How could a man who initially lived in Bethsaida on the Sea of Galilee, born and raised in a traditional Jewish home and engaged in his father’s business as a fisherman, become known as the Apostle Peter? He would be known as the “Apostle of Circumcision.”
Peter first appears in the Gospel story in John 1: 35-42, when Andrew discovered that Jesus was the Messiah. He went and found his brother, Peter, and brought him to Jesus. When Jesus saw Peter, he said, “You are Simon, son of Jonah. They will call you Cephas.” Cephas is an Aramaic surname whose Greek synonym is Petros or Peter and is translated as “rock” or “stone”. As we see in the scriptures in Matthew 16:18 – “And I also tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.” This scripture is misunderstood by many denominations. It is not Peter on whom the church is based, but Christ. We know that if the church, or anything else, built on man, it will not stand the test of time. It must be built on Christ as the foundation. Christ did not intend to teach that His church would be built on Peter, but on Himself as Peter confessed. Peter is careful to state this in the first of his two epistles (1 Pet 2: 4-9).
Peter’s life can be divided into two parts: first, from his call to discipleship to the ascension of Jesus Christ and from the ascension to the end of his life. Although there are several events in the early part of Peter’s life prior to Christ’s ascension, only one seems to have a direct impact on the balance of Peter’s life. That is his call to the apostolic office and his spiritual team as seen in Matthew 10: 2-4 -Now the names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, whose name is Peter, and Andrew his brother; Jacobo, son of Zebedeo, and Juan, his brother; 3 Felipe and Bartolomé; Thomas and Matthew, the tax collector; Jacobo, son of Alfeo, and Lebeo, whose nickname was Thaddeus; 4 Simon the Canaanite and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him.
Peter occupied a prominent place among the twelve disciples. We see in the four lists of the apostles found in the New Testament, Peter’s name is the first: Matthew 10: 2-4; March 3: 16-19; Luke 6: 14-16: and Acts 1:13. In addition, Jesus chose Peter, James, and John as three main apostles to be present during certain important moments in His ministry such as the Transfiguration and in the Garden of Gethsemane.
As stated in Matthew 4:19 – Then he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” It was then that Peter received his call to discipleship from Jesus.
When the Apostle Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, his ministry began. He went out and preached the first gospel that day as we see in Acts 2 and 3000 he became a Christian. This is where Peter receives the title of “Apostle of the circumcision”. He was speaking to a crowd of Jews. He began his sermon by quoting the prophet Joel. He was preaching to them what they already knew and then went on to explain that they had killed the Christ. God Himself. Then Peter said to them: “Repent, and let each one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” – Acts 2:38.
Peter and John, on the way to the temple, met a man lame from birth who was placed daily at the door of the temple named Hermoso. Peter (with the help of the Holy Spirit) healed the lame man. Then Peter addressed the people in the temple. Peter was arrested and beaten several times, but he continued to preach, heal, and perform signs and wonders: he healed Aeneas at Lida, raised Dorcas from the dead at Joppa.
Peter has a vision on the roof that leads him to preach the gospel to the Gentile centurion, Cornelius, at his home (Cornelius) in Caesarea. This opened the door of the gospel to the Gentile world. This is where he found himself contrary to everything he was taught. This is where he discovered that Jesus Christ came not only for the Jews but also for the Gentiles. Peter, with the help of the Holy Spirit, had to learn to circumcise the foreskin of his heart. In the house of Cornelius he saw that the Gentiles could also be saved. Peter witnessed scenes very similar to those of Pentecost in Jerusalem (Acts 10: 44-47). He was given the solemn sentence on the guilty couple, Ananias and Sapphira. In these and similar situations, Peter exhibited the authority with which Christ had invested him (Matthew 16:19) – an authority conferred on all disciples (John 20: 22-23) – the power to bind and loose.
As his ministry was primarily for the Jews, Peter advocated the inclusion of the Gentiles in the Christian movement at the Apostolic Council of Jerusalem.
The ministries of Peter, “Apostle of the circumcision” and Paul, “Apostle of the uncircumcised” are in no way in conflict with each other, as demonstrated at the transition point in Acts 10. Up to this point, the gospel had been offered only to Jews. Now they have rejected it in the national sense, and it reaches “the normal order for the present Christian era” (Acts 13: 44-48). We find Peter and Paul side by side, affirming the great doctrine of justification by faith alone, as stated in Acts 15:11 (KJV), “We believe that by the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, we (the Jews) we will be saved, like them (the Gentiles) “.
From the Second Epistle of Peter (2 Pet 1: 1) it is clear that his conception of justification from God and the human side is identical to Paul’s, since he speaks of justifying faith as something that ends in righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ. This is not the righteousness that God is, but the righteousness that God gives as we see in Romans 1: 16,17; Romans 3: 21-25; and 2 Corinthians 5:20, 21.
Probably late in his life, Peter wrote his two epistles, as appears especially in the Second Epistle (2 Peter 1: 12-15). Both were aimed primarily at Jewish Christians scattered throughout the different provinces of Asia Minor, among whom Paul and his followers had planted the gospel (1Pe 1: 1-2 and 2Pe 3: 1). The First Epistle was written in Babylon (1 Peter 5:13) on the Euphrates, although destroyed as a great capital, it was still inhabited by a small group of people, mostly Jews.
Peter went to Rome and it is believed that Mark (writer of the Gospel of Mark) was Peter’s translator while he was preaching. It is also believed that, as Peter recounted and recounted his experiences with Jesus, he gave Mark an almost literal account. After Peter’s death, Mark recorded what he remembered in what we know as the Gospel of Mark.
Tradition says that Peter died a martyr in Rome around 67 AD He was about 75 years old. He was crucified under Nero. It is thought, at his own request, that he is crucified face down, feeling unworthy to resemble the crucifixion of Christ in his death.
Thus a man of Bethsaida went from fisherman to fisherman of men. As stated in Matthew 4:19 – Then he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”