The Perfecting of Peter
Now Jesus was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret, and the crowd was pressing around him to hear the word of God. He saw two boats by the lake, but the fishermen had gotten out of them and were washing their nets. He got into one of the boats, which was Simon's, and asked him to put out a little way from the shore. Then Jesus sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, "Put out into the deep water and lower your nets for a catch." Simon answered, "Master, we worked hard all night and caught nothing! But at your word I will lower the nets." When they had done this, they caught so many fish that their nets started to tear. So they motioned to their partners in the other boat to come and help them. And they came and filled both boats, so that they were about to sink. But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus' knees, saying, "away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!" For Peter and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish that they had taken, and so were James and John, Zebedee's sons, who were Simon's business partners. Then Jesus said to Simon, "Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people." So when they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him. (Luke 5:1-11 NET)
When Peter saw the miracle of the great catch of fish and realized that Jesus is the Lord he wanted to hide but alas there was no place to go on the small boat!
Similarly, Adam and Eve desired to hide from God after they had eaten of the forbidden fruit and having traded God’s plan of righteousness by faith that receives grace for Satan’s impossible plan of righteousness through works. A plan that results in continual fear of not measuring up (i.e., through the knowledge of good and evil or right and wrong). (Genesis 3:7,8)
Furthermore, Peter was like the Israelites when God was on the mountain giving them the Decalogue or Ten Commandments and when they heard the Lord, sensed His power, and the penetrating light of His glory they ran away from God! (Exodus 20:18-22). Nevertheless, in spite of trembling with fear Moses had the courage (1) to meet with God on the top of Mount Sinai. (Exodus 19:18-20. Deuteronomy 9:19. Hebrews 12:21)
Now this is the basis for judging: that the light has come into the world and people loved the darkness rather than the light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone who does evil deeds hates the light and does not come to the light, so that their deeds will not be exposed. But the one who practices the truth comes to the light, so that it may be plainly evident that his deeds have been done in God. (John 3:19-21 NET)
We like Peter, when confronted with the penetrating light of God have the choice to either embrace the Lord’s light and reject our dark evil nature or to reject the Lord’s light and embrace our dark evil nature.
Now this is the gospel message we have heard from him and announce to you: God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all.If we say we have fellowship with him and yet keep on walking in the darkness, we are lying and not practicing the truth. But if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.If we say we do not bear the guilt of sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. But if we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous, forgiving us our sins and cleansing us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:5–9 NET)
Jesus asks the Disciples a question:
Then he said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Peter answered, "The Christ of God." But he forcefully commanded them not to tell this to anyone, (Luke 9:20-21 NET)
Peter saw the power of God in Jesus’ life and acknowledged that He was the Christ (anointed) of God (in other words the man with God’s power). Jesus then chastens Peter (chasten means to train as a teacher would a child) and tells him not to share his understanding because it was not entirely correct. While it was true that Jesus was and is the Christ of God the revelation that Peter lacked in his heart was that Jesus is Lord! The correct answer would have been “My Lord.” Many today are confessing various things about Jesus and wondering why God is using them very little for ministry. We must learn the lesson that Peter would soon learn. We must see, as Peter did, what is really in our hearts concerning our relationship with Jesus. That is, Peter had to become a broken clay jar (2 Corinthians 4:7) so that Christ Jesus could shine through the cracks! Again, Peter had to stop allowing his flesh to be lord of his life so that Jesus could reign as Lord from his heart.
From that time on Jesus began to show his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests, and experts in the law, and be killed, and on the third day be raised. So Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him: "God forbid, Lord! This must not happen to you!" But he turned and said to Peter, "Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me, because you are not setting your mind on God's interests, but on man's." Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone wants to become my follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. (Matthew 16:21-24 NET)
The heart of the matter is given here – Peter was mindful of how things looked before men and not God (Luke 16:15). That is, Peter was yielding to the desires of the flesh (e.g., peer pressure) and Jesus used this opportunity to chasten Peter, again.
