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 Sts Peter and Paul were the leaders of the twelve Apostles.
Both St Peter and St 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).
St Peter, the brother of St 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, St 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). St Peter also traveled to many places in order to proclaim the Gospel message. He wrote two Epistles, which are part of the New Testament.
Sts 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.
Troparion — Tone 4
First-enthroned of the apostles, / teachers of the universe: / Entreat the Master of all / to grant peace to the world, / and to our souls great mercy!
Kontakion — Tone 2
O Lord, You have taken up to eternal rest / and to the enjoyment of Your blessings / the two divinely-inspired preachers, the leaders of the Apostles, / for You have accepted their labors and deaths as a sweet-smelling sacrifice, / for You alone know what lies in the hearts of men.
Kontakion — Tone 2
Today Christ the Rock glorifies with highest honor / The rock of Faith and leader of the Apostles, / Together with Paul and the company of the twelve, / Whose memory we celebrate with eagerness of faith, / Giving glory to the one who gave glory to them!