Was the Apostle the first Peter?

Was the Apostle the first Peter?

Is there an attested use of the Greek word "petros" (meaning 'stone') as a given name, before it was given to Peter the Apostle?

Note: The name Jesus gave to Peter was most likely 'Kepha,' since that is what John 1:42 says, and since Jesus is most likely to have spoken Aramaic and not Greek. Also, Paul, author of probably the earliest books of the Bible, who had certainly met Peter in real life, called him both Cephas and Peter. So Peter was a name given to Simon/Kepha by those who knew him and spoke Greek. Just wanted to cut the pedants off at the pass.


And the only disciple that was ever likely to have an actual Greek name was Saul/Paul because of his family's ties and being a Roman citizen. For everyone else their names are either translated or transliterated into their current form; names which they likely never heard during their lives, including the name "Jesus".

Handling of Proper names in the bible Transliteration or Translation of Biblical Proper Names

Jesus Yeshua to Jesus

Rules of Transliteration Rules for the Transliteration of Hebrew and Aramaic

I say it was unlikely they even heard their names in Greek because there was no reason for them to be called that. Keep in mind the translation and circulation of the New Testament manuscripts took time, often wasn't done by the disciple the book was named after, etc. They obviously didn't read the "New Testament" and (in the case of the 12) were usually suspicious of Greeks and considered themselves as having been sent to the "lost sheep of the house of Israel". Matthew 10:5-6 Apostle to the Gentiles

Was the Apostle the first Peter? - History

1 Peter 1:7-9 - That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love in whom, though now ye see [him] not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, [even] the salvation of [your] souls.

1 Peter 4:12-16 - Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy [are ye] for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or [as] a thief, or [as] an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men's matters. Yet if [any man suffer] as a Christian, let him not be ashamed but let him glorify God on this behalf.

1 Peter in The New Testament - A Brief Overview

Icon of St. James the Just

Introduction to The Book of 1 Peter

Brief Summary. Peter wrote his epistle to comfort and strengthen the Christians that were under severe persecution. He speaks about the glory of their inheritance in heaven, which is reserved for those who are suffering for the sake of Christ. He also wrote his epistle to reinforce all of their instruction regarding living the Christian life. Peter exhorts every Christian to abstain from worldly pleasures and serve the living God. He encourages believers to be ready to give a defense of their Christianity, and to display love toward one another. He also encourages them to be strong in their faith and to remove any doubts. He assures them that they were not following "cunningly devised fables" but had received the truths concerning Lord Jesus Christ, to whose glory the apostle Peter himself have been an eyewitness. (Matthew 17)

Summary of The Book of 1 Peter

Author. Peter, the fisherman from Galilee is the author of the book of 1 Peter. The writer refers to himself as "Peter" in 1 Peter 1:1. Scholars agree on authorship as well as the early church leaders like Polycarp, Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian and Origen who all quote from the book naming Peter as the author. When comparing the words and character of Peter the work is clearly his style.

Date. The book of 1 Peter was written during a great persecution happening to the church, because Peter mentions the "fiery trial" which the Christians were suffering under. Most likely it was the persecution under the Emperor Nero in 64 AD where Peter Himself was martyred. Most likely the book of 1 Peter was written in 63 AD just before his death.

Place of Writing. The epistle of 1 Peter was written from Rome. The apostle Peter was suffering the same persecution as all Christians in the Roman Empire, and especially in Rome. When Peter mentions "Babylon" as a place he was writing from, it was most likely a euphemism for Rome. Peter may not have wished to reveal that he was in Rome. It also would not have been wise for Peter or any Christian to speak of Rome in any way other than a great empire, especially during a time of great persecution. Any Christian would've understood Babylon is a symbol for Rome. Also the fact that Mark (1 Peter 5:13) and Timothy (2 Timothy 4:11) were with him at the time of this writing, indicates that the book was written from Rome.

Outline of the Book of 1 Peter

Present Trials and Future Blessing - Chapter 1
Christ's Trials- Chapter 2
Trials and Grace - Chapters 3-5

The Name Jesus In Ancient Hebrew Text
"Yeshua" in First Century Hebrew Text. This is how the name "Jesus" would have been written in ancient Hebrew documents. The four letters or consonants from right to left are Yod, Shin, Vav, Ayin (Y, SH, OO, A). Jesus is the Greek name for the Hebrew name Joshua or Y'shua which means "The LORD or Yahweh is Salvation".

