The Apostolic Church
Peter was an important figure in the apostolic church. But what was his role? Some people say that he was the first pope, while others claim that he was just a simple fisherman.
What was the position of Peter in the apostolic church?
We’ll explore Peter’s role in the apostolic church and discuss what implications his position has for us today.
Table of Contents
Apostle Peter, commonly famous today by Catholic Christians and termed Peter the Saint, is considered Jesus’ most prominent disciple.
His life is dedicated to following Christ, having much devotion as he indeed held a stronger belief in his purpose and mission. Therefore, the intense devotion made Peter be identified as he who would be the first to become a pope, thus taking over the more significant part in controlling the Christian Church.
Peter was the son of Jona and was the elder brother to Andrew, who played the role of first bringing Peter to Jesus. His origin is traced back to the town of Bethsaida, which is situated on the shores of the sea found in Galilea in the western region.
Peter was a fisherman in his entire life; his father died when Peter was young; he grew up in the Zebedee family together with his wife, whose name was Salome, and his brother Andrew.
Practically, Andrew and Peter had joyful unlimited advantages over the training of the religion as they had received viable instructions and guidance early concerning the scriptures, including the messianic reign that was about to come.
Before Jesus called the disciples, Peter was called Simon, which later became Simon Peter.
Generally, the disciples of Jesus were selected from ordinary people and came from humble backgrounds with ordinary jobs. Peter’s occupation was fishing and was led to Jesus by Andrew, who was his younger brother.
Mark 1:16; Mark 1:17 state that Jesus was moving toward the shores of the Sea of Galilee. He then contacted the two brothers Andrew and Simon, who had cast their net in the sea; they were fishing when Jesus instructed the two to follow Him, and He would make them the fishers of men.
During this time, fishing was the main activity in society; people depended on fishing to earn a daily living. It indicates that the three disciples Peter, James, and Andrew, were undertaking their usual responsibility of fishing when Jesus called them to make them become the great Apostles.
Thus, this is when Peter had a calling from Jesus, this shows that the poor were honored by Jesus, and their society was kind like that of wealthy people.
Christians gain many lessons from the calling of the fishermen, showing them that the lower classes of society could produce men who are great in religion out of the lower classes.
The Call of Peter
When Simon was called and was made the follower of Jesus, the name Simon changed, and he was called Peter, known today and revered by Christians.
In Mathew 16:17; Mathew 16:18, Jesus informed Simon that he had been blessed because blood and flesh were not able to reveal to him, but God who was in heaven and Jesus the Son Of God was able to reveal to him and upon who he referred to as the rock would build a church on him.
The gates of Hades would not overpower him; Jesus terms Peter as “ROCK,” meaning that Jesus had intentions of His church being constructed on a solid foundation, and Peter could get deeply involved in this church construction affair.
Peter is placed at the head of the list among all the Apostles as he was among the first ones to be called.
Peter had a greater impulsive devotion to Jesus, shown in his deep commitment, including the constant actions of being known as the spokesman for all apostles. Therefore, he is considered the overall representative of the disciples of Jesus Christ, who were twelve in number.
Due to this devotion, Peter and Jesus were very close friends. Jesus trusted Peter that he would take control of the church after Jesus ascended.
This ideology demonstrated more belief in one another whereas after Christ’s ascension, Simon Peter became a reliable leader of the church.
He went forward and took over Jesus’s mission and ideologies, including beginning to preach an idea of faith to the whole community. Therefore, he became very powerful and influential in religious communities; Peter became a principal preacher of Christianity.
Christians call him the peacekeeper between the Christians and Jews who had started to establish a conflict. He, after that, became a spokesman before authorities belonging to the Jews and became very influential and a prototype in religious life.
Peter the Apostle as the Catholic Saint
Jesus’s encounter with the apostle Peter changed many Christians’ devotion and way of belief, especially Catholics today. Jesus also recognized Peter as a leader with good qualities that would require more help from Him to continue with the work of salvation.
Tentatively, Peter is considered the disciple who first recognized that the Messiah was Jesus sent to carry out the process of relieving humans of their sins.
Peter gave up his fishing life mainly to show the way to others by following Jesus through being a fisher of men, as seen in Mathew 4:19.
Peter also had a testimony when Jesus was transfigured, and it was now quite clear that Jesus was the son of God.
