The Life of Simon Peter By Mike Prah

    October 20, 2019 | Biographical Journal | Scholarly Journal | Scholarly Article | New Testament Orientation by Mike Prah


    The Apostle Peter was a crucial figure in early Christianity. He was the most important of the twelve disciples and served as the spokesman. His name appears 181 times in the New Testament, even more than Paul/Saul, who is found 177 times.[1] He was one of the three original twelve apostles chosen to write inspired New Testament epistles, including Matthew and John.

    In this article, Mark’s gospel, supplemented by the other gospels serves as the primary chronological source in piecing together Peter’s background, call to be a disciple, his appointment as an apostle and his role as a spokesman-leader among the Twelve and the formation of the early Jerusalem church in the book of Acts. In addition to this, I include references to Peter in Paul's letters and Peter’s theology sourced from his letters to sketch Peter’s life as a fisherman, a disciple, an apostle, his Christological affirmations and his significant contributions to Christendom.




    The Background of Simon Peter

    1. Peter’s Names
    2. Peter’s Hometown and Fishing Business
    3. His Education

    Peter in the Gospels

    1. Peter’s Call to Discipleship
    2. Peter as Leader and Spokesman in the Jesus Movement
    3. Peter’s Confession
    4. Peter in the Passion Narrative

    Peter in the Acts of the Apostles

    1. Apostle and Leader of the Jerusalem Church
    2. The Election of Matthias
    3. Pentecost: The Birthday of the Church
    4. Peter and the Samaritan Pentecost
    5. Peter the Miracle Worker

    Peter in the Pauline Letters

    The Petrine Epistles

    Peter’s Theology

    Spiritual Lessons from Peter’s Life




    The Background of Simon Peter

    His Name

    In the New Testament, Peter is known by five distinct names. Simon, Peter or Petros, Cephas, Simon Bar-Jona, and Simon Peter. His birth name was Simon, which occurs about seventy-five times in the New Testament.[2] This name was borrowed from Simeon, the second son of the patriarch Jacob. This was a popular name shared by many Jews of the Second Temple period. No wonder, at least nine different people bear the name in the New Testament. Simon was both his Aramaic and Greek name. Having an Aramaic and Greek name meant he was probably bilingual and lived in an era heavily influenced by Hellenism. [3]

    Jesus gave him the nickname Peter, which is a Greek name (petros), meaning “rock” or “stone” (Mark 3:16).[4] This was in keeping with the divine character trait destined for him. This is typical in the Old Testament when God bestows a new name on someone. At critical moments, Abram (“exalted father”) was named Abraham (“ancestor of a multitude”), and Jacob (“he who grabs the heel”) was re-named Israel (‘God strives,” Gen 32:27-30, Isa. 62:2; 65:15). Peter’s name, “man of rock,” is likened to someone solid and dependable like a bedrock that provides a solid foundation to build on and withstands floodwaters (Matt 7:24-25). Although he struggled at times to live up to his new name given by the Master, in the end, he lived worthy of that name.[5]

     He was also called Cephas in the NT, which is the English cognate of the Aramaic petros.[6] The name “Cephas” goes back to the early stage of Peter’s association with Jesus (Mark 3:16, John 1:42, Mt. 10:2). Paul consistently referred to him as Cephas in the Pauline epistles with the only exception of Galatians 2:7-8.[7] In Matthew 16, Peter is identified with an Aramaic name, Bar-Jonah (Matt 16:17). He was the son of someone called Jonah. The evangelist, John, in the fourth Gospel, refers to him as “son of John (John 1:42: 21:15-17). [8] His double name, Simon Peter (or Simon called Peter), demonstrates that the second name was added later, similar to Jesus Christ or Jesus the Christ.