1 Peter Maps and Resources

Map of the Roman Empire (14 A.D.) - This map reveals the Roman Empire during the time shortly after the birth of Jesus, in 14 AD at the time of the death of Augustus. The order which prevailed in this extensive empire, the good military roads, and the use of Koine Greek as the general language of culture throughout the area were among the factors which multiplied the rapid spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. (Color Map)

Map of Paul's First Missionary Journey (48 A.D.) - This map reveals the areas in Asia Minor where Paul visited in his first missionary journey. Around 48 AD, in the springtime, Paul and his companions Barnabas and Mark were sent on a mission from the church in Antioch. This would be the first of Paul's Missionary Journey's. (Color Map)

Map of Paul's Second Missionary Journey (51 A.D.) - This map reveals the areas in Asia and Greece where Paul visited in his second missionary journey. Paul re-visits a couple cities in Asia, one of which was Lystra where he was stoned and left for dead a few years earlier. He later has a vision that leads him over to Greece and Paul and his companions travel and minister in various cities in Greece (Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea, Athens and Corinth. Later Paul returns to Ephesus and finally to Caesarea and Antioch. (Color Map)

Map of Paul's Third Missionary Journey (54 A.D.) - This map reveals the areas in Asia and Greece where Paul visited in his third missionary journey. On Paul's third missionary journey he returned to the cities he had first visited on his first missionary journey. During this time he decided to remain in Ephesus for about 3 years, and this city was the main focus of his activities and an important Christian community (Acts 19). (Color Map)

Map of the New Testament World - This map reveals the "Nations" within the ancient world during the first century A.D., the time of the New Testament. The map includes the areas of Israel, Asia, Greece, and Italy. (Color Map)

Map of New Testament Greece This map reveals the cities within Greece in the ancient world during the first century A.D.,The map includes the principal cities of Greece like: Athens, Corinth, and Thessalonica, and provinces like Macedonia and Achaia. (Color Map)

Map of New Testament Asia - This map shows the cities within Asia Minor during the first century A.D., the time of the New Testament. The map includes the principal cities of Asia including Tarsus, Ephesus, and Colossae, and provinces like Galatia and Pamphilia. (Color Map)

Copyright Information
© Bible History Online

Many Thanks to The British Museum, The Louvre, The Oriental Institute, Dr. Amihai Mazar, Dr. Dan Bahat, Dr. Craig Johnson, Yaacov Kuc, Chuck Smith, Jim Darden, Ron Haaland, The Translators of the KJV, and many others including Jesus, the Word of God.

Who was Peter in the Bible?

Simon Peter, also known as Cephas (John 1:42), was one of the first followers of Jesus Christ. He was an outspoken and ardent disciple, one of Jesus’ closest friends, an apostle, and a “pillar” of the church (Galatians 2:9). Peter was enthusiastic, strong-willed, impulsive, and, at times, brash. But for all his strengths, Peter had several failings in his life. Still, the Lord who chose him continued to mold him into exactly who He intended Peter to be.

Simon was originally from Bethsaida (John 1:44) and lived in Capernaum (Mark 1:29), both cities on the coast of the Sea of Galilee. He was married (1 Corinthians 9:5), and he and James and John were partners in a profitable fishing business (Luke 5:10). Simon met Jesus through his brother Andrew, who had followed Jesus after hearing John the Baptist proclaim that Jesus was the Lamb of God (John 1:35-36). Andrew immediately went to find his brother to bring him to Jesus. Upon meeting Simon, Jesus gave him a new name: Cephas (Aramaic) or Peter (Greek), which means “rock” (John 1:40-42). Later, Jesus officially called Peter to follow Him, producing a miraculous catch of fish (Luke 5:1-7). Immediately, Peter left everything behind to follow the Lord (verse 11).

For the next three years, Peter lived as a disciple of the Lord Jesus. Being a natural-born leader, Peter became the de facto spokesman for the Twelve (Matthew 15:15, 18:21, 19:27 Mark 11:21 Luke 8:45, 12:41 John 6:68, 13:6-9, 36). More significantly, it was Peter who first confessed Jesus as “the Christ, the Son of the living God,” a truth which Jesus said was divinely revealed to Peter (Matthew 16:16-17).

Peter was part of the inner circle of Jesus’ disciples, along with James and John. Only those three were present when Jesus raised the daughter of Jairus (Mark 5:37) and when Jesus was transfigured on the mountain (Matthew 17:1). Peter and John were given the special task of preparing the final Passover meal (Luke 22:8).

In several instances, Peter showed himself to be impetuous to the point of rashness. For example, it was Peter who left the boat to walk on the water to Jesus (Matthew 14:28-29)—and promptly took his eyes off Jesus and began to sink (verse 30). It was Peter who took Jesus aside to rebuke Him for speaking of His death (Matthew 16:22)—and was swiftly corrected by the Lord (verse 23). It was Peter who suggested erecting three tabernacles to honor Moses, Elijah, and Jesus (Matthew 17:4)—and fell to the ground in fearful silence at God’s glory (verses 5-6). It was Peter who drew his sword and attacked the servant of the high priest (John 18:10)—and was immediately told to sheath his weapon (verse 11). It was Peter who boasted that he would never forsake the Lord, even if everyone else did (Matthew 26:33)—and later denied three times that he even knew the Lord (verses 70-74).

