CEPHAS: A Theory of Apostolic Formation


Matthew 16:16

‘”Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it.”’

“The Rock” Cycle

Most, if not all, natural resources from the earth are created and developed through cycles. A plant must go through photosynthesis, an insect must go through metamorphosis, and a stone must go through the rock cycle in order to be classified as a specific resource.

If this is true for minerals, vegetation, and insects, how much more are we, as mankind, designed to endure unique processes that align with our assignment? The name Peter, also known as, Cephas, is derived from the Greek word, Πετρος or Petros meaning “stone.” Peter represents the perfect model for apostolic formation and is identified as the “rock” upon which Jesus would build His church. Not only does Peter receive his classification, or his name, in Matthew 16, he also receives new insight into his nature. He is a stone, a rock, a pillar on which others will stand; but not before enduring a process similar to that of “the rock cycle.”


There are three main phases that a rock must endure in order to be classified into a specific group. These three phases seem to run parallel to life’s cycles and are known as formation, breakdown, and reformation. The formation of a rock may result in any of these three categories: igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary. Let us begin by likening the life of the Apostle Peter to the formation of metamorphic rock.

The metamorphic rock is characterized by its ability to change forms. The root word “meta” means to change while the suffix “morp” means to form. Metamorphic rocks change form through their exposure to extreme pressure and heat. In fact, the deeper they are buried into the earth, the more pressure and heat they are impressed by. This stage is also called formation. Peter’s formation into “Cephas” is an occurrence that seems to have also happened under pressure; the pressure of being in close proximity to Jesus, the pressure of having to endure much persecution, and the pressure of pursuing after the mandate of Jesus. All of these factors would function as tools to form Peter into “the rock.”

How many times have you looked back to evaluate the type of pressure you were under? Did you attribute what was pressuring you to who God was shaping you into? Perhaps the process you once thought would cause you to break, only came to form you? At the core of Peter’s apostolic nature is the innate desire to remain close to the heart of Jesus; that regardless of the extremities of heat, opposition, and pressure from the outside, he would need to stick to the cornerstone, in order to become the foundation.


After the formation process there is what scientists call, the breakdown. When a metamorphic rock breaks down, it may turn into sedimentary rock. Sedimentary rock is formed by the weathered remains of other rocks. This process can be likened to the left overs of sifted wheat or grain. It is also similar to the Scripture in Luke 22:31 when the Lord says, “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat:” To sift means to violently tear or rip apart, so that the remains of the original object will fall to the ground. The goal of Satan’s attempt to sift us, is to cause our separation from the faith, so that we might not repent or return to God. When Peter finds himself in the pressurized situation of denying Jesus before men, he is left shaken up and disturbed by his own decisions. Herein, lies the breakdown of the one who is called, “the rock.” Peter has found himself walking in the manifestation of God’s word saying, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” (Luke 22:34) By the third denial, Peter realizes the wrong he has done, and after once saying, “Lord I would die for you and “I would never fall away” he has now, in fact, done the opposite.


Have you ever found yourself doing what you were convinced you’d never do? Or have you found yourself in a storm that you caused based on the decisions that you made? I want to encourage you that there is reformation ahead. That just like the process of the sedimentary rock, when things have broken apart and begun falling to the ground, there is soon coming the opportunity to be restored. While Jesus warns Peter in Luke 22, that Satan desires to sift him as wheat, He also encourages Peter that “He is praying earnestly, “that [his] faith will be strong” so that “he will come back and strengthen his brethren.” What is God waiting on you to come back from in order to bring strength to your brethren? Sometimes our greatest transformation comes from our hardest falls, when we can still seem to find strength, after everything has fallen apart. While there will be seasons of sifting, that come to strip us from our faith, if we can kneel down to pick up the broken pieces, through the act of repentance, our souls can still be restored. Peter’s breakdown was soon turned into repentance; when the Bible says that, “he went outside and wept bitterly” (Matthew 26).

I believe that in his moment of repentance, Peter, became like igneous rock. The word igneous means “fire” or “heat.” It is the type of rock that is formed through the heat of its surroundings, and yet its structure is only solidified, by the cooling thereafter. If it were not for his repentance, Peter would have been subjected to defeat. But it was his cooling tears of repentance met by the fire of his trials, that would eventually form and shape him into the Apostle, The Rock, and The Foundation he was destined to be.




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