The Gospel of Peter – What is it?

Probably written in the second century, the Gospel of Peter is a sixty-verse heretical work that includes the belief that Jesus couldn't have been human.

The earliest manuscripts are from the eighth or ninth centuries, however the first mention of the Gospel of Peter is a warning from the Antioch Bishop Serapion (AD 200) to avoid reading it due to its Docetic bent. Serapion also claimed the letter was a forgery.

Docetism teaches that Jesus' divinity prohibited Him from being human—that He only seemed to have a human body. Other Docetes believed Jesus was a man and then the Messiah joined Him at His baptism, gave Him powers to perform miracles, but then left Him on the cross. This false doctrine, though similar to the Muslim teaching on Jesus' death, gained no foothold in Christendom after about the year 1000.

The Gospel of Peter claims that Jesus' words on the cross were not, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Mark 15:34), but that Jesus cried out for God's power that had left Him.

The Gospel of Peter also describes Jesus ascending to heaven from the tomb, being escorted by two men who brought Him out of the tomb and followed by a cross.

This false gospel also claims that Jesus was crucified in Rome (not Jerusalem) and that Joseph of Arimathea and Pontius Pilate were close friends (the two are not closely linked in the Bible). It makes no mention of the 500 or more witnesses who saw Jesus bodily alive after His death.

The historian Eusebius (c. 260—c. 340) refers to the Gospel of Peter, writing that in its original references, the god spoken of is Apollo, not Jesus Christ.

The Gospel of Peter is one of many false narratives that attempted to derail Orthodox Christianity in the early centuries. Most, as this one, attacked the central truth that Jesus Christ was fully God and fully man, and that He physically died on the cross and physically was resurrected and seen alive by more than 500 people after His resurrection.

Related Truth:

The Gnostic gospels – What are they?

The Apocalypse of Peter – What is it?

The Gospel of Philip – What is it?

The Gospel of Thomas – What is it?

The Gospel of Judas – What is it?

Return to:
Truth about the Bible

Subscribe to the Newsletter:

Preferred Bible Version: is a ministry of