    His Hometown and Fishing Business

     Peter’s hometown is identified as Galilean in Matthew. Also, Mark and Luke, except for the Fourth Gospel, inform us he was a native of Bethsaida (1:44)[9]. Either he had two homes, or he moved from Bethsaida to Capernaum. So why did Peter move to Capernaum, a town on the northern side of the sea of Galilee? Bockmuehl explains that according to the church fathers, Peter grew up in poverty and possibly an orphan. He was less prosperous than some of the other disciples, for example, James and John, whose father along with his sons ran a fishing business, owned their own boat, had fishing supplies and a hired staff (Mark 1:19-20).

    On the other hand, when Jesus first met Peter and Andrew, they were “fishing from the shore” (Mark 1:16) instead of from a boat.[10]  Luke reports that Simon Peter and his brother Andrew were partners in a fishing business with Zebedee and his two sons, James, and John (Luke 5:7, 9-10), and Peter owned one of the boats (Lk 5:3). Helyer offers this conjecture: Simon (Peter) was married (Matt 8;14; Mark 1:30; Luke 4:38; 1 Cor 9:5) and may have been married to one of the Zebedee daughters. Andrew, Simon’s brother, may have also married another Zebedee daughter. Simon and Andrew may have merged their fishing business, which must have made the “Zebedee-Jonah family fishing business a truly all in the family!”[11]

    Other scholars hold a contrarian view than Bockmuehl and Helyer. They contend that while Simon was not the director of a big fishing business, his father owned a little boat and who, though operating in quite a small way, could afford to hire a group of assistants.[12]

    While John is the only Gospel that names Bethsaida as Peter’s hometown, Bockmuehl argues that it was possibly marriage into a “culturally and religiously Jewish family” that was the desirable motivation for Peter’s move to Capernaum.[13]  This is what perhaps pieces together Peter’s background as a native of Bethsaida and a Galilean fisherman.

    His Education

    The Biblical text does not provide many references to Peter’s education. In the book of Acts, his adversaries in Jerusalem call he and John, unschooled (Greek: agrammatoi, illiterate), common (Greek: idiotai, without public character or employment) men (Acts 4:13). Carson notes that they had no formal rabbinic training and were not religious authorities.[14] The highly educated members of the Sanhedrin were completely astonished at their boldness and eloquence. Although they had no formal training, they presented sophisticated theological arguments with the highest court of the Jewish nation that their only recourse was to release them.[15]

    Peter in The Gospels

    Peter’s Call to Discipleship

    All four Gospels precisely indicate that Simon was among the first four individuals to become a disciple of Jesus. (Matt 4:18-22; Mark 1:16-20; Luke 4:38; John 1:35-32). Jesus personally summons Peter to forsake his fishing business and come and follow him in full-time ministry as a disciple.  In Mark and Matthew, the call happens while Peter and his brother Andrew were fishing in the shallow waters of the Sea of Galilee. Jesus calls them to become “fishers of people” (Mark 1:17). They comply fully, leaving their nets, their father, and the hired workers in the boat, and they follow Jesus (Mark 1:20; Mt 4:18-22). James and John follow shortly after that. Jesus’ statement, “fishers of people” statement, is “an allusion of Jeremiah’s prophetic vision of divine fishers or hunters sent out to gather Israel back to the land in the last days (Jer 16:15-16)”.[16]

    Luke presents a fuller account of Simon’s call to discipleship than Matthew and Mark. Luke’s fully developed episode includes the miraculous catch of fish (Luke 5:1-11). Luke’s narrative is, Jesus is preaching by the Lake of Gennesaret. Simon and his co-fishermen are washing their nets after toiling all night and catching nothing. Jesus asks to use Simon boat as a platform to preach to the crowd, and after, instructs Peter to lower the nets for a catch. Simon protests, probably because he is exhausted from an all-night business failure, but he lowers the net anyway, and they catch so much fish that the nets begin to break, so they call for help from the other fishermen. Both boats are so over-filled to capacity they begin to sink.

