Peter and Paul
2 Peter 3:15 -16
Today we will be talking about two faithful Godly man used by the Lord, Peter and Paul. Peter mentioned Paul in this short epistle. Remember that Peter was talking about false teachers. Peter mentions Paul who has written plenty of books in the New Testament and some of his writings were twisted and perverted by false teachers. There was an incident that happened between Peter and Paul yet Peter instead of having negative feelings to Paul, still called him “beloved brother”. Let’s take a close look at it.
I. Peter the Apostle – Brief summary
A. He was one of the three in the inner circle of Jesus (Peter, James, and John).
B. After the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, no name comes up so often in the Four Gospels as Peter’s name.
C. Naturally impulsive. (Mt. 14:28; 17:4; Jn. 21:7).
D. Tender-hearted and affectionate (Mt. 26:75; Jn. 13:9; 21:15-17)
E. Full of strange contradictions, – at times presumptuous (Mt. 16:22; Jn. 13:8; 18:10) other times timid and cowardly (Mt. 14:30; 26:69-72)
F. Self-sacrificing (Mr 1:18) yet inclined to be self-seeking (Mt. 19:27)
G. Gifted with Spiritual insight (Jn. 6:68) yet slow to apprehend the deeper truths (Mt. 15:15-16)
H. Made two great confession of his faith in Christ (Mt. 16:16; Jn. 6:69) and also the most cowardly denial (Mk. 14:67-71).
I. He wrote two Epistles in the New Testament, (I and II Peter)
II. Paul the Apostle – Brief Summary
A. A High profile Pharisee, one of the religious elite at that time.
B. Has a passion for the faith of his ancestors and advanced in Judaism beyond many of his contemporaries (Gal. 1:13-14).
C. He absolutely hated Christians:
1. He was consenting at the stoning of Stephen in Acts 7.
2. He made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison. (Acts 8:3)
3. His anger and his zeal for Judaism was described: Acts 9:1-2 And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem.
D. On the road to Damascus he met the Lord Jesus Christ and that was the turning point of his life.
E. Formerly a blasphemer, persecutor, and violent aggressor, Saul has become Christ’s chosen instrument to be the “Apostle to the Gentiles”
F. Paul wrote 13 books in the New Testament.
III. Peter and Paul in the Book of Acts
A. Peter is prominent in the first part of Acts,
B. Paul clearly took over the “lime light” in the latter part of the book, beginning in Chapter 9.
C. Peter is to Paul in Acts what John the Baptist is to Jesus in the Gospels. As John the Baptist said, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30).
D. Though Paul was the “apostle to the Gentiles”, Peter was the one first used by the Lord to preach the gospel to Cornelius and then baptized them when they were saved (Acts 10).
E. The salvation of the Gentiles were not received well by Jewish Christians in Judea that Peter has to explain to them (Acts 11). There were many legalistic Jews there who were surprised to know that salvation also were being offered by the Lord to the Gentiles.
F. I honestly think that the Jewish Christians during that time has racial as well as religious feeling of superiority regarding Gentile Christians. Jewish Christians are circumcised, Gentile Christians are not, and it’s a critical issue.
G. Though Paul was called “apostle to the Gentiles”, he always preached to the Jews first and up to the end of the Book of Acts, he was reaching for the lost Jews to bring them to Christ as long as he can.
H. I would not call Peter “apostle to the Jews or apostle of circumcision”. True, Peter preached to the Jews in the first few chapter in Acts. The reason is that he is living there. But he was used by the Lord to open the gospel to the Gentiles in the house of Cornelius and his two epistles were written also to minister to the Gentiles also.
IV. Peter and Paul in the Book of Galatians.
A. Galatians Chapter 2:11-21 is dark and sad chapter in the history of the gospel.
B. Peter came to Antioch, a Gentile church which had become the sending church for Gentile evangelism. Paul was there with Barnabas and others.
C. When Peter first arrived, he associated freely with the Gentile saints, eating with them, fellowshipping with them.
D. Then “certain came from James” arrived. These were of the circumcision group. Whether they were legalistic Christians or “false brethren” (Galatians 2:4) is not clear. It looks like they came from Jerusalem.
E. James is one of the pillars or leaders in the Church in Jerusalem.
F. Peter’s behaviour quickly changed. He separated himself from the Gentile believers, “fearing them which were of the circumcision”
G. Peter was scared of what these Jewish visitors may think and say about him. He was so afraid of them that he acted hypocritically. He would rather hurt his Gentile brethren than offend these legalists who might not even be saved.
H. By his actions, Peter influenced others, even Barnabas who was a very faithful servant of the Lord.
I. Paul personally and publicly confronted Peter. He did not do this behind Peter’s back.
J. Paul was willing to stand for truth and nothing but the truth no matter what the cost.
K. Peter had the respect of many in the Christian world yet Paul called him a “hypocrite” (Gal. 2:13, Greek “Dissimulation”).
V. The Aftermath
A. About 14 years after Paul rebuked Peter at Antioch, Peter wrote 2 Peter.
B. Peter calls Paul “beloved brother”
C. Peter must have been put into shame and humiliated when he was called a hypocrite by Paul.
D. The thing is he was man enough to admit his mistake and did not have resentment, bitterness, or anger against Paul.
E. He was a gentleman in accepting the rebuke, and did not try justify himself.
F. Only a truly spiritual man like Peter can do it. Beyond reasonable doubt, Peter proved to be an absolutely spiritual man of God and a true servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. By accepting his mistake and misconduct, he has shown his humbleness also.
Anger, bitterness, resentment, or any negative attitude will never be right no matter what others have done to us. We cannot afford to have an unforgiving spirit in our hearts. It will invalidate our spirituality. What would happen if the Lord comes and find you harbouring anger, bitterness, resentment or negative attitude against your brother? The Lord may come any time. Christians should develop a forgiving attitude just like the Lord Jesus Christ.
VI. Peter acknowledges Paul’s writings.
A. Peter mentions Paul’s epistles, which “Paul also according to the wisdom given to him hath written unto you”.
B. God gave Paul wisdom in writing the Scriptures.
C. Paul has written 13 Epistles which is half of the New Testament. Peter wrote only two. Yet Peter is not envious of Paul.
Illustration: D. L. Moody
Dwight L. Moody once told the fable of an eagle who was envious of another that could fly better than he could. One day the bird saw a sportsman with a bow and arrow and said to him, “I wish you would bring down that eagle up there.” The man said he would if he had some feathers for his arrow. So the jealous eagle pulled one out of his wing. The arrow was shot, but it didn’t quite reach the rival bird because he was flying too high. The first eagle pulled out another feather, then another—until he had lost so many that he himself couldn’t fly. The archer took advantage of the situation, turned around, and killed the helpless bird.
Moody made this application: if you are envious of others, the one you will hurt the most by your actions will be yourself.
D. Paul was already dead when Peter wrote his second epistle, yet Peter recognizes them as part of the canon of the Scriptures.
E. Peter also writes that “in all Paul’s epistles” there are some things that are “hard to be understood”.
F. Those things that are hard to be understood are twisted by the unlearned and unstable to their own destruction.
G. False teachers, the unlearned and the unstable “distort” the Word of God.
Peter and Paul were ordinary people like us but was used mightily by the Lord. The center of their ministry is the Lord Jesus Christ, not themselves. Would you be like Peter or Paul? Come to Christ then, only through Christ we can be a good servants like them