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-THE FISHERMAN AND APOSTLE-
Simon Peter was one of the twelve disciples during Jesus’ ministry and
who came to prominence among the apostles. Peter's given name was 'Simeon
of Jonah'. It was quite common for a cosmopolitan Jew to employ three forms
of his name depending on the occasion. Aramaic, Latin, and Greek, giving
his double name of Simon Peter. It is obvious that he was called Simon
throughout Jesus’ ministry but came to be known as Peter more and more
in the early church age.
PETER'S BACKGROUND Peter was raised in bilingual Galilee. His childhood home with Andrew, his brother, was in Bethsaida. Being Jewish, he received a normal elementary education and a trade. As an inhabitant of Galilee he was able to converse in Greek and his native language being Aramaic, had a distinct northern accent.
Peter and Andrew were invovled with their father in the fishing profession. The family fishing concern was obviously more profitable being centred in Capernaum and perhaps were partners with with Zebedee's sons, James and John. The New Testament records that Peter was married and Jesus healed his mother-in-law, who lived with Peter. He was a rugged fisherman, an unlearned man, inconsistant and self-centred. He and his brother Andrew were fishermen on the Sea of Galilee. All four fishermen were chosen disciples at the beginning of Jesus' Galilean ministry.
PETER'S CALL Peter’s brother, Andrew, was a disciple of John the Baptist. Both he and Peter were called by Jesus. Jesus was walking along the shore and saw Peter and Andrew with James and John as they cast their nets into the sea. He called them all to become fishers of men. As a result they left everything and followed him. The disciples did leave the practice of their fishing businesses to follow Christ, but kept their trade and returned to their fishing when necessary.
Peter was called into full-time association with Jesus. The development of the inner circle of three probably came about because they were chosen first. Jesus called Simon, Peter (petros, meaning pebble, stone,) it was not a proper name, but a descriptive name, because he was one of many living stones who make up the Body of Christ. Jesus' first words to Peter "Come follow me," His last words that are recorded to Peter were the same. Peter did follow even though he often stumbled. Peter became a new person with a new outlook and new priorities once Jesus entered his life.
PETER AS A DISCIPLE The disciples did not abandon their families, and it is possible that Peter's home became Jesus’ headquarters in Galilee. A certain amount of distinction was given to Simon Peter in the Gospels and in the Book of Acts cannot be disputed. While some have attempted to attribute this to his leadership role in the early church, there is no basis for that in the New Testament.
Peter was impulsive, often hasty, he was the first to act and speak his mind and this was shown by his enthusiasm. Special authority was not given to Peter alone but to all disciples and this is made clear throughout the Gospels. Peter was also the spokes-person who tried to dissuade Jesus from His announced mission, proving himself to be a stumbling block, which also showed again later to other disciples.
Peter had rejected Christ three times in one night. Peter repented and was re-instated after Jesus' death and Resurrection. Simon Peter was a very impulsive person and far from the perfect disciple and apostle. Peter became one of the group of three intimate friends of Jesus, the other two being James and John. His brother Andrew was also a disciple and Apostle.
Peter often spoke without thinking, was impertinent but was zealous. Peter’s unguarded and unthinking tendency to protest Jesus’ statements is seen also at the foot-washing. Peter was eager to ask Jesus doctrinal and ministry related questions. He didn't hesitate to ask about rewards for discipleship.
Peter acted and spoke on behalf of the other disciples. At the sight of Jesus walking on the water, Peter asked that the Lord command him to do the same. At the Transfiguration it is Peter who recognised Moses and Elijah. Peter who asked the Lord to explain his teaching on forgiveness and parables and the one who spoke the disciples’ minds. As a member of the inner circle with James and John, the three were often alone with Jesus. Peter stayed close to Jesus and wanted to be involved in every ministry event. Peter stayed outside in the courtyard with John during Jesus' night trial. Even when at this time he denied Christ three times, he was still close by, although all others had scattered. Peter was the only disciple who was boldly outspoken as well as encouraging Jesus and His mission, therefore not only did he receive praise from Jesus but much rebuttal more than any other disciple.