    This episode is a “game-changer” for Peter. It represents a profound understanding of who Jesus is to Peter. First, his response to Jesus is one of respect by calling him ‘Master” (5:5). Wiersbe notes that this word is only used by Luke with a variety of meanings, all of which speak of authority (for example, chief commander, magistrate, governor of the state).[17] After the miraculous catch, Peter is awestruck, and his understanding of Jesus elevates from “Master” (v.5) to a recognition that Jesus is the “Lord” (15:8).  Why is Luke’s narrative different than Matthew or Mark’s? The Lucan story is a more logical, compelling reason for the fishermen to drop everything and follow Jesus immediately.[18]

    Jesus’ display of divine power is received by Peter with deistic reverence, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” (Luke 5:8). This is the response of many prophets, “Moses (Exod 3:5-6), Isaiah (Is. 6:5), and Ezekiel (Ezek 1:28), each of whom experienced a theophany (manifestation of God in a visible form) in connection with their prophetic calls.”[19] After this episode, Simon is called Simon Peter or Peter,  and he becomes the leader of Jesus’ disciples (Luke 8:51, 9:20, 28).[20]

    Peter as Leader and Spokesman in the Jesus Movement

    Shortly after Peter’s call, all four Gospels identify Peter as appointed to one of the Twelve Apostles, and in all the New Testament lists, he is named first (Matt 10-2-4; Mark 3:13-19; Luke 6:13-16; Acts 1:13). Matthew’s Gospel specifically identifies Simon with the preface “first.” He, along with James and John, constitute an inner circle of three within the group of twelve, and even in this select group, he is recognized as the leader.[21]

    As the leader of the inner circle, Peter was privileged to witness three great events: the healing of Jairus’ daughter (Mark 5:37), the transfiguration (Mark 9:2-13; Mt 17:1) and Jesus’ agony in the Garden of Gethsemane (Mark 14:32-42, Matt 26:37). Symbolic to the gang of three apostles is King David’s army in ancient Israel, who also had three great warriors called “the Three” (2 Sam 23:8). Jesus was intentional in coaching this inner of group of three disciples to be leaders within the early church community. Paul confirmed this in Galatians 2:9, as he describes Cephas (Peter), James, and John as “acknowledged pillars” in the Jerusalem church.[22]

    Throughout the Gospels, Peter’s leadership is portrayed as the spokesman for all the disciples. (Mark 9:5; 10:28; 11:20- 26). Most frequently, he is the one who takes the lead in responding to Jesus (sometimes not in a positive way) or asking questions.  In answer to Jesus' question, he declares Jesus to be “the Christ” (Mark 8:29). He was the first to call Jesus “the Messiah” (Matt 16:16:13-19; Luke 9:18-22; Matt 16:13-19), which leads Jesus to describe him as the foundation upon which Christ’s Church would be built (Matt 16:18). In the Gospel of John, Peter steps up to call Jesus "the Holy One of God" (John 6:69).[23]

     Normally being outspoken does not by itself imply leadership. However, in Peter’s case, the Gospel writers emphasize his leadership this way. Of note is the phrase, “Simon and the whole group of disciples” (Mark 1:36) and the command of the angel after Jesus’ resurrection, “Go, tell his disciples and Peter” (Mark 16:7). The preponderance of these statements in the Gospel record signifies Peter’s leadership. Jesus’ statement to Peter after the resurrection commissioning him to feed His sheep (John 21:15-19) solidifies the leadership viewpoint.

    On the other hand, there is also another picture of Peter presented in the Gospels. In addition to those passages which emphasize the prominence of Peter, other passages show Peter as lacking in understanding (Mark 8:32, 9:5-6, and 14:29). Following Peter's confession that Jesus was the Messiah, Peter is compared to Satan (Mark 8:33). At Jesus' trial, as predicted by Jesus during the Last Supper with his disciples,[24] Peter denies knowing Jesus three times.[25] The third denial was vividly dramatic as he “calls down curses on himself, and he swore to them, I don’t know the man!” (Matt 26:74).

