How Much Do You Know About the Life of Saint Peter?

Torrance Grey

What was Peter's profession before he was a disciple of Jesus?

Peter was one of several disciples -- the first ones called -- who were fishermen. One theory goes that Jesus, trained as a carpenter, repaired fishing boats, and thus knew Peter and his friends from that trade.

On which sea did Peter fish?

Peter worked on the Sea of Galilee, also called the Lake of Gennesaret. It remains a popular site for religious tourism in Israel.

Was Peter married?

Jesus heals Peter's mother-in-law early in the gospels, clearly indicating his marital status. However, Peter's wife is never mentioned in the gospels, or anywhere else in the New Testament. Even so, tradition holds that she was an early Christian martyr.

Which of these terms is commonly used to identify Peter?

St. Peter is commonly called the first pope. The Eastern Church, which split off from the Roman Catholic church in the middle ages, likewise calls him the first Patriarch of Antioch.

How, according to tradition, did Peter die?

According to tradition, Peter did not believe himself worthy to be crucified in the same way as Christ. Therefore, he was crucified upside down.

Which of these apostles was Peter's brother?

Peter and Andrew were fishermen, as were James (the Greater) and John, sons of Zebedee. They were all among the first disciples called, but Peter rose to much greater prominence in Christian history than his brother.

Peter was one of only three disciples to see Jesus transformed into his divine glory. What is this event called?

"Transfigured" is a close synonym to "transformed." On a mountaintop, Jesus became a divine figure, and spoke with Moses and Elijah.

What was Peter's name, before Jesus renamed him?

Peter is either known as Simon or Simeon in his pre-discipleship days. "Peter" means "rock," and Jesus thus predicted he would be the foundation of the church.

By what Greek name, also meaning "rock," is Peter sometimes called?

You'll see this name in some translations of the Bible. Paul writes about "the rest of the apostles, and Cephas" in 1 Corinthians.

In what town did Peter grow up?

Bethsaida was a town on the Sea of Galilee. Its exact location is not known today.

Peter is believed to be the disciple who attacked a soldier in the Garden of Gethsemane. What body part did Peter cut off?

Though Peter is never named in the synoptic gospels, tradition holds that he is the one who struck the soldier and cut off his ear. Jesus healed the soldier, his final miracle as a mortal.

Jesus predicted that Peter would deny him three times before what happened?

Loosely, this means "by dawn." Peter vowed he would not deny knowing Christ, but this did indeed happen.

According to the gospel of John, after his resurrection, what question did Jesus ask Peter three times?

Jesus asks the question three times. After each of Peter's affirmations that he does, Jesus gives a slightly different response: "Feed my lambs," then "Tend my sheep," then "Feed my sheep." In this way, Peter goes from fisherman to shepherd, following in Christ's steps.

On Pentecost, why did people think Peter and the other disciples were drunk?

On Pentecost, the Holy Ghost descended on Peter and the others and gave them the gift of tongues. It was Peter who stood up to defend them all against accusations of drunkenness.

Which disciple was with Peter when he cured the lame man at the Beautiful Gate?

This happens in Acts of the Apostles, chapter 3. Extra-Biblical sources say that gate outside the temple was called "Beautiful" because it was made of bronze and ornamented with silver and gold.

Peter condemned Ananias and his wife _______ for withholding money from the early church.

According to Acts 5, the couple kept some of the proceeds from the sale of land. Peter says that their sin was lying about it, not withholding the money itself. But the penalty is harsh: Ananias falls down dead at Peter's condemnation. When Sapphira arrives later, Peter says, "The feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out." She, too, then dies.

What did Peter heal Aeneas of?

According to Acts 9, Aeneas had been paralyzed for eight years. Peter commands him to rise: "Jesus Christ heals you; get up and make your bed!"

In Acts 10, Peter has a dream in which he is told he may eat any kind of animal. What did he take this to mean?

Dietary laws do come into play here, as part of the metaphor. In the dream, Peter refuses to "kill and eat" the creatures he sees because they are unclean under Jewish law. God tells him that "What God has made clean, you must not call profane." Peter later understood this to mean the Gentiles.

What was the name of the Gentile whom Peter converted?

Cornelius was an Italian (in modern terms); he served in Rome's army. He had a vision telling him to send for Peter, just as Peter was having the vision that instructed him that he must not call anything profane that God has made clean.

In what city did Peter raise Tabitha (Dorcas) from the dead?

Joppa is the city known nowadays as Jaffa. The devout widow whom Peter raised from the dead was named Tabitha, or Dorcas in Greek.

