Tag Archives: Peter

First Peter

The Book of the First Peter in the BibleFirst Peter was written by Jesusdisciple, Peter. It’s audience was Gentile (that is non-Hebrew) followers of Jesus, joining together many aspects of the Jewish history with Christian beliefs.

This book is a warm and attractive read that is ideal for those who have just begun to follow Jesus, yet it’s equally instructive for more seasoned followers, as well.

A reoccurring theme in this book is suffering. This concept may be antithetical to the popular notion that in effect says, “follow Jesus and life will be easy.” This attitude is a social gospel that isn’t supported by the Bible. In truth there may be risk and suffering for those who follow Jesus.

Second Peter

The Book of Second Peter in the BibleSecond Peter was written by Jesusdisciple, Peter. It addresses Jesus’ return to earth (his “second coming“) and counters misunderstandings and false teachings (“heresies”) about it.

The literary style of the letter is that of a last will and testament of Peter to the church. This was not done to ensure Peter’s place in history but instead as a final, lasting effort to teach, guide, and encourage the followers of Jesus before Peter died.

How Many Times Should You Forgive Someone?

Jesus shared a story (parable) about forgiving others.

Jesus’ illustration was prompted by Peter, who asked if forgiving someone seven times was enough; Peter thought seven times was generous. Jesus upped the figure considerably, saying seventy-seven times. But we don’t take this amount literally, instead understanding that Jesus really meant we need to forgive others “more times than we can count” or “without limit.”

Jesus’ story, however, takes the idea of forgiveness to another level. A man, who owed a huge debt he could never repay, begged for mercy, for more time to make payment. But instead of receiving additional time, the debt was forgiven.

But then the man threatened someone who owed him a tiny bit of money. No mercy was given; no forgiveness was offered. He withheld from others what had been given to him.

Because of the man’s selfishness and not treating others as he was treated, his debt was reinstated and he was thrown into prison and tortured. Our fate will be no different if we don’t forgive others.

We, who have been forgiven much by God, need to likewise forgive others. The risk of withholding forgiveness is too great.

[Matthew 18:21-35]

Another Man With Two Names

Last week we talked about Simon Peter, a guy with two names. Another man with two names is John Mark. Unlike Abraham and Sarah who received new identities from God and Peter who got his second name from Jesus, the origin of John Mark’s two names seems to lack divine origin.

Perhaps his parents gave him one name at birth and his other label, a nickname bestowed by friends. Maybe he needed two names to avoid confusion with other guys named John and other dudes called Mark.

Regardless John Mark’s dual name does not seem to have any spiritual significance, but to simply be practical.

Even so, John Mark is a fun name to say.

[Read more about John Mark in “Lessons from the Life of John Mark” and “The Comeback of John Mark.”]

Jesus Gives a New Name to Simon

One of Jesus’ disciples was Simon, who Jesus renamed Peter.

According to the Amplified Bible, Peter means “stone” or “a large piece of rock.”

Sometimes the Bible refers to him as Simon (47 times) and other times Simon Peter (33 times) but mostly just Peter (139 times).

Peter was the first leader of Jesus’ followers, so calling him “rock” fits. Perhaps Jesus gave Peter a new name to preview his future as a leader.

Even more interesting is a play on words Jesus uses in Matthew 16:16-18. The implication isn’t apparent in most versions of the Bible, but the Amplified Bible captures it nicely (even throwing in some Greek to make sure we don’t miss it).

Peter (Petros, “a large piece of rock,” essentially a rock) gives a proclamation (Petra, “a huge rock like Gibraltar,” essentially the rock) saying Jesus is “the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus affirms Peter’s words, declaring them to be the foundation on which he will build his church.

Peter is not the foundation, but his testimony is.

Why Should I Follow Your Advice?

A guy named Peter knew how to fish. That was his trade, his livelihood. When it came to catching fish, he was the expert.

Peter’s buddy Jesus was a carpenter by trade. He knew how to make things with his hands, things constructed of wood. He was an expert at woodworking.

So when the professional fisherman didn’t catch a thing, it seems strange for the professional carpenter to offer him fishing advice.

But that’s exactly what Jesus did to Peter, the novice told the expert what to do.

