Peter is given many different names in the New Testament. Jesus calls him “Rock” (Cephas) after Peter confesses that Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ. In the very next scene Jesus calls him Satan as Peter refuses to accept that Jesus is to be a Crucified Messiah: “Get behind me, Satan! You are an obstacle (scandal) to me. You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.” Paul will call him a hypocrite: “But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood self-condemned…the other Jews joined him in this hypocrisy” (Galatians 2:11-13). Paul himself was called a zealous persecutor of the church but also a zealous preacher of the Gospel.
Neither of these saints was perfect. At times they were people of little faith who thought “not as God does, but as human beings do” or who “once knew Christ from a human point of view” (2 Corinthians 5:16). They were saints because they allowed themself to be overwhelmed by the mercy of God and to be converted from doing their own will to doing God’s will.
These saints show us that conversion is a continuing and lifelong process. Paul’s words about conversion are both comforting and challenging: “the Lord said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’ So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me…for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).