Life and Death of Apostle Peter

The Apostle Peter may have been the most outspoken of the twelve apostles in Jesus’ ministry on earth. He certainly became one of the boldest witnesses for the faith.  His beginnings were certainly humble in origin.  He was born about 1 B.C. and died sometime around A.D. 67.

Peter was originally named Simon.
Jesus was the One Who changed Peter’s name.

Peter means “rock” or literally Petra. 

He was a Galilean fisherman and was the brother of Andrew.

The brothers Peter & Andrew came from the village of Bethsaida
John 1:44 – 44 Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida

Peter was married.
He was also a follower of John the Baptist.  Peter, like all humans before their calling, was a sinful man.  In fact he was ashamed of his sinfulness in the presence of Jesus Christ

Luke 5:6-8 New Living Translation (NLT)
And this time their nets were so full of fish they began to tear! A shout for help brought their partners in the other boat, and soon both boats were filled with fish and on the verge of sinking.When Simon Peter realized what had happened, he fell to his knees before Jesus and said, “Oh, Lord, please leave me—I’m such a sinful man.”

Fishermen at that time were gruff, unkempt, vile, shabbily dressed, and often used vulgar language.  The fishermen of the first century were a man’s man.  They were full of vigor and had boisterous tempers.  This is perhaps why James and his brother John were called the Sons of Thunder

when Jesus told them (Peter and Andrew) to “follow me” they simply walked away and left everything they had without a second thought (Luke 5:9-1).  Consider the fact that this meant that they left everything – all of their fishing boats, their fishing nets, and all the accessories that came with their trade.  How many today would be willing to leave their own business to follow Someone that had simply asked them to follow Him?

As mentioned earlier, Peter was among the first disciples called by Jesus and he was frequently their spokesman – for good or bad.  One thing that he is credited with is the special insight that he had concerning Jesus’ identity.  Peter was the first to call Jesus the Son of the Living God – the Messiah (Mark 8:29, Luke 9:20, Matt. 16:16-17).   When Jesus called him, Peter knew that He was of God and felt unworthy to be in Jesus presence (Luke 5:6-8).   Even so, Jesus did not hesitate and told Peter and Andrew that He would make them “fishers of men” (Mark 1:17).

Some of the Crazy things Peter alone could do:

  • Catching 153 big fishes while they had fished the whole night but not even a fish – John 21: 5-11
  • Peter Rebuking Jesus – Matthew 16:22
  • Peter at the mount of Transfiguration – Matthew 17:1-13 – Lord let us build three tents
  • Peter Says I will not leave you even if I have to die – Matthew 26:35, Mark 14:31
  • Peter goes for fishing and pays the Tax – Matthew 17:24-27

After Christ’s death in Jerusalem, Peter became the head of the church.  He traveled widely proclaiming the way of Jesus everywhere he went.  He had been in Rome when persecution against Christians (who refused to worship the emperor) became increasingly frequent and violent.  Warned that his life was in grave danger, he decided to flee the city following the Appian Way to safer ground. 

He got as far as the ground where this little church stands.

In Latin, the church is called “Chiesa del Domine Quo Vadis.”  In English, it literally means “The Church of ‘Lord, Where are You Going?’.”  As Peter fled the city, it was here that he encountered the risen Christ.   Peter saw Jesus walking in the opposite direction going back toward the city of Rome.  Peter – astonished – asked Jesus, “Lord, where are you going?”  Jesus responded, “I am going back to Rome to be crucified again.”

Peter obeyed.  He returned, was arrested, and crucified upside down on a cross.

In the days leading up to Peter’s death, almost all of the apostles had been martyred.  Did Jesus actually predict Peter’s death by crucifixion when He said that “when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and take you where you do not want to go” (John 21:18-19)?  The church historian Tertullian, Origen, and Eusebius state that Peter’s was stretched out by his hands, he was dressed in prison garb, he was taken where no one wanted to go (a crucifixion), and was crucified.  He was said to be crucified upside down because he felt unworthy to be crucified in the way that the Lord Jesus Christ had been.

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