Through all of Peter’s ups and downs, the Lord Jesus remained his loving Lord and faithful Guide. Jesus reaffirmed Simon as Peter, the “Rock,” in Matthew 16:18-19, promising that he would be instrumental in establishing Jesus’ Church. After His resurrection, Jesus specifically named Peter as one who needed to hear the good news (Mark 16:7). And, repeating the miracle of the large catch of fish, Jesus made a special point of forgiving and restoring Peter and re-commissioning him as an apostle (John 21:6, 15-17).

On the day of Pentecost, Peter was the main speaker to the crowd in Jerusalem (Acts 2:14ff), and the Church began with an influx of about 3,000 new believers (verse 41). Later, Peter healed a lame beggar (Acts 3) and preached boldly before the Sanhedrin (Acts 4). Even arrest, beatings, and threats could not dampen Peter’s resolve to preach the risen Christ (Acts 5).

Jesus’ promise that Peter would be foundational in building the Church was fulfilled in three stages: Peter preached on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2). Then, he was present when the Samaritans received the Holy Spirit (Acts 8). Finally, he was summoned to the home of the Roman centurion Cornelius, who also believed and received the Holy Spirit (Acts 10). In this way, Peter “unlocked” three different worlds and opened the door of the Church to Jews, Samaritans, and Gentiles.

Even as an apostle, Peter experienced some growing pains. At first, he had resisted taking the gospel to Cornelius, a Gentile. However, when he saw the Romans receive the Holy Spirit in the same manner he had, Peter concluded that “God does not show favoritism” (Acts 10:34). After that, Peter strongly defended the Gentiles’ position as believers and was adamant that they did not need to conform to Jewish law (Acts 15:7-11).

Another episode of growth in Peter’s life concerns his visit to Antioch, where he enjoyed the fellowship of Gentile believers. However, when some legalistic Jews arrived in Antioch, Peter, to appease them, withdrew from the Gentile Christians. The Apostle Paul saw this as hypocrisy and called it such to Peter’s face (Galatians 2:11-14).

Later in life, Peter spent time with John Mark (1 Peter 5:13), who wrote the gospel of Mark based on Peter’s remembrances of his time with Jesus. Peter wrote two inspired epistles, 1 and 2 Peter, between A.D. 60 and 68. Jesus said that Peter would die a martyr’s death (John 21:18-19)—a prophecy fulfilled, presumably, during Nero’s reign. Tradition has it that Peter was crucified upside down in Rome, and, although such the story may be true, there is no scriptural or historical witness to the particulars of Peter’s death.

What can we learn from Peter’s life? Here are a few lessons:

Jesus overcomes fear. Whether stepping out of a boat onto a tossing sea or stepping across the threshold of a Gentile home for the first time, Peter found courage in following Christ. “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear” (1 John 4:18).

Jesus forgives unfaithfulness. After he had boasted of his fidelity, Peter fervently denied the Lord three times. It seemed that Peter had burned his bridges, but Jesus lovingly rebuilt them and restored Peter to service. Peter was a former failure, but, with Jesus, failure is not the end. “If we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself” (2 Timothy 2:13).

Jesus patiently teaches. Over and over, Peter needed correction, and the Lord gave it with patience, firmness, and love. The Master Teacher looks for students willing to learn. “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go” (Psalm 32:8).

Jesus sees us as He intends us to be. The very first time they met, Jesus called Simon “Peter.” The rough and reckless fisherman was, in Jesus’ eyes, a firm and faithful rock. “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion” (Philippians 1:6).

Jesus uses unlikely heroes. Peter was a fisherman from Galilee, but Jesus called him to be a fisher of men (Luke 5:10). Because Peter was willing to leave all he had to follow Jesus, God used him in great ways. As Peter preached, people were amazed at his boldness because he was “unschooled” and “ordinary.” But then they took note that Peter “had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13). Being with Jesus makes all the difference.

How did Andrew die?

Peter’s brother Andrew allegedly suffered a similar death, but the origin of this tradition isn’t as reliable.

According to tradition, Andrew was martyred by crucifixion in the Greek city of Patras around 60 AD. Like his brother, Peter, Andrew didn’t consider himself worthy to die in the same way as Jesus, and so he was bound—not nailed—to a cross which was hung in an X shape instead of a T. For this reason, an X-shaped cross is sometimes referred to as Saint Andrew’s Cross.

Unfortunately, the origin of this narrative isn’t exactly trustworthy. It comes from an apocryphal book called Acts of Andrew, which also includes numerous supernatural accounts of Andrew’s miracles—including a claim that he preached for three days straight as he hung on the cross—and it didn’t emerge until decades, maybe even centuries after his death.

According to Acts of Andrew, part of Andrew’s three-day sermon (which he gave while he was dying) involved praising the cross as a symbol of Christ’s beautiful redemption:

“Hail, O Cross, inaugurated by the Body of Christ and adorned with his limbs as though they were precious pearls. Before the Lord mounted you, you inspired an earthly fear. Now, instead, endowed with heavenly love, you are accepted as a gift.