    Historians have also portrayed Peter as an impetuous, daring man, ready to throw himself into the water, self-assertive, quick to speak, quick to promise, brave at the onset, yet unstable and fickle, a “wobbler” in times of crisis.[26] I do not believe that these kinds of assertions present a fully formed image of Peter in the Gospels. Peter, after all, was not the only one who failed Jesus at his trial. Mark describes that “all [Jesus’] disciples deserted him and ran away” (Mark 14:50, NLT parenthesis mine).[27] What is clear is, Peter was acknowledged as a prominent figure among the disciples and in the early church, one of whom leadership and authority were often centered.

    Peter’s Confession

    The importance of Peter’s confession is highlighted by its appearance in the triple tradition with a similar statement in the Fourth Gospel (Mark 8:27-30; Matt 16:13-20; Luke 9:18-21; Jn 6:67-69). Amid increasing opposition, Jesus takes his apostles aside and asks them, “Who do you say I am?” (Matt 16:15; Mark 8:29; Luke 9:20). Peter speaks out for the Twelve and answers correctly: “You are the Messiah.” Peter confesses Jesus not just as the promised Jewish liberator but “one in a uniquely intimate relationship with the only true God of the universe.”[28] Jesus explicitly declares that this insight was divinely revealed by God (Matt 16:17), [29] and then he proceeds to use Peter’s confession to teach new truths in Matthew 16:18-19:

    And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

    By this statement, Jesus designated and prophesied Peter as the one who will exercise authority within the growing church movement. Peter’s vital role in the Early Church, as shown in the book of Acts, substantiates this interpretation.”[30] Hengel summarizes this as follows: “Peter functions as the ruling head of the circle of disciples and in the growing church.”[31]

    What does it mean for Peter to have the “keys to the kingdom of heaven” and thereby to “bind” and “loose” (Matt 16:19)?  This relates to the nature of the authority bestowed on Peter (Isa 22:15, 22; Lk 11:52).  The idiom of “binding” and “loosing” concerns judicial decisions regarding wayward members as it occurs in Matthew 18:18. “The “kingdom of heaven” is not heaven, for no man on earth carries the keys to heaven!”[32] All of the jokes about Saint Peter at the pearly gates is unbiblical. Peter’s “keys” pertain to the privilege of opening “the door of faith” to the Jews at Pentecost (Acts 2), to the Samaritans (Acts 8:14ff.), and the Gentiles (Acts 10).

    Peter in the Passion Narrative

    Reflecting on Peter’s leadership among the Twelve, Jesus assigns Peter and John the task of preparing the Last Supper shortly after his arrest (Luke 22:8-13). During the evening meal, Jesus informs the apostles that he will be leaving them and that before dawn, Peter would disown him three times (John 13:38). All four Gospels narrate Peter’s strident denial that he would deny knowing the Lord (Mark 14:29; Matt 26:33; Luke 22:33), however in just a few hours, Peter’s robust resolve to remain faithful crumbles (Matt 26:74-75; Mark 14:72). At the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus summons the inner three, asking them to watch with Him in prayer; however, on three separate times, he returns to find them asleep. He singles Peter and rebukes him (Mark 14:37-41).

    At the arrest of Jesus in Gethsemane, Peter cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant in defense of Jesus (18:10). “In all the Gospels, Peter showed greater courage than the rest of the Twelve, who ran from the scene; only Peter followed the soldiers who took Jesus to the house of the high priest.”[33] After the resurrection, Peter is singled out by the angel in Mark’s Gospel, instructing the women at the tomb: “Go, tell his [Jesus’] disciples and Peter.” (Mark 16:7). Peter runs to the tomb as soon as the women report that it is empty (Luke 24:12; John 20:2-6). Luke narrates that the risen Lord appeared to Peter (Luke 24:34), and Paul acknowledges this as the “first defining apostolic appearance” (1 Cor 15:5).[34]

