His Hebrew name was Shim'om Bar Yochanan, which means Simon son of John in English, or if we want to get modern, Simon Johnson. Jesus changed Shim'on's name to Kefa. This is translated into Greek as Cephus and in Latin as Petros. This is where we get Peter. All of those names mean "rock".
He was born in the town of Bethsaida, lived in a town called Capernaum, but worked in an area called Galilee. Which is odd because he may have known Jesus for 25-30 years living so close to him. He had a brother named Andrew. He was married (Mark 1:29-31). But she is never mentioned, so we do not know if she was still alive or not. His occupation was a fisherman. And that of which he may have been quite successful since he had his own employees (Luke 5:2-10). He was not highly educated. (Acts 4:13) This will cause many to believe that he did not write the 1st book of Peter due to the sophistication of the writing. Technically they are probably correct. It was hand written by Silas (1 Peter 5:12) but it was dictated by Peter, which should be sufficient enough.
He was not a follower of Christ at first. He was one of the few that had been listening to John the Baptist occasionally (John 1:35-42) but he wasn't easily convinced. It took a lot of events to seriously change his mind. Since he had heard John the Baptist, he knew of what the Messiah was going to be but he probably never knew it would happen in his life time.
The first thing we see from Peter is that he was outspoken. This comes across every time we read about him (Mark 8:29-33). At times he sounded like a smart mouth who needed to be put in his place. He acted on impulse. This caused him to be very inconsistent with his thoughts and actions. Just when you think he understood the meaning of his life he does something stupid and it leaves you wondering why he did what he did. (Mark 8:27-33, 14:27-31).
His Life Changing Experience:
- 3 He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, and asked him to put out a little from shore. Then he sat down and taught the people from the boat.
- 4 When he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, "Put out into deep water, and let down the nets for a catch."
- 5 Simon answered, "Master, we've worked hard all night and haven't caught anything. But because you say so, I will let down the nets."
- 6 When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break.
- 7 So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats so full that they began to sink.
- 8 When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus' knees and said, "Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!"
- 9 For he and all his companions were astonished at the catch of fish they had taken,
If Peter was just following the Master's command and believed, then why would he fall at the knees of Jesus after the catch? It is not until he sees this miracle that he starts to believe. Verse 5 shows the smart mouth side of him. He's not saying, "because I believe I will do it". He is saying in a sarcastic response, "Because you o' mighty one (yeah right) tell me to then by all means let's do it". He was astonished at what he saw. And then he fell to his knees and realized who was in his presence. But even then he will revert to his old self time and time again.
Peter will become the leader of the group. He at first becomes part of Jesus' small group (the 12). He will become part of Jesus' inner circle (the three: James, John and Peter). And he will become the Rock that Jesus restores and calls on to be the leader of his church. Historically the Roman Catholic Church will bestow upon him the title of the first Pope. He was a man who no one expected to be the man he ended up being. Simon, the smart mouth fisherman from Galilee becomes the Rock, messenger of the Almighty God.