Ministries of Peter and Paul


In relation to the Church in the Book of Acts it is also important to recognize the distinctive place and part that the apostle Peter and the apostle Paul played. It should be seen that these major apostles, along with other apostles and believers were in a great transitional period of time.

They were coming out from the Old Covenant economy under Moses into the New Covenant economy under Jesus.

Much revelation was coming to them and in the transitional period there were a lot of adjustments to be made. This especially involved the Jew and the Genttile coming together in one Body, the New Covenant Church. This will be developed more fully in Chapter 14.

Sufficient this Chapter is to see the distinctive roles of Peter and Paul in the progressiive revelation and development of the Church.

A. The Apostle Peter

After Peter’s revelation and confession of Christ as the Son of the living God, Jesus foretold the fact that He would build s Church. Along with this prophecy Christ specifically said to Peter: “I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 16:19).

Whatt were these “keys”? Did Petter use these keys? When? Where?

The Book of Acts reveals the fulfillment of this word of Christ to Peter. In the Acts we see Peter distinctly using these keys in relation to two ethnic divisions of the human race.

1. To the Jew

On the Day of Pentecost, with the initial outpouring of the Spirit on the 120 in the upper room,t is Peter, standing with the eleven, who gave the initial call to the Jews, gathered out of many nations, to enter the Kingdom of God (Acts 2:1-36). The response was tremendous as 3000 Jews accepted Jesus as the Messiah, repented, believed and were baptized.

The Scripture says they continued stedfastly in the apostles doctrine, fellowship, breaking of bread and prayers (Acts 2:3747). The Lord added to the Church daily those that were being saved.

Shortly, another 5000 believed, and then multitudes were added to the Lord (Acts 4:4; 5:12-17; 6:7).

Acts 1-7 gives the account of the work of the Holy Spirit in the fformation of the early Church, Peter being the major channel being used at this time.

To the Gentile

In due time, the Lord moved upon Peter to take the Gospel to the Gentiles. It is the apostle Peter again, who uses the keys of the Kingdom to let the Gentiles in (Acts 10-11). While Peter ministered the Word, there is the next sovereign outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Gentiles, as onthe Jews at the beginning. It was Peter originally who “opened the door of faith” unto the Gentiles as well as to the Jews (Acts 14:27).

Thus Peter used the keys Christ had given him to open the door to both ethnic divisions. Relative to Peter’s apostolic ministry, Jew and Gentile experience the sovereign outpourings of the Holy Spirit.

Acts 1-12 especially set Peter out of the dominant apostle, the apostle of the circumcision.

B. The Apostle Paul

It iss in Acts 9 that we have the account of themiraculous conversion of Saul, who was to become the apostle Paul.

From Acts 13-28 the scene shifts from Jerusalem teo Antioch, from the emphasis on the work of the Holy Spirit among the Jews to the emphasiss on the work of the Holy Spirit among the Gentiles. It also shifts from the ministry of Peter the apostle to Paul the apostle.

The roles of these two men become more distinctive. They come into sharper focus. Peter is the apostle that Christ, the risen and ascended Head of the Church, uses to openeed and other creeds and confessions promulgated in the fourth and fifth centuries by his denial of the eternal Sonship of Jesus Christ. 5 His deviation appears far more serious than the filioque clause that precipitated the split between the Eastern and Western branches of Christianity in 1054.

If evangelicals and other Protestants accept the early ecumenical creeds as orthodox, they have to defend why they do not accept the ecumenical creeds promulgated at church councils after the fifth century. Both the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church have answered this question. The Eastern Orthodox Church calls itself the Church of the Seven Councils, all held between 325 and 787. After the division with the Western church, the Orthodox churches have contended that no other ecumenical councils have been held. At the same time they have developed a theology that allows them the opportunity to continue developing new doctrines. 6 The Roman Catholic Church still holds councils to promulgate doctri dissension and disputation, Peter rose and told how God had poured out His Spirit on both Jew and Gentile apart from works and ceremonies of the Law (Acts 15:6-11).

Barnabas and Paul told of God s grace and power among the Gentiles apart from the Law economy (Acts 15:12).

Finally, James concluded with a word of wisdom from the prophet Amos 9:11. The Lord had foretold the fact of the Gentiles coming in, apart from the Law, to the Tabernacle of David–NOT the Tabernacle of Moses (Acts 15: 13- 18).

The end result was a recognition and acceptance of the distinctive and unique ministries of Peter and Paul. Peter was the apostle to the Jews, the Circumcision, and Paul was the apostle to the Gentiles, the Uncircumcision. Both were received with the right hands of fellowship, as all recognized the distinctive grace given to each in their area of ministry (Galatians 1-2). The Jews did not have to live as the Gentiles, nor the Gentiles as Jews as far as the ceremonial laws were concerned. All were ‘in Christ’ and baptized by the same Spirit into the same body (I Corinthians 12:13). Believing Jews and Gentiles were all in the same good olive tree (Romans 9-10-11). But this matter is taken up in Chapter 14–The Church in the Epistles.