Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament 
1. Names.-Peter is known by four different names in the NT. By far the most common designation is simply ‘Peter’ (20 times in Matthew , 18 times in Mark , 15 times in Luke , 16 times in Jn., 52 times in Ac., twice in Gal. [ Galatians 2:7 f.], and once in 1 Peter [ 1 Peter 1:1]). ‘Simon,’ standing alone, occurs less frequently (twice in Matthew , 5 times in Mark , 10 times in Lk., once in Jn.), and ‘Symeon’ but once ( Acts 15:14)._ With two exceptions ( Galatians 2:7 f.), ‘Cephas’ is the term uniformly employed by St. Paul ( 1 Corinthians 1:12; 1 Corinthians 3:22; 1 Corinthians 9:5; 1 Corinthians 15:5, Galatians 1:18; Galatians 2:9; Galatians 2:11; Galatians 2:14); and John once speaks of ‘Cephas (which is by interpretation, Peter)’ ( John 1:42). ‘Simon’ and ‘Peter’ sometimes stand in conjunction with one another (3 times in Mt., once in Mk., twice in Luke , 18 times in John , 4 times in Acts, and once in 2 Pet. ( 2 Peter 1:1), where ‘Symeon’ rather than ‘Simon’ is, however, the better attested reading). Of the various names, ‘Symeon’ (‘Simeon’) and ‘Cephas’ are Semitic in origin, while ‘Simon’ and ‘Peter’ are Greek. ‘Symeon’ (Συμεών) appears frequently in the LXX_ as the rendering of the Heb. (Shimeôn = Simeon); but, since it is applied to Peter at most only twice in the NT ( Acts 15:14; 2 Peter 1:1), it can hardly have been his real name. In these two instances the usage, if not accidental, may have been designed to add solemnity and force to the narrative, and was made all the easier because the Greek ‘Simon’ (Σίμων), the name by which Peter probably had been known from childhood, was so like the Hebrew in sound. But among the Jews in Hellenistic times the Hebrew name had been largely supplanted by the Greek, and the latter was even written in Semitic characters (îÄéîæÉï). Some examples of Jews with the Greek name are Simon the Maccabaean, although his great-grandfather was called ‘Symeon’ ( 1 Maccabees 2:3); Simon the son of Onias ( Sirach 50:1); a certain Benjamite ( 2 Maccabees 3:4); and Simon Chosameus ( 1 Esdras 9:32). In Josephus’ writings Jewish persons are very frequently called ‘Simon,’ less often ‘Symeon.’ Both names seem to have been employed, and usually with discrimination, by Jews in the Hellenistic period; but ‘Simon’ was the more common, and this in all probability was the Apostle’s original name. In the Apostolic Age, however, he was known chiefly by his surname, ‘Peter.’ That this usage had been established already within the primitive Aramaic-speaking community is amply attested by St. Paul’s frequent ‘Cephas’ (Κηφᾶς), a Graecized transliteration of the Aramaic ëÌÅéôÈà (Kepha’), which when translated into Greek becomes ‘Peter’ (Πέτρος, ‘stone’).
There is some uncertainty as to the exact circumstances under which the Apostle first received this appellation. According to Mark 3:16, Luke 6:14, early in his Galilaean ministry Jesus set apart the Twelve to be His helpers and gave Simon the surname Peter (καὶ ἐπέθηκεν ὄνομα τῷ Σίμωνι Πἐτρον) In referring to the same incident, Matthew ( Matthew 10:2) speaks of ‘the so-called Peter’ (ὁ λεγόμενος Πέτρος), but seemingly intends to make the Apostle’s famous confession at Caesarea Philippi the occasion for the Messiah to bestow upon him the name ‘Peter’ and to designate him formal head of the Church ( Matthew 16:17-19). In the Gospel of John, when Simon was first brought to Jesus, the latter exclaimed, ‘Thou art to be called Cephas’ (σὺ κληθήσῃ Κηφᾶς [ John 1:42]), probably meaning from this time forth, since John does not recur to this subject and henceforth always (except in 21) uses ‘Peter’ either alone (16 times) or in conjunction with ‘Simon’ (18 times). Finally, there are intimations, though these are very vague, that the special recognition of Simon’s supremacy may at one time have rested upon his early belief in Jesus’ resurrection. He was generally thought to have been the first disciple to see-if not to believe in ( John 20:8)-the Risen Lord ( 1 Corinthians 15:5, Mark 16:7, Luke 24:34), and, as St. Paul had attained apostleship through a similar vision, so Peter had been ‘energized’ for his work as an apostle ( Galatians 2:8). There is here no statement that Simon received his surname on this occasion-indeed, he is already known as ‘Peter’ (or ‘Cephas’) in this connexion-but it is possible that his initial vision, which made him the corner-stone of the new community, established, if not for the first time, at least more completely, the custom of referring to him as ‘Peter.’ The infrequency of the word as a proper name at that time, and the fact that ‘Simon’ would readily have served all ordinary needs either in Jewish or in Christian circles, make it still more evident that the designation ‘Cephas’ (Peter) was called forth by special circumstances, uncertain though some of the details may be at present. The usage undoubtedly originated early, probably in the lifetime of Jesus; and the significance of the appellation was at the outset, or soon became, intimately associated with Peter’s prominent position within the company of early disciples.
2. Peter in the NT writings.-The earliest literature preserved from apostolic times, the letters of St. Paul, contains explicit and important information about Peter. These documents do not, to be sure, purport to give any detailed account of his career, and the data which they do preserve are usually incidental to other interests, but this very fact makes the information all the more significant. St. Paul’s statements clearly represent items of general knowledge current at that early date regarding ‘Cephas.’ While St. Paul’s references are relatively few in number, they contain implications of much importance. Peter is seen to have been the first to obtain a vision of the Risen Lord ( 1 Corinthians 15:5); and thus from the outset he occupied a position of primacy in the community and was also first among the apostles, while St. Paul reckons himself last ( 1 Corinthians 15:9). St. Paul vigorously resented the insinuation of his enemies, to the effect that Peter’s chronological priority carried with it a superior authority, particularly for Gentile Christians; but, on the other hand, St. Paul did not think his apostleship or mission at all different in kind or superior in authority as compared with that of Peter. The seducers in Galatia were not really preaching Peter’s gospel-they were perverting it ( Galatians 1:7); it was as truly founded upon faith in Jesus the Messiah as was St. Paul’s ( Galatians 2:16); and both apostles had been equipped in the same authoritative way for the performance of their respective apostolic duties ( Galatians 2:8). Peter had been commissioned to preach the gospel to the Jews, and this work must have seemed to St. Paul quite as important as-perhaps in some respects more important than-his own specific task of Gentile evangelization. He never doubted that God’s primary concern was for the welfare of the Jews, and that He had even designed them to be the ultimate heirs of the Kingdom, notwithstanding their temporary rejection of the gospel (Romans 11). In the meantime, the Gentiles were reaping the profits to be derived from the Jews’ rejection, St. Paul being especially commissioned to carry on this temporary enterprise of evangelizing the Gentiles, but the original and fundamental task was still Peter’s.
The importance of this phase of St. Paul’s thinking-an item sometimes obscured by a too one-sided emphasis upon the legalistic controversy-is further attested by the high estimate he continues to place upon Judaism, and the value he attaches to Christianity’s Jewish connexions. The Jew has had the advantage in every way ( Romans 3:1; Romans 9:1 ff.), and St. Paul’s ancestry entitles him to a full share in that advantage ( Romans 11:1, 2 Corinthians 11:22, Philippians 3:5). True, his ancestral heritage must now be brought to its proper consummation in the new faith, toward which all the Divine purposes down through the ages had been tending. From St. Paul’s point of view it was altogether essential, however, that Christianity should have had this Jewish origin; and so it was especially fitting, he thought, that those olive branches which had been temporarily severed from the Jewish trunk-as was the case with all Jews who rejected Christianity-should one day be restored to their rightful place along with the few wild olive branches that had in the meantime been grafted upon the native stock ( Romans 11:11 ff.). It fell to Peter’s lot to engage in the work of preserving, or restoring, the original branches, a work with which St. Paul was in full sympathy and to which he would gladly have given himself at all costs had circumstances permitted ( Romans 9:3). Hence it is not strange that he should cite the Jewish churches as models ( 1 Thessalonians 2:14), that he should refer with manifest satisfaction to their approval of his initial missionary activities ( Galatians 1:24), that he should reckon his own evangelizing activity as formally beginning at Jerusalem ( Romans 15:19), that he should take occasion to pay Peter a two weeks’ visit in Jerusalem ( Galatians 1:18), or that he should in all sincerity seek the approval of the Jerusalem Church upon his Gentile work ( Galatians 2:1 ff.). Furthermore, his high estimate of the Jewish community’s significance found very tangible expression in the collection, which was no mere perfunctory keeping of a past agreement, but an expression of genuine appreciation of the Jewish Christians’ willingness to share their special prerogatives with the Gentiles who fulfilled the condition of faith ( Galatians 2:10, Romans 15:26-28). These facts must be borne in mind when attempting to evaluate St. Paul’s testimony to the significance of Peter’s position in the early history of Christianity. It is quite erroneous to conclude, as some interpreters have done, that St. Paul’s controversy with the legalists really meant any conscious effort on his part to oppose or to supplant Peter, whose unique position in the early community and whose leadership in the work of evangelizing the Jews are clearly attested and highly esteemed by St. Paul.
Unfortunately, St. Paul did not have occasion to mention Peter as often as we could wish; consequently, the latter’s career cannot be restored with any degree of fullness from the Pauline letters. Whether he was among the apostles in Jerusalem, whom St. Paul, had he so chosen, might have visited immediately after his conversion ( Galatians 1:17), is not clear; but three years later he was there and entertained St. Paul for two weeks ( Galatians 1:18). He was also in Jerusalem fourteen years later, when the legalistic controversy was going on ( Galatians 2:1-10). Soon afterwards, perhaps accompanying St. Paul and Barnabas on their return, he came to Antioch in Syria, where his reactionary attitude upon the question of table-fellowship with Gentiles evoked St. Paul’s vigorous censure. An incidental reference to Peter as a travelling missionary accompanied by his wife and deriving support from those to whom he ministered ( 1 Corinthians 9:5), and mention of a Cephas party in Corinth ( 1 Corinthians 1:12; 1 Corinthians 3:22), complete the list of Pauline data. These scanty particulars do not permit of any very extended interpretation, yet they do make it clear that Peter was prominent in the counsels of the mother Church, that he continued to prosecute his work as an evangelist, and that his fame had reached even to Asia Minor and Greece early in the fifties.
Of the remaining Christian literature produced in apostolic times, the Gospels and Acts are the most important for our present purpose. In the first part of Acts, Peter is the leader of the apostolic company, and in the Gospels he occupies a position of prominence, commensurate with the dominant part he subsequently played in the life of the early Christian community. Remembering the ample attestation of Peter’s prominence given by his contemporary St. Paul, it is not at all surprising that the evangelists, in selecting gospel tradition and giving it written form, should mention Peter frequently and assign him a position second only to that of Jesus. His name does not appear in any of the non-Marcan sections common to Matthew and Luke (i.e. in the Logia [Q]), but in Mark he is a conspicuous figure from first to last. He, with his brother Andrew, is the first to answer Jesus’ call to discipleship ( Mark 1:16); they entertain Him at their home in Capernaum, where He heals Simon’s mother-in-law ( Mark 1:29 f.); and the company of the disciples is now known as ‘Simon and those with him’ ( Mark 1:36). He heads the list of the Twelve ( Mark 3:16), he is named first among the favoured few to witness the raising of Jairus’ daughter ( Mark 5:37), he is granted similar favours at the time of the Transfiguration ( Mark 9:2), and in Gethsemane on the night of the betrayal ( Mark 14:33), and it is to him in particular that the women are instructed to announce the resurrection of Jesus ( Mark 16:7). On several occasions he is chief spokesman for the disciples, and is mentioned first among those receiving private instructions or explanations ( Mark 8:29, Mark 9:5, Mark 10:28, Mark 11:21, Mark 13:3). Notices which reflect somewhat unfavourably upon him are also preserved. Although he is the first of the Twelve to affirm belief in Jesus’ Messiahship, his failure to understand the true Messianic programme calls forth a sharp rebuke from Jesus ( Mark 8:32 f.); he is found asleep when left on duty in Gethsemane ( Mark 14:37); and during the course of Jesus’ trial Peter persistently denies his Master ( Mark 14:29; Mark 14:54-72).
With the exception of a few alterations and supplements, Matthew and Luke take over most of the Marcan statements regarding Peter. Matthew omits the paragraph in which ‘Simon and those with him’ seek Jesus to tell Him that the people of Capernaum desire His return to the city ( Mark 1:36), nothing is said of Peter’s accompanying Jesus when the latter raised the daughter of Jairus ( Mark 5:37), and Peter’s name is expunged from the instructions given to the women by the angel at the tomb of Jesus ( Mark 16:7). These omissions are relatively insignificant when compared with the main body of Marcan material which Matthew has preserved. The additional data of Matthew are more important, especially the paragraph supplementing Mark’s account of Peter’s confession ( Matthew 16:17-19). In comparison with this incident, the other chief Petrine additions of Matthew-Peter’s walking on the water ( Matthew 14:28 f.), and the story of the coin found in the fish’s mouth ( Matthew 17:24-27)-are of only secondary interest. Into Mark’s narrative of Peter’s confession, otherwise copied rather closely, Matthew interjects three verses, ascribing Peter’s exceptional perceptive powers to revelation, designating him the corner-stone of the Church, and committing to his keeping the keys of the Kingdom. These statements are manifestly Matthaean insertions, for they do not stand in Mark, which Matthew is copying in both the preceding and the following contexts, nor do they appear in Luke, where the Marcan narrative at this point is also followed. But from what source the First Evangelist derived his information, and whether the words were actually spoken by Jesus, are much-debated problems. The balance of critical opinion at present inclines to the view that this tradition arose subsequently to the death of Jesus and at a time when the first vivid expectations of an imminent catastrophic end of the present world were being displaced by a growing interest in ecclesiasticism. However this may be, it is perfectly clear from Matthew’s language that Peter had lost none of the prestige which was his in St. Paul’s day, while his exact position with reference to all other Christians and to the Christian organization itself has been more specifically defined.
Luke furnishes scarcely any additional data to shed light upon the apostolic estimate of Peter. The Marcan account of the disciples’ call is omitted in favour of another tradition somewhat richer in descriptive details ( Luke 5:1-11; cf. Mark 1:16-20); and in the account of Peter’s denial Luke seems to be following a slightly different source, yet the variations are formal rather than essential so far as the portrayal of Peter is concerned ( Luke 22:31-62; cf. Mark 14:26-72). In copying Mark’s account of the Caesarea-Philippi incident, Luke omits the closing verses which tell of Jesus’ upbraiding Peter for his presumption in attempting to regulate the Messiah’s conduct ( Mark 8:32 ff.). Similarly, in Luke’s version of the Gethsemane incident Peter is not singled out for rebuke as in Mark ( Luke 22:46; cf. Mark 14:37). Nor does Luke report the special message of the angel to Peter, telling him that he will see the Risen Lord in Galilee ( Luke 24:7; cf. Mark 16:7), because Luke records only Judaea n appearances; but he does note that the first appearance was made to Peter ( Luke 24:34).
It is in the early chapters of Acts that Peter’s portrait is drawn most distinctly. He heads the list of the Eleven, and takes the initiative in the election of a successor to Judas ( Acts 1:13; Acts 1:15). He is also the chief speaker on the Day of Pentecost ( Acts 2:14 ff.), the immediate agent in healing the lame beggar at the Temple gate ( Acts 3:1-10), and the principal defender of the new faith during the subsequent period of persecution (e.g. Acts 3:12 ff., Acts 4:8 ff., Acts 5:29 ff.). His miraculous activity is especially noticeable. Ananias and Sapphira fall dead at his word ( Acts 5:3-10), and he stands out so prominently among the apostolic wonder-workers that apparently his very shadow possesses therapeutic power ( Acts 5:12-16). He is next seen in Samaria, where he represents the Jerusalem Church in supervising and bringing to completion the evangelistic work of Philip ( Acts 8:14-25). Then we are told of missionary enterprises conducted by Peter himself ‘throughout all parts’ ( Acts 9:32), and particularly of his wonderful miracles performed at Joppa ( Acts 9:33-41). Here he experienced his remarkable vision, in which God showed him that he ‘should not call any man common or unclean,’ with the result that he went freely to the house of the Gentile Cornelius, preaching that God is no respecter of persons. Accordingly, Peter baptized Cornelius and his friends, thus establishing the first company of Gentile Christians (10). On returning to Jerusalem, Peter is criticized for having eaten with the uncircumcised, but he presents so adequate a defence of his conduct that the Jerusalem Church ultimately glorifies God for the establishment of Gentile missions through his work ( Acts 11:1-18). Later we learn of his arrest and imprisonment by Herod Agrippa I., and his miraculous release, after which ‘he departed and went to another place’ ( Acts 12:1-19). He is in Jerusalem again at the time of the Council, where he affirms, and James reiterates, that ‘a good while ago God made choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel, and believe’ ( Acts 15:7; Acts 15:14). At this point Peter disappears completely from the history of the Apostolic Age as recorded in Acts.
In the Fourth Gospel, likewise, Peter is a conspicuous figure, though he does not always occupy so unquestionably pre-eminent a position as in the Synoptists and early chapters of Acts. In the assembling of the first group of believers his brother Andrew takes precedence over him ( John 1:40-44), and is also spokesman for the disciples on the occasion of the miraculous feeding ( John 6:8). But Andrew is each time identified as the ‘brother of Simon Peter,’ thus implying that the latter was really the better known. He is also foremost in John’s account of the disciples’ confession of belief in Jesus ( John 6:68); and, as in the Synoptists, it is Peter who objects on a certain occasion to Jesus’ procedure-this time the act of foot-washing ( John 13:6-9). Peter’s denial is also recorded by John ( John 13:36 f., John 18:17-27), and his impetuosity is displayed in cutting off the ear of the high priest’s servant ( John 18:10 f.). But Peter’s prominence is rivalled by that of the unnamed disciple ‘whom Jesus loved.’ He, together with Andrew, was the first to follow Jesus ( John 1:35 f.); he had the position of honour at the Last Supper ( John 13:24); he was acquainted with the high priest, and so procured Peter’s admission to the court ( John 18:15); and he seems to have anticipated Peter in believing that Jesus had risen from the dead ( John 20:2-8). In the so-called appendix to John (21) Simon Peter is the chief actor, but the beloved disciple standing in the background is certainly a formidable rival for the honour of first place.
Except in the salutations of the two Epistles commonly ascribed to Peter, there is no further mention of his name in the NT. For one who evidently occupied so prominent a place in the life and thinking of the Apostolic Age, the amount of information about him preserved in the literature of the period is relatively meagre. St. Paul’s statements are exceedingly fragmentary; the Gospels do not, of course, pretend to give information about apostolic history, yet indirectly they furnish some indications of how Peter was regarded at the time the documents were being produced; and Acts, while tolerably full in its description of Peter’s earlier activities, consigns him to absolute oblivion after the Jerusalem Council. It is not at all probable that so important an individual would thus suddenly drop completely out of sight in the actual history of the Christian movement, nor can we assume that the information supplied by our extant NT sources is at all exhaustive-to say nothing of the difficulty of harmonizing what sometimes appear to be striking discrepancies.
3. Peter’s earlier activities.-A résumé of such facts as are apparently beyond dispute yields a very definite picture of Peter’s earlier activities, notwithstanding some uncertainty in details. He was a Galilaean fisherman living in Capernaum when Jesus began His public ministry. Soon after coming into contact with Jesus he abandoned his business as a fisherman in order to accompany the new Teacher on His preaching tours. How Jesus, who had left His carpenter’s bench, and Peter and others, who had similarly forsaken their ordinary daily pursuits to engage in this new enterprise, now supported themselves and their families is not clear from our present sources of information; but this uncertainty can hardly reflect any serious doubt upon the fact of their procedure. Peter was one of the most prominent members in the company of disciples, and so strongly did Jesus and His work appeal to him that he saw in the new movement foreshadowings of the long-looked-for Messianic Kingdom, and ultimately he identified Jesus with the Messiah. But Peter’s conception of the Messiah’s programme underwent some radical readjustments in the course of time. At first his view seems to have been largely of the political nationalistic type-the earthly Jesus would some day don Messianic robes and set up the new Kingdom. In this schema there was no place for Jesus’ death, hence that event proved a stunning blow to Peter’s faith. According to one tradition, regarded by many scholars as the more reliable, he returned disappointed to Galilee, where he probably intended to resume his work of fishing. Doubtless he had still kept his home in Capernaum, and thither he would naturally go after his great disillusionment. Then came the experience which constituted the real turning-point in his life: he saw his Master alive again-no longer an earthly but now a heavenly Being. This vision gave him a solution of his difficulties, since it enabled him to resume his belief in Jesus’ Messiahship and look forward to the establishment of the new Kingdom. It necessitated, however, considerable readjustment in his thinking, for the Messiah in whom he now believed was not an earthly figure who would demonstrate the validity of His claims by leading a revolt against the Romans; He was a heavenly apocalyptic Being who would come on the clouds in glory when the day arrived for the final establishment of God’s rule upon earth.
