(Acts 6:1) were the Hebrew-speaking Jews, as distinguished from
those who spoke Greek. (See GREEKS T0001552.)
In Ps. 15:3, the rendering of a word which means to run about
tattling, calumniating; in Prov. 25:23, secret talebearing or
slandering; in Rom. 1:30 and 2 Cor. 12:20, evil-speaking,
maliciously defaming the absent.
is expressly forbidden (Titus 3:2; James 4:11), and severe
punishments are denounced against it (1 Cor. 5:11; 6:10). It is
spoken of also with abhorrence (Ps. 15:3; Prov. 18:6, 7), and is
foreign to the whole Christian character and the example of
(Heb. tsaphon), a "hidden" or "dark place," as opposed to the
sunny south (Deut. 3:27). A Hebrew in speaking of the points of
the compass was considered as always having his face to the
east, and hence "the left hand" (Gen. 14:15; Job 23:9) denotes
the north. The "kingdoms of the north" are Chaldea, Assyria,
(Heb. hodah). The oldest and, strictly speaking, the only
example of a riddle was that propounded by Samson (Judg.
14:12-18). The parabolic prophecy in Ezek. 17:2-18 is there
called a "riddle." It was rather, however, an allegory. The word
"darkly" in 1 Cor. 13:12 is the rendering of the Greek enigma;
marg., "in a riddle."
In the sense of speaking evil of God this word is found in Ps.
74:18; Isa. 52:5; Rom. 2:24; Rev. 13:1, 6; 16:9, 11, 21. It
denotes also any kind of calumny, or evil-speaking, or abuse (1
Kings 21:10; Acts 13:45; 18:6, etc.). Our Lord was accused of
blasphemy when he claimed to be the Son of God (Matt. 26:65;
compare Matt. 9:3; Mark 2:7). They who deny his Messiahship
blaspheme Jesus (Luke 22:65; John 10:36).
Blasphemy against the Holy Ghost (Matt. 12:31, 32; Mark 3:28,
29; Luke 12:10) is regarded by some as a continued and obstinate
rejection of the gospel, and hence is an unpardonable sin,
simply because as long as a sinner remains in unbelief he
voluntarily excludes himself from pardon. Others regard the
expression as designating the sin of attributing to the power of
Satan those miracles which Christ performed, or generally those
works which are the result of the Spirit's agency.
a Greek word used in the New Testament (Rom. 1:14) to denote one
of another nation. In Col. 3:11, the word more definitely
designates those nations of the Roman empire that did not speak
Greek. In 1 Cor. 14:11, it simply refers to one speaking a
different language. The inhabitants of Malta are so called (Acts
28:1,2, 4). They were originally a Carthaginian colony. This
word nowhere in Scripture bears the meaning it does in modern
(Mark 7:4) means banqueting-couches or benches, on which the
Jews reclined when at meals. This custom, along with the use of
raised tables like ours, was introduced among the Jews after the
Captivity. Before this they had, properly speaking, no table.
That which served the purpose was a skin or piece of leather
spread out on the carpeted floor. Sometimes a stool was placed
in the middle of this skin. (See ABRAHAM'S BOSOM T0000055;
BANQUET T0000434; MEALS T0002451.)
a solemn appeal whereby one person imposes on another the
obligation of speaking or acting as if under an oath (1 Sam.
14:24; Josh. 6:26; 1 Kings 22:16).
We have in the New Testament a striking example of this (Matt.
26:63; Mark 5:7), where the high priest calls upon Christ to
avow his true character. It would seem that in such a case the
person so adjured could not refuse to give an answer.
The word "adjure", i.e., cause to swear is used with reference
to the casting out of demons (Acts 19:13).
(Gr. charismata), gifts supernaturally bestowed on the early
Christians, each having his own proper gift or gifts for the
edification of the body of Christ. These were the result of the
extraordinary operation of the Spirit, as on the day of
Pentecost. They were the gifts of speaking with tongues, casting
out devils, healing, etc. (Mark 16:17, 18), usually communicated
by the medium of the laying on of the hands of the apostles
(Acts 8:17; 19:6; 1 Tim. 4:14). These charismata were enjoyed
only for a time. They could not continue always in the Church.
They were suited to its infancy and to the necessities of those
(1.) Heb. mitpahath (Ruth 3:15; marg., "sheet" or "apron;" R.V.,
"mantle"). In Isa. 3:22 this word is plural, rendered "wimples;"
R.V., "shawls" i.e., wraps.
