Rock. Brother of Andrew (John 1:40) and son of Jonah (Matt. 16:17); also known as Simeon (Acts 15:14; 2 Pet. 1:1) or Simon; originally a fisherman of Bethsaida, on the northern coast of the Sea of Galilee. He was called by Jesus to be a disciple (Matt. 4:18–22; Mark 1:16–20; Luke 5:1–11; John 1:40–42); at that time he was living at Capernaum with his wife and his wife’s mother (Matt. 8:14; Mark 1:29; Luke 4:38). His Aramaic name, Cephas, of which Peter is the Greek equivalent, was given him by the Lord (John 1:40–42). He was one of the three disciples present on several important occasions (Matt. 17:1; 26:37; Mark 5:37). Other references to him are found in Matt. 14:28–33; John 6:66–71; and in the very important passage Matt. 16:13–19, where we find his confession of the Lord as the Messiah and the Son of God. The words then addressed to him, “Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church,” have been made the foundation of the papal claims. But it is the Christ, the Son of God, which Peter had just confessed, who is the true cornerstone of the Church.
Other events connected with his life: his denial (Matt. 26:33–35, 58, 69–75; for parallel passages in the other Gospels, see the Harmony of the Gospels in the appendix); at the Resurrection (Mark 16:7; Luke 24:12, 34; John 20:2–7; 1 Cor. 15:5); with our Lord by the Sea of Galilee (John 21); in Jerusalem after Pentecost (Acts 2–5); with Simon Magus (Acts 8:14–24); at Lydda and Joppa (Acts 9:32–43); with Cornelius (Acts 10:1–11:18); in prison (Acts 12:1–19); at the Jerusalem conference (Acts 15:7–11; Gal. 2:7–9); and at Antioch (Gal. 2:11). From his epistle we learn (1 Pet. 5:13) that he worked in Babylon (which may be the well-known city on the Euphrates, or more likely is a disguised name for Rome) and had as his companions Mark and Silvanus or Silas. It was possibly under his direction that Mark wrote his Gospel. From A.D. 44 to 61 he was probably at work in Syrian towns, having Antioch as his center. It is generally believed that he suffered martyrdom at Rome, perhaps in 64 or 65.
Peter was one of the greatest of men. It is true that the New Testament recounts some mortal weaknesses, but it also illustrates that he overcame them and was made strong by his faith in Jesus Christ. The Lord honored Peter by selecting him to hold the keys of the kingdom on earth (Matt. 16:13–18), and it was upon the holy mount that Peter received these keys from the Savior, Moses, and Elias (Elijah) (Matt. 17:1–12). Peter was the chief Apostle of his day; and after the death, Resurrection, and Ascension of the Savior, it was Peter who called the Church together and acted in the office of his calling as the one who possessed the keys of the priesthood (Acts 1:2). It was through Peter’s ministry that the gospel was first opened up to the Gentiles (Acts 10–11).
In the latter days Peter, with James and John, came from heaven and literally conferred the Melchizedek Priesthood and the keys thereof upon Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery. This took place in May or June 1829, near Harmony, Pennsylvania. See D&C 27:12–13.