This new way of thinking gave Peter a new conception of his mission. Now he, and the other disciples, must make haste in gathering members for the new Kingdom. Actuated by the genuinely altruistic motive of mediating this new knowledge to their Jewish kinsmen, and desiring to fulfil as quickly as possible the conditions preliminary to the Kingdom’s coming, they began a vigorous preaching activity to propagate the new faith. Whatever doubts may be entertained regarding the verbal accuracy of the speeches of Peter recorded in Acts, the accuracy of the main content is hardly to be disputed, so far at least as the interpretation of Jesus’ Messiahship is concerned. Here we have a primitive stage of thinking, when the expectation of the Coming is vivid, and when Christians have not yet come to see-as they did in later times-that Jesus had made an adequate display of His Messiahship while He was still upon earth. In these early discourses of Peter attention is fixed upon the future: the real manifestation of the Messiah is an affair of the future, and the Jews are exhorted to repent so that God may send Jesus to discharge His full Messianic functions ( Acts 3:19 f.). While upon earth He had been a ‘Servant’-a highly honoured messenger of God-who conducted a propaganda of preparatory prophetic preaching ( Acts 3:13; Acts 3:22-26); He had been a ‘man approved of God by mighty works and wonders and signs, which God did by him’ ( Acts 2:22), the great and ultimate sign of Divine approval being the elevation of Jesus to a position of heavenly Messianic dignity and lordship through the Resurrection ( Acts 2:36). Since the Messiah’s coming awaited the restoration of all things ( Acts 3:21), Peter threw himself energetically into the task of preaching the restorative message. Henceforth this constituted, both for him and for his companions, their great mission, and in this propaganda Peter was undoubtedly the leader. The general situation described in Acts is corroborated by St. Paul when he affirms that Peter had been especially equipped for carrying on the work of Jewish missions ( Galatians 2:8).
Peter’s equipment consisted not merely in some new command received from the Risen Lord, or in a new stock of Messianic beliefs; he now possessed a new power, an endowment by the Holy Spirit, as the first believers called it. This phase of the new community’s life, as described in the Pentecostal experience of Acts 2, has doubtless been somewhat formalized; but that the early disciples, in the glow of their new faith in the Risen Lord, did experience an elation of feeling which sometimes expressed itself in ecstasy and the performance of miracles, seems beyond question._ In Jewish thinking the work of the Holy Spirit had already come to be very closely associated with the Messiah and His Kingdom. Isaiah had pictured the ideal ruler as one who would be richly endowed by the Spirit ( Isaiah 11:2; Isaiah 41:1; Isaiah 61:1 ff.), and Joel ( Joel 2:28 ff.) predicted, among the displays to precede the advent of the Messianic Age, an outpouring of the Spirit upon all flesh, equipping the sons and daughters of Israel with power to prophesy and inspiring dreams and visions in the old and young. Later Jewish Messianic literature retained and heightened this emphasis upon the functions of the Spirit. Enoch represented the Messiah as a spiritually endowed being (49:1-4, 62:2), and according to the Testament of Judah this pneumatic Messiah would similarly equip his subjects (Judah, 24; cf. Levi, 18). It was perfectly natural that the disciples, who had now come to believe in Jesus as the Messiah elevated upon His throne in heaven, should become conscious of the new power which was theirs by right of membership in the new Kingdom about to be more fully revealed. Their inherited Jewish thinking, together with their visions of the Risen Jesus, supplied a very fitting background for the Pentecostal phenomenon. In view of Peter’s preeminence in the early community, we may safely assume that he was one of the first to attain this type of experience.
This unique spiritual endowment normally expressed itself in miraculous activities. On this subject it may be well to supplement the generous testimony of Acts with the somewhat less extravagant, but quite specific, corroborative evidence from St. Paul. Christianity as a historical phenomenon is defined by him largely in terms of spiritual endowment, with its resultant activities. While all Christians share the one Spirit in common, its power is manifested variously in different persons, and among these manifestations ‘miracles’ and ‘gifts of healings’ occupy a prominent place ( 1 Corinthians 12:28). In controverting his opponents St. Paul appeals especially to miracles as the unique differentia of the new religion and the final evidence of his own right to be reckoned among the genuine apostles. In denouncing the Judaizers’ gospel of the flesh St. Paul ( Galatians 3:5) asks the Galatians a test question designed to prove beyond doubt the genuineness of his gospel of the Spirit: ‘He therefore that supplieth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, dceth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?’ Nor was this miraculous power peculiar to the Christianity of St. Paul, for he replies to his opponents in Corinth: ‘In nothing was I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I am nothing. Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, by signs and wonders and mighty works’ ( 2 Corinthians 12:11 f.). Thus the power to work ‘miracles’ (δυνάμεις) was an inherent characteristic of the new religion, and the exercise of this function belonged particularly to its leaders, among whom Peter had preeminence.
Miracles were performed in the name of Jesus, who had been exalted to a position of peculiar authority in the angelic realm. All sickness, especially demon possession, and death itself were believed to be the result of Satanic activity within the present evil age; but now that Jesus had been elevated to a position of heavenly Lordship, His spiritually endowed followers were equipped with a new authority. When they spoke in Jesus’ name they could heal the sick, cast out demons, and even raise the dead. This unique efficacy of the ‘Name’ (q.v._), as a characteristic of the new religion, is clearly evident in St. Paul. Christians are those who call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ ( 1 Corinthians 1:2); sinning members of the community are delivered over to Satan in the name, and so through the authority, of our Lord Jesus ( 1 Corinthians 5:3 f.); and God has exalted Jesus to a position of authority so supreme that every knee is to bend ‘in the name of Jesus’ ( Philippians 2:9 f.). Peter not only shared this belief in the exaltation of Jesus, but was commonly credited with having been the first to receive convincing proof of this fact; and there can be no reasonable doubt that he performed miracles in the name of Jesus. The words put into Peter’s mouth by Acts, to the effect that the lame man had been cured through the efficacy of Jesus’ powerful name ( Acts 3:16), are wholly consonant with the primitive situation when Peter was prominent in the activities of the new spiritual community.
This procedure soon caused him and his associates serious trouble. Belief in dynamic personalities, the use of whose name enabled one to effect wonders, was already a familiar phenomenon to the Jews,_ and was viewed with some suspicion by the authorities. Since Jews who adopted magical practices of any sort were strongly tempted to employ names of heathen deities in their formulae of exorcism and the like, it had been decreed in the Law that ‘whosoever dceth these things is an abomination to Jahweh’: Israel’s God is alone worthy of recognition ( Deuteronomy 18:9 ff.; cf. Exodus 20:3; Exodus 20:7, Leviticus 19:26; Leviticus 19:31; Leviticus 20:6, Isaiah 2:6, Jeremiah 27:9 f., Ezekiel 20:26, Malachi 3:5, Philo, de Spec. Leg. i). When Christians, believing in Jesus’ Lordship, proceeded to use His powerful name, the Jewish authorities naturally suspected them of violating the Deuteronomic Law, and questioned them to learn by what authority, by what ‘name,’ they performed their wonders ( Acts 3:12; Acts 3:16; Acts 4:7-10). Peter replied that the Christians were not breaking the Law, but were bringing it to fulfilment, because Jesus was that Prophet to whom Moses had referred in the Deuteronomic context as the One to whom Israel should listen. His elevation to heaven was said to justify this affirmation, hence it was quite proper to work miracles in His ‘name’ ( Acts 3:22 ff.; cf. Deuteronomy 18:15 ff.). But the Jews were unwilling to accept Peter’s interpretation of Moses, and consequently they tried to restrain the Christians’ dynamic activities.
Doubtless also the content of Peter’s preaching aroused opposition at a relatively early date. This would be particularly true of his insistence upon Jesus’ elevation to a position of Lordship in the angelic sphere. Acts intimates that the Christians’ preaching about the Resurrection caused offence to the Sadducees ( Acts 4:2), but the reverence with which early believers regarded the Risen Jesus might easily seem to many Jews to endanger the supremacy of Jahweh. Apparently this was one of the most important items inciting St. Paul’s persecution, judging from those phases of the new religion which he sets in the foreground after his conversion. That which he most vigorously antagonized as a persecutor was very probably the thing which he later set forth as the characteristic feature of his new faith. This was confession of Jesus’ Lordship, based upon belief in His resurrection. This was the distinctive mark of the new movement, the fundamental condition for the attainment of salvation ( Romans 1:4; Romans 10:9, 1 Corinthians 15:5 ff., Galatians 1:1; Galatians 1:15 f.). St. Paul adopted so thoroughly this phase of his predecessors’ thinking that he even taught his Gentile converts the characteristic prayer of the Aramaic-speaking Christians, Marana tha (‘Our Lord, come!’ [ 1 Corinthians 16:22]). This prayer was especially appropriate on the lips of Peter and his companions in those early days of persecution when Jesus was expected to appear suddenly as Messiah and vindicate the faith of His loyal disciples.
4. Peter’s later activities, as reported in the NT.-Such in general are some of the more evident items in Peter’s career during the earlier years of apostolic history. Of his later activities we are less well informed, and the information which has been preserved is sometimes difficult to interpret. To begin with, what were the relative positions of Peter and James in the Jerusalem Church? While Peter is manifestly the most prominent person in the early chapters of Acts, the name of John is sometimes mentioned as one of the leaders of the new cause (e.g. Acts 1:13; Acts 3:1 ff; Acts 4:13; Acts 8:14), but James is never once singled out for notice. Not until Peter goes to ‘another place’ does Acts hint that James takes precedence in the Jerusalem community ( Acts 12:17), and henceforth he appears to be the generally acknowledged leader ( Acts 15:13 ff., Acts 21:18). Yet his presence among the believers at a much earlier date is attested by St. Paul, who remarks that James-in all probability meaning the Lord’s brother-was the one to witness Jesus’ fourth appearance ( 1 Corinthians 15:7). He was also a member of the new brotherhood when St. Paul, three years after his conversion, paid a visit to Peter in Jerusalem ( Galatians 1:18). At the time of the Jerusalem Council he was not only the head of the Church ( Galatians 2:9), but was so influential that his objections caused both Peter and Barnabas to withdraw from their former liberal position ( Galatians 2:11-13). Thus from St. Paul’s statements it becomes clear that Peter and James were both present in the early company of believers, that the former was the leader in the earliest period of the history, and that James by the middle of the century had become the actual head of the mother church.
But neither St. Paul nor Acts gives the particulars of the process which issued in this result. For an answer to this problem we must rely upon inference, supplemented by later tradition. Eusebius (He_ Ii i. 3) states, on the authority of Clement of Alexandria, that Peter, James (the brother of John), and John, not coveting honour for themselves, chose James to be bishop of Jerusalem soon after Jesus’ ascension; but so formal an appointment at this early date is hardly probable. It is far more likely that a gradual development of circumstances produced the later situation in which James supplanted Peter. Peter’s work as an evangelist and the opposition which his public preaching aroused among the Jews probably resulted in his leaving the city for longer and longer periods, so that the task of local leadership devolved increasingly upon James. The Jewish opposition which broke out afresh under Herod Agrippa I., and from which Peter barely escaped with his life, was the occasion of his going to ‘another place’ after he had sent James a message regarding the situation ( Acts 12:17). It has been conjectured with some degree of plausibility that James became actual head of the Jerusalem Church about this time. Clement of Alexandria (Strom. VI. v. 43) reports a tradition to the effect that Jesus had instructed the apostles to preach to Israel for twelve years before going forth to the world-which may signify that the original apostles’ departure from Jerusalem, thus leaving James in charge, was virtually coincident with Herod’s persecution. But aside from the question of the historicity of Clement’s tradition, James probably supplanted Peter in Jerusalem about this time. This seems to be the most satisfactory explanation of the NT data. James’s blood relationship to Jesus would give him a unique position among Christians, and his vision of the Risen Lord would add to his prestige, while his conservative attitude toward Judaism would be a valuable asset to the community in those days of persecution (cf. Eusebius, HE_ II. xxiii.1ff.). The impetuous Peter sought other fields of activity. Yet we must not assume that there was any rivalry between these two individuals, notwithstanding the contrasts in their personalities. Between the extremes of Pauline liberalism and Jacobaean conservatism Peter (and Barnabas) sometimes vacillated, but on the whole they seem to have inclined toward the position of James.
A second problem left unsolved by our NT information is the question of Peter’s real attitude toward the Gentile missionary enterprise. According to Acts 10 f., he had been instructed by God in a vision not to call any man common or unclean, and as a result he went to the house of Cornelius, where he ate with Gentiles and established a Gentile church. On returning to Jerusalem he was arraigned for his conduct, but presented so strong a defence that the mother Church glorified God for the conversion of the Gentiles accomplished through Peter’s action. St. Paul, on the other hand, in writing to the Galatians, represents that this problem had been fought out-manifestly for the first time, as St. Paul describes it-over the missionary activities of himself and Barnabas. Even then it was merely the question of admission, and not the question of table-fellowship, that had been discussed at Jerusalem. Not until later, when Peter came to Antioch, did the latter question become acute, and then Peter took the conservative position in line with the wishes of the Jerusalem Church ( Galatians 2:11 ff.). If St. Paul’s representation is correct, it becomes difficult to believe, as the narrative of Acts would seem to demand, that Peter and the Church at Jerusalem had taken exactly the opposite stand a few years earlier.
Different attempts have been made to obviate the difficulty. Appeal is sometimes made to the proverbial fickleness of Peter, but in order to meet the situation we should have to predicate a similar characteristic for the leaders in Jerusalem. Or, again, it is urged that Cornelius was already a ‘God-fearer,’ that he prayed to Jahweh, gave alms, and wrought ‘righteousness’ in good Jewish fashion ( Acts 10:30; Acts 10:35), and so his case was quite different from that of ordinary Gentiles. Yet it must be remembered that the specific thing for which Peter was called to account was ‘eating with the uncircumcised’ ( Acts 11:3). He affirmed that the Spirit had instructed him to make no distinction in respect to table-companionship between circumcised and uncircumcised believers, and this was the very point in debate at Antioch. We are quite ignorant of any extenuating circumstances which made the Antiochian situation different in principle from that of Caesarea, and so the difficulty of squaring the narrative of Acts with the representation of St. Paul remains unsolved.
Still another method proposed for relieving the difficulty is to appeal to the alleged apologetic purpose of the author of Acts, who, it is said, desired to bridge the chasm separating Peter from St. Paul, and tried to accomplish this result by ‘Paulinizing’ Peter in the early part of the book and by ‘Petrinizing’ St. Paul in the latter part. Thus Peter is credited with inaugurating the Gentile mission, and the Jerusalem Church is made to put the stamp of its approval upon his undertaking. In Acts’ account of St. Paul, on the other hand, the Antiochian incident is absolutely ignored. St. Paul voluntarily circumcises Timothy ( Acts 16:1), he also accepts and imposes upon his churches the decrees issued from Jerusalem ( Acts 16:4), and in still other respects his loyalty to Judaism is made evident (e.g. Acts 21:17 ff.). Thus ‘Theophilus’ has been assured-and this is assumed to be the author’s chief aim-that the new religion is firmly established through a line of unbroken descent from antiquity, Gentiles having been designed from the first to be its legitimate heirs. Gentile Christianity is not an offshoot from the main movement-the ingrafting of a wild olive branch, as St. Paul says-but an integral part of the whole, having full ecclesiastical supervision and approval from the first. In favour of this interpretation it is possible to cite the manifest interest of Acts in the formal organization of the early community and in Jerusalem as the official centre from which the new religion expands. The appearances of Jesus, both in Luke and Acts, are located in or near Jerusalem; the disciples are instructed to wait in Jerusalem until Pentecost, when the adherents of the new movement are to be formally equipped with the Spirit; in the meantime, the waiting company fills the vacancy in the apostolate, so that the new church may be properly and fully officered from the start; and throughout the entire history of the early period the matter of official apostolic supervision is constantly in evidence. It certainly was not the intention of the writer of Acts to dwell upon differences of opinion among early Christians; and, further, it was quite natural that he should so select or interpret his source materials as to indicate that the certainty and stability attaching to his thought of this movement in his own day were but a continuation of an earlier state of affairs. Consequently it is not improbable that there was a disposition on his part to believe that the proper officers of the church had formally approved the Gentile mission from its very inception, and this feeling quite probably influenced his account of the Cornelius incident. But this fact does not warrant us in concluding that Peter did not come into contact with Gentiles at an early date, although he is not likely to have settled formally the ultimate problem of the whole dispute before it was pushed into the foreground by the work of the Judaizers in Pauline territory.
The foregoing discussion suggests another of the main difficulties in the present study, viz. the exact nature of the relationship between Peter and St. Paul. The so-called Tübingen School has placed great stress upon the supposed cleft between these two apostles, the former representing Jewish and the latter Gentile Christianity._ But this way of interpreting early Christian history is open to some serious objections. We have already noted the vital and important place which St. Paul’s Jewish heritage continued to hold in his thinking as a Christian, even to the end of his career. It is a natural, but none the less serious, mistake to assume that the legalistic controversy which bulks so largely in St. Paul’s letters to Galatia and Rome furnishes the proper perspective in which to set the whole of the Apostle’s activity and thinking. In fact, all his extant writings are designed chiefly to meet some occasional or exceptional problem rather than to set forth comprehensively the character and content of his religion. Common possessions and generally accepted items are mentioned only incidentally, if at all, while debated points are treated at length. It is no doubt true that St. Paul strongly insisted upon the Gentiles’ freedom from the ceremonial Law, but still he had much in common with his Jewish predecessors, particularly with Peter. Nor is it correct to think that St. Paul was alone responsible for the whole propagation of the gospel in Gentile lands. The missionary activities of ‘the rest of the apostles, and the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas,’ as well as of Barnabas, are mentioned in 1 Corinthians 9:5; yet it may be that only their fame, and not their actual work, extended to Corinth. But it is plain from Romans that an important church had been established in the capital of the Empire without the aid of St. Paul (cf. Romans 1:8-15). Even in the East he and his immediate companions were not the only workers in the field, and with some of these his relations were altogether friendly (e.g. Acts 18:2; Acts 18:24 ff., Acts 19:1). It is quite inconceivable that Peter, Barnabas, Mark, and others less well known, ceased proclaiming the new faith in different parts of the Mediterranean world at the moment their names disappear from the pages of Acts. Nor is it likely that they confined their efforts exclusively to Jewish territory. But even if they did work only with Jewish audiences in the Diaspora, they would inevitably be brought into contact with Gentiles attending the services of the synagogue as interested outsiders. There were certainly Gentile Christians in the Church at Rome before St. Paul visited the city (e.g. Romans 1:5 f., Romans 1:13, Romans 11:13); and probably these were uncircumcised Gentiles, else the Judaizers would have had no occasion to raise the agitation which St. Paul’s letter is evidently designed to counteract. We must conclude that the Antiochian incident is not a safe criterion by which to judge the entire history of the relationship between Peter and St. Paul, and their respective conceptions of the character of the new movement as a whole.
Still we must ask what relation Peter bore to the various disturbers who from time to time caused St. Paul so much trouble. The Judaizers of Galatia were not, even on St. Paul’s own showing, representatives of Peter, although they may have used his less radical but still evident conservatism for the purposes of their self-authentication. It would have been more nearly correct for them to have laid claim to the authority of James, as perhaps they did, but St. Paul does not even identify their position with that of James. They maintained the absolute necessity of circumcision for all Gentiles, while both Peter and James yielded to St. Paul’s demands for the Gentiles’ freedom. Apparently this was the principle upon which Barnabas had also been working before the Judaizers caused trouble, and there is no reason to suppose that Peter had observed any different practice, in so far as his missionary activities had brought him into contact with Gentiles. It was the work of the reactionary Judaizers that made the problem acute, but in the nascent period of the missionary enterprise the liberal attitude probably prevailed, not by design, but because it was a natural feature in the spontaneous growth of the new movement. Even while the new gospel was being preached to Jews the fundamental condition of membership in the new society was acknowledgment of Jesus’ Lordship; consequently, when Gentiles heard this preaching-at first probably in connexion with the Jewish synagogue-and responded by confessing their belief in the Messiahship of the Risen Jesus, they were straightway reckoned among the chosen company to receive the Lord at His coming. This was the prevalent situation until the Judaizers appeared upon the scene. They represented the ultra-conservative position of certain Jewish converts, but whether or not their propaganda emanated in the first instance from Jerusalem is not perfectly clear. In Pauline territory they seem to have claimed the authority of Jerusalem, but St. Paul put their claim to the test by a personal visit to the mother Church, the result of which demonstrated that the Judaizers were not backed either by James or by Peter. On the secondary question of free intercourse between Jewish and Gentile believers in the same community, particularly at table, James and Peter-the latter at least temporarily-and even Barnabas were less ready to follow St. Paul to the logical conclusion of their common position; but their action in this respect does not at all mean their desertion to the ranks of the Judaizers.
So far as the Judaizing movement is concerned, the situation reflected in Romans is in the main similar to that in Galatians; but in the Corinthian correspondence the opposition to St. Paul seems to have developed new features. This is not the place to discuss at length the perplexing problem of the Corinthian parties; we are here concerned only with the question of Peter’s relation to these factions. The presence of a group of persons in the Corinthian Church who said they were ‘of Peter,’ side by side with groups which affirmed allegiance to Apollos and St. Paul respectively, might imply that Peter, like St. Paul and Apollos, had preached in Corinth. This inference-probably it was only an inference-was drawn by Dionysius of Corinth (c._ a.d. 170), who spoke of this church as ‘the planting of Peter and Paul’ (Eusebius, HE_ II. xxv. 8). Some modern scholars regard this conclusion as historically correct (e.g. K. Lake, The Earlier Epistles of St. Paul, London, 1911, p. 112 ff.), but most interpreters are of the opinion that St. Paul’s language does not justify it. He says so little about the Cephas-party, mentioning it only once, or possibly twice ( 1 Corinthians 1:12; 1 Corinthians 3:22), and then without adequate description, that there is no means of knowing positively whether these sectaries we
Fausset's Bible Dictionary 
(See Jesus Christ Of Bethsaida on the sea of Galilee. The Greek for Hebrew Κephas , "stone" or "rock." Simon his original name means "hearer"; by it he is designated in Christ's early ministry and between Christ's death and resurrection. Afterward he is called by his title of honour, "Peter". Son of Jonas ( Matthew 16:17; John 1:43; John 21:16); tradition makes Johanna his mother's name. Brought up to his father's business as a fisherman on the lake of Galilee. He and his brother Andrew were partners with Zebedee's sons, John and James, who had "hired servants," which implies a social status and culture not the lowest. He lived first at Bethsaida, then in Capernaum, in a house either his own or his mother-in-law's, large enough to receive Christ and his fellow apostles and some of the multitude who thronged about Him. In" leaving all to follow Christ," he implies he made a large sacrifice ( Mark 10:28). The rough life of hardship to which fishing inured him on the stormy lake formed a good training of his character to prompt energy, boldness, and endurance.