Peter also witnessed Jesus Christ raise a child who was dead back to life, identified in Luke 8: 40-50 and known as Jesus’ eyewitness pain on a prayerful mission at Gethsemane.
Simon Peter spent his last years in Rome, where the first of the two epistles written was ascribed to him.
After the ascension of Jesus, the disciples had his vision; He questioned the apostle Peter if he loved Christ, the apostle responded by positively saying he had a love for Jesus, and the Lord ordered Peter to make sure the lambs are fed and looked after( John 21:16).
This conversation implied that Jesus assigned Peter the duty of taking care of the church, including the whole congregation. Moreover, despite the apostle Peter having recommendable strengths, he was also weak.
He raised a complaint saying the disciples had given up earlier on everything and wanted to follow Jesus to know what he would get to the sacrifice made as stipulated in Mathew 16: 27.
Besides, at the command of the Lord, Peter was able to walk on water; however, his faith in Jesus’ power got lost, and he sank into the water.
The Pentecost Day and the growth of the church
A church implies an assembly of believers in Christ consisting of God’s people. A physical building facilitated the fellowship, worship, and a considerate ministry of God’s people, and it is not a church. A church is derived from the Greek word ekklesia, implying a gathering or an assembly.
The first-ever leader of the early church is regarded to be Peter; however, his leadership was eclipsed in him.
Therefore, Peter’s leadership tends to form a foundation that would succeed the apostolic duty and a recognized orthodoxy institutional power and attached with a description of the solid rock where the church’s building was done.
Pentecost day acts as special to Christians as it was a day the Holy Spirit came to the apostles. During Pentecost day, Peter was filled with gifts and gained the courage to lead the church.
On the morning of the day of Pentecost, Peter had a very strong message concerning the lamb of God to the multitude in the town of Jerusalem, where about three thousand people requested to get baptized as fast as possible.
He got acknowledgment as the very first disciple of Jesus to work out a miracle in the name of Jesus; Peter and Paul worked together and came up with a realization that the church needed to be open to everybody.
The apostles’ Peter and Paul needed the church to become open to all people, and he was also the first Bishop of Rome, a title assigned to the entire Pope. Thus, Peter made Rome a global center for spreading the Gospel and worshipping Yahweh.
Paul and Peter are recognized as the greatest missionaries vital to the church’s growth, making Christians honor them with joint feasts on June 29. Specifically, and more importantly, they both died as martyrs for their strong and unwavering belief in Christ.
The Catholic Church has another celebration each year, mainly towards honoring the two spiritual brothers.
The Catholic celebrations are called Basilicas’ dedications for the Apostles Paul and Peter in Italy (Rome). Therefore, both Peter’s Basilica and Paul’s Basilica are worship centers that are greatly dedicated to remembering an important event.
Peter’s Basilica and Paul’s Basilica are constructed at a place where Saint Peter and Saint Paul were killed as martyrs.
The Catholics celebrate the double feast on November 18. Catholics date back their origin to Rome, where Saint Peter’s Basilica is located. In the Basilica of St Peter, the old chair was well protected for about 2000 years as many Christians hold a strong belief that the chair owner was St. Peter.
Therefore, every incoming Pope and bishop has a custom and culture ensuring that a sit is left for Peter in their Roman Catholic church.
The Catholic religious leaders conduct mass and direct the congregation from this chair, especially in ceremonies.
On February 22 of each year, Catholics celebrate the Feast of the Chair in honor of the Saint Peter chair located in Saint Peter Basilica church. Catholics believe the celebration is a sign of Unity where believers gather together, and the Pope, who is the overall leader of the church, leads the congregation.
Saint Peter was in much love with Jesus, which instilled power in him for doing everything Jesus wanted. Therefore, like Peter, Christians can use their strengths to work and bring peace and love to others.
They need to hold union prayers for Jesus to help them overcome their inability to serve Jesus daily. Thus, as Christians, Jesus can carry out duties with the help of human beings just like He used Peter to build the church.
The Role of Peter in the Formation of the church
Holy Acts and Gospels have portrayed the apostle Peter as the most famous disciple, even though he had denied Jesus after his arrest. Therefore, Christians have their tradition where the first disciple was Peter, whom Jesus appeared after resurrection, making his denial and restoration balanced.
It is assumed Peter was the first to lead the early church, where he is eclipsed by the leadership of James, considered the brother of the Lord.