After they arrived in Capernaum, the collectors of the temple tax came to Peter and said, "Your teacher pays the double drachma tax, doesn't he?" He said, "Yes." When Peter came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, "What do you think, Simon? From whom do earthly kings collect tolls or taxes– from their sons or from foreigners?" After he said, "From foreigners," Jesus said to him, "Then the sons are free. But so that we don't offend them, go to the lake and throw out a hook. Take the first fish that comes up, and when you open its mouth, you will find a four drachma coin. Take that and give it to them for me and you." (Matthew 17:24-27 NET)
Here we find Peter answering the receivers of the tribute to maintain his appearance before them. Peter’s yielded to the peer pressure because his flesh was still lord. Jesus again uses this opportunity to chasten Peter.
Again I say, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter into the kingdom of God." The disciples were greatly astonished when they heard this and said, "Then who can be saved?" Jesus looked at them and replied, "This is impossible for mere humans, but for God all things are possible." Then Peter said to him, "Look, we have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?" Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth: In the age when all things are renewed, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And whoever has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first. (Matthew 19:24-30 NET)
Peter again is showing that his thoughts were “what is in it for my flesh.” Jesus again uses this opportunity to chasten in declaring that even though Peter was selected as the first apostle, he could find himself last. Only when Peter chooses to make himself the least of the apostles will he be ready to be their leader (Matthew 20:25,26;23:11. Mark 9:35;10:43,44. Luke 22:26).
Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, pulled it out and struck the high priest's slave, cutting off his right ear. (Now the slave's name was Malchus.) But Jesus said to Peter, "Put your sword back into its sheath! Am I not to drink the cup that the Father has given me?" (John. 18:10,11 NET)
Peter is still allowing his flesh to be Lord and tries to fight to maintain Jesus’ reign on the Earth.
Circa 31 A.D.
Jesus again chastens Peter:
"Simon, Simon, pay attention! Satan has demanded to have you all, to sift you like wheat, (Luke 22:31 NET)
Based on the Book of Job (1) we can hypothesize what I believe took place behind the scene. Satan had observed that Peter was not committed to God and sought God for permission to test him. God the righteous judge gave permission for Satan to test Peter (and the same is done for us) based on what he (and we) have been sowing (Galatians 6:7). Realize, God at first warns us and tries to correct us through warnings from His Word which is referred to as chastening in the Bible. This is similar to getting a warning ticket from the traffic police. However, if we do not heed the warning, then the scourging begins (Hebrews 12:6. John 15:2). This is analogous to being thrown into prison where the guards torture you (Matthew 18:34,35). Realize, Satan, his fallen angels, and his demons run this torture operation (Matthew 18:23-35. John 10:10. 1 Corinthians 5:4,5. 2 Timothy 2:25,26. 1 Peter 5:8)
Once Satan was released to test Peter, God our Father was creating a unique way of passing the test for Peter and Jesus was already interceding for his restoration! Realize, this same scenario of testing, a way of passing the test created by God, and Jesus interceding for our restoration is repeated countless times every day in the lives of God’s children throughout the Earth.
but I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. When you have turned back, strengthen your brothers." (Luke 22:32 NET)
No trial has overtaken you that is not faced by others. And God is faithful: He will not let you be tried beyond what you are able to bear, but with the trial will also provide a way out so that you may be able to endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:13 NET)
The reason for the test is that Peter’s opinion of what was in his heart was far from what was really there. Jesus had attempted to show Peter what was in his heart earlier but to no avail.
But Peter said to him, "Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death!" (Luke 22:33 NET)
But, God knew what was really in Peter’s heart (1 Samuel 16:7).
