Apostle Peter Biography: Timeline, Life, and Death

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

The Apostle Peter is one of the great stories of a changed life in the Bible. Check out this timeline and biography of the life of Peter.

Peter’s Life Before Christ

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 came from the village of Bethsaida (John 1:43, 12:21).  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).  Peter was perhaps the very first disciple that Jesus called along with His brother Andrew.

Apostle Peter Biography

Peter left his career as a fisherman to follow Jesus.

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 (Mark 3:17).  Their’s was a rough life since fishing was a very physically demanding job.  They must have been somewhat fearless too because some of the storms that came quickly upon the Sea of Galilee were fierce and furious.  They often caught the fishermen by surprise and could easily capsize the 20 to 30 foot boats they used.

Peter was always putting his foot in his mouth but one thing you could say about Peter was that 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?

Peter’s Life with Christ

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).

Peter was bold but often times in the wrong.  Once he even rebuked the Lord and said that he was willing to die for Jesus even though at the arrest and trial of Jesus he denied Him three times (Matt. 16:21-22).  Jesus loved the disciples and knew which of those whom would remain loyal to Him and those who would betray Him (Judas Iscariot).  Peter was an eyewitness to the many miracles that Jesus did and also witnessed the Shekhinah Glory along with John and James in the Transfiguration.  This was where Jesus’ humanity was peeled back to reveal the glory of His Divinity (Matt. 17:1-9).

Peter the Disciple to the Apostle Peter

A disciple means a “follower of” and that is what most Christians actually are today.  An apostle is “one sent forth” in the sense of sent forth by God to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.  The biblical definition of an apostle and the only one’s that are called apostles in the New Testament had to be either with Jesus during His earthly ministry (like the disciples) or having seen the risen Christ (as did Paul who was taught three years in the desert by Jesus Christ Himself).

After Christ tells the disciples about the end of the age (Matt. 24) He gives them the charge or command of the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20).  This is the very last thing that Jesus tells them (Acts 1:8) and from that point on the disciples (followers of Christ) become the apostles (those sent forth).  The designation of their being apostles was never used until after the Ascension of Christ (Acts 1) because before then, they were still following Jesus.  After Christ had ascended to the right hand of the Father and was seated there (signifying His earthly ministry was done – except through the apostles) He sent them forth to go to all ends of the earth to proclaim the gospel of the Kingdom of God.

Peter was the first one to preach on the day of Pentecost after the coming of the Holy Spirit and he was the first one to proclaim Christ to a Gentile.  He was one of the boldest apostles of all.  He willingly suffered persecution, imprisonment, beatings, and even rejoiced at the fact that he was worthy to suffer disgrace for the Lord‘s sake (Acts 5:41).

The Gospel of Mark or of Peter?

There is extremely reliable evidence through church tradition and early church historians that the Gospel of Mark is actually the gospel of Peter.  Peter is said to have dictated his discipleship with Jesus to John Mark, who was a companion of his for many of the later years of his life.  If you read the Gospel of Mark you can see the extremely fine details of what appears to be an eyewitness from the perspective of Peter.  John Mark was not ever a disciple of Jesus and he was not an apostle.  There is little doubt that the work of Mark and his gospel is actually the story of Peter who retold the story and then was written down by John Mark.  This is testified by the fact that Mark was not present for Jesus’ ministry and the extremely intimate details that are described in Mark.  Some of the events where Peter, John, and James who were often alone with Jesus, like the Transfiguration, are like a first-person retelling of the story.

The next time you read the Gospel of Mark, think about Peter and see if you can not see more clearly the realization that this had to be Peter’s eyewitness account – an account that only Peter could tell.

Peter’s Glorious Ending

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.

