Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed

What about Peter? When was he converted?

The most stimulating discussions I have had over the years in classes and at churches when I am leading a discussion about conversion or about the Jesus Creed “emerge” from this question:

What about you, when do you think Peter was converted?

Let’s look briefly at the evidence.

In John 1 Peter’s brother, Andrew, has heard from John Baptist about Jesus. He fetches Peter and tells him to come meet Jesus who is the Messiah. John tells us that Jesus told Peter right then and there that he was to be called Cephas. He gets a “church vocation.”


In Luke 5:1-11, Peter fishes all night only to be met by Jesus to tell him that he’s been fishing on the wrong side of the boat; then he does what Jesus says; he catches gobs of fish; Peter then runs to Jesus and says, “I am a sinful man!”

In Mark 8:27–9:1, Peter confronts the cross for the first time and rebuffs Jesus and his (silly) idea of dying on a cross. But, here Peter has called Jesus “Messiah” and he has received his commission (actually, that bit is in Matthew’s account).

In Mark 14:66-72, Peter denies any connection to Jesus (which if we weren’t so committed to certain doctrines we’d have to say Peter was edging over the cliff of aposasy). The memory evoked by the rooster leads Peter to weep for his denials.


In John 21:15-20 Peter is “re-commissioned” by Jesus: Do you love me, do you love me, do you love me? (Incidentally, I side with the majority today who see no difference in this text between agape and phileo; God bless CS Lewis anyway.) Peter says, “Yes, yes, yes.” And the denials are undone and Peter is on his way again.

In Acts 2 Peter is, along with the others, overwhelmed by the Holy Spirit and he preaches with boldness (something he didn’t have just 52 days or so earlier).

In Acts 10–11 Peter realizes the gospel is for all people, including unclean Gentiles.

Now, you tell me, when was Peter converted?


Was it when he first saw the Messiah? When he confessed his sin? When he confessed Jesus as Messiah? When he embraced Jesus in love after the resurrection? When he got the Holy Spirit in power? When he embraced the fullness of the gospel?

Would it surprise you that those with particular theological persuasions start to stand in line behind certain texts?

Stay tuned for how I would approach this question. Good one, though, isn’t it? It makes us think about all kinds of things at once.

Comments read comments(4)
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john alan turner

posted July 19, 2005 at 10:32 am

This has always interested me, too. There’s a real interesting discussion of this in Rich Nathan’s book WHO IS MY ENEMY? He talks about this and set theory — especially fuzzy sets. I’d be really interested to hear how set theory factors into your thinking of conversion.

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posted July 19, 2005 at 10:34 am

I think he was converted some time before he said this in Jn 6: “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve. Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”He had no idea what was going on but he saw no other course than to follow Jesus. God works the rest in.Where do I fit?

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Jamie Arpin-Ricci

posted July 19, 2005 at 11:32 am

Very interesting question, though I wonder if perhaps the question is the problem. Is “conversion”, a situational event, perhaps the best way to approach the topic? Rather, maybe all these event point to the tranformational nature of Peter’s “conversion”. Just a thought.Peace,Jamie

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Keith Brenton

posted July 19, 2005 at 12:51 pm

A few weeks back I turned a lot of commenters into lurkers by maintaining that Peter was a racist. And that God worked through him anyway.So call me a heretic, but I think Peter was converted when he first believed.(Which may or may not have been when he first confessed.)

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