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Saturday, December 2nd, 2023
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34
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Fausset's Bible Dictionary

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Peter, the Epistles of
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(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.)

Bibliography Information
Fausset, Andrew R. Entry for 'Peter'. Fausset's Bible Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/​dictionaries/​eng/​fbd/​p/peter.html. 1949.
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