Kefa’s Appointment As An Emissary & His Inquiring Mind

In my last post, we looked at Kefa’s calling by Yeshua to follow Him. In this post, will turn to Kefa’s appointment as an Emissary and his inquiring mind from the Parable of the Watchful Servants.

1 Yeshua called His twelve talmidim and gave them authority to drive out unclean spirits and to heal every kind of disease and weakness. 2 These are the names of the twelve emissaries:

First, Shim’on, called Kefa, and Andrew his brother, Ya’akov Ben-Zavdai and Yochanan, his brother, 3 Philip and Bar-Talmai, T’oma and Mattityahu the tax-collector, Ya’akov Bar-Halfai and Taddai, 4 Shim ‘on the Zealot, and Y’hudah from K’riot, who betrayed Him. ~ Matthew 10:1-4 (CJB) [1]

These men had been traveling with Yeshua, listening to Yeshua, and hanging out with Yeshua. They were learners. Yeshua called them talmidim (disciples) and transformed them into emissaries (“apostles” or “sent out ones.”)

An emissary was a Hebrew term that was used for business agents, although the general concept is broader than that; a “sent one” acted on the full authority of the sender to the extent that one accurately represented the sender’s mission. [2]

I find it interesting that Mattityahu (Matthew), as well as the other Gospel writer’s list Kefa, first when it was his brother Andrew who was one of Yeshua’s first talmidim. Here we see that Yeshua does have leaders among leaders. And Kefa, indeed, was a leader amongst these leaders.

Nonetheless, Kefa was the apostle with the foot-shaped mouth, often saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. Maybe you enjoy talking, and your heart is as big as the world, but you have a tendency to speak and to think later. Kefa was like that.

The Lord changed Shim’on from one who was shifting and unstable into Kefa or “Rock.” Yeshua renamed Kefa because He transformed him from one who was shifting and unstable to one who would become trustworthy and reliable.

Yeshua’s selection of 12 talmidim is also reminiscent of the 12 tribes of Isra’el. Moving on in chronological order, we come to the:

Parable of the Watchful Servants

As Yeshua is speaking to His followers, he says:

35 “Be dressed for action and have your lamps lit, 36 like people waiting for their master’s return after a wedding feast; so that when he comes and knocks, they will open the door for him without delay. 37 Happy the slaves whom the master finds alert when he comes! Yes! I tell you he will put on his work clothes, seat them at the table, and come serve them himself! 38 Whether it is late at night or early in the morning, if this is how he finds them, those slaves are happy.

39 “But notice this: no house-owner would let his house be broken into if he knew when the thief was coming. 40 You too, be ready! For the Son of Man will come when you are not expecting him.”

41 Kefa said, “Sir, are you telling this parable for our benefit only or for everyone’s?”42 The Lord replied, “Nu,[3] who is the faithful and sensible manager whose master puts him in charge of the household staff to give them their share of food at the proper time? 43 It will go well with that servant if he is found doing his job when his master comes. 44 Yes, I tell you he will put him in charge of all he owns. 45 But if that servant says to himself, ‘My master is taking his time coming,’ and starts bullying the men- and women-servants, and eating and drinking, getting drunk, 46, then his master will come on a day when the servant isn’t expecting him, at a time he doesn’t know in advance, his master will cut him in two and put him with the disloyal. 47 Now the servant who knew what his master wanted but didn’t prepare or act according to his will, will be whipped with many lashes; 48; however, the one who did what deserves a beating, but didn’t know, will receive few lashes. From him who has been given much, much will be demanded — from someone to whom people entrust much, they ask still more. ~ Luke 12:35-48 (CJB)

Talmidim often sought clarification from their teachers by asking questions, so Kefa’s question was not unusual. After all, inquiring minds want to know. Yeshua previously told His disciples that His parables held secrets that were only for His followers. Yeshua did not answer Kefa’s question directly. Instead, He told another story about a master and his manager. This story emphasized that the master’s servant should be watching, but this story made it clear that the servant must also be working.

The faithful servant of Yeshua is the one who is given a task, performs it, and is blessed by it. The reward that Yeshua will give to the faithful steward will be far greater than the challenges encountered in this service. Faithful believers will receive greater responsibility at His return.

In my next post, we will turn to Kefa’s involvement with the healing of a woman with a hemorrhaging of blood and Ya’ir’s (Jarius) daughter.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1] See also Mark 3:16 & Luke 6:14.

[2] Bible Background Commentary – New Testament.

