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.”]
In the last post, we talked about the disciple Simon, who Jesus named Peter.
I only know of one person called Peter in the Bible, but there are several guys named Simon:
- Simon Peter (the disciple)
- Simon the Zealot (another disciple, which may be why Jesus called the other Simon, Peter)
- Simon the brother of Jesus (his other brothers were James, Joseph, and Judas)
- Simon the leper (the owner of the home where Jesus’ head was anointed with oil)
- Simon from Cyrene (who carried Jesus’ cross)
- Simon the Pharisee (the owner of the home where Jesus feet were washed with perfume)
- Simon Iscariot (father of Judas Iscariot)
- Simon the sorcerer (who asked to buy Holy Spirit power)
- Simon the tanner (who Peter stayed with in Joppa when Cornelius sent for him)
I would have never guessed there were this many Simons in the Bible.
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.