Interactively, because Peter was the first disciple to whom Jesus appeared, he portrays the leadership that forms a foundation for the succeeding apostolic church, including the orthodoxy institutional power to be the direct lineage of the apostle Peter.
Peter was among the powerful and faithful leaders of the early church and is traditionally identified as the first pope or the bishop of Rome and Antioch Patriarch by Christian of East tradition.
Therefore, the early Christians venerated Peter to be one of the major saints, the basic founder of the Antioch church, including the Roman Diocese in Rome, which is based on the teachings of the Catholic church where Peter was promised by Jesus a special position in the church.
The church started on Pentecost day when the disciples got in touch with the Holy Spirit in the form of flames of fire when they gathered in a temple in Jerusalem.
As the apostles’ leader, Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit’s powers, and gained courage as their leader, making him speak on behalf of other apostles.
The general account in Mathew chapter 16 starts with Jesus arriving with disciples at Caesarea Philippi, a city covering about twenty-five miles north of the Sea of Galilee.
The people in Caesarea questioned the disciples of Jesus about how people knew him, where disciples answered various people who thought Jesus was Elijah or Jeremiah, or John the Baptist; if not, he was one of the early prophets.
After that, Jesus Christ asked them about their perspective, and Peter answered by saying,
”you are the son of the living God, you are the Messiah.” (Mathew 16)
Jesus praised and embraced the reply by Peter, identifying that he did not expect such an answer through the revelation from God and human abilities and uttered the words out of his faith.
Jesus continued and made Peter the rock over which a church would be built and beneath a backdrop of a temple constructed and embedded on a rock and wholly devoted to the idolatrous worship of an emperor; Peter is chosen to lead the church.
In Mathew: 18, Jesus said,
”You are Peter, and upon this rock, I will build my church.”
Jesus went further, promising to issue Peter with the Key to the Kingdom of Heaven, meaning an authority to take care of the church. The Messiah also promised that the gates of hell would not find a position in the world against the church.
Therefore, the teachings and words of Christ are a great reminder to Christians that while disorder and chaos might threaten the church, evil will never overcome the church because of the continuously promised Christ protection.
John 21:15; John 21:16; John 21:17 denotes the resurrection scene, where the risen Jesus spoke to a repentant Peter, who is filled with sorrow due to his triple denial of Christ. Jesus repeatedly commissioned Peter to feed His lambs and sheep, which implies to a church member.
Generally, Christians believe that Peter was one of the Twelve Apostles who Jesus chose as the foundation of his church, where Jesus placed Peter as the head, receiving a mandate of preaching the Gospel to all the nations.
Therefore, Peter decided to travel to Rome, where he died as a martyr, and Jesus made him the head of the other apostles, giving him a basic structure of leadership.
The Position of Peter in the apostolic church
Approximately fifteen years after the resurrection, a figure Peter appointed St. Mathias an action recognized by many Christians today. The appointment of Mathias was to replace Judas who hanged himself after betraying Jesus Christ (Acts 1:23; Acts 1:24; Acts 1:25; Acts 1:26).
Peter was the first apostle who raised his voice and delivered God’s message at Pentecost when the church started its mission in the world (Acts 1:14-39).
Besides, Peter served as an advocate for all the Apostles before the Jewish religious court in Jerusalem and performed the role of the judge in issuing discipline to those who erred within the church.
Apostle Peter was entrusted to lead the Apostles in extending a church across Antioch, Samaria, Caesarea, and many other places.
Peter went first to the Samaritans, as shown in Acts 8:4-17, full of the Holy Spirit, and encountered the magician and faith healer called Simon Magus.
After that, Peter the Apostle went to Lydda, located in the Plain of Sharon, where he healed the paralyzed Aeneas. Lastly, in the Mediterranean coastal town of Joppa, Peter affected the cure of Tabitha or Dorcas.
The works of Peter continued all over the land, preaching and performing all miracles in the name of Jesus, a message and kind of faith entrusted by many Christians.
Peter continued his journey to the Mediterranean coast to Caesarea as stipulated in Acts 10:1-11:18, where he met a centurion known as the Italian Cohort. Through their conversation, Peter warmly introduced Gentiles into the church.
The Jewish beliefs and social life perspectives, a Gentile convert needs to first become a Jew by passing the rite of circumcision and later get accepted as a proselyte.
Therefore, in accepting Cornelius and other people who may have had some re-known informal connection with a synagogue and giving them the order to get baptized in the holy name of Jesus Christ.
