Tag Archives: Peter

The Roller-Coaster of Faith – The Life of the Apostle Peter (Part One)

WELCOME BACK!  We’re been working hard, getting things ready for you to read and enjoy and use.  I’ve received emails from several people who have told me that they are using the apostles lessons as sermons and/or class material.  Thanks for letting me know!  We are so happy that you are finding it useful!  Now, enough of the chit-chatting; on to the story of Peter!!!!!

The most prominent of all the apostles, Peter has been both exalted far beyond his rightful place, and cast down to near-Judas depths by religious people over the past two thousand years.  In their rush to deny Peter’s place as the first Pope, many Christians unfortunately negate Peter’s divinely-given prominence among the apostles, and by extension, the early church.  Neither extreme is correct.

Simon Peter’s Family

Jesus refers to him as the “son of John” or “son of Jonah.”1  We know nothing about this man except that he had two very religious sons: Simon (later called Peter) and Andrew.  From this, we can infer that he was probably a devout Jew as well.

It is thanks to his brother Andrew that Simon first gets to meet Jesus.  Andrew, a disciple of John the Immerser, was pointed to Jesus as “the Lamb of God,” and went to find Simon, telling him, “We have found the Messiah!”2  It is quite possible that Simon was also a disciple of John, which would explain how Andrew was able to find him and bring him to Jesus that same day.3

Possibly as much as a year later, Jesus comes into Simon’s house in Capernaum, and heals Simon’s mother-in-law. She immediately got up and began to serve them, which shows that she was most likely a kind, hospitable woman.  Simon Peter was married,4 though we know very little about his wife except that she (1) was still living some 25 years after Pentecost, (2) apparently accompanied her husband on some of his ministry trips, and (3) was a Christian.5  As a side note, this is evidence against Peter being the “first Pope,” as Popes aren’t allowed to be married.6

Simon Peter’s Names

When he was born, this man who would later become one of the greatest Christians to ever live was given the name Simon, or Simeon.7  This was an ancient name, common among the Israelites8 because it was the name of the second-born of the twelve sons of Jacob.9

When Simon met Jesus for the first time, the Lord said to him, “You are Simon, the son of John: you shall be called Cephas.”10  The name Cephas means “stone” in Hebrew.11  After this, however, Paul is the only one who uses this Hebrew form of the name.12

The name “Peter” is simply the Greek form of the Hebrew “Cephas.”  So when Jesus told him that he would be called “Cephas,” He could just as accurately said, “You will be called Peter,” because they mean the same thing.  After this, Simon is almost always referred to as either “Peter” or “Simon Peter.”13

The name “Peter” was divinely-given,14 perhaps to emphasize the kind of person Jesus needed Simon to become—a steady source of strength.15  It is also possible that Jesus gave Him this name, in part, because of the illustration He would use in Matthew 16:16-18:

Simon Peter answered and said to Him, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”  And Jesus answered and said to him, “You are blessed, Simon, son of John: because flesh and blood hasn’t revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.  And I say to you, that you are Peter [Greek, Petros], and upon this rock [Greek, Petra] I will build my church; and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.”

The difference in the two words, Petros and Petra, are striking.  Petros [Peter] is masculine in Greek, and means a small rock; Petra is feminine in Greek, and means a large slab of rock, bedrock, or a solid mountain of rock.  It was the inspired statement that Peter made (that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God) that was the rock upon which the church would be built—not Peter himself.16

-Bradley S. Cobb

1 John 1:42; 21:15-17.  The King James’ Version of Matthew 16:17 gives a transliteration of the Greek (which was a transliteration of the Aramaic), “Barjona.”  But this simply means “son of Jonah,” or “son of John.”  The two names are very similar in the original language.  See David Smith’s article, “Peter,” in James Hasting’s Dictionary of the Bible.

2 John 1:40-41.

3 John the Immerser was baptizing in Bethabara (John 1:28), which was near Jericho, around 60 miles from Capernaum, where Peter and Andrew lived (Mark 1:19-21).  Thus, Peter must have been nearby.  This has led many to the natural conclusion that Peter was a disciple of John, which is a very reasonable guess (see W. Patrick’s article, “Peter,” in Hasting’s Dictionary of Christ in the Gospels).

4 In addition to the fact that Peter had a mother-in-law (an impossibility for an unmarried man), he also identifies himself as “an elder” (1 Peter 5:1), thus he was a “husband of one wife,” or more literally, a “one-woman man” (1 Timothy 3:2).  If he was not married, then he would have no right to hold the office of an elder.  In addition, 1 Corinthians 9:5 appeals to Peter as an example of a married apostle (see next footnote).

