A Pair of Names
Whew! It’s been a while, but here I am again with another Character Connections article! Things have been hectic for me, so it’s a bit later than usual, but never fear, I’m still spinning these out! This edition focuses on two figures that share quite a bit in common. So much, in fact, that they even have the same name! Yes, I’m talking about none other than Peter Pevensie, High King of the Golden Age of Narnia, and Simon Peter, one of the Twelve Apostles. (This is the first time I’ve ever compared two characters with the same name, so hopefully I can avoid confusion in this one. Bear with me!)
A Pair of Leaders
Let’s start with that title of King Peter’s. Not only is he a King of Narnia, he just so happens to be the High King of them all. He is not just the leader of the country, he is the leader of the leaders. Peter Pevensie is the one who speaks for the four rulers of Narnia as the High King. In the same way, Simon Peter acted as the spokesman for the twelve disciples quite often. For example, in chapter two of Acts, it is Peter who explains just what happened when the Holy Spirit descended on the day of Pentecost, and then proceeded to preach. As it says in verse 14, “Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice, and addressed the crowd: ‘Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say.” (Here the Eleven refers to the other eleven disciples.) He was essentially their leader, in much the same way that Peter Pevensie was the leader of the four monarchs.
A Trial of Faith
Both also were subjected to a test of their faith, and in these tests, their occasional doubt can be seen. Take Peter Pevensie. In Prince Caspian, Lucy is the only one who sees Aslan, and Peter must rely on her in order to know which way to go. At first, however, he is doubtful, and thinks that his own way is better. When the party follows his direction, though, he realizes that his way was not the best, and that following Aslan through Lucy would have been the better choice.
Simon Peter also had a test of faith, through which he showed his doubt. In Matthew 14: 22-33, we read of Jesus walking on water. Upon seeing Jesus, Peter called out to him saying, “If it’s you, tell me to come to you on the water.” Jesus did, and Peter “got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’ Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. ‘You of little faith,’ he said, ‘why did you doubt?’” (Matthew 4: 29-31) Simon Peter also was subjected to a test of his faith as he walked on water, but he let his doubt get the better of him, resulting in his sinking.
Successes and Successors
Both Peter Pevensie and Simon Peter had their work to do. Peter Pevensie helped take care of and guide Narnia during his reign as High King, and helped to establish Caspian X as King later on. Simon Peter helped to build the early church, as can be read in Acts 1-12. As one reads on in the Chronicles and Acts, though, one will note that both Peters had a ‘successor’ of sorts once their time of service was done. Interestingly, these ‘successors’ are the subject of my previous Character Connections article: Edmund and Paul. After Peter and Susan are not allowed to enter Narnia again, Edmund becomes the oldest of those of our world involved with Narnia, and thus in essence takes up Peter’s position. And in Acts, at about chapter thirteen, Luke, the author, shifts his focus from Peter’s work to that of Paul’s.
The Keys to the Kingdom
There is one last similarity worth noting. In Matthew 16:19, Jesus tells Simon Peter that “I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven.” In The Last Battle, Peter Pevensie is also given a key, with which he locks the door leading to the old, dead Narnia. A small piece in both cases, but quite an important one which only serves to strengthen the connection.
As is usual, I end with another reminder that as the Chronicles are not allegories but supposals, and so not every aspect of these two Peters will be exactly alike. Even so, it does beg the question as to whether Lewis had Simon Peter in mind when writing Peter Pevensie. I suppose that’s a question only Lewis himself would have a proper answer to, but the similarities are interesting enough to point out and wonder about.