“Believers know of the great joy that you possess, and of the multitude of gifts you have prepared. I come to you, therefore, confident and joyful, so that you too may receive me exultant as a disciple of the One who was hung upon you…. O blessed Cross, clothed in the majesty and beauty of the Lord’s limbs!… Take me, carry me far from men, and restore me to my Teacher, so that, through you, the one who redeemed me by you, may receive me. Hail, O Cross yes, hail indeed!”

The early church was rightfully suspicious of Acts of Andrew, but it seems that church tradition supported a similar account of his death. In the entry for Andrew, Foxe’s Book of Martyrs says:

“He preached the gospel to many Asiatic nations but on his arrival at Edessa he was taken and crucified on a cross, the two ends of which were fixed transversely in the ground. Hence the derivation of the term, St. Andrew’s Cross.”


According to the list occurring in each of the Synoptic Gospels (Mark 3:13-19, Matthew 10:1-4, Luke 6:12-16), the Twelve chosen by Jesus near the beginning of his ministry, those whom also He named Apostles, were

    : called Peter (Grk. petros Aram. kēfas Engl. stone) by Jesus of Nazareth, also known as Simon bar Jonah and Simon bar Jochanan (Aram.) and earlier (Pauline Epistles were written first) Cephas (Aram.), and Simon Peter, a fisherman from Bethsaida "of Galilee" (John 1:44 cf. 12:21) Simon/Peter - Andrew's brother (Matthew 10:2 Mark 3:16 Luke 6:14) : brother of Peter, a Bethsaida fisherman and disciple of John the Baptist, and also the First-Called Apostle. (Matthew 10:2 Mark 3:18 Luke 6:14) - John's brother, son of Zebedee, Boanerges, son of Thunder (Matthew 10:2 Mark 3:17 Luke 6:14) son of Zebedee, called by Jesus Boanerges(an Aramaic name explained in Mk 3:17 as "Sons of Thunder") - James' brother (Matthew 10:2 Mark 3:17 Luke 6:14)
    • Known as the only apostle who was not martyred, and also has his own Gospel in the New Testament.
    • He was replaced as an apostle in Acts by Saint Matthias

    It should also be noted that while the "Twelve Apostles" refer to the twelve who followed Jesus during his lifetime (and later Matthias in place of Judas Iscariot), Paul (formerly Saul of Tarsus) can be considered as another apostle. Notably, he begins many of his epistles with "Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus", or some variant. The original twelve were apostles sent out to the Jews, whereas Paul has the unique role of being the apostle to the gentiles after Christ's resurrection and ascent.

    The identity of the other apostle of the twelve, traditionally called St. Jude, varies between the Synoptic Gospels and also between ancient manuscripts of each gospel:

    • Mark names him as Thaddaeus
    • Some manuscripts of Matthew also identify him as Thaddeus
    • Some manuscripts of Matthew name him as Lebbaeus
    • Some manuscripts of Matthew name him as Judas the Zealot
    • Luke names him as Judas, son of James or in the KJV: "Judas the brother of James" Luke 6:16

    The Gospel of John, unlike the Synoptic Gospels, does not offer a formal list of apostles, but does refer to the Twelve in 6:67, 6:70, and 6:71. The following nine apostles are identified by name:

    • Peter
    • Andrew (identified as Peter's brother)
    • the sons of Zebedee (plural form implies at least two apostles)
    • Philip
    • Thomas (also called Didymus (11:16, 20:24, 21:2))
    • Judas Iscariot
    • Judas (not Iscariot) (14:22)

    The individual that the Gospel of John names as Nathanael is traditionally identified as the same person that the Synoptic Gospels call Bartholomew, and most would agree that the sons of Zebedee is likely to be a reference to James and John, while Judas (not Iscariot) probably refers to Thaddaeus, also known as St. Jude. Noticeably missing from the Gospel of John are James, son of Alphaeus, Matthew, and Simon the Canaanite/Zealot.

    Book of 1 Peter

    This summary of the book of 1 Peter provides information about the title, author(s), date of writing, chronology, theme, theology, outline, a brief overview, and the chapters of the Book of 1 Peter.

    Author and Date

    The author identifies himself as the apostle Peter (1:1), and the contents and character of the letter support his authorship (see notes on 1:12 4:13 5:1-2,5,13). Moreover, the letter reflects the history and terminology of the Gospels and Acts (notably Peter's speeches). Its themes and concepts reflect Peter's experiences and his associations in the period of our Lord's earthly ministry and in the apostolic age. That he was acquainted, e.g., with Paul and his letters is made clear in 2Pe 3:15-16 (see notes there) Gal 1:18 2:1-21 and elsewhere. Coincidences in thought and expression with Paul's writings are therefore not surprising.

    From the beginning, 1 Peter was recognized as authoritative and as the work of the apostle Peter. The earliest reference to it may be 2Pe 3:1 (see note there), where Peter himself refers to a former letter he had written. 1 Clement (a.d. 95) seems to indicate acquaintance with 1 Peter. Polycarp, a disciple of the apostle John, makes use of 1 Peter in his letter to the Philippians. The author of the Gospel of Truth (140-150) was acquainted with 1 Peter. Eusebius (fourth century) indicated that it was universally received.