The Jews obliged their young to attend the common schools. In Acts 4:13, where Luke writes the Jewish council regarded him and John as "unlearned and ignorant," the meaning is not absolutely so, but in respect to professional rabbinical training "lairs," "ignorant" of the deeper sense which the scribes imagined they found in Scripture. Aramaic, half Hebrew half Syriac, was the language of the Jews at that time. The Galileans spoke this debased Hebrew with provincialisms of pronunciation and diction. So at the denial Peter betrayed himself by his "speech" ( Matthew 26:73; Luke 22:59). Yet lie conversed fluently with Cornelius seemingly without an interpreter, and in Greek His Greek style in his epistles is correct; but Clement of Alexandria, Irenaeus, and Tertullian allege he employed an interpreter for them. He was married and led about his wife in his apostolic journeys ( 1 Corinthians 9:5).
The oblique coincidence; establishing his being a married man, between Matthew 8:14, "Peter's wife's mother ... sick of a fever," and 1 Corinthians 9:5, "have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as Cephas?" is also a delicate confirmation of the truth of the miraculous cure, as no forger would be likely to exhibit such a minute and therefore undesigned correspondence of details. Alford translated 1 Peter 5:13 "she in Babylon" (compare 1 Peter 3:7); but why she should be called "elected together with you in Babylon," as if there were no Christian woman in Babylon besides, is inexplicable. Peter and John being closely associated, Peter addresses the church in John's province, Asia, "your co-elect sister church in Babylon saluteth you"; so 2 John 1:13 in reply. Clemens Alex. gives the name of Peter's wife as Perpetua. Tradition makes him old at the time of his death. His first call was by Andrew his brother, who had been pointed by their former master John the Baptist to Jesus, "behold the Lamb of God" ( John 1:36).
That was the word that made the first Christian; so it has been ever since. "We have found (Implying They Both Had Been Looking For) the Messias," said Andrew, and brought him to Jesus. "Thou art Simon son of Jona (So The Alexandrinus Manuscript But Vaticanus And Sinaiticus 'John') , thou shalt be called Cephas" ( John 1:41-42). As "Simon" he was but an hearer; as Peter or Cephas he became an apostle and so a foundation stone of the church, by union to the one only Foundation Rock ( Ephesians 2:20; 1 Corinthians 3:11). Left to nature, Simon, though bold and stubborn, was impulsive and fickle, but joined to Christ lie became at last unshaken and firm. After the first call the disciples returned to their occupation. The call to close discipleship is recorded Luke 5:1-11. The miraculous draught of fish overwhelmed Simon with awe at Jesus' presence; He who at creation said, "let the waters bring forth abundantly" ( Genesis 1:20), now said, "let down your nets for a draught."
Simon, when the net which they had spread in vain all night now broke with the multitude of fish, exclaimed, "depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!" He forgot Hosea 9:12 end; our sin is just the reason why we should beg Christ to come, not depart. "Fear not, henceforth thou shalt catch to save alive ( Zoogroon ) men," was Jesus' explanation of the typical meaning of the miracle. The call, Matthew 4:18-22 and Mark 1:16-20, is the same as Luke 5, which supplements them. Peter and Andrew were first called; then Christ entered Peter's boat, then wrought the miracle, then called James and John; Jesus next healed of fever Simon's mother-in-law. His call to the apostleship is recorded Matthew 10:2-4. Simon stands foremost in the list, and for the rest of Christ's ministry is mostly called "Peter." His forward energy fitted him to be spokesman of the apostles. So in John 6:66-69, when others went back ( 2 Timothy 4:10), to Jesus' testing question, "will ye also go away?" Simon replied, "Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life, and we believe and are sure that Thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God." Compare his words, Acts 4:12.
He repeated this testimony at Caesarea Philippi ( Matthew 16:16). Then Jesus said: "blessed art thou, Simon Barjona, for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee ( John 1:13; Ephesians 2:8) but My Father in heaven, and ... thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prewill against it." Peter by his believing confession identified himself with Christ the true Rock ( 1 Corinthians 3:11; Isaiah 28:16; Ephesians 2:20), and so received the name; just as Joshua bears the name meaning "Jehovah Saviour", because typifying His person and offices. Peter conversely, by shrinking from a crucified Saviour and dissuading Him from the cross, "be it far from Thee," identified Himself with Satan who tempted Jesus to take the world kingdom without the cross ( Matthew 4:8-10), and is therefore called "Satan," cf6 "get thee behind Me, Satan," etc. Instead of a rock Peter became a stumbling-block ("offense," scandalous). "I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven," namely, to open the door of faith to the Jews first, then to Cornelius and the Gentiles ( Acts 10:11-48).
Others and Paul further opened the door ( Acts 14:27; Acts 11:20-26). The papal error regards Peter as the rock, in himself officially, and as transmitting an infallible authority to the popes, as if his successors (compare Isaiah 22:22). The "binding" and "loosing" power is given as much to the whole church, layman and ministers, as to Peter ( Matthew 18:18; John 20:23.) Peter exercised the power of the keys only in preaching, as on Pentecost (Acts 2), He never exercised authority over the other apostles. At Jerusalem James exercised the chief authority ( Acts 15:19; Acts 21:18; Galatians 1:19; Galatians 2:9). Peter "withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed," "not walking uprightly in the truth of the gospel," but in "dissimulation" ( Galatians 2:10-14). (On The Miraculous Payment Of The Temple Tribute Of The Half Shekel (Two Drachms) Each, See Jesus Christ.)
Matthew alone ( Matthew 17:24-27) records it, as appropriate to the aspect of Jesus as theocratic king, prominent in the first Gospel. Peter too hastily had answered for his Master as though He were under obligation to pay the temple tribute; Peter forgot his own confession ( Matthew 16:16). Nevertheless, the Lord, in order not to "offend." i.e. give a handle of reproach, as if lie despised the temple and law, caused Peter the fisherman again to resume his occupation and brought a fish ( Psalms 8:8; Jonah 1:17) with a starer, i.e. shekel, in its mouth, the exact sum required, four drachmas, for both. Jesus said, "for ME and thee," not for us; for His payment was on an altogether different footing from Peter's (compare John 20:17). Peter needed a "ransom for his soul" and could not pay it; but Jesus needed none; nay, came to pay it Himself ( John 20:28), first putting Himself under the same yoke with us ( Galatians 4:4-5). Peter, James, and John were the favored three alone present at the raising of Jairus' daughter, the transfiguration, and the agony in Gethsemane.
His exaltations were generally, through his self sufficiency giving place to weakness, accompanied with humiliations, as in Matthew 16. In the transfiguration he talks at random, "not knowing what to say ... sore afraid," according to the unfavourable account given of himself in Mark ( Mark 9:6). Immediately after faith enabling him to leave the ship and walk on the water to go to Jesus ( Matthew 14:29), he became afraid because of the boisterous wind, and would have sunk but for Jesus, who at the same time rebuked his "doubts" and "little faith" ( Psalms 94:18). His true boast, "behold we have forsaken all and followed Thee," called forth Jesus' promise, "in the regeneration, when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of His glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel," and Jesus' warning, illustrated by the parable of the labourers in reproof of the hireling spirit, "the last shall be first and the first last ... many be called ... few chosen" ( Matthew 19:27-20; Matthew 19:16).
Peter, Andrew, James, and John heard the solemn discourse (on the second advent (Matthew 24). At the last supper Peter shrank with a mixture of humility and self will from Jesus' stooping to wash his feet. Jesus replied, cf6 "if I wash thee not, thou hast no part with Me" (John 13). With characteristic warmth Peter passed to the opposite extreme, "Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head." Jesus answered, cf6 "he that is bathed (All Over, Namely, Regenerated Once For All, Leloumenos ) cf6 needeth not save to wash ( Nipsasthai , a part) cf6 his feet, but is clean every whit." Simon in anxious affection asked, "Lord, where guest Thou?" when Jesus said, cf6 "where I go, ye cannot come." Jesus promised Peter should follow Him afterward, though not now. Then followed his protestations of faithfulness unto death, thrice repeated as well as the thrice repeated warnings ( Matthew 26:33-35; Mark 14:29-31; Mark 14:72; Luke 22:33-34; John 13:36-38).
Satan would" sift" ( Amos 9:9) all the disciples, but Peter especially; and therefore for him especially Jesus interceded. Mark mentions the twice cockcrowing and Peter's protesting the more vehemently. Love, anti a feeling of relief when assured he was not the traitor, prompted his protestations. Animal courage Peter showed no small amount of, in cutting off Malthus' ear in the face of a Reman band; moral courage he was deficient in. Transpose the first and second denials in John; then the first took place at the fire ( Matthew 26:69; Mark 14:66-67; Luke 22:56; John 18:25), caused by the fixed recognition of the maid who admitted Peter ( Luke 22:56); the second took place at the door leading out of the court, where he had withdrawn in fear ( Matthew 26:71; Mark 14:68-69; Luke 22:58; John 18:17); the third took place in the court an hour after ( Luke 22:59), before several witnesses who argued from his Galilean accent and speech, near enough for Jesus to cast that look on Peter which pierced his heart so that he went out and wept bitterly. The maid in the porch knew him, for John had spoken unto her that kept the door to let in Peter ( John 18:16.)
On the resurrection morning Peter and John ran to the tomb; John outran Peter (Being The Younger Man; John 21:18 Implies Peter Was Then Past His Prime, Also The Many Years By Which John Outlived Peter Imply The Same) , but Peter was first to enter. John did not venture to enter until Peter set the example; fear and reverence held him back, as in Matthew 14:26, but Peter was especially bold and fearless. To him Jesus sends through Mary Magdalene a special message of His resurrection to assure him of forgiveness ( Mark 16:7). To Peter first of the apostles Jesus appeared ( Luke 24:34; 1 Corinthians 15:5). "Simon" is resumed until at the supper (John 21) Jesus reinstates him as Peter, that being now "converted" he may "feed the lambs and sheep" and "strengthen his brethren." Peter in the first 12 chapters of (See Acts is the prominent apostle. His discourses have those undesigned coincidences with his epistles which mark their genuineness. ( Acts 2:20; 2 Peter 3:10. Acts 2:23-24; 1 Peter 1:2; 1 Peter 1:21. Acts 3:18; 1 Peter 1:10-11.)
As in the Gospels, so in Acts, Peter is associated with John. His words before the high priest and council ( Acts 4:19-20), "whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye, for we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard," and again Acts 5:29, evince him as the rock-man; and after having been beaten in spite of Gamaliel's warning, Peter's rejoicing with the other apostles at being counted worthy to suffer for Christ ( Acts 5:41) accords with his precept ( 1 Peter 4:12-16; compare 1 Peter 2:24 with Acts 5:30 end). Peter's miracle of healing (Acts 3) was followed by one of judgment (Acts 5) (See Ananias .) As he opened the gospel door to penitent believers ( Acts 2:37-38), so he closed it against hypocrites as Ananias, Sapphira, and Simon Magus (Acts 8). Peter with John confirmed by laying on of hands the Samaritan converts of Philip the deacon. (See Baptism ; Laying On Hands )
Insofar as the bishops represent the apostles, they rightly follow the precedent of Peter and John in confirming after an interval those previously baptized and believing through the instrumentality of lower ministers as Philip. The ordinary graces of the Holy Spirit continue, and are received through the prayer of faith; though the extraordinary, conferred by the apostles, have ceased. Three years later Paul visited Jerusalem in order to see Peter ( Galatians 1:17-18; Historeesai means "to become personally acquainted with as one important to know"; Acts 9:26). Peter was prominent among the twelve, though James as bishop had chief authority there. It was important that Paul should communicate to the leading mover in the church his own independent gospel revelation; next Peter took visitation tour through the various churches, and raised Aeneas from his bed of sickness and Tabitha from the dead ( Acts 9:32). A special revelation, abolishing distinctions of clean and unclean, prepared him for ministering and for seeking the gospel (Acts 10). (See Cornelius .)
Peter was the first privileged to open the gospel to the Gentiles, as he had before to the Jews, besides confirming the Samaritans. Peter justified his act both by the revelation and by God's sealing the Gentile converts with the Holy Spirit. "Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as He did unto us who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ (The True Test Of Churchmanship) , what was I that I could withstand God?" ( Acts 11:17-18.) The Jews' spite at the admission of the Gentiles moved Herod Agrippa I to kill James and imprison Peter for death. (See Herod .) But the church's unceasing prayer was stronger than his purpose; God brought Peter to the house of Mark's mother while they were in the act of praying for him ( Isaiah 65:24). It was not Peter but his persecutor who died, smitten of God. From this point Peter becomes "apostle of the circumcision," giving place, in respect to prominence, to Paul, "apostle of the uncircumcision." Peter the apostle of the circumcision appropriately, as representing God's ancient church, opens the gates to the Gentiles
It was calculated also to open his own mind, naturally prejudiced on the side of Jewish exclusiveness. It also showed God's sovereignty that He chose an instrument least of all likely to admit Gentiles if left to himself. Paul, though the apostle of the Gentiles, confirmed the Hebrew; Peter, though the apostle of the Jews, admits the Gentiles (See the "first" in Acts 3:26, implying others); thus perfect unity reigned amidst the diversity of the agencies. At the council of Jerusalem (Acts 15) Peter led the discussion, citing the case of Cornelius' party as deciding the question, for" God which knoweth the hearts bore them witness, giving them the Holy Spirit even as He did unto us, and put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith," "but we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they"; compare his epistles in undesigned coincidence ( 1 Peter 1:22; 2 Peter 1:9). James gave the decision.
Peter neither presided, nor summoned, nor dismissed the council, nor took the votes, nor pronounced the decision; he claimed none of the powers which Rome claims for the pope. (On His Vacillation As To Not Eating With Gentiles, And Paul'S Withstanding Him At Antioch (Galatians 2), See Paul.) The Jerusalem decree only recognized Gentiles as fellow Christians on light conditions, it did not admit them necessarily to social intercourse Though Peter and Paul rightly inferred the latter, yet their recognition of the ceremonial law ( Acts 18:18-21; Acts 20:16; Acts 21:18-24) palliates Peter's conduct, if it were not for its inconsistency (through fear of the Judaizers) which is the point of Paul's reproof. His "dissimulation" consisted in his pretending to consider it unlawful to eat with Gentile Christians, whereas his previous eating with them showed his conviction of the perfect equality of Jew and Gentile.
Peter's humility and love are beautifully illustrated in his submitting to the reproach of a junior, and seemingly adopting Paul's view, and in calling him '"our beloved brother," and confirming the doctrine of "God's longsuffering being for salvation," from Paul's epistles: Romans 2:4 ( 2 Peter 3:15-16). Peter apparently visited Corinth before the first epistle to the Corinthians was written, for it mentions a party there who said "I am of Cephas" ( 1 Corinthians 1:12). Clemens Romanus (1 Corinthians 4) implies the same, Dionysius of Corinth asserts it, A.D. 180. Babylon, a chief seat of the dispersed Jews, was his head quarters when he wrote 1 Peter 5:13, not Rome as some have argued. (See Babylon , (See MYSTICAL.)
The mixture of Hebrew and Nabathaean spoken there was related to his Galilean dialect. The well known progress that Christianity made in that quarter, as shown by the great Christian schools at Edessa anti Nisibis, was probably due to Peter originally. Mark ( Colossians 4:10), Paul's helper at Rome, from whence he went to Colosse, was with Peter when he wrote 1 Peter 5:13. From Colosse Mark probably went on to Peter at Babylon. Paul wished Timothy to bring him again to Rome during his second imprisonment ( 2 Timothy 4:11). Silvanus, also Paul's companion, was the bearer of Peter's epistle ( 1 Peter 5:12). All the authority of Acts and epistle to the Romans and 1 and 2 Peter is against Peter having been at Rome previous to Paul's first imprisonment, or during its two years' duration (otherwise he would have mentioned Peter in the epistles written from Rome, Ephesians, Colossians, Philemon, and Philippians), or during his second imprisonment when he wrote to Timothy.
Eusebius' statement (Chronicon, 3) that Peter went to Rome A.D. 42 and stayed twenty years is impossible, as those Scriptures never mention him. Jerome (Script. Ecclesiastes, 1) makes Peter bishop of Antioch, then to have preached in Pontus (from 1 Peter 1:1), then to have gone to Rome to refute Simon Magus (from Justin's story of a statue found at Rome to Semosanctus, the Sabine Hercules, which was confounded with Simon Magus), and to have been bishop there for 25 years (!) and to have been crucified with head downward, declaring himself unworthy to be crucified as his Lord, and buried in the Vatican near the triumphal way. John ( John 21:18-19) attests his crucifixion. Dionysius of Corinth (in Eusebius, H. E. 2:25) says Paul and Peter both planted the Roman and Corinthian churches and endured martyrdom in Italy at the same time. So Tertullian (contra Marcion, 4:5; Praeser. Haeret., 36:38). Caius Romans Presb. (in Eusebius, H. E. 2:25) says memorials of their martyrdom were still to be seen on the road to Ostia, and that Peter's tomb was in the Vatican.
He may have been at the very end of life at Rome after Paul's death, and been imprisoned in the Mamertine dungeon, crucified on the Janiculum on the height Pietro in Montorio, and buried where the altar in Peter's now is. But all is conjecture. Ambrose (Ep. 33) says that at his fellow Christians' solicitation he was fleeing from Rome at early dawn, when he met the Lord, and at His feet asked "Lord, where goest Thou?" His reply "I go to be crucified afresh" turned Peter back to a joyful martyrdom. The church " Domine Quo Vadis? " commemorates the legend. The whole tradition of Peter and Paul's association in death is probably due to their connection in life as the main founders of the Christian church. Clemens Alex. says Peter encouraged his wife to martyrdom, saying "remember, dear, our Lord." Clemens Alex. (Strom. 3:448) says that Peter's and Philip's wives helped them in ministering to women at their homes, and by them the doctrine of the Lord penetrated, without scandal, into the privacy of women's apartments. (See Mark on Peter's share in that Gospel.)
Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible 
Peter. Simon , surnamed Peter, was ‘the coryphÅ“us of the Apostle choir’ (Chrysostom). His father was named Jonah or John ( Matthew 16:17 , John 1:42; John 21:15-17 RV [Note: Revised Version.] ). He belonged to Bethsaida ( John 1:44 ), probably the fisher-quarter of Capernaum (Bethsaida = ‘Fisher-home’). There he dwelt with his wife, his mother-in-law, and his brother Andrew ( Mark 1:28-31 = Matthew 8:14-15 = Luke 4:38-39 ). He and Andrew were fishermen on the Lake of Galilee ( Matthew 4:18 = Mark 1:18 ) in partnership with Zebedee and his sons ( Luke 5:7; Luke 5:11 , Matthew 4:21 ).
Simon first met with Jesus at Bethany beyond Jordan ( John 1:28 RV [Note: Revised Version.] ), the scene of the Baptist’s ministry ( John 1:35-42 ). He had repaired thither with other GalilÃ¦ns to participate in the mighty revival which was in progress. Jesus was there; and Andrew, who was one of the Baptist’s disciples, having been directed by his master to Him as the Messiah, told Simon of his glad discovery, and brought him to Jesus. Jesus ‘looked upon him’ (RV [Note: Revised Version.] ) with ‘those eyes of far perception’; and the look mastered him and won his heart. He was a disciple from that hour. Jesus read his character, seeing what he was and foreseeing what the discipline of grace would make him; and He gave him a surname prophetic of the moral and spiritual strength which would one day be his. ‘Thou art Simon the son of John: thou shalt be called Cephas.’ Cephas is the Aram. [Note: Aramaic.] = Gr. Petros , and means ‘rock.’ He was not yet Peter, but only Simon, impulsive and vacillating; and Jesus gave him the new name ere he had earned it, that it might be an incentive to him, reminding him of his destiny and inciting him to achieve it. In after days, whenever he displayed any weakness, Jesus would pointedly address him by the old name, thus gently warning him that he should not fall from grace (cf. Luke 22:31 , Mark 14:37 , John 21:15-17 ).
Presently the Lord began His ministry at Capernaum, and among His first acts was the calling of four of the men who had believed in Him to abandon their worldly employments and attach themselves to Him, following Him whithersoever He went ( Matthew 4:18-22 = Mark 1:16-20 , Luke 5:1-11 ). Thus he began the formation of the Apostle-band. The four were James and John, Simon and Andrew. They were busy with their boats and nets, and He called them to become ‘fishers of men.’ It was the beginning of the second year of Jesus’ ministry ere He had chosen all the Twelve; and then He ordained them to their mission, arranging them in pairs for mutual assistance ( Mark 6:7 ), and coupling Simon Peter and Andrew ( Matthew 10:2 ).
