Simon Peter, also known as Cephas (John 1:42), was one of the twelve disciples of Jesus Christ. He was from Bethsaida (John 1:44) and lived in Capernaum (Mark 1:29), these cities were on the Sea of Galilee. Simon, James, and John worked together as fishermen (Luke 5:10). Unlike the other disciples, he was married (1 Corinthians 9:5).
In the New Testament, Simon Peter is often portrayed as impulsive and passionate. He is remembered for his unwavering faith in Jesus and his role as a spokesperson for the other disciples. Peter witnessed many significant events in Jesus’ ministry, such as the Transfiguration and the raising of Jairus’ daughter. He also experienced moments of doubt, denial, and restoration, particularly during Jesus’ trial and crucifixion. After Jesus’ resurrection, Peter became a key leader in the early Christian community, preaching and performing miracles.
According to tradition, Peter was eventually martyred in Rome during the reign of Emperor Nero. He is recognized as the first Pope by the Catholic Church and is venerated as a saint in many Christian denominations. The accounts of Peter’s life and teachings can be found in the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), as well as the Acts of the Apostles and various epistles attributed to Peter in the New Testament.
Simon was the brother of Andrew, who followed Jesus after hearing John the Baptist declare that Jesus was the Lamb of God (John 1:35-36). Andrew brought his brother to Jesus. And when Jesus met him, He gave him a new name: Cephas (Aramaic) or Peter (Greek), which means “rock” (John 1:40-42). Jesus called him to follow Him (Luke 5:1-7) and the disciple right away left everything and followed Him (verse 11).
Peter was one of Jesus’ three closest disciples along with James and John. Only those three were present when Jesus raised the daughter of Jairus (Mark 5:37) and at the transfiguration (Matthew 17:1). Just before the crucifixion, Jesus asked this disciple and John to prepare the final Passover meal (Luke 22:8).
Peter was fervent, bold, courageous, and sometimes even impulsive. Jesus reaffirmed that Peter’s faith in Him as Lord was the rock on which the church will be built on (Matthew 16:18-19). For salvation is obtained only through faith in the atoning blood of Jesus (Acts 16:31; Romans 10:9).
But this disciple had a weakness of being self-confident which led him to deny Jesus 3 times just before the crucifixion. But he repented fully of his sin and Jesus forgave him. After the resurrection, Jesus sent him a message of good news and acceptance (Mark 16:7). And, later at the lake, Jesus publicly re-commissioned him as an apostle of the gospel (John 21:6, 15-17).
On the day of Pentecost, Peter was the main speaker to the crowds in Jerusalem (Acts 2:14). As a result, the church added about 3,000 new believers (verse 41). He, later on, preached boldly before the Sanhedrin (Acts 4) and continued in His God given mission in spite of the threats, imprisonment and beatings. Thus, he became a “pillar” of the early church (Galatians 2:9).
At first, the apostle resisted taking the gospel to the gentiles (Cornelius) but the Holy Spirit showed him his error and he then understood that “God does not show favoritism” (Acts 10:34). After that, he defended the Gentiles’ position as believers and taught that they did not need to conform to Jewish law (Acts 15:7-11).
The apostle freely fellowshiped with the Gentile believers. However, when some legalistic Jews arrived in Antioch, he tried to please them by withdrawing from the Gentile Christians. At this point, the Apostle Paul saw this as hypocrisy and called it by name (Galatians 2:11-14).
Peter wrote two epistles, 1 and 2 Peter, between A.D. 60 and 68. Jesus predicted that Peter would die a martyr’s death (John 21:18-19). This prophecy was fulfilled most probably during Nero’s reign.
In His service,