SDA Sabbath School Lessons
March 9, 1996
#10 Biographical Bible Study: Peter
Read for this week's study: Matt. 14:22-36;
Memory text: Acts 2:36
The Bible contains numerous stories of men and women who struggled to learn about God in the midst of the great controversy between Christ and Satan. They were learning to live together in community. They had some of the same problems we have. The biographical method of Bible study helps us to identify the successes of Bible characters and allows us to apply to our lives what they learned from God.
Learning about the people of the Bible.
Using the biographical method of Bible study, we look closely at the character and trials of a person's life. We try to become so acquainted with the characters that we feel we are their friends. We learn something of their problems and victories. This method can provide years of enriched Bible exploration.
Peter will be the focus of our study as we explore the biographical method of Bible study. Review the calling of Peter in Matt. 4:16-21. In what order did Jesus call the disciples? What do you think the personality of a fisherman was like? Can we draw a picture of Peter's attitudes and style from this brief description of his calling?
- Sunday March 3: Collecting information about Peter. (Matt. 14:22-32)
- The basic steps in a biographical study of a personality in the Bible are as follows:
- Learn all you can about the person you wish to study.
- Make a list of your first impressions of the Bible character.
- Examine the personality and character qualities that influenced the individual's relationship with God.
- Identify biblical truths exemplified by the life you are studying.
- Make a personal application of the information you have learned about the Bible character.
- Using a Bible concordance (or Bible Gateway), look up all the references about Peter's life as a disciple of Jesus. Some of the passages you will find are: Matt. 14:22-36; Matt. 16:13-28; Matt. 17:1-8, 24-27; Matt. 18:21-35; Matt. 26:33-58, 69-75; Acts 2:14-41.
- What experiences in Peter's life provide a rich resource for understanding our own problems and victories?
- Monday March 4: Listing first impressions (John 1:37-44).
- We know little about Peter's home life except that he was married (Mark 1:30) and that his wife accompanied him on some of his missionary travels (1 Cor. 9:5). His hometown was Bethsaida Julias (John 1:44), situated on the northeastern shore of the Sea of Galilee. Simon spoke Aramaic with a strong north-country accent (Mark 14:70).
- How did Peter first hear about Jesus, and what were the circumstances of his call to be an apostle (John 1:37-42)? It was at his call that Simon received from Jesus his new name Cephas, meaning "rock" or "stone" (John 1:42; compare 1 Cor. 1:12; Gal. 2:9).
- Review the following passages in Matthew that refer to Peter: Matt. 4:18; Matt. 14:22-33; Matt. 16:13-23; Matt. 17:1-13; Matt. 17:24-27; Matt. 18:21-22; Matt. 26:33-58; Matt. 26:69-75. Write down some basic observations and important information you discover about him.
- During Jesus' ministry, what questions did He ask Peter?
- What difficulties did Peter have, learning to believe?
- What was the effect on Peter's faith of his experience of walking on the water?
- Tuesday March 5: Gaining insight and making a time line (Matt. 16:13-23).
- Referring to passages mentioned in Monday's lesson, identify the major events in Peter's life, and mark them on a time line.
- Make a list of any personality traits or character qualities that helped or hurt Peter's relationship with God.
- One of Peter's most prominent characteristics was his quick, impulsive nature. This produced the best and worst in his life as he learned about Jesus' mission and future. Often negative characteristics turn out to be positive when given to God to develop.
- Wednesday March 6: Learning Bible truths through Peter's Life (Matt. 26:31-35, 69-75) .
- Next we will see how Bible truths are illustrated in Peter's life. Look at four of Peter's experiences and identify Bible truths that seemed to guide him.
- Peter walks on water (Matt. 14:22-36).
Peter's experience helps us to understand our own insecurities. We should learn to be secure in God's love, for in it we can be delivered from our fears. (See Prov. 3:23-26; 1 John 4:18, 19.)
- Peter identifies Jesus (Matt. 16:13-23).
Peter's confession of Jesus' messiahship was followed immediately by a declaration revealing misunderstanding of His mission. Later, when Peter thought to control Jesus' ministry according to his own understanding, he revealed his limited insight.
- Peter denies Jesus (Matt. 26:31-35, 69-75).
Not only did Peter deny Christ's identity, he made strenuous efforts to hide his own. Faith without works was truly dead in this instance! The crowing of the rooster awakened his faith.
- Peter preaches about Jesus (Acts 2:14-45) .
On the Day of Pentecost, the power of the Holy Spirit motivated him to present a carefully crafted review of Jesus' Lordship
- What observations can you make, based on Peter's life, that will benefit church members in their search for faith? What role does the Holy Spirit play in this?
- Thursday March 7: Making a personal application (Acts 2:14-41).
- Frequently, Bible authors do not state whether an example is good or bad. The story of Jonah depicts a prophet running away from God, rather than facing possible failure in a foreign country. Likewise, we look at Peter and try to draw conclusions that will assist our personal and community's faith. Studying Bible characters gives us a realistic view of people struggling to live as God's children.
- Of the following passages about Peter, ask the questions listed below in order to make a personal and community application of their content: Matt. 4:18; Matt. 14:22-36; Matt. 16:13-23; Matt. 17:1-8; Matt. 17:24-27; Matt. 26:33-58; Matt. 26:69-75; Matt. 4:18; Matt. 14:22-33; Matt. 16:13-23; Matt. 17:1-13; Matt. 17:24-27; Matt. 18:21-22; Matt. 26:33-58; Matt. 26:69-75; Acts 2:14-41.
- Did you see anything of yourself in Peter's life and actions? Did Peter reveal any of your weaknesses? Did he reveal any of your strengths? If so, which ones?
- Did you see anything that could help members of your congregation in their lives of faith?
- Did you see any of the church's strengths in Peter's life?
- What do you intend to do about what you have learned concerning Peter's life, struggles, and victory?
- What happened in Peter's life that might happen in your life to make you a witness for Jesus? What must happen in the church for this to take place?
- Friday March 8:
Further study: Read The Desire of Ages, " 'We Have Found the Messias,' " pp. 132-143 and "By the Sea Once More," pp. 809-817. For more Bible references to Peter, see John 13:6-9, 24; John 18:10-27; John 20:2-7; John 21:15-22.
- During Peter's lifetime the church grew rapidly. Gentiles were incorporated into the life of the Christian community. Peter's vision, recorded in Acts 10:9-23, is a classic model of how God reveals His message for the church. God revealed to Peter that the good news is for everyone.
- Discussion Questions: Study Peter's vision and subsequent visit to the home of Cornelius (Acts 10, 11). Note the baptism of the first Gentile converts. Ask the following questions:
- Why was this such a dramatic vision for Peter?
- What did the church need to learn from this vision that it had not yet accepted?
- How does this vision help us to build a sense of community and openness to others within our church?
- What commands in this passage should all Christians heed? What have you learned about your openness to others? What will you do differently?
A biographical study of Peter reveals the struggles of a person growing in faith. Through his early life of trial, we catch glimpses of an emerging, trusting relationship with Jesus. Peter's life gained specific focus and direction after he was empowered and enlightened by the Holy Spirit. Finally, he understood God's message and purpose for the world. Peter's life provides insight into our struggles to grow in understanding of, and fellowship with, Jesus. The church will be blessed as more Peters enter into their final commitment to Christ.
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Last updated on February 20, 1996.