Apostle Peter Biography: Timeline, Life, and Death

by Jack Wellman on November 12, 2011 · 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 forty would be devoted to proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ.  In the Old Testament the number 40 was always a number of testing – and tested Peter was.  Peter passed in glorious colors and 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!

Resources:

www.youtube.com – Song  ” Walk on Water” by Britt Nicole

Photo: ©  V. Gilbert and Arlisle F. Beers



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{ 127 comments… read them below or add one }

Brandy February 6, 2013 at 12:10 am

I have to go even further back to say that Kind David is my favorite because he loved the Lord so much that he kept his word in his heart and he had an utmost respect for God. He was not boastful, never once thinking he didn’t need God and also because he was always praising God. He was quick to ask for forgiveness and not only that but when he never, ever let go of God. No matter what he went through, he refused to let go. Alot of us when we do something wrong, we think we are not saved but if you repent and continue on, not letting your heart stray from the Lord’s precepts, you will be fine. I hope when I get to heaven I get to meet him. Jesus is also my favorite to because he had so much compassion in his heart. He was always putting Father God before himself. He was never puffed up with pride. He truly glorified God in everything he spoke and did. Even to his death. He asked God to let the cup pass his lips, but at the same time said God’s will be done. Jesus was absolutely amazing and I thank him everyday for covering my sins with his blood, in his perfect body. He is just the greatest savior any man or woman could ever have.

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yellah March 10, 2013 at 7:15 pm

Thank you for a very wonderful description of Peter.

I would always way that he is my most favorite disciple of God because he was able to deny God (a very big crime) yet he repented greatly of this sin and became a bold witness of Christ until his death. Peter is also a humble man from humble beginnings.

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Jack Wellman March 10, 2013 at 9:16 pm

Thank you so much my friend. I believe he is one of mine too. Thank you for your encouraging comment. Please come back soon.

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Sophie Kennedy March 16, 2013 at 6:21 pm

I just wanted to say, this is really well written and it has the best information. I had to choose an apostle to study and I chose Peter because he is my favourite. You helped me so much with my assignment and I just wanted to say a bajillion thankyou’s! Thankyou so much.

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Jack Wellman March 16, 2013 at 6:29 pm

Thank you so much Mrs. Kennedy for your gracious words. I am with you about Peter. He is among many people’s favorites. I appreciate your visiting us.

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Kelly March 30, 2013 at 4:31 pm

This is great. I am currently in a study about James the brother of Jesus but I was recently really drawn to Peter. I knew many things about him but it wasnt until I watched the series The Bible that it put a lot of thoses stories came together and painted a picture of him. Do you have any other sources of good information about Peter?

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Jack Wellman March 30, 2013 at 8:39 pm

Kelly, thank you so much. Your comment is so encouraging. I would suggest a good book by John MacArthur called “Twelve Ordinary Men: How the Master Shaped His Disciples for Greatness, and What He Wants to Do with You” and it’s only New $10.87.

Also, many Study Bibles are available that have good information that appear at the beginning of 1st and 2nd Peter. I hope this helps Kelly. Thanks for visiting us.

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respect muleya April 4, 2013 at 8:29 am

i really leant a lot, even the things i did not know. Now i want to know on john

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Tom Allen April 15, 2013 at 4:44 pm

In Peter’s biography, there is a phrase in the 6th paragraph,”The biblicaldefinition 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 disciples) or having seen the risen Christ(as didPaul who was taught 3 years in the desert by Jesus Christ Himself).” Where di that information come from, Paul being taught for 3 years in the desert by Christ Himself?

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Jack Wellman April 16, 2013 at 10:18 am

Thank you Mr. Allen for your comment and question. First of all in Galatians, we see part of the answer and know that in verse one, that “Paul, an apostle (not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead)” then in verses 11-18 we see ” But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. 12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.

13 For you have heard of my former conduct in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it. 14 And I advanced in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries in my own nation, being more exceedingly zealous for the traditions of my fathers.

