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Peter

Peter [N] [H] [S]

originally called Simon (=Simeon ,i.e., "hearing"), a very common Jewish name in the New Testament. He was the son of Jona ( Matthew 16:17 ). His mother is nowhere named in Scripture. He had a younger brother called Andrew, who first brought him to Jesus ( John 1:40-42 ). His native town was Bethsaida, on the western coast of the Sea of Galilee, to which also Philip belonged. Here he was brought up by the shores of the Sea of Galilee, and was trained to the occupation of a fisher. His father had probably died while he was still young, and he and his brother were brought up under the care of Zebedee and his wife Salome ( Matthew 27:56 ; Mark 15:40 ; 16:1 ). There the four youths, Simon, Andrew, James, and John, spent their boyhood and early manhood in constant fellowship. Simon and his brother doubtless enjoyed all the advantages of a religious training, and were early instructed in an acquaintance with the Scriptures and with the great prophecies regarding the coming of the Messiah. They did not probably enjoy, however, any special training in the study of the law under any of the rabbis. When Peter appeared before the Sanhedrin, he looked like an "unlearned man" ( 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 Mark 1:36 ; 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 Acts 10:32 ; 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 ( Acts 4:19 Acts 4:20 ). 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 and 67.

These dictionary topics are from
M.G. Easton M.A., D.D., Illustrated Bible Dictionary, Third Edition,
published by Thomas Nelson, 1897. Public Domain, copy freely.

[N] indicates this entry was also found in Nave's Topical Bible
[H] indicates this entry was also found in Hitchcock's Bible Names
[S] indicates this entry was also found in Smith's Bible Dictionary

Bibliography Information

Easton, Matthew George. "Entry for Peter". "Easton's Bible Dictionary". .

Peter [N] [E] [S]

a rock or stone
Hitchcock's Dictionary of Bible Names. Public Domain. Copy freely.

[N] indicates this entry was also found in Nave's Topical Bible
[E] indicates this entry was also found in Easton's Bible Dictionary
[S] indicates this entry was also found in Smith's Bible Dictionary

Bibliography Information

Hitchcock, Roswell D. "Entry for 'Peter'". "An Interpreting Dictionary of Scripture Proper Names". . New York, N.Y., 1869.

Peter [N] [E] [H]

(a rock or stone ). The original name of this disciple was Simon, i.e. "hearer." He was the son of a man named Jonas, ( Matthew 16:17 ; John 1:42 ; 21:16 ) and was brought up in his fathers occupation, that of a fisherman. He and his brother Andrew were partners of John end 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 pears 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 Peters 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 Lords 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 Lords 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 Christs 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 Lords ministry Peters 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 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 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 Galatians 1:18 ) This interview was followed by another event marking Peters position --a general apostolical tour of visitation to the churches hitherto established. ( Acts 9:32 ) The most signal transaction after the day of Pentecost was the baptism of Cornelius. That was the crown and consummation of Peters 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 apostles 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 apostles oral instructions. [MARK] 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, which has been a subject of earnest controversy.


[N] indicates this entry was also found in Nave's Topical Bible
[E] indicates this entry was also found in Easton's Bible Dictionary
[H] indicates this entry was also found in Hitchcock's Bible Names

Bibliography Information

Smith, William, Dr. "Entry for 'Peter'". "Smith's Bible Dictionary". . 1901.