5 1 Corinthians 9:5, written approximately AD 56, states “Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles and the brethren of our Lord, and Cephas [Peter]?”  From this passage, (1) it seems that it was common knowledge that the other apostles were married at that time; (2) the phrase “lead about” means to take someone around with them, showing the apostles’ wives accompanied them; and (3) Paul specifically states that each wife was “a sister,” that is, a sister in Christ (see this verse in ASV, MLV, ESV, NKJV, etc.)

6 The Catholic Church claims Peter was the first Pope, the first bishop of Rome.  There are several lines of biblical evidence which refute this false doctrine, such as: (1) Peter was married, though the Catholic Church teaches that priests (from which the Bishops, Archbishops, Cardinals, and Popes come) cannot be married; (2) Paul desired to come to Rome to work with the church (Romans 1:10-11); but also said that he would not build on another man’s foundation (Romans 15:20); and Peter’s name is conspicuously absent from the list of greetings that Paul gives to the Christians in Rome (Romans 16); there is no biblical evidence that Peter was ever in Rome; Peter’s mission was to the Jews (Galatians 2:9), and all the Jews had been expelled from Rome (Acts 18:2), giving Peter no reason to go there.  There is much more that could be added, but as it is outside the scope of this work, this will suffice.

7 He is called “Simon” in the gospel accounts, but in Acts 15:14, James (the brother of the Lord) refers to him as “Simeon.” Though it is not translated as such in most English Bibles, in 2 Peter 1:1, he identifies himself as “Simeon Peter” (the ESV, NRSV, NET, NAB, Disciples Literal New Testament, and the Living Oracles all translate this properly).

8 There is a Simeon in Luke 2:25-35; another one mentioned in Luke 3:30; a prophet with that name in Acts 13:1.  Jesus had a brother named Simon (Matthew 13:55); two apostles had that name (Matthew 10:1-4); Jesus ate at the house of a Pharisee named Simon (Luke 7:36-44); Jesus stayed in the house of Simon the leper near the end of His ministry (Matthew 26:6); a man named Simon carried Jesus’ cross (Matthew 27:32); Judas Iscariot’s father was named Simon (John 12:4); the infamous magician-turned-Christian (and according to tradition, turned enemy of Christianity) was named Simon (Acts 8:9, 13); Peter stayed in the house of Simon the tanner while in Joppa (Acts 9:43, 10:5-6).

9 Genesis 35:23.

10 John 1:42.

11 The Hebrew root, Keph (כּף) is used in Job 30:6 and Jeremiah 4:29.

12 1 Corinthians 1:12, 3:22, 9:5, 15:5; and Galatians 2:9.

13 Twice in Matthew, Jesus refers to Peter simply as “Simon” (Matthew 16:17; 17:25); In Mark, after noting that Jesus gave Simon the name “Peter,” the apostle is only identified called “Simon” one time (though in the same verse (14:37), Mark also calls him as Peter); Luke’s gospel account uses “Simon” multiple times after noting that he was also called Peter (7:40-44; 22:31; 24:34); John records Jesus calling him “Simon” on only one occasion (21:15-17).  After Pentecost, the only time the name “Peter” or “Cephas” is absent in identifying him is Acts 15:14, where he is called “Simeon.”

14 Mark 3:16; Luke 6:14.

15 Simon would eventually be the one who used the “keys of the kingdom” to welcome both Jew and Gentile into the Kingdom of God (see Matthew 16:16-18; Acts 2; Acts 10-11).  He was also one who was given a specific commission to strengthen the rest of the apostles (Luke 22:31-32); and was entrusted with the shepherding care of Jesus’ sheep (John 21:15-17).

16 The Catholic Church ignores the differences in the original words to make the claim that Jesus was going to build the church on Peter himself (yet again, their argument to elevate Peter to Popehood fails based on biblical evidence).  The only way that petra could be a reference to Peter is if he somehow got a sex change halfway through Jesus’ sentence—an absolute absurdity.

