Cephas (“see-fuss”) is most commonly known because Jesus gave the nick-name “Cephas/Peter” to his follower Simon.
When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” “Well,” they replied, “some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.” Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being. Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it. (Matthew 16:13-18)
Jesus’ first words to Cephas were “Follow me” (Mark 1:17). His last words to him were “Follow me” (John 21:22). Even though Cephas often stumbled, he never failed to follow Jesus every step of the way between those two challenges.
When Jesus entered Cephas’ life, this plain fisherman became a new person with new goals and new priorities. However, he did not become a perfect person. We may wonder what Jesus saw in Simon that made him call upon this disciple with a new name: Cephas—the “rock.” Impulsive Simon certainly did not act like a rock much of the time. But when Jesus chose his followers, he was not looking for models; he was looking for real people. Jesus chose people who could be changed by his love, and then he sent them out to communicate that his acceptance was available to anyone—even to those who often fail.
Cephas was not chosen as a foundation because of his strength, courage or steadfastness. He was chosen despite his brokenness. We at Cephas Partners like that imagery, especially in the context of stewardship, because it takes the focus away from us (knowing we often have flawed grandiose views of ourselves or why we are in the position we are in) and places the focus more on that which we have been made stewards.
Facts about Cephas
- Cephas was a Galilean from Bethsaida (John 1:44)
- Cephas’ northern accent was easily recognized by Israelites in the south at Jerusalem (Mark 14:70)
- He had a large house at Capernaum where, along with his own family, his brother Andrew and mother-in-law also lived (Mark 1:29, Matthew 8:14)
- He was transformed from a fisherman to a “fisher of men.” (Matthew 4:19)
- Cephas was allowed to join Jesus during the miracle of walking on the water (Matthew 14:29)
- Cephas, along with James and John, witnessed the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-9)
- Cephas and John prepared the place where Jesus Christ kept the Passover feast (the “Last Supper”) with His disciples before the Crucifixion (Luke 22:7-13)
- After fighting to prevent the Lord’s arrest only a short time before, outside of the house of the high priest Cephas denied that he ever knew Jesus three times – exactly as Jesus said he would do (Luke 22:54-61). Cephas bitterly repented for this lapse almost immediately (Luke 22:62)
- Cephas, along with others, witnessed the empty tomb – confirmation that Jesus had indeed been resurrected from the dead (John 20:1-10)
- After the Resurrection, Jesus appeared to Cephas at the Sea of Galilee and gave him his commission (John 21:1-25)