However, without a considerate submission to the rite of circumcision, Apostle Peter introduced an innovation that gave an assurance of opposing the Jewish Christians and others.
Peter’s sole direction and decisions with a blessing of the spirit had a high probability of being a factor in Herod’s beheading of St. James and the immediate arrest of Peter. While in prison, an angel of the Lord visited Peter, making the chains fall off his hands, and Peter escaped.
Peter went straight to the house of Mary; a mother of John also called Mark and asked her to report his message of escape to James and the other brethren.
Christians know that Peter was the most prominent person in the Jerusalem church until he departed from Jerusalem after the imprisonment of King Hero.
For instance, it is important to Catholics that Paul went to Jerusalem mainly to consult with Peter after three years of his conversion, remaining with Peter for over two weeks (Galatians 1:18; Galatians 1:19).
After Peter left Jerusalem, many New Testament scholars made assumptions that a missionary role as the authentic leader of the church developed in James a sequence of authority suggested by Peter’s obedience.
Later, Peter made a party in the Church of Corinth, which was devoted to him as he strongly carried out missionary activities.
St. Peter and Catholic Church
The Catholic Church is believed to originate from Rome, Peter’s city, to preach and perform miracles.
Catholics hold a strong belief in saints as they are dedicated to special holy days for praying and worshiping in their names.
Jesus considered Simon Peter to occupy the very first place of honor and authority as the Catholics believe Peter was perceived as the first Bishop of Rome and the first Pope.
Catholics consider each Pope as the successor of Peter and a rightful superior to all other bishops. But Peter did not hold a title of a Pope or a Vicar of Christ in the same way Catholics consider Peter the first Pope.
The challenges facing the residence or martyrdom, including the burial of Peter are among the most complicated of all those witnessed in the study of the New Testament and early church.
Peter founded the early Roman Church as the first bishop. Thus, Catholics preserve a great holy day for the reverend of Saint Peter, identifying him as a martyr and father of St Peter Church in Rome.
The Feasts of St. Peter
The feast was celebrated as early as the fourth century in remembrance of St Peter and Paul on a similar day; however, the day was not considered similar in Rome.
Therefore, before the end of the fourth century, Syrian Martyrology, an excerpt obtained from the Greek catalog of the saints, performs feats in connection to Christmas coming after the Christmas celebrations.
Five festivals recognized in the calendar of the Roman Catholic Church have a greater honor directed to Peter. There is a celebration of the festival termed Cathedra Petri, meaning in Latin Chair of Peter.
On February 22, the celebration takes place at Antioch early church and across the world, where Catholics remember Peter’s seat preserved in Basilica in Rome.
June 29 marks the festival of Peter and Paul, which ranks among the twelve most valuable celebrations associated with the Roman Catholic Church.
On August 1, Catholics celebrate the escape of Peter from his chains in Antioch.
The fest of St. Peter’s Chains originated from the dedication feats of the apostle’s church, which was built on Esquiline Hill.
It was the essential dedication of the earlier church whereby St Peter’s chains are still preserved in St. Pietro Vincoli until today as they are highly revered, and small filings from the chains are considered to be precious.
Lastly, a dedication is given to Peter at the Basilicas of Peter and Paul, which reminds their construction by emperor Constantine and is celebrated on November 18.
The memory of Peter among Christians is associated with two other places of ancient Rome called Via Sacra, which was outside the Forum, where the magician Simon was termed to have been hurled down at a prayer of Peter, including the prison Tullianum, a place Apostles were kept until their execution.
Similarly, Apostles’ shrines were created, and Mamertine Prison remains an almost original form from early Roman times. Therefore, the local celebrations of the Apostles were mainly based on legends, with no special celebration being held in the two churches.
The history and interaction of Peter and Jesus have made Christians learn about the situation in Rome at the time of Peter’s ministry. It is surprising that Peter did not hold a position of great significance in Rome and was martyred in the Roman land under the rule of Nero.
Therefore, a letter from Ignatius of Antioch implied that Peter’s presence and authority in Rome were based on Gaius’s Roman cleric. Specifically, Gaius talks of the Vatican Shrine, including the founders of the Roman Catholic Church.
Thus, all the early lists of the bishops of Rome began with Peter’s name as the first bishop.
Numerous excavations at the Vatican yielded no cogent and tangible evidence either of Peter’s presence, especially in Rome, or of his burial below the Vatican.
