Saint Peter meets Christ
He has three names: Simon the son of Jonah, Cephas, and Peter. He and his brother Andrew were fishermen from Bethsaida . The Lord chose him on the second day of His baptism after He chose Andrew his brother. Actually, Simon began his acquaintance with Christ by way of his brother Andrew. It was mentioned in the gospel of John about Andrew: “He first found his own brother Simon, and said to him: “We have found the Messiah (which is translated, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus. Now when Jesus looked at him, He said: “You are Simon the son of Jonah. You shall be called Cephas [which is translated Peter, A Stone] (John 1: 40-42). We note that the three names came in a single verse.
One of the Three Pillars
Simon Peter became the first name among the twelve (Matt. 10:2). Rather he became one of three who were very near to the Lord Christ. They are Peter, James, and John, whom He took to the mount of the Transfiguration, and “His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light” (Matt. 17: 1,2); and they saw with Him Moses and Elijah talking to Him
The Lord took these three with Him in the resurrection of the daughter of Jairus from death. The gospel of Mark says about that: “And He permitted no one to follow Him except` Peter, James, and John the brother of James” (Mark 5:37).
These three are also those whom He took with Him to the garden of Gethsemane, in His agony before the crucifixion. The gospel of Matthew says about that: “And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee….” (Matt. 26:37).
Hence, Peter, James and John had a certain familiarity by Christ. Therefore the apostle Paul considers Peter to be one of the three pillars of the church in the days of the apostles. He says: “and when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that had been given to me, they gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcision” (Gal. 2:9).
Faith, Zeal and Love
St. Peter had fervent faith and strong zeal. When the Lord asked His disciples: “Who do men say that I am?” So they answered, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” … Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Mat. 16:13-20)
The apostle saint Peter loved the Lord Christ very much. He loved His words and His instruction. Accordingly when some disciples returned back; and the Lord said to the twelve: “Do you also want to go away?” But Simon Peter answered Him: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (John 6: 66-68).
His love for Him was manifested in his words on the Great Thursday night. When the Lord said to His disciples: “All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night”, Peter with his well-known impulsiveness answered and said to Him: “Even if all are made to stumble because of You, I will never be made to stumble ……. Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You” (Matt. 26: 31-35). “I am ready to go with You, both to prison and to death” (Luke 22:33).
A Weak Moment
Verily, St. Peter denied Christ during His Trial, three times. This was out of weakness, and not out of lack of love. A proof of this is that when the rooster crew, “he went out and wept bitterly” (Matt. 26:75). Another proof is that he answered the Lord after the resurrection: “You know that I love you” (John 21: 17). The Lord accepted his repentance, and established him in his apostleship and said to him: “Feed My lambs”, “Tend My sheep” (John 21: 15,16).
After he received the grace of the Holy Spirit, he went around in the world preaching of the crucified Christ, and he converted many to the faith. God wrought great and innumerable signs and wonders by his hands. He wrote two catholic Epistles to the believers.
God wrought by the hands of Peter many great signs and wonders, that they even carried the sick out into the streets … that as Peter came by … his shadow might fall on them … and they were all healed. (Acts 5:15)
The first chapters of the book of the Acts of the Apostles are nearly centered about the two apostles Peter and John; and narrate to us what they did in the building of the first Church, before the appearance of the apostle Paul.
The strength of the apostle Peter in exhortation is evident from his sermon on the day of the Pentecost, which drew to faith nearly three thousand men who “were cut to the heart” (Acts 2:37), and were baptized; and likewise his sermon after the healing of the lame (Acts 3); and his courageous standing before all the chiefs and the priests of the Jews; and his unrestricted manifestation of his faith.
Filled with the Bible’s Spirit
It is evident that he could recall from memory the psalms and the verses of the Bible. He mentioned them in his profound interpretations. For example, what he said about Judas (Acts 1: 16-20); what he said on the day of the Pentecost; his quotation of what came in the book of the prophet Joel (Acts 2: 16-21); other quotations from the book of the Psalms (Acts :24-30) ….. all this in consequent verses. Add to this what he said on the day of the healing of the lame, and his quotation of the sayings of the prophets (Acts 3: 21-25).
Similarly, in his two epistles which he wrote. It is the style of a man who filled with the spirit of the Bible, and with the soundness of the explanation of the words. He said: “knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:20-21). It was he who said: “I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder, that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets….” (2 Peter 3: 1-2).
When he came to the city of Rome, he found there St. Paul the Apostle. Through their preaching, most of the people of Rome believed, so Nero seized Peter and commanded to crucify him. Peter asked them to crucify him head downwards, and he delivered up his soul into the hand of the Lord.