    Later, Jesus appears to Peter and other disciples at the Sea of Galilee (John 21). Peter offers a three-fold confession of his love for Jesus, and Peter alone receives the unique pastoral charge to feed Jesus’ sheep. This episode also predicts Peter’s martyrdom, which is being recognized as crucifixion (John 21:15-18).[35]


    Peter in the Acts of the Apostles

    Apostle and Leader of the Jerusalem Church

    Soon after Jesus’ ascension (Acts 1:9-11), Peter appears as the leading apostle as he begins to use “the keys of the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 16:19). He is the public spokesman for the believers in evangelistic and conflict situations and the chief miracle worker among the Twelve.[36]

    The Election of Matthias

    The first thing Luke narrates about the young Christian community of about 120 believers (Acts 1:15) is Peter’s significant role in the election of Matthias to replace Judas. Peter, who is listed first in the apostolic rooster (Acts 1:13), announces the need for this initiative with this statement: “the Scripture had to be fulfilled” (Acts 1:16). Peter suggests the essential qualifications to become one of the Twelve: The person was to be with Jesus throughout His whole ministry, which began with His baptism by John, and, a personal witness to the resurrection of Jesus (Acts 1:21-22).

     The community selects two qualified candidates, and after prayer, they cast lots to determine who would be divinely elected (cf. Lev 16:8; Josh 18:6, 19:51). Matthias is chosen to replace Judas. God gives His endorsement to Matthias by empowering him with the same Spirit the other apostles who Jesus had personally selected, received (Acts 2:1-4,14).[37] The episode shows that the community recognizes Jesus' conferral of leadership on Peter and that he is up to the task.[38]


    Pentecost: The Birthday of the Church

    Pentecost marks the first of three significant doors Peter unlocks with his “keys of the kingdom” (Matt 16:19). When Peter begins his message, there are 120 believers (Acts 1:15). When he finishes his message and gives an invitation, 3,000 people respond. The events of the Day of Pentecost culminate with the coming of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-13), and Peter’s historic message (Acts 2:14-41) which launches the first church of Jerusalem with 3,120 members focused on five core purposes - fellowship, worship, ministry, discipleship and evangelism (Acts 2:42-47).

    Peter and the Samaritan Pentecost

     Peter’s second use of his keys to unlock the “keys of the kingdom” involves the people of Samaria. After Stephen was martyred and following a period of intense persecution orchestrated by Saul of Tarsus, “Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah to them” (Acts 8:5). This God-directed mission reaps a harvest of souls (cf. Jn 4:35-38) such that Luke exclaims, “So there was great joy in that city” (Acts 8:8).

    When news of this unexpected response reaches Jerusalem, the apostles dispatch Peter and John to assess the situation in Samaria (Acts 8:14). Upon arrival, they notice that the Samaritan believers have not yet received the Holy Spirit, so they lay hands on them, and immediately, they receive the Spirit. This episode breaks through a significant religious-ethnic barrier because the Jews and Samaritans were bitter enemies.[39]

    Peter the Miracle Worker

    Peter is credited with performing several high-profile miracles identical to those of Jesus in the book of Acts. In Acts 3:1-10, Peter instantly heals a man born lame by the power of “Jesus Christ of Nazareth” (Acts 3:6). This miracle is identical to Jesus’ healing of an invalid man who was sick for thirty-eight years (John 5:1-9). Luke recounts a dramatic episode regarding the apostle Peter which was also very identical to a mass healing situation in Jesus’ earthly ministry (Mark 6:56).

    People brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by impure spirits, and all of them were healed. (Acts 5:15-16). Luke narrates another Peter miracle where Dorcas from Joppa died, and they sent for Peter, who was ministering in a nearby city (Acts 9:36-37). When Peter arrived, he did just like Jesus did at a similar miracle about a decade earlier (Mark 5:38-43)[40]. He commanded the deceased: “Tabitha, get up” (9:40, cf. Mark 5:41). She opened her eyes and sat up, and this stunning miracle “became known all over Joppa, and many people believed in the Lord” (Acts 9:42). What is apparent in Peter’s miracles is the Master’s words that the disciples “will do even greater works” (John 14:12) after He left was being realized, and Jesus was “building His Church through the Spirit-filled apostles.”[41]

    An obscure line in the book of Acts is this: “Then he [Peter] left and went to another place” (Acts 12:17, parenthesis mine). Peter goes “radio dark” in the book of Acts after this remark, except in a few places in Paul’s epistles.

