The hymns for their Feast speak of Saints Peter and Paul as leaders (koryphaioi), and chiefs of the Apostles. They are, without a doubt, the foremost in the ranks of the Apostles.
The koryphaioi were leaders of the chorus in ancient Greek tragedy. They set the pattern for the singing, and also for the dance movements and gestures of the chorus. Before Sophocles, there were twelve members of the chorus, and Saints Peter and Paul were the leaders of the twelve Apostles.
Both Saint Peter and Saint Paul received new names, indicating a new relationship with God. Simon the fisherman became known as Cephas (John 1:42), or Peter after confessing Jesus as the Son of God (Mt.16:18).
Saint Peter, the brother of Saint Andrew, was a fisherman on the sea of Galilee. He was married, and Christ healed his mother-in-law of a fever (Mt.8:14). He, with James and John, witnessed the most important miracles of the Savior’s earthly life.
Despite his earlier recognition of Christ as the Son of God, he denied Him three times on the night before the Crucifixion. Therefore, after His Resurrection, the Lord asked Peter three times if he loved Him. Then He told Peter to feed His sheep (John 21:15-17).
After the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, Saint Peter addressed the crowd (Acts 2:14), and performed many miracles in Christ’s name. He baptized Cornelius, the first Gentile convert (Acts 10:48). He was cast into prison, but escaped with the help of an angel (Acts 5:19). Saint Peter also traveled to many places in order to proclaim the Gospel message. He wrote two Epistles, which are part of the New Testament.
Saint Peter was put to death in Rome during the reign of Nero. According to Tradition, he asked to be crucified upside down, since he did not feel worthy to die in the same manner as his Lord.