PRE-EMINENCE OF PETER
It is said that Peter is the key person in the laying of the foundation of the church. He was the key disciple to lead the other disciples. It was peter the Jesus gave the keys of the kingdom. Matthew 16:17-19 -
Jesus replied, "Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." (Compton's Interactive Bible NIV)So it was Peter that gave the first sermon on the day of Pentecost. It was Peter that stood before the Sanhedrin and stood up for the name of Jesus.
WHY IS PAUL THE MOST TALKED ABOUT IN THE NEW TESTAMENT?
If Peter is the key guy among the disciples than why is Paul the most talked about in the New Testament. It is Paul that is more talked about in the account of Luke in the book of Acts. It is Paul that wrote more books in the New Testament. Why is this that Paul seems to have more impact on the church than Peter?
I would like to start out by saying that Peter had a wonderful impact for the church if not equal to Paul. It is not that one is more important than the other in the growth of the church. It is that they had different roles in the growth of the church. Peter had a great influence on the Jewish believers and Paul had a great influence on the Gentile believers. Peter is the apostle to the Jews and Paul is the apostle to the Gentile (Gal 2:8). They each had a different job or position to fill in the body of Christ or the church and its growth. It looks like Paul is a more influential because he is mentioned more and wrote more books than Peter did.
THE IMPORTANCE OF THE ROLE AND FUNCTION OF GENTILE MINISTRY
For the most part, the Jewish people rejected Jesus as the Christ. So then God placed His attention on the Gentiles to give salvation to. The Gentiles, not all of them, accepted the message of Jesus Christ and the church grew at an amazing rate. Churches were growing in many areas of the Roman world at that time.
If the church was going to grow at this rate then why didn't God send Peter (the head disciple) to do the work that Paul did? I believe that this did not happen for one main reason and that reason has to do with the person themselves. I believe that God did not send Peter because of the type of person he is, but on the other note I see it that God sent Paul because of the type of person he is. I would like to explain this to you and I will start with the person of Peter.
THE PERSON OF PETERPeter was a Jewish fisherman from Galilee. I don't know how much Peter traveled before coming to know Jesus, but I don't think it was much. Fishermen of that time were not known for being world travelers. I don't think he had much association with Gentiles in general. If we look at Acts 10:11-14 we see that Peter is a law abiding Jew and does not associate with unclean things. The Gentiles were considered unclean. God had to teach Peter that he made the Gentiles clean through the blood of Jesus and what he made clean no one can call unclean.
Peter understood this and went to Cornelius' house and God did a great work there in his midst with the Gentiles at the house. But Peter must not have gotten it totally because he ran into trouble again later in the book of Galatians 2:11-14. He was at a gathering of Christians in Antioch and made a mistake that Paul had to rebuke him on. There were Jewish and Gentile believers at this gathering. Peter sat by the Jews for fear of what they might say about him. He did not associate with the Gentile believers. Because of his decision to separate himself from the Gentiles other Jewish believers did the same.
PETER'S RELATIONSHIP WITH THE GENTILES
Peter did not possibly relate well to the Gentile people. He was with Jews for the majority of his life and was probably uncomfortable when he was with the Gentile people. The early Jewish believers held too many of the Jewish law and special days and probably had a hard time letting go of the thought that the Gentiles were unclean and should not be associated with. Peter, most likely, did not know the language, culture, and customs of the Gentile people. Peter even being the head of the disciples was not the best person to send to the Gentile people.
THE APOSTLE TO THE GENTILES
While I talk about Paul and the reason he is the apostle to the Gentiles, I will also talk about why he is more talked about in the New Testament and the early church than Peter is. I will be talking about Phil 3:4b-6.If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless.
And Acts 16:37But Paul said to the officers: 'They beat us publicly without a trial, even though we are Roman citizens, and threw us into prison. And now do they want to get rid of us quietly? No! Let them come themselves and escort us out.'
In Phil 3:4b-6 Paul tells us that he is a Hebrew of Hebrews and a Pharisee. He was a very devoted Jew in the ways of the law and the obedience of it. He studied under the well known Pharisee Gamaliel. Paul was very zealous about the Jewish belief. Paul knew the history, culture, customs, language, and thinking of the Jewish people.
Paul was a Jew and understood the Jewish ways, but he was also a Roman citizen as he said in the passage in Acts. Paul had special right under the Roman law that let him move freely among the Roman empire of his time. Not only did he have many rights he also knew the thinking, culture and language of the Roman world.
Paul was a very intelligent man that knew the Old Testament and many of other documents and writings of his time. In Acts 17:28 Paul relates the truth of God's word to what one of the writers of Athens said. All of this shows that Paul is a very intelligent choice of a person to sent and spread the gospel to the Gentile nations.
CHRISTIANITY AS A GENTILE MOVEMENT
All the information that is said does not give enough info to explain why Paul is talked about more than Peter. I believe that Paul is talked about more because of the type of ministry he had and the people he was ministering to.
Christianity is considered a Gentile religion in the world today. Judaism, even though it is of no real value for salvation today, is still the religion of the Jewish people. The Jews rejected the claims of Jesus Christ and then rejected the claims of the disciples and the early Christians. Because the Jews rejected the gospel of Jesus Christ God went to the Gentiles and they accepted the message. The Jerusalem council rejected the gospel of Christ and so played a big part in the church being rejected by the Jewish world. It all went like this.
There was a big revolt by the Jews against the Roman overlords. The Romans came and a war started between the two nations. The walls of Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed by Titus in 70 AD. When this was going on the Jerusalem church fled the city for safety. A few years later there was a decision to bar Christians from the synagogue services. Any Jew that wanted to stay faithful could not be a Christian. "The new faith had become and would remain a Gentile movement. The old wineskin was irreparability torn." (Bruce Shelley, Church History in Plain Language. Nashville: Word Publishing, 1982. p. 23)
Christianity is now a Gentile movement and not a Jewish one. Paul was the leading apostle in the Gentile movement even though Peter was the head man of the disciples. That is why Paul is talked about more in the New Testament.
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