From an arrogant, cocky, man of thunder, he became a humble, willing, obedient servant of the Lord even to death. He rejoiced in that day of his death, knowing that he would be reunited with his beloved Savior.  This was a lifetime of 65 years – of which his last thirty-three would be devoted to proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ.  In the Old Testament, no one could even be a priest until they were thirty years of age.  David became king at age thirty and this age is near the peak of mental and physical abilities.  Peter will be one of only 12 apostles that will rule with Jesus Christ in the Kingdom of Heaven.  The lowly fisherman became a mighty fisher of men – and one that changed and shaped the world forever and is still proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ through his gospel (written by Mark), the book of Acts, and through the epistles of 1 and II Peter.

Who is your favorite Bible character? Let us know in the comments!


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{ 48 comments… read them below or add one }

Azariah January 5, 2016 at 11:30 am

Great story , am grateful to God to come acrose this story. But please as a christian would like to know more about my faith, my question is, who build the first church? Cause some christian said the Roman Catholic is the first Church.


Jack Wellman January 5, 2016 at 12:34 pm

The Roman Catholic church came centuries later. Jesus built the first church and it is His church, not humans so ultimately, God is the one Who built the church.


Anthony stanley January 6, 2016 at 1:13 pm

Apostle paul


Jack Wellman January 6, 2016 at 2:02 pm

Thank you sir. The “Apostle Paul?” What do you mean Mr. Stanley? We have a similar article about the Apostle Paul at this link sir if you’d be interested:http://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/apostle-paul-biography-and-profile/


Fredrick Shieyo January 13, 2016 at 1:17 am

I am atheology degree student in kenya, just pray with me for God to to provid my fee for the last one year I’ve been out of class.


That one chick January 22, 2016 at 5:39 pm

This helped me alot with an assignment that i have to do so thank you


Lindy Swanson January 24, 2016 at 1:01 am

I enjoyed this article. Thank you for writing it. I’m studying Peter’s life right now to understand his relationship with Jesus and the impact Jesus had on his life. It would be helpful if you could clarify where you found this information:
“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.”

Read more: http://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/apostle-peter-biography-timeline-life-and-death/#ixzz3y8u1qTpM


Peggy Farrell February 1, 2016 at 12:21 am

Great article. The truth for ages to come. Thank You .


shayne February 6, 2016 at 1:09 am

Earlier tonight, in my eyes, I failed a test. While driving down the road I was crying out to God, praying and trying to hear God’s advice. I truly love God and I do confess that Jesus Christ is my savior, the son of God. I study, I pray, yet I get so upset at myself when I failed him. I couldn’t understand. Why do I fail yet I know how I feel about the Lord? Peter came to my mind. How Peter denied Christ and was ashamed. He felt the guilt. I’m thinking he felt like I did and even more. Yet Jesus Christ still loved him, called him, used him and found him worthy. I’m trying so hard and I beat myself up so much. I have so much more of my story I could tell you, but I just wanted to say thank you. I came home and was studying Peter and came across your message. It was very helpful. God bless you


Anthony December 12, 2016 at 3:09 pm

I know what you are feeling, I as well have felt the same as you, I truly found Jesus not to long ago and let him in my life. He is my Savior and I love him and he loves me. The one thing you have to remember is that we are sinners, we are not perfect and Jesus Christ died on the cross for us to be given a opportunity to repent and truly pray to God for forgiveness, this was his plan. Use your times of weakness and transgressions as opportunities to remember how bad you felt to not fall in to temptation when tempted again in a similar situation. Ask for forgiveness, God will listen and you don’t need to burden yourself with the sin any longer. God not only loves us but he LIKES us, he wants us to succeed and be happy. Thanks for sharing your story


Nonghilo semy February 9, 2016 at 11:14 am

Great article, thank you sir. Wanted to know more about the book of mark.


Jack Wellman February 9, 2016 at 11:32 am
Kristy February 26, 2016 at 2:11 am

Dear Ps Jack, thank you for writing this article, enjoy reading it! May the Lord bless you!


Lucy March 3, 2016 at 3:04 am

Dear jack,
Thank you for the article. I have heard Peter loved Jesus more than any other disciples did but Jesus loves John the most. Is it true?