    The letter was explicitly ascribed to Peter by that group of church fathers whose testimonies appear in the attestation of so many of the genuine NT writings, namely, Irenaeus (a.d. 140-203), Tertullian (150-222), Clement of Alexandria (155-215) and Origen (185-253). It is thus clear that Peter's authorship of the book has early and strong support.

    Nevertheless some claim that the idiomatic Greek of this letter is beyond Peter's competence. But in his time Aramaic, Hebrew and Greek were used in the Holy Land, and he may well have been acquainted with more than one language. That he was not a professionally trained scribe (Ac 4:13) does not mean that he was unacquainted with Greek in fact, as a Galilean fisherman he in all likelihood did use it. Even if he had not known it in the earliest days of the church, he may have acquired it as an important aid to his apostolic ministry in the decades that intervened between then and the writing of 1 Peter.

    It is true, however, that the Greek of 1 Peter is good literary Greek, and even though Peter could no doubt speak Greek, as so many in the Mediterranean world could, it is unlikely that he would write such polished Greek. But it is at this point that Peter's remark in 5:12 (see note there) concerning Silas may be significant. Here the apostle claims that he wrote "with the help of" (more lit. "through" or "by means of") Silas. This phrase cannot refer merely to Silas as a letter carrier. Thus Silas was the intermediate agent in writing. Some have claimed that Silas's qualifications for recording Peter's letter in literary Greek are found in Ac 15:22-29. It is known that a secretary in those days often composed documents in good Greek for those who did not have the language facility to do so. Thus in 1 Peter Silas's Greek may be seen, while in 2 Peter it may be Peter's rough Greek that appears.

    Some also maintain that the book reflects a situation that did not exist until after Peter's death, suggesting that the persecution referred to in 4:14-16 5:8-9 is descriptive of Domitian's reign (a.d. 81-96). However, the situation that was developing in Nero's time (54-68) is just as adequately described by those verses.

    The book can be satisfactorily dated in the early 60s. It cannot be placed earlier than 60 since it shows familiarity with Paul's Prison Letters (e.g., Colossians and Ephesians, which are to be dated no earlier than 60): Compare 1:1-3 with Eph 1:1-3 2:18 with Col 3:22 3:1-6 with Eph 5:22-24. Furthermore, it cannot be dated later than 67/68, since Peter was martyred during Nero's reign.

    Place of Writing

    In 5:13 Peter indicates that he was "in Babylon" when he wrote 1 Peter. Among the interpretations that have been suggested are that he was writing from (1) Egyptian Babylon, which was a military post, (2) Mesopotamian Babylon, (3) Jerusalem and (4) Rome. Peter may well be using the name Babylon symbolically, as it seems to be used in the book of Revelation (see Rev 14:8 17:9-10 and notes). Tradition connects him in the latter part of his life with Rome, and certain early writers held that 1 Peter was written there. On the other hand, it is pointed out by some that (1) Babylon is known to have existed in the first century as a small town on the Euphrates (2) there is no evidence that the term Babylon was used figuratively to refer to Rome until Revelation was written (c. a.d. 95) (3) the context of 5:13 does not appear to be figurative or cryptic.


    Although 1 Peter is a short letter, it touches on various doctrines and has much to say about Christian life and duties. It is not surprising that different readers have found it to have different principal themes. For example, it has been characterized as a letter of separation, of suffering and persecution, of suffering and glory, of hope, of pilgrimage, of courage, and as a letter dealing with the true grace of God. Peter says that he has written "encouraging you and testifying that this is the true grace of God" (5:12). This is a definitive general description of the letter, but it does not exclude the recognition of numerous subordinate and contributory themes. The letter includes a series of exhortations (imperatives) that run from 1:13 to 5:11.


    • Greetings (1:1-2)
    • Praise to God for His Grace and Salvation (1:3-12)
    • Exhortations to Holiness of Life (1:135:11)
      • The Requirement of Holiness (1:132:3)
      • The Position of Believers (2:4-12)
        1. A spiritual house (2:4-8)
        2. A chosen people (2:9-10)
        3. Aliens and strangers (2:11-12)
      • Submission to Authority (2:133:7)
        1. Submission to rulers (2:13-17)
        2. Submission to masters (2:18-20)
        3. Christ's example of submission (2:21-25)
        4. Submission of wives to husbands (3:1-6)
        5. The corresponding duty of husbands (3:7)
      • Duties of All (3:8-17)
      • Christ's Example (3:184:6)
      • Conduct in View of the End of All Things (4:7-11)
      • Conduct of Those Who Suffer for Christ (4:12-19)
      • Conduct of Elders (5:1-4)
      • Conduct of the Young (5:5-11)

      From the NIV Study Bible, Introductions to the Books of the Bible, 1 Peter
      Copyright 2002 © Zondervan. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

      Peter and the Problem of Christian Suffering

      Review: First Peter is a call to spiritual growth. In this first epistle, Peter gives special attention to the distraction posed to spiritual growth by the problem of personal suffering. The issue of suffering will be in the background for most of our study.