(2.) Massekah (Isa. 25:7; in Isa. 28:20 rendered "covering").
The word denotes something spread out and covering or concealing
something else (compare 2 Cor. 3:13-15).
(3.) Masveh (Ex. 34:33, 35), the veil on the face of Moses.
This verse should be read, "And when Moses had done speaking
with them, he put a veil on his face," as in the Revised
Version. When Moses spoke to them he was without the veil; only
when he ceased speaking he put on the veil (compare 2 Cor. 3:13,
(4.) Paroheth (Ex. 26:31-35), the veil of the tabernacle and
the temple, which hung between the holy place and the most holy
(2 Chr. 3:14). In the temple a partition wall separated these
two places. In it were two folding-doors, which are supposed to
have been always open, the entrance being concealed by the veil
which the high priest lifted when he entered into the sanctuary
on the day of Atonement. This veil was rent when Christ died on
the cross (Matt. 27:51; Mark 15:38; Luke 23:45).
(5.) Tza'iph (Gen. 24:65). Rebekah "took a vail and covered
herself." (See also 38:14, 19.) Hebrew women generally appeared
in public without veils (12:14; 24:16; 29:10; 1 Sam. 1:12).
(6.) Radhidh (Cant. 5:7, R.V. "mantle;" Isa. 3:23). The word
probably denotes some kind of cloak or wrapper.
(7.) Masak, the veil which hung before the entrance to the
holy place (Ex. 26:36, 37).
(Heb. kabhod; Gr. doxa). (1.) Abundance, wealth, treasure, and
hence honour (Ps. 49:12); glory (Gen. 31:1; Matt. 4:8; Rev.
(2.) Honour, dignity (1 Kings 3:13; Heb. 2:7 1 Pet. 1:24); of
God (Ps. 19:1; 29:1); of the mind or heart (Gen. 49:6; Ps. 7:5;
(3.) Splendour, brightness, majesty (Gen. 45:13; Isa. 4:5;
Acts 22:11; 2 Cor. 3:7); of Jehovah (Isa. 59:19; 60:1; 2 Thess.
(4.) The glorious moral attributes, the infinite perfections
of God (Isa. 40:5; Acts 7:2; Rom. 1:23; 9:23; Eph. 1:12). Jesus
is the "brightness of the Father's glory" (Heb. 1:3; John 1:14;
(5.) The bliss of heaven (Rom. 2:7, 10; 5:2; 8:18; Heb. 2:10;
1 Pet. 5:1, 10).
(6.) The phrase "Give glory to God" (Josh. 7:19; Jer. 13:16)
is a Hebrew idiom meaning, "Confess your sins." The words of the
Jews to the blind man, "Give God the praise" (John 9:24), are an
adjuration to confess. They are equivalent to, "Confess that you
are an impostor," "Give God the glory by speaking the truth;"
for they denied that a miracle had been wrought.
highland, the son of Shem (Gen. 10:22), and the name of the
country inhabited by his descendants (14:1, 9; Isa. 11:11; 21:2,
etc.) lying to the east of Babylonia, and extending to the shore
of the Mediterranean, a distance in a direct line of about 1,000
miles. The name Elam is an Assyrian word meaning "high."
"The inhabitants of Elam, or 'the Highlands,' to the east of
Babylon, were called Elamites. They were divided into several
branches, speaking different dialects of the same agglutinative
language. The race to which they belonged was brachycephalic, or
short-headed, like the pre-Semitic Sumerians of Babylonia.
"The earliest Elamite kingdom seems to have been that of
Anzan, the exact site of which is uncertain; but in the time of
Abraham, Shushan or Susa appears to have already become the
capital of the country. Babylonia was frequently invaded by the
Elamite kings, who at times asserted their supremacy over it (as
in the case of Chedorlaomer, the Kudur-Lagamar, or 'servant of
the goddess Lagamar,' of the cuneiform texts).
"The later Assyrian monarchs made several campaigns against
Elam, and finally Assur-bani-pal (about B.C. 650) succeeded in
conquering the country, which was ravaged with fire and sword.
On the fall of the Assyrian Empire, Elam passed into the hands
of the Persians" (A.H. Sayce).
This country was called by the Greeks Cissia or Susiana.
The angle of a house (Job 1:19) or a street (Prov. 7:8).