Jack Wellman March 3, 2016 at 8:11 am

Thank you Lucy for your question. It only says that John was the disciple that Jesus loved but it never says anywhere in the Bible that Jesus loved John or Peter more or they loved Him more. So I don’t think it’s true because it’s not found in Scripture. Good question Lucy.


Adam March 10, 2016 at 11:56 am

Where is the information regarding Paul being taught by Jesus for 3yrs in the desert from. I am only aware of his conversion on the road.


Jack Wellman March 10, 2016 at 12:18 pm

Thank you sir. That’s a great question. We have two articles that can help you know more about Paul’s being taught by Jesus Christ. We know that Paul was taught by Jesus Christ in the wilderness for three years as it says in Galatians 1:17,18 states that Paul spent three years in the Arabian desert being taught by Jesus Christ Himself. Compare Galatians 1:11-12, “But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. 12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.” If we reject Paul’s revelation about the church, we ought to also reject the rest of his teachings, which means we must reject the vast majority of the New Testament. Of the 27 books of the New Testament, Paul wrote 14 books, or just over half of them. Thank you for your question Adam.


Olivia April 4, 2016 at 5:13 pm

Thank you for the informative account of Peter. Do you have anything on Mary Magdalene please? Thank you.


Jack Wellman April 4, 2016 at 5:21 pm

Yes Olivia, we do have something written on this precious saint of God, Mary Magdalene at t his link: http://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/mary-magdalene-in-the-bible-character-profile-and-lessons/


Ruben April 27, 2016 at 11:58 pm

Jack great writing! God bless you my brother! I am preaching on the life of Peter this Friday. Great source of information.


someone May 23, 2016 at 3:26 pm

when was this article made


Jack Wellman May 23, 2016 at 3:31 pm

I believe it was written in 2011. Is there something wrong my friend?


Jerod June 6, 2016 at 4:41 pm

Enjoyed it. I thought you might want to know.. Remember when Nathaniel toward the end of John 1, admitted that Jesus is the Son of God. So he probably was the first and not Peter (not that it matters).


Josh June 9, 2016 at 3:06 am

good show


Timothy Bolduc July 25, 2016 at 9:14 pm

Great synopsis. I am quoting you in a message I am working on for some guys in a drug program. I love this statement…From an arrogant, cocky, man of thunder, he became a humble, willing, obedient servant of the Lord even to death…

One question. you said he served God for 40 years lived to 65 and was born 1 BC. If the birth of Christ splits time and he was 30ish when he began his ministry I am a little confused. what am I missing? Not trying to be critical I just really like the 40 year point you made and want to understand the math. God Bless!


Jack Wellman July 25, 2016 at 9:30 pm

Thank you Mr. Bolduc. I went back over my notes and discovered I had the wrong number. It should be thirty-three years. I did correct it. My apologies sir and thank you for catching that…and, I pray your message goes well pastor.


Nick Winser July 30, 2016 at 11:53 am

Eish, I’m shocked that fellow Christians are being denied so much when looking for historically supported knowledge on the church and her history.

Peter as determined clearly in Matt 16:18 was given the spiritual keys to the kingdom of heaven by Jesus; even his name given by Jesus is Greek and Latin for ‘Rock.’ On this rock Jesus said He would build His church, and all that was taught by Him was handed on through the Apostles and then the Church Fathers (St. Augustine of Hippo & St. Clement of Rome for example), who with the grace of the Holy Spirit built the church into what it became (like the opening up of a flower after the seed – Jesus – died before rising into new life). But the majority of non-traditional Christians haven’t a clue about basic church history, thus are completely unaware of what’s there.

Even if you disagree with the history mentioned, I urge anyone reading this to find a decent book about the Church Fathers; you might be surprised. May I also recommend Leona Choy’s ‘My Journey to the Land of More’ (well known in evangelical circles).

