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18-02-2009, 17:57   #1
kelly1
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Why did Jesus change Simon's name to Cephas/Peter...

Hello all, it would be great to hear some views on the significance of the following verse from John 1:

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John 1:42 And he brought him to Jesus. And Jesus looking upon him, said: Thou art Simon the son of Jona: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is interpreted Peter.
Why did Jesus change Simon's name to Cephas? Surely He had a good reason for doing so? Could it possibly have something to do with Matthew 16:18?

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Mt 16:18 And I say to thee: That thou art Peter; and upon this rock I will build my church
Do people agree that Jesus would have spoken Aramaic in His day and would have used the the word Cephas instead of Petra/Petros?

God bless,
Noel.
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18-02-2009, 23:26   #2
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The name "Cephas" is derived from the Aramaic word kepha for "rock". The name "Peter" is derived from the Greek word petra, which also means "rock". You could say that Jesus was giving Simon the nickname "the Rock" (that's what Tom Wright does in his translation in John for Everyone), or my own preference: "Rocky".

There's an interesting variation in the narrative between Matthew and John here. In John's Gospel, the naming of Simon as Cephas/Peter occurs when he first meets Jesus, whereas in Matthew's Gospel, this happens rather later, when Peter identifies Jesus as the Messiah. The first mention of Peter occurs in Matthew 4:18: "As [Jesus] walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the lake - for they were fishermen." Note "who is", not "who was" - I interpret this as implying that the author of Matthew's Gospel was writing for a readership who knew the disciple primarily by the name Peter.

The passage from John's Gospel is also interesting in that John gives two other words in Hebrew or Aramaic (Rabbi in John 1:38 and Messiah in John 1:41) and immediately gives the Greek translation. I interpret this as the author of John's Gospel implying to readers: "I'm writing this in Greek, and I appreciate that most people reading this will be Greek speakers, but I'm also aware that Jesus spoke in Aramaic, so I'm using some of his actual words."

A final curious point: in John 21:15, when the resurrected Christ encounters Simon Peter on the shore of the Sea of Tiberias, he doesn't address him as "Peter", but rather as "Simon son of John".
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19-02-2009, 01:33   #3
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Why did Jesus change Simon's name to Cephas?
Can't see any reason more compelling than the author's need to make a really bad pun that really only works in French, rather than the language it was written or spoken in -- now that's foresight.
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19-02-2009, 10:17   #4
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The name "Cephas" is derived from the Aramaic word kepha for "rock". The name "Peter" is derived from the Greek word petra, which also means "rock". You could say that Jesus was giving Simon the nickname "the Rock" (that's what Tom Wright does in his translation in John for Everyone), or my own preference: "Rocky".
I'm OK with that.

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There's an interesting variation in the narrative between Matthew and John here. In John's Gospel, the naming of Simon as Cephas/Peter occurs when he first meets Jesus, whereas in Matthew's Gospel, this happens rather later, when Peter identifies Jesus as the Messiah. The first mention of Peter occurs in Matthew 4:18: "As [Jesus] walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the lake - for they were fishermen." Note "who is", not "who was" - I interpret this as implying that the author of Matthew's Gospel was writing for a readership who knew the disciple primarily by the name Peter.
Yes, it is interesting. I think this could be explained if Jesus told Simon about his new name when He first met Peter and again later when He asked the apostles who they believed Him to be.

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The passage from John's Gospel is also interesting in that John gives two other words in Hebrew or Aramaic (Rabbi in John 1:38 and Messiah in John 1:41) and immediately gives the Greek translation. I interpret this as the author of John's Gospel implying to readers: "I'm writing this in Greek, and I appreciate that most people reading this will be Greek speakers, but I'm also aware that Jesus spoke in Aramaic, so I'm using some of his actual words."
OK