15 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb and called me through His grace, 16 to reveal His Son in me, that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood, 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went to Arabia, and returned again to Damascus.
Contacts at Jerusalem

18 Then AFTER [my bold] three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and remained with him fifteen days.”

We see that Paul received the gospel directly from Jesus and that Jesus Himself revealed it to Paul. That is a mark of an apostle. Does this help sir? Elsewhere in Paul’s letters we see that Paul almost always mentioned that he was an apostle of Jesus Christ, directly called, and taught.

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ESTELAJ. VASQUEZ April 17, 2013 at 6:21 pm

Thank you for your writing of Peter, I love reading and learning, I have lived by the faith of the lord, I will be eighty years young on July 10 of this year , and I have enjoyed what you worte about Peter thank you and may god bless you an Associate of The Holy Sister’s of Jesus and Mary.

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Jack Wellman April 17, 2013 at 6:25 pm

Wow, what an honor Mr. Vasquez. I wish there were more Christians who have such a hunger for the Word of God such as you. What a joy to hear from you sir. May God richly bless you.

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Alex April 22, 2013 at 1:42 pm

Am so blessed with such this revelation of the kind of man Apostle peter was, most fascinating part, him and his brother simply leaving their fishing business that was their bread and butter and following a stranger, did peter really have any prior knowledge of who Jesus was? What happen to Peter’s family? Did he ever come back to preach to them just like he did to the Gentiles?

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Jack Wellman April 22, 2013 at 2:02 pm

Thank you Alex for your questions. No, Peter had no prior knowledge of Jesus being the Son of God. We don’t know much about Peter’s family but we can assume that most of them heard about Jesus. What they did with this knowledge we don’t know for sure.

Peter did preach to the Gentiles and the Jews as you can read in Acts. A reading of the book of Acts shows that Peter preached the gospel to all…Jews and Gentiles and we can be sure he shared this with his family although we don’t know for sure if they responded or not. Where the Bible is silent, so must I be my friend.

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Maso Bhengu April 23, 2013 at 4:22 am

I am Deaf young man I am 32 year old i always want to know more deep the story of Noha and John and Peter what happen to them.I never go to church because i dont know what they talk about because i am deaf i can not hearing.Please you can help me.

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Jack Wellman April 23, 2013 at 11:14 am

Thank you Maso for your question. Peter died by being crucified, tradition holds that he felt unworthy to be crucified as Jesus was and so Peter was crucified upside down.

As for John, he died of old age apparently but he was sent to the island of Patmos to die there under arrest but he still managed to write the book of Revelation.

As for Noah, you can read about his life in Genesis. He also died of old age. Beyond that, I can’t tell you with certainty because the Bible doesn’t give every detail of the end of their lives.

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Larry Gilek May 17, 2013 at 10:25 pm

Thank you for your article of Simon Peter. He is one of my favorite apostles of Jesus because, like all of us we are volunerable to accuastion. We fail, yet Jesus forgives, even more with St. Peter, he is the rock of the church.
Larry

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Rand May 18, 2013 at 8:32 pm

I appreciate Peter’s testimony and also John. They both give witness of Christ’s life and mission. They emphasize the message if for us. In today’s society, I have heard people say there is no historical proof that Christ ever existed. It is in fact dangerous to talk with some people today if it causes you to lose faith or creates unbelief.

I think we can take John and Peter at their word. We know in history they are real people and they bare witness to what they experienced. If you feel yourself doubting, read their witness and say to yourself, Christ is real, Christ is real.

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Mthokozisi Mkalali May 20, 2013 at 12:14 pm

Hon Jack, dis is so great, you guys are doing a grt job, God bless you.

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Soe Naing Win May 23, 2013 at 7:06 pm

I appreciate Peter’s History. He is my favorite Apostle among the other disciples. He is the one who walking on the water even though he is fisherman, He knew man can not walk in the water but when he heard the promised of Jesus he walk,

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Jack Wellman May 24, 2013 at 10:12 am

Amen my friend. Thank you so much. You know that this is all about the glory of God in Jesus Christ and nothing about me or what I did but about what He has done. I am still a train wreck and deserve nothing but He gave me everything that is important and eternal…that is life thru His Son, the Great God and to Him be all glory.