Last note: The word Catholic is derived from the Greek ‘Katolikos’, meaning worldwide, or universal. The only reason it was ever used like today is when the Reformation (Re-interpretation perhaps) tore the church up in the 1500s onwards, non-Protestant Christians had to clarify what they were ‘labeled’ as in comparison to Protestants (who were ‘protesting’ against various aspects of Christianity as it had always been and thence starting up several different alternate church traditions. Hence the term Catholic Christians or Catholic Church came about; Catholic Church – the Church in the World.

So many misunderstandings, not least that some non-traditional Christians actually believe Catholics are not Christians… Or that Catholic Christians also worship Mary too…!


Della F Sowunmi August 13, 2016 at 8:06 pm

Peter has always been my favorite character.


Don Downie October 3, 2016 at 3:24 pm

Jack, have to let scripture correct you on something: you stated that Paul was in Arabia for 3 years from Galatians 1. In Gal.1:17-18, Paul says he returned to Damascus after being in Arabia then returned to Jerusalem 3 years later.
Still, I will commend you on a very well written article.


Jack Wellman October 3, 2016 at 4:16 pm

Nice. I will look into that Mr. Downie. Great catch. I would rather be corrected than incorrect. Thank you. We do know that after Paul’s conversion, he disappeared into the desert for three years, during which time the Holy Spirit instructed him in the ways of God. He emerged, ready to communicate divine truth.


Don Downie October 4, 2016 at 10:57 am

Jack, my intent isn’t to argue but for us all to be on the same page in secondary issues. How do we know that Paul was in the desert for 3 years? During the 80’s and 90’s, I had read and heard people in the ministry say Paul was in the desert from 7 to 11 years and never knew where they got this from. As with the birth of Christ. King Herod died 4 BC and yet many won’t correct their time line of the life of Jesus and His birth prior to 4 BC.
One interesting thought is the date of the writing of the book of Revelation. Interestingly how it was nominally understood to have been written prior to 70 AD but now, many want to hold on to a latter date after 70 AD.
Never the less, thank you for responding.


Jack Wellman October 4, 2016 at 1:15 pm

Thank you Mr. Downie. I didn’t take it as you being argumentative at all sir. Thank you for saying that. Luke’s record in Acts gives some details for the next “many days”, but by 9:32 his narrative shifts back to Peter and his visit to Cornelius. Paul doesn’t reappear until the end of the 11th chapter, and Luke’s full focus doesn’t return to Paul until the 13th chapter. A lot transpires in Paul’s life in the meantime. Where is Paul during that time, and what is he doing? Whichever it is, I do know that Paul was taught directly by Jesus Christ. Your points are well taken sir. I am in school now and working fulltime (a bi-vocational pastor) so I might not be able to respond quickly but I do appreciate your hunger for the truth sir. Thank you.


Eric October 14, 2016 at 9:26 am

Good afternoon Pastor Wellman,

I am confused by a line in your article. What do you mean by, “Peter, like all humans before their calling, was a sinful man.”? Do you mean that Christians do not sin once they are saved? Or that the apostles did not sin after following Jesus?

Thank you


Jack Wellman October 14, 2016 at 9:28 am

No, we were all sinful before being saved Eric. We all do sin after being saved but we do sin less. So everyone sins after they are saved (1 John 1:8, 10).


Jerry October 17, 2016 at 4:29 am

please when did you write this article, I need to know so I can use it for citation


Jack Wellman October 17, 2016 at 7:32 am

Thank you Jerry. This was written in July 21st, 2014.


Retha Geehan October 25, 2016 at 11:01 am

Loved your reading on Saint Peter. Just got back from Rome and I thank God for that trip. Will never forget St.Peter’s, , The catacombs, St.Paul’s, The Vatican ect. Looking forward to your daily readings.
God bless you,


Jeffrey November 20, 2016 at 6:00 pm

I’m curious as to how Peter’s wife dealt with him walking off the job to hang out the Someone he just met. I know that Peter’s mother in law is healed later….so this may have earned Pete some brownie points…… But that was sometime later…

You would expect some women to encourage husbands to give up their fishing HOBBY to get right with God as the wives and children would benefit….but if the hobby was the job…….how would that work…even NOW?


