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We know that several women traveled with Jesus and the Twelve throughout the 3 1/2 year ministry of Jesus, taking care of their needs:

And it happened that soon afterward He was going around from one city and village to another, preaching and proclaiming the Good News of the Kingdom. The Twelve were with Him, and also some women who had been healed of evil spirits and sicknesses: Mary who was called Magdalene...and Joanna the wife of Chuza, Herod's manager, and Susanna, and many others who were ministering to them from their possessions. (Luke 8:1-3)

And many women were there (at the crucifixion) looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee while ministering to Him. Among whom was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of Zebedee. (Matthew 27:55-56)

And we know that Peter had a wife, because there was an occasion when Jesus went to the home of Peter in Capernaum, where Peter's mother-in-law was sick with a fever. (Matthew 8:14, Mark 1:29-31, Luke 4:38-39) [If Peter had a mother-in-law, he naturally had to have a wife!]

But the Apostle Paul (in a defensive soliloquy) wrote that Peter "led about" a wife. (Gk. periagein, "take about with someone"; Thayer's Lexicon):

Do we not have authority to take along a believing wife, even as the rest of the Apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas (Peter)? (1 Corinthians 9:5)

Is it good exegesis and hermeneutically correct to infer that Peter's wife was one of the women who travelled with the Twelve? And if so, why is her name not listed among the other women? Would not the wife of such a well-known disciple be mentioned?

Is there any reference in Rabbinical literature or Tradition (Talmud) that described the relationship of rabbis with their wives, that would provide insight to this type of situation?

Is there any reference in the Ante-Nicene Founding Fathers' writings or Tradition that Peter's wife had died, and only Peter's mother-in-law remained? Is this why Peter's wife is not mentioned during the healing episode? But Paul's statement seems to infer that she was still being "taken along" while he was writing to the Corinthian congregation.

What can we legitimately deduce without unwarranted speculating?

{Scriptures are from the Legacy Standard Bible, 2021, Lockman Foundation}

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    This is opinion based. There is not enough information available to come to a conclusion. Various 'traditions' will be sheer guess-work. The marriage of Peter is a private matter and scripture simply does not dwell on it and discretely does not give out irrelevant information.
    – Nigel J
    Feb 24 at 23:17
  • @ Nigel J - Should this be transferred to Christianity.S.E.? "Traditions" are dealt with there, especially in the Orthodox and Catholic sphere of Christianity.
    – ray grant
    Feb 24 at 23:21
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    All that can be 'deduced without unwarranted speculation' is that Peter had a wife who is never otherwise mentioned in scripture. Other sources (particularly in the field of religious history) are notoriously unreliable because many people make a living out of such speculatory efforts.
    – Nigel J
    Feb 24 at 23:24
  • @ Nigel J - He had a wife "that was led about", not that he just had a wife. So what does this imply?
    – ray grant
    Feb 24 at 23:30
  • It implies that Peter courteously and protectively escorted his wife in public. See περιάγειν Strong 4013.
    – Nigel J
    Feb 24 at 23:35

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There are two cases to consider about the life of the NT travelling evangelist and apostle:

Before the Crucifixion

The available evidence rests on two facts:

  • the women in the list given in Luke 8:1-3 includes women but not one of these was married to any of the men in the group.
  • when Jesus sent out the disciples two-by-two, none took their wives, The reason for this was the way they were sent out - (a) there was no church to finance them and thus (b) they had to live entirely on the hospitality of strangers and take nothing with them.

Wives would have been a burden (in time and finance and charity) and thus did not travel with the 12 or 76 disciples.

After the Crucifixion

After the crucifixion, the church became more organized and two things become clear:

  • many of the apostles were paid (see 1 Cor 9:4, 7ff) as expected and demanded by Paul but not for himself and Barnabas (1 Cor 9:5)
  • many of the apostles took their wives along with them on their travels such as Peter and the other apostles (1 Cor 9:5)

These two situations should not be confused.

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  • @ Dottard - Thank you for your response! However, it should be noted that the "sending out of disciples" was a temporary jaunt arraignment. (As well, with the 70) They came back to Jesus shortly thereafter with amazing news: demons were even subject to them! The wives, with the other women, most probably stayed with Jesus during this time. But thanks for pointing out the two different situations. Peace.
    – ray grant
    Feb 26 at 21:06
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Is it good exegesis and hermeneutically correct to infer that Peter's wife was one of the women who travelled with the Twelve?

No. None of the other women mentioned in the OP traveled with their husbands, even though at least one (Joanna) was indeed married. The purpose of these women in accompanying the Twelve in Luke was not to provide companionship but to "minister to them from their possessions (substance)." Peter's wife had no such wealth, since her husband was a poor fisherman who had left his nets to follow Jesus.

Also, Paul wrote much later, decades after the Resurrection, when the Christian movement was more settled. During the three years (more or less) of Jesus' ministry, the apostles followed a less family-based tradition. Thus, Jesus instructed his disciples to take virtually nothing with them and to live as itinerant beggars. (Luke 9:2-4) In Luke 18, he tells Peter:

I say to you, there is no one who has given up house or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God 30 who will not receive an overabundant return in this present age and eternal life in the age to come.

This implies that leaving one's wife and children was the standard for discipleship during Jesus' ministry. The apostles lived as Jesus did, without a wife and with few if any possessions. Peter was the chief disciple, so it is likely that he followed this standard. The apostles went from house to house, rarely staying long in any particular place. After the Resurrection, this tradition evolved. New converts routinely sold their houses and offered the proceeds to the church. (Acts 5) In Paul's day, as the church grew throughout the Roman Empire, even more funds were available to support church activities, and thus the apostles were entitled to take their wives with them on their journeys. Missionaries stayed in a location long enough to "plant" a church there and visit congregations as they grew, sometimes accompanied by their wives.

Conclusion: It is not out of the question that Peter's wife traveled with the Twelve. However, Jesus' standard of discipleship was to leave one's home and family, even including one's wife, according to Luke 18. Only after the church developed a financial foundation could it afford to send the apostles on missionary journeys accompanied by their wives. The women mentioned in the OP provided material support to the apostles, not companionship, and none of them traveled with a husband. Thus, it not good exegesis to infer with any certainty that Peter's wife traveled with the Twelve. Indeed, the preponderance of the evidence tends toward the opposite conclusion.

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  • @ Dan Fefferman - Thanks for an insightful answer! However, just one correction: it is erroneous to assume that Peter was a "poor fisherman." Even though he joined Jesus and traveled around, he still owned a house in Capernaum, and after the Resurrection, he went back to Galilee to go fishing. This means he and his family had a successful Business accessible at different occasions. What do you think? Peace.
    – ray grant
    Feb 26 at 20:59
  • @ Dan Fefferman - Trueness, Jesus honors those who "give up" usual conveniences for the Gospel: celebacy for the sake of the ministry, even as Paul recommended because of the hard times they were living in. But we cannot infer from Jesus's words that He advocated "divorcing wives" or abandoning their families they already had so they could go minister! --- Also note that the sending out of the Twelve, then 70, with austerity guidelines, was a temporary jaunt. They all returned back to Jesus and the women (wives?) and resumed Jesus's 3 1/2 year ministry. Peace.
    – ray grant
    Feb 26 at 21:18

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