The Further Adventures of Simon Peter’s Brother

Otherwise known as: Andrew According to Tradition

Eusebius reports that Andrew’s area of work was Scythia,1 which is north of the Black Sea in part of modern-day Russia.  It is because of this tradition that the Roman Catholic Church lists him as the patron saint of Russia.  An early Christian writing titled “The Martyrdom of Andrew” records that he was stoned to death while working in this area. 2

The Acts of Andrew and Matthias in the City of Man-Eaters3

This ancient work describes Matthias as a prisoner in an Ethiopian4 city of cannibals, who is then rescued by Andrew, but then they are both captured until Andrew causes a statue to gush acidic water throughout the city, killing cattle and children, and causing the adults of the city to writhe in pain as their skin was being eaten into by the acid that was now up to their necks.  When the people finally began to pray to the “God of the stranger [Andrew],” Andrew told the statue to “Stop the water, for they have repented.”5

The Acts and Martyrdom of the Holy Apostle Andrew

Another ancient work entitled “Acts and Martyrdom of the Holy Apostle Andrew,”6 supposed to have been written by the “bishops and deacons of the churches of Achaia,”7 records a conversation between Aegates, the proconsul, and Andrew which came about because Aegeates’ wife would not follow the pagan gods after hearing Andrew’s preaching.  After proclaiming the “mystery of the cross,” and telling the proconsul that the only way he could learn the truth was to “take the form of a disciple,” Aegeates threw Andrew into prison.  This only served to make the Christians incredibly angry, for they came together from the whole province with the mission of killing Aegeates and freeing Andrew.  The apostle, however, calmed them down and they left.  The next day, Aegeates brought him back and commanded him to offer a “libation” offering to the gods, since it was Andrew’s fault that “not even one city has remained in which their temples have not been forsaken and deserted.”  After Andrew called him “O son of death, and chaff made ready for eternal burnings,” the proconsul, enraged, said “[I]f thou wilt not hearken to me, I shall cause thee to perish on the tree of the cross.”

According to this work, the command was given “that he should be bound hand and foot, as if he were stretched on the rack, and not pierced with nails, that he might not die soon, but be tormented with long-continuing torture.”8  But Andrew wasn’t tortured; instead smiling and happy, he preached to nearly 20,000 people who gathered around to hear from him for four days.  On the fourth day, many came to Aegeates and demanded that Andrew be released, and through fear of the mob, the proconsul went to free him.  However, Andrew prayed that he not be released, and the arms of those who tried to release him from the cross were numbed until finally, after a bright light shone on him from heaven for half an hour, Andrew gave up the ghost.

Other Traditions

Tradition holds that this cross was turned to resemble an “X,” and has for centuries been known as “St. Andrew’s Cross.”9

One final note of interest comes from the Muratorian Fragment.  This early writing (some date it as early as AD 170) is one of the primary sources for the study of which books belong in the New Testament.10  It says:

The fourth Gospel [was written by] John, one of the disciples. When his fellow-disciples and bishops urgently pressed him, he said, “Fast with me today, for three days, and let us tell one another any revelation which may be made to us, either for or against [the plan of writing].” On the same night it was revealed to Andrew, one of the Apostles, that John should relate all in his own name, and that all should review [his writing].11

-Bradley S. Cobb

1 Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, Book 3, Chapter 1, Paragraph 1.

2 International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, “Andrew” (II. In Apocryphal Literature).

3 “The oldest MS. Has Matthias; the four or five others have Matthew” (footnote 1, Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 8, page 517).

4 See Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 8, page 356.

5 Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 8, pages 517-526.

6 Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 8, pages 511-516.

7 Achaia is the southern half of Greece, including the cities of Corinth and Athens.

8 The Bodleian Manuscript of this work includes the words quoted.  It appears as a footnote in the Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 8, page 513.

9 Holman Bible Dictionary: “Andrew”

10 Practically all books dealing with the issue of canonicity will mention this document.  However, it must be noted that the only surviving copy of it is a 7th-century Latin translation.  The early date is suggested due to some historical references as being recent to the author.

11 This quotation was given in James Hastings’ Dictionary of Christ in the Gospels, “Andrew.”

Andrew, the Lesser-Known Son of Jonah (Part 4)

Andrew the Apostle (Great Commission)

The first day of the week, seven days after the resurrection of Jesus, Andrew was gathered with the disciples with the doors shut because there were afraid of what the Jews might do to them.  During this meeting, Jesus appeared in the room, and Andrew looked with joy at the wounds in hands and side which proved that this was His Lord, risen from the dead.1

Andrew is last specifically named in the Bible in Acts 1:13, while he was with the rest of the apostles in Jerusalem awaiting the power of the Holy Spirit that Jesus had promised would happen just prior to His ascension.2  On the Day of Pentecost, Andrew heard a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and he was filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak about the “wonderful works of God” in other languages as directed by the Spirit.3  Andrew spent much of that day standing in water, baptizing many of the 3,000 souls who were “pricked in the heart” and wanted their sins forgiven.4

