The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed. (1 Peter 5:1)
Was The Apostle Peter A Family Man?
One of the first disciples called by Jesus was Simon, son of Jonah. His brother Andrew was a fisherman and the two brothers worked the Sea of Galilee with James and John, sons of Zebedee. Peter and Andrew belonged to Bethsaida as did Philip. A few miles from Bethsaida was the city of Capernaum where Jesus would spend much of His time. It was early in the ministry of Jesus when the Lord came to Capernaum and after teaching in the synagogue, came to the home of Peter. When Jesus arrived He found Peter’s mother-in-law sick with a high fever. After being asked to care for her, Jesus rebuked the fever and she was healed. This is the first indication that Peter was a married man. Nothing is said of the other apostles in scripture whether they were married or not but it does show that being married did not prohibit a man from serving as an apostle of Jesus Christ.
When Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, he defended his authority as an apostle of Jesus Christ with the same qualities as the original apostles. In his defense, Paul argues the apostles had the right to bring believing wives along with them in their work as do the brothers of Jesus and Peter. He singles out Peter to show that during the early church Peter and Mrs. Peter were very active in the work of the kingdom. The scriptures are silent to the name of Peter’s wife and where she was from. However, the scriptures are not silent to the existence of Peter’s marital status. He had a wife and she was a very important part of his life.
Two of the letters written by Peter are preserved by the Holy Spirit and it is in the first epistle that Peter affirms his family status. He exhorted men who served as elders or bishops of the Lord’s church to shepherd the flock of God to oversee the work of the kingdom. Peter calls them his “fellow elders” showing that Peter not only was a preacher of the gospel and apostle, but the son of Jonah also served as an elder of the church. The scriptures do not suggest he was the elder or bishop of the church but a fellow elder along with other men. From the writings of the apostle Paul we learn what it takes to become an elder or bishop of the church.
Paul’s letters to Timothy and Titus describe the character of an elder. To Timothy, Paul says an elder must be the husband of one wife, one who rules his own house well and have his children in submission with all reverence. Writing to Titus Paul exhorts the preacher to ordain elders in every city and these men were to be the husbands of one wife, having faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination. According to Paul, an elder and bishop are the same office as well as being an overseer. To obey the will of God, an elder must be married and have faithful children. If Peter was a fellow elder, he would be required to be married and have faithful children. There is no doubt Peter was a family man.
There are many false teachings about Peter that are contradicted from the scriptures. Peter was never a Pope or leader of the church. He served as preacher, apostle, and elder along with his wife and children. One would want to know more about the woman married to Peter and how full her constitution must have been. Did Peter have sons that followed in their father’s footsteps as preachers and elders? Were there daughters in the life of Peter (he would have been tempered by having more girls than boys)? The scriptures are silent but only to the names and details of the family. It is easy to see a progression of maturity from the Peter of the gospels to the Peter of the epistles. This would have come from the impact of having a wife and children that would make the impetuous man of the early days become a mature and serious man of older years. A wife can do that. So can children. Peter was a family man. What a great thought.