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.
Table of Contents
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, who were all part of Jesus’ inner circle.
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.
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’s 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 honor,” 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.
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 skeptical, 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, Matthew 16:16; Matthew 16:17).
When Jesus called Peter, he knew He was from God, but he felt unworthy to be in Jesus’ presence (Luke 5:6; Luke 5:7; Luke 5:8). 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 (Matthew 16:21; Matthew 16:22).
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 (Matthew 17:1; Matthew 17:2; Matthew 17:3; Matthew 17:4; Matthew 17:5; Matthew 17:6; Matthew 17:7; Matthew 17:8; Matthew 17:9).
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. Just have a look at Saint Peter icons and you will see that he is often painted with keys in his hand or a scroll.
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.
He witnessed Jesus resurrecting a dead child, 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.”
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 center 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.
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.’
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 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 traveled 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.
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. This reference can still be found in contemporary depictions of Peter as the gatekeeper to the pearly gates of heaven.
Prayer to Saint Peter The Apostle
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 honor him and his successors as the Vicar of Christ and His Church on Earth.
Diving into the characteristics of the apostle Peter then we see that Peter was a man with certain glaring character faults. Simon was loud-mouthed, he was impetuous, boastful, lacked humility, and was unstable. You might wonder why Jesus would want Simon as a disciple – but then, the characteristics of the 12 Apostles were not much better. (At this time, they were all young men with many of the faults of youth, but they were capable of changing.)
And we do see other sides of Simon’s character, which are more positive. I think he was a generous man; he was warm and outgoing, he was enthusiastic, he was a man of strong emotions, and he was a natural leader.
But most important of all: he was devoted to Jesus.
Not all of us will have Peter’s gregarious and extrovert temperament, but we all can learn from Simon Peter’s life. So, let’s first look at some of Apostle Peter’s Characteristics:
“Impulsive” is the word you would use to describe Saint Peter. Whenever a new situation arose, you could always guarantee that it would be Simon Peter who would jump in with both feet!
Remember when Jesus walked on water? It was Simon who said,
“Lord, command me to come to you on the water. “(Matthew 14: 22)
– and before you could say “Jack Robinson,” Simon stepped out of the boat and walked across the water towards Jesus. Now that is impulsive behavior.
On the night that Jesus was arrested, Simon Peter whipped out his sword and attacked the servant of the High Priest (John 18:10). That is impulsive behavior.
After Jesus rose from the dead, it was John who got to the empty tomb first, but he hesitated before going in. (He was a cautious character.)
Peter arrived after the apostle John and just rushed straight into the tomb. John then looked in as well, and it was John, not Peter, who understood what he saw and believe that Jesus was alive. Do you understand what I’m saying? Peter was the one who bounded into the tomb without really understanding.
There are many other occasions when we see examples of Peter’s impetuousness. He’s always the one who speaks up first. Sometimes that is a good thing – as when he confessed Jesus to be the Son of the Living God. But then later, we read about him remonstrating with Jesus for saying that he will be killed.
“this will never happen to you.”
Now for Jesus, this was a temptation to forgo the way of the Cross. Jesus saw this temptation as coming from the Devil, even though Peter said the words. He had to rebuke Peter, saying that he is in effect the mouthpiece of Satan. Unknowingly, Simon Peter was seeking to deflect Jesus from the path of duty and sacrifice.
So sometimes, Peter’s impulsive words were commendable – at other times, they were the opposite.
At the Transfiguration, we have an awe-inspiring occasion: Jesus is shining out with divine light and speaking to Moses and Elijah, who also shines out with heavenly glory. The other two disciples, James and John, are struck silent with awe. But Peter just comes out with whatever is on his mind! First, he just speaks a platitude:
“Lord, it’s good to be here with you up on the mountain.”
And then, he suggests making three shelters for Moses, Elijah, and Jesus. He didn’t know what he was saying. It doesn’t make sense, and anyway, what did he think he was doing interrupting the conversation that Jesus was having with no less than Moses and Elijah? These were inappropriate words.
Peter’s reaction is always to open his mouth without first engaging his brain! And so, he did often act and speak without thinking. This was a great fault; you might think, and surely a disqualification to become the leader of the Apostolic Band. But apparently, Jesus saw things differently. He saw what Peter was capable of becoming – a Rock upon which he would be able to rely.
Arrogant and Boastful
Peter was always likely, in his enthusiasm, to bite off much more than he could chew. He was also arrogant and boastful.
On one occasion, he claimed that he loved Jesus more than the others and that he would be more loyal to Jesus. Jesus had said how all his disciples were going to leave him when he was arrested.
And Peter said,
“All the others might run off Lord, but I will never abandon you. I will go to prison and death rather than leave you.”
