New Testament Survey: Biography Of Peter
- Known by 4 names in the Bible:
- Simon (Greek)(Used 48 times in the Gospels and Acts)
- Simeon (Hebrew equivalent of Simon)(One time in Acts 15:14)
- Peter (Greek)(162 times in the Bible)
- Cephas (Aramaic equivalent of Peter)(Used 6 times in the Bible)
- Peter’s original name was Simon (Simeon) which meant “hearer.” When Jesus met Peter for the first time, He declared Simon’s new name would be Peter (Cephas) meaning “stone” or “rock” (Jn 1:42).
- Hometown: Originally from Bethsaida (on the western coast of the Sea of Galilee). Later moved to a house in Capernaum, which either he or his mother-in-law owned. It is believed that some of the other disciples, and even Jesus Himself may have temporarily lived there (Mt 4:13)(Mk 1:29)(Mk 2:1), meaning it was a large house.
- Occupation: A fisherman on the Sea of Galilee (Mt 4:18)(Mk 1:16)(also his father’s occupation). It appears that Peter and his brother Andrew were fishing partners with James and John (sons of Zebedee)(Lk 5:10) who had “hired servants” working for them (Mk 1:20). This meant they were fairly wealthy.
- His father’s name was “Jona” (Mt 16:17: “Simon Barjona” meaning “Son of Jona”)(Jn 1:42)(Jn 21:15: also called “Jonas.”)(Some translations say “John.”). His mother is not mentioned, however, tradition says that her name was Johanna.
- Peter was married (Mt 8:14-15)(Mk 1:29-31)(Lk 4:38-39), and his wife sometimes traveled with him on his missionary journeys (1 Cor 9:5). (Some historic writings say her name was Perpetua or Concordia.) Tradition says that before Peter was crucified, he was forced to watch his wife being crucified. He is said to have encouraged her by saying “Remember the Lord.”
- In the Gospels, Peter is often shown to have a number of negative traits such as being: stubborn, impulsive, rash, changeful, blunt, and brash. But, on the positive side, he was also bold, energetic, full of faith, and zealously devoted to Christ. A number of times, he would display a positive trait, and then almost immediately afterwards display a negative trait compare: Mt 16:16-17 to Mt 16:21-23). However, after Pentecost, we rarely see the negative traits displayed anymore as he became a courageous, steadfast, unchanging, fearless leader.
- The Sanhedrin declared that Peter was an “unlearned and ignorant” man (Acts 4:13). However, this simply meant that he had no formal training as a rabbi in the study of the law.
- Peter’s brother Andrew, who had first been a disciple of John The Baptist, met Jesus in (Jn 1:35-40). He rushed to find his brother Simon (Peter) and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (Jn 1:41). Andrew then took Simon to Jesus, where upon meeting him, Jesus gave him his new name Peter (Jn 1:42).
- Peter was clearly the most prominent of Jesus’ 12 disciples. Whenever a list of disciples is given in the New Testament, Peter’s name always heads the list (Mt 10:2-4)(Mk 3:16-19)(Lk 6:14-16)(Acts 1:13). We have more information about him in the Gospels than any other disciple.
- As we discussed previously in our Survey of Mark, the early church fathers, as well as most scholars, agree that Peter was the source of what is contained in the Book of Mark, with Mark simply interpreting, and writing down what Peter said.
- Peter was one of three disciples (with James and John) who made up Jesus’ “inner circle.” They were privileged to be present at several important events that the other disciples were not:
- The raising of Jarius’ daughter from the dead (Mk 5:35-43)(Lk 8:49-56).
- The Transfiguration (Mt 17:1-9)(Mk 9:2-10)(Lk 9:28-36)(2 Pet 1:16-18).
- Jesus’ agony in Gethsemene (Mt 26:36-46)(Mk 14:32-42).
- Following is a list of other key moments of Peter in the Gospels:
Jesus’ call to discipleship (probably when Peter was between 30-40 years of age)(Mt 4:18-20)(Mk 1:16-18).