"Corners" in Neh. 9:22 denotes the various districts of the
promised land allotted to the Israelites. In Num. 24:17, the
"corners of Moab" denotes the whole land of Moab. The "corner of
a field" (Lev. 19:9; 23:22) is its extreme part, which was not
to be reaped. The Jews were prohibited from cutting the
"corners," i.e., the extremities, of the hair and whiskers
running round the ears (Lev. 19:27; 21:5). The "four corners of
the earth" in Isa. 11:12 and Ezek. 7:2 denotes the whole land.
The "corners of the streets" mentioned in Matt. 6:5 means the
angles where streets meet so as to form a square or place of
The corner gate of Jerusalem (2 Kings 14:13; 2 Chr. 26:9) was
on the north-west side of the city.
Corner-stone (Job 38:6; Isa. 28:16), a block of great
importance in binding together the sides of a building. The
"head of the corner" (Ps. 118:22, 23) denotes the coping, the
"coign of vantage", i.e., the topstone of a building. But the
word "corner stone" is sometimes used to denote some person of
rank and importance (Isa. 28:16). It is applied to our Lord, who
was set in highest honour (Matt. 21:42). He is also styled "the
chief corner stone" (Eph. 2:20; 1 Pet. 2:6-8). When Zechariah
(10:4), speaking of Judah, says, "Out of him came forth the
corner," he is probably to be understood as ultimately referring
to the Messiah as the "corner stone." (See TEMPLE, SOLOMON'S
Book of James
The Epistle of James.
(1.) Author of, was James the Less, the Lord's brother, one of
the twelve apostles. He was one of the three pillars of the
Church (Gal. 2:9).
(2.) It was addressed to the Jews of the dispersion, "the
twelve tribes scattered abroad."
(3.) The place and time of the writing of the epistle were
Jerusalem, where James was residing, and, from internal
evidence, the period between Paul's two imprisonments at Rome,
probably about A.D. 62.
(4.) The object of the writer was to enforce the practical
duties of the Christian life. "The Jewish vices against which he
warns them are, formalism, which made the service of God consist
in washings and outward ceremonies, whereas he reminds them
(1:27) that it consists rather in active love and purity;
fanaticism, which, under the cloak of religious zeal, was
tearing Jerusalem in pieces (1:20); fatalism, which threw its
sins on God (1:13); meanness, which crouched before the rich
(2:2); falsehood, which had made words and oaths play-things
(3:2-12); partisanship (3:14); evil speaking (4:11); boasting
(4:16); oppression (5:4). The great lesson which he teaches them
as Christians is patience, patience in trial (1:2), patience in
good works (1:22-25), patience under provocation (3:17),
patience under oppression (5:7), patience under persecution
(5:10); and the ground of their patience is that the coming of
the Lord draweth nigh, which is to right all wrong (5:8)."
"Justification by works," which James contends for, is
justification before man, the justification of our profession of
faith by a consistent life. Paul contends for the doctrine of
"justification by faith;" but that is justification before God,
a being regarded and accepted as just by virtue of the
righteousness of Christ, which is received by faith.
holy, or Kadesh-Barnea, sacred desert of wandering, a place on
the south-eastern border of Israel, about 165 miles from
Horeb. It lay in the "wilderness" or "desert of Zin" (Gen. 14:7;
Num. 13:3-26; 14:29-33; 20:1; 27:14), on the border of Edom
(20:16). From this place, in compliance with the desire of the
people, Moses sent forth "twelve spies" to spy the land. After
examining it in all its districts, the spies brought back an
evil report, Joshua and Caleb alone giving a good report of the
land (13:18-31). Influenced by the discouraging report, the
people abandoned all hope of entering into the Promised Land.
They remained a considerable time at Kadesh. (See HORMAH
T0001820; KORAH T0002222.) Because of their unbelief, they
were condemned by God to wander for thirty-eight years in the
wilderness. They took their journey from Kadesh into the deserts
of Paran, "by way of the Red Sea" (Deut. 2:1). (One theory is
that during these thirty-eight years they remained in and about
At the end of these years of wanderings, the tribes were a
second time gathered together at Kadesh. During their stay here
at this time Miriam died and was buried. Here the people
murmured for want of water, as their forefathers had done
formerly at Rephidim; and Moses, irritated by their chidings,
"with his rod smote the rock twice," instead of "speaking to the
rock before their eyes," as the Lord had commanded him (compare
Num. 27:14; Deut. 9:23; Ps. 106:32, 33). Because of this act of
his, in which Aaron too was involved, neither of them was to be
permitted to set foot within the Promised Land (Num. 20:12, 24).
