the Life of Peter in 2 Periods

Peter’s life could be divided into two different periods of his life for the purpose of studying it…

Before Pentecost, with the pivotal point being found in John 21:15-19.

After Pentecost, which runs from Acts 2 through Acts 15.

A simplified outline of his life could be described in these few words.

He was…

A PASSIONATE and often impetuous man. He was an EYEWITNESS to the Life of Christ and heard God’s voice from Heaven. He was TESTED by Satan as seen in his denial of Christ.

Afterward he was EVANGELISTIC, even facing death for his preaching. He was a REPENTANT man as seen in his zeal to preach and his writings.

This bulletin will supplement our Sunday morning Bible study as we study the inspired letters of the Apostle Peter.

BEFORE PENTECOST.

And when Jesus beheld him, he said, Thou art Simon the son of Jona:” (John 1:42a)

We’re introduced to Peter at the SEA of Galilee (Matt 4:18). He is married as seen when Jesus heals his mother-in-law (Matt 8:14-15). He was still fishing when he is called to be a constant companion of Jesus (Matt 4:19-20). It’s after this second calling that he forsakes all to follow Jesus. He verbalizes this after his call to be an Apostle. “Then Peter began to say unto him, Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee” (Mark 10:28)

As he followed Christ, he was included in an INNER circle of 3 that witnessed certain key events, one of which is the transfiguration of Jesus (Mark 9:2-9; cf. 2Peter 1:17), where they hear the voice of God.

Because of his often impetuous and passionate personality, it was he that requested to MIRACULOUSLY walk on water with Jesus (Matt 14:28-31). It’s only when he takes his eyes off the Lord and looks at the storm that he begins to sink requiring the Lord to reach out to save. “But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.”

It was Peter that took Jesus aside to rebuke Him and OBJECTED to His dying as the Lord was predicting (Matt 16:22). It was also Peter that OBJECTED to the washing of his feet by Jesus (John 13:8). “Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet.”

Then, at the lowest point of this period, he denied Jesus after His arrest saying, “I know NOT this man of whom ye speak.” (Matt 26:31-35; Mark 14:71; John 18:15-18; 25-27). What makes this especially difficult for Peter is that he and the Lord make direct eye contact upon his 3rd denial.

And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice” (Luke 22:61)

A pivotal point in this period of his life is his breakfast by the sea with Our Risen Lord (John 21:15-19). It’s here he learns that his life is about to change even more dramatically.

This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me.”

AFTER PENTECOST.

thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, A stone.” (John 1:42b)

On the day of Pentecost, Peter stood up with the COMPANY of the other eleven Apostles to deliver the first sermon in the New Testament age. They preached the gospel which is the Death, Burial, and Resurrection of Jesus. He commands the believers, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:14-38).

Even though 3,000 souls were added to the church after that first sermon, the next day he is in the Temple continuing to EVANGELIZE. “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19). Through their efforts the church continued to grow in the first days (Acts 4:1-4).

It was Peter who was given the assignment to PREACH to the gentiles (Acts 10). Being summoned to the house of Cornelius, he PREACHES the gospel to them, giving them the same command he gave to the Jews. It was the same command given him by the Lord. “Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized” (Acts 10:47; cf. Mark 16:15-16)?

As bold as he was, Peter is not without fault as seen in a moment of HYPOCRISY when he separated himself from the gentiles when those of the circumcision came to Antioch (Gal 2:11-14). But Peter is a man of HUMILTY and repentance. Holding no grudges, he acknowledges Paul’s teaching in his second letter (2Peter 3:15-16).

Another part of Peter’s story in Acts is during the persecution of Herod. Herod had killed James, and had imprisoned Peter. He escapes through ANGELIC help. The danger doesn’t deter him in the least. He goes to encourage the brethren and continues to preach the Gospel (Acts 12)

One of the last times we hear of Peter in Acts is in Acts 15. It was through his SPEECH along with that of Paul, Barnabas, and James that the church rejoiced with comfort (Acts 15:7-11, 31) knowing that the gentiles, along with the Jews, may be saved through the blood of Christ.

I hope this summary of the life of Peter aids us in our study of his inspired letters.

— spencer

Spencer is the evangelist for the Franklin and Juniper church of Christ in Borger, Texas.

What is that to thee? follow thou me.