His attempt to walk on water (Mt 14:28-32).
His confession that Jesus was “the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Mt 16:16)(Mk 8:29)(Lk 9:20)(Jn 6:69).
Jesus tells Peter that he was “the rock (upon which) I will build my church” (Mt 16:18). He also gives Peter “the keys to the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 16:19).
Peter rebukes Jesus (for saying how He would be killed), and Jesus in turn rebukes Peter (Mt 16:21-23)(Mk 8:31-33).
Asking how often one brother must forgive another brother (Mt 18:21).
Sent with John to prepare the “Last Supper” Passover meal (Lk 22:7-13)(Mk 14:12-16)(Lk 22:7-13).
His initial refusal, and then allowing, Jesus to wash his feet (Jn 13:3-9).
Jesus’ foretelling Peter’s three time denial (Mt 26:33-35)(Mk 14:29-31)(Lk 22:31-34)(Jn 13:36-38).
Cutting off the right ear of the High Priest’s servant named Malchus (Jn 18:10-11)(Mt 26:51)(Mk 14:47)(Lk 22:50).
His denial of Jesus (Mt 26:69-75)(Mk 14:66-72)(Lk 22:54-62)(Jn 18:15-27).
Ran to Christ’s tomb after it was reported empty, and entered into it (Jn 20:1-10)(Lk 24:9-12).
The resurrected Jesus first appears to Peter, and then to the other disciples (Lk 24:33-34)(1 Cor 15:4-5).
Jesus asks Peter: “do you love me?” 3 times, and he in turn professes his love for Jesus (Jn 21:15-17).
Present at Jesus’ ascension (Mk 16:19-20)(Lk 24:50-53).
- Following is a list of key moments of Peter in Acts:
As we discussed in our Survey of Acts, most scholars believe that in (Mt 16:19), when Jesus gave Peter the “keys to the kingdom of heaven,” this was done so that Peter could open the door to the kingdom of heaven by bringing 3 different groups of people into God’s New Covenant group by group. This “Baptism of the Holy Spirit” occurred in Acts:
- 1st The Jews (Acts 2:14-47)
- 2nd The Samaritans (Acts 8:14-25)
- 3rd The Gentiles (Acts 10:44-48)
Speaking in the “upper room” of the need to select a replacement for Judas (Acts 1:15-26).
Preaches the first sermon on Pentecost (Acts 2:14-39).
Healing the crippled beggar outside the Temple (Acts 3:1-10).
Pronounces judgment on Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-11).
Rebukes Simon the sorcerer who desires to purchase the power of the Holy Spirit (Acts 8:14-24).
Peter meets Paul for the first time since his conversion (Gal 1:18-19) compare to (Acts 9:26-30).
Raises Dorcas (Tabitha) from the dead at Joppa (Acts 9:36-43).
God shows him that salvation has been granted to the Gentiles (Acts Ch. 10).
Reports to the apostles and brethren in Judea that God has granted salvation to the Gentiles (Acts 11:1-18).
Thrown in prison by Herod, and subsequently released by an angel (Acts 12:3-19).
Speaks at the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15:6-11), which was held (Acts 15:1-31) to decide if Gentiles needed to “be circumcised and keep the law” (Acts 15:24) in order to be saved.
- After (Acts Ch. 12), Peter virtually disappears from Acts (apart from his appearance at the Jerusalem Council). We do know that at one point he went to Antioch, where he was rebuked by Paul for hypocrisy (Gal 2:11-21). It is believed that he likely traveled to various Christian churches to organize them, build them up, and hold them together.
- Eventually, it is believed that he ended up at Rome, where tradition says that he was crucified near the end of Nero’s reign in about 67-68 A.D. (He may have been up to 75 years old at the time.) He asked, and was allowed, to be crucified upside down because he felt unworthy to be crucified in the same manner as Jesus. Jesus foretold his martyrdom by crucifixion in (Jn 21:18-19). (Most believe that Peter was martyred just after Paul.)