      Revised Translation of 1st Peter 1:1-2:

      Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who, though outcasts dispersed throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, were yet selected in the foreknowledge of God the Father, by means of the Holy Spirit's consecration, for the obedience in and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ. Grace and peace be multiplied unto you!

      All three of these purposes are elements in spiritual growth: (1) learning about God and His faithfulness – believing what we learn, and applying it to our lives – is fundamental to spiritual growth (2) testing is the process whereby God demonstrates His faithfulness to us and thereby strengthens our faith, and (3) service is the natural result of spiritual growth as we reach out to help our fellow believers advance spiritually as we have. All of these issues are in view in the prologue of 1st Peter (vv.1-2).

      The Apostle Peter: The Greek word petros ("stone", from which Peter is derived) was not Peter's original name. He was first called Simon, a Hebrew name (Shimon) which means "Hearing". The patriarch Simeon was the first to bear this name. When God "heard" Leah's prayer (Gen.29:33) and granted her a son, she named him after God's gracious response. Our Lord gave "Simon" the name Peter at their first meeting (Jn.1:35-42). John's gospel tells us that Andrew, Peter's brother, after spending a single day with Jesus, had heard enough to be convinced that He was the Messiah. Andrew then led Peter to Jesus and Jesus pronounced the words "You are Simon, the son of John you will be called Cephas" (Aramaic for "stone").

      It is important to note that there is nothing meritorious in Peter's actions here to warrant being awarded this new name. He is led to the Lord by another, and has his name changed before he even has a chance to speak. In renaming Peter, the Lord is telling him and us that Peter's life will be completely changed by his non-meritorious act of believing. As with Peter, the Lord knows all about us in advance too (and all about our strengths and weaknesses). He can see the entire course of our lives at one glance. We have a tendency to get lost in the details of every day existence, and to forget that, since this life lasts only for a moment, we will soon be with the Lord for all eternity. We ought to remember the Lord's pronouncement to Peter and its implications: He is always looking at the "big picture" even if we are not it is only His final, comprehensive evaluation of our life that matters. Whatever we gain in this life will soon be dust, but the rewards bestowed upon us by the Lord will be eternal (Matt.6:19-21).

      The Pebble and the Rock: What precisely is the Lord predicting about Peter's life by giving him the name "stone"? One common view incorrectly claims that Jesus meant Peter to be the cornerstone of the church, and its proponents usually cite Matthew 16:13-20 for support. But in that passage, Jesus tells Peter "I tell you that you are Peter (Greek petros, a small pebble or stone), and on this Rock (Greek petra, a huge rocky crag or mountain side) I will build my church" (see the link: petra vs. petra). Now in the context of Matthew 16, Peter has just acknowledged that Jesus is "the Christ, the Son of the Living God". Jesus is thus underscoring the truth of Peter's statement. By "this Rock", Jesus refers to Himself as the cornerstone of the church (a teaching well documented in scripture: see especially Is.28:16 1Pet.2:6 Eph.2:20), not to Peter (a false notion not supported by any other verse cf. 1Cor.3:11). Jesus thus uses the near demonstrative pronoun houtos ("this") with Rock to refer back to Himself in the same way as in John 2:19 He prophesies the resurrection of His body ("this" temple): "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up" (cf. Jn.6:50).

      Living Stones: Nevertheless, Matthew 16:13-20 does point the way to discovering the meaning of Peter's name. Jesus is the central support in the church (the universal body of believers in Christ, rather than any particular denomination), but Peter is a part (a stone) in the overall structure. Peter confirms this interpretation in 1st Peter 2:4-6, where he tells us that what Christ proclaimed about Peter himself is also true of all believers. Christ is the cornerstone, and the Living Stone chosen by God though rejected by men, but we believers are likewise "living stones", who are being built up into a spiritual temple for God's service. We are all "stones" in Christ's church. Peter was a very special individual with a tendency towards spectacular successes and failures. It is also true that he and the other apostles played a pivotal, "foundational" role in the establishment of the early church, for it was for that purpose that they had been called (Eph.2:20 Rev.21:14). But the purpose of the new name which Jesus gave Peter is not to call attention to this importance. Rather, the opposite is true. "Peter" means "just another brick in God's house". "Peter" is thus a title which calls attention to the true, Godly humility of its holder in the same way that Paul ("little") does, a title which Peter did eventually live up to. There is no doubt that the apostle Peter accomplished much in his life for the Lord, but the point here is that only if we have this same true, genuine humility – the recognition that we need to be dependent upon the Lord's might and wisdom, not our own – can the Lord make full use of us as He did of Peter (Prov.3:34 Jas.4:6).

        They never exceeded the number of the original twelve (Mt.10:2ff. Judas was replaced by Paul, cf. Acts 9:1-19, 22:1-21, 26:12-18). See below for Matthias.