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A final curious point: in John 21:15, when the resurrected Christ encounters Simon Peter on the shore of the Sea of Tiberias, he doesn't address him as "Peter", but rather as "Simon son of John".
Yes interesting too. However in the same passage Jesus charges Peter 3 times with care of His flock/sheep, which I understand to mean the entire Church. Clearly Jesus singled out Peter for this task because He said "do you love me more than these?" and spoke to him alone when he said feed My sheep/lambs.
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19-02-2009, 11:54   #5
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In the same passage Jesus charges Peter 3 times with care of His flock/sheep, which I understand to mean the entire Church. Clearly Jesus singled out Peter for this task because He said "do you love me more than these?" and spoke to him alone when he said feed My sheep/lambs.
Absolutely right, and that's the important message of this passage, not minor details such as what name the resurrected Jesus used to address Simon Peter.
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19-02-2009, 17:17   #6
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Yes interesting too. However in the same passage Jesus charges Peter 3 times with care of His flock/sheep, which I understand to mean the entire Church. Clearly Jesus singled out Peter for this task because He said "do you love me more than these?" and spoke to him alone when he said feed My sheep/lambs.
It sounds like you are trying to squeeze into this commission given to Peter (Simon) a task that Peter never really fulfilled. Rather it was fulfilled by the apostle Paul.

My understanding of Jesus’ designation as 'Rock' upon which He was going to build His church, to refer to Peter's statement which the spirit of the Father had revealed to him and not to Peter himself. "Thou art Peter and upon ‘this rock’ I shall build my church..." What rock? Peter? Peter wasn't a rock. He was probably the most unstable of all the disciples before the resurrection. For instance in John 13 when Jesus wanted to wash his feet, Peter wouldn’t hear of it, but when Jesus said that unless Jesus wash Peter's feet he will have no part with Him, then Peter asked to be washed all over.

In Matthew 4 when Jesus spoke of the cross Peter sternly rebuked his Master saying: "far be it from you", then Jesus called him Satan, that he savors not the things of God but those that be of man.

Then in Luke 22 Jesus tells Peter that Satan asked to sift him as wheat, but that He (Jesus) would pray that his faith fail not. But Peter said that he would not only go to prison with Him but would also die with Him, and then later that night Peter denies his Lord three times then runs off weeping bitterly.

Then in John 21, after the resurrection, Peter decides to go fishing because Jesus was late. Then after not catching any fish at all in the boat a strange man tells them how to do it better from the shore. After recognising that it was Jesus Peter jumps out of the boat naked and goes to Jesus. Jesus catches more fish from the shore than Peter could in the boat and then Jesus asks him whether Peter loved Him more than these, referring to the fish that Peter had caught. Jesus had to ask him three times whether he loved Jesus more than these before the penny finally dropped with Peter.

Then after that Jesus tells him how is life is going to turn out and Peter not liking it very much, looked at John and asks Jesus: "But what about him?" to which Jesus replied; "If he lives till I come again what concern is that to thee?" Then in the book of acts Peter had to be shown a vision and told in the vision not to call unclean what God had cleansed, which prepared him to preach the Gospel to a gentile (non Jew) Centurion called Cornelius.

Peter was not the rock that Jesus was referring to, it was rather Peter’s statement: “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” that was the rock upon which He would build His Church. You must remember that Jesus also said in John 10 that: “Other sheep have I, which are not of this fold…” to these was sent Christ’s primary apostle. Paul. Without Paul Christianity would have become a splinter off shoot from Judaism located in Jerusalem, who would accept Christ as Messiah but also keep the law of Moses. That was not what God intended when He sent His only begotten Son into the world to free us from that yoke of bondage, never to be entangled in it again.

The great thing about Peter is that God let him preach the first message of the Church. The one who failed Him the most was the one whose message birthed the church. The next time you fail miserably in your faith walk, remember how much Peter failed and yet it was Peter whose name was specifically given when the message came to the disciples after the resurrection. “But go tell His disciples, and Peter” Mark 16:7 make sure Peter gets the message. That is amazing grace.

Last edited by Soul Winner; 20-02-2009 at 18:09.
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19-02-2009, 17:35   #7
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Soul Winner, it was throught this grace that Peter became the Rock. I'm not diminishing the importance of Jesus whom I acknowledge as the Head of the Church.

