Peter in the New Testament

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Peter in the New Testament


The book “Peter in The New Testament” addresses the tenseness sing the function of St Peter in the New Testament. The sensitive nature of this impression has been set aside for a long period of clip. However Vatican Council II understood the demand for a better apprehension and account of the sacred Bible. This undertaking was taken up during a two twelvemonth procedure of duologue between the Protestant and Roman Catholic Scholars.

In fact, this book provides an overview of both the Catholic and Lutheran positions. The Catholic position is based on the Constitution on Divine Revelation ( DV12 ) . In this exercising, the traditional attack, i.e. , where New Testament grounds was questioned and so the issues were discussed amongst apostolic “opponents and supporters” . On the contrary, these issues were set aside, and NT Hagiographas were examined in their original linguistic communications and their historical context.

The attack adopted was to analyze and analyze St. Peter’s passages in the Hagiographas of Paul and the four Evangelists, including Luke’s Acts and the Petrine Letters. Some transitions attracted more attending than others, e.g. , Acts 15, Mk. 8:27-33 and Mt 16:16-19. For the intent of this recognition, in this paper I will take some penetrations from Mt 16:16-19 and John 21.

The followers is the adoptive methodological analysis:

  1. Traditions are analysed and examined
  2. If possible, a base is taken. When a place is taken, it may pull unfavorable judgment.
  3. Cardinal inquiries may be left unreciprocated because while the grounds in inquiry is considered, yet it is non pushed beyond its bounds.

Lutheran position is based on the cardinal difference from the Catholic position, on the fact that Scripture is ‘vague’ with respects to Peter’s pontificate. Bible is non a ‘straight historical trajectory’ but instead a perceptual experience of what was ‘believed and understood’ to be Peter’s function. However, despite this basic difference between Lutheran and Catholic positions, ‘exegetical nitpicking’ was excluded in this exercising.

Harmonizing to Pope Paul VI, ‘pontificate is the greatest obstruction on the route to Ecumenism’ . [ 1 ] In position of this, the Church has taken up the challenge to oppugn the Papacy primacy in a incorporate Christian church. [ 2 ]A squad of Lutheran-Roman bookmans collaborated and published the study “Peter in the New Testament” . [ 3 ]

Historical background

The challenge to primacy power held by the Roman Pontiff, was initiated during Vatican Council II in 1965.

This study is referred to as the “Lutherans and Catholics in Dialogue” , and has four volumes. There is general understanding on simple rudimentss, e.g. , the Nicene Creed, baptism, the Eucharist, and the ministry.

The apostolic primacy, possibly the most controversial issue, was addressed in 1971. This thorny topic required particular attending and scheme. In fact, little groups were appointed to transport out a historical analysis in relation to the visual aspect of the pontificate, chiefly in the New Testament and the Patristic periods. The book under reappraisal tried to turn to these issues.

Eleven specializers made up the commission’s survey group. [ 4 ] However, due to the nature of the topic, i.e. , the Petrine office and the pontiff’s primacy attracted assorted oecumenic treatments, and a farther two faculty members from other beliefs, were taken on board.

Who is Peter in the New Testament?

The survey assessed wheresoever Simon Peter is referenced in the New Testament, with particular accent on transitions that amplify:

  • Peter’s function in spread outing Christianity,
  • Peter and James’ relevant authorization in Jerusalem,
  • Peter ‘s relationship with others, including the adherents and Paul.

Peter in the Council of Jerusalem ( Acts 15 )

This survey notes that Peter dominates the first half of Acts. In Acts Peter is named foremost in the post-resurrectional list of the Eleven ; Peter plays a important function in the election of Matthias ; Peter is a sermonizer in the Jerusalem Church and a missional sermonizer to the foreigners, and a spokesman for the Christian community ; Peter is a miracle worker. [ 5 ]

Peter’s controversial function

Matthew 16:16-19

The survey exposes several contentions vis-a-vis Peter’s function. For case, the transition Matthew 16:16-19 has come to be a ‘standard’ text quoted by the Roman Catholic Church, as a theological foundation in defense mechanism of the pontificate.

