Simon, whom He also named Peter, and Andrew his brother; and [a]James and John; and Philip and Bartholomew;
Mainly I'm going to dive into the John MacArthur sermons on this one, because he knows the historical background and I have no intelligent thoughts of my own about this verse. There are 7, yes 7, MacArthur sermons about this ONE VERSE. 3 about Peter, one about Andrew and James, one about John, one about Philip and one about Nathanael, also called Bartholomew. Whew! I confess freely, I did not read through them all.
Common Men, Uncommon Calling: Peter, Part 1
Common Men, Uncommon Calling: Peter, Part 2
Common Men, Uncommon Calling: Peter, Part 3
Common Men, Uncommon Calling: Andrew and James
Common Men, Uncommon Calling: John
Common Men, Uncommon Calling: Philip
Common Men, Uncommon Calling: Nathanael (Bartholomew)
They had varied backgrounds, as I said, in terms of their employment, or their career...tax collector, fishermen, etc. They also had varied temperaments. Peter...you know Peter, we call him the Apostle with the foot-shaped mouth...eager, bold, aggressive, impulsive, very verbal. John on the other hand spoke very little. The first twelve chapters of Acts he and Peter are companions...John never says a thing.
...the raw material that was in Peter, that kind of inquisitiveness, that kind of initiative, that kind of involvement. He asked all the questions. He was the first guy who tried to charge ahead for whatever responsibility needed to be done and he wanted to be in the middle of everything. That's the stuff that leaders are made of. And so the Lord knew that and He wove it all in the fabric of who he was in his mother's womb. And now when he reaches adulthood, it's time for the Lord to shape it. Frankly, if it's not shaped by the Lord, it could be disastrous. So, two other things have to happen...the right raw material, point two, the Lord has to drag him through the right experiences to shape that raw material...three, the Lord has to give him the right virtues so that that great leadership potential is controlled by virtue.
From the 3rd sermon on this verse:
These are the character components that were necessary to make Peter the man God wanted him to be, to turn him from Simon into Rock. Peter learned submission, restraint, humility, love, compassion, and courage from the Lord Himself and from the work of the Holy Spirit in his heart. And he did become a great leader. He was the one who made the move to replace Judas with Matthias in Acts 1. He was the spokesman of the church at Pentecost, as I told you last time. He along with John healed a lame man. He along with John, as I said, defied the Sanhedrin. He dealt with the hypocrisy of Ananias and Sapphira in the church. He dealt with the problem of Simon the magician, healed Aeneas, raised Dorcas from the dead, took the gospel to the Jews, took the gospel to the Gentiles, wrote the two marvelous epistles, 1 and 2 Peter, in which he repeated, as we've seen, the lessons that he had learned from the Lord about character.
Is that impressive or what? Jesus took an ordinary guy, a fisherman, an outspoken, opinionated, insert-foot-in-mouth kinda guy and turned him into the leader, the rock of the early Christian church. Doesn't that make you feel better? Did Peter become perfect? No. He still messed up, just like we do. But man, what a transformation! If God through the power of the Holy Spirit could do all that good work in Peter, can he not do the same in us?
John is familiar to us because of the gospel of John, because of the three epistles of John and because he is the recipient of the apocalypse, the Revelation that ends the New Testament. So we have a lot of information that John has provided for us, revelation would be a better way to term it. He has given us the story of Jesus in his gospel. He has given us three epistles in which the Holy Spirit inspired him to write important matters to the church. And he has given us the visions of Christ that dominate the apocalypse.
Now John, we know, is the brother of James. It doesn't say that here, it just says in verse 14, "James and John," but Luke doesn't need to repeat that because back in chapter 5 he made it very clear in verse 10 that James and John were sons of Zebedee, which makes them brothers. And they were partners with Simon. What you have with these four, Peter, James, John and Andrew, are two sets of brother, Peter and Andrew, and James and John who were in the fishing business together.
Because of John's treatment of himself, because of the way he refers to himself in his gospel, we tend to think of John, and rightly so, as humble. And he became humble. He was eventually humble. He didn't start out that way. But because he's so self-effacing in his gospel, it is assumed by most people that he was always that way, sort of a meek, mild, wimpy, pale-skinned, ashen, effeminate guy...that's the way he shows up in Medieval art. You know, he appears frequently leaning on Jesus' shoulder looking up with a blank dove-eyed stare into space, sort of the passive type. Not even close, folks, not even close.