Why, in your opinion, did Jesus change Simon's name to Cephas (rock)?
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19-02-2009, 19:11   #8
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Soul Winner, it was throught this grace that Peter became the Rock. I'm not diminishing the importance of Jesus whom I acknowledge as the Head of the Church.

Why, in your opinion, did Jesus change Simon's name to Cephas (rock)?
Because that's what Jesus wanted him to become not because Jesus actually thought he was a rock. I think that Peter did become a rock eventually but not until after the resurrection and even then he still showed signs of unstableness as is shown in the verses below:

"When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong. Before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray. When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter in front of them all, "You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs? "We who are Jews by birth and not 'Gentile sinners' know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified." Galatians 2:11-16

No wonder Jesus had to go outside of the original band of disciples and pick Paul in order to save His Gospel. If He had left it unchecked with the others then Christianity would have never survived and we would never have heard of Jesus.
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19-02-2009, 19:47   #9
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Because that's what Jesus wanted him to become not because Jesus actually thought he was a rock.

I think that Peter did become a rock eventually but not until after the resurrection and even then he still showed signs of unstableness as is shown in the verses below:
1 crack doesn't necessarily make the whole rock crumble especially when you have Jesus as a Healer.

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No wonder Jesus had to go outside of the original band of disciples and pick Paul in order to save His Gospel. If He had left it unchecked with the others then Christianity would have never survived and we would never have heard of Jesus.
I think that's unfair to Peter and the other apostles. Paul had a special gift indeed but he was still only a man. It's the Holy Spirit which protects the Church from teaching error. Remember also that it was Peter who correctly identified Jesus as the Messiah. You will also see lots of other cases where Peter shows authority e.g. the first half of Acts. Jesus also gave the keys of the Kingdom to Peter alone.

See http://www.scripturecatholic.com/primacy_of_peter.html for more examples.
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20-02-2009, 01:55   #10
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1 crack doesn't necessarily make the whole rock crumble especially when you have Jesus as a Healer.

I think that's unfair to Peter and the other apostles. Paul had a special gift indeed but he was still only a man. It's the Holy Spirit which protects the Church from teaching error. Remember also that it was Peter who correctly identified Jesus as the Messiah. You will also see lots of other cases where Peter shows authority e.g. the first half of Acts. Jesus also gave the keys of the Kingdom to Peter alone.

See http://www.scripturecatholic.com/primacy_of_peter.html for more examples.
Paul wrote two thirds of the New Testament, what does that tell you?

"...I do not think I am in the least inferior to those "super-apostles." II Cor 11:5

"I repeat: Let no one take me for a fool. But if you do, then receive me just as you would a fool, so that I may do a little boasting. In this self-confident boasting I am not talking as the Lord would, but as a fool. Since many are boasting in the way the world does, I too will boast. You gladly put up with fools since you are so wise! In fact, you even put up with anyone who enslaves you or exploits you or takes advantage of you or pushes himself forward or slaps you in the face. To my shame I admit that we were too weak for that! What anyone else dares to boast about—I am speaking as a fool—I also dare to boast about. Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they Abraham's descendants? So am I. Are they servants of Christ? (I am out of my mind to talk like this.) I am more. I have worked much harder, been in prison more frequently, been flogged more severely, and been exposed to death again and again. Five times I received from the Jews the forty lashes minus one. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day in the open sea, I have been constantly on the move. I have been in danger from rivers, in danger from bandits, in danger from my own countrymen, in danger from Gentiles; in danger in the city, in danger in the country, in danger at sea; and in danger from false brothers. I have labored and toiled and have often gone without sleep; I have known hunger and thirst and have often gone without food; I have been cold and naked. Besides everything else, I face daily the pressure of my concern for all the churches. Who is weak, and I do not feel weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not inwardly burn? If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness. The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, who is to be praised forever, knows that I am not lying. In Damascus the governor under King Aretas had the city of the Damascenes guarded in order to arrest me. But I was lowered in a basket from a window in the wall and slipped through his hands." II Cor 11:16-33

Now what did Peter do and say?

