center of these ruins.


In the Gospels, while Jesus was staying in Capernaum, there are many references to a place called “the house”.  When it says, “the house”, it’s probably referring to Peter’s house. 


We have a lot of evidence that this was, in fact, Peter’s home, and if that’s the case, then it was also the place where Jesus lived during the two-and-a-half years when He made Capernaum the home base for His ministry.


The area inside the tall walls in the center was the location of Peter’s home. Those aren’t the original walls of his home, but that’s where his home was. The kind of home that he lived in was called an insula. An insula is a collection of homes that were built around a central courtyard. That’s why the Catholics, who are the custodians of this site, call Peter’s home The Holy Insula.


There were fish hooks that were discovered in this home, which is not, in itself, unusual, since this was a fishing village. That tells us that there were fishermen who lived here, and we know that Peter himself was a fisherman.


This is what the Capernaum church looked like before 1990.


How do we know that this was Peter’s home?


There are many reasons why we can almost prove that this was the home of Simon Peter. The first three reasons are based on what we know from the first and second centuries. 


When archeologists started studying this home, they found that the rough stone walls had been smoothed out. That didn’t happen anywhere else in this city - only here.  And there were 196 inscriptions etched into the walls of this home. Once again, none of the other homes in this town had any inscriptions on the walls. These inscriptions were the words "Jesus," "Lord," "Christ," "Peter," "Amen", “Lord have mercy”, and “Lord, Jesus Christ, help your servant”. There were prayers on the walls too. And pictures - branches, trees, flowers, fruit, and pictures of crosses. It’s obvious that this home was very special. And because there were so many different languages written on these walls, it’s also obvious that people came from many different countries to visit this particular home. If this were not the home of Simon Peter, the transformation of this building, and the special treatment it got, would be very difficult to explain. 


Very soon after Jesus was resurrected it makes sense to me that people living around here would have wondered where all the stories about Jesus took place. Because the events of His life were recent history for them, everyone living in Capernaum must have known full well what happened in that house. And that’s why this became a worship center. 


Here’s something else. We know that Peter was married. He probably had children. Is it possible that his family would remember where he lived? Imagine being able to tell someone, “I was Peter’s son.” If they stayed in Capernaum, they would have definitely remembered where their father lived, because they probably grew up in the same house.


Fast forward to 313 AD when Christianity was legalized. That’s when this home was converted to a church, and there are written records of that. The Spanish lady pilgrim named Egeria visited this site sometime around 381 AD. In her diary she writes, "The house of the prince of the Apostles in Capernaum was changed into a church. However, the walls are still standing as they were.”  This statement is proof-positive that, by this time, this house was considered to be the home of Simon Peter. If it was Peter’s home, it was also the headquarters for Jesus’ Galilean ministry.

 

When this home became a dedicated church building, a lot of changes were made. Walls were built around the home. There were arches, pavement, and more plaster. They built hallways, a stone roof, and they had paintings in there. That was in the fourth century. In the fifth century this church went through another building program. It took on the shape of an octagon, which was pretty common because many churches were shaped like octagons.

 

A baptistry was installed, pillars, and a floor covered with mosaics, especially a peacock in the middle, which was the Christian symbol for resurrection and immortality.

 

In the fifth century, the church was visited by an anonymous pilgrim from Piacenza Italy, and he wrote, “The house of Saint Peter is now a church." (Itinerarium Antonini Placentini). 

 

All that came crashing down in 614 AD, when the Persians invaded the Holy Land and destroyed many of the churches, including this one. Because this land was ruled soon afterward by the Muslims, this church was never rebuilt. It’s been like this ever since the year 614 AD.

 

Bottom line - Layer upon layer of archeological and historic evidence strongly supports this building’s association with both Jesus and Simon Peter.

 

What Biblical events took place here?


Several things are recorded in the Gospels that Jesus taught inside this home. 

 

This is where He healed Peter’s mother-in-law (The Merged Gospels, story 37). In fact, it’s where He healed many people.


The healing of Peter’s mother-in-law took place in this house.


It’s where He told His disciples, “If anyone wants to be first, he will be a servant of all” (Mark 9:35) It was in this house that Jesus told Peter to drop a hook in the water, and that he would find a fish with a coin in its mouth (Matthew 17:27). It was here that Jesus taught about the tares growing among the crops (Matthew 13:24-30), and about the pearl of great price (Matthew 13:45,46). All of these He taught in Peter’s home.

 

Jesus heals the paralytic who is lowered through the roof


Probably the most important story that took place in this home was when Jesus healed a paralytic that was lowered by several men through a hole in the roof, directly in front of Jesus (The Merged GospelsTM, story 43). The reason that was so important is that this was the moment that Jesus claimed to be the God of Israel. 


When Jesus healed the paralytic, He told him, “Your sins are forgiven”. The Pharisees who were present said, “Why is He saying this? Only God can forgive sins.” They were right. But Jesus could read their thoughts, and He replied to them, “By healing this man, you can now see that I have the authority on earth to forgive sins.” In other words, “I am the Lord Who can do this.”


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