The king of Edom would not permit them to pass on through his
territory, and therefore they commenced an eastward march, and
"came unto Mount Hor" (20:22).
This place has been identified with 'Ain el-Kadeis, about 12
miles east-south-east of Beersheba. (See SPIES T0003493.)
an oath, seven. (1.) Heb. shebha, the son of Raamah (Gen. 10:7),
whose descendants settled with those of Dedan on the Persian
(2.) Heb. id. A son of Joktan (Gen. 10:28), probably the
founder of the Sabeans.
(3.) Heb. id. A son of Jokshan, who was a son of Abraham by
Keturah (Gen. 25:3).
(4.) Heb. id. A kingdom in Arabia Felix. Sheba, in fact, was
Saba in Southern Arabia, the Sabaeans of classical geography,
who carried on the trade in spices with the other peoples of the
ancient world. They were Semites, speaking one of the two main
dialects of Himyaritic or South Arabic. Sheba had become a
monarchy before the days of Solomon. Its queen brought him gold,
spices, and precious stones (1 Kings 10:1-13). She is called by
our Lord the "queen of the south" (Matt. 12:42).
(5.) Heb. shebha', "seven" or "an oak." A town of Simeon
(6.) Heb. id. A "son of Bichri," of the family of Becher, the
son of Benjamin, and thus of the stem from which Saul was
descended (2 Sam. 20:1-22). When David was returning to
Jerusalem after the defeat of Absalom, a strife arose between
the ten tribes and the tribe of Judah, because the latter took
the lead in bringing back the king. Sheba took advantage of this
state of things, and raised the standard of revolt, proclaiming,
"We have no part in David." With his followers he proceeded
northward. David seeing it necessary to check this revolt,
ordered Abishai to take the gibborim, "mighty men," and the
body-guard and such troops as he could gather, and pursue Sheba.
Joab joined the expedition, and having treacherously put Amasa
to death, assumed the command of the army. Sheba took refuge in
Abel-Bethmaachah, a fortified town some miles north of Lake
Merom. While Joab was engaged in laying siege to this city,
Sheba's head was, at the instigation of a "wise woman" who had
held a parley with him from the city walls, thrown over the wall
to the besiegers, and thus the revolt came to an end.
house of God. (1.) A place in Central Israel, about 10 miles
north of Jerusalem, at the head of the pass of Michmash and Ai.
It was originally the royal Canaanite city of Luz (Gen. 28:19).
The name Bethel was at first apparently given to the sanctuary
in the neighbourhood of Luz, and was not given to the city
itself till after its conquest by the tribe of Ephraim. When
Abram entered Canaan he formed his second encampment between
Bethel and Hai (Gen. 12:8); and on his return from Egypt he came
back to it, and again "called upon the name of the Lord" (13:4).
Here Jacob, on his way from Beersheba to Haran, had a vision of
the angels of God ascending and descending on the ladder whose
top reached unto heaven (28:10, 19); and on his return he again
visited this place, "where God talked with him" (35:1-15), and
there he "built an altar, and called the place El-beth-el"
(q.v.). To this second occasion of God's speaking with Jacob at
Bethel, Hosea (12:4,5) makes reference.
In troublous times the people went to Bethel to ask counsel of
God (Judg. 20:18, 31; 21:2). Here the ark of the covenant was
kept for a long time under the care of Phinehas, the grandson of
Aaron (20:26-28). Here also Samuel held in rotation his court of
justice (1 Sam. 7:16). It was included in Israel after the
kingdom was divided, and it became one of the seats of the
worship of the golden calf (1 Kings 12:28-33; 13:1). Hence the
prophet Hosea (Hos. 4:15; 5:8; 10:5, 8) calls it in contempt
Beth-aven, i.e., "house of idols." Bethel remained an abode of
priests even after the kingdom of Israel was desolated by the
king of Assyria (2 Kings 17:28, 29). At length all traces of the
idolatries were extirpated by Josiah, king of Judah (2 Kings
23:15-18); and the place was still in existence after the
Captivity (Ezra 2:28; Neh. 7:32). It has been identified with
the ruins of Beitin, a small village amid extensive ruins some 9
miles south of Shiloh.