Over the next several months, Andrew continued to preach and heal the sick, until finally the high priest and the Sadducees couldn’t take it anymore.  Andrew and the other eleven were arrested and thrown into the common prison.  But that night, an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the prison and released them, with a command to go to the temple and preach “the words of life.”  That day, the captain of the officers asked them to come with him and brought them before the council.  When the high priest asked Andrew and the others, “Didn’t we command you not to teach in this name?” they all answered, “We ought to obey God rather than man.”  Instead of being put to death, however, the high priest commanded that Andrew and the other apostles were to be beaten—probably with 39 severe lashes—and then released with another stern warning not to preach about Jesus anymore.  They all rejoiced that there were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name, and went on teaching and preaching Jesus Christ.5

Biblically speaking, the only other things we know about Andrew is that he remained in Jerusalem during the persecution instituted by Saul of Tarsus, that he was again (or still) in Jerusalem when the former persecutor, now a Christian, came back with Barnabas, and that he was again (or still) in Jerusalem when those two men returned to settle a dispute over whether Gentile Christians were to keep the Law of Moses.6

Thanks be to God for this wonderful man who continually brought people to Jesus!

-Bradley S. Cobb

1 John 20:19-20

2 Acts 1:8-9.

3 See Acts 2:1-4, 11.

4 See Acts 2:37-38, 41.

5 These events are recorded in Acts 5.

6 These can be seen in Luke’s use of the phrase “the apostles” in Acts 8:1; 9:26-27; and chapter 15.

Andrew, the Lesser-Known Son of Jonah (Part 3)

Andrew During the Passion Week

The twelve apostles came with Jesus to Jerusalem before the Passover, and stayed in the house of Mary and Martha.  The next day, Sunday, Andrew watched as Jesus mounted a young donkey and entered Jerusalem with the people crying out “Hosannah!  Blessed is the King of Israel that comes in the name of the Lord!”1  Amidst the commotion of the day, some Gentiles who were there for the upcoming feast approached Philip, who brought them to Andrew.2  They said, “We want to see Jesus.”3  So Andrew, for the third time in the biblical record, brought people to the Lord.4  Andrew must have watched and listened as Jesus spoke to these Gentiles.

The hour is come that the Son of man should be glorified.  Verily, verily I say to you, “Except a grain of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abides alone: but if it dies, it brings forth much fruit.  He that loves His life shall lose it; and he that hates his life in this world shall keep it to life eternal.  If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honor.  Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say?  Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I to this hour.  Father, glorify Your name.”

Then came a voice from heaven, “I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.”

The people therefore who stood by and heard it said that it thundered: others said, “An angel spoke to Him” (John 12:23-39).

Andrew stood as the Father spoke from heaven, and heard Jesus say that God spoke for the benefit of those around Him (including Andrew).  Then, even though Andrew had heard it before, he couldn’t help but feel sadness when he heard Jesus announce once more that He was going to die.5

Andrew certainly accompanied Jesus (as did the other apostles) during His visits into Jerusalem on Monday, when Jesus again overturned the tables of the money-changers, and Tuesday, watching the Master teach in the temple, confronting Pharisees, Sadducees, chief priests, scribes, elders, and Herodians as they tried to trip Him up in front of the people.6  It was on this Tuesday, the final Tuesday before Jesus’ cruel death, that Jesus and His disciples left the temple, and one of them pointed out the immense beauty of the temple complex.7  This building project began fifty years earlier, and included tearing down the temple build by Zerubabbel,8  completely removing the foundation, creating an entirely new foundation 30 feet higher than it had been, and carted in massive marble slabs that were white and strong, 37.5 feet long, 18 feet wide, and 12 feet tall to build the temple.9  The temple was raised up to such a height and prominence in Jesus’ day that Josephus says

[T]he middle [the temple itself] was much higher, till they were visible to those that dwelt in the country for a great many furlongs. …

The temple had doors also at the entrance, and lintels over them, of the same height as the temple itself.  They were adorned with embroidered veils, with their flowers of purple, and pillars interwoven: and over these, but under the crownwork, was spread out a golden vine, with its branches hanging down from a great height, the largeness and fine workmanship of which was a surprising sight to the spectators, to see what vast materials there were, and with what great skill the workmanship was done.10