The distinction of Peter lies less in the qualities of his mind than in those of his heart. He was impulsive, ‘ever ardent, ever leaping before his fellows’ (Chrysostom), and often speaking unadvisedly and incurring rebuke. This, however, was only the weakness of his strength, and it was the concomitant of a warm and generous affection. If John, says St. Augustine, was the disciple whom Jesus loved, Peter was the disciple who loved Jesus. This quality appeared on several remarkable occasions. (1) In the synagogue of Capernaum, after the feeding of the five thousand at Bethsaida, Jesus delivered His discourse on the Bread of Life, full of hard sayings designed to test the faith of His disciples by shattering their Jewish dream of a worldly Messiah, a temporal King of Israel, a restorer of the ancient monarchy ( John 6:22-65 ). Many were offended, and ‘went back and walked no more with him.’ Even the Twelve were discomfited. ‘Would ye also go away?’ He asked; and it was Simon Peter, ‘the mouth of the Apostles’ (Chrysostom), who answered, assuring Him of their loyalty ( John 6:66-69 ). (2) During the season of retirement at CÃ¦sarea Philippi in the last year of His ministry, Jesus, anxious to ascertain whether their faith in His Messiahship had stood the strain of disillusionment, whether they still regarded Him as the Messiah, though He was not the sort of Messiah they had expected, put to the Twelve the question: ‘Who do ye say that I am?’ Again it was Peter who answered promptly and firmly:’ Thou art the Christ,’ filling the Lord’s heart with exultant rapture, and proving that he had indeed earned his new name Peter, the rock on which Jesus would build His Church, the first stone of that living temple. Presently Jesus told them of His approaching Passion, and again it was Peter who gave expression to the horror of the Twelve: ‘Be it far from thee, Lord; this shall never be unto thee.’ Even here it was love that spoke. The Sinaitic Palimpsest reads: ‘Then Simon Cephas, as though he pitied Him , said to Him, “Be it far from Thee” ’ ( Matthew 16:18-23 = Mark 8:27-33 = Luke 9:18-22 ). (3) A week later Jesus went up to the Mount with Peter, James, and John, and ‘was transfigured before them,’ communing with Moses and Elijah, who ‘appeared in glory’ ( Matthew 17:1-8 = Mark 9:2-8 = Luke 9:28-36 ). Though awe-stricken, Peter spoke; ‘Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, I will make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah’ ( Matthew 17:4 RV [Note: Revised Version.] ). It was a foolish and inconsiderate speech ( Mark 9:6 , Luke 9:33 ), yet it breathed a spirit of tender affection. His idea was: ‘Why return to the ungrateful multitude and the malignant rulers? Why go to Jerusalem and die? Stay here always in this holy fellowship.’ (4) When Jesus washed the disciples’ feet in the Upper Room, it was Peter who protested ( John 13:6-9 ). He could not bear that the blessed Lord should perform that menial office on him. (5) At the arrest in Gethsemane, it was Peter who, seeing Jesus in the grasp of the soldiers, drew his sword and cut off the ear of Malchus ( John 18:10-11 ).
The blot on Peter’s life-story is his repeated denial of Jesus in the courtyard of the high priest’s palace ( John 18:12-17; cf. Matthew 26:69-75 = Mark 14:66-72 = Luke 22:54-62 ). It was a terrible disloyalty, yet not without extenuations. (1) The situation was a trying one. It was dangerous just then to be associated with Jesus, and Peter’s excitable and impetuous nature was prone to panic. (2) It was his devotion to Jesus that exposed him to the temptation. He and John were the only two who rallied from the panic in Gethsemane ( Matthew 26:56 b) and followed their captive Lord ( John 18:15; cf. Matthew 26:58 = Mark 14:54 = Luke 22:54 ). (3) If he sinned greatly, he sincerely repented ( Matthew 26:75 = Mark 14:72 = Luke 22:62 ). A look of that dear face sufficed to break his heart ( Luke 22:51 ). (4) He was completely forgiven. On the day of the Resurrection Jesus appeared to him ( Luke 24:34 , 1 Corinthians 15:5 ). What happened during this interview is unrecorded, doubtless because it was too sacred to be divulged; but it would certainly be a scene of confession and forgiveness. The Lord had all the while had His faithless disciple in His thoughts, knowing his distress of mind (cf. Mark 16:7 ); and He had that solitary interview with him on purpose to reassure him.
At the subsequent appearance by the Lake of Galilee ( John 21:1-25 ) Peter played a prominent part. On discovering that the stranger on the beach was Jesus, impatient to reach his Master, he sprang overboard and swam ashore (cf. his action in Matthew 14:28-31 ). And presently Jesus charged him to make good his protestation of love by diligent care of the flock for which He, the Good Shepherd, had died. ‘Be it the office of love to feed the Lord’s flock, if it was an evidence of fear to deny the Shepherd’ (Augustine). Jesus was not upbraiding Peter. On the contrary, He was publishing to the company His forgiveness of the erring Apostle and His confidence in him for the future.
Peter figures conspicuously in the history of the Apostolic Church. He was recognized as the leader. It was on his motion that a successor was appointed to Judas between the Ascension and Pentecost ( Acts 1:15-26 ), his impetuosity appearing in this precipitate action (see Matthias); and it was he who acted as spokesman on the day of Pentecost ( Acts 2:14 ff.). He wrought miracles in the name of Jesus ( Acts 5:15 , Acts 9:32-42 ); he fearlessly confessed Jesus, setting the rulers at naught ( Acts 4:1-18 ); as head of the Church, he exposed and punished sin ( Acts 5:1-11 , Acts 8:14-24 ); he suffered imprisonment and scourging ( Acts 5:17-42 , Acts 12:1-19 ).
The persecution consequent on the martyrdom of Stephen, by scattering the believers, inaugurated a fresh development of Christianity, involving a bitter controversy. The refugees preached wherever they went, and thus arose the question, on what terms the Gentiles should be received into the Church. Must they become Jews and observe the rites of the Mosaic Law? In this controversy Peter acted wisely and generously. Being deputed with John to examine into it, he approved Philip’s work among the hated Samaritans, and invoked the Holy Spirit upon his converts, and before returning to Jerusalem made a missionary tour among the villages of Samaria ( Acts 8:1-25 ). His Jewish prejudice was thoroughly conquered by his vision at Joppa and the conversion of Cornelius and his company at CÃ¦sarea; and, when taken to task by the Judaistic party at Jerusalem for associating with uncircumcised Gentiles, he vindicated his action and gained the approval of the Church ( Acts 10:1 to Acts 11:19 ).
The controversy became acute when the Judaizers, taking alarm at the missionary activity of Paul and Barnabas, went to Antioch and insisted on the converts there being circumcised. The question was referred to a council of the Church at Jerusalem; and Peter spoke so well on behalf of Christian liberty that it was resolved, on the motion of James, the Lord’s brother, that the work of Paul and Barnabas should be approved, and that nothing should be required of the Gentiles beyond abstinence from things sacrificed to idols, blood, things strangled, and fornication ( Acts 15:1-29; cf. Galatians 2:1-10 ). By and by Peter visited Antioch, and, though adhering to the decision at the outset, he was presently intimidated by certain Judaizers, and, together with Barnabas, separated himself from the Gentiles as unclean, and would not eat with them, incurring an indignant and apparently effective rebuke from Paul ( Galatians 2:11-21 ).
There are copious traditions about Peter. Suffice it to mention that he is said to have gone to Rome [which is quite possible] and laboured there for 25 years [utterly impossible], and to have been crucified (cf. John 21:18-19 ) in the last year of Nero’s reign (a.d. 68); being at his own request nailed to the cross head downwards, since he deemed himself unworthy to be crucified in the same manner as his Lord. According to the ancient and credible testimony of Papias of Hierapolis, a hearer of St. John at Ephesus, our Second Gospel is based upon information derived from Peter. Mark had been Peter’s companion, and heard his teaching and took notes of it. From these he composed his Gospel. He wrote it, Jerome says, at the request of the brethren at Rome when he was there with Peter; and on hearing it Peter approved it and authorized its use by the Church.
Bridgeway Bible Dictionary 
Simon Peter was one of the earliest believers in Jesus. Like his brother Andrew, he was probably a disciple of John the Baptist, till John directed them to Jesus ( John 1:40-41; cf. Acts 1:15; Acts 1:21-22). Jesus immediately saw the man’s leadership qualities and gave him a new name, Peter (or Cephas), meaning ‘a rock’ ( John 1:42). (The two names are from the words for ‘rock’ in Greek and Aramaic respectively.)
This initial meeting with Jesus took place in the Jordan Valley ( John 1:28-29; John 1:35). Not long after, there was another meeting, this time in Galilee, when Peter became one of the first believers to leave their normal occupations and become active followers of Jesus ( Matthew 4:18-22). When Jesus later selected twelve men from among his followers and appointed them as his special apostles, Peter was at the head of the list ( Matthew 10:2).
Peter and Jesus
The son of a man named John (or Jonah) ( Matthew 16:17; John 1:42; John 21:15), Peter came from Bethsaida on the shore of Lake Galilee ( John 1:44). Either he or his wife’s parents also had a house in the neighbouring lakeside town of Capernaum, which became a base for Jesus’ work in the area ( Mark 1:21; Mark 1:29-30; Mark 2:1). Peter and Andrew worked as fishermen on the lake, in partnership with another pair of brothers, James and John ( Matthew 4:18; Luke 5:10). These men all became apostles of Jesus. Although they had never studied in the Jewish religious colleges, they developed skills in teaching and debate through their association with Jesus ( Acts 4:13).
From the beginning Peter showed himself to be energetic, self-confident and decisive. Sometimes he spoke or acted with too much haste and had to be rebuked ( Matthew 14:28-31; Matthew 16:22-23; Matthew 19:27-28; Mark 9:5-7; Luke 5:4-5; John 13:6-11; John 18:10-11; John 21:7), but he never lost heart. He went through some bitter experiences before he learnt of the weakness that lay behind his over-confidence. Jesus knew that Peter had sufficient quality of character to respond to the lessons and so become a stronger person in the end ( Mark 14:29; Mark 14:66-72; Luke 22:31-34).
As Jesus’ ministry progressed, Peter, James and John became recognized as a small group to whom Jesus gave special responsibilities and privileges ( Mark 5:37; Mark 9:2; Mark 14:33). Peter was the natural leader of the twelve and was often their spokesman ( Mark 1:36-37; Mark 10:27-28; Luke 12:41; John 6:67-68; John 13:24; John 21:2-3; Acts 1:15-16). On the occasion when Jesus questioned his disciples to see if they were convinced he was the Messiah, Jesus seems to have accepted Peter’s reply as being on behalf of the group. In responding to Peter, Jesus was telling the apostles that they would form the foundation on which he would build his unconquerable church ( Matthew 16:13-18; cf. Ephesians 2:20).
When Peter’s testing time came, however, he denied Jesus three times ( Luke 22:61-62). Jesus therefore paid special attention to Peter in the days after the resurrection. He appeared to Peter before he appeared to the rest of the apostles ( Luke 24:34; 1 Corinthians 15:5; cf. Mark 16:7), and later gained from Peter a public statement of his devotion to his Lord ( John 21:15).
In accepting Peter’s statement and entrusting to him the care of God’s people, Jesus showed the other disciples that he had forgiven and restored Peter. At the same time he told Peter why he needed such strong devotion. As a prominent leader in the difficult days of the church’s beginning, Peter could expect to receive the full force of the opposition ( John 21:17-19; cf. Luke 22:32).
Peter and the early church
The change in Peter was evident in the early days of the church. He took the lead when important issues had to be dealt with ( Acts 1:15; Acts 5:3; Acts 5:9), and he was the chief preacher ( Acts 2:14; Acts 3:12; Acts 8:20). But no longer did he fail when his devotion to Jesus was tested. He was confident in the living power of the risen Christ ( Acts 2:33; Acts 3:6; Acts 3:16; Acts 4:10; Acts 4:29-30). Even when dragged before the Jewish authorities, he boldly denounced them and unashamedly declared his total commitment to Jesus ( Acts 4:8-13; Acts 4:19-20; Acts 5:18-21; Acts 5:29-32; Acts 5:40-42). On one occasion the provincial governor tried to kill him, but through the prayers of the church he escaped unharmed ( Acts 12:1-17; cf. 1 Peter 2:21-23; 1 Peter 4:19).
Peter had been brought up an orthodox Jew and did not immediately break his association with traditional Jewish practices ( Acts 3:1; Acts 5:12-17). Yet he saw that the church was something greater than the temple, and he readily accepted Samaritans into the church on the same bases as the Jews ( Acts 8:14-17). He showed his increasing generosity of spirit by preaching in Samaritan villages and in the towns of Lydda and Joppa on the coastal plain ( Acts 8:25; Acts 9:32; Acts 9:36).
In spite of all this, a special vision from God was necessary to convince Peter that uncircumcised Gentiles were to be accepted into the church freely, without their first having to submit to the Jewish law ( Acts 10:9-16). As a result of the vision he went to Caesarea, where a God-fearing Roman centurion, along with his household, believed the gospel and received the Holy Spirit the same as Jewish believers ( Acts 10:17-48). More traditionally minded Jews in the Jerusalem church criticized Peter for his broad-mindedness. Peter silenced them by describing his vision and telling them of the events at Caesarea ( Acts 11:1-18).
Another factor in Peter’s changing attitudes towards Gentiles was the influence of Paul. The two men had met when Paul visited Jerusalem three years after his conversion ( Galatians 1:18). They met again eleven years later, when Peter and other Jerusalem leaders expressed fellowship with Paul and Barnabas in their mission to the Gentiles ( Galatians 2:1; Galatians 2:9).
Although Peter understood his mission as being primarily to the Jews ( Galatians 2:7), he visited the mainly Gentile church in Syrian Antioch and ate freely with the Gentile Christians. When Jewish traditionalists criticized him for ignoring Jewish food laws, he withdrew from the Gentiles. Paul rebuked him publicly and Peter readily acknowledged his error ( Galatians 2:11-14). When church leaders later met in Jerusalem to discuss the matter of Gentiles in the church, Peter openly and forthrightly supported Paul ( Acts 15:7-11).
A wider ministry
Little is recorded of Peter’s later movements. He travelled over a wide area (accompanied by his wife) and preached in many churches, including, it seems, Corinth ( 1 Corinthians 1:12; 1 Corinthians 9:5). Early records indicate that he did much to evangelize the northern parts of Asia Minor. The churches he helped establish there were the churches to which he sent the letters known as 1 and 2 Peter ( 1 Peter 1:1; 2 Peter 3:1).
During this time Mark worked closely with Peter. In fact, Peter regarded Mark as his ‘son’ ( 1 Peter 5:13). There is evidence that at one stage they visited Rome and helped the church there. When Peter left for other regions, Mark remained in Rome, where he helped the Christians by recording for them the story of Jesus as they had heard it from Peter. (For the influence of Peter in Mark’s account see Mark, Gospel Of )
Later, Peter revisited Rome. Mark was again with him, and so was Silas, who acted as Peter’s secretary in writing a letter to the churches of northern Asia Minor. In this letter Peter followed the early Christian practice of referring to Rome as Babylon ( 1 Peter 1:1; 1 Peter 5:12-13). The letter shows how incidents and teachings that Peter witnessed during Jesus’ life continued to have a strong influence on his preaching (cf. 1 Peter 1:22 with John 15:12; cf. 1 Peter 2:7 with Matthew 21:42; cf. 1 Peter 2:12 with Matthew 5:16; cf. 1 Peter 3:9 with Matthew 5:39; cf. 1 Peter 4:15-16 with Mark 14:66-72; cf. 1 Peter 4:7 with Luke 22:45-46; cf. 1 Peter 4:19 with Luke 23:46; cf. 1 Peter 5:1 with Mark 9:2-8; cf. 1 Peter 5:2 with John 21:16; cf. 1 Peter 5:5 with John 13:4; John 13:14; cf. 1 Peter 5:7 with Matthew 6:25).
At this time Nero was Emperor and his great persecution was about to break upon the Christians. Peter wrote his First Letter to prepare Christians for what lay ahead. He wrote his Second Letter to give various reminders and warn against false teaching. (For details see Peter, Letters Of ) By the time he wrote his Second Letter he was in prison, awaiting the execution that Jesus had spoken of about thirty years earlier ( 2 Peter 1:13-15; cf. John 21:18-19). According to tradition, Peter was crucified in Rome some time during the period AD 65-69.
Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary 
the great Apostle of the circumcision, was the son of Jona, and born at Bethsaida, a town situated on the western shore of the lake of Gennesareth, but in what particular year we are not informed, John 1:42-43 . His original name was Simon or Simeon, which his divine Master, when he called him to the Apostleship, changed for that of Cephas, a Syriac word signifying a stone or rock; in Latin, petra, from whence is derived the term Peter. He was a married man, and had his house, his mother-in-law and his wife, at Capernaum, on the lake of Gennesareth, Matthew 8:14; Mark 1:29; Luke 4:38 . He had also a brother of the name of Andrew, who had been a disciple of John the Baptist, and was called to the knowledge of the Saviour prior to himself. Andrew was present when the venerable Baptist pointed his disciples to Jesus, and added. "Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world;" and, meeting Simon shortly afterward, said, "We have found the Messiah," and then brought him to Jesus, John 1:41 . When the two brothers had passed one day with the Lord Jesus, they took their leave of him, and returned to their ordinary occupation of fishing. This appears to have taken place in the thirtieth year of the Christian era. Toward the end of the same year, as Jesus was one morning standing on the shore of the lake of Gennesareth, he saw Andrew and Peter engaged about their employment. They had been fishing during the whole night, but without the smallest success; and, after this fruitless expedition, were in the act of washing their nets, Luke 5:1-3 . Jesus entered into their boat, and bade Peter throw out his net into the sea, which he did; and now, to his astonishment, the multitude of fishes was so immense that their own vessel, and that of the sons of Zebedee, were filled with them. Peter evidently saw there was something supernatural in this, and, throwing himself at the feet of Jesus, he exclaimed, "Depart from me, O Lord, for I am a sinful man." The miracle was no doubt intended for a sign to the four disciples of what success should afterward follow their ministry in preaching the doctrine of his kingdom; and therefore Jesus said unto them, "Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men;" on which they quitted their boats and nets, and thenceforth became the constant associates of the Saviour, during the whole of his public ministry, Luke 18:28 .
From the instant of his entering upon the apostolic office, we find St. Peter on almost every occasion evincing the strength of his faith in Jesus as the Messiah, and the most extraordinary zeal in his service, of which many examples are extant in the Gospels. When Jesus in private asked his disciples, first, what opinion the people entertained of him; next, what was their own opinion: "Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God," Matthew 16:16 . Having received this answer, Jesus declared Peter blessed on account of his faith; and in allusion to the signification of his name, added, "Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and I will give thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth," &c. Many think these things were spoken to St. Peter alone, for the purpose of conferring on him privileges and powers not granted to the rest of the Apostles. But others, with more reason, suppose that, though Jesus directed his discourse to St. Peter, it was intended for them all; and that the honours and powers granted to St. Peter by name were conferred on them all equally. For no one will say that Christ's church was built upon St. Peter singly: it was built on the foundation of all the Apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone. As little can any one say that the power of binding and loosing was confined to St. Peter, seeing it was declared afterward to belong to all the Apostles, Matthew 18:18; John 20:23 . To these things add this, that as St. Peter made his confession in answer to a question which Jesus put to all the Apostles, that confession was certainly made in the name of the whole; and, therefore, what Jesus said to him in reply was designed for the whole without distinction; excepting this, which was peculiar to him, that he was to be the first who, after the descent of the Holy Ghost, should preach the Gospel to the Jews, and then to the Gentiles: an honour which was conferred on St. Peter in the expression, "I will give thee the keys," &c.
St. Peter was one of the three Apostles whom Jesus admitted to witness the resurrection of Jairus's daughter, and before whom he was transfigured, and with whom he retired to pray in the garden the night before he suffered. He was the person who in the fervour of his zeal for his Master cut off the ear of the high priest's slave, when the armed band came to apprehend him. Yet this same Peter, a few hours after that, denied his Master three different times in the high priest's palace, and that with oaths. In the awful defection of the Apostle on this occasion we have melancholy proof of the power of human depravity even in regenerate men, and of the weakness of human resolutions when left to ourselves. St. Peter was fully warned by his divine Master of his approaching danger; but confident in his own strength, he declared himself ready to accompany his Lord to prison and even to judgment. After the third denial "Jesus turned and looked upon Peter;" that look pierced him to the heart; and, stung with deep remorse, "he went out, and wept bitterly." St. Peter, however, obtained forgiveness; and, when Jesus had risen from the dead, he ordered the glad tidings of his resurrection to be conveyed to St. Peter by name: "Go tell my disciples and Peter," Mark 16:8 . He afterward received repeated assurances of his Saviour's love, and from that time uniformly showed the greatest zeal and fortitude in his Master's service.
Soon after our Lord's ascension, in a numerous assembly of the Apostles and brethren, St. Peter gave it as his opinion, that one should be chosen to be an Apostle in the room of Judas. To this they all agreed; and, by lot, chose Matthias, whom on that occasion they numbered with the eleven Apostles. On the day of pentecost following, when the Holy Spirit fell on the Apostles and disciples, St. Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice; that is, St. Peter, rising up, spake with a loud voice, in the name of the Apostles, as he had done on various occasions in his Master's lifetime, and gave the multitude an account of that great miracle, Acts 2:14 . St. Peter now began to experience the fulfilment of Christ's promise to make him a fisher of men, and also that he would give him the keys of the kingdom of heaven. His sermon on this occasion produced an abundant harvest of converts to Christ. Three thousand of his audience were pricked to the heart, and cried out, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" St.
Peter proclaimed to them the riches of pardoning mercy through the divine blood of the Son of God; and they that gladly received his doctrine were baptized and added to the church, Acts 2:37-43 . The effects produced on the mind of this great Apostle of the circumcision by the resurrection of his divine Master, and the consequent effusion of the Holy Spirit, were evidently of the most extraordinary kind, and such as it is impossible to account for upon natural principles. He was raised superior to all considerations of personal danger and the fear of man. And though all the Apostles could now say, "God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind;" yet an attentive reader of the Acts of the Apostles cannot fail to perceive that upon almost every occasion of difficulty St. Peter is exhibited to our view as standing foremost in the rank of Apostles. When St. Peter and John were brought before the council to be examined concerning the miracle wrought on the impotent man, St. Peter spake. It was St. Peter who questioned Ananias and Sapphira about the price of their lands; and for their lying in that matter, punished them miraculously with death. It is remarkable, also, that although by the hands of the Apostles many signs and wonders were wrought, it was by St. Peter's shadow alone that the sick, who were laid in the streets of Jerusalem, were healed as he passed by. Lastly: It was St. Peter who replied to the council in the name of the Apostles, not obeying their command to preach no more in the name of Jesus.