    Peter in The Pauline Letters

    Paul mentions Peter only in Galatians and 1 Corinthians. Paul tells us shortly after his Damascus road conversion; he visited Jerusalem for the sole purpose of spending two weeks with Peter “to get acquainted” with him” (Gal 1:18-19). In Galatians 2:6-10 Paul hints that he had a private meeting with Peter along with John and James (the brother of Jesus), the “acknowledged leaders”[42] who gave him the “right hand of fellowship” when they recognized his apostolic calling and confirmed his commission to the Gentiles (Gal 2:9).

    In I Corinthians 3:22-4:1-2, Paul speaks of Peter and Apollos in favorable terms as his fellow “servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.” In chapter 15, Peter is mentioned as the first apostolic resurrection witness (Mark 16:7; Luke 24:34) and is clearly regarded as a critical figure. In general, it appears Peter and Paul enjoyed a relationship of respect and friendship.[43]

    The Petrine Epistles

    Peter’s commission to “feed my sheep” is more concretely demonstrated in the book of first Peter. Peter’s purpose is to encourage believers to remain unwavering in their faith, hope, and love - “true grace of God” (1 Peter 5:12). Peter’s ethical exhortation and admonition are “paradoxical in a twofold sense.” On the one hand, Christians should live their lives with “an indescribable and glorious joy” coupled with a clear-headed solemnity (cf. 1 Pet 1:6-8, 4:13 with 1 Pet 4:7; 5-8). On the other hand, they should respect the cultural environments they live in (1 Pet 2:13-17) but resist that which is hostile to their standing as believers (1 Pet 1:14; 2:1, 11-12; 4:3, 15).[44]

    Peter’s Theology

    Peter presents his theological beliefs very clear in 1 Peter. First, he proclaims that God is the heavenly Father (1 Pet 1:2-3,17). Peter assumes this new sonship is foundational for all believers in Christ. Peter indicates that the Father, as the “primary agent chooses those who belong to him, causes them to experience a spiritual rebirth and judges and evaluates their deeds.”[45] Second, He is the God who elects. He declares: Just like Christ, who “was destined before the foundation of the world” (1 Pet 1:20) to be the Passover Lamb, so believers are destined “to be obedient to Jesus Christ (1 Pet 1:2).

    Third, Peter identifies God as the God who judges. He states: unbelievers “have to give an account to Him who stands ready to judge the living and the dead” (1 Pet 4:5). He exhorts believers who are suffering because of their believe in Christ to rain steadfast because the heavenly judge is also their heavenly Father (1 Pet 4:16), and when he comes, he will exalt (1 Pet 5:6) and reward their faithfulness with an everlasting inheritance and participation in the glory of God (1 Pet 1:4; 4:13; 5:1, 4, 10).

    Furthermore, Peter portrays God as the God of glory. He insists that God alone is the proper object of worship and devotion. He mentions, for the Christian, all of life is to be lived in “God’s sight” (1 Pet 3:4) in “reverent fear” (1 Pet 1:7) to “glorify God’ (1 Pet 2:12).[46]

    Peter also punctuates his first epistle with great Christological portraits of Christ. In Peter’s eyes, Christ is the Spotless Lamb (1 Pet 1:19), the Chief Cornerstone (1 Pet 2:6), the Precious Stone (1 Pet 2:7), the Bishop of our souls (1 Pet 2:25), and the Chief Shepherd (1 Pet 5:4).[47]

    Spiritual Lessons from Peter’s Life

     Several lessons emanate from Peter’s life. Here are a few:

