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Originally named Simon, Cephas ("see-fuss") is more popularly known to Christians as Peter. He was from Bethsaida, on the west coast of the Sea of Galilee, in the Galilee Region of northern Israel. Peter and his brother Andrew were fishermen, along with James and John, the sons of Zebedee and Salome (Salome was one of the women who discovered the empty Tomb in the morning after the Resurrection of Jesus Christ - Mark 16:1). Peter, Andrew, James, and John all became members of The Twelve Apostles.

Sea Of Galilee It was Peter's brother Andrew who first found The Lord after hearing John The Baptist near the Jordan River proclaiming Jesus Christ as "Lamb of God" (John 1:29-36). Andrew then went and brought Simon to Jesus (John 1:41).

It was Jesus Who declared that Simon would be called Cephas, an Aramaic name equivalent to the Greek Petros, from which Peter is derived. Simon gradually became known as Peter among the other people, although The Lord continued to call him Simon when talking to him (Matthew 17:25, Mark 14:37, Luke 22:31).

There has been much controversy regarding the intended purpose of renaming Simon as Cephas, and Jesus' statement that, "And I tell you, you are Peter [Cephas], and on this Rock I will build My church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it." (Matthew 16:18 RSV). It's helpful to note that Cephas actually means "a small stone," while Jesus Christ is the true Rock Of Ages. The Rock that The Lord was speaking of could only have been Himself, not any mere human. After all, it's called the Christian church, isn't it?

Peter, while often bold and courageous in behavior, never exalted himself. After Jesus' miracle of the large fish catch (Luke 5:1-7), Peter said to Him, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord." (Luke 5:8 RSV). Later, after Jesus' Resurrection when the church was becoming popularly established, "When Peter entered, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him. But Peter lifted him up, saying, "Stand up; I too am a man." (Acts 10:25-26 RSV).

While Peter was most certainly a prominent and important member of the new Christian church, at no time did he exercise, or claim to have, authority over the other apostles (see the Fact Finder below). Many people are quite surprised when reading European history that the "Primacy of Peter" doctrine was established centuries after Peter died as a tactic in a political struggle for power between numerous bishops and church authorities of that time. It did not originate anywhere in The Holy Bible.

A summary of Peter's activities during Jesus' ministry:

  • Peter was a Galilean, the characteristics of which at the time included a strong sense of independence and a direct, impetuous manner. His "frontier mentality" made him as quick on the draw with a Roman Short Sword (e.g. when he cut off Malchus' ear That Fateful Night) as many American cowboys were with a six-gun in the Old West nearly 2,000 years later.

  • Peter's northern accent was easily recognized by Israelites in the south at Jerusalem (Mark 14:70)

  • Peter was married. His mother-in-law is referred to (Matthew 8:14). His wife accompanied him on at least some of his missionary journeys (1 Corinthians 9:5).

  • He had a large house at Capernaum where, along with his own family, his brother Andrew and mother-in-law also lived (Mark 1:29, Matthew 8:14).

  • He was transformed from a fisherman to a "fisher of men." (Matthew 4:19)

  • Peter was allowed to join Jesus during the miracle of walking on the water (Matthew 14:29)

  • Peter, along with James and John, witnessed The Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-9).

  • Peter and John prepared the place where Jesus Christ kept the Passover feast (the "Last Supper") with His disciples before the Crucifixion (Luke 22:7-13).

  • After fighting to prevent The Lord's arrest only a short time before, outside of the house of the high priest Peter denied that he ever knew Jesus - exactly as Jesus said he would (Luke 22:54-61). Peter bitterly repented for this lapse almost immediately (Luke 22:62)

  • Peter, along with the others, discovered the Resurrection (John 20:1-10)

  • After the Resurrection, Jesus appeared to Peter at the Sea of Galilee and gave him his commission (John 21:1-25).

Fact Finder: Did Jesus Christ elevate Peter over the other apostles?
See Did Peter Have The Primacy?

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