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Linda Basker June 3, 2013 at 7:51 pm

Hi, I was prophesied to, by my first that God told her he called me Peter, so I am seeking information on his life to try and figure out why. GOD told her I knew him. Please help me understand Peter even the more, and how he relates to me.
Thank You
Linda

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Jack Wellman June 3, 2013 at 7:55 pm

Hello Mrs. Basker. I wish I could help but I don’t know how I could tell you how this relates to you since I don’t even know you. Who was it that prophesied to you? Why would someone call you Peter when you are a woman and Peter is a man? How did God tell her you knew Peter? Peter is in heaven? No one can communicate with the deceased and to do so is sin and an abomination to God. Ask her where she gets this from the Bible for we can not believe anything that God is supposed to tell us outside of the Bible. For more on whether there are prophets today, please check this article at:

http://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/are-there-still-prophets-today/

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Joel Omidiji June 4, 2013 at 10:37 am

I am really blessed by your write-up. I will appreciate further materials on this same Bible character as you have them… An elderly Minister of God was invited to Minister in our Church and I was assigned to interpret for him. While praying with him in the vestry, he looked at me ‘unworthily’ and said God has just repeated it to him twice, “on this rock I will build my church.” This is perfectly in line with the vision God showed me several years ago. Yet I have only achieved very little… I have come to understand that though JESUS is the rock primarily referred to in his own statement to Peter, yet, Jesus was talking secondarily about building his Church on the Jesus that was soon to be fully formed in Peter (and in other disciples). I sure need something deeper than all I know and all I have read about Peter…
Joel O.

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Jack Wellman June 4, 2013 at 8:36 pm

Joel, you are exactly right. The statement by Jesus did mean that about building His church and not about Peter being the first Pope. I wish I had more on Peter but what is outside of the Bible about him is uncertain and can not be stated as fact. I had to rely on the Bible as my only source my friend as I know it is the truth. I am sorry that I couldn’t tell you more about this great Apostle Peter.

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Joel Omidiji June 6, 2013 at 9:59 am

Sir, thank you for your forthrightness and humility. I do not seek for anything outside the Bible either. However, with your disposition I know that God will reveal more to you in the passage of time. Kindly be generous to me about such revelations, because I surely need them. Aside of this, I will go over your previous comments all-over again. Thank you for being a blessing to many.

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Nneka June 15, 2013 at 10:40 am

Thank you for this article,i would like to know more about other apostles like Philip,Nathaniel

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Jack Wellman June 15, 2013 at 11:13 am

Hello Nneka. Thank you for your question. We just don’t know much else about the other apostles like Philip and Nathaniel because the Bible is silent on these and most of the other apostles. There is some early church history written about them but anything outside of the Bible can not be completley verified wityh 100% accuracy.

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Nosa June 15, 2013 at 2:26 pm

Hmm-mm what a wonderful exposition of Bro and Apostle Peter. One good thing l love and learnt was that Peter spoke right from his spirit mind. He was not a pretender. He was raw and said it the way he felt.
God will bless you sir. I think l have same attitude with this great Apostle of JESUS of Nazareth

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Frank June 18, 2013 at 8:58 pm

Thank you for a well written article on these who gave their life for the faith….very informative and now I will most assuredly have to get a copy of “Foxes Book Of Martyrs” which I’ve wanted to read for quite some time. As for my favorite I’d Have to pick two….the first would be John the Apostle and the second would be Peter….I’d also like to recommend a great movie for all to see…it’s called “The Apostle Peter:The Last Supper”
May the Lord Bless you always…..Frank

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p.krupavaram June 19, 2013 at 12:45 pm

praise the lord,today i know mark`s gospel is retold by peter.peter death was glorified god.