After the resurrection of Jesus, He spoke with Peter while having breakfast by the sea (John 21:15-22). There are a few lessons from this text, but I’d like to focus on Peter’s response to the knowledge that he will die for Christ & His Cause.

After Jesus describes the type of love sacrifice that Peter will face, Peter turns toward John and asks, “what shall this man do?”

Jesus, ever succinct and direct, answers, “If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me.”

It is this powerful lesson that will be the focus of this article. Before we can learn the lesson, we must understand the root of Peter’s question.

Peter had heard that he will live the remainder of his life in sacrificial service to Christ, the end of which will be a martyr’s death. “This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God.”

This would be very serious news to receive. The closest example I could give you is one from my own experience. After two years of cancer treatment for my mom, we were in her doctor’s office when we heard something to the effect, “There’s nothing more we can do. Go home, we’ll try to make you comfortable, and enjoy your family in whatever time you have left.” How devastating that must have sounded to her.

Perhaps this gives us just a glimpse at how this might have sounded to Peter at this point in his life. Peter would learn more from Jesus after this, but this stands as a reminder to every Christian, we who love Christ will face persecution, and trouble in this life. [2Tim 3:12].

So, what are we to do with this information, knowing that life as a Christian won’t always be easy? Can we still be happy? Can we find any joy? The answer is yes, we can be HAPPY & JOYFUL, the question then becomes HOW? For that answer we turn to the words of our Lord, FOLLOW ME.

FOLLOW ME.

The beginning of following anyone is to have FAITH. Nobody will follow anyone if they can’t trust that they are worthy to be followed, and able to fulfill what they have promised. Christ is both worthy and able. Just one text of many will prove this point; Christ is spoken of as the Creator [John 1:1-4; Col 1:17-18]. Jesus told His disciples, “Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.” [John 14:1-3]. Another powerful verse to help with our FAITH in Christ is, “For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.” [Heb 2:18]

Second, we can only follow Him if we OBEY Him. Jesus is the Captain of our Salvation, but too many treat Him like they’re the captain and He a buck Private. [cf. Heb 2:10] Jesus said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” [John 14:15; 1John 5:3]

Next, we notice that in that breakfast by the sea, Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me?” We should ask ourselves this same question. The word for love is ‘agape’ which is the all-in sacrificial love. To follow Jesus is to LOVE whom He loves. We must LOVE God [Mat 22:37], Christ [John 14:15], The Holy Spirit [Rom 15:30], the brethren [1Peter 1:22], yourself & your family [Eph 5:28-29], and also your Enemies [Luke 6:27].

Fourth, Christ told us to come to Him and, “Take my yoke upon you, and LEARN of me;” [Matt 11:29]. It is amazing to me how much people say that want to follow Jesus, but spend so little time trying to LEARN of Him. He expects us to be the LIGHT of the world, but how can we without LEARNING of Him, without reading His word? [Mat 5:14; cf. Psalm 119:105; Pro 6:23]

Fifth, whether young or Old, as we have OPPORTUNITY let us do good to all men, especially the household of faith [Gal 6:10]. Sometimes folks don’t want us to do good toward them. That’s ok. Paul wrote, “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.” [Rom 12:18; cf. Mat 15:14; 1Cor 14:38; 1Tim 6:18]

Lastly, and just as importantly, Following Christ involves WALKING. John was present at the breakfast by the sea and he wrote, “He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to WALK, even as he walked.” [1John 2:6]. Peter wrote, “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:” [1Peter 2:21; cf. 1Pet 3:13; 2Peter 1:16].

Putting all this together, we know that life is full of disappointments, trouble, and trials. Much of this will come through the hands of people. However, the scriptures teach us that we can have JOY & HAPPINESS despite this world’s troubles. [James 1:2; Mt 5:12; Ac 5:41]. Peter wrote, “But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.” [1Pet 4:13; 1:6; 4:16]

Peter was told at the beginning that he would give his life to Christ. Peter wanted to know, if I’m going to suffer, what going to happen to the others? Christ told him that whatever happens to others has no bearing on what Peter does, “YOU FOLLOW ME.” He understood the lesson.

Whatever it is that others are doing, or not doing, what they’re getting, or not getting, how much fun they’re having, or how much they suffer, these have nothing to do with what YOU & I are to do.

As I read again John 21:22, when Jesus commands Peter, I also hear…

Spencer, YOU FOLLOW ME.”