The Christian research centers uncovered an ancient shrine that gives dates from approximately the year 160 AD.
Peter is designated as the author of two catholic letters, 1st and 2nd Peter, where his outlook as a Jew and Semite was not influenced by the Greek and other related non-Jewish thoughts.
Peter reflects a mentality of a 1st-century Jew that held a strong belief that Jesus came as the Messiah of Israel with the fulfillment of all Israel’s promises and expectations. Thus, some of the statements postulated by Peter would now get accepted by orthodox Christian thought.
The information revealed to Christians about Peter by the Gospel; he ought to have made a transition from Palestine to Rome from one Jewish community to another Jewish community as he had never changed his instincts as a Jewish believer, except when he accepted Jesus as the Israel Messiah.
Weaknesses of Peter the Apostle
Headstrong / Speaking Before Thinking
Peter was headstrong as he spoke without thinking of an ideology stipulated in Mark 8:32; Mark 8:33. Apostle Peter sometimes told Jesus what he thought was good and needed to be done, made statements in haste, and said foolish things.
He is recognized as a very outspoken individual and prone to get excited, qualities that are not positively identified for a leader. Thus, due to his qualities, he sometimes acted in a hasty way provoking people and Christ.
Weak in Flesh
Peter is also weak in the flesh, but strong in the spirit, as proven by Mark 14:37, Mark 14:38, Mark 14:39, Mark 14:40, Mark 14:41, and Mark 14:42. The apostle had a strong spirit as he was well committed to Christ. However, sometimes, his weak flesh took over as Jesus called him Simon causing him to do something he later regretted.
Peter falls asleep in the garden of Gethsemane when the disciples were asked to pray and also denied Jesus three times. He also cut off the ear of the high priest’s slave, and later, he was afraid of the Jewish sect of the believers as he would not share a similar meaning with the Gentiles.
Lastly, Peter’s most recognized weakness is a high level of inconsistency; whereas Peter was growing in the Lord, he could doubt the power of Jesus.
The apostle would witness a great success that could be preceded by failure because of weakening faith.
Peter was able to walk on water because of his strong faith in Jesus Christ. However, he later sinks after his faith weakens.
Peter declared his allegiance to Christ and denied him three times, as he also brought the Gospel to the Gentiles and later would not eat with them.
Therefore, part of his problem was caused because he was considered hasty, and he did not think things through completely.
Lessons Christians learned from Apostle Peter
Apostle Peter has lived an exemplified life for most Christians, like the Catholics, as he is perceived as one of their many Saints entitled to holy days celebrated annually. Therefore, Christians learn and teach Peter’s life and work, mainly continuing Jesus’ evangelistic work after Pentecost Day.
There are numerous lessons we learn from the life and ministry of the apostle Peter.
He had a strong passion for the Gospel, something that covered his negative nature. Therefore, Peter held glory no matter how many times he could mess up; however, as Christians, we should be encouraged by the behavior and lifestyle of the Apostle Peter.
These lessons are very important to Christians as they should emulate Peter’s life.
When Jesus calls, we need to answer immediately.
Peter and numerous apostles such as James, John, and Andrew were fishermen who lived simple lives and expected exaltation from their work. The apostles spent a notable amount of their time making a living, showing that it was their working hours during the call of Jesus.
Jesus was walking by the sea of Galilee and identified two brothers Simon and Andrew, his blood brother, trying to catch fish in the sea. After that, Jesus asked them to follow Him to make them fishers of men.
The apostles immediately left and followed Jesus, which prevails a wonderful lesson that Christians learned from the incident.
Jesus is continuously inviting Christians to follow Him, and if there is a call that an individual needs to answer sincerely and seriously, it is from Jesus. It is remarkable that Jesus has an ultimate purpose in an individual’s life and has led you to the position you hold now, which leaves a question; will you answer God’s invitation?
Humility invites Jesus into a Christian’s life.
In Luke 5:8, Simon Peter saw the miraculous catch of fish and fell at Jesus’ feet, telling the Lord to go away from him as he is a sinful man.
Therefore, any Christian being in the presence of God makes them extensively realize their downfalls. Peter was in Jesus’ presence of pure holiness, making him recognize his carnal nature. Being very humble made Peter the best perfect candidate for becoming a fisher of men.