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james June 21, 2013 at 3:27 pm

king David

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Знакомства Житомир August 13, 2013 at 8:59 pm

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Jack Wellman August 13, 2013 at 9:08 pm

Thank you. We have several e-Books already and have paperback’s too. I checked out your website and had to remove it for no commercial links are allowed which was where your picture or avatar or website normally goes.

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Pamela Wells August 29, 2013 at 1:35 pm

I love the obedience of Ruth one of my Favorites and male Daniel. I really enjoy your articles they are so helpful.

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Billy from South Africa March 18, 2014 at 8:26 am

I am surprised to see that all the comments just dried up, or am I missing something? Why not the latest comments at the top?
Anyway, we are studying Acts and obviously the two main characters are Peter and Paul (and I say this with all respect to our Saviour and the Holy Spirit). There is obviously a strenuous relationship between these two (Gal 2:11) with Paul stating very clearly that he has been called to serve the Gentiles, and Peter the Christian Jews (Gal 2:7). I know Peter has written to the “Non-Jews” in far flung places, and this is my question. How do Paul and Peter given the above complement each other? Peter had a specific duty (read Acts 11) to convince the Jews of his time that they should see the bigger picture and forget all the laws of Moses, yet Paul were essentially the “feet, eyes, and ears” of Jesus. Sorry I am babbling….

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burnie April 18, 2014 at 8:42 pm

Thank you for this wonderful background source on Simon Peter. Although i am not a pastor,i am writing a sermon to give in a month to my church as a pre lay pastor about Peters denial and how we relate.This artical has been an inspiration and given me great background info.Also has been thought provoking! thanks so much!

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Jack Wellman April 18, 2014 at 8:46 pm

Thank you Burnie…and I pray this message stirs up the congregation. When I see others make mistakes, I do not do “Wow, how terrible that is….” but instead, I ask myself, “How am I like that too? If I had been in Peter’s sandals, guess what? I would have done the same thing most likely…or even worse.” I appreciate your kind words sir. Please let me know how it goes.

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perkum April 30, 2014 at 9:12 am

my fevuoret apostal peter the ROCK

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Frank Calhoun II May 13, 2014 at 12:04 pm

My favorite character in the bible is Peter, he remind me of myself.

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Jack Wellman May 13, 2014 at 6:51 pm

Amen Mr. Calhoun…he is one of mine too because I have so much in common with him. I thank God that He is still patient with me like He was with Peter. Thanks for your words of encouragement and I thank God for you sir.

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George Leaana August 15, 2014 at 5:23 am

Amen. A story that people are waiting for. A story that will change lives. Thank you for sharing Peter’s life. It really influence me. Peter is my favorite character in the bible.

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DIVINECODERS August 21, 2014 at 5:50 pm

Didn’t expect to see a sex-tisement running alongside of this information, but there it is… strange. Anyway, thanks for the information, but one thing -disciple means “student” not “follower of”. Thanks DC

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Trena Harper September 27, 2014 at 1:59 pm

Peter is my favorite character in the Bible. I love the story of his life.

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Nick October 9, 2014 at 4:59 am

Please note that at the end of your article you mentioned that Peter served 40 years, I cannot reconcile that number given that as you mentioned he was born in 1 B.C, therefore one year older than Jesus, Jesus started is ministry at about thirty years of age and that is when Jesus called him, therefore Peter was approximately 31 years old. I can only account for approximately 36 years of ministry if he died approximately in 67AD? Can you please clarify where you got the 40 years of ministry. Thank you

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Jack Wellman October 9, 2014 at 8:58 am

Thank you Nick. That’s very insightful sir. Bible scholars believe that Jesus was actually born between 6-4 B.C. and this would push back Peter’s calling back to about 25-26 A.D. and so when he died at about 65 that would have made him having served approximately 40 years or so. With the reality of the years being moved back by about 5 years then, Jesus birth was earlier than was believed and this would mean that Peter’s calling was actually around the age of 25 or 26 A.D. I should have clarified that with what the best scholarship now indicates. My apology sir.

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