Jesus replied, "I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow today until you have denied three times that you know me." (Luke 22:34 NET)
Jesus said to him, "I tell you the truth, on this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times." (Matthew 26:34 NET)
Jesus said to him, "I tell you the truth, today– this very night– before a rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times." (Mark. 14:30 NET)
Jesus answered, "Will you lay down your life for me? I tell you the solemn truth, the rooster will not crow until you have denied me three times! (John 13:38 NET)
The testing begins (1):
When they had made a fire in the middle of the courtyard and sat down together, Peter sat down among them. (Luke 22:55 NET)
But Peter was following him from a distance, all the way to the high priest's courtyard. After going in, he sat with the guards to see the outcome. (Matthew 26:58 NET)
And Peter had followed him from a distance, up to the high priest's courtyard. He was sitting with the guards and warming himself by the fire. (Mark 14:54 NET)
Simon Peter and another disciple followed them as they brought Jesus to Annas. (Now the other disciple was acquainted with the high priest, and he went with Jesus into the high priest's courtyard.) But Simon Peter was left standing outside by the door. So the other disciple who was acquainted with the high priest came out and spoke to the slave girl who watched the door, and brought Peter inside. (John 18:15-16 NET)
Satan prompts someone to identify Peter:
Then a slave girl, seeing him as he sat in the firelight, stared at him and said, "This man was with him too!" But Peter denied it: "Woman, I don't know him!" (Luke 22:56,57 NET)
Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. A slave girl came to him and said, "You also were with Jesus the Galilean." But he denied it in front of them all: "I don't know what you're talking about!" (Matthew 26:69-70 NET)
Now while Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the high priest's slave girls came by. When she saw Peter warming himself, she looked directly at him and said, "You also were with that Nazarene, Jesus." But he denied it: "I don't even understand what you're talking about!" Then he went out to the gateway, and a rooster crowed. (Mark 14:66-68 NET)
The girl who was the doorkeeper said to Peter, “You’re not one of this man’s disciples too, are you?” He replied, “I am not.” (Now the slaves and the guards were standing around a charcoal fire they had made, warming themselves because it was cold. Peter also was standing with them, warming himself.) (John 18:17–18 NET)
In the Gospel of Mark, the rooster crowed the first time after Peter denied our Lord Jesus Christ the first time. I believe this was the way of escape provided by God. Peter could have realized then that he may have been willing in his spirit but his flesh was weak and betraying him. (Matthew 26:41) The peer pressure was greater than he could withstand as he warmed himself from a charcoal fire (cf. Isaiah 48:10). However, instead of taking the opportunity to recognize that additional failure is imminent and fleeing the tempting situation he stayed and failed three times.
How many of us have been in similar situations? Situations where we thought we could resist the temptation and not go too far (e.g., drugs including alcohol, sex including adultery, lying including hyperbolizing, cheating including plagiarizing, etc.).
In my journey to Christlikeness, I have learned that if you do not recognize and act on the “way of escape” given by God, then you will not escape on your own!
