The Apostle Peter

This week’s scripture reading – Matthew 8:14-15,

And when Jesus was come into Peter’s house, he saw his wife’s mother laid, and sick of a fever. And he touched her hand, and the fever left her: and she arose, and ministered unto them.

Miraculous Healing

As with the previous Bible study and many others to follow, there is strong documented evidence of the healing ministry of Jesus, reflective of his compassion and charity towards people. In this instance with the apostle Peter, his mother-in-law is healed of a fever and the record of her arising and then ministering unto them shows that her healing was instantaneous upon Jesus touching her. With limited records in scripture of this particular lady, this study will then provide a sense of who Peter was and the role he played with both Jesus and the apostles in the New Testament. Perhaps in order to build a better contrast, both the apostle Peter’s shortcomings and his abilities will be presented based on scripture records.

Peter’s Frailty

What is Peter the apostle known for in the Bible? On the surface, one could say the apostle Peter was nothing more than a common fisherman as noted in Matt. 4:18, And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for they were fishers. It could also be construed that at times, Peter also lacked faith as shown in Matt. 14:30, But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.

Sometimes, Peter was rebuked by Jesus in a most stern manner such as in Matt. 16:23, But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.

On one occasion, the apostle Peter even denied that he was with or knew Jesus as recorded in Matt. 26:70, But he denied before [them] all, saying, I know not what thou sayest. A second occasion occurred shortly thereafter even bearing the strength of an oath with his denial in Matt. 26:72, And again he denied with an oath, I do not know the man. Then sadly, Peter denied knowing Jesus yet a third time in Matt. 26:74, Then began he to curse and to swear, [saying,] I know not the man. Scripture records this unfortunate series of events in all four gospels as a testament to its veracity. 

Peter was also an impetuous man, often speaking flippantly to Jesus such as when Jesus inquired who may have touched him in Luke 8:45, Peter and they that were with him said, Master, the multitude throng thee and press [thee,] and sayest thou, Who touched me? Another example of this occurred when Jesus was washing the apostles feet as a sign of humility in John 13:9, Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also [my] hands and [my] head.

The apostle Peter was no doubt an impulsive person and reacted often without thinking of the consequences as noted in the capture of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane in John 18:10, Then Simon Peter having a sword drew it, and smote the high priest’s servant, and cut off his right ear. On a final note, Peter may not have fully understood his future role as an apostle for even after seeing Jesus risen from the dead he decided to simply return back to his profession as shown in John 21:3, Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing.

Peter’s Boldness

If we are to stop here though, one would truly not be aware of, or comprehend what the Lord Jesus Christ had in store for Peter. The first commendable characteristic of Peter was recorded upon his knowledge and conviction over his sin in the presence of Jesus in Luke 5:8, When Simon Peter saw [it,] he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord. For all readers desiring to come to a knowledge of saving faith and belief in Jesus and for those who are already believers, this is indeed the starting point in acknowledging sin is one’s life.

Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.

Luke 5:8b

Let us now continue on with Peter’s encounter with Jesus. The apostle Peter, also known as Simon Peter, was one of the first called by Jesus as his disciple. noted in Matt. 4:19-20, And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left [their] nets, and followed him. When the twelve apostles were identified on record in scripture, Peter was the first one to be named in Matt. 10:2, Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James [the son] of Zebedee, and John his brother. When Jesus asked his disciples who do they think he is, Peter was the first one to make the bold declaration in Matt. 16:16, And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. This event was recorded in all four gospel accounts.

Peter the Chosen

Another notable occurrence of the apostle Peter in the gospels takes place when he was invited by Jesus, along with James and John,  to witness his transfiguration as recorded in Matt. 17:1-2, And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.

Peter was also not afraid to ask Jesus pointed questions on living a faithful life toward God and one another in Matt. 18:21, Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Peter also admitted to forsaking all things he had possessed beforehand to follow Jesus in Matt. 19:27, Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore?

While Peter eventually broke this next commitment, he was nevertheless recorded as one who was willing to follow Jesus no matter what happened in Matt. 26:33, Peter answered and said unto him, Though all [men] shall be offended because of thee, [yet] will I never be offended. He was however restored threefold by Jesus as recorded at the end of the gospel of John. 

Peter the Insider

It is interesting to note that in a group of people, there are invariably smaller, closer knit people within the group. This was evident on many occasions with this event being one of them as noted in Luke 8:51, And when he came into the house, he suffered no man to go in, save Peter, and James, and John, and the father and the mother of the maiden. These three apostles, as recorded throughout the gospels, the book of Acts and in letters within the New Testament, were clearly the inner circle with Jesus.

