(Information source: Compton’s Interactive Bible)
Peter slowly learned how to live up to his nickname…
1 Peter 5:6 (NKJV)
Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time
You can’t miss Peter in the four Gospels. He stands out like a bumpkin, pushing to the head of the line and coming out with loud, outrageous assertions. Every list of the disciples names him first, and Peter is often seen elbowing his way to center stage.
He was likable enough, with a big heart and unlimited enthusiasm. He just had too many rough edges. In his early days he swung like a pendulum, bold and courageous at one moment, yet cowardly when it really counted.
Signs of Mellowing
But by the time Peter sat down to write the letter (1 Peter) late in his life, a lot had changed. You can sense the change in the very words he chooses: words like humble and submit. This book of Peter contains nothing of the brash, aggressive style evident in the Gospels. He is heeding Jesus’ last command to him: “……..Tend my sheep” (John 21:17).
Gruff Peter has become a tender shepherd.
To get the full impact of Peter’s transformation, you must read about him in the Gospels (especially in Mark), and then turn directly to this letter:
Blustery, loudmouthed Peter now counsels wives to have – “…..the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit,(1Peter 3:4 NKJV) and “If you are a husband, you should be thoughtful of your wife. Treat her with honour, because she isn’t as strong as you are, and she shares with you in the gift of life.” (1 Peter 3:7 CEV)
The man who sliced off an ear in Jesus’ defense – “Simon Peter had brought along a sword. He now pulled it out and struck at the servant of the high priest. The servant’s name was Malchus, and Peter cut off his right ear. (John 18:10 CEV) now advises submission to laws of men- “Keep all the laws of men because of the Lord; those of the king, who is over all…” (1 Peter 2:13 BBE).
Peter once vigorously protested Jesus’ prediction of death – “Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man would have to suffer a lot. He taught them that he would be rejected by the leaders, the chief priests, and the scribes. He would be killed, but after three days he would come back to life. He told them very clearly what he meant. Peter took him aside and objected to this.”; (Mark 8:31,32 GW) now he solemnly commends Christ’s suffering as an ideal –
1 Peter 2:21-24 GW
“God called you to endure suffering because Christ suffered for you. He left you an example so that you could follow in his footsteps. Christ never committed any sin. He never spoke deceitfully. Christ never verbally abused those who verbally abused him. When he suffered, he didn’t make any threats but left everything to the one who judges fairly. Christ carried our sins in his body on the cross so that freed from our sins, we could live a life that has God’s approval. His wounds have healed you.”
It’s easy to believe Peter is describing himself when he writes such statements as – “Once you were not GOD’s people, but now you are. Once you were not shown mercy, but now you have been shown mercy. (1 Peter 2:10 GW) and “You were “like sheep that kept going astray,” but now you have returned to the shepherd and overseer of your souls.” (1 Peter 2:25 ISV). Over time the shifting sand of Peter’s personality solidified into granite!
Never Too Late
Peter finally earned the nickname that Jesus gave him long before: the “rock” “So I will call you Peter, which means “a rock.” On this rock I will build my church, and death itself will not have any power over it.” (Matthew 16:18 CEV). (Strong’s Concordance (Greek): Peter = Petros), meaning ‘a piece of rock’).
And when he instructs his readers to stand fast in the true grace of GOD, ”I’ve written this short letter to you and I’m sending it by Silvanus, whom I regard as a faithful brother. I’ve written to encourage you and to testify that this is God’s genuine good will. Remain firmly established in it!” (1 Peter 5:12 CEV), you get the feeling Peter has learned through hard experience the lessons he is now passing on to others.
If Paul is the apostle of faith, Peter is the apostle of hope. GOD does not give up on people, as Peter’s life amply demonstrates. We have reason to hope, whatever our circumstances–even when facing suffering or death.
Tradition reports that Peter was crucified head downward on a Roman cross; he thought himself unworthy to die right side up like Jesus. Peter died still believing his promise of a happy ending:
“But God shows undeserved kindness to everyone. That’s why he appointed Christ Jesus to choose you to share in his eternal glory. You will suffer for a while, but God will make you complete, steady, strong, and firm. God will be in control forever! Amen.” (1 Peter 5:10,11 CEV)
He wrote like a man who knew.
“There is good reason to believe that the correct interpretation is that Christ was by the word “rock” referring to Peter’s confession of Him as “the Christ, the Son of the Living God.”
- If Jesus were to give you a nickname, what would it be?
- Has your personality undergone major changes?
- What still needs work?