Satan prompts a second person to identify Peter:
Then a little later someone else saw him and said, "You are one of them too." But Peter said, "Man, I am not!" (Luke 22:58 NET)
When he went out to the gateway, another slave girl saw him and said to the people there, "This man was with Jesus the Nazarene." He denied it again with an oath, "I do not know the man!" (Matthew 26:71-72 NET)
When the slave girl saw him, she began again to say to the bystanders, "This man is one of them." But he denied it again. (Mark 14:69-70 a NET)
Meanwhile Simon Peter was standing in the courtyard warming himself. They said to him, "You aren't one of his disciples too, are you?" Peter denied it: "I am not!" (John 18:25 NET)
Satan prompts a third person to identify Peter:
And after about an hour still another insisted, "Certainly this man was with him, because he too is a Galilean." But Peter said, "Man, I don't know what you're talking about!" At that moment, while he was still speaking, a rooster crowed. Then the Lord turned and looked straight at Peter, and Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said to him, "Before a rooster crows today, you will deny me three times." And he went outside and wept bitterly. (Luke 22:59-62 NET)
After a little while, those standing there came up to Peter and said, "You really are one of them too– even your accent gives you away!" At that he began to curse, and he swore with an oath, "I do not know the man!" At that moment a rooster crowed. Then Peter remembered what Jesus had said: "Before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times." And he went outside and wept bitterly. (Matthew 26:73-75 NET)
A short time later the bystanders again said to Peter, "You must be one of them, because you are also a Galilean." Then he began to curse, and he swore with an oath, "I do not know this man you are talking about!" Immediately a rooster crowed a second time. Then Peter remembered what Jesus had said to him: "Before a rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times." And he broke down and wept. (Mark 14:70-72 NET)
One of the high priest's slaves, a relative of the man whose ear Peter had cut off, said, "Did I not see you in the orchard with him?" Then Peter denied it again, and immediately a rooster crowed. (John 18:26-27 NET)
Peter was broken. Now, Jesus and Peter both saw Peter for what and who he was at the moment their eyes made contact. The true Peter was revealed resulting in godly sorrow (2 Corinthians 7:10. Romans 2:4)
When Jesus appeared to all the disciples for the first time after his resurrection from the dead, except for Thomas, He commanded them to forgive. Realize, the group likely had hard feelings towards one another and particularly Peter who had even cursed the Lord’s name with an oath! (2) (Matthew 26:74. Mark 14:71)
Their lack of forgiveness would block the formation of the church. They must forgive (1) one another and themselves, for failing Jesus in His hour of need, if the church was to be birthed on Pentecost (Matthew 6:14,15).
So Jesus said to them again, "Peace be with you. Just as the Father has sent me, I also send you." And after he said this, he breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone's sins, they are forgiven; if you retain anyone's sins, they are retained." (John 20:21-23 NET)
Simon Peter, Thomas (called Didymus), Nathanael (who was from Cana in Galilee), the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples of his were together. Simon Peter told them, "I am going fishing." "We will go with you," they replied. They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. (John 21:2-3 NET)
After Jesus reminds them to forgive, Peter states he is going fishing and six other Disciples go with him showing that they have forgiven themselves and the others. Now the stage is set for Peter’s restoration.
After every breaking, comes the remaking!
Simon Peter, Thomas (called Didymus), Nathanael (who was from Cana in Galilee), the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples of his were together. Simon Peter told them, "I am going fishing." "We will go with you," they replied. They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. When it was already very early morning, Jesus stood on the beach, but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. So Jesus said to them, "Children, you don't have any fish, do you?" They replied, "No." He told them, "Throw your net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some." So they threw the net, and were not able to pull it in because of the large number of fish. Then the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, "It is the Lord!" So Simon Peter, when he heard that it was the Lord, tucked in his outer garment (for he had nothing on underneath it), and plunged into the sea. Meanwhile the other disciples came with the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from land, only about a hundred yards. When they got out on the beach, they saw a charcoal fire ready with a fish placed on it, and bread. Jesus said, "Bring some of the fish you have just now caught." So Simon Peter went aboard and pulled the net to shore. It was full of large fish, one hundred fifty-three, but although there were so many, the net was not torn. "Come, have breakfast," Jesus said. But none of the disciples dared to ask him, "Who are you?" because they knew it was the Lord. Jesus came and took the bread and gave it to them, and did the same with the fish. This was now the third time Jesus was revealed to the disciples after he was raised from the dead. (John 21:2-14 NET)
Peter had been a fisher of fish when Jesus called him but became a fisher of men (Mark 1:16-18). However, after denying Jesus Peter had returned to fishing, I believe he misguidedly thought he had lost his place in the ministry (John 21:3.. Luke 22:31,32. Romans 11:29). Note that they caught nothing until fishing as directed by Jesus. The same is true for us today, we must fish for humanity where, when, and how the Lord of the Church, Jesus (Yeshua) directs!
After His resurrection, Jesus set about to reconcile and restore Peter, for indeed this is what the Kingdom of God is all about!
