Reading the Gospel of John

This is an important correction to John 1:42 — Simon’s name change to Peter.

I am very grateful to my dear friend Gary Parrett, former professor at Gordon-Conwell Seminary, for correcting my statement about Simon Peter’s name change in John 1:42. For many years, I have thought that the name Simon means a “reed,” easily broken in the wind. But Gary helped me understand the true meaning of the name Simon, which is “he hears.”

I had heard many Bible teachers refer to Simon as an easily broken reed, but with the name change to Peter he became a solid rock. But after more careful research I can find no evidence in either the original Hebrew, or the Aramaic or Greek, to support that meaning. The biblical name “Simon” means one who listens, with the intent of obeying.

Jesus changed Simon’s name to Peter as a challenge for Peter to hear properly. As Gary says, “Jesus changed his name to Peter in a visionary way and He challenges us all to seek His calling for each of us.” When we listen to God and then obey, we become firm in our faith.

Gary is a theologian whose theology leads into doxology — from study and knowledge of God into praise. He and his wife, Holly (Hosun), are worshipers and have composed and sung many of their own songs and hymns. He has given me permission to quote two verses of one of them that relate to Peter.

Into the Waters Deep (Luke 5:1-11)

O Simon, on this very day,

put all thy lesser dreams away.

Thine eye cannot a glimpse now see

of all I have in store for thee.

Wilt thou by faith, then, take this leap?

Put out into the waters deep~,

and for a catch let down thy net.

My child, thou hast seen nothing yet.


Thy doubtful question well I know:

“Am I to reap where none can sow?”

And weary, too—I see thy strain;

so great the toil, so small the gain.

But hear my word, friend, and obey,

I will transform thy world today,

though thou shalt sense it by degree.

What wonders wait? Obey, and see!


Gary’s willingness to correct and help is a wonderful blessing to me, and to us all. It makes me rejoice that we are studying the Bible together as a community. Let’s learn together and minister together as members of His Body.

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