Oh yeah:

"Bear in mind that our Lord's patience means salvation, just as our dear brother 'Paul' also wrote you with the wisdom that "God" gave him." 2 Peter 3:15
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20-02-2009, 10:53   #11
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Paul wrote two thirds of the New Testament, what does that tell you?
It tells me that Paul was the better writer and better educated.

Did you read http://www.scripturecatholic.com/primacy_of_peter.html ?
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20-02-2009, 13:52   #12
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It tells me that Paul was the better writer and better educated.

Did you read http://www.scripturecatholic.com/primacy_of_peter.html ?
Yes I did read it but what do expect me to glean from it? That Peter had a senior position in the church? Of that I am in no doubt whatsoever. But Peter did not fulfill the commission given to him directly from Jesus.

"As for those who seemed to be important—whatever they were makes no difference to me; God does not judge by external appearance—those men added nothing to my message." Galatians 2:6

These men included James (the brother of Jesus), John and Peter. What does that tell you about them? They that were of reputation added nothing to Paul. What is borne out throughout the history of the Church though is that it was Paul who rescued the Church from the slide that the other apostles were on with regards to the keeping of the Mosaic Law as well as accepting Christ as Messiah.

The two doctrines are diametrically apposed to each other. Christ came to deliver mankind from the bondage to that yoke, not to be entangled again in it. So the preaching of that yoke along with the preaching that Christ delivered you from that yoke is a death sentence for the then new way that Christ died in order to bring in. Jesus had to go outside those other apostles and raise up Paul, a more learned man in the way of the Law than all of them put together.

"If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless." Philippians 3:4-6

"But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, who was honored by all the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin and ordered that the men be put outside for a little while. then he addressed them: "Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men." Acts 5:34-35

"Then Paul said: "I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city. Under Gamaliel I was thoroughly trained in the law of our fathers and was just as zealous for God as any of you are today." Acts 22:3

Why did Jesus choose Paul all those years after the Church was born? If Peter James and John were doing what they were supposed to be doing then He wouldn't have needed Paul.

"Then I asked, 'Who are you, Lord?', 'I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,' the Lord replied. 'Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen of me and what I will show you. I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.'" Acts: 26:15-18

The resurrected Son of God in power directly carved Paul out for this great commission. Now which one of your citations for Peter comes in anyway close to topping that?

Last edited by Soul Winner; 20-02-2009 at 18:14.
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20-02-2009, 18:25   #13
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Yes I did read it but what do expect me to glean from it? That Peter had a senior position in the church? Of that I am in no doubt whatsoever. But Peter did not fulfill the commission given to him directly from Jesus.

"As for those who seemed to be important—whatever they were makes no difference to me; God does not judge by external appearance—those men added nothing to my message." Galatians 2:6

These men included James (the brother of Jesus), John and Peter. What does that tell you about them? They that were of reputation added nothing to Paul. What is borne out throughout the history of the Church though is that it was Paul who rescued the Church from the slide that the other apostles were on with regards to the keeping of the Mosaic Law as well as accepting Christ as Messiah.

The two doctrines are diametrically apposed to each other. Christ came to deliver mankind from the bondage to that yoke, not to be entangled again in it. So the preaching of that yoke along with the preaching that Christ delivered you from that yoke is a death sentence for the then new way that Christ died in order to bring in. Jesus had to go outside those other apostles and raise up Paul, a more learned man in the way of the Law than all of them put together.

"If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless." Philippians 3:4-6

"But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, who was honored by all the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin and ordered that the men be put outside for a little while. then he addressed them: "Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men." Acts 5:34-35

"Then Paul said: "I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city. Under Gamaliel I was thoroughly trained in the law of our fathers and was just as zealous for God as any of you are today." Acts 22:3

Why did Jesus choose Paul all those years after the Church was born? If Peter James and John were doing what they were supposed to be doing then He wouldn't have needed Paul.