A Prideful Heart Stunts Growth
In Mathew 16:23, Jesus talks to Peter, referring to Satan as a stumbling block, thus lacking in mind the concerns of God, but mostly filled with human concerns. After Jesus refers to Peter as a rock, He calls him a stumbling block.
As Christians, it is important to understand that pride can make them fall off their religious beliefs and actions, making them full of themselves as they forget that it is the power of the grace of God that exhausts them. Thus, canal thinking always pulls Christians down.
Zeal without disciples is recklessness.
In John 18:10, it is clearly shown how Simon Peter drew a sword and slashed off an ear on the right side of Malchus, the high priest’s slave. Therefore, Peter was steered up with passion, desire, and violence with wrath.
Jesus instructs Peter to put away his sword because people who live by the sword die by the sword. The only sword Christians are asked to withdraw and use is the spirit that will always prevent hurtful impulsive behavior.
God uses people who make mistakes.
Human beings are prone to making mistakes every step of their life which calls for redemption and salvation from God.
Peter denied knowing Jesus three times, hiding his identity and relationship with Jesus, after which the rooster crowed as written in Luke 22:34.
As human beings, we make poor decisions and have a repentant heart; our Lord can use the urge and humbleness to produce something greater.
Peter was embarrassed after the rooster crowed and remembered Jesus’ words of betrayal, making him weep bitterly and ask for forgiveness. Thus what came out of Peter’s embarrassing denial became a future opportunity to stand before thousands and ensure declaring of the Gospel courageously.
Holy boldness can move multitudes.
In Acts 4:13, it is identified that when the multitude saw the strong boldness realized by Peter and John, who were considered uneducated and untrained men, people were amazed and started recognizing them as having been with Jesus.
From the time of Peter’s calling, he was trying to prove his loyalty to Jesus, which was ironic as Jesus knew his inner self the whole time.
On Pentecost day, Peter allowed the Holy Spirit to take charge and dictate the moment making the evidence of his fellowship with Christ clear to the entire multitude.
The foundation of the church is Jesus Christ
Christians are required to realize that the head of the church is Jesus Christ and not a human leader. On some occasions, we tend to lose focus on the real leader of our churches during trials and leadership.
In Mathew 16:17; Mathew 16:18, Jesus spoke to Simon Peter as the blessed, a compliment that human beings could not give but only God. He also mentioned him as Peter, the rock on which the church will be built, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.
Throughout the history of church development and growth, Christians have witnessed how it has been persecuted where thousands of Christians were killed, including Paul.
We see how that trend continues and tends to intensify throughout a lifetime. However, we have noted how the church has overly prevailed and continued.
Practically, Satan may be powerful, but not to the extent of the Church as God will always win the battle. Therefore, through Peter, Christians are confident that the Church of God will continue and persevere no matter how they live.
Peter’s Glorious Ending
The days after Peter’s mission and work of evangelism, miracles, and preaching through the towns of Antioch and Rome, he met his death after almost all the apostles had been martyred.
Jesus predicted Peter’s death by crucifixion when he said
”When you are old you will stretch out your hands and another will dress you and take you where you do not want to go” (John 21:18-19).
Peter was crucified upside down because he felt it unworthy of getting crucified in the same way Christ had been.
Initially, Peter was an arrogant man of thunder, but alter became humble, with a much more willing, obedient servant of the Lord until his death. Apostle Peter rejoiced in his death, knowing that he would be reunited with his beloved Savior.
It was a lifetime of 65 years where his last thirty-three was devoted to proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ. However, in the Old Testament, no individual could be a priest until thirty years old.
David became a king at the age of thirty, and his age is near the peak of his mental and physical abilities. Therefore, Peter was the only apostle who promised to rule the Kingdom of God alongside Jesus Christ.
A lowly fisherman became a mighty fisher of men and the only one who changed and ensured the spiritual world was shaped forever.
Many Christians in the Apostolic churches still proclaim God’s work through the favor and devotion of Saint Peter.
Strengths of Apostle Peter
Simon Peter was among the first twelve disciples of Jesus. He was a fisherman before dropping down the nets for the noble discipleship to spread the word of God. Peter, in his discipleship, displayed great strengths.
Apostle Peter was strong-willed zealous and fearless
Peter’s fearless characteristics come out clear when he fully follows the mission of Jesus from his calling throughout his discipleship (Horvath et al., 2021). He defends Jesus physically by cutting one of the soldiers’ ears during the arrest of Jesus.
Peter had God’s Favor.