      By making him an apostle, the Lord gave Peter a great responsibility, but He also gave him the authority and ability to carry out his life tasks. God never asks more of us than we can accomplish through the resources He gives us.

      Provision for Spiritual Growth: God's plan for Peter's life included suffering, persecution, and eventual martyrdom, yet Peter finished the course by making use of the grace support God provided. Peter in turn became part of God's grace provision to us. As we needed the gospel (the message about Jesus) in order to be saved, so we now need the truth (the principles of the Word of God contained in the Bible) in order to grow spiritually. Peter answered all three of God's calls: to salvation, to growth, and to service. As a result, we too have the opportunity to grow by learning and appropriating the teachings contained in these letters which Peter penned nearly 2,000 years ago.

      The "apostle" Matthias: On the issue of the "13" disciples, it is true that Peter and company "elected" Matthias to replace Judas, but not everything recorded in the Bible that individuals do is to be taken as ordained of God (obviously). Peter made his share of mistakes ("don't wash my feet", "wash my whole body", etc. cf. Gal.2:11-21). Whenever God makes clear in scripture His feelings about the apostles, there are always 12 (as in the 12 gates of Rev.21:14, and the 12 thrones only in Matt.19:28). Whose names are on the gates? Do we imagine one of them will have the name "Matthias"? Then who will be left out? Remember that the election was held before Pentecost, after which Peter (and his fellows) are suddenly much more effective for God (as one would expect with the coming of the Holy Spirit). Notice too that to "elect" Matthias, they turn to the Old Testament device of casting lots, something Jesus never did and something that is never authorized in the New Testament. Notice that God did not communicate to Peter the need to get a new number 12 (although he did receive revelation when it was time to bring the gospel to the gentiles) and notice that when God decided to choose number 12, Christ appeared to Paul in a very miraculous way that left no doubt as to God's call, God's "election" of Paul as number 12. Matthias was no doubt a fine believer, but he was no "apostle of Christ" – except temporarily in the eyes of men. Finally, in the Greek, Luke hints that the election, while an understandable thing for these men to do in the circumstances, was not divinely sanctioned. He says of the election of Matthias that he was "voted down along with the eleven" (the verb synkatapsephizo). The base verb means to "vote down" i.e., defeat, or, better put, "to condemn". It only occurs one other place in all of Greek literature (Plutarch) where it means "join in condemnation" here we have a passive so on that model it would mean "be jointly condemned with". There may be doubt on the part of some scholars about the precise meaning of the word, but according to all linguistic convention it should have a negative connotation – something that only makes sense if we see Luke here as being careful not to endorse the election of Matthias. This is also evident at Acts 2:14, where Luke mentions "the eleven" instead "the twelve" – not until the calling of Paul, the genuine twelfth apostle, was the full complement again reached. For it is Jesus who picked the apostles, not men, and He did so "through the Holy Spirit":

      (1) The first account I produced [for you], O Theophilus, dealt with all the things which Jesus did and taught from the beginning, (2) until the day when Jesus was taken up [into heaven], having given instructions to those apostles whom He had selected through the Holy Spirit.
      Acts 1:1-3

      Peter, Apostle

      His original name was Simon in Greek (or the Hebrew variant Shimon), and he was one of the most prominent of Jesus’ original twelve disciples. Like his brother, Andrew, and another of Jesus’ disciple Philip, Peter was originally from a place called Bethsaida (John 1:44). It was a town north of the Sea of Galilee that once had a vibrant fishing industry. He was the son of a man called John (John 1:42, 21:15-17 Matt. 16:17) and received a very basic education that was enough to go into a small fishing business with his partners. He was considered a simple layman by the Sanhedrin because he did not receive a formal scriptural training (Acts 4:13).

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      Peter was able to speak Greek as well as his native Aramaic as Bethsaida was a town where the majority of the inhabitants were Greeks. He lived in the Jewish village of Capernaum (Mark 1:21-29), and according to Luke 5, was a fisherman who plied the Sea of Galilee along with his partners James and John (the sons of Zebedee). Peter was already married when Jesus called him to be his disciple. He was nicknamed by the Lord as ‘Cephas’ in Aramaic or ‘Peter/Petros’ in Greek—both of which means ‘rock.’ Indeed, Peter would become one of the foundations of the Jesus movement and the early Christian church (Matt. 16:13-20).

      Peter as Jesus’ Disciple

      Peter was part of Jesus’ inner circle who, along with James, and John, personally witnessed the Transfiguration (Matt. 17:1-13 Mark 9:2-13 Luke 9:28-36). Jesus also directed some of the most important questions about his identity as the Messiah to Peter (Matthew 16:13-20 Mark 8:27-30 Luke 9:18-20). Peter reciprocated by questioning Jesus—often clarifying what the Lord meant when he discussed parables and other lessons (Matt. 18:21, 19:27 Mark 13:3-4 Luke 12:41 John 6:68 and 13).