Brothers and sisters, if a person is discovered in some sin, you who are spiritual restore such a person in a spirit of gentleness. Pay close attention to yourselves, so that you are not tempted too. Carry one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:1–2 NET)
But the aim of our instruction is love that comes from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith. (1 Timothy 1:5 NET)
Peter had denied knowing Jesus three times so He asked Peter if he loved Him three times while He served them a breakfast of grilled fish that He had prepared from a charcoal fire. This Greek word for a charcoal fire (Gk, ἀνθρακιά anthrakia)(8) is only used twice in the New Testament. The first time was when Peter failed by denying the Lord Jesus three times (John 18:18) and the second was when Peter was reconciled and restored by acknowledging his love for the Lord three times (John 21:9).
There are no coincidences with God.
Again, three times Peter denied Jesus, and now three times He will acknowledge Him.
“The two words [agapao (3) and phileo (4)] appear here side by side in contrast with one another, with the inevitable result that what is distinctive of each is thrown into relief. That anyone should doubt that the words are used here in distinctive senses would seem incredible prior to experience. The list of those who have expressed such doubt, however, is neither short nor undistinguished, running as it does from Grotius to Gildersleeve. It is, however, as Moulton and Milligan remark, “in so severely simple a writer as John it is extremely hard to reconcile ourselves to a meaningless use of synonyms, where the point would seem to lie in the identity of the word employed.” In point of fact, our Lord does not put to Peter three times over the same question. Altering the question progressively, He drives the probe into Peter’s conscience deeper and deeper.” (6)
The first time Jesus asks Peter:
Then when they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon, son of John, do you love (agapao) me more than these do?" He replied, "Yes, Lord, you know I love (phileo) you." Jesus told him, "Feed my lambs." (John 21:15 NET)
“On the first occasion, Jesus asks him: ” Simon, son of John, dost thou agapao me more than these?” – have you a deeper devotion to me than the rest of my disciples? In his answer, spoken in deep humility, the repentant Peter avoids all comparison with his fellows, and merely asseverates his personal love for his master: “Assuredly, Lord; thou knowest that I phileo Thee.” (6)
The paragraph above and the first bulleted question below address the first possible meaning of the first question asked by Jesus. However, the second bulleted question below could also have been meant by Jesus.
- Do you find me more precious than these other disciples find me?
- Do you find me more precious than these other disciples?
- Do you find me more precious than these fish?
The same passage from the Wuest expanded translation:
"Then when they had breakfasted, Jesus says to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, do you have a love for me called out of your heart by my preciousness to you, a devotional love that implies you to sacrifice yourself for me? Do you consider me more precious and thus love me more than these [fish]? He says to Him Yes, Lord as for you, you know positively that I have an emotional fondness for you. He says to him, Be feeding my little lambs." (John 21:15 Wuest) (7)
As odd as the third bulleted question above sounds, I believe it is also a relevant question! Think about it, fishing for fish was Peter’s former career and Jesus wanted him to launch off into the new “fishing for men” career leading to the formation of The Church.
Hear our Lord Jesus dear hearts of God – do you love me more than your CAREER? Selah (i.e., pause and reflect on that thought). Can you say “Amen!” or rather is it “Oh Me!”
However, this could also be similar to when Jesus wrote on the ground when the woman caught in adultery was brought to Him. That is, perhaps “more than these” was left intentionally vague so that we can fill in the blank with whatever the idol is in our lives! (John 8:6,8) Want to identify your idol? What or who is it you run to when you are hurting or desire to celebrate? If not the Lord Jesus, then know that is your idol (1).