    First, the closer we are to our Savior, the more clearly, we see our sin. Both Peter (Luke 5:8; 22:59-62) and Isaiah (Is 6:1-5) experienced this. Second, it is only by looking steadfastly to Jesus can we stand firm. Peter learned this one night on a stormy sea (Matt 14:22-33; Heb 12:2). Third, it is more important to seek God’s will for our own lives than to be concerned about his plans for someone else (John 21:20-22; Eph 2:10). Fourth, God shows no partiality based on race or class, and neither should we (Acts 10:34, Gal 2:11-14; Rom 2:11).


    The New Testament portrays Peter as the fisherman, the disciple, the miracle worker, the eyewitness, the rock, missionary pioneer, acknowledged leader, and the guarantor of tradition. His house functioned as a center for Jesus' ministry. He was the leading disciple among the privileged group of three (including James and John) at pivotal moments in Jesus' ministry, such as the Transfiguration (Matt 17:1).[48]

    Peter’s vulnerability and impulsiveness were evident in several situations. For example, he rebuked Jesus when He predicted His death, saying, “Never Lord, this shall never happen to you” and was swiftly reprimanded by the Lord (Matt 16:22-23). He cut off the ear of the high priest’s servant at Jesus’s arrest and was immediately commanded to put his sword away (John 18:10-11).  He bragged that he would never forsake the Lord, even if everyone else did and later denied Him three times (Matt 26:33, 70-74). Despite these pitfalls, the Lord Jesus remained his loving Lord and faithful Guide. Jesus reaffirmed Simon as the leader of the New Testament Church (Matt 16:18-19). After His resurrection, Jesus made a particular point to forgive, restore, and re-commission Peter as an apostle (John 21:6, 15-17).

    Peter lived out his apostolic calling to feed Christ’s sheep and fulfilled Jesus’ promise that he would be the foundation in the early church. He was the point person for the Great Commission, opening the door of the Church to Jews, Samaritans, and Gentiles. Above all, he was a pastor with a compassionate heart and an undying passion for his Savior.

    While the Master did not leave a written legacy, what we have from the Peter is a priceless treasure. In Peter’s two letters, the Gospel of Mark and the reported deeds and sayings of Peter in Acts, we hear the voice of one who physically walked and talked with the eternal Lord for three years and then communed with him for at least another thirty years.

    Tradition has it that Peter resided in Rome during the final years of his life and was martyred there.[49] As we move closer to the coming of our Lord and our own transition out of this world, Peter’s concluding words are a necessary encouragement: “In keeping with His promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells” (2 Pet 3:13).


    Brown, Raymond E., Karl P. Donfried, and John Reumann (Editors). Peter in the New Testament. A Collaborative Assessment by Protestant and Roman Catholic Scholars. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2002

    Bockmuehl, Markus. Peter in Scripture and Memory. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2012

    Carson, D.A., eds. NIV Biblical Theology Study Bible. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2018

     Dobson, Edward, and Charles E. Feinberg, and Edward E. Hindson, Woodrow Michael Kroll, Harold L. Wilmington. Nelson KJV Bible Commentary. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2005

     Helyer, Larry E. The Life and Witness of Peter. Downers Grove, ILL: InterVarsity Press, 2012.

     Hengel, Martin. Saint Peter. The Underestimated Apostle. Translated by Thomas H. Trapp. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2010.

     Hill, Richard M. "The Role of Peter in the Gospel of Mark: A Study in Authority in the Early Church." Order No. 9432950, Drew University, 1994. In PROQUESTMS ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global,

    Lowe, John. Saint Peter. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1956

    Wiersbe, Warren W. The Bible Exposition Commentary Old Testament. Wisdom and Poetry. Matthew - Galatians. Colorado Springs: David C. Cook, 1985

     Willmington, Harrold L. Willmington’s Bible Handbook. Carol Stream: Tyndale House, 1997.

