Wenham, John. "Chapter Seven: The Date of Peter's Going to Rome." Redating Matthew, Mark, and Luke: A Fresh Assault on the Synoptic Problem. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 1992, 146-171.
Wenham notes that a traditional historic interpretation of first century events places Peter in Rome after he was released from prison (Acts 12:17), and that his presence in Rome at that time suggests that Mark's Gospel may have been in progress by the mid 40s as opposed to the late 60s (Wenham 1992, 147). While some modern scholarship dismisses Peter's early presence in Rome, many have continued to affirm it as likely. The essential argument which Wenham puruses in this chapter is summarized: "1.) There was a large and world-famous church in Rome in 57 with which Paul had had contact for some years. 2.) A well-grounded tradition says that its foundation was laid by Peter in the second year of Claudius. 3. This fits without difficulty into the account of Peter in Acts. 4.) Rome's claim to Petrine foundation was unchallenged throughout the church" (Wenham 1992, 149).
While Acts never tells us how or when the gospel came to Rome, we do know from chapter 28 that there were Christians there in 60, who came to meet Paul. We also have every reason to believe Paul's letter to the Romans was sent in 57 from Corinth (Wenham 1992, 149). The letter recognizes the church as well established, and greets a number of people by name. The work of Suetonius speaks of riots and discussions among the Jews on account of "Christus," which led to Claudius' exile of Jews in 50. This is consistent with the account in Acts 18 of Paul, in Corinth, meeting a number of Chrsitians who have come from Italy (Wenham 1992, 150). Many exiles likely returned to Rome after Claudius' death in 53. Wenham considers the church at Rome to have been large. Paul greets 25 people, probably a small fraction. Suetonius saw the group as large enough to provoke significant unrest in a large city (Wenham 1992, 152). Further, several of the greetings in Romans 16 are toward members of prominent households, including that of the emperor (Wenham 1992, 153). The Christian movement in Rome was not obscure.
Romans 15:20-24 states that Paul's habit was not to go to places with an established church. Wenham considers this a hint that Rome's church had been established, and probably by Peter, the other apostle known for planting churches (Wenham 1992, 155). The church of Rome since the mid second century until recently taught that Peter was instrumental in the founding and leadership of the church in Rome for 25 years until his death about the year 67 (Wenham 1992, 156). Wenham considers the arguments for and against this tradition. He concludes that the argument from early documents strongly suggests Peter was associated with the church in Rome as the apostolic founder from the earliest period, when some would still have first-hand knowledge of the events (Wenham 1992, 160). Wenham speaks in brief of a tradition suggesting the apostles were to remain in Jerusalem for twelve years, placing a likely departure no earlier than 42 (Wenham 1992, 160-161). He also notes the importance of Simon Magus in Acts 8 (Wenham 1992, 162). Irenaeus, citing Justin Martyr, places Simon in Rome later, deceiving the people and being confronted by Peter.
Though we have relatively few pieces of evidence about Peter's actions after Stephen's death, Wenham does create a chronology of sorts. It demonstrates that Peter was not a constant resident bishop in Rome from 42-67 (Wenham 1992, 165). However, the custom of the ἐπίσκοπος being in residence all the time was not well established by this time. Wenham does not consider the relative silence about someone who was a political fugitive to be a problem, when compared to the selective nature of Acts (Wenham 1992, 166). Peter's work in Rome can explain a great deal, not only about the development of a thriving church there, but also about the relative independence and preparation ofMark's gospel (Wenham 1992, 170).
Finally, Wenham points out that in early Chrsitianity there were no suggestions that Peter was established as a leader anywhere other than at Rome (Wenham 1992, 171). We would expect that other communities would have claimed this Petrine heritage if they could.