Lesson One: About Simon
Good evening class. Tonight we are going to begin a new series on the life of Simon, one of the twelve disciples of Jesus. We will make a lot of observations about Peter from the Bible. We will be focusing on the real life applications we can take from his life. Simon Peter was a very interesting man. He was very authentic in his faith. There is a lot we can learn about human character through Simon Peter.
In this series we will be looking deeply at the life of Simon Peter in the Gospels and in his own writings to the church. We will examine the human characters from his life and see what we can apply to our own lives. This series will require some deep thought. The next few weeks we will see Peter’s great qualities (of loyalty, vulnerability and leadership) and also his flaws (foot-in-mouth syndrome, speak-first, act-second mentality), but overall through the good and bad we will see his spiritual growth!
Just to give you a brief biographical background: Simon was a Galilean fisherman who was married () and lived in Capernaum (), although he was probably born in Bethsaida1 (). His father was named Jonah (or possibly John, we will look at this further later tonight, ). The Gospel of John reports that Andrew and Peter were disciples of John the Baptist before they joined Jesus. John also reports that Peter was introduced to Jesus by his brother Andrew, who had already recognized Jesus to be the Messiah ().
[Please turn your Bible to , let’s read this passage:]
Again the next day John [The Baptist] was standing with two of his disciples, and he looked at Jesus as He walked, and *said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. And Jesus turned and saw them following, and *said to them, “What do you seek?” They said to Him, “Rabbi (which translated means Teacher), where are You staying?” He *said to them, “Come, and you will see.” So they came and saw where He was staying; and they stayed with Him that day, for it was about the tenth hour. One of the two who heard John speak and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He *found first his own brother Simon and *said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which translated means Christ). He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon the son of John; you shall be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter). The next day He purposed to go into Galilee, and He *found Philip. And Jesus *said to him, “Follow Me.” Now Philip was from Bethsaida, of the city of Andrew and Peter.
Simon was one of Jesus’ closest followers. In verse 17, he is given a new name by Jesus. We will get into more details about this in our next lesson. We see though that Simon is called “Cephas” or Peter. The only other disciples with a nickname directly from Jesus are James and John. They are dubbed “sons of thunder.” (John is also known as the “beloved disciple.” .) In verse 37 we see that these three special disciples2 were the only ones allowed to come with Jesus when he went in Jairus’ house to raise Jairus’ daughter from the dead. These three were also the only ones with Jesus at the transfiguration () and during Jesus’ final prayers in Gethsemane ().
Not only was Simon Peter in Jesus’ inner circle but it is thought that Jesus was the eldest of the twelve. Jesus counts on him, not Judas, to pay the temple tax for the two of them, even though Judas has the responsibility of holding the common purse (). Camille suggests that Peter pays this tax because he is more responsible than Judas, who is suppose to have the responsibility of the “accountant” for the disciples.3 But I take personally think there is a few other things going on here.
Let’s read this passage for ourselves and see what we glean:
When they came to Capernaum, those who collected the two-drachma tax came to Peter and said, “Does your teacher not pay the two-drachma tax?” He *said, “Yes.” And when he came into the house, Jesus spoke to him first, saying, “What do you think, Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth collect customs or poll-tax, from their sons or from strangers?” When Peter said, “From strangers,” Jesus said to him, “Then the sons are exempt. “However, so that we do not offend them, go to the sea and throw in a hook, and take the first fish that comes up; and when you open its mouth, you will find a shekel. Take that and give it to them for you and Me.”
Notice two things: First “the sons are exempt” and second “give it to them for you and me.” The only two who have to pay the tax is Jesus and Peter and because “the sons” (or children) are exempt from this temple tax, we learn that Peter is the eldest. We also learn that the other eleven disciples are teenagers or very young men! God uses the young! Also I think that Jesus is trying to make a point to Peter in this passage. We see nothing really about responsibility or of Judas.
The next four lessons we are going to learn a lot about Peter. Peter was one of my favorite New Testament characters. I can relate to his temperament and his flaws.
Jesus knew well aware of Peter’s impetuous, sanguine temperament. And through-out the Gospels, Jesus certainly uses Peter’s personality and temperament in actions as an example for others to learn from. We will be examining many episodes where Jesus teaches Peter through-out this series. Peter’s passion and loyalty leads him to attempt to walk on water, defend Jesus with a sword, and brings him to vulnerability with Jesus and the Holy Spirit.
We will see how Peter is both a leader and a learner. He loves to talk but sometimes he doesn’t think before he speaks. He didn’t always understand every situation, or the significance of the situations. I love that Peter is teachable, obedient, faithful, simple, honest, and bold. In the end we see a lot of spiritual growth through-out his life. Peter was humbled by his own weaknesses in character. Through this we learn a lot about how to be humble, how to relate to Jesus, and about the grace of God.
Simon was involved in the Jewish religion and as a disciple of John the Baptist was on the look out for the Messiah. Simon and Andrew knew something was different about Jesus. They realized that Jesus was Lord and Christ. We see Simon Peter’s famous good confession of Jesus as Christ in Matthew:
[Open your Bibles to ]
Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, He was asking His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; and others, Elijah; but still others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets.” He *said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. “I also say to you that you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.” Then He warned the disciples that they should tell no one that He was the Christ. From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day. Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.” But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.”
This passage there is a lot of great stuff! We see that Jesus is asking all of his disciples, “Who do you say I am?” But Peter is the first to speak up! And he gets it right this time! Another really neat feature is that Jesus calls him “Simon Barjona.”
And then after getting something right we see Simon Peter, getting something wrong and a classic case of his “foot-in-mouth syndrome” (more on that in a later lesson.)
Finally, we also see Jesus says “upon this rock I will build My church.” This is something worth further evaluation in our next lesson.
First though, let’s figure out Peter’s sir name. The Greek is Βαριωνᾶς or Bariōnas; of Ara4. Basically it is referring to Simon’s father or grandfather. He is the “son of Jonah,” Barjona is the equivalent to Bar-Jonah, a surname.
But there are a lot of different understandings or translations. Later we see in that that Simon is “son of John.” According to John Gill “some read it Bar Joanna, the same with John; but the common reading is best; Bar Jona signifies “the son of a dove”, and Bar Joanna signifies “the son of one that is gracious 5”. Long story short, according to Gill, his father was a good man, “like a dove.” In , Simon is named “son of John.” Nothing further is known of this John, except the different forms of his name. Jonas may be a contraction for Joanes.6 Another theory is that Simon Peter is in the genealogy of . (or at the very least in a metaphoric sense) because Simon Peter Jesus three times and seeks forgiveness, as Jonah betrayed God and spent three days in the mouth of a fish. The evidence for these theories is inconclusive.
Ok guys today we have only touched the surface on Peter. We have examined who Simon Peter is. We will pick up next lesson with the continuation of the passage, as there is still a lot of questions about what Jesus is talking about here. I want you to come back next week after studying this passage further. See if you can come up with an understanding for says “upon this rock I will build My church.”
By what means was Peter able to make such confession? Why do you think that Peter rebuked the Lord the way he did? Is Peter the foundation to our church today?