On Abib 5th, Saint Peter was martyred. Peter was from Bethsaida, and he was a fisherman. The Lord chose him on the second day of His baptism after He chose Andrew his brother. He had fervent faith and strong zeal. When the Lord asked His disciples: “Who do men say that I am?” So they answered, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” … Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Mat. 16:13-20) After he received the grace of the Holy Spirit, he went around in the world preaching of thecrucified Christ, and he converted many to the faith. God wrought great and innumerable signs and wonders by his hands. He wrote two catholic Epistles to the believers. When he came to the city of Rome, he found there St. Paul the Apostle. Through their preaching, most of the people of Rome believed, so Nero seized Peter and commanded to crucify him. Peter asked them to crucify him head downwards, and he delivered up his soul into the hand of the Lord.
(Source: “The Two Saints Peter and Paul” by H.H Pope Shenouda and Coptic Synxarium)
Prōtoklētos, or the First-called
1- Name: St. Andrew the Apostle
2- References: Scripture
Matthew 4:18-20 | Matthew 10:2 | Mark 1:16-18 | Mark 1:29 | Mark 3:18 | Mark 13:3-4 | Luke 6:14 | John 1:35-44 | John 6:8-9 | John 12:20-22 | Acts 1:12-14
Homily XIX of St. John Chrysostom on the Gospel of St. John 1:42-42
Homily XX of St. John Chrysostom on the Gospel of St. John 1:43-44 Synaxarium
(a biography of the saints, arranged by the church fathers and read after the Acts in the Divine Liturgy)
The Martyrdom of St. Andrew the Apostle, the Brother of St. Peter.
4- First Impressions & Observations
St. Andrew was a simple fisherman who listened and acted immediately. He was one of the twelve disciples and was responsible for bringing St. Peter to Christ. Originally a disciple of St. John the Baptist, he followed Jesus after hearing St. John say “Behold the Lamb of God!” When Jesus found St. Andrew and his brother fishing, Jesus called them to be fishers of men and they immediately left their nets and followed him St. Andrew was a man of action more than words, but his actions brought about the great fruits of St. Peter and set the stage for the miracle of the five loaves and two fish.
5- Out Line of His Life:
A. Fisherman in the city of Bethsaida
B. Disciple of St. John the Baptist
1. Readily listened and followed Christ when St. John the Baptist stated, “Behold the Lamb of God!” (John 1-35-37)
2. After following Jesus that day, the first thing he did was to find his brother St. Peter to share with him the good news. (John 1:41)
C. One of the first men beckoned by Christ
1. Christ called St. Andrew and St. Peter to leave their nets and become “fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:18-19 and Mark 1:16-17)
2. St. Andrew and St. Peter immediately left their fishing nets and followed Christ. (Matthew 4:20 and Mark 1:18)
D. Chosen by Christ to be one of the 12 disciples (Mark 3:18 and Luke 6:14)
1. Called by Christ to be with Him, to preach, to heal sicknesses and to cast out demons. (Mark 3:13-19)
E. Suggested to Christ the option of the five loaves and two fish for Christ to feed the Five Thousand (John 6:8-9)
1. St. Andrew did not fully understand Christ’s power yet, because he is asked “but what are they among so many?” (John 6:9)
F. Told Jesus that the Greeks wanted to see Him (John 12:20-22)
G. Attended Upper Room Prayer Meeting and received the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:12-2:4)
5. General Insights
A. How quickly did he obey God when told to do something?
When Christ called him to follow, he left immediately. (Matthew 4:20 and Mark 1:18)
B. What was his occupation?
Fisherman turn Fisher of Men.
C. What are the great accomplishments for which he is remembered?
Bringing St. Peter to Christ.
D. What crucial decisions did he have to make? How did they affect him?
Leaving his job with its income and familiarity to follow Christ, who has no place to lay His head.
E. What were his outstanding strengths in his character? What traits did he have?
Desire to bring others to Christ.
Willingness to operate behind the scenes – brining five loaves and two fish to Christ, telling Christ about the Greeks.
Did not become jealous of his brother St. Peter of whom Christ said “you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church” (Matthew 16:18), even thought he was the one who brought him to Christ.
F. Did his life show any development of character as time passed? Was there growth and progression there?
At the time of the five loaves and two fish he questioned. “What are they among so many.” Later on he is bringing the Greeks, knowing that Christ can work with whatever is put before Him.
G. What were the long term results of his life, ministry and death?
By bringing St. Peter to Christ he opened the door for three thousand souls to be added to the church on Pentecost. (Acts 2:41)
He himself continued to minister and evangelize to the Gentiles, suffering persecution and martyrdom.
6. Character Qualities Identified
Loyalty (John 1:41)
Obedience (Matthew 4:20 and Mark 1:18)
Discernment (John 1-35-37)
Resourcefulness (John 6:8-9)
Enthusiasm (John 1:41)
Lovingness (John 12:20-22)
Zealousness (John 12:20-22)
Man of Faith (Matthew 4:20 and Mark 1:18)
Humbleness (John 1:41)
7. Bible Truths Illustrated in his life
The importance and urgency of preaching the gospel (1 Corinthians 9:16).