Peter was in for a rude awakening. When it came down to the nitty-gritty, when Jesus was arrested, Peter ran off, just as the others did.
Later, we read how he denied Jesus three times to save his skin. Where was all his boasted loyalty now?
When the cock crowed, Peter remembered the words of Jesus,
“Before the cock crows, you will deny that you know me three times“.
And he went out and wept bitterly.
This was a testing time for Peter – this was a turning point in his life. He was humbled. He realized he had failed to be a Rock. He had not lived up to the nickname the Lord has given him.
We see a change in Peter’s life after the Resurrection. The first significant event was when Jesus reinstated him as leader of the Apostolic Band. This happened on the lakeside in Galilee, where the risen Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved Jesus. Peter replied three times that he did, and three times, he told him to take care of his lambs and feed his sheep.
Peter had denied his Lord three times: now Jesus reassures him that he is forgiven three times. Not only that, but Jesus will entrust to Peter the pastoral care of the early Church. What a risk for the Lord to take: to give the job to unreliable, boastful blustering Peter! But the Lord knew what he was doing.
Peter had denied Jesus rather than face imprisonment or death, but now Jesus predicts that he will one day die as a martyr for his faith in Jesus:
Very truly, I tell you, when you were younger, you dressed and went where you wanted; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.’ Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him,
Jesus (John 21:18; John 21:19)
Filled with the Spirit
And Peter did indeed follow Jesus. Just a few weeks later, we find him standing up on the Day of Pentecost, filled with the Spirit and boldly speaking to a crowd.
“With the help of evil men, you nailed him to a cross,”
Peter (Acts 2:23)
Peter said to the crowd.
Yes, he actually is brave enough to accuse them of crucifying Christ. Later, when he speaks to the crowd after the healing of the man at the Temple, he says,
“You killed the one who gives life! But God raised him from death.”
Once again, he is bold enough to make the direct accusation of the people that they had crucified Jesus.
Then, when he and John were brought before the Jewish leaders, once again, he said,
“You nailed him to the Cross. But God raised him from death.
All fear of reprisal is now gone, and Peter boldly testifies to Christ. He truly is becoming a Rock.
One of the characteristics that I have not yet mentioned is Peter’s xenophobia. In this respect, he was very much the same as most of the Jews of his day. They tended to despise the Gentiles. They prided themselves on being God’s people: the Jews. They thought they were superior to everyone else. And so, there was a certain degree of xenophobia. They weren’t supposed to fraternize with Gentiles, to sit down at the table with them, nor to have any kind of fellowship with them.
Now, Peter was orthodox in his practice of the Jewish Faith, and he didn’t cease to keep the Jewish ritual laws of diet and custom after he became a follower of Jesus. Indeed, all the first Christians were Jews, and they had all been circumcised.
However, the time came when the Holy Spirit led some of these Jewish Christians to go out to preach to the Gentiles and the Jews. And so, it was that non-Jews were coming to faith in Christ. At this time, Peter has his famous vision of a cloth or sheet coming down from heaven.
The Spirit of God wanted to get Peter out of his xenophobic rut and start welcoming Gentile believers into his house, to sit at the table with them and have fellowship with them. This was a very big thing to ask from a very observant Jew!
In his vision, Peter sees what looks like a huge sheet lowered down to earth from heaven. In the sheet, he sees all sorts of animals that were considered unclean by the Jews. I imagine there would have been pigs and rats as well as all kinds of unclean birds and reptiles. A voice from heaven said:
“Get up, Peter, kill and eat!”
the Voice from Heaven
“Lord, I have never eaten anything that isn’t holy or clean.”
The voice said:
“God has made these things clean. Don’t you call them unclean?”
the Voice from Heaven
This vision was repeated two more times, and then Peter came out of the trance that he was in. And just then messengers came asking Peter to go to the house of Cornelius the Centurion, to tell him and all his Gentile relatives and friends about Jesus. (You can read about all this in Acts, Chapter 10).
The upshot of it all was that Peter went to Cornelius’ house and told the people there the message of salvation. When they heard Peter’s words, they believed in Jesus, and the Holy Spirit came upon them – a sure sign that God had accepted them. The Holy Spirit had made it known to the early Church that the Gentiles were just as welcome as the Jews in God’s Kingdom.
And so, Peter was changed forever from being a narrow, xenophobic Jew to become one who welcomed Gentile believers and had fellowship with them. (It is true that later on, we find him backtracking a little bit when he met some very extreme Jewish Christians. Peter compromised his position at that time.)
But he has definitely changed. He has become one who will welcome anyone who believes in Jesus – whatever their race or origin. His whole approach has changed.