‘And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this stone I will construct my church, and the powers of decease shall non predominate against it. I will give you the keys of the land of Eden, and whatever you bind on Earth shall be bound in Eden, and whatever you loose on Earth shall be loosed in Eden ‘“ ( Matt. 16:18, 19, R.S.V. ) .

However, this poetry is unfastened to reading. [ 6 ] In fact, the study concludes by saying that this poetry is most likely “in whole or in portion, post-resurrectional. ” [ 7 ] In other words, Matthew merely gathered and linked the significance to the Lord ‘s ministry in Caesarea, and therefore singled out a peculiar ‘title’ to Peter. [ 8 ] However, the study indicates that this has practically no historical relevancy, because the events were non recorded as they had really happened, but as they were perceived. The study sustains that it is “hard to define the boundary line between history and divinity in Acts 15, ” and it is really hard to reason Peter’s historical function at the Jerusalem council. [ 9 ]

Furthermore, Peter ‘s confession of Jesus as “ ‘the Son of the life God ‘ “ ( verse 16 ) , which evoked from Jesus the words contained in the transition under treatment, is itself regarded as a confession belonging more to the post-resurrectional religion of the early church than to the religion and trust that Jesus developed during His yearss in the flesh. [ 10 ]

Contemporary biblical bookmans recognise that in the New Testament 1 may happen features bespeaking that Peter had a outstanding place among the 12 adherents. When Peter was chosen as a adherent, Jesus tells him that his name was to be changed to Cephas ( which means stone ) Jn 1:42. [ 11 ] The life of Peter which started from a simple fisherman, comes to an terminal in the glorious martyrdom in the metropolis of the Roman imperium.

In the New Testament, the names Simon, Peter or Cephas appear about two 100 times. The names of the other apostles in all appear about hundred 30 times. In the list of apostles in the New Testament, Peter is the first in the list. It is Matthew who uses the word foremost ( Mt10:2 ) [ 12 ] , to demo Peter as the most of import of the 12. Peter was the interpreter and the voice bearing authorization of the apostles, as we read in the first chapters of the Acts of the Apostles. Paul spends 15 yearss with Peter before get downing his apostolate ( Gal 1:18 ) . [ 13 ]

Jesus concedes particular duties to Peter, whose history is found in Matthew ( Mt16:13-20 ) . Peter receives a new name, which in Bible symbolizes a alteration in province or place. [ 14 ]

After set uping Peter as the stone, Jesus promises Peter the keys of the land. This is a clear mention to the keeper of the keys referred in Isiah 22:15 “where Shebna, premier curate of King Hezekiah of Judah, is deposed and replaced by Eliakim on whose shoulder God places “the key of David ; he shall open… and he shall shut” . [ 15 ]

To Peter has been given the authorization to “bind and loose“ . These footings represent the rabbinic legislative and judicial powers. Jesus gives these powers to the apostles, chiefly to Peter. [ 16 ]

However a counter statement may keep that the Church founded itsindividualityon these adherents as eyewitnesses, and answerability for pastoral way was non limited to Peter. [ 17 ] This may be supported by In Matthew 16:19, where this adherent is clearly appointed to “bind and loose“ . Additionally, in Matthew 18:18, Jesus assured all the apostles that they will make the same. This was echoed in in Matthew 16:16, and in the New Testament ( californium. Eph. 2:10 ) . Therefore, one may reason that, though the separating features of Peter ‘s ministry are elucidated, yet it is an apostle’s ministry like that of the other adherents. [ 18 ] Furthermore, the New Testament lacks any specific informations related to Peter ‘s leading or transmittal of general authorization. This has led to the divergent reading of the Petrine texts.

Yet, these positions do non basically back up the primacy of the Pope. One may potentially have the primacy of Rome as being portion of God ‘s position, even though admiting that New Testament does non hold grounds to back up this. [ 19 ] Whether Peter ‘s character can be conveyed in its entireness or non, may be debated, nevertheless, one should non reject the ‘analogical’ continuation of his work to unite the church, directed by the Holy Spirit, amongst those who followed this assignment [ 20 ] .