Christ forgave Peter's rejections and accepted his repentant heart. Peter was aggressive as well as impulsive, eager to speak and asserts his opinion. This showed leadership qualities although other disciples did not conceed to Peter any authority over them. Jesus alone was recognised as their leader before and after His death, resurrection and ascension back to heaven.
Peter's characteristics make him very popular and with his human weaknesses, all can identify. He was eager, energetic, self-confident, unpulsive, daring, unstable, fickle, weak and cowardly. He was not guided by logical thinking, he was easily swayed from one extreme to the other. One moment he was praised by Jesus, the next moment being rebuked by His Lord. He was adventurous and inconsistent.
With the boldness of the Holy Spirit he became a giant pillar in the New Testament church. Peter was a willing disciple who sought to believe the Truth about Jesus, although his concept of The Messiah was that of an earthly ruler and perhaps perceived himself playing a major part in Jesus' reign. Peter admitted his ignorance and his own sinfulness but had a problem of forgiving others.
PETER THE ROCK? It was Peter whose confession became the high point of the Gospel accounts, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God”. After, Jesus then spoke of the suffering to come upon Him, Peter rebuked him, Jesus then turned, gazed at all the disciples, and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan." This statement also was obviously directed at them all through Peter, just as was the authority. This part of Scripture was the Roman Catholic interpretation from the third century on for apostolic succession, but it is not hinted at anywhere in the context or even in the epistles. It was not a first-century concept. leadership. Peter is seen here merely as an individual and a representative of the Gospel with the same authority to the church as other disciples. (SEE TEXT)
PETER THE APOSTLE Peter was a courageous spokesperson for the Gospel of Christ. With John, Peter went ' laying on of hands' in Samaria for the Baptism of The Holy Spirit. Paul rebuked Peter publicly. He was rebuked by The Apostle Paul for slipping back into Judaism and leading others astray, as he found it difficult to fit in with Gentiles. Despite his failings, Jesus accepted Peter and he went on to do great things for God amongst the Jewish Christian community. (Gal. 2:11-14). Peter or Paul never claimed authority over the other disciples and even sought their approval for their ministries. Peter had learned lessons personally from Jesus, that God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble. Peter's faith was transformed into God's willing instrument who preached God's word. After the ascension of Jesus, he, with the other disciples searched the scriptures daily.
PETER’S MINISTRY He was faithful in schooling others. He conveyed hope to a persecuted church who were being overcome with discouragement. He exhorted and strengthened the early believers. Peter, along with the other married apostles, often took his wife with him on his missionary journeys.
Peter reminded others the lessons of attitude that he had to learn himself, about caring and growth as Jesus had shown him. He had learned over the years with Jesus what was necessary to change in his life for spiritual growth.
Simon Peter, along with Paul, were the leading figures in the early church. His impact has been tragically dimmed by the scathing debates between the Roman Catholic–Protestant realms, but the biblical evidence is clear. He was a leading disciple of Jesus and indeed the 'pebble' who receieved divine revelation of the statement on which Jesus built the foundation for His church.
As a representative disciple, his enthusiasm and even his weaknesses have made him the supreme example of the developing disciple, one who, through the power of the risen Lord, rose above his faults to become a towering figure in the early church. Although as a Galilean fisherman, Peter spoke other dialects, he was not an excellent writer of the Greek language. Silas, who was also a leader, a council member of the early church in Jerusalem and a missionary, helped Peter write his letters.
Later tradition speaks of his children and says that Peter was present at the martyrdom of his wife. Concerning Peter’s death, only old letters of other disciples record the martyrdom of Peter but does not give any hint as to the place. Therefore he most likely spent the last year of his ministry in Rome and there suffered martyrdom under Nero.
Tradition records that in the last year of his life, he was in Rome and in that one year due to persecution he was killed, he, himself chose to be crucified upside down. Peter did become one of the outstanding Apostles of the early church. The embellished tradition that Peter was bishop of Rome for 25 years is contrary to the teaching of The Bible and all New Testament evidence. The Emperor Nero was the one who bore the name 'Pontifix Maximus', not Peter.