     Willmington, H. L. Willmington’s Guide to the Bible. Wheaton: Tyndale House: 1988.


    [1] Martin Hengel, Saint Peter. The Underestimated Apostle. Translated by Thomas H. Trapp (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2010), 10-11.


    [2] Larry Helyer, The Life and Witness of Peter (Downers Grove, ILL: InterVarsity Press, 2012), 18.


    [3] Ibid., 20-22

    [4] Unless otherwise noted all scriptural references in this paper are taken from the NIV. Holy Bible, New International Version, NIV Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.

    [5] Helyer, The Life and Witness of Peter, 20-22

     [6] Ibid., 21

    [7] Markus Bockmuehl, Peter in Scripture and Memory (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2012), 21

     [8] Bockmuehl, Peter in Scripture and Memory, 22

    [9] Bockmuehl, Peter in Scripture and Memory, 22

     [10] Ibid., 168

     [11] Helyer, The Life and Witness of Peter, 27

    [12] John Lowe, Saint Peter (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1956), 4

     [13] Bockmuehl, Peter in Scripture and Memory, 175.

    [14] D. A. Carson, D.A., ed., NIV Biblical Theology Study Bible, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2018), 1959.

    [15] Edward Dobson, Charles E. Feinberg, Edward E. Hindson, Woodrow Michael Kroll, Harold L. Wilmington. Nelson KJV Bible Commentary, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2005), 517.

    [16] Bockmuehl, Peter in Scripture and Memory, 23

    [17] Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary Old Testament. Wisdom and Poetry. Job – Song of Solomon (Colorado Springs: David C. Cook, 2004), 186.

    [18] Raymond E. Brown, Karl P. Donfried and John Reumann (Editors), Peter in the New Testament. A Collaborative Assessment by Protestant and Roman Catholic Scholars (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2002), 115.

    [19] Helyer, The Life and Witness of Peter, 33

    [20] Carson, ed., NIV Biblical Theology Study Bible, 1832

    [21] Ibid., 36-37

    [22] Ibid.

    [23] Richard M. Hill, "The Role of Peter in the Gospel of Mark: A Study in Authority in the Early Church." Order No. 9432950, Drew University, 1994. In PROQUESTMS ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global,

     [24] Mt 26:33-35; Mk 14:29-31; Lk 22:33-34; Jn 13:36-38

    [25] Mk 14:66-72; Lk 22:59-62; Jn 18:13-27; Mt 26:69-75

    [26] Lowe, Saint Peter, 5

    [27] Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois

    [28] Carson, ed., NIV Biblical Theology Study Bible, 1732.

    [29] Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary OT. Wisdom and Poetry. Job – Song of Solomon, 58

    [30] According to B. Van Elderen, “Peter, Simon,” ZPEB 4:734. Cited in footnotes, Helyer, 44.

    [31] Hengel, Saint Peter. The Underestimated Apostle, 14.

    [32] Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary OT. Wisdom and Poetry. Job – Song of Solomon, 59.

    [33] Bockmuehl, Peter in Scripture and Memory, 26

    [34] Ibid

    [35] Ibid

    [36] Ibid.

    [37] Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary OT. Wisdom and Poetry. Job – Song of Solomon, 406.

    [38] Helyer, The Life and Witness of Peter, 70

    [39] Helyer, The Life and Witness of Peter, 73

    [40] Ibid, 86

    [41] Helyer, The Life and Witness of Peter, 83

    [42] Helyer, The Life and Witness of Peter, 93

    [43] Bockmuehl, Peter in Scripture and Memory, 29

    [44] Helyer, The Life and Witness of Peter, 105-117

    [45] Ibid., 118

    [46] Ibid., 116-125

    [47] H. L. Willmington, Willmington’s Guide to the Bible (Wheaton: Tyndale House, 1988), 497

    [48] Bockmuehl, Peter in Scripture and Memory, 177

    [49] Helyer, The Life and Witness of Peter, 283


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