During which Jewish festival did King Herod have Peter arrested?

Interestingly, Jesus's arrest and execution was also during Passover. In both cases, Roman authorities seem to be trying to please the Jewish authorities and people by arresting religious "outlaws."

Which apostle had Herod already executed at the time of Peter's arrest?

Acts 12:2 says, "He (Herod) had James, the brother of John, killed with the sword." James was an early martyr, but not the earliest -- that was St. Stephen.

Who helps Peter escape from prison in Jerusalem?

Peter at first thinks he is having a vision when the angel comes to his cell and leads him out. Only when he is safely clear of the prison, " ... Peter came to himself, and said 'Now I am sure the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hands of Herod.' " (Acts 12:11)

After his escape, when Peter arrives safely at the believers' house, what does the "maid named Rhoda" do?

Rhoda is so surprised she simply runs into the house to tell the other early Christians. They don't believe her, until they hear Peter knocking again and go see for themselves.

In which city did Peter preach and live in his last years?

Peter spent his last years in the city with which he is inextricably linked. Whether the Catholic Church is based in Rome was because of his preaching and martyrdom there, or because it was already the center of an empire, is a matter of opinion.

Despite Peter's conversion of Cornelius, which apostle is known as the "apostle to the Gentiles"?

About halfway through the book of Acts, the focus shifts from Peter to Paul. This is not because Peter stopped preaching, but because Paul had the more "global" ministry. That is, the story of Paul's travels is the story of how Christianity stopped being a sub-sect of Judaism and became a world religion of its own.

Did St. Peter and St. Paul know each other?

Paul mentions Peter several times in his letters. They evidently didn't always agree on points of theology and Christian practice: Paul says in Galatians 2:11, "When Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face."

How many of Peter's letters are included in the New Testament?

Secular scholars (always raining on the parade!) suggest that Peter didn't write either book himself. However, the author of 1 Peter calls himself "Peter," saying that he writes with the help of a scribe, Silvanus. 2 Peter uses the salutation of "Simeon Peter," reverting to his traditional Jewish name. Christians tend to take these identifications on faith.

By what "code name" does Peter refer to Rome in 1 Peter?

By calling Rome "Babylon," Peter is linking it with the great pagan city of old. It is, therefore, a place of great power, sometimes great wickedness, but also great promise.

Approximately what year did St. Peter die?

Since Peter and Jesus were roughly the same age, a death date of 210 A.D. would make Peter 200 years old at the time of his death -- very unlikely! Rather, he is thought to have lived about twice as long as Christ's earthly life, to about his late 60s.

Which emperor evidently presided over Peter's execution?

Nero is believed to have ruled the Roman empire during both the deaths of Peter and Paul. He is also known for not having both oars in the water -- he's the one who reportedly "fiddled" while Rome burns.

Finish the quote: "Upon this rock I will build my church, and the ________ will not prevail against it."

Peter, of course, is the rock. "Gates of hell" is a poetic way of saying "all the powers of hell."

Where is St. Peter believed to be buried?

According to tradition, he is buried under the altar of this great church in Rome. St. Peter's Basilica is one of the main pilgrimage sites in Christianity.

What was the name of Peter's father?

Peter's full name, before Christ's renaming, was "Simeon Bar-Jona." Some translations of the Bible have Jesus addressing him this way.

Is there a gospel of Peter?

There are a number of gospels that are "non-canonical," meaning not included in the Christian Bible. Peter's, which may or may not have been written by the apostle himself, was discovered in Egypt.

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Image: Catholic Online

About This Quiz

There are few more complex figures in the New Testament than Saint Peter, known as "the apostle Peter" to Protestants. Born in a fishing town on Lake Gennesaret, he likely expected to live and die a simple working man. Instead, he became one of the founding figures of Christianity. The first disciple to declare to Jesus, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God," he was also the one who denied knowing Jesus three times on the night of Jesus's arrest. A rash, impulsive man in the gospels, Peter grew to be the thoughtful leader and spokesperson of the apostles in the church's earliest years. He was the leader in the decision-making process that chose a new apostle to replace the traitor Judas. He was the one who rose and preached a stirring open-air sermon on Pentecost. Later, he brought Jesus's message to Jews and Gentiles alike. 

Today, St. Peter is venerated by Catholics and Protestants, by the Eastern Orthodox church (where he is known as the first Patriarch of Antioch), and by Islam. He is honored by one of Christendom's most beloved churches, St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. He is said, today, to have the very keys to heaven. How much do you know about his life and works? Find out now, with our quiz!

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