Jack Wellman November 20, 2016 at 6:33 pm

I don’t know how that worked, but I do know it did work. I do remember Jesus saying ““If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26), which is Jesus’ way of using hyperbole or extreme exaggeration to say that compared to loving Him, it would look like hate. Everyone who follows Christ must give something up, right? He says, “Follow Me,” and not “Follow Me, unless you’re married or have a job or both.”


Hugh Mungus December 8, 2016 at 3:53 pm

Peter was bold but often times in the wrong. Matthew 16:21-22.

I Looked On Here And I Didn’t See The Correlation?


Mason Wade December 8, 2016 at 8:47 pm

Great description of Peter.


Anthony December 12, 2016 at 3:03 pm

I know what you are feeling, I as well have felt the same as you, I truly found Jesus not to long ago and let him in my life He was my Savior and I love him and he loves me. The one thing you have to remember is that we are sinners, we are not perfect and Jesus Christ died on the Christ for us to feel the way we do but to be given a opportunity to repent and truly pray to God for forgiveness, this was his plan. Use your times of weakness and transgressions as opportunities to remember how bad you felt to not fall in to temptation when tempted again in a similar situation. Ask for forgiveness God will listen and you dont need to burden yourself with the sin any longer. God not only loves us but he LIKES us, he wants us to succeed and be happy. Thanks for sharing your story


Megan January 4, 2017 at 7:33 pm

Why was Peter crucified?


Jack Wellman January 4, 2017 at 9:06 pm

For preaching the gospel.


Ellen February 6, 2017 at 12:42 pm

I think Peter is my favorite apostle because he was the “Rock” by which the Church was built. He was bold yet impulsive. Meaning that even though he made many human mistakes, he was still forgiven and used by God to start His Church. Peter loved Jesus and was the first apostle to recognize Him as the Son of the Living God.


Jack Wellman February 6, 2017 at 12:51 pm

Thank you Ellen, however Christ does not say that He is making Peter the head of His church. The key to understanding this scripture lies in the correct translation of the Greek words here rendered “Peter” and “rock.” The Greek word translated “Peter” is petros, meaning “pebble” or “small stone,” while the word rendered “rock” is petra, meaning “big rock” or “huge boulder.” Christ says He would build His church on the boulder, not on Peter the pebble. Christ is the rock (1st Corinthians 10:4). He is also the “chief cornerstone,” upon which the church is built (Ephesians 2:20).

Although Peter is shown in a leadership position among the apostles throughout the gospels and Acts, the early church leaders did not function in a strict hierarchical manner. Read and study Acts 15:1-29. Here is a ministerial conference called to discuss a matter of doctrine causing division in the church (verse 6). Peter makes his point (verses 7-11), which is later adopted by the other apostles and elders (verse 22). But it is James, the physical brother of Jesus Christ and pastor of the Jerusalem church, who sums up the conference’s decision (verses 13-19). This helps us to understand how the apostles (plural) form the foundation of the church with the prophets (Ephesians 2:20).

Peter was not infallible. Read Matthew 16:21-23, where Jesus has to rebuke Peter severely for a wrong attitude immediately after His statement about the “rock.” In addition, the apostle Paul later corrects him publicly for returning to the Jewish practice of refusing to eat with Gentiles (Galatians 2:11-14).


Colleen Snyder February 15, 2017 at 5:28 am

Where was Peter crucified?


Jack Wellman February 15, 2017 at 8:50 am

Hello Colleen. The Bible doesn’t tell us where Peter died but church tradition says that Peter probably died by crucifixion (with arms outstretched) at the time of the Great Fire of Rome in the year 64. The writings of the 1st century Church Father Ignatius of Antioch refer to Peter and Paul giving admonitions to the Romans, indicating Peter’s presence in Rome.


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