(2.) Mount Bethel was a hilly district near Bethel (Josh.
16:1; 1 Sam. 13:2).
(3.) A town in the south of Judah (Josh. 8:17; 12:16).
Lamentations, Book of
called in the Hebrew canon "'Ekhah", meaning "How," being the
formula for the commencement of a song of wailing. It is the
first word of the book (see 2 Sam. 1:19-27). The LXX. adopted
the name rendered "Lamentations" (Gr. threnoi = Heb. qinoth) now
in common use, to denote the character of the book, in which the
prophet mourns over the desolations brought on the city and the
holy land by Chaldeans. In the Hebrew Bible it is placed among
the Khethubim. (See BIBLE T0000580.)
As to its authorship, there is no room for hesitancy in
following the LXX. and the Targum in ascribing it to Jeremiah.
The spirit, tone, language, and subject-matter are in accord
with the testimony of tradition in assigning it to him.
According to tradition, he retired after the destruction of
Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar to a cavern outside the Damascus
gate, where he wrote this book. That cavern is still pointed
out. "In the face of a rocky hill, on the western side of the
city, the local belief has placed 'the grotto of Jeremiah.'
There, in that fixed attitude of grief which Michael Angelo has
immortalized, the prophet may well be supposed to have mourned
the fall of his country" (Stanley, Jewish Church).
The book consists of five separate poems. In chapter 1 the
prophet dwells on the manifold miseries oppressed by which the
city sits as a solitary widow weeping sorely. In chapter 2 these
miseries are described in connection with the national sins that
had caused them. Chapter 3 speaks of hope for the people of God.
The chastisement would only be for their good; a better day
would dawn for them. Chapter 4 laments the ruin and desolation
that had come upon the city and temple, but traces it only to
the people's sins. Chapter 5 is a prayer that Zion's reproach
may be taken away in the repentance and recovery of the people.
The first four poems (chapters) are acrostics, like some of
the Psalms (25, 34, 37, 119), i.e., each verse begins with a
letter of the Hebrew alphabet taken in order. The first, second,
and fourth have each twenty-two verses, the number of the
letters in the Hebrew alphabet. The third has sixty-six verses,
in which each three successive verses begin with the same
letter. The fifth is not acrostic.
Speaking of the "Wailing-place (q.v.) of the Jews" at
Jerusalem, a portion of the old wall of the temple of Solomon,
Schaff says: "There the Jews assemble every Friday afternoon to
bewail the downfall of the holy city, kissing the stone wall and
watering it with their tears. They repeat from their well-worn
Hebrew Bibles and prayer-books the Lamentations of Jeremiah and
the third book of the Pentateuch; so called in the Vulgate,
after the LXX., because it treats chiefly of the Levitical
In the first section of the book (1-17), which exhibits the
worship itself, there is, (1.) A series of laws (1-7) regarding
sacrifices, burnt-offerings, meat-offerings, and thank-offerings
(1-3), sin-offerings and trespass-offerings (4; 5), followed by
the law of the priestly duties in connection with the offering
of sacrifices (6; 7). (2.) An historical section (8-10), giving
an account of the consecration of Aaron and his sons (8);
Aaron's first offering for himself and the people (9); Nadab and
Abihu's presumption in offering "strange fire before Jehovah,"
and their punishment (10). (3.) Laws concerning purity, and the
sacrifices and ordinances for putting away impurity (11-16). An
interesting fact may be noted here. Canon Tristram, speaking of
the remarkable discoveries regarding the flora and fauna of the
Holy Land by the Israel Exploration officers, makes the
following statement:, "Take these two catalogues of the clean
and unclean animals in the books of Leviticus  and
Deuteronomy . There are eleven in Deuteronomy which do not
occur in Leviticus, and these are nearly all animals and birds
which are not found in Egypt or the Holy Land, but which are
numerous in the Arabian desert. They are not named in Leviticus
a few weeks after the departure from Egypt; but after the people
were thirty-nine years in the desert they are named, a strong
proof that the list in Deuteronomy was written at the end of the
journey, and the list in Leviticus at the beginning. It fixes
the writing of that catalogue to one time and period only, viz.,
that when the children of Israel were familiar with the fauna
and the flora of the desert" (Palest. Expl. Quart., Jan. 1887).
(4.) Laws marking the separation between Israel and the heathen
(17-20). (5.) Laws about the personal purity of the priests, and
their eating of the holy things (20; 21); about the offerings of
Israel, that they were to be without blemish (22:17-33); and
about the due celebration of the great festivals (23; 25). (6.)
