The Apostle Saint Peter

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St. Peter

Saint Peter, also known as Simon Peter, Simeon, Simon, Cephas, or Peter the Apostle, was one of Jesus Christ’s Twelve Apostles and one of the early Church’s founders.

Saint Peter is historically regarded as the first bishop of Rome or pope, as well as the first patriarch of Antioch by Eastern Christian custom.

The ancient Christian churches regard him as the father of the Roman Church and the Church of Antioch, but there is disagreement regarding the authority of his modern-day successors.

He was a fisherman who rose to become the Apostles’ leader despite failing Jesus Christ on many occasions.

Thousands of people were converted by his sermons, and he performed several miracles throughout his lifetime.

Saint Paul and Saint Peter had a tumultuous relationship because they held contrasting opinions on the sociability of Jewish and Gentile Christians.

Peters Early Life/Births

Simon was Saint Peter’s original name until Jesus gave him the name Peter. Saint Peter was born in the first century BC as Simon or Simeon, according to the New Testament. His name followed the Jewish custom of naming male children after a prominent patriarch from the Old Testament. Simon had no formal education and just spoke in Aramaic.

He was a fisherman by profession, and he lived in Bethsaida, near the Sea of Galilee. Before joining Jesus in spreading his message, he worked on fishing nets with his brother Andrew and the sons of Zebedee, John, and James.

He was already married (Mark 1:30) when he met and followed Jesus; he had no formal education (Acts 4:13), and he worked the fishing nets with his father and brother Andrew in the lakefront town of Capernaum. On the same day, Andrew joined the party of Jesus’ disciples.

pietro (apostolo)
Pietro (apostolo)

The Primacy of Saint Peter

Christians from various theological backgrounds disagree on the precise significance of Peter’s ministry. For example, Catholics regard Saint Peter as the first pope. According to the Catholic Church, Peter’s ministry, as bestowed upon him by Jesus of Nazareth in the gospels, establishes the theological foundation for the pope’s exercise of pastoral authority over the Church.

In Catholicism, the primacy of Saint Peter is argued to be the foundation for the primacy of the bishop of Rome over other bishops throughout the Church.

The primacy of the Bishop of Rome, also known as the primacy of the Roman Pontiff, is the extension of Petrine primacy to popes. According to this Catholic Church doctrine, the papacy has authority delegated by Jesus to rule over the entire Church.

Eastern Orthodox believe that Peter’s ministry points to an underlying theology in which a special primacy over other Church leaders should be granted to Peter’s successors, but see this as merely a “primacy of honour,” rather than the right to exercise pastoral authority.

Protestant denominations argue that Peter’s apostolic work in Rome does not imply a relationship with the papacy.

Likewise, historians from various backgrounds offer varying interpretations of the Apostle’s presence in Rome.

st. peter preaching in jerusalem
St. Peter Preaching in Jerusalem

Peter’s Life with Christ

When Peter met Jesus, his life was transformed. Jesus tells Peter to put out his boat in the middle of the day to fish in Luke 5: 1–11. Peter, who had just returned from a fruitless night of fishing, was sceptical, but he obeyed Jesus’ command. Peter caught so many fish that he needed a second boat to help him bring them in.

This experience of abundance, according to Peter, was a sign of God’s presence. He asked Jesus to leave him, but Jesus told him he would become a fisher of men.

As previously stated, Peter was one of the first disciples called by Jesus, and he was frequently their spokesman – for better or worse. One of the things he is credited with is a unique insight into Jesus’ identity. Peter was the first to refer to Jesus as the Son of God – the Messiah (Mark 8:29, Luke 9:20, Matt. 16:16-17).

When Jesus called Peter, he knew He was from God, but he felt unworthy to be in Jesus’ presence (Luke 5:6-8). Nonetheless, Jesus did not delay in telling Peter and Andrew that He would make them “fishers of men” (Mark 1:17).

Peter was brave, but he was frequently wrong. He even rebuked the Lord once and stated that he was willing to die for Jesus, even though he denied Him three times during Jesus’ arrest and trial (Matt. 16:21-22).

Jesus loved the disciples and knew who would remain loyal to Him and who would betray Him (Judas Iscariot). Peter witnessed many of Jesus’ miracles, as well as the Shekhinah Glory with John and James during the Transfiguration. This was the point at which Jesus’ humanity was revealed to reveal the glory of His Divinity (Matt. 17:1-9).

peter in chora
Peter in Chora

Saint Peters Achievement

There is a dedicated article about Peter the disciple facts but it is clear that Peter was one of Jesus’ 12 Apostles. According to Roman Catholic tradition, Jesus appointed St. Peter as the first Pope (Matthew 16:18). Jesus also gave him “the keys of the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 16:19), which is why he is frequently depicted in art and popular culture at the gates of heaven.

Peter was the first Apostle to recognize Jesus as the Messiah, the one whom God had promised would save his people. By being a fisher of men (Matthew 4:19) for Christ, he gave up his life as a fisherman to lead others to Jesus. He witnessed the Transfiguration, during which Jesus was revealed to be God’s Son.

saint peter
Saint Peter

He witnessed Jesus resurrecting a dead child (Luke 8:40-56), and he witnessed Jesus’ agony in the Garden of Gethsemane. He was also the first of the apostles to begin performing miracles in the name of Christ. Because St. Peter supported spreading the Good News to the Gentiles, the Church became truly Catholic, or “universal,” because the message was spread to everyone, regardless of origin.

