The Holy Apostle Peter Peter was the son of Jonah and the brother of Andrew, the First-called. He was of the tribe of Simeon, from the town of Bethsaida. He was a fisherman and was at first called Simon, but the Lord was pleased to call him Cephas or Peter: And he brought him to Jesus. And when Jesus beheld him, He said, You are Simon the son of Jonah: you shall be called Cephas, which is by interpretation, a rock (John 1:42). He was the first of the disciples to clearly express faith in the Lord Jesus, saying: Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God (Matthew 16:16). His love for the Lord was great, and his faith in the Lord became gradually stronger. When the Lord was brought to trial, Peter denied Him three times; but after only one glance into the face of the Lord, Peter’s soul was filled with shame and repentance. After the descent of the Holy Spirit, Peter showed himself to be a fearless and powerful preacher of the Gospel. Following one of his sermons in Jerusalem, three-thousand souls were converted to the Faith. He preached the Gospel in Palestine, Asia Minor, Illyria and Italy. Peter worked many powerful miracles: he healed the sick and resurrected the dead, and the sick were healed even from his shadow. He had a great struggle with Simon the Magician, who proclaimed himself to be a god, but who was in reality a servant of Satan. Peter finally shamed and defeated him. By order of Simon’s friend, the evil Emperor Nero, Peter was condemned to death. Having consecrated Linus Bishop of Rome, and having counseled and comforted the flock of Christ, Peter proceeded joyfully to his death. Seeing the cross before him, he begged his executioners to crucify him upside down, for he considered himself unworthy to die as had his Lord. Thus, this great servant of the Great Lord reposed and received a wreath of eternal glory.
The Holy Apostle Paul Paul was born in Tarsus and was of the tribe of Benjamin. At first he was called Saul. He studied under Gamaliel, and was a Pharisee and a persecutor of Christianity. He was miraculously converted to the Christian Faith by the Lord Himself, Who appeared to him on the road to Damascus. He was baptized by the Apostle Ananias, named Paul and numbered in the service of the Great Apostles. With fiery zeal Paul preached the Gospel everywhere, from the borders of Arabia to Spain, among the Jews and among the Gentiles, and received the title “the Apostle to the Gentiles.” As horrible as his sufferings were, so much greater was his superhuman patience. Throughout all the years of his preaching, Paul hung from day to day as on a weak thread between life and death. Having fulfilled all his days and nights with labor and suffering for Christ, having organized the Church in many places, and having attained such a degree of perfection, he was able to say: It is now no longer I that live, but Christ lives in me (Galatians 2:20). Paul was beheaded in Rome during the reign of Emperor Nero, at the same time as the martyrdom of the Apostle Peter.
Hymn Of Praise
Saint Peter Saint Paul
Unlearned and learned, but equal in spirit,
And, in the love of God, as strong as angels,
Peter a simple man, Paul educated,
Both were illumined by the grace of the Spirit.
Two flaming candles, unquenchable candles,
Towering and beautiful, two brilliant stars.
They traversed the earth and spread the light.
Nothing did they take, but to men they gave all;
They were utterly poor, but the world they enriched;
They were prisoners and servants, but conquered the whole world.
With the teaching of Christ they enriched the world;
With new weapons they conquered the whole world:
With humility and peace and meekness blessed,
With prayer and fasting and mercy powerful.
When their stormy day passed into stormy night,
Bloodthirsty Nero, their lives, cut short.
But when Nero, the ruler of the world, a command issued,
To suffering, giving over Peter and Paul,
The world was theirs and no longer Nero’s;
By death the apostles gained the Kingdom.
Simon Peter and Simon the Magician. The enemies of Christianity frequently like to cite examples of great miracle-workers among the pagans in order to deceive the gullible, denigrate the Christian Faith and exalt paganism, sorcery, soothsaying, satanism and every other charlatanism. There is no doubt that Satan through his servants also attempts to perform miracles, but none of the miracles of his servants proceed from love for man, compassion, mercy or faith in God, but rather from pride, selfishness, vanity and hatred for mankind. A Christian should learn from the story of the apostles to differentiate divine miracles from satanic deceits and fantasies. Only let the Christian recall the Apostle Peter and Simon the Magician. Let him compare the miracles of Peter with the so-called miracles of Simon. The apostle converted the stony hearts of men into noble hearts, he cured the sick, and he raised the dead–and all of this by prayer and faith in the Living God. However, Simon the Magician amazed the people with diabolical illusions. The Apostle Peter was a friend of God, and Simon the Magician was a friend and protégé of the perverted Emperor Nero, who ended his life by suicide. The miracles of the pagan fakirs belong to the same category as the illusions and deceits of Simon the Magician. Just as from a distance hot sand resembles water, so also the “miracles” of the fakirs resemble the life-creating miracles of Christianity.
To contemplate the miraculous healing of blind Bartimeus: And they came to Jericho. And as He was leaving Jericho with His disciples and a very great crowd, Bartimeus, a blind man, the son of Timeus, was sitting by the wayside begging (St. Mark 10:46):
- How Bartimeus begged the Lord: “Have mercy on me!”
- How the Lord said: “See!” And he saw;
- How, if I pray, the word of the Lord can also give sight to my blinded soul.
About the fear of God
“Conduct yourselves with fear in the time of your sojourning” (1 Peter 1:17).
These are the words of the great Apostle Peter, words that have a dual foundation: heavenly inspiration and personal experience. By divine inspiration, Peter, the simple fisherman, became a teacher of the people, a pillar of the Faith and a powerful miracle-worker. Through his own experience, he learned that all of his wisdom and power was of God and that one should thus possess the fear of God: no other fear but the fear of God. The fool becomes frightened only when lightning flashes and thunder cracks, but the wise man fears God every day and every hour. The Creator of lightning and thunder is more awesome than both of them, and He does not appear before you from time to time as do lightning and thunder, but He is continually before you and does not leave you. That is why it is not enough to have fear of God from time to time, but one must breathe the fear of God. The fear of God is the fresh ozone in the suffocating atmosphere of our soul. This ozone brings purity, lightness, sweet fragrance and health. Until he had become strengthened in the fear of God, Peter was only Peter and not an apostle, a hero, a teacher of the people, and miracle-worker. O my brethren, let us not rejoice before the harvest. This life of ours is not the harvest, but a time of sowing, labor, sweat and fear. The sower lives in fear until he has gathered the fruits from the field. Let us also delay our rejoicing until the day of harvest, for now is the time for labor and fear. Will I be saved? This question should torment every one of us in the same way that the sower is tormented by the question: “Will I reap the fruit of my labor in the field?” The sower labors and fears every day. Let us also labor and fear “all the time of our sojourning” on earth. O awesome and powerful Lord, sustain us in Your fear. To Thee be glory and praise forever. Amen.