"Then I asked, 'Who are you, Lord?', 'I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,' the Lord replied. 'Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen of me and what I will show you. I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.'" Acts: 26:15-18

The resurrected Son of God in power directly carved Paul out for this great commission. Now which one of your citations for Peter comes in anyway close to topping that?
SW, Paul does not have to be raised up at the expense of the reputations of other apostles. Politely I say, all were apostles, all were chosen, and all were mortal men. All were faithful, and all had different personalities, but were one in spirit. The holy spirit of God. I don't know if its your intention, but how you are putting things, seems very disrespectful to Peter, James and John. Pauls ministry is indeed great, but lets not start exhalting him. If its just your intention to show how Peter was less rock-like than Paul, then fair enough. However, your language seems to put the other apostles down somewhat. All said in the politest way SW
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20-02-2009, 19:45   #14
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Soul Winner, it was throught this grace that Peter became the Rock. I'm not diminishing the importance of Jesus whom I acknowledge as the Head of the Church.

Why, in your opinion, did Jesus change Simon's name to Cephas (rock)?
Noel, I am not bothered why Jesus said this to Peter. Whether it was Peter the individual or Peter's messianic declaration makes little difference. The promised outcome was the same - the Church was built on such a foundation. Peter was the pre-eminent leader of the Church when it was first formed at Pentecost.

What Roman Catholicism later claimed for him, that was not included in the Lord's remarks. Peter never became the sole possessor of the keys. All the apostles shared that authority. What was said to Peter in Matthew 16 was said to them all in Matthew 18:18 “Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

And that authority continues with THEM - not with the elders they appointed to rule the Church when they had died out. Apostolic authority continues in the word of God, the Bible.

Elders/pastors labour to preach and teach that word and to govern the churches by it. They have no authority in themselves to infallibly speak, whereas the apostles did.
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20-02-2009, 19:46   #15
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SW, Paul does not have to be raised up at the expense of the reputations of other apostles. Politely I say, all were apostles, all were chosen, and all were mortal men. All were faithful, and all had different personalities, but were one in spirit. The holy spirit of God. I don't know if its your intention, but how you are putting things, seems very disrespectful to Peter, James and John. Pauls ministry is indeed great, but lets not start exhalting him. If its just your intention to show how Peter was less rock-like than Paul, then fair enough. However, your language seems to put the other apostles down somewhat. All said in the politest way SW
I appreciate your politeness Jimmy but when one is being asked to accept that Peter should get primacy when it comes to the standing of the apostles then one is obliged to react in whatever way one feels merits the situation and defend Paul, that's the least I can do.

I have no gripe with Peter or the other apostles per sé but don't tell me that they were more important than Paul, they weren't. Paul did more to nurture and protect the Gospel than all the others did. It is his letters more than any others which frame the basis of Christian philosophic thought. It is when one returns to his epistles one produces a reformation.

I use strongish tones in this regard to make those who don't realize that there were any conflicts in the New Testament church, see what Paul had to contend with in his ministry, especially in Jerusalem where the so called 'Pillars' of the church resided.

James pastored the Church in Jerusalem for 19 years before the high priests had him stoned for holding the view that Christ was the messiah. 19 years??? Paul came to the same city and in 3 days caused a riot. What does that tell you about James in Jerusalem? It tells me that he didn't like rattling the theological cages of the Jewish Leaders very much, a job Jesus Himself did pretty well in His earthly ministry, for which He was eventually crucified.

Everywhere Paul went he caused a stir. He was a fire for the cause of the gospel of Christ. For someone to try and tell me that Peter, James or John (as great as they might have been in their own right) should get primacy over Paul just insults me. That's why I put them in their place, and if that sounds offensive to some then maybe their primacy doctrine for Peter needs reviewing and a new study of the life of the apostle Paul might clear a few things up and one might then be able to make an informed decision regarding the who's who between Peter and Paul.

Last edited by Soul Winner; 20-02-2009 at 20:55.
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