Peter - the Bible text

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St Peter, painting by Holman Hunt

Peter's story

Set of golden keys

Bible study activities

Elderly woman, Katouzian

  People in the story

Reconstruction of a 1st century fishing boat in Galilee - based on an excavated boat

A fisherman's life 

The Denial of St Peter, Gerrit van Honthorst

Paintings of Peter and Jesus

'What do I do now?' logo

on Peter's story

Map of the Jerusalem area, showing valleys and ridges

Bible Maps: places in Jerusalem Peter saw with Jesus (maps 4 & 5)

'The Kiss' (Beso), Spanish carving

The story of Judas

Basil Rathbone as King Herod 

The Herods 
Mad, bad and dangerous

Crucifixion, Matthias Grunewald, detail










Peter in the Four Gospels

Jesus Calling His Disciples, DuccioJesus calls his first disciples

16   As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. 
  “Come, follow me,”
Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” 
   At once they left their nets and followed him.  
Mark 1:16-18

The healing of Peter's mother-in-law

38  Jesus left the synagogue and went to the home of Simon. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked Jesus to help her. 
  So he bent over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. She got up at once and began to wait on them.  Luke 4:38-39

Jesus walks on water

22  Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. 
  After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, 

Jesus Walks On Water

Jesus Walks On Water

24  and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.
  Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. 
When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.
  But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
  “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”
he said.  Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.
30  But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” 
  Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?” 
  And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 
Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” Matthew 14:22-33

Peter declares that Jesus is the Messiah

13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”
14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
Keys of the Kingdom15 “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
17 Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. 
And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.
I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
Then he ordered his disciples not to tell anyone that he was the Messiah. 
Matthew 16:13-20

Jesus predicts his death

21 From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.
22 Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. “Never, Lord!” he said. “This shall never happen to you!”
23 Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”  
Matthew 16:21-13

The Transfiguration

1 After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. 
2 There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. 
Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus.
4 Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”
5 While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”
6 When the disciples heard this, they fell facedown to the ground, terrified. 
But Jesus came and touched them. “Get up,” he said. “Don’t be afraid.” 
When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus.
9 As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus instructed them, “Don’t tell anyone what you have seen, until the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.” Matthew 17:1-9

Jesus washes the disciples' feet
1  It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.
  The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. 

Ford Madox Brown, Christ Washing St Peter's Feet

Ford Madox Brown, Christ Washing St Peter's Feet

3  Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; 
  so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. 
  After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
6  He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”
  Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.”
8   “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.”
   “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!”
10  Jesus answered, “Those who have had a bath need only to wash their feet; their whole body is clean. And you are clean, though not every one of you.” 
11  For he knew who was going to betray him, and that was why he said not every one was clean.  John 13:1-11

'Passion of the Christ', Mel Gibson, film still of the Last Supper

'Passion of the Christ', Mel Gibson, 
film still of the Last Supper

Peter's denial foretold

26  When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.    
  “You will all fall away,”
Jesus told them, “for it is written:  “‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’   
  But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.”
29  Peter declared, “Even if all fall away, I will not.”   
  “Truly I tell you,”
Jesus answered, “today—yes, tonight—before the rooster crows twice you yourself will disown me three times.” 
  But Peter insisted emphatically, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the others said the same.   Mark 14: 26-31

Jesus prays in Gethsemane

32  They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.” 
  He took Peter, James and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. 
  “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death,”
he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.” 
  Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him. 

Giovanni Bellini, Prayer of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane

Giovanni Bellini, Prayer of Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane

36  “Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” 
  Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. “Simon,” he said to Peter, “are you asleep? Couldn’t you keep watch for one hour? 
  Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

  Once more he went away and prayed the same thing. 
  When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. They did not know what to say to him.
  Returning the third time, he said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is delivered into the hands of sinners. 
  Rise! Let us go! Here comes my betrayer!”
   Mark 14: 32-42

The betrayal and arrest of Jesus

1  When he had finished praying, Jesus left with his disciples and crossed the Kidron Valley. On the other side there was a garden, and he and his disciples went into it.

Peter Smites Off the Ear of Malchus, Tissot

Peter Smites Off the Ear of Malchus, Tissot

2  Now Judas, who betrayed him, knew the place, because Jesus had often met there with his disciples. 
  So Judas came to the garden, guiding a detachment of soldiers and some officials from the chief priests and the Pharisees. They were carrying torches, lanterns and weapons.
  Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, “Who is it you want?”
  “Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “I am he,” Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.) 
  When Jesus said, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground.
  Again he asked them, “Who is it you want?”  “Jesus of Nazareth,” they said.
  Jesus answered, “I told you that I am he. If you are looking for me, then let these men go.”
  This happened so that the words he had spoken would be fulfilled: “I have not lost one of those you gave me.”
  Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.)
  Jesus commanded Peter, “Put your sword away! Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?” 
12  So the soldiers, their officer, and the Jewish police arrested Jesus and bound him.  

John 18:1-12

Peter disowns Jesus

54  Then seizing him, they led him away and took him into the house of the high priest. Peter followed at a distance. 
  And when some there had kindled a fire in the middle of the courtyard and had sat down together, Peter sat down with them. 

The Denial of Peter, Gerrit van Honthorst

The Denial of Peter, Gerrit van Honthorst

56  A servant girl saw him seated there in the firelight. She looked closely at him and said, “This man was with him.”
  But he denied it. “Woman, I don’t know him,” he said.
  A little later someone else saw him and said, “You also are one of them.”  “Man, I am not!” Peter replied.
  About an hour later another asserted, “Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean.”
  Peter replied, “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about!” Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. 
  The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: “Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.” 
  And he went outside and wept bitterly.    Luke 22:54-62

The Resurrection of Jesus

1  On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. 
  They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 
  but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 
  While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. 
  In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? 
  He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: 
  ‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’

Eugene Burnand, Peter and John Run to the Tomb of Christ, 1850

Peter and John Run to the Tomb of Christ,
Eugene Burnand, 1850

8  Then they remembered his words.
  When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. 
  It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. 
  But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. 
  Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.  Luke 24:1-12

Peter escapes from prison

Ancient coin showing the head of Herod Agrippa I, who imprisoned Peter

1 About that time Herod the king laid violent hands upon some who belonged to the church. 2 He killed James the brother of John with the sword; 3 and when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. This was during the days of Unleavened Bread. 4 And when he had seized him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending after the Passover to bring him out to the people. 5 So Peter was kept in prison; but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church. 6 The very night when Herod was about to bring him out, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries before the door were guarding the prison; 7 and behold, an angel of the Lord appeared, and a light shone in the cell; and he struck Peter on the side and woke him, saying, "Get up quickly." And the chains fell off his hands.

The Liberation of St Peter

8 And the angel said to him, "Dress yourself and put on your sandals." And he did so. And he said to him, "Wrap your mantle around you and follow me." 9 And he went out and followed him; he did not know that what was done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. 10 When they had passed the first and the second guard, they came to the iron gate leading into the city. It opened to them of its own accord, and they went out and passed on through one street; and immediately the angel left him. 11 And Peter came to himself, and said, "Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting."    Acts 12:1-11


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