Boldness of Peter & John

Two Bold Men

By George Matheson

George Matheson
George Matheson

  “When they saw the boldness of Peter and John…they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13).

These two men drew one quality from the same source; they had both become bold from living with Jesus. Yet it was not the same kind of boldness. Peter and John were both courageous; yet the courage of Peter was as unlike the courage of John as the sun is unlike the moon. When Christ gives the same quality to two men He does not thereby make them the same man. The light which shines on the wall comes from the same source as the light which shines on the river; but no one would mistake the light on the river for the light on the wall. Even so, no one would mistake the courage of Peter for the courage of John. They are not only different; they are in some sense opposite. Peter has the courage that strikes; John has the courage that waits. Peter is a force of action; John is a force of bearing. Peter draws the sword; John lies on the bosom. Peter crosses the sea to meet Jesus; John tarries till the Lord comes. Peter goes into the sepulchre where the body of Jesus has lain; John merely looks in–keeps the image of sorrow in his heart.

Christ needs each of these types. There are times when His kingdom requires the courage of the hand–the power of actual contact with danger. There are times when it needs the courage of the heart–the power to wait when nothing can be done, and to keep the spirit up when the hand must be let down. Life has both its Galilee and its Patmos–its place for work and its place for waiting; and for both it requires courage.


George Matheson, who died in 1906, was a great devotional preacher and his books blessed many. He had very poor vision when only a child and then early in childhood became blind. Congregations were hesitant to call him as pastor, but when one did it was a blessing and almost an immediate success. The man had power with God. His public prayers in the congregation often brought strong men to tears. The man spent hours in study and meditation on the Scriptures. He had to memorize his text and it was said he never missed a line. His sister was his great helper. George never married. In fact, he said he had never been in love. Look at what he wrote about this song:

My hymn was com­posed in the manse of In­ne­lan [Ar­gyle­shire, Scot­land] on the ev­en­ing of the 6th of June, 1882, when I was 40 years of age. I was alone in the manse at that time. It was the night of my sister’s mar­ri­age, and the rest of the fam­i­ly were stay­ing over­night in Glas­gow. Some­thing hap­pened to me, which was known only to my­self, and which caused me the most se­vere men­tal suf­fer­ing. The hymn was the fruit of that suf­fer­ing. It was the quick­est bit of work I ever did in my life. I had the im­press­ion of hav­ing it dic­tat­ed to me by some in­ward voice ra­ther than of work­ing it out my­self. I am quite sure that the whole work was com­plet­ed in five min­utes, and equal­ly sure that it ne­ver re­ceived at my hands any re­touch­ing or cor­rect­ion. I have no na­tur­al gift of rhy­thm. All the other vers­es I have ever writ­ten are man­u­fact­ured ar­ti­cles; this came like a day­spring from on high. Note: It is not often you get to read the words of a song that seemed to the author as though the song was dictated to him and it was written within about 5 minutes. Divine? You decide.

O Love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in thee;
I give thee back the life I owe,
That in thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.

O light that followest all my way,
I yield my flickering torch to thee;
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in thy sunshine’s blaze its day
May brighter, fairer be.

O Joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shall tearless be.

O Cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from thee;
I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be.

George Matheson FRSE was a Scottish minister and hymn writer. Wikipedia
Born: March 27, 1842, Glasgow, United Kingdom
Died: August 28, 1906
Education: University of Glasgow

Words: George Ma­the­son, in the Church of Scot­land mag­a­zine Life and Work,
Jan­u­a­ry 1882.

Music: St. Mar­garet (Peace), Al­bert L. Peace, 1884 (MI­DI, score). Alternate tunes:

Hampstead (Davies), H. Wal­ford Da­vies, in In hoc Sig­no, 1915, num­ber 31 (MI­DI, score)
Wyke, Les­lie H. Hew­ard (1897-1943) (MI­DI, score). Hew­ard is said have writ­ten the tune while a choir boy at Man­ches­ter Ca­thed­ral.

Author: Editor

An ordained Baptist minister. Worked for 10 years with a Christian publishing ministry where I was the circulation manager for a growing publication, The Sword of the Lord. I also did most of direct mail fundraising and promotion. I have pastored churches in Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama & Arkansas. I served for some four years as Vice President of The Spoken Word of God ministry, Orlando, FL. This ministry was active in church planting in India and broadcasting the Scriptures via Trans World Radio and other radio outlets. My associate in this ministry later invited me to join him and his dad in starting a business working with churches providing multimedia equipment. I have done this work for the last 16 years. This blog, hopefully, will scratch an itch I have for communicating the Word of God to a broader audience via the Internet. I would be honored to hear from you via email.

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