But as Andrew and the other apostles stood with Jesus, looking at the temple, the Master said, “You see these great buildings?  There shall not be left one stone upon another, which shall not be thrown down.”11  Given the immensity of these marble slabs (stones), such a statement shocked Jesus’ disciples.  It was such a shock that Andrew and Peter, James and John, came to Jesus privately as He sat on the Mount of Olives to ask Him “When shall these things be?  And what shall be the sign when all these things are fulfilled?”12  Andrew then listened intently as he heard Jesus detail for them the events leading up to the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in accordance with Old Testament prophecy, adding the words “This generation shall not pass until all these things are done.”13

Wednesday evening (which to the Jews would have been the beginning of Thursday),14 Jesus gathered with Andrew and the other apostles in an upper room to eat the Passover.  During the meal, Andrew watched as Jesus stood up and wrapped a towel around Himself, and then came and washed Andrew’s feet.15 and it was at this time that Jesus told them that He was going to be betrayed by one of them.  Shocked and worried, Andrew asks Jesus, “Is it I?”  But he isn’t given a direct answer.

Jesus, with the apostles (minus Judas, who had left),16 after singing a hymn, went to the Mount of Olives, where He told Andrew and the others, “All of you shall be offended because of me this night.”  Andrew watched his brother Peter argue with Jesus over this, saying “Although all [of them] shall be offended, yet I will not.”  Then after Jesus foretold that Peter would deny Him three times, Peter said, “If I should die with You, I will not deny You in any way,” and Andrew said the same thing.17

Of course, it was just a short time later that Judas arrived with soldiers, who took hold of Jesus, and scared Andrew and the others to the point that they “forsook Him and fled”18

-Bradley S. Cobb

1 John 12:12-14, Mark 11:1-10, Matthew 21:1-9, Luke 19:29-38

2 John’s record of these events appears to place them on the same day as the “Triumphal Entry,” on what has come to be known as “Palm Sunday” (though neither phrases appear in the inspired text).  However, J.W. McGarvey take the position that this incident with Andrew and the Greeks took place on the Tuesday following, though he does not give an explanation for his reasoning in his Fourfold Gospel.

3 John 12:20-22

4 Andrew brought his brother, Simon [Peter], to Jesus; he brought the lad with the loaves and fishes to Jesus; and he brought these Gentiles to Jesus.

5 John 12:30-32 records Jesus repeating His death announcement.  The listeners, according to the verses that follow, understood that Jesus was saying that He must die, and thought that meant He wasn’t the Christ, about whom they had heard “out of the Law” that He should “abide forever” (John 12:34).  Some may think that the death announcement was not understood when Jesus stated it, but the Gentiles that Andrew brought to Jesus understood Him pretty well.

6 These incidents are recorded in Mark 11:27-33; 13:13, 18-27, as well as in Matthew and Luke’s accounts.

7 None of the biblical writers disclose the name of the disciple in question.  Therefore, any guess would be nothing more than a supposition.  However, given how frequently certain disciples are mentioned by name, it seems logical to assume that it was not Peter, Andrew, James, or John (who are mentioned by name just two verses later in Mark’s account), nor Judas (for if it was him, it would seem worth noting to point out because of his materialistic mind).

8 Josephus places it during the 18th year of the reign of Herod the Great, which would be approximately 20 BC.

9 This information is recorded for us in Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews, book 15, chapter 11, paragraphs 1-3.

10 Flavius Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 15.11.3

11 Mark 13:2, Matthew 24:1-2.

12 Mark 13:3-4.  The questions, as recorded in Matthew 24, are worded differently: “When shall these things be?  And what shall be the sign of your coming and of the end of the world?  We have chosen to use the questions as Mark records them, for he is the only one who identifies the specific questioners (Andrew in particular).

13 Mark 13:5-37, but especially verse 30.  Matthew 24:34 and Luke 21:32 also record this saying.

14 To the Jew, a new day began at 6pm.  Thus, this Passover meal, in Jewish reckoning, was eaten on Thursday, though to us, it would be Wednesday evening.  Space forbids an extended discussion of the day in which Jesus was crucified, but perhaps this will suffice: In order for Jesus to be the fulfillment of the Passover Lamb type, He would need to be killed on the same day prescribed by God in Exodus 12.  In the years 29-33 (where most estimates of Jesus’ death are placed), the day in question never happened on a Friday.  However, in AD 30, it fell on a Thursday.  It is the belief of this writer, after much study, that Jesus died on the 14th of Nisan, AD 30, which was a Thursday, and that He was buried on the 15th (remember that to the Jews, the day changed at 6 pm), and was raised on the following Sunday.

15 John 13:1-5

16 John 13:21-30

17 Mark 14:26-31.

18 Matthew 26:56