[3]Nu is a general-purpose Yiddish word meaning variously, “Well?” “So?” “Indeed!” “I challenge you,” or, “If not that, then what?”—with many possible inflections and overtones.

Kefa Called to Follow Yeshua

In my last post, I introduced my new series on the life and times of Kefa by examining his character and writings. In this post, we will look at his calling by Yeshua to follow Him.

This year, for my reading of Scripture, I have been using F. LaGard Smith’s “The Narrated Bible in Chronological Order.” [1] I have enjoyed it so far and will be using its chronological order to focus on Kefa’s calling and life. We will be bouncing around in the Gospels back and forth for a while.

We start in the Gospel of John with the proclamation of Yeshua as the Messiah and Andrew running to tell his brother about him.

35 The next day, Yochanan (the Baptist) was again standing with two of his talmidim. 36 On seeing Yeshua walking by, he said, “Look! God’s lamb!” 37 His two talmidim heard him speaking, and they followed Yeshua. 38 Yeshua turned and saw them following Him, and He asked them, “What are you looking for?” They said to Him, “Rabbi!” (which means “Teacher!”) “Where are you staying?” 39 He said to them, “Come and see.” So they went and saw where He was staying and remained with Him the rest of the day – it was about four o’clock in the afternoon. 40 One of the two who had heard Yochanan and had followed Yeshua was Andrew, the brother of Shim ‘on Kefa.

41 The first thing he did was to find his brother Shim ‘on and tell him, “We’ve found the Mashiach!” (The word means “one who has been anointed.”) 42 He took him to Yeshua. Looking at him, Yeshua said, “You are Shim ‘on Bar-Yochanan; you will be known as Kefa.” (The name means “rock.”) ~ John 1:35-42 (CJB)

Shim’ on Bar-Yochanan is Aramaic for Simon, the son of John. You will be known as Kefa, is the Greek transliteration of the Aramaic Kefa, and usually given in English as Cephas. Kefa means Rock in Hebrew, “Petros” in Greek, which is usually translated as “Peter” in English.

In changing his name, we will learn it was as if Yeshua said, “Simon, you’re about as stable as the sand on the seashore. But I see your potential; I see what you will become. That is why I’m changing your name to Rock. Stick with Me, Kefa, and you will see incredible changes take place in your person.”

We pick up the story of Kefa when Yeshua begins His great Galilean Ministry.

1 One day, as Yeshua was standing on the shore of Lake Kinneret (Sea of Galilee, also called the Sea of Tiberias), with the people pressing in around Him in order to hear the word of God, 2 He noticed two boats pulled up on the beach, left there by the fishermen, who were cleaning their nets. 3 He got into one of the boats, the one belonging to Shim ‘on, and asked him to put out a little way from shore. Then He sat down and taught the people from the boat. 4 When He had finished speaking, He said to Shim ‘on, “Put out into deep water and let down your nets for a catch.” 5 Shim’ on answered, “We’ve worked hard all night long, Rabbi, and haven’t caught a thing! But if you say so, I’ll let down the nets.”

Kefa’s obedience is exemplary; a fisherman might trust a Rabbi’s teaching on religious matters but need not do so in his field of expertise, fishing. The fishermen had labored with a casting net or possibly a dragnet all at night.

6 They did this and took in so many fish that their nets began to tear. 7 So they motioned to their partners in the other boat to come and help them, and they came and filled both boats to the point of sinking.

Because the overhead cost of equipment was high, fishermen often worked together in cooperatives; families would sometimes work together to increase their profits. It is not unusual for Kefa and Andrew to be in business with the family of Zebedee. Men working from more than one boat could let down more massive nets than those working from only one; fish could then be emptied onto the boat, or the nets hauled ashore.

8 When he saw this, Shim ‘on Kefa fell at Yeshua’s knees and said, “Get away from me, sir, because I’m a sinner!” 9 For astonishment had seized him and everyone with him at the catch of fish they had taken, 10 and likewise both Ya’akov and Yochanan, Shim’ on’s partners. “Don’t be frightened,” Yeshua said to Shim‘on, “from now on you will be catching men – alive!” 11 And as soon as they had beached their boats, they left everything behind and followed Him.  Luke 5:1-11 (CJB)

After this display of Yeshua’s knowledge and power, Kefa was astonished and saw him differently. He fell before Yeshua and said, Get away from me, sir, because I’m a sinner! Kefa knew that Yeshua was no mere miracle-working preacher.

