Story of Peter in the Bible

Catholics all know the story of Peter in the Bible. He was one of Jesus’ disciples, and he famously denied knowing Jesus three times after Jesus was arrested. But what most people don’t know is that Peter’s story doesn’t end there.

After his denial, Peter repented and became a leader of the early church. He even wrote one of the New Testament letters! Peter’s story is full of hope and redemption, which makes him an excellent example for Catholics today.

The story of Saint Peter, widely known as ‘Simon Peter,’ was the first Bishop of Rome and one of Jesus’ Twelve Apostles. He is regarded as the founder of the Roman Church and the Church of Antioch by ancient Christian churches, however, there are disagreements concerning the authority of his modern successors.

He was a fisherman who rose to become the Apostles’ leader, despite failing Jesus Christ on multiple occasions. Thousands of people were converted as a result of his teachings, and he performed numerous miracles during his lifetime.

The relationship between Saint Paul and Saint Peter was volatile, as the two leaders had differing viewpoints on the sociability of Jewish and Gentile Christians. According to Christian belief, Emperor Nero was the one who crucified Saint Peter in Rome. Two general epistles are attributed to Peter in the New Testament, but current scholars generally reject Petrine authorship.

The ‘Gospel of Mark‘ depicts his teachings and eyewitness testimonies. Because of their apocryphal origin, several works on his life, such as ‘Acts of Peter,’ ‘Gospel of Peter,’ ‘Preaching of Peter,’ ‘Apocalypse of Peter,’ and ‘Judgement of Peter,’ could not be included in the Bible canons.

story of peter in the bible el greco - saint peter in tears - google art project
El Greco - Saint Peter in Tears - Google Art Project

Early Life

Saint Peter was born in the first century BC as Simon or Simeon, according to the New Testament. His name was inspired by the Jewish custom of naming male infants after a prominent Old Testament patriarch. Simon had no formal education and could only communicate in Aramaic.

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

According to a BBC documentary, life under Roman authority was undoubtedly tough during the period, with the government imposing high levies. Because Galilee was a commercial center and a strategic location for enterprises, it’s possible that Peter was more than a simple fisherman with a cottage and a boat.

The gospels provide the majority of what we know about Saint Peter. Jesus healed Peter’s ill mother-in-law in their house in Capernaum, according to the three Synoptic Gospels. Even though his wife’s name is not given, the incident implies that Peter was married.

According to Matthew and Mark, Jesus summoned Peter and his brother Andrew to follow him. “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men,” he is alleged to have stated.

According to Luke’s account, Jesus instructed Peter and his companions John and James to lower their nets, and they immediately began catching fish in large numbers.

They became his followers soon after. After Jesus’ resurrection, the Gospel of John depicted Peter fishing, and he referred to them as “fishers of men.”

Later tradition

“Simon the Cananaean and Judas Thaddeus were brethren of James the Less and sons of Mary Cleophas, who was married to Alpheus,” according to the Golden Legend, a compilation of hagiographies written by Jacobus de Voragine in the thirteenth century.

A fact about this apostle is stated in the spurious Arabic Infancy Gospel. A snake bites a youngster called Simon in his hand, but Jesus heals him and tells him, “You shall be my disciple.” The reference concludes with the statement “this is Simon the most Canaanite, whom the Gospel mentions.”

Simon is frequently identified with Saint Jude as an evangelizing pair in later tradition; they share a feast day on October 28 in Western Christianity. After evangelizing in Egypt, Simon is said to have joined Jude in Persia, Armenia, or Beirut, Lebanon, where they were both murdered in 65 AD.

This is the version that appears in the Golden Legend. As the Bishop of Jerusalem, he may have been crucified.

Simon went to Georgia on a missionary expedition, died in Abkhazia, and was buried at Nicopsia, according to Eastern legend. Later, his remains were moved to Anacopia.

According to another legend, he went throughout the Middle East and Africa. He was crucified at Samaria, according to Christian Ethiopians, whereas Justus Lipsius claims he was sawn in half in Suanir, Persia. Moses of Chorene, on the other hand, claims to have been martyred at Weriosphora in Caucasian Iberia. He is also said to have died quietly at Edessa, according to legend.

According to another legend, he traveled to Roman Britain. He landed during the first year of Boadicea’s rebellion, according to this story, on his second mission to Britain (60 AD). He was crucified on May 10, 61 AD, in Caistor, Lincolnshire, Britain, by the Roman Catus Decianus.

Simon first arrived in Britain in the year A.D. 44, according to Caesar Baronius and Hippolytus of Rome, during the Roman conquest. Constantinople’s Nikephoros I writes.

Simon, born in Cana of Galilee, was given the name Zelotes for his fervent love for his Master and great zeal for the Gospel that he demonstrated by all means. After receiving the Holy Ghost from above, he traveled through Egypt and Africa, then through Mauretania and all of Libya, preaching the Gospel.

He also taught the same idea to the Occidental Sea and the Britanniae Islands. Another legend claims that he fought in the First Jewish–Roman War, possibly inspired by his nickname “the Zealot” (66-73 AD).

Judas Zelotes is included among the apostles believed to be penning the letter (who include Thomas) in the second century Epistle of the Apostles (Epistula Apostolorum), a polemic against gnostics. In Matthew 10:3, certain Old Latin translations of Matthew’s Gospel substitute “Judas the Zealot” for Thaddeus/Lebbaeus.

To some readers, this argues that he is the same person as the “Judas, not Iscariot” described in John 14:22: “Our Lord, how is it that thou wilt discloses thyself unto us, and not unto the world?” Because it has been hypothesized that Jude and the Apostle Thomas are the same people, “Simon Zelotes” could be mistaken for Thomas.