St. Peter's fame was now become so great, that the brethren of Joppa, hearing of his being in Lydda, and of his having cured Eneas miraculously of a palsy, sent, desiring him to come and restore a disciple to life, named Tabitha, which he did. During his abode in Joppa, the Roman centurion, Cornelius, directed by an angel, sent for him to come and preach to him. On that occasion the Holy Ghost fell on Cornelius and his company, while St. Peter spake. St. Peter, by his zeal and success in preaching the Gospel, having attracted the notice of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, Herod Agrippa, who, to please the Jews, had killed St. James, the brother of St. John, still farther to gratify them, cast St. Peter into prison. But an angel brought him out; after which he concealed himself in the city, or in some neighbouring town, till Herod's death, which happened about the end of the year. Some learned men think St. Peter at that time went to Antioch or to Rome. But if he had gone to any celebrated city, St. Luke, as L'Enfant observes, would probably have mentioned it. Beside, we find him in the council of Jerusalem, which met not long after this to determine the famous question concerning the circumcision of the Gentiles. The council being ended, St. Peter went to Antioch, where he gave great offence, by refusing to eat with the converted Gentiles. But St. Paul withstood him to the face, rebuking him before the whole church for his pusillanimity and hypocrisy, Galatians 2:11-21 .
In the Acts of the Apostles, no mention is made of St. Peter after the council of Jerusalem. But from Galatians 2:11 , it appears that after that council he was with St. Paul at Antioch. He is likewise mentioned by St. Paul, 1 Corinthians 1:12; 1 Corinthians 3:22 . It is generally supposed that after St. Peter was at Antioch with St. Paul, he returned to Jerusalem. What happened to him after that is not told in the Scriptures. But Eusebius informs us that Origen wrote to this purpose: St. Peter is supposed to have preached to the Jews of the dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Bithynia, Cappadocia, and Asia; and at length, coming to Rome, was crucified with his head downward.
We are indebted to this Apostle for two epistles, which constitute a valuable part of the inspired writings. The first epistle of St. Peter has always been considered as canonical; and in proof of its genuineness we may observe that it is referred to by Clement of Rome, Hermes, and Polycarp; that we are assured by Eusebius, that it was quoted by Papias; and that it is expressly mentioned by Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Origen, and most of the later fathers. The authority of the second Epistle of St. Peter was for some time disputed, as we learn from Origen, Eusebius, and Jerom; but since the fourth century it has been universally received, except by the Syriac Christians. It is addressed to the same persons as the former epistle, and the design of it was to encourage them to adhere to the genuine faith and practice of the Gospel.
Easton's Bible Dictionary 
Matthew 16:17 John 1:40-42 Matthew 27:56 Mark 15:40 16:1 Acts 4:13
"Simon was a Galilean, and he was that out and out...The Galileans had a marked character of their own. They had a reputation for an independence and energy which often ran out into turbulence. They were at the same time of a franker and more transparent disposition than their brethren in the south. In all these respects, in bluntness, impetuosity, headiness, and simplicity, Simon was a genuine Galilean. They spoke a peculiar dialect. They had a difficulty with the guttural sounds and some others, and their pronunciation was reckoned harsh in Judea. The Galilean accent stuck to Simon all through his career. It betrayed him as a follower of Christ when he stood within the judgment-hall ( Mark 14:70 ). It betrayed his own nationality and that of those conjoined with him on the day of Pentecost ( Acts 2:7 )." It would seem that Simon was married before he became an apostle. His wife's mother is referred to ( Matthew 8:14; Mark 1:30; Luke 4:38 ). He was in all probability accompanied by his wife on his missionary journeys ( 1 Corinthians 9:5; Compare 1 Peter 5:13 ).
He appears to have been settled at Capernaum when Christ entered on his public ministry, and may have reached beyond the age of thirty. His house was large enough to give a home to his brother Andrew, his wife's mother, and also to Christ, who seems to have lived with him ( Mark 1:29,36; 2:1 ), as well as to his own family. It was apparently two stories high (2:4).
At Bethabara (RSV, John 1:28 , "Bethany"), beyond Jordan, John the Baptist had borne testimony concerning Jesus as the "Lamb of God" ( John 1:29-36 ). Andrew and John hearing it, followed Jesus, and abode with him where he was. They were convinced, by his gracious words and by the authority with which he spoke, that he was the Messiah ( Luke 4:22; Matthew 7:29 ); and Andrew went forth and found Simon and brought him to Jesus ( John 1:41 ).
Jesus at once recognized Simon, and declared that hereafter he would be called Cephas, an Aramaic name corresponding to the Greek Petros, which means "a mass of rock detached from the living rock." The Aramaic name does not occur again, but the name Peter gradually displaces the old name Simon, though our Lord himself always uses the name Simon when addressing him ( Matthew 17:25; Mark 14:37; Luke 22:31 , comp 21:15-17). We are not told what impression the first interview with Jesus produced on the mind of Simon. When we next meet him it is by the Sea of Galilee ( Matthew 4:18-22 ). There the four (Simon and Andrew, James and John) had had an unsuccessful night's fishing. Jesus appeared suddenly, and entering into Simon's boat, bade him launch forth and let down the nets. He did so, and enclosed a great multitude of fishes. This was plainly a miracle wrought before Simon's eyes. The awe-stricken disciple cast himself at the feet of Jesus, crying, "Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord" ( Luke 5:8 ). Jesus addressed him with the assuring words, "Fear not," and announced to him his life's work. Simon responded at once to the call to become a disciple, and after this we find him in constant attendance on our Lord.
He is next called into the rank of the apostleship, and becomes a "fisher of men" ( Matthew 4:19 ) in the stormy seas of the world of human life ( Matthew 10:2-4; Mark 3:13-19; Luke 6:13-16 ), and takes a more and more prominent part in all the leading events of our Lord's life. It is he who utters that notable profession of faith at Capernaum ( John 6:66-69 ), and again at Caesarea Philippi ( Matthew 16:13-20; Mark 8:27-30; Luke 9:18-20 ). This profession at Caesarea was one of supreme importance, and our Lord in response used these memorable words: "Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church."
"From that time forth" Jesus began to speak of his sufferings. For this Peter rebuked him. But our Lord in return rebuked Peter, speaking to him in sterner words than he ever used to any other of his disciples ( Matthew 16:21-23; Mark 8:31-33 ). At the close of his brief sojourn at Caesarea our Lord took Peter and James and John with him into "an high mountain apart," and was transfigured before them. Peter on that occasion, under the impression the scene produced on his mind, exclaimed, "Lord, it is good for us to be here: let us make three tabernacles" ( Matthew 17:1-9 ).
On his return to Capernaum the collectors of the temple tax (a didrachma, half a sacred shekel), which every Israelite of twenty years old and upwards had to pay ( Exodus 30:15 ), came to Peter and reminded him that Jesus had not paid it ( Matthew 17:24-27 ). Our Lord instructed Peter to go and catch a fish in the lake and take from its mouth the exact amount needed for the tax, viz., a stater, or two half-shekels. "That take," said our Lord, "and give unto them for me and thee."
As the end was drawing nigh, our Lord sent Peter and John ( Luke 22:7-13 ) into the city to prepare a place where he should keep the feast with his disciples. There he was forewarned of the fearful sin into which he afterwards fell (22:31-34). He accompanied our Lord from the guest-chamber to the garden of Gethsemane ( Luke 22:39-46 ), which he and the other two who had been witnesses of the transfiguration were permitted to enter with our Lord, while the rest were left without. Here he passed through a strange experience. Under a sudden impulse he cut off the ear of Malchus (47-51), one of the band that had come forth to take Jesus. Then follow the scenes of the judgment-hall (54-61) and his bitter grief (62).
He is found in John's company early on the morning of the resurrection. He boldly entered into the empty grave ( John 20:1-10 ), and saw the "linen clothes laid by themselves" ( Luke 24:9-12 ). To him, the first of the apostles, our risen Lord revealed himself, thus conferring on him a signal honour, and showing how fully he was restored to his favour ( Luke 24:34; 1 Corinthians 15:5 ). We next read of our Lord's singular interview with Peter on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, where he thrice asked him, "Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?" ( John 21:1-19 ). (See Love .)
After this scene at the lake we hear nothing of Peter till he again appears with the others at the ascension ( Acts 1:15-26 ). It was he who proposed that the vacancy caused by the apostasy of Judas should be filled up. He is prominent on the day of Pentecost (2:14-40). The events of that day "completed the change in Peter himself which the painful discipline of his fall and all the lengthened process of previous training had been slowly making. He is now no more the unreliable, changeful, self-confident man, ever swaying between rash courage and weak timidity, but the stead-fast, trusted guide and director of the fellowship of believers, the intrepid preacher of Christ in Jerusalem and abroad. And now that he is become Cephas indeed, we hear almost nothing of the name Simon (only in Acts 10:5,32; 15:14 ), and he is known to us finally as Peter."
After the miracle at the temple gate ( Acts 3 ) persecution arose against the Christians, and Peter was cast into prison. He boldly defended himself and his companions at the bar of the council (4:19,20). A fresh outburst of violence against the Christians (5:17-21) led to the whole body of the apostles being cast into prison; but during the night they were wonderfully delivered, and were found in the morning teaching in the temple. A second time Peter defended them before the council ( Acts 5:29-32 ), who, "when they had called the apostles and beaten them, let them go."
The time had come for Peter to leave Jerusalem. After labouring for some time in Samaria, he returned to Jerusalem, and reported to the church there the results of his work ( Acts 8:14-25 ). Here he remained for a period, during which he met Paul for the first time since his conversion (9:26-30; Galatians 1:18 ). Leaving Jerusalem again, he went forth on a missionary journey to Lydda and Joppa ( Acts 9:32-43 ). He is next called on to open the door of the Christian church to the Gentiles by the admission of Cornelius of Caesarea (ch. 10).
After remaining for some time at Caesarea, he returned to Jerusalem ( Acts 11:1-18 ), where he defended his conduct with reference to the Gentiles. Next we hear of his being cast into prison by Herod Agrippa (12:1-19); but in the night an angel of the Lord opened the prison gates, and he went forth and found refuge in the house of Mary.
He took part in the deliberations of the council in Jerusalem ( Acts 15:1-31; Galatians 2:1-10 ) regarding the relation of the Gentiles to the church. This subject had awakened new interest at Antioch, and for its settlement was referred to the council of the apostles and elders at Jerusalem. Here Paul and Peter met again.
We have no further mention of Peter in the Acts of the Apostles. He seems to have gone down to Antioch after the council at Jerusalem, and there to have been guilty of dissembling, for which he was severely reprimanded by Paul ( Galatians 2:11-16 ), who "rebuked him to his face."
After this he appears to have carried the gospel to the east, and to have laboured for a while at Babylon, on the Euphrates ( 1 Peter 5:13 ). There is no satisfactory evidence that he was ever at Rome. Where or when he died is not certainly known. Probably he died between A.D. 64,67.
Smith's Bible Dictionary 
Pe'ter. (A Rock Or Stone). The original name of this disciple was Simon , that is, "Hearer". He was the son of a man named Jonas, Matthew 16:17; John 1:42; John 21:16, and was brought up in his father's occupation, that of a fisherman. He and his brother, Andrew, were partners of John and James, the sons of Zebedee, who had hired servants. Peter did not live, as a mere laboring man, in a hut by the seaside, but first at Bethsaida, and afterward, in a house at Capernaum belonging to himself, or his mother-in-law, which must have been rather a large one, since he received in it not only our Lord and his fellow disciples, but multitudes who were attracted by the miracles and preaching of Jesus .
Peter was probably between thirty and forty years of age at the date of his call. That call was preceded by a special preparation. Peter and his brother, Andrew, together with their partners, James and John, the sons,of Zebedee, were disciples of John the Baptist, when he was first called by our Lord. The particulars of this are related with graphic minuteness by St. John. It was upon this occasion that Jesus gave Peter the name Cephas , a Syriac word answering to the Greek, Peter, and signifying A Stone or Rock . John 1:35-42.
This first call led to no immediate change in Peter's external position. He and his fellow disciples looked, henceforth, upon our Lord as their teacher, but were not commanded to follow him as regular disciples. They returned to Capernaum, where they pursued their usual business, waiting for a further intimation of his will. The second call is recorded by the other three evangelists; the narrative of Luke being apparently supplementary to the brief and, so to speak official accounts given by Matthew and Mark. It took place on the Sea of Galilee near Capernaum, where the four disciples Peter and Andrew, James and John were fishing.
Some time was passed, afterward, in attendance upon our Lord's public ministrations in Galilee, Decapolis, Peraea and Judea. The special designation of Peter, and his eleven fellow disciples, took place some time afterward, when they were set apart as our Lord's immediate attendants. See Matthew 10:2-4 ; Mark 3:13-19 , (the most detailed account); Luke 6:13. They appear to have then first received formally the name of apostles, and from that time, Simon bore publicly, and as it would seem all but exclusively, the name Peter, which had hitherto been used rather as a characteristic appellation than as a proper name.
From this time, there can be no doubt that Peter held the first place among the apostles, to whatever cause his precedence is to be attributed. He is named first in every list of the apostles; he is generally addressed by our Lord as their representative; and on the most solemn occasions, he speaks in their name.
The distinction which he received, and it may be his consciousness of ability, energy, zeal and absolute devotion to Christ's person, seem to have developed a natural tendency to rashness and forwardness, bordering upon resumption. In his affection and self-confidence, Peter ventured to reject, as impossible, the announcement of the sufferings and humiliation which Jesus predicted, and heard the sharp words, "Get thee behind me, Satan; thou art an offence unto me, for thou savorest not the things that be of God but those that be of men." It is remarkable that, on other occasions when St. Peter signalized his faith and devotion, he displayed at the time, or immediately afterward, a more than usual deficiency, in spiritual discernment and consistency.
Toward the close of our Lord's ministry, Peter's characteristics become especially prominent. At the last supper, Peter seems to have been particularly earnest, in the request, that the traitor might be pointed out. After the supper, his words drew out the meaning of the significant act of our Lord in washing his disciples' feet. Then too, it was that he made those repeated protestations of unalterable fidelity, so soon to be falsified by his miserable fall.
On the morning of the resurrection, we have proof that Peter, though humbled, was not crushed by his fall. He and John were the first to visit the sepulchre; he was the first who entered it. We are told, by Luke and by Paul, that Christ appeared to him first among the apostles. It is observable; however, that on that occasion, he is called by his original name, Simon and not Peter; the higher designation was not restored until he had been publicly reinstituted, so to speak, by his Master. That reinstitution - an event of the very highest import - took place at the Sea of Galilee. John 21.
The first part of the Acts of the Apostles is occupied, by the record of transactions in nearly all, Peter came forth as the recognized leader of the apostles. He is the most prominent person, in the greatest event after the resurrection, when on the Day of Pentecost , the Church was first invested with the plenitude of gifts and power. When the gospel was first preached beyond the precincts of Judea, he and John were, at once, sent by the apostles to confirm the converts at Samaria. Henceforth, he remains prominent, but not exclusively prominent, among the propagators of the gospel.
We have two accounts of the first meeting of Peter and Paul - Acts 9:26; Galatians 1:17-18. This interview was followed, by another event marking Peter's position - a general apostolical tour of visitation to the churches, hitherto established. Acts 9:32. The most singlular transaction after the Day of Pentecost was the baptism of Cornelius. That was the crown and consummation of Peter's ministry. The establishment of a church in great part of Gentile origin at Antioch, and the mission of Barnabas between whose family and Peter, there were the bonds of near intimacy, set the seal upon the work thus inaugurated by Peter.
This transaction was soon followed, by the imprisonment of our apostle. His miraculous deliverance marks the close of this second great period of his ministry. The special work assigned to him was completed. From that time, we have no continuous history of him. Peter was probably employed, for the most part, in building up, and completing the organization of Christian communities, in Palestine and the adjoining districts. There is, however strong reason to believe that he visited Corinth at an early period.
The name of Peter as founder or joint founder is not associated with any local church, save the churches of Corinth, Antioch or Rome, by early ecclesiastical tradition. It may be considered, as a settled point, that he did not visit Rome, before the last year of his life; but there is satisfactory evidence that he and Paul were the founders of the church at Rome, and suffered death in that city.
The time and manner of the apostle's martyrdom are less certain. According to the early writers, he suffered at or about the same time with Paul, and in the Neronian persecution, A.D. 67, 68, all agree that, he was crucified. Origen says that Peter felt himself to be unworthy to be put to death, in the same manner as his Master, and was therefore, at his own request, crucified with his head downward.
The apostle is said to have employed interpreters. Of far more importance is the statement that Mark wrote his Gospel, under the teaching of Peter, or that he embodied in that Gospel, the substance of our apostle's oral instructions. See Mark; Mark, The Gospel of . The only written documents which Peter has left are the First Epistle - about which no doubt has ever been entertained in the Church - and the Second Epistle, which has been a subject of earnest controversy.
American Tract Society Bible Dictionary 
This name in Greek signifies a rock, as does also the name Cephas in Syriac. Peter was one of the twelve apostles, and was also called Simon, Matthew 16:17 , and Simeon, Acts 15:14 . He was of Bethsaida, and was the son of Jonas, a fisherman, which occupation he also followed. After his marriage he resided at Capernaum, Matthew 8:14 Luke 4:38 , though called at a later period to labor else where as an apostle, and it would seem often accompanied in his journeys by his wife, 1 Corinthians 9:5 . When first introduced to Jesus by his brother Andrew, he received from Him the name of Peter, John 1:42 , probably in reference to the boldness and firmness of his character, and his activity in promoting his Master's cause. He received his second call, and began to accompany Christ, at the Sea of Galilee near his residence, and thenceforth learned to be a "fisher of men," Matthew 4:18-20 Luke 5:1-11 . Many remarkable incidents are recorded in the gospels, which illustrate his character. Among these are, his attempt to walk on the water to meet Christ, Matthew 14:29; his avowal of the Messiahship and divinity of the Savior, Matthew 16:16; his errors as to the design of Christ's incarnation, Matthew 16:22-23; his warm attachment to the divine Teacher, John 6:67-69; his cutting off the ear of Malchus, John 18:10; his boastful determination to adhere to his Master under all circumstances, and his subsequent denial of Him with oaths, Matthew 26:74 Mark 14:29 John 13:37-38; his poignant repentance, Matthew 26:75 , and our Lord's forgiveness, after receiving an assurance of his love, which was thrice uttered as his denial of Christ had been, John 21:15-18 .
The death and resurrection of Christ, and the circumstances, which accompanied them, led to a wonderful change in the apostle's mind, and thenceforward his bold and steadfast course is worthy of his name. On the day of Pentecost, he was one of the principal witnesses for the Savior; in company with John he soon after healed a lame man at the temple gate, addressed the assembled crowd, was imprisoned, and fearlessly vindicated himself before the Sanhedrin, Acts 4:8-21 . We find him afterwards denouncing the judgment of God on a guilty couple who had dared to lie to the Holy Ghost, Acts 5:1-11; visiting Samaria, and rebuking Simon the magician, Acts 8:5-24; healing Eneas and raising Dorcas to life at Lydda, Acts 9:32-43; seeing at Joppa a vision which prepared him to preach the gospel to the gentile Cornelius, Acts 10:1-48; imprisoned by Herod Agrippa, and delivered by an angel, Acts 12:3-19; and taking a part in the council at Jerusalem, Acts 15:7-11 .
The Bible gives us little information as to his subsequent labors; but it is probable that the three apostles who were most distinguished by the Savior while upon earth continues to be favored as chief instruments in advancing his cause. Paul speaks of "James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars," Galatians 2:9 . Yet in the same chapter we find him publicly reproving Peter for his wavering course in respect to the demands of Judaizing Christians, which he had been one of the first to repel at Jerusalem, Acts 15:9 . He seems to have labored at Corinth, 1 Corinthians 1:12 3:22 , and at Babylon, 1 Peter 5:13 . Papal writers affirm that he was the bishop of Rome. But the evidence is strongly against this assertion. Paul wrote to the Roman Christians, giving them directions and saluting the principal persons by name; he also wrote six letters from Rome; but in none of these letters, nor in the narrative in Acts, is there the slightest intimation that Peter was or had been at Rome. And as Peter never resided at Rome, he was never made the head of the church universal. Whatever honor and authority he received from Christ, in establishing the first institutions of Christianity and declaring what it enjoined and from what it released, Matthew 16:18-19 , the other apostles also received, Matthew 18:18 John 20:23 1 Corinthians 5:3,5 Ephesians 2:20 Revelation 21:14 . There is no evidence that he had any supremacy over them, nor that he had any successor in that influence which was naturally accorded to him as one of the oldest, most active, and most faithful of those who had "seen the Lord".
Holman Bible Dictionary 
Simeon Acts 15:14 Simon Cephas 1 Corinthians 1:12 1 Corinthians 3:22 1 Corinthians 9:5 1 Corinthians 15:5 Galatians 1:18 Galatians 2:9 2:11 2:14 John 1:42 Cephas Peter rock Peter Peter
Family of Peter The Gospels preserve a surprising amount of information about Peter and his family. Simon is the son of Jona or John ( Matthew 16:17; John 1:42 ). He and his brother, Andrew, came from Bethsaida ( John 1:44 ) and were Galilean fishermen ( Mark 1:16; Luke 5:2-3; John 21:3 ), in partnership with the sons of Zebedee, James and John ( Luke 5:10 ). Peter was married ( Mark 1:29-31; 1 Corinthians 9:5 ) and maintained a residence in Capernaum ( Mark 1:21 ,Mark 1:21, 1:29 ). Before becoming disciples of Jesus, Peter and Andrew had been influenced by the teaching of John the Baptist ( John 1:35-42 ).