The second time Jesus asks Peter:
Jesus said a second time, "Simon, son of John, do you love (agapao) me?" He replied, "Yes, Lord, you know I love (phileo) you." Jesus told him, "Shepherd my sheep." (John 21:16 NET)
“In His second question, Jesus accordingly omits the comparison, and asks of Peter only whether he himself has the requisite devotion to His person: “He saith to him again, a second time, Simon, son of John, agape me?” Again Peter responds in the same humble spirit as before, waiving the question of proper devotion, and asseverating only his personal affection: “Assuredly Lord; Thou knowest that I phileo Thee.” (6)
The third time Jesus asks Peter:
Jesus said a third time, "Simon, son of John, do you love [phileo] me?" Peter was distressed that Jesus asked him a third time, "Do you love [phileo] me?" and said, "Lord, you know everything. You know that I love [phileo] you." Jesus replied, "Feed my sheep. (John 21:17 NET)
“Then, the third time, Jesus pushes the probe to the bottom and demands of Peter with sharp directness and brevity whether he has any real affection for Him: “He saith to him the third time, Simon, son of John, dost thou phileo me?” “And Peter was grieved because He said to him this third time, Dost thou phileo me? and he saith to Him” (omitting this time the asseveration, “Assuredly,” because the precise assertion he had to make had been called in question), “Lord, Thou knowest all things; Thou dost see ” (surely, surely the Lord must see it!) “that I phileo Thee.” Of course there is no question here of our Lord’s question, “Dost thou agape me?” “sounding too cold to Peter,” because all the pulses of his heart were beating with earnest affection toward his Lord. It is “humility and a feeling of unworthiness which leads Peter to choose another expression.” He could not in his heart-broken penitence assert of himself the agapao which he had not illustrated in his acts; but he could not be false to his deep sense of real affection. Agapao and phileo emerge, therefore, as respectively the love of complete devotion and the love (as Meyer phrases it) “of personal heart emotion”; the love of surrendering obedience and the love (as Westcott phrases it) of “personal attachment,” “the feeling of natural love.” Th. Zahn supposes that the question of our Lord to Peter had as one of its ends, “bringing him to the consciousness that the love of the Lord which is a mark of a right disciple and the spring of his duty-doing, is not a matter of natural temperament, but a fruit of victory over inborn nature.” Therefore he supposes Him, avoiding the term which expresses the product of the natural temperament, to ask Peter whether he loved Him in this way; whereas Peter clings to the simple asseveration of his natural personal love to Jesus – until our Lord is driven, in order to prove his heart fully, to challenge that also, and so to compel Peter to face the possibility that even this personal love for his master had failed. Whatever may be said of the details of this exposition, it is certainly sound so far as this: that in this conversation agapao and phileo are brought into contrast as in a sense the higher and the lower love – although these terms are somewhat infelicitous and may be misleading; perhaps we would better say, as the love of reverent devotion and the love of emotional attachment. And what is of most importance to observe is that the term which bore in its bosom the implication of reverent devotion had become for the men of the New Testament age the general word for love, while the term which expressed in its native suggestion the love of emotional attachment was in process of passing out of use. It is difficult to overstate the importance of this fact for the ready expression of the new revelation of love which the New Testament brought, in terms of current speech. The term which it was most natural to use of love, and which was in most familiar use among the people for love, was a term of such native connotation that it readily received and intelligibly expressed the new revelation of love.” (6)
“Our Lord uses “agapao” twice in John 21:15,16. Peter uses “phileo” three times. “Our Lord uses the noblest word in the Greek language the first two times and changes to Peter’s word the third time, but assures Peter that his coming martyrdom speaks of the fact that his future love for his Lord will be based not only upon delight in the Lord but upon his apprehension of His preciousness.” (5)
Three times Peter denied the Lord. Peter again struggles to say the right thing in front of his peers until finally in brokenness he proclaims that Jesus knows all things (i.e., Lord you know me better than I know myself).
I tell you the solemn truth, when you were young, you tied your clothes around you and went wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and others will tie you up and bring you where you do not want to go." (Now Jesus said this to indicate clearly by what kind of death Peter was going to glorify God.) After he said this, Jesus told Peter, "Follow me." (John 21:18-19 NET)
Jesus again invites Peter to follow Him just like at the beginning of His ministry.