It would have been entirely reasonable for Peter to dismiss Jesus, after all, Peter had been fishing his entire life; Jesus had not.

Yet Peter set aside his pride and disregarded his experience, agreeing to do what Jesus said, just “because you say so.”

Sometimes what God tells us to do seems foolish, sometimes we know better and want to ignore his advice. But if we are truly wise we will do it anyway, just because he says so.

[Luke 5:1-11]

Peter Speaks to Gentiles

The fourth sermon in the book of Acts: Acts 10:23-48 (specifically Acts 10:34-43)

Setting: Caesarea

Speaker: Peter

Audience: Cornelius, his family, and close friends – all Gentiles (that is, non-Jews)

Preceding Events: Through a dream, God tells Peter to go to Cornelius’s house.

Overall Theme: God makes no distinction between people; traditional barriers have been broken, everyone can come to Jesus.

Scripture Quoted: none (as a non-Jewish audience, citing the Bible would not likely have been helpful to those listening)

Central Teaching: God shows no favoritism.

Subsequent Events: When Paul says “everyone who believes in him…,” his message is interrupted by the Holy Spirit, who comes upon the Gentiles who have just believed.

Key Lesson: Don’t allow our past or perceptions to dictate who we interact with; Jesus is for everyone.

Peter had to set aside his traditions and the law of Moses to do what God told him.

Would you being willing to do the same?

Peter Heals a Lame Man

The second sermon in the book of Acts: Acts 3:1-4:4 (specifically, Acts 3:12-26).

Setting: Jerusalem, in the temple

Speaker: Peter

Audience: Jews

Preceding Events: Peter, through the power of Jesus, heals a man who was crippled from birth.

Overall Theme: Jesus, God’s servant, was foretold in the Old Testament. His execution at the hands of ignorant people was part of God’s plan, as was his rising from the dead.

Scripture Quoted: Deuteronomy 18:15, 18, 19, Genesis 22:18; 26:4

Central Teaching: Jesus’ name has the power to heal.

Subsequent Events: Peter is interrupted by the temple guards and he and John are thrown in prison, yet thousands more believe in Jesus.

Key Lesson: A miraculous healing provides an opportunity for truth about Jesus to be shared, which results in mass conversions.

If, at church, you saw a wheelchair-bound man get up and walk, what would you think?

Peter at Pentecost

The first sermon in the book of Acts: Acts 2:1-41 (specifically Acts 2:14-36).

Setting: Jerusalem on Pentecost

Speaker: Peter

Audience: Jews from many nations

Preceding Events: The Holy Spirit arrives and empowers the disciples to speak in other languages. Unable to comprehend what is happening, some in the crowd conclude that the disciples are drunk. (This may be the original source for the phrase “drunk on the Holy Spirit.”)

Overall Theme: Jesus died but is alive again – and he is Lord

Scripture Quoted: Joel 2:28-32, Psalm 16:8-11, Psalm 110:1

Central Teaching: Repent (change your ways) and be baptized

Subsequent Events: 3,000 respond

Key Lesson: Through the Holy Spirit, amazing things can happen that go far beyond man’s capabilities to accomplish on his own.

What would have been your reaction if you where there to witness these events?

Sermons in the Book of Acts

There are a number of “sermons” (teachings, messages, proclamations) found in the book of Acts. While the definition of what constitutes a sermon and the precise number of them may be open for debate, I put the number at eleven.

There are three from Peter, one from Stephen, and seven from Paul:

1) Acts 2:14-36 (Peter)
2) Acts 3:12-26 (Peter)
3) Acts 7:1-53 (Stephen)
4) Acts 10:34-43 (Peter)
5) Acts 13:16-41(Paul)
6) Acts 17:22-31(Paul)
7) Acts 20:18-35 (Paul)
8) Acts 22:3-21 (Paul)
9) Acts 24:10-21 (Paul)
10) Acts 26:2-29 (Paul)
11) Acts 28:25-28 (Paul)

In the next posts these eleven sermons in Acts will be summarized.

(There are many other shorter teachings and words uttered by the apostles that are recorded in the book of Acts. These are also worthy of consideration, but only longer messages that are delivered in public settings will be discussed. Also, keep in mind that many of the letters recorded in the New Testament are written sermons.)