Ya’akov and Yochanan, along with Kefa, will form Yeshua’s inner circle. Yeshua used the massive catch of fish to illustrate the kind of evangelistic impact Kefa would have catching men (see Acts 2:41; 4:4). Kefa and the other fishermen left everything and followed Yeshua.

Even if they had a bad night, fishermen made a better income than most Galileans (most of whom were peasants), so leaving their job is an act of radical commitment that they would expect to affect them economically adversely.

Following their calling, they all went to Capernaum so Yeshua could teach in the synagogue on the Sabbath. When He finished, 14 Yeshua went to Kefa’s home, and there saw Kefa’s mother-in-law sick in bed with a fever. 15 He touched her hand, the fever left her, and she got up and began helping Him. ~ Matthew 8:14-15 (CJB)

Based upon this passage, we learn that Kefa was married and his mother-in-law lived with them. Jewish men refrained from touching women in general to avoid any possibility of becoming unclean unless they had means by which they could ascertain their status (see Lev 15:19). But that did not stop Yeshua from touching her. His mother-in-law’s ability to get up immediately and serve a meal indicates that her healing was instant and complete.

In my next post, we will turn to Kefa’s appointment as an Emissary and his inquiring mind from the Parable of the Watchful Servants.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1] Special Note: To keep things simple, I will be using Smith’s first cite and not referencing all the other citations, except for clarification purposes and then only in the footnotes.

Kefa (Peter) ~ the Rock

In my last post, we completed our journey through 140 posts in the series on Yesha’yahu, which we started on January 20, 2019. In this post, we will begin to examine the character and writings of Kefa (Peter).

I have been in prayer for several months of where to go next with this blog. I knew I would like to get back to the Brit Hadashah (New Covenant). You may recall that I did a character study about Eliyahu and Elisha in the last couple of years, and I wanted to do a character study on one of the Emissaries (Apostles).

Why Kefa?

Kefa has always amazed me since I first learned about him. As we will see, he is quite the character. But he influenced me to make a decision that I had been praying on for several years. If you have read my About page, you know I was raised in the Episcopal Church, and through Faith Alive and Cursillo weekends, I came into a saving knowledge of Yeshua on a whole new level. We liked our church family, our priest, and even after we moved to an adjacent city continued to attend. However, our priest was called to a church in Michigan, and we did not care for his replacement. What to do?

Well, during my first Cursillo weekend, I was assigned to sit at the “St. Peter’s” table. Well, I knew that Kefa had authored to short letters, and so during a couple of breaks, I read both. Initially, I thought 1 Kefa was practical, while 2 Kefa, not so much. I was reminded of this experience when I learned that there was a mission church in the city we lived in. Its name was St. Peter’s Episcopal Church. We gave it a try and settled in until the next move. Hunches, no, it’s a God-thing.

So, What Do We Know About Kefa?

 Image courtesy of The Ultimate Bible Character Guide. Click on image to enlarge.

Some years ago, my mother bought us a coffee-table book entitled “The Chosen Twelve Plus One.” [1] It is a beautiful book of Mr. Hollett’s depiction of the original twelve Emissaries and Sha’ul. He photographed thirteen real men who he thought depicted the character traits of the Apostles they represented. This is his Kefa.

Note: the dirty fingernails.

Macartney was a gifted writer and minister in the first half of the 20th century. I would like to share just a few initial quotes from his bio-sketch of Kefa.

“They were all human men whom Jesus called to follow Him, but Peter reveals more of himself than any of the others, and to self, he shows is so remarkably like the self that followers of Jesus today see in themselves that I venture to name Peter the most human of the Apostles.” I am guilty!

“Not only is Peter the speaker and the actor whom we know best, but when he does speak and act, he does so in a manner that is peculiarly self-revelatory … Peter is one of those whole-hearted men who do whatever they do, in good or in evil, with their whole might, leaving no slightest doubt as to the kind of person who is speaking or acting … He was a non-deliberative, warm-hearted, impulsive, quick-acting soul who was mastered by the motive of the moment, whether it was good or bad.”

With this thumbnail sketch, let’s walk through the Gospels and the Book of Acts to form our own opinion of this remarkable Saint.

My plan for this series is to follow Kefa through the Gospels and the Book of Acts to learn more about him as a person and then finish off with a verse-by-verse examination of 1 & 2 Kefa.

Click here for the PDF version.

[1] “The Chosen Twelve Plus One,” illustrated by Harry Hollett with text by Clarence E. Macartney, Multnomah Press, Portland, Oregon © 1980.