Then follow promises and warnings to the people regarding
obedience to these commandments, closing with a section on vows.
The various ordinances contained in this book were all
delivered in the space of a month (compare Ex. 40:17; Num. 1:1),
the first month of the second year after the Exodus. It is the
third book of Moses.
No book contains more of the very words of God. He is almost
throughout the whole of it the direct speaker. This book is a
prophecy of things to come, a shadow whereof the substance is
Christ and his kingdom. The principles on which it is to be
interpreted are laid down in the Epistle to the Hebrews. It
contains in its complicated ceremonial the gospel of the grace
This word does not occur in the Authorized Version of the New
Testament except in Rom. 5:11, where in the Revised Version the
word "reconciliation" is used. In the Old Testament it is of
The meaning of the word is simply at-one-ment, i.e., the state
of being at one or being reconciled, so that atonement is
reconciliation. Thus it is used to denote the effect which flows
from the death of Christ.
But the word is also used to denote that by which this
reconciliation is brought about, viz., the death of Christ
itself; and when so used it means satisfaction, and in this
sense to make an atonement for one is to make satisfaction for
his offences (Ex. 32:30; Lev. 4:26; 5:16; Num. 6:11), and, as
regards the person, to reconcile, to propitiate God in his
By the atonement of Christ we generally mean his work by which
he expiated our sins. But in Scripture usage the word denotes
the reconciliation itself, and not the means by which it is
effected. When speaking of Christ's saving work, the word
"satisfaction," the word used by the theologians of the
Reformation, is to be preferred to the word "atonement."
Christ's satisfaction is all he did in the room and in behalf of
sinners to satisfy the demands of the law and justice of God.
Christ's work consisted of suffering and obedience, and these
were vicarious, i.e., were not merely for our benefit, but were
in our stead, as the suffering and obedience of our vicar, or
substitute. Our guilt is expiated by the punishment which our
vicar bore, and thus God is rendered propitious, i.e., it is now
consistent with his justice to manifest his love to
transgressors. Expiation has been made for sin, i.e., it is
covered. The means by which it is covered is vicarious
satisfaction, and the result of its being covered is atonement
or reconciliation. To make atonement is to do that by virtue of
which alienation ceases and reconciliation is brought about.
Christ's mediatorial work and sufferings are the ground or
efficient cause of reconciliation with God. They rectify the
disturbed relations between God and man, taking away the
obstacles interposed by sin to their fellowship and concord. The
reconciliation is mutual, i.e., it is not only that of sinners
toward God, but also and pre-eminently that of God toward
sinners, effected by the sin-offering he himself provided, so
that consistently with the other attributes of his character his
love might flow forth in all its fulness of blessing to men. The
primary idea presented to us in different forms throughout the
Scripture is that the death of Christ is a satisfaction of
infinite worth rendered to the law and justice of God (q.v.),
and accepted by him in room of the very penalty man had
incurred. It must also be constantly kept in mind that the
atonement is not the cause but the consequence of God's love to
guilty men (John 3:16; Rom. 3:24, 25; Eph. 1:7; 1 John 1:9;
4:9). The atonement may also be regarded as necessary, not in an
absolute but in a relative sense, i.e., if man is to be saved,
there is no other way than this which God has devised and
carried out (Ex. 34:7; Josh. 24:19; Ps. 5:4; 7:11; Nahum 1:2, 6;
Rom. 3:5). This is God's plan, clearly revealed; and that is
enough for us to know.
originally called Simon (=Simeon ,i.e., "hearing"), a very
common Jewish name in the New Testament. He was the son of Jona
(Matt. 16:17). His mother is nowhere named in Scripture. He had
a younger brother called Andrew, who first brought him to Jesus
(John 1:40-42). His native town was Bethsaida, on the western
coast of the Sea of Galilee, to which also Philip belonged. Here
he was brought up by the shores of the Sea of Galilee, and was
trained to the occupation of a fisher. His father had probably
died while he was still young, and he and his brother were
brought up under the care of Zebedee and his wife Salome (Matt.