The Lesson of Humility and Submission
By the time we get to the Epistles of Peter, at the end of the New Testament, written when Peter was getting to be an old man, we see one who has learned the lesson of humility, submission to God, and being prepared to suffer for the sake of the Gospel.
In his youth, he had been as unstable as water, but he became the Rock on which the Church was built in his maturity. He had been a young man when he first met Jesus – probably only in his early twenties – he had been full of immaturity and pride. But God that taken hold of him and changed them. He became Peter the Rock.
Apostle Peter’s, one of the Twelve, good and bad qualities were two sides of the same coin. And we are all like this – we all have unique personalities, and that personality will have both strengths and weaknesses.
Our personalities need to be submitted to God so that the Holy Spirit can work to produce the Fruit of the Spirit in us. Then the positive aspects of our personality will show up, and we will help to build up the body of Christ, the fellowship of the Church.
St Peter Facts show that Peter was a gregarious, natural leader, and an obvious spokesperson for the twelve. Peter’s name is mentioned far more in the New Testament than any other of the disciples. He was the older of the two brothers and the only married disciple. (Luke 4:38) His wife was known to travel with him when he was on a mission. (1 Corinthians 9:5)
His assignment was to bring the Gospel to the circumcised. (Galatians 2:7) Peter is well known for denying Christ three times after Christ was arrested. After his arrest, many years later he requested to be crucified with his head down. He didn’t believe he was worthy to be crucified in the same manner as his Lord. Saint Peter died a martyr’s death in Rome during the reign of Nero. Some speculate around the same time as Paul was being beheaded.
One of the St Peter Facts is that the Apostle Peter’s symbol is comprised of two keys that are crossed over each other. The keys point us to the Gospel of Matthew.
In chapter 16, Jesus asks the disciples,
“Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”
They respond with several answers. Jesus finally asks the disciples,
“But who do you say that I am?”
“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus praises Peter for his confession of faith, and then he says, “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. The keys remind us of the confession that Peter made and the forgiveness that Jesus gave to his church in the office of the keys.
Peter is often portrayed as the closest disciple to Jesus and the leader of the Apostles. According to Matthew Jesus appeared first to Peter after the Resurrection. Among the Apostles, he is often described as the first among equals.
The upside-down cross reminds us of how Peter was martyred. Tradition has it that the apostle said that he wasn’t worthy to be crucified like Jesus, so they crucified him upside down instead.
In John’s gospel, Peter is the first person to enter the empty tomb, although the women and the beloved disciple get there before him (John 20:1; John 20:2; John 20:3; John 20:4; John 20:5; John 20:6; John 20:7; John 20:8; John 20:9). In Luke’s account, the women’s report of the empty tomb is dismissed by the apostles and Peter goes to check for himself (Luke 24:1; Luke 24:2; Luke 24:3; Luke 24:4; Luke 24:5; Luke 24:6; Luke 24:7; Luke 24:8; Luke 24:9; Luke 24:10; Luke 24:11; Luke 24:12).
Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians contains a list of resurrection appearances of Jesus, the first of which is an appearance to “Cephas” (1 Corinthians 15:3; 1 Corinthians 15:4; 1 Corinthians 15:5; 1 Corinthians 15:6; 1 Corinthians 15:7).
An appearance to Simon is also reported in Luke 24:34. In the final chapter of the Gospel of John, Peter three times affirms his love for Jesus, apparently restoring his threefold denial, and Jesus reconfirms Peter’s position (John 21:15; John 21:16; John 21:17), instructing him to “feed my sheep.”
According to Acts of the Apostles, Peter was a prolific performer of miracles. His first miracle cure was performed in the name of Jesus, at the temple, where the faithful saw the healed beggar praising God, and was the opportunity for some outstanding proselytizing.
In an even more difficult challenge, Peter resurrected Tabitha, a good woman, and a disciple, who was certainly dead and her body had already been washed; a miracle that became known throughout Joppa and, as a result, many were converted. Peter was also capable of malevolent miracles if it suited his purposes.
A certain man named Ananias sold a possession and gave only some of the proceeds to Peter, who believed that the church was entitled to all the money. Peter realized the deceit immediately and Ananias fell dead, then Peter told Ananias’ wife she would also die because she repeated the deceit.
Those accounts would be conclusive evidence that Peter ranked alongside Jesus as a miracle worker.
Peter’s Position Among the Apostles
Peter is also often depicted as the spokesman of all the apostles, and as one to whom Jesus gave special authority. It is interesting that Peter tells us that according to the Gospel of Matthew, Peter alone was able to walk on water after seeing Jesus do the same thing (Matthew 14:22; Matthew 14:23; Matthew 14:24; Matthew 14:25; Matthew 14:26; Matthew 14:27; Matthew 14:28; Matthew 14:29; Matthew 14:30; Matthew 14:31; Matthew 14:32). The gospels of Mark and John also mention Jesus walking on water, but do not mention Peter doing so.
