SEAN MCDOWELL BLOG

​Has the House of Peter and Andrew Been Discovered in Capernaum?
Photo credit Steve Conger

​Has the House of Peter and Andrew Been Discovered in Capernaum?

Posted November 03, 2015 by Sean McDowell

SeanMcDowell.org

A few years ago I had the opportunity to visit Israel. It was truly life changing to ride a boat on the Sea of Galilee, walk through Hezekiah’s Tunnel, hike up Masada, and float in the Dead Sea.

One of my favorite sites, however, was the potential home of Andrew and Peter in Capernaum, an ancient city on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee. This site has special interest for me because I have been studying the lives and deaths of the apostles for the past few years, and have chronicled the evidence for their martyrdoms in my recent book The Fate of the Apostles.

What's So Special About Capernaum?

Jesus considered Capernaum his base of operations as he began his ministry (Mark 1:21), and the Gospel of Mark refers to it as his home (Mark 2:1). He performed many miracles in Capernaum, such as healing the paralytic (Mark 2:1-10) and casting the demon out of the man in the synagogue (Mark 1:23-28).

While the family of Peter and Andrew were from Bethsaida (John 1:44), they had a fishing business in Capernaum when Jesus called them to be his disciples (Luke 5:1-11). The Gospel of Matthew reports that Jesus healed Peter’s mother-in-law at Peter’s home in Capernaum (Mathew 8:14-16). While there is no doubt about the location of Capernaum, there is some debate about the identity of Peter and Andrew's home.

Evidence for the Home of Peter and Andrew

In the book Jesus Research, James H. Charlesworth and Mordechai Aviam provide five reasons the house has been properly identified:

First, we know of only one possible and traditional house of Peter and Capernaum. Second, a fifth-century octagonal church was built over an earlier house, this indicates the site was considered sacred, and Peter’s house, in early Byzantine times. Third, in the second or late first century CE the house received plaster on its walls and floors, an indication of special status, and the name “Petros” may be painted on the plaster. Fourth, the lack of household utensils in this house increases the possibility that the place became a “house church.” Fifth, the house was used in the first century BCE and the first century CE, and fishing hooks were found in situ. One may conclude, with some probability, not only that this house was revered as Peter’s house but that it is the house of Peter in which Jesus taught. The Evangelists reported that Jesus performed many miracles in Capernaum (Mt 8:5; Mk 1:21-28; 2:1-12; Lk 7:1-10; Jn 4:46-54); some of them were in Peter’s house or nearby.[1]

Historical and archaeological claims are always provisional to a degree. But it seems we are on solid ground concluding that Jesus taught in the very place in Capernaum identified as the home of Peter and Andrew.

Sean McDowell, Ph.D. is a professor of Christian Apologetics at Biola University, a best-selling author of over 15 books, an internationally recognized speaker, and a part-time high school teacher. Follow him on Twitter: @sean_mcdowell and his blog at seanmcdowell.org.



[1] James H. Charlesworth and Mordechai Aviam, “Reconstructing First-Century Galilee,” Jesus Research, ed. James H. Charlesworth (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2014), 126-127.


ALSO ON SEANMCDOWELL.ORG