27:56; Mark 15:40; 16:1). There the four youths, Simon, Andrew,
James, and John, spent their boyhood and early manhood in
constant fellowship. Simon and his brother doubtless enjoyed all
the advantages of a religious training, and were early
instructed in an acquaintance with the Scriptures and with the
great prophecies regarding the coming of the Messiah. They did
not probably enjoy, however, any special training in the study
of the law under any of the rabbis. When Peter appeared before
the Sanhedrin, he looked like an "unlearned man" (Acts 4:13).
"Simon was a Galilean, and he was that out and out...The
Galileans had a marked character of their own. They had a
reputation for an independence and energy which often ran out
into turbulence. They were at the same time of a franker and
more transparent disposition than their brethren in the south.
In all these respects, in bluntness, impetuosity, headiness, and
simplicity, Simon was a genuine Galilean. They spoke a peculiar
dialect. They had a difficulty with the guttural sounds and some
others, and their pronunciation was reckoned harsh in Judea. The
Galilean accent stuck to Simon all through his career. It
betrayed him as a follower of Christ when he stood within the
judgment-hall (Mark 14:70). It betrayed his own nationality and
that of those conjoined with him on the day of Pentecost (Acts
2:7)." It would seem that Simon was married before he became an
apostle. His wife's mother is referred to (Matt. 8:14; Mark
1:30; Luke 4:38). He was in all probability accompanied by his
wife on his missionary journeys (1 Cor. 9:5; compare 1 Pet. 5:13).
He appears to have been settled at Capernaum when Christ
entered on his public ministry, and may have reached beyond the
age of thirty. His house was large enough to give a home to his
brother Andrew, his wife's mother, and also to Christ, who seems
to have lived with him (Mark 1:29, 36; 2:1), as well as to his
own family. It was apparently two stories high (2:4).
At Bethabara (R.V., John 1:28, "Bethany"), beyond Jordan, John
the Baptist had borne testimony concerning Jesus as the "Lamb of
God" (John 1:29-36). Andrew and John hearing it, followed Jesus,
and abode with him where he was. They were convinced, by his
gracious words and by the authority with which he spoke, that he
was the Messiah (Luke 4:22; Matt. 7:29); and Andrew went forth
and found Simon and brought him to Jesus (John 1:41).
Jesus at once recognized Simon, and declared that hereafter he
would be called Cephas, an Aramaic name corresponding to the
Greek Petros, which means "a mass of rock detached from the
living rock." The Aramaic name does not occur again, but the
name Peter gradually displaces the old name Simon, though our
Lord himself always uses the name Simon when addressing him
(Matt. 17:25; Mark 14:37; Luke 22:31, compare 21:15-17). We are
not told what impression the first interview with Jesus produced
on the mind of Simon. When we next meet him it is by the Sea of
Galilee (Matt. 4:18-22). There the four (Simon and Andrew, James
and John) had had an unsuccessful night's fishing. Jesus
appeared suddenly, and entering into Simon's boat, bade him
launch forth and let down the nets. He did so, and enclosed a
great multitude of fishes. This was plainly a miracle wrought
before Simon's eyes. The awe-stricken disciple cast himself at
the feet of Jesus, crying, "Depart from me; for I am a sinful
man, O Lord" (Luke 5:8). Jesus addressed him with the assuring
words, "Fear not," and announced to him his life's work. Simon
responded at once to the call to become a disciple, and after
this we find him in constant attendance on our Lord.
He is next called into the rank of the apostleship, and
becomes a "fisher of men" (Matt. 4:19) in the stormy seas of the
world of human life (Matt. 10:2-4; Mark 3:13-19; Luke 6:13-16),
and takes a more and more prominent part in all the leading
events of our Lord's life. It is he who utters that notable
profession of faith at Capernaum (John 6:66-69), and again at
Caesarea Philippi (Matt. 16:13-20; Mark 8:27-30; Luke 9:18-20).
This profession at Caesarea was one of supreme importance, and
our Lord in response used these memorable words: "Thou art
Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church."
"From that time forth" Jesus began to speak of his sufferings.
For this Peter rebuked him. But our Lord in return rebuked
Peter, speaking to him in sterner words than he ever used to any
other of his disciples (Matt. 16:21-23; Mark 8:31-33). At the
close of his brief sojourn at Caesarea our Lord took Peter and
James and John with him into "an high mountain apart," and was
transfigured before them. Peter on that occasion, under the
impression the scene produced on his mind, exclaimed, "Lord, it
is good for us to be here: let us make three tabernacles" (Matt.