He was part of Jesus’ inner circle together with John and James witnessing the revelations of Jesus’ times.
God’s favor to Peter is seen during transfiguration when he, together with the other two, witnessed transfiguration with Jesus. Jesus always gave him attention.
We notice Jesus washing Apostle Peter’s feet.
He promised to give Peter the Key to the Kingdom a favor from God.
Apostle Peter had leadership qualities.
Peter was the leader of the 12 disciples.
After the mission of Christ, Peter remained to lead others and continued with the work of Jesus Christ.
Jesus confirms Peter’s leadership. He reminded him of his identity
‘And I say also unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.’ (Matthew 16:18 NKJ).
Peter became the foundation of the church because of his leadership skills. He was entrusted with the noble task of beginning the apostolic work.
He was dedicated
Filled with the Holy Spirit and commitment to spreading the Gospel, he accomplished many evangelistic activities.
After Jesus had ascended to heaven, Peter committedly dedicated himself to the works of the Holy Spirit and spreading the word of God.
Peter went to houses and homes to spread the word of God. He visited houses of gentiles, healed the sick, and entirely spread the apostolic messages.
Peter’s main focus was preaching on the importance of faith and receiving the power of the Holy Spirit.
Apostle Peter was remorseful and believed in repentance.
During Christ’s mission, Peter was flawed severally in the mission of Christ.
The instance when Peter denied Jesus three times after the arrest of Jesus Christ. However, after realizing this, Peter became remorseful of his mess and cried to God for forgiveness.
Peter repented for his flaws. His repentance earned him restoration by Jesus upon his resurrection, and Jesus asked him to follow his teachings again.
Concluding, Peter is a perfect example of the apostolic mission and the qualities apostles should have in their evangelism work.
Peter’s Qualities build up the church leadership qualities to be emulated.
Significance of the Key to Heaven to Christians
‘I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven.'(Matthew 16:19 GN).
These were the words of Jesus to Peter.
The Key was a symbol to make Peter the foundation of the church.
Peter became the beginning point of church missions from Antioch spreading all over the nations.
Jesus gave him divine powers, gifts, and the fruits of the Holy Spirit that enabled Peter to start the church (Horvath et al., 2021). These affirmations given by Jesus to Peter have great significance to Christendom today. It affirms the existing Kingdom of God among people.
Christians seek an understanding of the Kingdom of God.
The first question for these Christians is whether the Kingdom exists or not and where this Kingdom is.
Jesus’ action of handing over the keys to the Kingdom of God to Peter answers the question. It confirms to them that the Kingdom of God exists and it exists among the same Christians.
Jesus handed the Keys to a human person Peter to access the Kingdom of God; therefore, the Kingdom of God can be accessed by human beings.
The Key to heaven given to Peter justifies the faith of Christians while participating in church activities since that is the dwelling place of God’s Kingdom.
The Key symbolizes the beginning of the church since Peter is the foundation of the church.
In so doing, Christians find proper justification for growing the church as that is the Kingdom of God. He invites the Christians to identify with the church for them to access the Kingdom of God.
The strong faith and evangelistic activities Christians engage in show their working in God’s Kingdom.
Christians understand God’s ordinance of church leaders. The authority bestowed to the church leaders is divine, and God trusts them and their prayers reach him. Therefore, it is important to respect the church’s authorities and accept God’s Revelation through them.
Peter’s authority was from God through His son Jesus Christ. From Him, the church has grown and still grows by the powers of God. The incident grows Christian faith and belief in God.
The handing over of the Key to Peter to the Kingdom gives Christians the understanding that if they believe in God, they will see Him. His Kingdom is revealed to them through faith and God’s love. In the same way, one can visit Kingdoms; Christians can access God’s Kingdom and are under his protection on earth.
Christian belief in the power of repentance and forgiveness is also broadened from this. Peter denied Jesus and fell short of the Glory of God. After Resurrection, Jesus gave Peter the authority to start the church and handed him the Keys to the Kingdom.
Peter lived a repentance life. Whenever he noticed he went against God, Peter beat his chest and asked for forgiveness.
Peter’s repentance is a lesson to Christians that God is merciful and loves them all. If they repent earnestly and believe, they will receive God’s mercy like Peter and be made great in charge by God.
God brought his power to the earth to reign over the evil world.