Barbara Thiering linked Simon Zelotes to Simon Magus, however, this theory has not been widely accepted. Apart from this plethora of conceivable but unlikely pseudonyms, the New Testament says nothing further about Simon. He is buried in the same tomb as St. Jude Thaddeus, under the altar of St. Joseph, in the left transept of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

In Islam, the twelve apostles are named, and Simon is included among the disciples, according to Muslim exegesis and Quran commentary. According to Muslim legend, Simon was sent to preach God’s faith to the Berbers outside of North Africa.

the denial of st. peter by nicolas tournier, oil on canvas, c. 1630, high museum of art
The Denial of St. Peter by Nicolas Tournier, oil on canvas, c. 1630, High Museum of Art

Peter’s Denial

The Denial of Peter refers to the three instances in the New Testament’s four gospels the Apostle Peter denied Jesus. During the Last Supper, Jesus promised that Peter would reject his knowledge and disown him before “the rooster crowed” the next morning, according to the four gospels.

When a female servant of the high priest discovered him and accused him of being with Jesus, he denied him for the first time. “The rooster crowed,” according to Mark, although Luke and John recall him sitting around a fire with other people.

The second time he denied it was when he proceeded to the entryway, away from the firelight. According to Mark and Matthew, the same servant girl, or another servant girl, or a male, as described in Luke and John, notified the people that Peter was one of Jesus’ followers. “The rooster crowed again,” John says.

The second denial is recorded in John’s Gospel when Peter is still sitting by the fire, and there is a witness who saw him in the garden of Gethsemane while Jesus was being arrested. The third and last refusal occurred when his Galilean dialect was interpreted as proof of his discipleship to 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, claiming that it was just one person accusing him, not an entire crowd. There is no mention of an accent in John’s writing. Peter refused Jesus three times, but after the third time, he heard the rooster crow and remembered Jesus’ prophecy. He then started crying uncontrollably. The ‘Repentance of Peter’ is the name given to this event.

Keep in mind that Peter was a Jew, not a Roman. By birth, Paul was a Roman, but by blood, he was a Jew. The one thing that these men had in common was their devotion to their calling as preachers of the gospel of Jesus Christ. They both felt that dying quickly brought them into God’s presence.

Sainthood

The Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Churches, the Oriental Orthodox Churches, the Eastern Catholic Churches, the Anglican Church, and the Lutheran Church all consider Simon to be a saint, as do the other Apostles.

ISLAM

Muslims regard Jesus as an Islamic prophet. The Qur’an mentions Jesus’ disciples, but does not identify them; instead, it refers to them as “helpers to God’s task.” However, Muslim exegesis and Qur’an commentary identify them as disciples and include Simon among them. According to Muslim legend, Simon was sent to preach God’s faith to the Berbers outside of North Africa.

A list of the twelve apostles is recorded in the Gospel of Barnabas, a late-16th-century book that portrays Jesus’ storyline from an Islamic perspective. The one and only apostle in this list who does not reflect one of the canonical Christian apostles is Simon the Zealot, who is replaced by a man named Barnabas, who appears to be the author of the book.

saint peter's, rome, by george inness, 1857, oil on canvas - new britain museum of american art
Saint Peter's, Rome, by George Inness, 1857, oil on canvas - New Britain Museum of American Art

Death

During Emperor Nero’s reign, Saint Peter is claimed to have been crucified at the age of 64. It’s thought that, unlike Jesus, he wanted to be crucified upside down. He was crucified three months after a fire broke out in Rome, which Nero attributed to Christians.

He was crucified in Nero’s gardens and buried in Saint Peter’s tomb, according to Catholic legend. Emperor Constantine, I chose to honor the murdered saint by erecting a massive basilica in his honor.

lleida saint peter as the first pope
Lleida Saint Peter as the First Pope

His remains are thought to be buried behind the high altar of Saint Peter’s Basilica. The feast day of Saint Peter and Saint Paul is celebrated on June 29.

“When you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go,” Jesus remarked, according to the Gospel of John, indicating Peter’s imminent crucifixion.

The event in Acts 12:1–17, in which Peter is “released by an angel” and transported to “another place,” is seen by scholars Warren M. Smaltz and Donald Fay Robinson as a romanticized description of his death. Some theological experts believe he died in a Jerusalem prison in 44 AD, rather than in Rome.

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FAQs

Why was Saint Peter crucified upside down?

There are a few different stories about why Saint Peter was crucified upside down. One story is that he asked to be crucified upside down because he felt unworthy to die in the same way that Jesus did.
Another story is that Saint Peter saw Jesus being carried away after his crucifixion, and he said “Oh Lord, let me suffer like you.” So the Roman soldiers decided to crucify him upside down in response.
Either way, Saint Peter’s upside-down crucifixion is symbolic of his humility and willingness to serve others.

What does Saint Peter represent?

Saint Peter is one of the most venerated figures in Christianity. He is traditionally seen as the first Pope and the head of the Church. He is also known as the “Prince of the Apostles” and is considered to have been a key figure in spreading Christianity throughout the world.

Why is Saint Peter holding keys?

There are a few possible reasons why Saint Peter is often depicted holding keys. One reason is that, as the first Pope and head of the Church, Saint Peter holds a symbolic role as the “key-bearer” who opens the doors of salvation. Additionally, the keys may represent God’s power and authority, which He has entrusted to Saint Peter. Another possibility is that the keys represent wisdom and knowledge, which are necessary in order to understand and interpret God’s will correctly. Whatever the reason, it is clear that Saint Peter occupies a special place in Christian tradition and iconography!

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