John 21:15-17

The writers of this book reference chapter 21 of John’s Gospel in three subdivisions and construct their treatment around Simon Peter and the darling adherent. The editors divide the chapter in three subdivisions:

  1. The visual aspect of the risen Lord and the marvelous gimmick of fish ( 21:1-14 ) .

The authors province that unlike Luke’s Gospel for whom Peter was the lone of import figure alongside with Jesus, in John, Peter is accompanied by six other adherents, whose names follow Peter’s. Furthermore, it is Peter who takes the enterprise and goes fishing ; he jumps into the sea to travel to run into Jesus ; and he hauls the cyberspace of fish ashore. The writers argue that while the symbolism clearly is a mark of future missional gimmick of work forces, in John the symbolism is non clear. [ 21 ]

For the writers what is striking here is the contrast between the Beloved Disciple and Simon Peter It is the Beloved adherent who recognizes the alien on the shore: “love gives the Beloved Disciple penetration. [ 22 ] While Simon Peter remains of import, but he is non the one truly attuned to Jesus. [ 23 ]

  1. The risen Jesus instructs Simon to feed his sheep ( 21:15-17 )

The editors’ chief involvement in the analysis of these poetries is the treble bid to feed Jesus’ sheep. The authors question if this pastoral imagination implies in any manner the ecclesiastical function of Peter. [ 24 ]

This pastoral imagination for feeding the sheep may be symbolic for:

  1. nurturing the Christian flock through instruction and sermon
  2. protecting them from unorthodoxy

This bid is followed by a anticipation that he will give up his life for the flock.

However, the authors ask if this state of affairs reflects that Peter has become a symbol of authorization in parts of the Christian universe. [ 25 ]

These hold that the most suited analogue for this state of affairs is I Peter 5:1-4. This epistle is non merely a clear note of the authorization but besides on the duty to the flock, even in John 21. These writers besides note a form of shepherding based on Jesus the Good Shepherd. [ 26 ]

  1. Jesus speaks of the fates of Simon Peter and the Beloved Disciple ( 21:18-23 )

Bing a shepherd involves puting down one’s life for the sheep ( John 10:11 ) . This involves Jesus’ anticipation of Peter’s martyrdom which had already been implied in John 13:36.

These authors note that one time once more in this Gospel, the Beloved Disciple appears by manner of contrast: the Johannine community acknowledged that one could non state the narrative of the Christian church ( at least by the terminal of the century ) without adverting Peter’s importance in a missional and in a pastoral function while on the other manus it secured its ain place by puting the Beloved Disciple alongside Simon Peter. [ 27 ] “He excessively saw the risen Jesus, so before Simon Peter recognized him.” [ 28 ]

Major Departure

The decisions reached by the committee may go forth readers perplexed. One may oppugn whether the Church was, and is still, so heading towards a major reform, going from the traditional yesteryear of apostolic primacy. Therefore, is the Church defying Primus inter pares and the domination of way, which might be granted with the authorization of reding and directing, but non with the domination of commanding?

The study affirms that it was non possible to reason neither that Peter was really a ‘spokes-man’ for the other adherents during Jesus’ ministry, nor that he was their spokes-man for the Jerusalem church. [ 29 ]There is a difference between facts which were recorded and supported, and facts which seem to hold been ‘perceived’ . For case, while grounds may back up the fact that Simon Peter was sent to Rome and martyred at that place, one can non be certain if Peter served as ‘bishop‘ of the Roman community, and if his replacements were really appointed by him or non. [ 30 ]

The last chapter of the study, determines that in New Testament Peter was attributed assorted images – ‘fisherman, curate, sufferer, the “ receiving system of particular disclosure, ” confessor, and defender of religion, ’and a ‘weak and iniquitous adult male.’ [ 31 ] These descriptions are reflected in the “Petrine flight. ” [ 32 ] However, it is a province of fact that Peter did non work by himself, but instead with other adherents. [ 33 ] Hence, the study asks whether the cogent evidence presented in the New Testament defends the decision that Peter, as a individual person, should be endorsed with counsel and leading pertinent to all the church. The study inquiries whether Peter was in reality portion of a complex administrative leading. [ 34 ]

These functions may go clearer if one examines these ‘historical functions’ in a ‘historical development’ . This paves a better apprehension for the description as portrayed in the patristic epoch.