It is Peter who first declares Jesus the Messiah in the synoptic gospels, saying
“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Peter (Matthew 16:16)
Jesus praises Peter for this confession and declares, punning on Peter’s nickname:
“I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock, I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”
Jesus (Matthew 16:18)
This core group of three was present at special incidents, such as the transfiguration and Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane, in which the others did not participate.
Mark 5 reports that Peter alone was allowed to follow Jesus into the house of the synagogue leader Jairus where Jesus brought Jairus’ daughter back from the dead. Several times, Jesus takes Peter, John, and James aside and reveals things to them that the other disciples do not hear.
Peter in the Early Church
The author of the Acts of the Apostles portrays Peter as an extremely important figure within the early Christian community, although it is not clear whether Peter or James, “the Lord’s brother,” is the leading figure in the Jerusalem church.
Researching the St Peter Facts it is clear that Peter did play a key role early on. He took the lead in selecting a replacement for Judas Iscariot (Acts 1:15) and delivered a significant speech during Pentecost at which 3,000 Jews reportedly accepted his message and were baptized (Acts 2:38; Acts 2:39; Acts 2:40; Acts 2:41).
He became famous in Jerusalem for healing a crippled beggar. He was twice arraigned before the Sanhedrin for preaching the gospel.
It was also Peter who condemned the disciple Ananias for withholding from the church part of the proceeds of the sale of his home, after which the Holy Spirit immediately killed both Ananias and his wife (Acts 5:1; Acts 5:2; Acts 5:3; Acts 5:4; Acts 5:5; Acts 5:6; Acts 5:7; Acts 5:8; Acts 5:9; Acts 5:10).
In the Roman Catholic Church, Peter’s leadership role among the apostles lies at the root of the leadership role of the pope among the bishops of the Church as the body of Christ. Popes wear the Fisherman’s Ring, which bears an image of the saint casting his nets from a fishing boat.
The keys used as a symbol of the pope’s authority refer to the “keys of the kingdom of Heaven” promised to Peter (Matthew 16:18; Matthew 16:19). Peter is therefore often depicted in both Western and Eastern Christian art holding a key, a set of keys or a scroll.
The Roman patriarch, though not the only “pope” of the time, was recognized as the successor of Peter as bishop of Rome by all the ancient Christian churches, except those deemed to be heretical.
However, many Protestants the idea of Peter’s primacy on the grounds of lack of contemporary evidence, as the tradition that Peter went to Rome and was martyred there was not well established until the second century.
Moreover, even if the tradition is true, this does not necessarily establish Rome’s authority over other churches. In the Orthodox tradition, the Peter position is seen as primus inter pares—the first among equals, together with the other metropolitan patriarchates.
Recent studies of apocryphal literature, especially of the gnostic variety, indicate that Peter’s position was emphasized by the “orthodox” churches as a rallying point to strengthen the authority of the orthodox bishops against supposedly false teachings.
Thus, some of the gnostic gospels and other apocryphal literature portray Peter in a more negative light than the canonical gospels and surviving church tradition.
In summary, the St Peter Facts tell us that Peter is the most well-known Apostle. Described by Jesus as “a fisher of men, “he was a fisherman by trade and was with Jesus from the beginning of his teachings.
According to Matthew, Peter was the first to believe in the divinity of Jesus. He said:
“Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Peter was present at most of the important events described in the Gospels.
After Jesus was arrested by Roman police after the Last Supper a violent struggle ensued in which Peter drew his sword and sliced off the ear of one policeman. When Jesus was grabbed, the fighting stopped and the disciples ran away.
When the Romans asked Peter if he knew Jesus, Peter denied he did (three times) just as Jesus predicted. Peter “went outside and wept bitterly.” He later repented his denial.
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.
#1. Peter tells his readers that their faith is being tested to show its strength. He compares this to the purification of gold. What does he say tests and purifies gold?
#2. Which king had James executed and Peter arrested?
#3. What is the Hebrew meaning of the name 'Simon'?
#4. What was the name of Simon's brother who was fishing with him when Jesus called upon them to leave their work and follow him?
#5. Who honored apostle Peter with a large basilica in the 4th century?
#6. What is the Aramaic equivalent of the name Peter? This is arguably the actual name that Christ may have given him.
#7. What did Peter find with a coin in its mouth?
#8. In which city did Peter preach and live in his last years?
#9. In the first letter of Peter, who or what is described as a roaring lion?
#10. Peter reminds all believers to be rid of all malicious behavior and deceit. Which of these does he NOT mention in this section?
Saint Peter Resources