Peter, the “Rock”

And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. And when it was day, he called [unto him] his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles; Simon, (whom he also named Peter,) and Andrew his brother, James and John, Philip and Bartholomew, Matthew and Thomas, James the [son] of Alphaeus, and Simon called Zelotes, And Judas [the brother] of James, and Judas Iscariot, which also was the traitor.

Luke 6:12-16

Here we have record of the appointment of the twelve to the office of Apostle. I would like to take some time to examine what the Bible tells us about each of these men. From this, I hope we can see how the Lord works in our lives and relationships.

Most of the time, the first person mentioned when the disciples are present is Peter. Peter comes from the Greek word petros which means “a piece of rock.” His Aramaic name is Cephas which comes from a Hebrew word meaning “hollowed out rock,” like a cave.

These definitions are important to understand because Peter is going to have a conversation with Jesus that involves a “play” on the meaning of his name. 

And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.

Matthew 16:17-18

Here, Jesus reminds Peter that his name is Petros, a piece of rock, but Jesus will build His church on Petra, a foundational rock.

A cursory study of Peter’s life will show that many times he was not a strong foundation. He doubted. He was impatient. He often got discouraged. This does not sound like a foundation upon which I would build anything!

And that is Jesus’ point! The church is not built upon Peter with him as the first pope. The church is built upon Jesus Christ, the true Rock of ages!

And the reason the gates of hell will not prevail against it is because every child of God will be taught inwardly by the Father just like Peter was. In the new birth, God changes and teaches the heart. In doing so, each one is effectively brought into the church triumphant.  If God is working inside on the spiritual level, there is nothing any man, king, or government can do to stop the spread of His glorious kingdom!

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