Role of Peter Among the Disciples Peter is credited with being a leader of the twelve disciples whom Jesus called. His name always occurs first in the lists of disciples ( Mark 3:16; Luke 6:14; Matthew 10:2 ). He frequently served as the spokesman for the disciples (compare Mark 8:29 ) and was usually he one who raised the questions which they all seemed to be asking ( Mark 10:28; Mark 11:21; Matthew 15:15; Matthew 18:21; Luke 12:41 ). Jesus often singled out Peter for teachings intended for the entire group of disciples (see especially Mark 8:29-33 ). As a member of the inner circle, Peter was present with Jesus at the raising of the synagogue ruler's daughter ( Mark 5:35-41 ), at the Transfiguration ( Mark 9:2-8 ), and at the arrest of Jesus in Gethsemene ( Mark 14:43-50 ). As representative disciple, Peter frequently typified the disciple of little faith . His inconsistent behavior (see Matthew 14:27-31 ) reached a climax with his infamous denial scene ( Mark 14:66-72 ). Peter was, however, rehabilitated in the scene where the resurrected Jesus restored Peter to his position of prominence ( John 21:15-19; compare Mark 16:7 ).
Peter's Role in the Early Church Despite Peter's role among the disciples and the promise of his leadership in the early church (see especially Matthew 16:17-19 ), Peter did not emerge as the leader of either form of primitive Christianity. Though he played an influential role in establishing the Jerusalem church (see the early chapters of Acts), James, the brother of Jesus, assumed the leadership role of the Jewish community. Though Peter was active in the incipient stages of the Gentile mission (see Acts 10-11 ), Paul became the “apostle to the gentiles.”
Peter probably sacrificed his chances to be the leader of either one of these groups because of his commitment to serve as a bridge in the early church, doing more than any other to hold together the diverse strands of primitive Christianity.
The Legacy of Peter Tradition holds that Peter died as a martyr in Rome in the 60s (1Clem. Acts 5:1-6:1 ). His legacy, however, lived on long after his death. Both 1,2Peter in the New Testament are traditionally attributed to the apostle Peter. Significant also was the presence of a group of devotees of Peter who produced several writings in the name of the apostle—the Acts of Peter, the Gospel of Peter (and some would include 2Peter). To a great extent, subsequent generations of the church rely
on the confession, witness, and ministry of Peter, the devoted, but fallible follower of Christ. (See Peter, Epistles of; Jerusalem conference; Jerusalem church; Jewish Christianity; Disciples, Apostles.
Mikeal C. Parsons
People's Dictionary of the Bible 
Peter ( Pç'Ter ), Stone, or Rock; Syriac Cephas; Greek Petros . One of the twelve apostles, one of the three favorite disciples, with John and James. His original name was "Simon" or "Simeon." He was a son of Jonas (John, so read the best manuscripts), a brother of Andrew, probably a native of Bethsaida in Galilee. He was a fisherman and lived at Capernaum with his wife and mother-in-law, whom Christ healed of a fever. See John 1:42; John 21:15; Matthew 16:18; Luke 5:3-10; Matthew 8:14-15; Mark 1:29-31; Luke 4:38. Peter forsook all to follow Christ. His new name "Peter" ("rock-man") was given him when he was called to the apostleship. John 1:42. He made a remarkable confession of the divinity of our Lord. Matthew 16:18. The name "Peter" or "Cephas" was a prophecy of the prominent position which he, as the confessor of Christ, would occupy in the primitive age of the church. The church was built (not on Petros, but Petra—a rock), on his confession of the foundation, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." Matthew 16:16; Matthew 16:18. The keys of the kingdom of heaven, to bind, and to loose, on earth and in heaven, were given to the church. Matthew 18:17-18; 1 Corinthians 5:11; 1 Corinthians 5:13; 2 Corinthians 2:7; 2 Corinthians 2:10. Peter was not infallible, for Paul "withstood him to the face because he was to be blamed." Galatians 2:11. He laid the foundation of the church among the Jews on the day of Pentecost, Acts 2:1-47, and, after a special vision and revelation, among the Gentiles also, in the conversion of Cornelius. Acts 10:1-48. He appears throughout in the Gospels and the first part of the Acts as the head of the twelve. He was the first to confess and the first to deny his Lord and Saviour, yet he repented bitterly, and had no rest and peace till the Lord forgave him. He had a great deal of genuine human nature, but divine grace did its full work, and overruled even his faults for his advancement in humility and meekness. The labors of Peter are recorded in the Acts, chaps. 1 to 12 and chap. 15. He was the leading apostle from the day of Pentecost to the Council of Jerusalem, in a.d. 50. After that time his labors are involved in obscurity. According to the testimony of Christian antiquity, Peter suffered martyrdom in Rome under Nero, but his residence in Rome is disputed, and the year of his martyrdom is uncertain. When Paul arrived at Rome, a.d. 61, and during his imprisonment, a.d. 61-63, no mention is made of Peter. He is said to have been crucified, and thus he followed his Lord literally in the mode of his death. Comp. John 21:18-19. Origen adds, however, that Peter, deeming himself unworthy to suffer death in the same manner as his Master, was at his own request crucified with his head downward.
Epistles of Peter. The genuineness of 1 Peter has never been seriously questioned. It was addressed to Christian churches in Asia Minor, and written probably at Babylon on the Euphrates. 1 Peter 5:13. Some, however, interpret this of Some, and others of a town in Egypt called Babylon, near Old Cairo. 2 Peter was less confidently ascribed to Peter by the early church than the first epistle. There is no sufficient ground, however, for doubting its canonical authority, or that Peter was its author. 2 Peter 1:1; 2 Peter 1:18; 2 Peter 3:1. Compare also 1 Peter 3:20; 2 Peter 2:5. In many passages it resembles the Epistle of Jude. Both epistles attest the harmony between the doctrines of Peter and Paul. "The faith expounded by Paul kindles into fervent hope in the words of Peter, and expands into sublime love in those of John."
Morrish Bible Dictionary 
The son of Jonas and one of the twelve apostles. His name was originally Simon, and apparently at his first interview with the Lord he received from Him the surname CEPHAS. This is an Aramaic word, the same as Peter in Greek, both signifying 'a stone.' John 1:42 . (In Acts 10:5 he is called "Simon, whose surname is Peter.") The next notice of Peter is in Luke 5 when he was called to the apostleship. Overpowered at the draught of fishes, he exclaimed, "Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord;" but at the bidding of Christ he forsook all and followed Him. Matthew 4:18; Mark 1:16,17; Luke 5:3-11 .
He had a sort of prominence among the apostles: when a few of them were selected for any special occasion, Peter was always one of them, and is named first. The three names 'Peter, James, and John' occur often together, still we do not read of Peter having any authority over the others: cf. Matthew 20:25-28 . Peter was in character energetic and impulsive: he wanted to walk on the water to go to Christ, and his strong affection for the Lord led him to oppose when the Lord spoke of His coming sufferings, for which he was rebuked as presenting Satan's mind. His self-confidence led him into a path of temptation, in which he thrice denied his Lord. But the Lord had prayed for him that his faith should not fail, and his repentance was real and instant. He was fully restored by the Lord, who significantly demanded thrice if he loved Him, and then committed to him the care of His sheep and His lambs. John 21 .
When Peter confessed to Jesus, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God," theLord said that He would build His church upon that foundation, and added, "I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven," with assurancethat what he bound or loosed on earth would be ratified in heaven. Matthew 16 . On the day of Pentecost we find Peter accordingly using these keys, and opening to three thousand Jews the doors of the kingdom. He afterwards admitted Gentiles in the person of Cornelius and those that were gathered with him.
Peter was the apostle of the circumcision, as Paul was of the Gentiles, and was a long time getting entirely clear of Jewish prejudices. Paul had to withstand him to the face at Antioch, for refusing under Jewish influence to continue eating with Gentiles. On the other hand, Peter, while confessing that in some of Paul's writings there were things hard to be understood, recognises them as scripture.
In the beginning of the Acts Peter's boldness in testimony is conspicuous. He was leaning on One stronger than himself and was carried on by the power of the Holy Spirit. He was miraculously delivered out of prison. The Lord had intimated to him that he would die the death of a martyr ( John 21:19 ), and historians relate that he was crucified, and with his head downward by his own request: they also state that his wife died with him. He was the writer of the two epistles bearing his name.
Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary 
The apostle. We have a very circumstantial account of this man in the New Testament, so that it supersedes the necessity of any observations here. His name was altered to Cephas, a Syriac word for rock. We must not however totally pass by our improvements on the apostle's life and character, though we do not think it necessary to go over the history of this great man. Certainly the Holy Ghost intended, that the very interesting particulars in the life of Peter should have their due operation in the church through all ages; and it must be both the duty and the privilege of the faithful to follow up the will of God the Spirit in this particular, and to regard, the striking features which mark his character. As a faithful servant of Jesus how very eminent Peter stands forth to observation; for who among the apostles so zealous, so attached to his Lord, as Peter? And that such an one should fall from his integrity, even to the denial of his Lord, what caution doth it teach to the highest servants of Jesus! But when we have paid all due attention to those striking particularities in the life of Peter, the most blessed and most important instruction the life of this apostle exhibits, is in the display of that sovereign grace of Jesus manifested in Peter's recovery. Oh, how blessedly hath the Holy Ghost taught, in this man's instance, the vast superiority of God's grace over man's undeservings! However great our unworthiness, the Lord's mercies are greater. Divine love riseth above the highest tide of human transgression. "Where sin aboundeth, grace doth much more abound; that as sin hath reigned unto death, so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord." ( Romans 5:21)
I cannot close my observations on the character of Peter without first expressing my surprize that the apostle did not adopt the name of Cephas from the first moment Jesus called him so. ( John 1:42) Paul indeed did call Peter by this name, Galatians 2:9; but it doth not seem to have been in general use among the brethren. And yet we find, in the instance of Abraham and Jacob, the Lord when he changed their names seemed to express his pleasure in calling them by those names. I would ask, is not this change of name among the Lord's people now a part of their high calling and character? Did not the Lord so promise the church when he said, "And thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord shall name?" ( Isaiah 62:2) And did not Jesus confirm this when he said, "Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God; and I will write upon him my new name." ( Revelation 3:12) Reader, is not this done now as much as in the instance of Old Testament saints, and New Testament believers in the ages past? Let us cherish the thought.
Webster's Dictionary 
(1): ( v. i.) To become exhausted; to run out; to fail; - used generally with out; as, that mine has petered out.
(2): ( n.) A common baptismal name for a man. The name of one of the apostles,
Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature 
( Πέτρος , A Rock, for the Aram. כֵּיפָא ), originally SIMON (See Simon) (see below), the leader among the personal disciples of Christ, and afterwards the special apostle to the Jews. We shall treat this important character first in the light of definite information from the New Testament and early Church historians, and disputed questions under a subsequent head, relegating many minor details to separate articles elsewhere.
I. Authentic History . —
1. His Early Life . — The Scripture notices on this point are few, but not unimportant, and enable us to form some estimate of the circumstances under which the apostle's character was formed, and how he was prepared for his great work. Peter was the son of a man named Jonas ( Matthew 16:17; John 1:43; John 21:16), and was brought up in his father's occupation, a fisherman on the sea of Tiberias. The occupation was of course an humble one, but not, as is often assumed, mean or servile, or incompatible with some degree of mental culture. His family were probably in easy circumstances (see below). He and his brother Andrew were partners of John and James, the sons of Zebedee, who had hired servants; and from various indications in the sacred narrative we are led to the conclusion that their social position brought them into contact with men of education. In fact the trade of fishermen, supplying some of the important cities on the coasts of that inland lake, may have been tolerably remunerative, while all the necessaries of life were cheap and abundant in the singularly rich and fertile district where the apostle resided. He did not live, as a mere laboring man, in a hut by the sea-side, but first at Bethsaida, and afterwards in a house at Capernaum belonging to himself or his mother-in-law, which must have been rather a large one, since he received in it not only our Lord and his fellow-disciples, but multitudes who were attracted by the miracles and preaching of Jesus. It is certain that when he left all to follow Christ, he made what he regarded, and what seems to have been admitted by his Master, as being a considerable sacrifice ( Matthew 19:27). The habits of such a life were by no means unfavorable to the development of a vigorous, earnest, and practical character, such as he displayed in after- years. The labors, the privations, and the perils of an existence passed in great part upon the waters of that beautiful but stormy lake, the long and anxious watching through the nights, were calculated to test and increase his natural powers, his fortitude, energy, and perseverance. In the city he must have been brought into contact with men engaged in traffic, with soldiers and foreigners, and may have thus acquired somewhat of the flexibility and geniality of temperament all but indispensable to the attainment of such personal influence as he exercised in after-life. It is not probable that he and his brother were wholly uneducated. The Jews regarded instruction as a necessity, and legal enactments enforced the attendance of youths in schools maintained by the community. (See Education).
The statement in Acts 4:13, that "the council perceived they (i.e., Peter and John) were unlearned and ignorant men," is not incompatible with this assumption. The translation of the passage in the A.V. is rather exaggerated, the word rendered "unlearned" ( Ἰδιῶται ) being nearly equivalent to "laymen," i.e., men of ordinary education, as contrasted with those who were specially trained in the schools of the rabbins. A man might be thoroughly conversant with the Scriptures, and yet he considered ignorant and unlearned by the rabbins, among whom the opinion was already prevalent that "the letter of Scripture was the mere shell, an earthen vessel containing heavenly treasures, which could only be discovered by those who had been taught to search for the hidden cabalistic meaning." Peter and his kinsmen were probably taught to read .the Scriptures in childhood. The history of their country, especially of the great events of early days, must have been familiar to them as attendants at the synagogue, and their attention was there directed to those portions of Holy Writ from which the Jews derived their anticipations of the Messiah.
The language of the apostles was of course the form of Aramaic spoken in Northern Palestine, a sort of patois, partly Hebrew, but more nearly allied to the Syriac. Hebrew, even in its debased form, was then spoken only by men of learning, the leaders of the Pharisees and Scribes. The men of Galilee were, however, noted for rough and inaccurate language, and especially for vulgarities of pronunciation ( Matthew 26:73). It is doubtful whether our apostle was acquainted with Greek in early life. It is certain, however, that there was more intercourse with foreigners in Galilee than in any district of Palestine, and Greek appears to have been a common, if not the principal, medium of communication. Within a few years after his call Peter seems to have conversed fluently in Greek with Cornelius, at least there is no intimation that an interpreter was employed, while it is highly improbable that Cornelius, a Roman soldier, should have used the language of Palestine. The style of both of Peter's epistles indicates a considerable knowledge of Greek; it is pure and accurate, and in grammatical structure equal to that of Paul. That may, however, be accounted for by the fact, for which there is very ancient authority, that Peter employed an interpreter in the composition of his epistles, if not in his ordinary intercourse with foreigners. There are no traces of acquaintance with Greek authors, or of the influence of Greek literature upon his mind, such as we find in Paul. nor could we expect it in a person of his station, even had Greek been his mother-tongue. It is on the whole probable that he had some rudimental knowledge of Greek in early life, which may have afterwards been extended when the need was felt, but not more than would enable him to discourse intelligibly on practical and devotional subjects. That he was an affectionate husband, married in early life to a wife who accompanied him in his apostolic journeys, are facts inferred from Scripture, while very ancient traditions, recorded by Clement of Alexandria (whose connection with the Church founded by Mark gives a peculiar value to his testimony), and by other early but less trustworthy writers, inform us that her name was Perpetua, that she bore a daughter, and perhaps other children, and suffered martyrdom. (See below.)
2. As A Disciple Merely . — It is uncertain at what age Peter was called by our Lord. The general impression of the fathers is that he was an old man at the date of his death, A.D. 64, but this need not imply that he was much older than our Lord. He was probably between thirty and forty years of age at the date of his first call, A.D. 26. That call was preceded by a special preparation. He and his brother Andrew, together with their partners, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, were disciples of John the Baptist ( John 1:35). They were in attendance upon him when they were first called to the service of Christ. From the circumstances of that call, which are recorded with graphic minuteness by St. John, we learn some important facts touching their state of mind and the personal character of our apostle. Two disciples, one named by the evangelist Andrew, the other in all probability St. John himself, were standing with the Baptist at Bethany on the Jordan, when he pointed out Jesus as he walked, and said, Behold the Lamb of God! that is, the antitype of the victims whose blood (as all true Israelites, and they more distinctly under the teaching of John, believed) prefigured the atonement for sin. The two at once followed Jesus, and upon his invitation abode with him that day. Andrew then went to his brother Simon, and said to him, We have found the Messias, the Anointed One, of whom they had read in the prophets. Simon went at once, and when Jesus looked on him he said, "Thou art Simon the son of Jona; thou shalt be called Cephas." The change of name is of course deeply significant. As son of Jona (a name of doubtful meaning, according to Lampe equivalent to Johmnan or John, i.e., grace of the Lord; according to Lange, who has some striking but fanciful observations, signifying dove) he bore as a disciple the name Simon, i.e., hearer; but as an apostle, one of the twelve on whom the Church was to be erected, he was hereafter ( Κληθήσῃ ) to be called Rock or Stone. It seems a natural impression that the words refer primarily to the original character of Simon: that our Lord saw in him a man firm, steadfast, not to be overthrown, though severely tried; and such was generally the view taken by the fathers. But it is perhaps a deeper and truer inference that Jesus thus describes Simon, not as what he was, but as what he would become under his influence — a man with predispositions and capabilities not unfitted for the office he was to hold, but one whose permanence and stability would depend upon union with the living Rock. Thus we may expect to find Simon, as the natural man, at once rough, stubborn, and mutable, whereas Peter, identified with the Rock, will remain firm and immovable to the end. (See below.)
This first call led to no immediate change in Peter's external position. He and his fellow-disciples looked henceforth upon our Lord as their teacher, but were not commanded to follow him as regular disciples. There were several grades of disciples among the Jews, from the occasional hearer to the follower who gave up all other pursuits in order to serve a master. At the time a recognition of his Person and office sufficed. They returned to Capernaum, where they pursued their usual business, waiting for a further intimation of his will.
The second call is recorded by the other three evangelists. It took place on the Sea of Galilee near Capernaum, where the four disciples, Peter and Andrew, James and John, were fishing, A.D. 27. Peter and Andrew were first called. Our Lord then entered Simon Peter's boat, and addressed the multitude on the shore; after the conclusion of the discourse he wrought the miracle by which he foreshadowed the success of the apostles in the new but analogous occupation which was to be theirs — that of fishers of men. The call of James and John followed. From that time the four were certainly enrolled formally among his disciples, and although as yet invested with no official character, accompanied him in his journeys, those especially in the north of Palestine.
Immediately after that call our Lord went to the house of Peter, where he wrought the miracle of healing on Peter's wife's mother, a miracle succeeded by other manifestations of divine power which produced a deep impression upon the people. Some time was passed afterwards in attendance upon our Lord's public ministrations in Galilee, Decapolis, Peraea, and Judaea — though at intervals the disciples returned to their own city, and were witnesses of many miracles, of the call of Levi, and of their Master's reception of outcasts, whom they in common with their zealous but prejudiced countrymen had despised and shunned. It was a period of training, of mental and spiritual discipline preparatory to their admission to the higher office to which they were destined. Even then Peter received some marks of distinction. He was selected, together with the two sons of Zebedee, to witness the raising of Jarius's daughter.
The special designation of Peter and his eleven fellow-disciples took place some time afterwards, when they were set apart as our Lord's immediate attendants, and as his delegates to go forth wherever he might send them, as apostles, announcers of his kingdom, gifted with supernatural powers as credentials of their supernatural mission (see Matthew 10:2-4; Mark 3:13-19, the most detailed account; Luke 6:13). They appear then first to have formally received the name of Apostles, and from that time Simon bore publicly, and as it would seem all but exclusively, the name Peter, which had hitherto been used rather as a characteristic appellation than as a proper name.
From this time there can be no doubt that Peter held the first place among the apostles, to whatever cause his precedence is to be attributed. There was certainly much in his character which marked him as a representative man; both in his strength and in his weakness, in his excellences and his defects he exemplified the changes which the natural man undergoes in the gradual transformation into the spiritual man under the personal influence of the Savior. The precedence did not depend upon priority of call, or it would have devolved upon his brother Andrew, or that other disciple who first followed Jesus. It seems scarcely probable that it depended upon seniority, even supposing, which is a mere conjecture, that he was older than his fellow-disciples. The special designation by Christ alone accounts in a satisfactory way for the facts that he is named first in every list of the apostles, is generally addressed by our Lord as their representative, and on the most solemn occasions speaks in their name.
Thus when the first great secession took place in consequence of the offence given by our Lord's mystic discourse at Capernaum (see John 6:66-69), "Jesus said unto the twelve, Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life: and we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God." Thus again at Caesarea Philippi, soon after the return of the twelve from their first missionary tour, Peter (speaking as before in the name of the twelve, though, as appears from our Lord's words, with a peculiar distinctness of personal conviction) repeated that declaration, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." The confirmation of our apostle in his special position in the Church, his identification with the rock on which that Church is founded, the ratification of the powers and duties attached to the apostolic office, and the promise of permanence to the Church, followed as a reward of that confession. The early Church regarded Peter generally, and most especially on this occasion, as the representative of the apostolic body — a very distinct theory from that which makes him their head or governor in Christ's stead. Even in the time of Cyprian, when connection with the bishop of Rome as Peter's successor for the first time was held to be indispensable, no powers of jurisdiction or supremacy were supposed to be attached to the admitted precedency of rank. Primus inter pares Peter held no distinct office, and certainly never claimed any powers which did not belong equally to all his fellow-apostles. (See below.)