Christians get the authority to defeat the evil world through God’s powerful Kingdom. They believe that the Key to defense against the evil world of Satan is given to them. It is, therefore, their duty to go to seek God’s Kingdom and win through these spiritual wars.
The significance of paying tithes to the church is also clear in the event Jesus gave Peter the keys to the Kingdom. He was to begin the church, and in so doing, God’s presence was there.
It is the same scenario in the current times.
Paying tithes to the church is important to the Christian lives today as these tithes go to the Kingdom of God. Besides that, Christians should commit to attending church services and missions.
They constitute communication from God and his presence in human life. Peter’s possession of the Key to the Kingdom affirms the existence of eternal life for those who believe.
Christians get assured of eternal living since God is always with them. They do not blindly seek God. They are aware, they learn, and they have faith to see the Kingdom of God. Apostle Peter was given the Key to the gates and passed to the church of today.
In conclusion, the Christian faith is anchored in the inheritance of God’s Kingdom. The incident where Jesus handed Peter the Key to God’s Kingdom gives Christians an insight to double their hopes and belief in the inheritance of the Kingdom of God.
Indeed God’s Kingdom exists amongst people (Christians).
Peter and the Church of Antioch
Rome was the capital city of the Roman Empire and Antioch was the central city of the Selueucid Kingdom. Antioch was the place where Apostle Peter started his work of ministering about Christ.
After the ascension of Jesus Christ into heaven, many Jews were persecuted in Jerusalem, and Christians were killed. They stoned Stephen to death; Christians fled to Antioch for refuge.
They made the first group of the Christian congregation in the Roman Empire after the ascension of Christ.
Apostle Peter arrived in Antioch to minister to the faithful and the Gentiles about Christ. Apostle Paul dug a cave where the early Christians of Antioch met and worshipped.
Crusaders built an attractive stone called the Stone façade at the cave in Antioch where church worship began.
They formed the first Christian church.
He planned his apostolic missions and missionary journeys.
The inhabitants of Antioch became the first to call Jesus’ followers Christians a name used in the current times. The people of Antioch overwhelmingly welcomed Peter’s preachings. He stayed peacefully among them.
Antioch residents built a chair for Peter to affirm authority while preaching the message of Christ. He remained in Antioch for a more extended period before moving to the next place of ministry. Apostle Peter’s ministry in Antioch was universal.
Peter was given the vision to preach the Gospel to all, not the Jews alone who knew much about Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. He preached the message of Christ to the Gentiles too. His mission, therefore, was universal.
Apostle Peter preached about Repentance and Baptism. From Pentecost day, Peter emphasized the message of repentance to his audience.
The apostolic times of Peter were full of injustices. Besides that, man did not believe in the message of Christ that was growing in nations. Their way of life blocked them from understanding Christ’s life.
Peter, therefore, resorted to preaching to them to rent and believe. Many converts came out of the apostolic missions of Peter. He later directed them to be baptized.
Peter preached about the Holy Spirit at the church of Antioch. The Holy Spirit did not target the believers alone, but all the Gentiles to in case they believed. All the people who listened to the message later received the Holy Spirit.
‘While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message. All the circumcised believers who came with Peter were amazed because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured to the Gentiles.’
(Acts 10:44; Acts 10:45; Acts 10:46)
NKJV’ Pentecost day when the holy spirit descended to all those listening to the preaching. The congregation spoke in tongues and praised God. Among them was Cornelius, a gentile, but he received the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Apostle Peter commissioned more evangelical men to help spread the message of Christ in the church. He chose among his converts to aid the task in the church.
Peter commissioned Barnabas to spread the word despite being a gentile. From these commissioned ministers, the church grew more comprehensive, and the message of Christ started sinking well among them believers. They repented, got baptized, and followed Christ.
The church at Antioch was a mixture of Jews and gentiles. They worked together to find one common identity that swept away division in culture, social activities, and early religious beliefs. The congregation was the basis of the name Christians.
Apostle Peter received resistance from authorities in his mission. Theophilus, for example, says that Peter was misleading his people. Later, King Herod Agrippa arrested Peter. The church kept praying for Peter’s release. He miraculously escaped prison and went into hiding.
Apostle Peter’s mission was successful; he traveled to Rome and became the first bishop.
This study explains the current great wave of Christians, finding foundation in the works of the early church at Antioch. Peter the Rock is confirmed to be the foundation on which the church stood.
The teachings and practices of the church agree with that of the early Christian church in Antioch.