As he went along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew, Simon’s brother, casting a net into the sea (for they were fishermen). Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will turn you into fishers of people.”They left their nets immediately and followed him. (Mark 1:16–18 NET)
Jesus never changes.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever! (Hebrews 13:8 NET)
So, did Peter (i.e., Cephas John 1:42) immediately transform into someone that would not allow peer pressure to influence his love for our Lord?
Circa 49 A.D.
The Apostle Paul said,
But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he had clearly done wrong. Until certain people came from James, he had been eating with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he stopped doing this and separated himself because he was afraid of those who were pro-circumcision. And the rest of the Jews also joined with him in this hypocrisy, so that even Barnabas was led astray with them by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that they were not behaving consistently with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of them all, "If you, although you are a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you try to force the Gentiles to live like Jews?" We are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners, yet we know that no one is justified by the works of the law but by the faithfulness of Jesus Christ. And we have come to believe in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by the faithfulness of Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified. But if while seeking to be justified in Christ we ourselves have also been found to be sinners, is Christ then one who encourages sin? Absolutely not! But if I build up again those things I once destroyed, I demonstrate that I am one who breaks God's law. For through the law I died to the law so that I may live to God. I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So the life I now live in the body, I live because of the faithfulness of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside God's grace, because if righteousness could come through the law, then Christ died for nothing! (Galatians 2:11-21 NET)
No, not immediately. Peter had to work out his salvation with fear and trembling even as we all do. (Philippians 2:12)
Circa 63 A.D.
The Apostle Peter said:
From Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those temporarily residing abroad (in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, the province of Asia, and Bithynia) who are chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father by being set apart by the Spirit for obedience and for sprinkling with Jesus Christ's blood. May grace and peace be yours in full measure! Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he gave us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, that is, into an inheritance imperishable, undefiled, and unfading. It is reserved in heaven for you, who by God's power are protected through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. This brings you great joy, although you may have to suffer for a short time in various trials. Such trials show the proven character of your faith, which is much more valuable than gold– gold that is tested by fire, even though it is passing away– and will bring praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. You have not seen him, but you love him. You do not see him now but you believe in him, and so you rejoice with an indescribable and glorious joy, because you are attaining the goal of your faith– the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:1-9 NET)
Our ways are not God’s ways… (Isaiah 55:8,9), but they will be… (1 John 3:2. 1 Corinthians 13:12).
God’s Thoughts and Ways Series:
- God’s Thoughts and Ways – Part I (Jeroboam)
- God’s Thoughts and Ways – Part II (Paul)
- God’s Thoughts and Ways – Part III (Lazarus)
- God’s Thoughts and Ways – Part IV (Balaam)
- God’s Thoughts and Ways – Part V (King Saul)
- God’s Thoughts and Ways – Part VI (Abel and Cain)
- God’s Thoughts and Ways – Part VII (National Judgment)
- God’s Thoughts and Ways – Part VIII (Joseph)
- God’s Thoughts and Ways – Part IX (Peter)
- God’s Thoughts and Ways – Part X (Invitation, Refusal, Banishment)
- God’s Thoughts and Ways – Part XI (Mary Mother of Jesus)
- God’s Thoughts and Ways – Part XII (Zipporah, Wife of Moses)
(Security, Wholeness, Success)
Dear friend, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, just as it is well with your soul. (3 John 1:2 NET)
(1) Select the link to open another article in a new tab with additional information.