This great triumph of Peter, however, brought other points of his character into strong relief. The distinction which he then received, and it may be his consciousness of ability, energy, zeal, and absolute devotion to Christ's person, seem to have developed a natural tendency to rashness and forwardness bordering upon presumption. On this occasion the exhibition of such feelings brought upon him the strongest reproof ever addressed to a disciple by our Lord. In his affection and self-confidence Peter ventured to reject as impossible the announcement of the sufferings and humiliation which Jesus predicted; and he heard the sharp words — "Get thee behind me, Satan, thou art an offence unto me — for thou savorest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men." That was Peter's first fall; a very ominous one: not a rock, but a stumbling-stone; not a defender, but an antagonist and deadly enemy of the faith, when the spiritual should give place to the lower nature in dealing with the things of God. It is remarkable that on other occasions when Peter signalized his faith and devotion he displayed at the time, or immediately afterwards, a more than usual deficiency in spiritual discernment and consistency. Thus a few days after that fall he was selected together with John and James to witness the transfiguration of Christ, but the words which he then uttered prove that he was completely bewildered, and unable at the time to comprehend the meaning of the transaction. Thus again, when his zeal and courage prompted him to leave the ship and walk on the water to go to Jesus ( Matthew 14:29), a sudden failure of faith withdrew the sustaining power; he was about to sink when he was at once reproved and saved by his Master.
Such traits, which occur not unfrequently, prepare us for his last great fall, as well as for his conduct after the resurrection, when his natural gifts were perfected and his deficiencies supplied by "the power from on high." We find a mixture of zeal and weakness in his conduct when called upon to pay tribute-money for himself and his Lord, but faith had the upper hand, and was rewarded by a significant miracle ( Matthew 17:24-27). The question which about the same time Peter asked our Lord as to the extent to which forgiveness of sins should be carried, indicated a great advance in spirituality from the Jewish standpoint, while it showed how far as yet he and his fellow-disciples were from understanding the true principle of Christian love ( Matthew 18:21). We find a similar blending of opposite qualities in the declaration recorded by the synoptical evangelists ( Matthew 19:27; Mark 10:28; Luke 17:28), "Lo, we have left all and followed thee." It certainly bespeaks a consciousness of sincerity, a spirit of self-devotion and selfsacrifice, though it conveys an impression of something like ambition; but in that instance the good undoubtedly predominated, as is shown by our Lord's answer. He does not reprove Peter, who spoke, as usual, in the name of the twelve but takes the opportunity of uttering the strongest prediction touching the future dignity and paramount authority of the apostles, a prediction recorded by Matthew only.
Towards the close of our Lord's ministry (A.D. 29) Peter's characteristics become especially prominent. Together with his brother and the two sons of Zebedee he listened to the last awful predictions and warnings delivered to the disciples in reference to the second advent ( Matthew 24:3; Mark 13:3, who alone mentions these names; Luke 21:7). At the last supper Peter seems to have been particularly earnest in the request that the traitor might be pointed out, expressing of course a general feeling, to which some inward consciousness of infirmity may have added force. After the supper his words drew out the meaning of the significant, almost sacramental act of our Lord in washing his disciples' feet — an occasion on which we find the same mixture of goodness and frailty, humility and deep affection, with a certain taint of self-will, which was at once hushed into submissive reverence by the voice of Jesus. Then too it was that he made those repeated protestations of unalterable fidelity, so soon to be falsified by his miserable fall. That event is. however, of such critical import in its bearings upon the character and position of the apostle, that it cannot be dismissed without a careful, if not an exhaustive discussion. Judas had left the guest-chamber when Peter put the question, Lord, whither goest thou? words which modern theologians generally represent as savoring of idle curiosity or presumption, but in which the early fathers (as Chrysostom and Augustine) recognised the utterance of love and devotion. The answer was a promise that Peter should follow his Master, but accompanied with an intimation of present unfitness in the disciple. Then came the first protestation, which elicited the sharp and stern rebuke, and distinct prediction of Peter's denial ( John 13:36-38).
From comparing this account with those of the other evangelists ( Matthew 26:33-35; Mark 14:29-31; Luke 22:33-34), it seems evident that with some diversity of circumstances both the protestation and warning were thrice repeated. The tempter was to sift all the disciples, our apostle's faith was to be preserved from failing by the special intercession of Christ, he being thus singled out either as the representative of the whole body, or, as seems more probable, because his character was one which had special need of supernatural aid. Mark, as usual, records two points which enhance the force of the warning and the guilt of Peter, viz. that the cock would crow twice, and that after such warning he repeated his protestation with greater vehemence. Chrysostom, who judges the apostle with fairness and candor, attributes this vehemence to his great love, and more particularly to the delight which he felt when assured that he was not the traitor, yet not without a certain admixture of forwardness and ambition such as had previously been shown in the dispute for pre-eminence. The fiery trial soon came. After the agony of Gethsemane, when the three, Peter, James, and John, were, as on former occasions, selected to be with our Lord, the only witnesses of his passion, where also all three had alike failed to prepare themselves by prayer and watching, the arrest of Jesus took place.
Peter did not shrink from the danger. In the same spirit which had dictated his promise he drew his sword, alone against the armed throng, and wounded the servant ( Τὸν Δοῦλον , not a servant) of the highpriest, probably the leader of the band. When this bold but unauthorized attempt at rescue was reproved, he did not yet forsake his Master, but followed him with John into the focus of danger, the house of the highpriest. There he sat in the outer hall. He must have been in a state of utter confusion: his faith, which from first to last was bound up with hope, his special characteristic, was for the time powerless against temptation. The danger found him unarmed. Thrice, each time with greater vehemence, the last time with blasphemous asseveration, he denied his Master. The triumph of Satan seemed complete. Yet it is evident that it was an obscuration of faith, not an extinction. It needed but a glance of his Lord's eye to bring him to himself. His repentance was instantaneous and effectual. The light in which he himself regarded his conduct is clearly shown by the terms in which it is related by Mark, who in some sense may be regarded as his reporter. The inferences are weighty as regards his personal character, which represents more completely perhaps than any in the New Testament the weakness of the natural and the strength of the spiritual man — still more weighty as bearing upon his relations to the apostolic body, and the claims resting upon the assumption that he stood to them in the place of Christ.
On the morning of the resurrection we have proof that Peter, though humbled, was not crushed by his fall. He and John were the first to visit the sepulchre; he was the first who entered it. We are told by Luke (in words still used by the Eastern Church as the first salutation on Easter Sunday) and by Paul that Christ appeared to him first among the apostles — he who most needed the comfort was the first who received it, and with it, as may be assumed, an assurance of forgiveness. It is observable, however, that on that occasion he is called by his original name, Simon, not Peter; the higher designation was not restored until he had been publicly reinstituted, so to speak, by his Master. That reinstitution took place at the Sea of Galilee (John 21), an event of the very highest import. We have there indications of his best natural qualities, practical good sense, promptness, and energy; slower than John to recognise their Lord, Peter was the first to reach him: he brought the net to land. The thrice-repeated question of Christ, referring doubtless to the three protestations and denials, was thrice met by answers full of love and faith, and utterly devoid of his hitherto characteristic failing, presumption, of which not a trace is to be discerned in his later history. He then received the formal commission to feed Christ's sheep; not certainly as one endued with exclusive or paramount authority, or as distinguished from his fellow-disciples, whose fall had been marked by far less aggravating circumstances; rather as one who had forfeited his place, and could not resume it without such an authorization. Then followed the prediction of his martyrdom, in which he was to find the fulfilment of his request to be permitted to follow the Lord.
With this event closes the first part of Peter's history. It was a period of transition, during which the fisherman of Galilee had been trained, first by the Baptist, then by our Lord, for the great work of his life. He had learned to know the person and appreciate the offices of Christ; while his own character had been chastened and elevated by special privileges and humiliations, both reaching their climax in the last recorded transactions. Henceforth he with his colleagues were to establish and govern the Church founded by their Lord, without the support of his presence.
3. Apostolical Career . — The first part of the Acts of the Apostles is occupied by the record of transactions in nearly all of which Peter stands forth as the recognised leader of the apostles; it being, however, equally clear that he neither exercises nor claims any authority apart from them, much less over them. In the first chapter it is Peter who points out to the disciples (as in all his discourses and writings drawing his arguments from prophecy) the necessity of supplying the place of Judas. He states the qualifications of an apostle, but takes no special part in the election. The candidates are selected by the disciples, while the decision is left to the searcher of hearts. The extent and limits of Peter's primacy might be inferred with tolerable accuracy from this transaction alone. To have one spokesman, or foreman, seems to accord with the spirit of order and humility which ruled the Church, while the assumption of power or supremacy would be incompatible with the express command of Christ (see Matthew 23:10). In the second chapter again, Peter is the most prominent person in the greatest event after the resurrection, when on the day of Pentecost the Church was first invested with the plentitude of gifts and powers. Then Peter, not speaking in his own name, but with the eleven (see Matthew 23:14), explained the meaning of the miraculous gifts, and showed the fulfilment of prophecies (accepted at that time by all Hebrews as Messianic) both in the outpouring of the Holy Ghost and in the resurrection and death of our Lord. This discourse, which bears all the marks of Peter's individuality, both of character and doctrinal views, ends with an appeal of remarkable boldness. It is the model upon which the apologetic discourses of the primitive Christians were generally constructed. The conversion and baptism of three thousand persons,who continued steadfast in the apostle's doctrine and fellowship, attested the power of the Spirit which spake by Peter on that occasion.
The first miracle after Pentecost was wrought by Peter (Acts 3); and John was joined with him in that, as in most important acts of his ministry; but it was Peter who took the cripple by the hand, and bade him "In the name of Jesus of Nazareth rise up and walk," and when the people ran together to Solomon's porch, where the apostles, following their Master's example, were wont to teach, Peter was the speaker: he convinces the people of their sin, warns them of their danger, points out the fulfilment of prophecy, and the special objects for which God sent his Son first to the children of the old covenant. This speech is at once strikingly characteristic of Peter and a proof of the fundamental harmony between his teaching and the more developed and systematic doctrines of Paul; differing in form, to an extent utterly incompatible with the theory of Baur and Schwegler touching the object of the writer of the Acts; identical in spirit, as issuing from the same source. The boldness of the two apostles, of Peter more especially as the spokesman, when "filled with the Holy Ghost" he confronted the full assembly headed by Annas and Caiaphas, produced a deep impression upon those cruel and unscrupulous hypocrites: an impression enhanced by the fact that the words came from comparatively ignorant and unlearned men. The words spoken by both apostles, when commanded not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus, have ever since been the watchwords of martyrs ( Acts 4:19-20). This first miracle of healing was soon followed by the first miracle of judgment. The first open and deliberate sin against the Holy Ghost — a sin combining ambition, fraud, hypocrisy, and blasphemy — was visited by death, sudden and awful as under the old dispensation.
Peter was the minister in that transaction. As he had first opened the gate to penitents ( Acts 2:37-38), he now closed it to hypocrites. The act stands alone, without a precedent or parallel in the Gospel; but Peter acted simply as an instrument, not pronouncing the sentence, but denouncing the sin, and that in the name of his fellow-apostles and of the Holy Ghost. Penalties similar in kind, though far different in degree, were inflicted or commanded on various occasions by Paul. Peter appears, perhaps in consequence of that act, to have become the object of a reverence bordering, as it would seem, on superstition ( Acts 5:15), while the numerous miracles of healing wrought about the same time, showing the true character of the power dwelling in the apostles, gave occasion to the second persecution. Peter then came in contact with the noblest and most interesting character among the Jews, the learned and liberal tutor of Paul, Gamaliel, whose caution, gentleness, and dispassionate candor stand out in strong relief contrasted with his colleagues, but make a faint impression compared with the steadfast and uncompromisiing principles of the apostles, who, after undergoing an illegal scourging, went forth rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for the name of Jesus. Peter is not specially named in connection with the appointment of deacons, an important step in the organization of the Church; but when the Gospel was first preached beyond the precincts of Judaea, he and John were at once sent by the apostles to confirm the converts at Samaria, a very important statement at this critical point, proving clearly his subordination to the whole body, of which he was the most active and able member.
Up to this time it may be said that the apostles had one great work, viz. to convince the Jews that Jesus was the Messiah; in that work Peter was the master builder, the whole structure rested upon the doctrines of which he was the principal teacher; hitherto no words but his are specially recorded by the writer of the Acts. Henceforth he remains prominent, but not exclusively prominent, among the propagators of the Gospel. At Samaria he and John established the precedent for the most important rite not expressly enjoined in Holy Writ, viz. confirmation, which the Western Church has always held to belong exclusively to the functions of bishops as successors to the ordinary powers of the apostolate. Then also Peter was confronted with Simon Magus, the first teacher of heresy. (See Simon Magus).
As in the case of Ananias he had denounced the first sin against holiness, so in this case he first declared the penalty due to the sin called after Simon's name. About three years later (comp. Acts 9:26 and Galatians 1:17-18) we have two accounts of the first meeting of Peter and Paul. In the Acts it is stated generally that Saul was at first distrusted by the disciples, and received by the apostles upon the recommendation of Barnabas. From the Galatians we learn that Paul went to Jerusalem especially to see Peter; that he abode with him fifteen days, and that James was the only other apostle present at the time. It is important to note that this account, which, while it establishes the independence of Paul, marks the position of Peter as the most eminent of the apostles, rests not on the authority of the writer of the Acts, but on that of Paul — as if it were intended to obviate all possible misconceptions touching the mutual relations of the apostles of the Hebrews and the Gentiles. This interview was preceded by other events marking Peter's position — a general apostolical tour of visitation to the churches hitherto established (Διερχόμενον Δεὰ Πάντων , Acts 9:32), in the course of which two great miracles were wrought on AEneas and Tabitha, and in connection with which the most signal transaction after the day of Pentecost is recorded, the baptism of Cornelius. A.D. 32. That was the crown and consummation of Peter's ministry.
Peter, who had first preached the resurrection to the Jews, baptized the first converts, confirmed the first Samaritans, now, without the advice or cooperation of any of his colleagues, under direct communication from heaven, first threw down the barrier which separated proselytes of the gate from Israelites, thus establishing principles which in their gradual application and full development issued in the complete fusion of the Gentile and Hebrew elements in the Church. The narrative of this event, which stands alone in minute circumstantiality of incidents and accumulation of supernatural agency, is twice recorded by Luke. The chief points to be noted are, first, the pecaliar fitness of Cornelius, both as a representative of Roman force and nationality, and as a devout and liberal worshipper, to be a recipient of such privileges; and, secondly, the state of the apostle's own mind. Whatever may have been his hopes or fears touching the heathen, the idea had certainly not yet crossed him that they could become Christians without first becoming Jews. As a loyal and believing Hebrew, he could not contemplate the removal of Gentile disqualifications without a distinct assurance that the enactments of the law which concerned them were abrogated by the divine Legislator. The vision could not therefore have been the product of a subjective impression. It was, strictly speaking, objective, presented to his mind by an external influence. Yet the will of the apostle was not controlled, it was simply enlightened. The intimation in the state of trance did not at once overcome his reluctance. It was not until his consciousness was fully restored, and he had well considered the meaning of the vision, that he learned that the distinction of cleanness and uncleanness in outward things belonged to a temporary dispensation. It was no mere acquiescence in a positive command, but the development of a spirit full of generous impulses, which found utterance in the words spoken by Peter on that occasion — both in the presence of Cornelius, and afterwards at Jerusalem. His conduct gave great offence to all his countrymen ( Acts 11:2), and it needed all his authority, corroborated by a special manifestation of the Holy Ghost, to induce his fellowapostles to recognise the propriety of this great act, in which both he and they saw an earnest of the admission of Gentiles into the Church on the single condition of spiritual repentance. The establishment of a Church, in great part of Gentile origin, at Antioch, and the mission of Barnabas, between whose family and Peter there were the bonds of near intimacy, set the seal upon the work thus inaugurated by Peter.
This transaction was followed, after an interval of several years, by the imprisonment of our apostle. A.D. 44. Herod Agrippa, having first tested the state of feeling at Jerusalem by the execution of James, one of the most eminent apostles, arrested Peter. The hatred which at that time first showed itself as a popular feeling may most probably be attributed chiefly to the offence given by Peter's conduct towards Cornelius. His miraculous deliverance marks the close of this second great period of his ministry. The special work assigned to him was completed. He had founded the Church, opened its gates to Jews and Gentiles, and distinctly laid down the conditions of admission. From that time we have no continuous history of Peter. It is quite clear that he retained his rank as the chief apostle, equally so that he neither exercised nor claimed any right to control their proceedings. At Jerusalem the government of the Church devolved upon James the brother of our Lord. In other places Peter seems to have confined his ministrations to his countrymen — as apostle of the circumcision. He left Jerusalem, but it is not said where he went. Certainly not to Rome, where there are no traces of his presence before the last years of his life; he probably remained in Judaea, visiting and confirming the churches; some old but not trustworthy traditions represent him as preaching in Caesarea and other cities on the western coast of Palestine; three years later we find him once more at Jerusalem when the apostles and elders came together to consider the question whether converts should be circumcised. Peter took the lead in that discussion, and urged with remarkable cogency the principles settled in the case of Cornelius. Purifying faith and saving grace ( Acts 15:9; Acts 15:11) remove all distinctions between believers.
His arguments, adopted and enforced by James, decided that question at once and forever. It is, however, to be remarked that on that occasion he exercised no one power which Romanists hold to be inalienably attached to the chair of Peter. He did not preside at the meeting; he neither summoned nor dismissed it; he neither collected the suffrages nor pronounced the decision. It is a disputed point whether the meeting between Paul and Peter of which we have an account in the Galatians ( Galatians 2:1-10) took place at this time. The great majority of critics believe that it did, but this hypothesis has serious difficulties. Lange (Das Apostolische Zeitalter, 2:378) fixes the date about three years after the council. Wieseler has a long excursus to show that it must have occurred after Paul's second apostolic journey. He gives some weighty reasons, but wholly fails in the attempt to account for the presence of Barnabas, a fatal objection to his theory. (See Der Brief An Die Galater, Excursus, page 579.) On the other side are Theodoret, Pearson, Eichhorn, Olshausen, Meyer, Neander, Howson, Schaff, etc. The only point of real importance was certainly determined before the apostles separated, the work of converting the Gentiles being henceforth specially intrusted to Paul and Barnabas, while the charge of preaching to the circumcision was assigned to the elder apostles, and more particularly to Peter ( Galatians 2:7-9).
This arrangement cannot, however, have been an exclusive one. Paul always addressed himself first to the Jews in every city; Peter and his colleagues undoubtedly admitted and sought to make converts among the Gentiles. It may have been in full force only when the old and new apostles resided in the same city. Such at least was the case at Antioch, where Peter went soon afterwards. There the painful collision took place between the two apostles; the most remarkable, and, in its bearings upon controversies at critical periods, one of the most important events in the history of the Church. Peter at first applied the principles which he had lately defended, carrying with him the whole apostolic body, and on his arrival at Antioch ate with the Gentiles thus showing that he believed all ceremonial distinctions to be abolished by the Gospel — in that he went far beyond the strict letter of the injunctions issued by the council. That step was marked and condemned by certain members of the Church of Jerusalem sent by James. It appeared to them one thing to recognise Gentiles as fellow- Christians, another to admit them to social intercourse, whereby ceremonial defilement would be contracted under the law to which all the apostles, Barnabas and Paul included, acknowledged allegiance. Peter, as the apostle of the circumcision fearing to give offence to those who were his special charge, at once gave up the point, suppressed or disguised his feelings, and separated himself not from communion, but from social intercourse with the Gentiles. Paul, as the apostle of the Gentiles, saw clearly the consequences likely to ensue, and could ill brook the misapplication of a rule often laid down in his own writings concerning compliance with the prejudices of weak brethren. He held that Peter was infringing a great principle, withstood him to the face, and, using the same arguments which Peter had urged at the council, pronounced his conduct to be indefensible. The statement that Peter compelled the Gentiles to Judaize probably means, not that he enjoined circumcision, but that his conduct, if persevered in, would have that effect, since they would naturally take any steps which might remove the barriers to familiar intercourse with the first apostles of Christ. Peter was wrong, but it was an error of judgment: an act contrary to his own feelings and wishes, in reference to those whom he looked upon as representing the mind of the Church; that he was actuated by selfishness, national pride, or any remains of superstition, is neither asserted nor implied in the strong censure of Paul. Nor, much as we must admire the earnestness and wisdom of Paul, whose clear and vigorous intellect was in this case stimulated by anxiety for his own special charge, the Gentile Church, should we overlook Peter's singular humility in submitting to public reproof from one so much his junior, or his magnanimity both in adopting Paul's conclusions (as we must infer that he did from the absence of all trace of continued resistance) and in remaining on terms of brotherly communion (as is testified by his own written words) to the end of his life ( 1 Peter 5:10; 2 Peter 3:15-16). (See Paul).
From this time until the date of his Epistles we have no distinct notices in Scripture of Peter's abode or work. The silence may be accounted for by the fact that from that time the great work of propagating the Gospel was committed to the marvellous energies of Paul. Peter was probably employed for the most part in building up and completing the organization of Christian communities in Palestine and the adjoining districts. There is, however, strong reason to believe that he visited Corinth at an early period; this seems to be implied in several passages of Paul's first epistle to that Church, and it is a natural inference from the statements of Clement of Rome (First Epistle to the Corinthians, c. 4). The fact is positively asserted by Dionysius, bishop of Corinth (A.D. 180 at the latest), a man of excellent judgment, who was not likely to be misinformed, nor to make such an assertion lightly in an epistle addressed to the bishop and Church of Rome. The reference to collision between parties who claimed Peter, Apollos, Paul, and even Christ for their chiefs, involves no opposition between the apostles themselves, such as the fabulous Clementines and modern infidelity assume. The name of Peter as founder, or joint founder, is not associated with any local Church save those of Corinth, Antioch, and Rome, by early ecclesiastical tradition. That of Alexandria may have been established by Mark after Peter's death. That Peter preached the Gospel in the countries of Asia mentioned in his First Epistle appears from Origen's own words ( Κεκηρυκέναι Ἔοικεν ) to be a mere conjecture (Origen, ap. Euseb. 3:1, adopted by Epiphanius, Haer. 27, and Jerome, Catal. c. 1), not in itself improbable, but of little weight in the absence of all positive evidence, and of all personal reminiscences in the Epistle itself. From that Epistle, however, it is to be inferred that towards the end of his life Peter either visited or resided for some time at Babylon, which at that time, and for some hundreds of years afterwards, was a chief seat of Jewish culture.