In another instance, Jesus sent two of these apostles for a special purpose in Luke 22:8, And he sent Peter and John, saying, Go and prepare us the passover, that we may eat. Other notable sightings of Peter were recorded as being one of the first to hear from Mary Magdalene that Jesus was no longer in the tomb in John 20:2, Then she runneth, and cometh to Simon Peter. Upon hearing that, both Peter and John ran to the sepulchre where Jesus was previously laid as shown in Luke 24:12, Then arose Peter, and ran unto the sepulchre; and stooping down, he beheld the linen clothes laid by themselves, and departed, wondering in himself at that which was come to pass.

Peter takes the Lead

Why is Peter important in the book of Acts? Well, after the ascension of Jesus, the recorded accounts of the apostles in the book of Acts document how Peter was indeed one of the apostles and was listed first among them along with Jesus’ two other confidants shown by Luke in Acts 1:13, And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James [the son] of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas [the brother] of James.

The apostle Peter was the first to take the lead with the disciples on the notion of replacing Judas who betrayed Jesus and was no longer with them as noted in Acts 1:15-25. This prompting by Peter led the apostles to choose two individuals who were witnesses to everything that took place with Jesus. Eventually, they chose Matthias to be numbered with the eleven apostles, replacing Judas.

On the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Ghost gifted believers with the ability to speak in other languages to help spread the gospel message, many people mocked them as though they were intoxicated but Peter again boldly spoke up in their defence in Acts 2:14, But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all [ye] that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words.

What transpired after Peter stood up was most remarkable in his witnessing abilities for the gospel as he spoke to the skeptical people who ultimately became convicted of their position toward Jesus. Peter then proceeded to instruct them when they asked what they should do it is shown in Acts 2:38, Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Peter Heals through Christ

Why did God choose Peter? One of the most incredible gifts Jesus bestowed upon the apostle Peter was the gift of healing through Jesus Christ as recorded in Acts 3:6, Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.

Peter was also a person who preached the gospel with direct boldness toward people in Acts 3:14-15, But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses. Peter was also not afraid to challenge the rulers when they commanded him and John not to speak about Jesus in Acts 4:19, But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. Peter, always taking the lead, was forthright in declaring who believers should obey in Acts 5:29, Then Peter and the [other] apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.

What is quite remarkable with all of this evidence of being a prominent witness for the Lord Jesus Christ is that many of the apostles were not educated or cultured people as recorded in Acts 4:13, Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.

Scripture records countless other events where Peter’s leading or co-leading role with John took place such as when they confronted a couple over holding back funds for the young and growing church (Acts 5) and when the Samaritans first received the word (Acts 8).

More records indicate further healings done by Peter through the power of the Lord upon him in Acts 9:34, And Peter said unto him, Aeneas, Jesus Christ maketh thee whole: arise, and make thy bed. And he arose immediately. Peter always strived to give God the glory for such healings with his words and comments expressed. Peter also brought a disciple named Tabitha back from the dead as noted in Acts 9:41, And he gave her [his] hand, and lifted her up, and when he had called the saints and widows, presented her alive. It would perhaps be easy indeed to let this spiritual gift go to one’s head or to possibly abuse its power but this was never evident in Peter’s ministry.

Peter, in his humility, also declined to receive worship from men as noted in Acts 10:25-26, And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped [him. ] But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man.

… Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.

John 6:58

Peter the Disciple

Peter was also given godly direction to preach the gospel to the Gentiles (non-Jewish people), as recorded in Acts 10, although future Bible studies will highlight the incredible calling of Paul for this particular mission. To close off this study, Peter nevertheless reflects a most compelling person of God as recorded in the New Testament. Despite his many shortcomings and setbacks, including imprisonment by Herod (Acts 12), he continued on in his spiritual journey with the Lord Jesus Christ and wrote two letters, now contained in the New Testament (1 Peter, 2 Peter). He called himself by the most humble titles as shown in 2 Peter 1:1, Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ. 

Let us close with an inspirational quote from Peter as he proceeded to encourage believers in their walk of salvation in Christ as noted in 1 Peter 1:4-5, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. For Peter, this was a faith worth preaching before all of humanity. If you are seeking to find a new life in Christ, why not come to him now believing in his saving grace and atoning work on the cross, reserved in heaven for you. As Peter exclaimed to Jesus in John 6:68, …Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.

Bible Study Questions

  1. In contemplating the contrast between Peter’s faults and frailties and his boldness in ministries, what does this tell you about people God can use as believers?
  2. Can you identify with any of the faults noted of Peter such as being impulsive, impetuous and lying within yourself?
  3. How could these faults hinder or affect your faith walk in Christ?
  4. Can you identify some of the positive characteristics of Peter’s such as boldness, bravery, courage and determination within yourself?
  5. How could these traits benefit your walk of faith in Christ?
  6. Despite all of Peter’s challenges, what does it show you about Jesus considering that Peter became part of his inner circle?
  7. Memorize John 5:68 as part of your growth in faith today (last verse in the study above).

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