A Tale of Two- Peter and Paul on the Church’s Great Controversy


We pay close attention to Paul’s miraculous conversion, but not so much to Peter’s.

Peter had a divine calling from the Master Himself, and he returned back to Christ after his denial. But I’m not referring to these conversions.

Peter was alone and hungry. He was on a rooftop alone. Then he began hallucinating. Animals of all types came down from heaven. It was food he was invited to take part in to stop his hunger. But he said no. Not only that, but he denied the invitation in a style that was typical Peter. Not just no, but no way. Never. I’ve never eaten anything that is common or unclean.

Peter’s testimony around 24 hours later is much different. “And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.”
‭‭Acts‬ ‭10:28‬ ‭KJV‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

I am doing what is unlawful to do, because God said so. And there appears to have been no hesitation in his doing so. At a weak point, in an hour of prayer, God spoke to Peter and completely upended the scale; he destroyed the measurement by which righteous and unrighteous was defined. Peter wrote about it later: “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.”
‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭2:9-10‬ ‭KJV‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

Peter was right there at the moment this came to pass. He saw the switch flip in the Gentiles’ favor.

And what were his instructions to them?

“Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.”
‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭2:11-12‬ ‭KJV‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

“For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men: As free, and not using your liberty for a cloak of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.”
‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭2:15-16‬ ‭KJV‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

“For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.”
‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭2:19-20‬ ‭KJV‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

“Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.”
‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭2:24‬ ‭KJV‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

In Acts 15, Peter testified yet again.
“And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.”
‭‭Acts‬ ‭15:7-11‬ ‭KJV‬‬‬‬‬‬

The final verdict of James included a quote from Amos 9:11. James’ words:
“Simon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things. Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world.”
‭‭Acts‬ ‭15:14-18‬ ‭KJV‬‬‬‬‬‬

Amos’ words:
“In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old: That they may possess the remnant of Edom, and of all the heathen, which are called by my name, saith the Lord that doeth this.”
‭‭Amos‬ ‭9:11-12‬ ‭KJV‬‬‬‬‬‬

So we have 2 testimonies- 2 witnesses- to the fact that God saved the Gentiles apart from following the works of the law:
1) Peter’s experience
2) The prophets

“Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.”
‭‭Habakkuk‬ ‭2:4‬ ‭KJV‬‬

Paul called on the words of another Old Testament prophet in Galatians 3:11. In Paul’s defense of the Gentile believers, he proved that the promise offered long ago to Abraham was by faith, not by the law.

“Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.”
‭‭Galatians‬ ‭5:1, 6‬ ‭KJV‬‬

Paul would be at odds with Peter at a certain point, regarding, if not the substance of what Peter taught, then certainly regarding Peter’s behavior among the Gentiles.

“But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation. But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?”
‭‭Galatians‬ ‭2:11-14‬ ‭KJV‬‬

Paul must have included this story to the Galatians to show them how important it was to him that the Gentile Christians remain free from any regulations that Christ had done away with at His death, burial, and resurrection. Not knowing the “why” of Peter’s behavior in his own words, all we know for sure is that his example in pulling away from the Gentile believers while at Antioch caused others to pull away as well, leaving these young Christians with a potential stumbling block.

After all of this, old, wise Apostle Peter still commended Paul for speaking truth and wisdom: “And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.”
‭‭2 Peter‬ ‭3:15-16‬ ‭KJV‬‬

We’re left to wonder how the relationship between the Two ended. But we can have no doubt that they both faithfully, even if not perfectly, preached the truth in love and paved the way for a glorious Church.

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