Peter receded into the background as did many of the original disciples as the Apostle Paul became the dominant messenger of The Gospel to the Gentiles.
HIGHLIGHTS OF PETER'S LIFE Peter was privileged to hear the voice of God endorsing His Sonship of Jesus at The Transfiguration of Jesus. He was quick to remind Jesus that all the disciples had left all to follow him, but was promised that all twelve disciples would sit on thrones judging Israel. (Matthew 19:27- 30)
Peter is mostly remembered for his denial of Christ three times on the night of Jesus' trial, before His crucifixion. Peter's loyalty being confirmed, the resurrected Jesus commanded him to act as a shepherd and spiritually nourish both lambs and sheep. Jesus also told Peter that his death would be because of persecution.
Peter was given divine revelation from God, concerning Jesus. The truth that came from the mouth of Peter would be the means by which both Jews and Gentile would embrace the Salvation of God, which Jesus offered. An apostle and an evangelist who confessed Jesus as The Messiah, Son of The Living God, also was rebuked by Jesus, and he presumed to rebuke Jesus when the crowd pressed in on Jesus when the woman with an infirmity touched Him. Peter was present at the raising of Jairius' daughter. He was also present at the transfiguration of Jesus, and in the garden of Gethsemane.
Peter sought Jesus for the interpretation of the parable of The Steward, of the law of forgiveness, of the law of defilement, of the prophecy of Jesus which concerned His Second Coming. Peter attempted to walk on water with Jesus, and he was sent with the disciple John into Jerusalem to prepare the Passover Meal. He was presumptuous in refusing to let Jesus wash His feet. Peter was the one who called attention to the withered fig tree, he was told of His denial by Jesus, even though he drew his sword to resist those who sought to arrest Jesus and cut off the ear of Malchus, the High Priest's servant. Peter and John followed Jesus to the High Priest's palace.
He did deny Jesus and repented. Visited the tomb, after Jesus' resurrection. Peter immediately and impulsively entered it. Jesus appeared to Peter. He was also present when Jesus appeared at the Lake of Galilee where he leapt into the sea when he recognised Jesus. Peter lived for some time in Jerusalem after he witnessed the ascension of Jesus. Peter made the statement regarding the replacement of Judas, be filled by another.
Peter preached to the Jews at Pentecost and healed the lame man at the Temple in Jerusalem. He was quick to explain it was not his power that healed the lame man at the Gate Beautiful but by The Name of Jesus of Nazareth who had been killed and brought back to life. Peter gave his own defence when he was accused by the religious council. He foretold of the death of Ananais and Sapphira, who lied to The Holy Spirit. He was imprisoned and whipped. He was supernaturally released from prison with the help of an angel. In Samaria Peter rebuked Simon the Sorcerer who desired to purchase God's power with money. In Jerusalem he received Paul. He travelled and healed Aeneas, dwelt with Simon, the Tanner, raised Dorcas from the dead, received a vision of a sheet containing clean and unclean animals together. He went to the Gentile Centurion and preached to the household and baptised them. He advocates with the Apostles and Elders at the Jerusalem Church, although Peter mainly preached to Jewish people, he did preach to Gentiles and stood for their position in Christ as one with the Jewish Christians. He wrote two Books of the New Testament. Jesus foretold of his persecution and death, prayed the Samarians to receive the baptism of The Holy Spirit.
As a disciple he had learned personal growth, to put Christ in all things, to follow Jesus' teaching, to show fruitfulness, to love other disciples, but he failed to comprehend the mission of Jesus and the nature of the Kingdom he came to establish. Peter was one of the original Apostles, one of the twelve disciples whom Jesus selected to be closely associated with Himself.
Like all the other Apostles he was unlearned in religious matters and all were given miraculous power and gifts of the Holy Spirit to preach the Gospel of Christ, for they were all commissioned by Him.
Peter wrote about grace and salvation, holiness in life, the position of believers, submission to those in authority, Christ's example, the view of the end of all things, the conduct of elders, and called for growth and value.
He warned fellow Christians of false teachers, of scoffers and the certainty of Christ's return. Peter was certainly one who rushed in where angels fear to tread.
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