(2) The Greek word translated as “curse” means to declare anathema or cursed, to declare one’s self liable to the severest divine penalties. Therefore, Peter was calling down upon himself the severest divine penalties if his words were not true. The Greek word translated “swear” means “to take an oath.” Therefore, Peter is denying any connection with Jesus and attempting to convince his accusers of the truthfulness of his words of not knowing Jesus by taking an oath. Wuest’s Word Studies: From the Greek New Testament Vol. 3, Kenneth S. Wuest, ISBN: 0-8028-2280-0
(3) Agapao Love – “”Agapao” speaks of a love which is awakened by a sense of value in an object which causes one to prize it. It springs from an apprehension of the preciousness of an object. It is a love of esteem and approbation. The quality of this love is determined by the character of the one who loves, and that of the object loved. Agapao is used in John 3:16. God’s love for a sinful and lost race springs from His heart in response to the high value He places upon each human soul. Every sinner is exceedingly precious in His sight. “Phileo,” (4) which is another word for love, is a love which is the response of the human spirit to what appeals to it as pleasurable, will not do here, for there is nothing in a lost sinner that the heart of God can find pleasure in, but on the contrary, everything that His holiness rebels against. But each sinner is most precious to God, first, because he bears the image of his Creator even though that image be marred by sin, and second, because through redemption, that sinner can be conformed into the very image of God’s dear Son. This preciousness of member of the human race to the heart of God is the constituent element of the love that gave His Son to die on the Cross. The degree of the preciousness is measured by the infinite sacrifice which God made. The love in John 3:16 therefore is a love whose essence is that of self-sacrifice for the benefit of the one loved, this love based upon an evaluation fo the preciousness of the one loved.” Wuest’s Word Studies: From the Greek New Testament Vol. 3, pp. 60-62, Kenneth S. Wuest, ISBN: 0-8028-2280-0
For this is the way God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16 NET)
(4) Phileo Love -“”Phileo” is a love which consists of the glow of the heart kindled by the perception of that in the object which affords us pleasure. It is the response of the human spirit to what appeals to it as pleasurable. The Greeks made much of friendship. The word was used to speak of a friendly affection. It is a love called out of one in response to a feeling of pleasure or delight which one experience from an apprehension of qualities in another that furnish such pleasure or delight. “Agapao” (3) on the other hand, speaks of a love which is awakened by a sense of value in the object loved, an apprehension of its preciousness… Those who find pleasure in a lie and thus love it, will go to a lost eternity. Hypocrites find pleasure in ostentatious prayer and thus love it. Those that take more delight in father or mother than in God love them better and for that reason. Our Lord found delight in the response of the heart of Lazarus to His own and thus loved him. God has a love of delight in those whose love for Jesus is based upon their delight in Him. “Phileo” like “agapao” has it quality determined by the character of the one who loves and of the object loved. “Agapao” is a love springing from a sense of the preciousness of the object loved, while “phileo” arises from a sense of pleasure found in the object loved. When used in a good meaning, both are legitimate, but the first is the nobler word. “”Phileo” is used in John 16:27. The saints have a love for the Lord Jesus which springs from their joy in Him, a love of delight. The Father has a love of delight in the saints, for He finds in each saint the One in whom He takes delight, the Lord Jesus, and because the saints find their delight in Him also. Wuest’s Word Studies: From the Greek New Testament Vol. 3, pp. 62,63, Kenneth S. Wuest, ISBN: 0-8028-2280-0
For the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. (John 16:27 NET)
(5) Wuest’s Word Studies: From the Greek New Testament Vol. 3, p. 63, Kenneth S. Wuest, ISBN: 0-8028-2280-0
(6) Warfield – The Terminology of Love in the New Testament, pp. 40,41, The Princeton Theological Review, v. xvi, January, April 1918, pp. 1-45, 153-203. 511
See pdf attachment (immediately below) to this blog for further reading and especially note the differences between agapao and phileo in the Gospel of John.
(7) Wuest’s The New Testament: An Expanded Translation, pp. 266, Kenneth S. Wuest, ISBN: 0-8028-0882-4
(8) ἀνθρακιά anthrakia; from 440; a heap of burning coals:—charcoal fire(2).
Robert L. Thomas, New American Standard Hebrew-Aramaic and Greek Dictionaries : Updated Edition (Anaheim: Foundation Publications, Inc., 1998).