The Catholic belief that the church in Rome leads the entire Christian church is based on the belief that Jesus gave this job to Peter, who then established the first Christian church in Rome.

He is the patron saint of popes, Rome, and many cities bearing his name, including St. Peters Saint-Pierre. As a former fisherman, he is the patron saint of net makers, shipbuilders, and fishermen, and he is also the patron saint of locksmiths because he possesses the “keys of heaven.”

Saint Peter in the Bible

Peter is a prominent figure in the gospels and Acts, and Paul mentions him several times in his letters. In many biblical accounts, Peter is the first to state the obvious and say what everyone else is thinking (or at least what he is thinking), and he takes centre stage.

People were taken aback by Peter’s audacity and conviction despite his lack of formal education. Peter was eloquent but unremarkable. They also noticed that he had been with Jesus and saw firsthand how aligning himself with Jesus made all the difference.

saint peter
Saint Peter

Peter’s Denial

According to the four gospels of the New Testament, the Denial of Peter refers to the three times Apostle Peter denied Jesus. According to the four gospels, Jesus foretold during the Last Supper that Peter would deny his knowledge and disown him before “the rooster crowed” the next morning.

He denied him for the first time when a female servant of the high priest discovered him and accused him of being with Jesus. “The rooster crowed,” according to Mark’s account, whereas Luke and John mention him sitting by a fire with others.

The second denial occurred when he went to the gateway, away from the firelight. According to Mark, the same servant girl, or another servant girl, according to Matthew, or a man, as mentioned in Luke and John, informed the people that Peter was one of Jesus’ followers. “The rooster crowed,” John says once more.

According to the Gospel of John, the second denial occurred while Peter was still sitting beside the fire, and there was an assertion made by someone who saw him in the Garden of Gethsemane while Jesus was being arrested.

The third and final denial came when his Galilean accent was used to prove he was a disciple of Jesus. “The rooster crowed” once more, according to Matthew, Mark, and Luke.

Matthew goes on to say that it was his accent that identified him as a Galilean.

Luke disagrees with the third denial, stating that it was just one person accusing him, not an entire crowd. There is no mention of an accent in John’s writing.

Peter denied Jesus three times, but after the third time, he heard the rooster crow and remembered Jesus’ prediction. He then began to cry uncontrollably. This is known as the ‘Repentance of Peter.’

masaccio, crucifixion of st peter
Masaccio, Crucifixion of St Peter

Peter’s Death

According to the Gospel of John, Jesus alluded to St. Peter’s death.

“When you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go,”

he said (John 21:18).

Unfortunately, the death of Peter is not mentioned in the Bible. However, historians believe he died by crucifixion during Emperor Nero’s reign in 64 A.D.

When confronted with his fate, Peter requested that he be crucified upside down. It is said that he did not consider himself worthy of being martyred in the same way that Christ was. St. Linus succeeded St. Peter as the first Roman Pope of the Catholic Church after St. Peter’s death.

The line of succession from St. Linus is unbroken, stretching back to 64 A.D. To become a saint in the Catholic Church, you must meet several criteria, including a life lived as a servant of God, evidence of heroic virtue, and verified miracles. St. Peter is said to have walked on water with Jesus for the last of these. St. Peter not only fulfilled all of these requirements, but he is also the patron saint of popes, Rome, fishermen, and locksmiths.

St. Peter Travels

St. Peter travelled throughout many regions, including Jerusalem, Antioch, and Corinth, preaching the Gospel and converting people to Christianity. The final city he was to visit was Rome, where St. Peter was martyred during Emperor Nero’s persecution of Christianity in the year 64.

St. Peter Medals

A St. Peter pendant or medallion will typically depict him holding large keys, a symbol of Jesus handing him the keys to the kingdom of heaven (Matt 16). This reference can still be found in contemporary depictions of Peter as the gatekeeper to the pearly gates of heaven.

confraternity medal saint peter in brass
Saint Peter Medal

Key Takeaway

St. Peter, whom Jesus appoints as the first pope, is mentioned more than any other apostle in the New Testament. St. Peter, a fisherman called by Christ to abandon his nets and become a “fisher of men,” was by Jesus’ side for much of his public ministry.

St. Peter led the early church through expansion and persecution following Christ’s crucifixion, death, and resurrection – and his subsequent ascension into heaven.

When St. Peter was sentenced to death by crucifixion under Emperor Nero in 64 AD, he chose to be crucified upside-down, claiming he was unworthy to die in the same manner as the Messiah. His relics are revered in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, where pilgrims come to honour him and his successors as the Vicar of Christ and His Church on Earth.

attributed to bernardino da asola - the death of saint peter martyr
Attributed to Bernardino da Asola - the death of Saint Peter martyr

Summary Saint Peter

St. Peter is traditionally regarded as the first bishop of Rome and the leader of Jesus’ 12 Apostles. They first met while listening to a sermon by St. John the Baptist. Peter recognized Jesus as the Messiah the moment he met him. Similarly, from the moment Jesus met Peter, he knew he would be the Church’s rock.

After the Resurrection, Jesus paid his first visit to St. Peter. It was there that Jesus declared himself to be the leader of the Church. As a result, Peter became the first in an unbroken line of leaders in the Catholic Church, now known as popes. He, like Jesus, died as a martyr. The New Testament contains a wealth of information about St. Peter, particularly in the four synoptic Gospels.

Saint Peter Resources

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