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Peter, The Man


A. Peter's family lived in Galilee of the Gentiles in the city of Bethsaida on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee (or the Sea of Tiberias cf. John 1:44), but apparently moved to Capernaum at some point (cf. Mark 1:21,29).


B. Peter's father's name was Jonah (cf. Matt. 16:17) or John (cf. John 1:42; 21:15-17).


C. His given name was Simon (cf. Mark 1:16,29,30,36), which was common in Palestine of the first century. It was the Jewish form of Symeon (cf. Acts 15:14; 2 Pet. 1:1), which was the name of one of the Twelve Tribes of Israel (cf. Gen. 29:33; Exod. 1:1).

Jesus renamed him Peter (Petros, which means "rock," meant to describe his eventual strength and stability) in Matt. 16:18; Mark 3:16; Luke 6:14; and John 1:42. The Aramaic form is Cephas (cf. John 1:42; 1 Cor. 1:12; 3:22; 9:5; 15:5; Gal. 1:18; 2:9,11,14). Often in the NT these two names are given together (cf. Matt. 16:16; Luke 5:8; John 1:40; 6:8,68; 13:6,9,24,36; 18:10,15,25; 20:2,6; 21:2-3,7,11,15).

D. Peter's brother's name was Andrew (cf. Mark 1:16). He was a disciple of John the Baptist (cf. John 1:35,40) and later a believer and follower of Jesus (cf. John 1:36-37). He brought Simon to Jesus (cf. John 1:41). Several months later Jesus confronted them by the Sea of Galilee and called them to be His official full-time disciples (cf. Matt. 4:18-20; Mark 1:16-18; and Luke 5:1-11).


E. He was married (cf. Mark 1:30; 1 Cor. 9:5), but there is no mention of children.



A. Peter's family owned several fishing boats and even hired servants.


B. Peter's family may have been partners with James, John, and their father, Zebedee (cf. Luke 5:10).


C. Peter briefly returned to fishing after Jesus' death (cf. John 21).



A. Peter's strengths

1. He was a dedicated follower, but quite impulsive (cf. Mark 9:5; John 13:4-11).

2. He attempted acts of faith, but often failed (e.g. walking on water, cf. Matt. 14:28-31).

3. He was brave and willing to die (cf. Matt. 26:51-52; Mark 14:47; Luke 22:49-51; John 18:10-11).

4. After His resurrection, Jesus addressed him personally as the discredited leader of the Twelve in John 21 and provided an opportunity for repentance and restoration to leadership.


B. Peter's weaknesses

1. He had initial tendencies toward Jewish legalism

a. eating with Gentiles (Gal. 2:11-21)

b. food laws (Acts 10:9-16)

2. He, like all the Apostles, did not fully understand Jesus' radical new teachings and their implications

a. Mark 9:5-6

b. John 13:6-11; 18:10-11

3. He was personally and severely chastised by Jesus (Mark 8:33; Matt. 16:23)

4. He was found sleeping instead of praying in Jesus' great hour of need in Gethsemane (Mark. 14:32-42; Matt. 26:36-46; Luke 22:40-60)

5. He repeatedly denied knowing Jesus (Mark 14:66-72; Matt. 26:69-75; Luke 22:56-62; John 18:16-18,25-27)



A. There are four lists of the Apostles (cf. Matt. 10:2-4; Mark 3:16-19; Luke 6:14-16; Acts 1:13). Peter is always listed first. The Twelve were divided into three groups of four. I believe this allowed them to rotate home to check on their families.


B. Peter often serves as the spokesman for the Apostolic group (cf. Matt. 16:13-20; Mark 8:27-30; Luke 9:18-21). These passages have also been used to assert Peter's authority within the group (cf. Matt. 16:18). However, within this very context he is chided by Jesus as a tool of Satan (cf. Matt. 16:23; Mark 8:33).


Also, when the disciples are arguing over who is greatest, Peter is not assumed to take that position (cf. Matt. 20:20-28, especially v. 24; Mark 9:33-37; 10:35-45).

C. Peter was not the leader of the Jerusalem church. This fell to James, Jesus' half-brother (cf. Acts 12:17; 15:13; 21:18; 1 Cor. 15:7; Gal. 1:19; 2:9,12).



A. Peter's leadership role is clearly seen in the early chapters of Acts

1. He led in the election of Judas' replacement (cf. Acts 1:15-26).

2. He preached the first sermon on Pentecost (cf. Acts 2).

3. He healed a lame man and preached the second recorded sermon (cf. Acts 3:1-10; 3:11-26).

4. He spoke boldly to the Sanhedrin in Acts 4.

5. He presided over the church discipline of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5.

6. He spoke at the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15:7-11.

7. Several other events and miracles are attributed to him in Acts.


B. Peter, however, did not always embody the gospel's implications

1. He retained an OT mind-set (cf. Gal. 2:11-14).

2. He had to have a special revelation to include Cornelius (cf. Acts 10) and other Gentiles.



A. There is little or no information about Peter after the Jerusalem Council of Acts 15

1. Galatians 1:18

2. Galatians 2:7-21

3. 1 Corinthians 1:12; 3:22; 9:5; 15:5


B. Early church tradition

1. Peter's being martyred in Rome is mentioned in Clement of Rome's letter to the church at Corinth in a.d. 95.

2. Tertullian (a.d. 150-222) also notes Peter's martyrdom in Rome under Nero (a.d. 54-68).

3. Clement of Alexandria (a.d. 200) says Peter was killed in Rome.

4. Origen (a.d. 252) says Peter was martyred by crucifixion, head down, in Rome.


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