This is part one of a three-part lesson about Simon Peter,
Name: *Simon (named mentioned 57), Peter (142), Cephas (6), Simon Peter (20)
Meaning of name: he who hears (Simon); (Peter)rock; Aramaic equivalent of Peter (Cephas)
Ancestry and family life: Peter had a brother named Andrew who was also a disciple and who introduced him to Jesus.
Training and occupation: Peter was a fisherman. He hadn’t received a high education or training (Acts 4:13), yet God called him to be a fisher of men (Matt 4:19). Although he had no formal education, his time walking with Jesus for 3½ years and the work of the Holy Spirit in his life transformed him from an ordinary fisherman into an extraordinary apostle.
What Is in a Name?
In Biblical times, a person’s name was very important. In many ways, it defined you. I could only find four times throughout the scriptures where God changed someone’s name. In each case, God wanted to instill a new vision for that person’s life. Their old name did not reflect the role God destined them to play in His kingdom. God changed the names of both Abram and Sarai to Abraham and Sarah. Abraham means “father of many nations” and Sarah means “my princess.” Jacob’s name meant supplanter, but God changed his name to Israel for he “wrestled with God” (Genesis 32:27-28).
(It should be noted that Saul’s name was not changed by God, although he did start to be called Paul. At his conversion on the Damascus Road, he is addressed as Saul. Later, Jesus told Ananias to find Saul and pray for his sight. In Acts 9, scripture speaks of Saul’s growth in spiritual strength and understanding. The truth is both Saul and Paul were his names (Acts 13:9). Saul would have been his Hebrew name, and Paul would be his Roman name. It would make sense for him to use his Roman name because of where the ministry was taking him.)
His given name was Simon, but Jesus changed it to Peter, which means “a stone” (John 1:35-42). Paul called him Cephas, which is the Aramaic equivalent of Peter. So, Peter had three names. Nearly fifty times in the New Testament, he is called “Simon,” and often he is called “Simon Peter.” Perhaps the two names suggest a Christian’s two natures: an old nature (Simon) that is prone to fail, and a new nature (Peter) that can give victory. As Simon, he was only another human piece of clay; but Jesus made him a rock. Of all the names he is called, I like the name Simon Peter the best. In many ways, the name is a contradiction of terms—like pretty ugly or jumbo shrimp. This impulsive fisherman is a paradox that illustrates what happens when God touches someone, and they become a new creature.
There is no doubt that Peter was one of the most trusted and prominent characters in the New Testament. Just look at how often he is mentioned. Most of the twelve disciples are scarcely mentioned by name in the Gospels. John is mentioned about twenty times by name in the Gospels, as is Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus. Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, is mentioned twelve times. Thomas, the doubter, is mentioned ten times. Bartholomew, James the son of Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot (also known as Simon the Cananaean), and Thaddaeus (also known as Judas son of James) are mentioned only three times each.
On the other hand, Simon Peter is mentioned by name over 120 times. Peter’s name is mentioned in the gospels more than anyone except the name of Jesus. No one speaks in the gospels as often as Peter did, and Jesus spoke more to Peter than to any other individual.
Points to Ponder…
Peter, the fisherman, was called to be a fisher of men. His last recorded catch of fish numbered 153. His first sermon harvested 3,000 souls. But something happened between these two events. Remember, after Jesus’s arrest, he did not even have the backbone to acknowledge he was a follower of Christ. Two of the three times he denied Christ was to a girl. Yet on the day of Pentecost, he boldly proclaims Christ and Him crucified, and 3,000 people are added to the church. He goes on to be the predominant voice through the first half of the book of Acts, spreading the gospel to the gentiles throughout Rome and Asia Minor. Then he pens two letters to the churches in Asia Minor. What changed? Read the verses below and discuss what is different.
Peter Denies Christ
Matthew 26:69-75 NIV
69 Now Peter was sitting out in the courtyard, and a servant girl came to him. “You also were with Jesus of Galilee,” she said.
70 But he denied it before them all. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said. 71 Then he went out to the gateway, where another servant girl saw him and said to the people there, “This fellow was with Jesus of Nazareth.”
72 He denied it again, with an oath: “I don’t know the man!”
73 After a little while, those standing there went up to Peter and said, “Surely you are one of them; your accent gives you away.”
74 Then he began to call down curses, and he swore to them, “I don’t know the man!”
Immediately a rooster crowed. 75 Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly.
Earlier that night – Matthew 26:31-25 NIV
31 Then Jesus told them, “This very night you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written: “‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’
32 But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”
33 Peter replied, “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will.”
34 “Truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “this very night, before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.”
35 But Peter declared, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the other disciples said the same.
Peter Ministers on the Day of Pentecost
Acts 2:14-17 NKJV
14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words. 15 For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day (9 AM). 16 But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
17 ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams. (Joel 2:28)
Acts 2:38-39 NKJV
38 Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the [a]remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”
Promise of the Holy Spirit
Acts 1:4-5, 8 KJV
4 And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me.5 For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.
8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
What do you think?
A) What gave Peter the courage to stand for Christ on the Day of Pentecost, when before he could not even proclaim Christ to two different women?
B) Have there been times in your life that, maybe you did not deny Christ but you did not speak up for Him either?
C) Why do you think he was afraid? Why would we be afraid?
D) What are some things that can help us have the courage God wants us to have?
Please note this is from a Bible Study I am working on about different People in the Bible. I will be posting more in the days to come. Hoping to have the whole work completed in the fall of 2022
Please give me your comments. Thanks for looking.