Peter, St., was the son of John (John i. 42; xxi. 15, 16), or Jonas (Matt. xvi. 17), and appears to have been born at Bethsaida (John i. 44). He was also called -Symeon (Acts xv. 14), which is usually abbreviated to Simon. The name Cephas is merely a Grsecised form of the Aramaic Cepha, the meaning of which is the same as that of the Greek Petrus - viz. "stone." During our Lord's ministry he was living in Capernaum with his brother Andrew, his wife's mother being another inmate (Mark i. 29, 30). Before his call he was engaged in fishing, together with his brother and James and John, and to this occupation he returned after the Resurrection. Peter was conspicuous above the other disciples for his affectionate zeal, but his hasty words and actions called forth more than one rebuke from his Master (cf. Mark viii. 31-33; John xviii. 10, 11). The narrative, in John xviii., incidentally affords some interesting glimpses into his character, showing at once the genuineness of his love for Jesus and the tendency to moral cowardice against which that love was not proof. In his weakness, as in his strength, he was a special object of our Lord's regard (Luke xxii. 31, 32). Gal. i. 18 and other passages testify to the pre-eminent position which he occupied at Jerusalem after the Ascension. He shared with St. Paul the work of extending the knowledge of Christ and laying the foundations of the Church; "the gospel of the uncircumcision," says Paul, "was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter" (Gal. ii. 7). At the Council of Jerusalem he was foremost in acknowledging the claim of the Gentiles to the same spiritual privileges as the Jews (Acts xv. 7, seq.); yet his want of steadfastness on this point afterwards involved him in a quarrel with St. Paul, which we may believe to have been only temporary (Gal. ii. 11-21). There is no further record of St. Peter; but, according to the ancient tradition of the Church, he was crucified at Rome, and the fact of his martyrdom is implied in John xxi. 18.
The Epistles of St. Peter are two, the first of which is generally admitted, from internal and external evidence, to be genuine, while the authenticity of the second has been doubted: from the absence of reference to it by the early Fathers, and from its difference of style, which resembles that of St. Jude. One result of disputing its genuineness is to cast doubt on the Canon, to which it was admitted in 393. Its apologists say that the silence of the Fathers is not a convincing argument, and the difference of style may be owing to the employment of a secretary in its composition. Fragments of an apocryphal Gospel and Revelation of Peter have also recently been discovered.