Ecumenic Deductions

The analysis is indisputably basic. Its oecumenic innuendos are apparent from the fact that such a conflicting issue was discussed and agreed upon by a divergent group of faculty members, stand foring the Lutheran and Roman Catholic beliefs. In this exercising, Roman Catholics are invited to chew over on what function the Pope should presume in a incorporate church, given that the Protestants’ position of the pontificate has been basically dissimilar from that of Roman Catholics. One might oppugn whether the pope’s pontificate can attest any ‘snap’ in any new attack?

The decisions were non reached nem con, but instead by “a consensus about the sensible bounds of plausibleness, ” [ 35 ]and the terminal consequence was accomplished “non so much by manner of common via media and grant, but by manner of common and originative find’ . [ 36 ]

This may be the consequence of a via media between the Protestants, who may hold realised that they had neglected Peter, and the Roman Catholics, who gave Peter excessively much importance in New Testament, which does non back up their claims of Petrine primacy.

Additionally, both parties seem to hold reached the same decisions after holding realised that the deficiency of historical significance and authorization of the Scriptures, failed to back up their purported hypothesis. This means that the Gospels and Acts, are non a dependable beginning of grounds about the ministry of Jesus, or theiterof early church. [ 37 ]


Fr Raymond E. Brown’s love for Bible, using the most up to day of the month tools in Biblical exegesis in his hunt for truth behind New Testament, reminds the pastoral curate that his ministry needs to be nourished with a deep love for Scripture. This reminds me in St Jerome’s celebrated pronouncement: “ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ” it may good be besides said that “the curate who is ignorant of Scripture is nescient of Christ” . A pastoral curate who is non good equipped and good versed in Bible is a hapless curate and can non assist the faithful to be nourished and strengthened with the Word of God. Quoting Dei Verbum: “All the sermon of the Church must be nourished and regulated by Sacred Scripture” ( DV21 ) .

Brown’s engagement in wider scholarly endeavors with bookmans coming from different Christian denominations while still loyal to the Catholic position is an illustration for Catholic pastoral curates to be unfastened to dialogue and coaction with pastoral curates coming from different Christian denominations.

The images of Peter in New Testament thought unveil the individuality, the values and spiritualty of the pastoral curate. The reading and analysis of this book stimulates certain inquiries, such as: Why follow The nazarene to the terminal? Why renounce to everything which is non Him? The episode before the Lord’s Ascension, ( which was focused on earlier in this paper ) , on the shore of Tiberias whose moving ridges had heard the first answers of the adherents to follow Jesus, Jesus asks Peter: “Simon boy of John, do you love me more than these make?” Peter, who had non forgotten the denial and his cryings of penitence, declares “You know that I love you” .

One may inquire, whether it is possible to show or oppugn more accurately the brotherhood between the love of our Lord and pastoral ministry. Peter revealed to us that this brotherhood is elaborately tangled. It seems that Jesus’ desire to give Peter the duty of the full flock, and demanded of him a love greater than that of all the adherents, was non inadvertent. One may speak up that this clearly expresses the sense of repudiation that is required from His curates. In my position these three poetries in John’s Gospel are sufficient to reflect the spirit which expected by Jesus from his pastoral curates.

Pope Francis through his words and actions is ask foring the Church to pattern ministry on Peter as he is portrayed in the New Testament. The Pope is demoing us that in the most cardinal sense it is Jesus Christ who is the caput of the Church all of us are the members of his organic structure and this besides counts for the Bishop of Rome who continues the ministry of Peter in the Church in our Catholic tradition.

It is a ministry which is expressed in John’s Gospel in Jesus committee of Peter, a committee that the Catholic Pope exercises in Communion with all the bishops and through them with all who portion the ordained ministry.

Pope Francis with his words and other gestures reminds us that the Petrine ministry is a ministry of love and clemency: as we experience the loving regard of Jesus we experience Jesus’ love and clemency, which we are in bend to populate in our ministry, and in making so others see Jesus in us.


Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation – Dei Verbum, & lt ; … /vat-ii_const_19651118_dei-ver & gt ; entree 6 January 2015.

Raymond E. Brown, Karl P. Donfried, and John Reumann, Peter in the New Testament, published jointly by the Augsburg Publishing House ( Lutheran ) and the Paulist Press ( Catholic ) , 1973.


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