On his return to Capernaum the collectors of the temple tax (a
didrachma, half a sacred shekel), which every Israelite of
twenty years old and upwards had to pay (Ex. 30:15), came to
Peter and reminded him that Jesus had not paid it (Matt.
17:24-27). Our Lord instructed Peter to go and catch a fish in
the lake and take from its mouth the exact amount needed for the
tax, viz., a stater, or two half-shekels. "That take," said our
Lord, "and give unto them for me and thee."
As the end was drawing nigh, our Lord sent Peter and John
(Luke 22:7-13) into the city to prepare a place where he should
keep the feast with his disciples. There he was forewarned of
the fearful sin into which he afterwards fell (22:31-34). He
accompanied our Lord from the guest-chamber to the garden of
Gethsemane (Luke 22:39-46), which he and the other two who had
been witnesses of the transfiguration were permitted to enter
with our Lord, while the rest were left without. Here he passed
through a strange experience. Under a sudden impulse he cut off
the ear of Malchus (47-51), one of the band that had come forth
to take Jesus. Then follow the scenes of the judgment-hall
(54-61) and his bitter grief (62).
He is found in John's company early on the morning of the
resurrection. He boldly entered into the empty grave (John
20:1-10), and saw the "linen clothes laid by themselves" (Luke
24:9-12). To him, the first of the apostles, our risen Lord
revealed himself, thus conferring on him a signal honour, and
showing how fully he was restored to his favour (Luke 24:34; 1
Cor. 15:5). We next read of our Lord's singular interview with
Peter on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, where he thrice asked
him, "Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me?" (John 21:1-19). (See
After this scene at the lake we hear nothing of Peter till he
again appears with the others at the ascension (Acts 1:15-26).
It was he who proposed that the vacancy caused by the apostasy
of Judas should be filled up. He is prominent on the day of
Pentecost (2:14-40). The events of that day "completed the
change in Peter himself which the painful discipline of his fall
and all the lengthened process of previous training had been
slowly making. He is now no more the unreliable, changeful,
self-confident man, ever swaying between rash courage and weak
timidity, but the stead-fast, trusted guide and director of the
fellowship of believers, the intrepid preacher of Christ in
Jerusalem and abroad. And now that he is become Cephas indeed,
we hear almost nothing of the name Simon (only in Acts 10:5, 32;
15:14), and he is known to us finally as Peter."
After the miracle at the temple gate (Acts 3) persecution
arose against the Christians, and Peter was cast into prison. He
boldly defended himself and his companions at the bar of the
council (4:19, 20). A fresh outburst of violence against the
Christians (5:17-21) led to the whole body of the apostles being
cast into prison; but during the night they were wonderfully
delivered, and were found in the morning teaching in the temple.
A second time Peter defended them before the council (Acts
5:29-32), who, "when they had called the apostles and beaten
them, let them go."
The time had come for Peter to leave Jerusalem. After
labouring for some time in Samaria, he returned to Jerusalem,
and reported to the church there the results of his work (Acts
8:14-25). Here he remained for a period, during which he met
Paul for the first time since his conversion (9:26-30; Gal.
1:18). Leaving Jerusalem again, he went forth on a missionary
journey to Lydda and Joppa (Acts 9:32-43). He is next called on
to open the door of the Christian church to the Gentiles by the
admission of Cornelius of Caesarea (ch. 10).
After remaining for some time at Caesarea, he returned to
Jerusalem (Acts 11:1-18), where he defended his conduct with
reference to the Gentiles. Next we hear of his being cast into
prison by Herod Agrippa (12:1-19); but in the night an angel of
the Lord opened the prison gates, and he went forth and found
refuge in the house of Mary.
He took part in the deliberations of the council in Jerusalem
(Acts 15:1-31; Gal. 2:1-10) regarding the relation of the
Gentiles to the church. This subject had awakened new interest
at Antioch, and for its settlement was referred to the council
of the apostles and elders at Jerusalem. Here Paul and Peter met
We have no further mention of Peter in the Acts of the
Apostles. He seems to have gone down to Antioch after the
council at Jerusalem, and there to have been guilty of
dissembling, for which he was severely reprimanded by Paul (Gal.
2:11-16), who "rebuked him to his face."
After this he appears to have carried the gospel to the east,
and to have laboured for a while at Babylon, on the Euphrates (1
Pet. 5:13). There is no satisfactory evidence that he was ever
at Rome. Where or when he died is not certainly known. Probably
he died between A.D. 64 and 67.