      Peter was an unforgettable Biblical character as he was the only one among the disciples who tried to walk on water during a violent storm (Matt 14). Often described as impulsive and headstrong, Peter would declare his loyalty to Jesus several times after the Lord told him that he would deny the Lord three times when the time came(Matt. 26:31-35 Mark 14:27-31 Luke 22:31-38 John 13:31-38). Peter would later redeem himself as one of the leading apostles and spokespeople after Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension to heaven (Mark 16 Luke 24 John 18 and 20).

      After Jesus’ Death

      After Jesus’ ascension to heaven, it was Peter who suggested that Judas Iscariot be replaced with another apostle (Acts 1:15-26). He preached to the people who assembled with them during the Pentecost (Acts 2). He and John also healed a crippled beggar in the temple which aroused the anger of the high priests and Sadducees. Because of this, both disciples were imprisoned after they preached to the crowd but were released later (Acts 3). Peter held Ananias and Sapphira accountable for the sin they committed, and he went on to heal many in the temple which attracted additional conflicts with the high priests and Sadducees. Peter and John were sent to Samaria to lay hands on the new believers who later received the Holy Spirit (Acts 8).

      The persecution of the early church intensified in 44 AD, and Peter made a miraculous escape after he was imprisoned by Agrippa I. The prominence of Peter would be eclipsed later by the apostle Paul. Although he remained active in the ministry, New Testament passages mentioning his name would be few and far between. Additionally, he wrote the two letters named after him near the end of his life to encourage the new believers in Asia Minor. According to Eusebius in his Ecclesiastical Histories and St Jerome in his De Viris Illustribus (The Lives of Illustrious Men), he was crucified upside down during the reign of Roman Emperor Nero and was buried in the Vatican. The feast day of the apostles Peter and Paul is held on the 29th of June.

      Was the Apostle the first Peter? - History

      2. And since we have mentioned this subject it is not improper to subjoin another account which is given by the same author and which is worth reading. In the seventh book of his Stromata he writes as follows: [852] "They say, accordingly, that when the blessed Peter saw his own wife led out to die, he rejoiced because of her summons and her return home, and called to her very encouragingly and comfortingly, addressing her by name, and saying, Oh thou, remember the Lord.' Such was the marriage of the blessed, and their perfect disposition toward those dearest to them." This account being in keeping with the subject in hand, I have related here in its proper place.

      [847] A chapter intervenes between the quotation given by Eusebius just above and the one which follows. In it Clement had referred to two classes of heretics,--without giving their names,--one of which encouraged all sorts of license, while the other taught celibacy. Having in that place refuted the former class, he devotes the chapter from which the following quotation is taken to a refutation of the latter, deducing against them the fact that some of the apostles were married. Clement here, as in his Quis dives salvetur (quoted in chap. 23), shows his good common sense which led him to avoid the extreme of asceticism as well as that of license. He was in this an exception to most of the Fathers of his own and subsequent ages, who in their reaction from the licentiousness of the times advised and often encouraged by their own example the most rigid asceticism, and thus laid the foundation for monasticism.

      [849] Peter was married, as we know from Matthew 8:14 (cf. 1 1 Corinthians 9:5). Tradition also tells us of a daughter, St. Petronilla. She is first called St. Peter's daughter in the Apocryphal Acts of SS. Nereus and Achilles, which give a legendary account of her life and death. In the Christian cemetery of Flavia Domitilla was buried an Aurelia Petronilla filia dulcissima, and Petronilla being taken as a diminutive of Petrus, she was assumed to have been a daughter of Peter. It is probable that this was the origin of the popular tradition. Petronilla is not, however, a diminutive of Petrus, and it is probable that this woman was one of the Aurelian gens and a relative of Flavia Domitilla. Compare the article Petronilla in the Dict. of Christ. Biog. Petronilla has played a prominent rôle in art. The immense painting by Guercino in the Palace of the Conservators in Rome attracts the attention of all visitors.

      [850] It is probable that Clement here confounds Philip the evangelist with Philip the apostle. See the next chapter, note 6. Philip the evangelist, according to Acts 21:9, had four daughters who were virgins. Clement (assuming that he is speaking of the same Philip) is the only one to tell us that they afterward married, and he tells us nothing about their husbands. Polycrates in the next chapter states that two of them at least remained virgins. If so, Clement's statement can apply at most only to the other two. Whether his report is correct as respects them we cannot tell.

      Council of Chalcedon

      “Wherefore the most holy and blessed Leo, archbishop of the great and elder Rome, through us, and through this present most holy synod, together with the thrice blessed and all-glorious Peter the apostle, who is the rock and foundation of the Catholic Church, and the foundation of the orthodox faith, has stripped him [Dioscorus] of the episcopate” (Acts of the Council, session 3 [A.D. 451]).

      NIHIL OBSTAT: I have concluded that the materials
      presented in this work are free of doctrinal or moral errors.
      Bernadeane Carr, STL, Censor Librorum, August 10, 2004

      IMPRIMATUR: In accord with 1983 CIC 827
      permission to publish this work is hereby granted.
      +Robert H. Brom, Bishop of San Diego, August 10, 2004