Peter was the son of Jonah and the brother of Andrew and was also known as Simon or Simeon. He was not well-educated and worked as a fisherman. While living in Capernaum with his wife and his wife’s sister, Jesus Christ called him to become an apostle. He was the first of the disciples called to be an apostle. His religious and secular education had been limited, but he learned quickly under the direction of the Savior.
Peter means rock, but the Lord gave him the name of Cephas, an Arabic name. He was a witness when Jesus raised Jairus’ daughter from the dead. Jesus healed Peter’s mother-in-law by touching her hand. Jesus took Peter, Paul, and John to the Mount with Him when He was transfigured. At that time, they also saw Moses and Elias speaking with Jesus. They heard the voice of God testifying of Jesus’ identity. Jesus also took Peter, along with the two sons of Zebedee, with Him when He went into the Garden of Gethsemane to atone for the sins of the world.
After the miracle of feeding the 5000, Jesus invited the disciples to get on a ship to cross the water while he sent his listeners homeward. When Jesus had sent everyone home, he went off alone to pray. His had learned that day that his cousin, John the Baptist, had been beheaded and His grieving had been interrupted by the masses wanting to be healed and taught. When night came, the Savior joined the ship, which was now deep into the water, which was rough and choppy. Jesus walked on it to the ship, which initially frightened the disciples, but Jesus identified himself. Peter said that if it really was Jesus, he wanted Jesus to call him out to the Savior. Jesus invited him and Peter began to walk on the water also. However, the rough waters frightened him and this sudden lack of faith caused him to start to sink. He called for help and Jesus caught him. He asked, “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?”
When Jesus taught the doctrine that He was the living bread, some of his disciples were offended and left his ministry. Jesus asked the apostles if they too would leave. Peter answered, “Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.
And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God (John 6:66-71).
On the coasts of Cæsarea Philippi, Jesus asked the disciples who people said he was. They gave an assortment of answers, ranging from John the Baptist to Elias, and He asked them who they thought He was. Peter gave a firm testimony of the Savior’s identity:
16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.
Jesus told him the Holy Ghost had given him that testimony and that Peter was to be given the keys of the kingdom. This meant that when Jesus died, Peter would assume leadership of the church as the chief apostle.
When the officers came to arrest Jesus, Peter tried to protect him by smiting the ear of Caiaphus, but Jesus told him to put away his sword because Jesus had to go through with it.
When Mary Madalene told the disciples Jesus’ tomb was empty, Peter and John hurried to it. John reached it first but stood outside, looking in. Peter went first into the tomb. They returned home and gathered with the other disciples in seclusion. Jesus appeared to them there.
Peter had a few weak moments, such as when he denied knowing the Savior (but did not deny the divinity of Christ) but this was in a rush of terrifying events and also prevented him from being killed before he could assume leadership of the church. He clearly fully repented of that event and went on to become a great leader.
During Peter’s leadership, he received a vision which led him to send the gospel out among the gentiles for the first time. He performed miracles of his own, including raising Tabitha from the dead. Peter was arrested several times. When he was arrested by Herod, sixteen men were placed on guard and he had to sleep between two soldiers, bound with two chains while other men guarded the door. The night before he was to stand trial, an angel appeared and woke him up. He led Peter to safety. Peter, after leaving the angel, went to the home of John Mark’s mother, where the Saints were gathered to pray for Peter. There he told them what had happened and instructed them to tell the others. He then went elsewhere for safety.
Peter’s first epistle was most likely to those who were not born Israelites.
In modern times, Peter, James, and John returned to earth to confer the priesthood and the keys to Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery.
Every Person in the New Testament by Lynn F. Price, Cedar Fort Publishing, 2002, United States of America
The Life and Teachings of Jesus and the Apostles