Origin of the name PETER.
Etymology of the
Meaning of the baby name PETER.
Petros (q.v.), meaning
of rock," "a stone." Usage: America,
PETER. [Greek Petros = "a piece
of rock," "a stone"; thus distinguished from Petra =
"a rock" (Liddell and Scott)].
The most eminent of Christ's
apostles, with the single exception of Paul. His original name was
not Peter, or Cephas, its Aramaic equivalent (John i. 42), but Simon
(Matt. iv. 18; Mark i. 16; iii. 16; Luke vi. 14). This is the New
Testament way of writing Simeon = "hearing," "hearkening
to," "granting a request;" indeed once in the A.V. Peter
is actually called Simeon (Acts xv. 14). Sometimes the two names
Simon and Peter are combined, and the apostle becomes Simon Peter (John
xxi. 15). His father was named Jona, of which the Greek form was
Jonas (John i. 42; xxi. 15, 16, 17). Hence he was once called Bar-jona,
an Aramaic designation, meaning son of Jona (Matt. xvi. 17). But
for Jona the R.V. substitutes "John," though it retains
"Bar-jonah." Simon Peter had a brother called
Andrew. Both were fishermen belonging to Bethsaida, or one of the
Bethsaidas, if there were two. They were following their
occupation on the Lake of Galilee when they were called by Jesus to the
apostleship. They promptly obeyed the summons, abandoning their
work, of which apparently their father took charge (Matt. iv. 18, 19;
Mark i. 16-18; Luke v. 1-9). When the names of the twelve apostles
were read off, Peter invariably headed the list (Matt. x. 2; Mark iii.
16; Luke vi. 14; Acts i. 13). He was a married man (Matt. viii.
14; Mark i. 30; 1 Cor. ix. 5), and had not long been an apostle when his
mother-in-law fell sick of a fever; but Jesus touched her hand, and
lifted her up, on which she was cured instantaneously (Matt. viii. 14,
15; Mark i. 30, 31; Luke iv. 38, 39). Peter was naturally
impulsive, rash, and somewhat forward both in speech and action.
It was quite characteristic of him that when he saw Jesus walking on the
waters of the the lake towards the ship he should request his Lord to
bid him also walk on the water, and then should show failing faith, and
begin to sink (Matt. xiv. 24-31).
When, in the course of the missionary itineracy of Jesus, He and His
disciples were at Cæsarea-Philippi, the town near which the main stream
of the Jordan bursts forth from a cave, our Lord asked His disciples
their opinion as to who He was, Peter, as usual the first to answer,
nobly replied: "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living
After the ascension of Jesus, Peter, who had
returned to Jerusalem, stood forth as the leader of the infant Church,
the metropolitan membership of which amounted to 120
Two books of the New Testament claim to have
had Peter as their author (1 Peter i. 1; 2 Peter i. 1-7 [¶ (1) and ¶
(2)]. It has long been known that there were apocryphal writings
issued in the name of Peter, especially an Apocalypse, or Revelation,
referred to by various early fathers. This was found in Upper
Egypt in the winter of 1886, along with fragments of a gospel of
Peter. In A.D. 190 this gospel was alluded to by Serapion in terms
which show that it was composed as early as 150, if not even 130.
It is based mainly on Matthew and John, but refers also to Mark and
Luke. Of no authority in itself, it is nevertheless valuable as
affording proof that the whole four gospels were widely known in the
first half of the second century. (The Sunday School Teacher's Bible
Manual, Hunter, 1894)