This of course depends upon the assumption, which on the whole seems most probable, that the word Babylon is not used as a mystic designation of Rome, but as a proper name, and that not of an obscure city in Egypt, but of the ancient capital of the East. There were many inducements for such a choice of abode. The Jewish families formed there a separate community; they were rich, prosperous, and had established settlements in many districts of Asia Minor. Their language, probably a mixture of Hebrew and Nabathaean, must have borne a near affinity to the Galileean dialect. They were on far more familiar terms with their heathen neighbors than in other countries, while their intercourse with Judaea was carried on without intermission. Christianity certainly made considerable progress at an early time in that and the adjoining districts; the great Christian schools at Edessa and Nisibis probably owed their origin to the influence of Peter; the general tone of the writers of that school is what is now commonly designated as Petrine. It is no unreasonable supposition that the establishment of Christianity in those districts may have been specially connected with the residence of Peter at Babylon. At that time there must have been some communication between the two great apostles, Peter and Paul, thus stationed at the two extremities of the Christian world. Mark, who was certainly employed about that time by Paul, was with Peter when he wrote the Epistle. Silvanus, Paul's chosen companion, was the bearer, probably the amanuensis of Peter's Epistle — not improlably sent to Peter from Rome, and charged by him to deliver that epistle, written to support Paul's authority, to the churches founded by that apostle on his return. (See Epistles Of Peter)
More important in its bearings upon later controversies is the question of Peter's connection with Rome. It may be considered as a settled point that he did not visit Rome before the last year of his life. Too much stress may perhaps be laid on the fact that there is no notice of Peter's labors or presence in that city in the Epistle to the Romans; but that negative evidence is not counterbalanced by any statement of undoubted antiquity. The date given by Eusebius rests upon a miscalculation, and is irreconcilable with the notices of Peter in the Acts of the Apostles. He gives A.D. 42 in the Chronicon (i.e., in the Armenian text), and says that Peter remained at Rome twenty years. In this he is followed by Jerome, Catal. c. 1 (who gives twenty-five years), and by most Roman Catholic writers. Protestant critics, with scarcely one exception, are unanimous upon this point, and Roman controversialists are far from being agreed in their attempts to remove the difficulty. The most ingenious effort is that of Windischmann (Vindicae Petrinae, page 112 sq.). He assumes that Peter went to Rome immediately after his deliverance from prison (Acts 12), i.e., A.D. 44, and left in consequence of the Claudian persecution between A.D. 49 and 51. (See below.)
The fact, however, of Peter's martyrdom at Rome rests upon very different grounds. The evidence for it is complete, while there is a total absence of any contrary statement in the writings of the early fathers. We have in the first place the certainty of his martyrdom in our Lord's own prediction ( John 21:18-19). Clement of Rome, writing before the end of the first century, speaks of it, but does not mention the Place, that being of course well known to his readers. Ignatius, in the undoubtedly genuine Epistle to the Romans (ch. iv), speaks of Peter in terms which imply a special connection with their Church. Other early notices of less weight coincide with this, as that of Papias (Euseb. 2:15), and the apocryphal Praedicatio Petri, quoted by Cyprian. In the second century, Dionysius of Corinth, in the Epistle to Soter, bishop of Rome (ap. Euseb. H.E. 2:25), states, as a fact universally known, and accounting for the intimate relations between Corinth and Rome, that Peter and Paul both taught in Italy, and suffered martyrdom about the same time. Irenaeus, who was connected with the apostle John, being a disciple of Polycarp, a hearer of that apostle, and thoroughly conversant with Roman matters, bears distinct witness to Peter's presence at Rome (Adv. Her. 3:1 and 3). It is incredible that he should have been misinformed. In the next century there is the testimony of Caius, the liberal and learned Roman presbyter (who speaks of Peter's tomb in the Vatican), that of Origen, Tertullian, and of the ante- and post- Nicene fathers, without a single exception. In short, the churches most nearly connected with Rome, and those least affected by its influence, which was as yet but inconsiderable in the East, concur in the statement that Peter was a joint founder of that Church, and suffered death in that city. What the early fathers do not assert, and indeed implicitly deny, is that Peter was the sole founder or resident head of that Church, or that the See of Rome derived from him any claim to supremacy: at the utmost they place him on a footing of equality with Paul. That fact is sufficient for all purposes of fair controversy. The denial of the statements resting on such evidence seems almost to indicate an uneasy consciousness, truly remarkable in those who believe that they have, and who in fact really have, irrefragable grounds for rejecting the pretensions of the papacy. Coteler has collected a large number of passages from the early fathers, in which the name of Paul precedes that of Peter (Pat. Apost. 1:414; see also Valesius, Euseb. H.E. 3:21). Fabricius observes that this is the general usage of the Greek fathers. It is also to be remarked that when the fathers of the 4th and 5th centuries — for instance, Chrysostom and Augustin — use the words Οα῾᾿Πόστολος , or Apestolus, they mean Paul, not Peter — a very weighty fact.
The time and manner of the apostle's martyrdom are, less certain. The early writers imply,or distinctly state, that he suffered at or about the same time (Dionysius, Κατὰ Τὸν Αὐτὸν Καιρόν ) with Paul, and in the Neronian persecution. All agree that he was crucified, a point sufficiently determined by our Lord's prophecy. Origen (ap. Euseb. 3:1), who could easily ascertain the fact, and, though fanciful in speculation, is not inaccurate in historical matters, says that at his own request he was crucified Κατὰ Κεφάλης ; probably meaning By The Head, and not, as generally understood, With His Head Downwards. (See below.) This statement was generally received by Christian antiquity; nor does it seem inconsistent with the fervent temperament and deep humility of the apostle to have chosen such a death — one, moreover, not unlikely to have been inflicted in mockery by the instruments of Nero's wanton and ingenious cruelty. The legend found in St. Ambrose is interesting. and may have some foundation in fact. When the persecution began, the Christians at Rome, anxious to preserve their great teacher, persuaded him to flee, a course which they had scriptural warrant to recommend and he to follow; but at the gate he met our Lord. "Lord, whither goest thou?" asked the apostle. "I go to Rome," was the answer, "there once more to be crucified." Peter well understood the meaning of those words, returned at once and was crucified. See Tillemont, Mem. 1:187, 555. He shows that the account of Ambrose (which is not to be found in the Bened. edit.) is contrary to the apocryphal legend. Later writers rather value it as reflecting upon Peter's want of courage or constancy. That Peter, like all good men. valued his life and suffered reluctantly, may be inferred from our Lord's words (John 21); but his flight is more in harmony with the principles of a Christian than wilful exposure to persecution. Origen refers to the words then said to have been spoken by our Lord, but quotes an apocryphal work (On St. John, tom. 2).
Thus closes the apostle's life. Some additional facts, not perhaps unimportant, may be accepted on early testimony. From Paul's words it may be inferred with certainty that he did not give up the ties of family life when he forsook his temporal calling. His wife accompanied him in his wanderings. Clement of Alexandria, a writer well informed in matters of ecclesiastical interest, and thoroughly trustworthy, says (Strom. 3, page 448) that "Peter and Philip had children, and that both took about their wives, who acted as their coadjutors in ministering to women at their own homes; by their means the doctrine of the Lord penetrated without scandal into the privacy of women's apartments." Peter's wife is believed, on the same authority, to have suffered martyrdom, and to have been supported in the hour of trial by her husband's exhortation. Some critics believe that she is referred to in the salutation at the end of the First Epistle of Peter. The apostle is said to have employed interpreters. Basilides, an early Gnostic, professed to have derived his system from Glaucias. one of these interpreters. This shows at least the impression that the apostle did not understand Greek, or did not speak it with fluency. Of far more importance is the statement that St. Mark wrote his Gospel under the teaching of Peter, or that he embodied in that Gospel the substance of our apostle's oral instructions. This statement rests upon such an amount of external evidence, and is corroborated by so many internal indications, that they would scarcely be questioned in the absence of a strong theological bias. (Papias and Clem. Alex., referred to by Eusebius, H.E. 2:15; Tertullian, c. Marc. 4, c. 5; Irenseus, 3:1; 4:9. Petavius [on Epiphanius, page 428] observes that Papias derived his information from John the Presbyter. For other passages, see Fabricius [Bibl. Gr. 3:132]. The slight discrepancy between Eusebius and Papias indicates independent sources of information.) The fact is doubly important, in its bearings upon the Gospel, and upon the character of our apostle. Chrysostom, who is followed by the most judicious commentators, seems first to have drawn attention to the fact that in Mark's Gospel every defect in Peter's character and conduct is brought out clearly, without the slightest extenuation, while many noble acts and peculiar marks of favor are either omitted or stated with far less force than by any other evangelist. Indications of Peter's influence, even in Mark's style, much less pure than that of Luke, are traced by modern criticism (Gieseler, quoted by Davidson).
II. Discussion Of Particular Points . — We subjoin a closer examination of certain special questions touched upon in the above history.
1. Peter'S Name . — His original appellation Cephas ( Κηφᾶς ) occurs in the following passages: John 1:42; 1 Corinthians 1:12; 1 Corinthians 3:22; 1 Corinthians 9:1; 1 Corinthians 15:5; Galatians 2:9; Galatians 1:18; Galatians 2:10; Galatians 2:14 (the last three according to the text of Lachmann and Tischendorf). Cephas is the Chaldee word Keyphia, כֵּיפָא , itself a corruption of or derivation from the Hebrew Keph, כֵּŠ , "a rock," a rare word, found only in Job 30:6 and Jeremiah 4:29. It must have been the word actually pronounced by our Lord in Matthew 16:18, and on subsequent occasions when the apostle was addressed by him or other Hebrews by his new name. By it he was known to the Corinthian Christians. In the ancient Syriac version of the N.T. (Peshito), it is uniformly found where the Greek has Πέτρος . When we consider that our Lord and the apostles spoke Chaldee, and that therefore (as already remarked) the apostle must always have been addressed as Cephas, it is certainly remarkable that throughout the Gospels, no less than ninety-seven times, with one exception only, the name should be given in the Greek form, which was of later introduction, and unintelligible to Hebrews, though intelligible to the far wider Gentile world among which the Gospel was about to begin its course. Even in Mark, where more Chaldee words and phrases are retained than in all the other Gospels put together, this is the case. It is as if in our English Bibles the name were uniformly given,not Peter, but Rock; and it suggests that the meaning contained in the appellation is of more vital importance, and intended to be more carefully seized at each recurrence, than we are apt to recollect. The commencement of the change from the Chaldee name to its Greek synonym is well marked in the interchange of the two in Galatians 2:7-9 (Stanley, Apostolic Age, page 116).
The apostle in his companionship with Christ, and up to the time of the Lord's ascension, seems to have borne the name of Simon; at least he is always so called by Jesus himself ( Matthew 17:25; Mark 14:37; Luke 22:31; John 21:15), and apparently also by the disciples ( Luke 24:34; Acts 15:14). But after the extension of the apostolic circle and its relations (comp. Acts 10:5; Acts 10:18), the apostle began to be known, in order to distinguish him from others called Simon, as Simon Peter; the name of Peter, which had at first been given him as a special mark of esteem, being added, as that of a father often was in other cases; and, in the course of time, it seems that the latter name superseded the former. Hence the evangelists call the apostle Peter oftener than Simon Peter. As to the epistles of Paul, he is always called Cephas in 1 Corinthians, but in the other epistles often Peter. As above suggested, the appellation thus bestowed seems to have had reference to the disciple individually and personally. Attaching himself to Christ, he would partake of t
Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature 
Pe´ter (originally Simeon or Simon, heard) was a native of Bethsaida, in Galilee, and was the son of a certain Jonas, or John; whence he is named on one occasion in the Gospel history Simon Barjona, that is, son of Jona . Along with his brother Andrew, he followed the occupation of a fisherman on the Sea of Galilee. It is probable that, before they became known to Christ, they were both disciples of John the Baptist. Their becoming known to Christ was owing to John's pointing him out on the day after his baptism to Andrew and another disciple (probably the evangelist John), as 'the Lamb of God;' on which they immediately followed Christ, and spent some time in receiving his instructions. Shortly after this Andrew finding Simon, carried him to Christ, who, on receiving him as his disciple, bestowed upon him that surname by which he has since that time been most commonly designated: 'When Jesus beheld him He said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona; thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation a stone.' After this interview the two brothers seem to have returned to their usual occupation for a season, as we have an account in Matthew of their being summoned from that occupation by Christ on a subsequent occasion, posterior to his temptation in the wilderness, and to the commencement of his public ministry as a religious teacher. From this time forward they were his devoted and admiring followers. In the course of the evangelical history several anecdotes of Peter are incidentally recorded, for the purpose, doubtless, principally of illustrating the character and teaching of our Lord, but which tend also to throw light upon the history and character of his attached disciple. Such are the accounts furnished by the evangelists of his walking upon the agitated waters of the Sea of Galilee to meet his master ; of his bold and intelligent avowals of the undoubted Messiahship of Jesus, notwithstanding the difficulties which he, along with the rest of the disciples, felt in reconciling what they saw in Him with what they had fondly expected the Christ to be of his rash but affectionate rebuke of his Lord for speaking of suffering and death as in prospect for Him, and as forming a necessary part of His mediatorial work of his conduct in first rejecting, with an earnestness bordering on horror, the offer of Christ to wash his feet, and then, when the symbolical nature of that act had been explained to him, his over-ardent zeal that not his feet only, but also his hands and his head, might be washed of his bold and somewhat vaunting avowal of attachment to his Master, and his determination never to forsake Him, followed by his disgraceful denial of Jesus in the hour of trial (; , etc.); of his deep and poignant contrition for this sin and of his Lord's ample forgiveness of his offence, after he had received from him a profession of attachment as strong and as frequently repeated as his former denial of Him . From these notices it is easy to gather a tolerably correct conception of the pre-dominating features of the apostle's character up to this period. He seems to have been a man of undoubted piety, of ardent attachment to his Master, and of great zeal for what he deemed his Master's honor; but, at the same time with a mind rather quick than accurate in its apprehensions, and with feelings rather hasty in their impulse than determined and continuous in their exercise. Hence his readiness in avowing his opinions, and his rashness in forming them; and hence also the tendency which beset his honest openness to degenerate into bravado, and his determinations of valor to evaporate into cowardice at appalling forms of danger. His fall, however, and his subsequent restoration, connected as these were with the mysterious events of his Master's crucifixion and resurrection, and with the new light which had by them been cast around his character and work, produced a powerful change for the better upon the apostle's mind. From this time forward he comes before us under a new aspect. A sober dignity and firmness of purpose have displaced his former hasty zeal; sagacity and prudence characterize his conduct; and while his love to his Master shows no symptom of abatement, it displays itself rather in active labor and much-enduring patience in His service, than in loud protestations or extravagant exhibitions of attachment. In the subsequent Scripture history he is presented to us as the courageous herald of the kingdom of Christ, by whose mouth the first public declaration of salvation through the crucified Jesus was made to the people; by whose advice and counsel the early churches were planted and governed; and by whom the prejudices of Judaism were first fairly surmounted, and the Gospel preached in all its universal freeness to the Gentile world. The Acts of the Apostles contain recitals of many interesting incidents which befell him while engaged in those efforts. Of these, the chief are his imprisonment and trial before the Sanhedrim for preaching Christ, and his bold avowal of his determination to persist in that work his miraculously inflicting the punishment of death on the infatuated couple who had dared to try an experiment upon the omniscience of the Holy Ghost his visit to Samaria, and rebuke of Simon Magus, who deemed that the miracles of the apostle were the result of some deep magic spell of which he had not yet become possessed, and which, consequently he was desirous of purchasing from Peter the vision by which he was taught that the ancient ritual distinctions between clean and unclean had been abolished, and thereby pre-pared to attend on the summons of Cornelius, to whom he preached the Gospel his apprehension by Herod Agrippa, and his deliverance by the interposition of an angel, who opened for him the doors of his prison, and set him free and his address to the council at Jerusalem, on the occasion of a request for advice and direction being sent to the church there by the church in Antioch, in which he advocated the exemption of Gentile converts from the ceremonial institutes of the law of Moses . In all these incidents we trace the evidences of his mind having undergone an entire change, both as to its views of truth and impressions of duty, from what is displayed by the earlier events of his history. On one occasion only do we detect something of his former weakness, and that, strangely enough, in regard to a matter in which he had been the first of the apostles to perceive, and the first to recommend and follow, a correct course of procedure. The occasion referred to was his withdrawing, through dread of the censures of his Jewish brethren, from the Gentiles at Antioch, after having lived in free and friendly intercourse with them, and his timidly dissembling his convictions as to the religious equality of Jew and Gentile. For this Paul withstood him to the face, and rebuked him sharply, because of the injury which his conduct was calculated to produce to the cause of Christianity. With this single exception, however, his conduct seems to have been in full accordance with the name which his Master had prophetically bestowed on him when he called him Simon the Rock, and with the position which Paul himself assigns to him, at the very time that he recounts his temporary dereliction, as one of 'the Pillars of the Church' .
Thus far we are enabled, from the inspired documents, to trace the history of this apostle; but for what remains we must be indebted to evidence of a less explicit and certain character. Ecclesiastical tradition asserts that he performed an extensive missionary tour throughout those districts, to the converts in which his epistles are addressed. This tradition, however, though deriving some countenance from , is very uncertain. Another tradition reports the apostle as having towards the close of his life visited Rome, become bishop of the church in that city, and suffered martyrdom in the persecution raised against the Christians by Nero. The importance of these points in connection with the claims urged by the Catholics on behalf of the supremacy of the pope, has led to a careful and sifting examination of the accuracy of this tradition; the result of which seems to be, that while it is admitted as certain that Peter suffered martyrdom, in all probability by crucifixion, and as probable that this took place at Rome, it has, nevertheless, been made pretty clear that he never was for any length of time resident in that city, and morally certain that he never was bishop of the church there.
The assertion that Peter was bishop of Rome is connected with another, by which the claims of the papacy are sought to be established, namely, that to him was conceded a right of supremacy over the other apostles. In support of this, an appeal is made to those passages in the Gospels, where declarations supposed to imply the bestowal of peculiar honor and distinction on Peter are recorded as having been addressed to him by our Lord. The most important of these are: 'Thou art Peter, and on this rock will I build my church' and, 'Unto thee will I give the keys of the kingdom of heaven,' etc. . At first sight these passages would seem to bear out the assumption founded on them; but, upon a more careful investigation, it will be seen that this is rather in appearance than in reality. The force of both is greatly impaired for the purpose for which Catholics produce them, by the circumstance, that whatever of power or authority they may be supposed to confer upon Peter, must be regarded as shared by him with the other apostles, inasmuch as to them also are ascribed in other passages the same qualities and powers which are promised to Peter in those under consideration. If by the former of these passages we are to understand that the church is built upon Peter, the apostle Paul informs us that it is not on him alone that it is built, but upon all the apostles and in the book of Revelation we are told, that on the twelve foundations of the New Jerusalem (the Christian church) are inscribed 'the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb' . As for the declaration in the latter of these passages, it was in all its essential parts repeated by our Lord to the other disciples immediately before His passion, as announcing a privilege which, as His apostles, they were to possess in common . It is, moreover, uncertain in what sense our Lord used the language in question. In both cases His words are metaphorical; and nothing can be more unsafe than to build a theological dogma upon language of which the meaning is not clear, and to which, from the earliest ages, different interpretations have been affixed. And, finally, even granting the correctness of that interpretation which Catholics put upon these verses, it will not bear out the conclusion they would deduce from them, inasmuch as the judicial supremacy of Peter over the other apostles does not necessarily follow from his possessing authority over the church. On the other side, it is certain that there is no instance on record of the apostle's having ever claimed or exercised this supposed power; but, on the contrary, he is oftener than once represented as submitting to an exercise of power upon the part of others, as when, for instance, he went forth as a messenger from the apostles assembled in Jerusalem to the Christians in Samaria , and when he received a rebuke from Paul, as already noticed. This circumstance is so fatal, indeed, to the pretensions which have been urged in favor of his supremacy over the other apostles, that from a very early age attempts have been made to set aside its force, by the hypothesis that it is not of Peter the apostle, but of another person of the same name, that Paul speaks in the passage referred to. This hypothesis, however, is so plainly contradicted by the words of Paul, who explicitly ascribes apostleship to the Peter of whom he writes, that it is astonishing how it could have been admitted even by the most blinded zealot . While, however, it is pretty well established that Peter enjoyed no judicial supremacy over the other apostles, it would, perhaps, be going too far to affirm that no dignity or primacy whatsoever was conceded to him on the part of his brethren. His superiority in point of age, his distinguished personal excellence, his reputation and success as a teacher of Christianity, and the prominent part which he had ever taken in his Master's affairs, both before his death and after his ascension, furnished sufficient grounds for his being raised to a position of respect and of moral influence in the church and among his brother apostles. These circumstances, taken in connection with the prevalent voice of Christian antiquity, would seem to authorize the opinion that Peter occupied some such position as that of president in the apostolical college, but without any power or authority of a judicial kind over his brother apostles.
- Peter from Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament
- Peter from Fausset's Bible Dictionary
- Peter from Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible
- Peter from Bridgeway Bible Dictionary
- Peter from Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary
- Peter from Easton's Bible Dictionary
- Peter from Smith's Bible Dictionary
- Peter from American Tract Society Bible Dictionary
- Peter from Holman Bible Dictionary
- Peter from People's Dictionary of the Bible
- Peter from Morrish Bible Dictionary
- Peter from Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary
- Peter from Webster's Dictionary
- Peter from Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature
- Peter from Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature