|International Bible Studies|
LESSON FOR FEBRUARY 9, 1964
Peter, James and John
GOLDEN TEXT: “For we cannot but speak the things have which we seen and heard.” —Acts 4:20
THE names of the three apostles, Peter, James, and John, are frequently linked together in the Scriptures. James and John were brothers. Peter’s brother Andrew was also called to be an apostle, but his name is seldom associated with Peter’s. Andrew was doubtless faithful to his calling, but in the Lord’s providence Peter, James, and John seemed to have served together more often, and to be closer to their Master than the other apostles.
Peter and Andrew specifically were called by Jesus to be “fishers of men.” The other apostles were expected to serve in the same capacity. This appellation was given to the two because they were fishermen when called. All consecrated followers of the Master are likewise called to be fishers of men; that is, their commission is to interest others in the Gospel of the kingdom, that they might be drawn to the Lord, and to a full dedication of themselves to his service.
IN THE last verse of Matthew, chapter 16, Jesus is quoted as saying, “There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” The chapter division, which is not inspired, tends to hide the meaning of Jesus, statement, for the opening verses of the next chapter tell us of the transfiguration vision, which was a vision of the kingdom. It was Peter, James, and John who went up with him into the mount of Transfiguration, and in vision saw Jesus transfigured before them and, in vision also, saw Moses and Elijah appear.
Writing about this later, Peter said, “We have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming [presence] of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For he received from God the Father honor and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.”—II Pet. 1:16-18
The power and glory of our Lord Jesus Christ at the time of his coming, or presence, is the power and glory of his kingdom. Thus Peter, James, and John, who witnessed this display of kingdom power and glory, had fulfilled to them the Master’s words that they would not “taste of death” until they saw him coming in his kingdom. The appearance of Moses and Elijah was also a part of the vision. Moses and Elijah were not actually there, for they were asleep in death. These two Old Testament prophets illustrated different aspects of the kingdom as it will rule for the blessing of the people.
MARK 14:32, 33, 37, 38
ON THE night before Jesus was crucified we find the names Peter, James, and John again linked together. Jesus, with his apostles, had left the Upper Room, and had gone to the Garden of Gethsemane. Leaving the others behind, Jesus took Peter, James, and John with him into the garden, and asked them to remain there while he prayed. They had been up all night, and while Jesus, who went a little deeper into the garden, was praying, they fell asleep. Returning and finding these beloved apostles asleep, he said, “Simon, sleepest thou? couldest not thou watch one hour?” But, cognizant of their weakness, he said, sympathetically, “The spirit is truly ready, but the flesh is weak.” Jesus admonished them to watch and pray lest they enter into temptation. The fact that he wanted these three apostles with him in his hour of sore trial reveals how much they meant to him, and his great love for them.
THIS portion of the lesson post-dates Jesus’ personal presence with these three. King Herod had set about to put James and Peter to death. He actually did kill James, but Peter was miraculously delivered from the prison in which he was incarcerated, and thus escaped Herod’s plan to destroy him.
Our Golden Text pertains to Peter and John. These two zealous apostles were working together shortly after Pentecost. They had healed a man who had been lame from his birth, (Acts 3:2) giving the credit to Jesus for this miracle. Because of the interest they were arousing the religious rulers put them in prison, overnight. In the morning, by popular demand, they were released. Upon their release they were warned not to continue preaching Christ. But they refused to heed this warning and in the beautiful language of our Golden Text, Peter, James, and John were faithful.
What does it mean to be “fishers of men”?
How did Peter, James, and John see Jesus “coming in his kingdom”?
Relate the circumstances in which these three were with Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane.
What gave rise to the statement in our Golden Text?