Biblical People

Biblical People: Simon Peter (Cephas)

Simon, whom Jesus calls Peter (Cephas), is one of Jesus’s twelve disciples. He’s also part of Jesus’s inner circle of three, along with James and John.

Peter often receives criticism and even ridicule for his behavior.

He sometimes speaks before he thinks, his doubt causes him to sink when he tries to walk on water, and he denies even knowing Jesus. During Jesus’s arrest, Peter whips out a sword and slashes at someone, but all he gets is an ear. 

But let’s not focus on these things. Let’s look at the positive.

Peter is the only one of the twelve disciples who walks on water. Though his journey is short before his faith falters, remember that he’s the only one to leave the safety of the boat. The other eleven don’t even dare to try. Peter does, and his faith is rewarded.

Later when Jesus asks his disciples, “What do people say about me?” they give various answers. Then Jesus gets direct. “What do you say?”

Not surprisingly, Peter speaks first. He states with boldness, “You’re the Christ, the son of the living God.”

Jesus blesses Peter for his spot-on answer. This truth sets the foundation for Jesus’s church.

After Jesus rises from the dead and returns to heaven, Peter emerges as the church’s first leader—effectively the first Pope. 

Then, Peter speaks on Pentecost under Holy Spirit power, and 3,000 people believe.

Later people lay the sick on the streets so that Peter’s shadow might fall on them as he walks by. The Bible never says these folks are healed, but with their friends positioning them this way, there must be a good reason to do so.

In addition, Peter later writes two books of the New Testament: 1 Peter and 2 Peter.

Like all of us, Peter has his strengths and his weaknesses. May we seek to emulate the positive parts of Peter’s example and avoid the negative.

Do we choose to focus on people’s admirable traits or their faults?

[Discover more about Peter in Matthew 16:13–18, Acts 2:14–41, and Acts 5:15. Read Peter’s two letters: 1 Peter and 2 Peter.]

Read more about other biblical characters in The Friends and Foes of Jesus, now available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

A lifelong student of the Bible, Peter DeHaan, PhD, wrote the 1,000-page website to encourage people to explore the Bible. His main blog and many books urge Christians to push past the status quo and reconsider how they practice their faith in every area of their lives.

By Peter DeHaan

Peter writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and make a faith that matters. Learn more at