Love must not be just talk, but in action (1 John 3:18).
God chose those who were not wise and trusting in themselves but rather the simple who trust in Him to reveal His truth (Matthew 11:25).
8. Summary of lessons learned from his life
The outstanding characteristics of St. Andrew was his discernment, love, zeal and obedience. There must have been many a false prophet at the turn of the century as there are today, yet St. Andrew found and followed St. John the Baptist. When St. John simply stated “Behold the Lamb of God!” he immediately left St. John and followed Christ. When he found out about the Messiah, his first action was to find his brother and share the good news. When called by Christ to follow, he left immediately, not considering that he is leaving his only source of income or that he didn’t know where he was going. St. Andrew wasted no time in sharing what he knew was the truth, he saw the urgency in revealing the Good News to those who had not heard it and he was willing to give up the life he knew to do it, without delay or questions.
9. PERSONAL APPLICATION
St. Andrew was a man of trust and action, he didn’t waste time trying to debating what to do. I feel that many times God calls me to action and I complicate the process. God simply want me to go, to follow, to do what he says and to do it now. I don’t always need to understand why, I need to trust that the Lord knows best. Also, I do not have the same sense of urgency that St. Andrew has about bringing others to Christ, too many times I am lazy or shy.As a result of this study, I will commit to listening to God and doing what He asks me to immediately, trusting that His plan is perfect . Also, I will commit to contacting at least one person every week that I know who does not know Christ and sharing with him, even if it is awkward or difficult.
10. Transferable Concepts
A. St. Andrew listened to St. John the Baptist when he pointed to Christ and acted by leaving St. John and following Christ. When God makes clear His truth, we must be willing to follow immediately.
B. St. Andrew listened to Christ and acted by finding his brother and sharing the Good News.
True Christian zeal and love necessitates that we share the Good News with urgency.
C. St. Andrew listened to Christ say “follow Me” and acted by following Him immediately.
Christ may ask to do something crazy, but we must trust Him and follow immediately when called.
D. St. Andrew listened to Christ ask for food to feed five thousand and acted by bring Him five loaves and two fish.
Sometimes a situation God has placed us in may not seem to have a plausible solution, we shouldn’t fret but trust that God has plans that will glorify Him.
On this day (Kiahk 4th), St. Andrew the Apostle, the brother of St. Peter, was martyred. He was chosen to go to the city of Lydd and to Kurdistan. He entered the city of Lydd, where most of its people had believed at the hands of St. Peter. He was accompanied by his disciple, Philemon, who had a sweet voice and was a good reader. St. Andrew commanded Philemon to go up to the pulpit and read.
When the priests of the idols heard of the arrival of Andrew the Apostle, they took their spears and went to the church. They stood outside the church to hear if he was cursing their gods or not. They heard Philemon reading the words of David the Prophet, “Their idols are silver and gold, the work of men’s hands. They have mouths, but they do not speak: eyes they have but they do not see: They have ears, but they do not hear: noses they have, but they do not smell: They have hands, but they do not handle: feet they have, but they do not walk: nor do they mutter through their throat. Those who make them are like them; so is everyone who trusts in them.” (Psalm 115:4-8)
Their hearts rejoiced because of his sweet voice and their emotions mellowed. They entered the church, and bowed down at the feet of Andrew the Apostle. He preached to them and they believed in the Lord Christ. Then he baptized them with the rest of those who worshipped idols. Andrew the Apostle, then left them and went to Kurdistan and to the cities of Aksis, Aregnas and Henefores, to preach there.
He also went with St. Bartholomew to the city of Azrinos. Its people were wicked and knew not God. They went on preaching and teaching them until they lead many of them to the knowledge of God, because of the signs and wonders they performed before them. Those who did not believe plotted against him. They sent for him so that when he arrived, they would attack him and kill him. When their messengers came to St. Andrew and heard his sincere teachings and saw his shining face, they believed in our Lord Christ and did not return to those who had sent them. The unbelievers decided to go to him and burn him. When they gathered around him to do what they had intended, the Apostle prayed to the Lord, and immediately fire came down from heaven and surrounded them. They were terrified and believed.
The report of St. Andrew the Apostle, was heard throughout all these countries and many believed in the Lord. Nevertheless the priests of the idols did not cease looking for him in order to kill him. Afterwards, they gathered and went to him; they bound him and beat him severely. After they dragged him around the city naked, they cast him into prison, so that they might crucify him the following day. Their custom was to stone those who were to be killed by crucifixion. The Apostle spent his night praying to God. The Lord Christ appeared to him and strengthened him saying, “Do not fear or worry for the time of your departure from this world is near.” He gave him peace and disappeared. St. Andrew’s soul rejoiced for what he saw.
On the next day, they hanged him upon a tree and stoned him until he departed. Certain believers came and took his holy body and laid it with great honor in a private grave. Many signs and wonders were made manifest from his body.
His prayers be with us and Glory be to our God forever. Amen.