PETER AND PAUL
A Comparison of the Two
By Jan Lilleby
This article is written as a follow-up to the article on ‘The Great Commission’.
I shall try to make diverse direct comparisons between the two great apostles in the New Testament.
In their early days of ministry, Peter and Paul preached the same message, that is, they spoke the Gospel of the Kingdom of God on Earth with Jesus as the coming king to rule from Jerusalem. A kingdom promised by God’s prophets, an earthly hope of salvation for the people of Israel, the Jews. In Christendom we call this for The Millennial Kingdom. Dan. 2:44 are one of the prophesies given.
Peter preached to them within the natural borders of the nation of Israel, while Paul was called to go outside, to the Jews and proselytes (the Greek) in the Provinces of the Empire.
In those times, which we know was reported in many details in the Book of Acts, Israel was seen from God’s side as His own people and nation, and thus also sat above the other nations in the world. (Ref. Ex. 19:5, 6).
After thirty years of ministry, 32 – 62 A.D., reported in Acts – and Peter and Paul having the main roles as apostles, it came to an end with Israel.
In Acts 28:25-31, we see that God abandoned Israel for her serious disbelief and disobedience, using Paul to pronounce the judgment upon them. The leaders of the eleven synagogues in Rome, represented the nation of Israel – as God’s final resort. Acts 28:27 sternly concludes that they would NOT REPENT so God could heal the nation (re-establishing/restoring them, see Acts 1:6). The idea of an earthly kingdom for Israel was temporarily set aside. And just eight years later – in 70 A.D. – Israel was destroyed by the Roman army and the temple burnt and torn completely down.
All Jewish men from the age of 17 (those who had participated in the battles) were sent by slave-ships to Egypt, and tried sold in the market at Alexandria. But no one would buy. Deut. 28:68 was thus fulfilled. It was Josephus who described this in his writings on ‘The Jewish War’. God simply wiped out and cancelled the whole nation of Israel; it no longer existed in the eyes of God. She became ‘Lo Ammi’ – as in Hosea, meaning ‘Not My people’. And Israel still remains that today.
The destruction was also prophesied by Jesus in His parable in Matt. 22:7 of the ‘Kings Servants’ – in which the king (Jesus) got angry and therefore sent His army (Romans) to kill the murderers who had persecuted and killed His servants (Apostles) and set fire to their city (Jerusalem),
In Biblical time-line, it is the epistles to the Ephesians and the Colossians which brings the historical events along, as Acts was abruptly ended by Luke.
By this change of events, going from a historic document straight over into faith-doctrine, actually an entirely new doctrine of faith not seen in earlier Scripture, with the believers’ hope of salvation now up in heaven with Christ (Greek: Epiuoranos). Using the apostle Paul, God brought on a new dispensation, the one with God’s free Grace by faith alone, and no works. Paul calls this for ‘One New Man’, and the Body of Christ.
We are still, as a collective Christianity, in that dispensation of the free Grace, and in which we find that the Law of Moses with its commandments and ordinances are abolished (Eph. 2:14, 15).
PETER – APOSTLE TO ISRAEL, THE CIRCUMCISED
Peter’s life, ministry and speeches as we read Acts and the gospels as well as his two epistles to the Messianic Jewish assemblies in that time, clearly testifies to us that he served the Lord by preaching the Kingdom-gospel to the Jews.
He was present when Jesus told His disciples at the beginning,
“Jesus sent out these twelve, charging them, Go nowhere among the Gentiles and do not go into any of town of the Samaritans. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Mat. 10:5, 6
Later on, Jesus said of Himself,
“…I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Mat. 15:24
Paul, around 58 A.D. as he wrote the epistle to the Romans, taught the very same thing,
“For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised in order to show God’s truthfulness and honesty by confirming the promise to our fathers…” Rom. 15:8
The so-called ‘Great Commission’ which was given to Peter and the eleven in Mat. 28, is totally in line with this. Peter was sent to the circumcised only.
He never had taken this command from the Lord for an order to go to the entire global world, including us Gentiles!
These words of Jesus in Mat. 28:19, 20 are translated from the general word in Greek, COSMOS, - go then and make disciples of all the nations – and it is used for many things: The entire creation, the planet earth, the nation, the village, the city….and so on. In Mat. 28 it is evident that cosmos was used to mean the land of Israel. Go out into the entire land of Israel.
The well-known incident in Acts 10 – Peter was called especially by God to visit the Gentile Cornelius, a Centurion, to preach the Kingdom-gospel, was not trend-setting. This was just a One-Off for Peter, and he did not start regularly to go to Gentiles. The icing on the cake: The Lord had to persuade Peter strongly to have him go to the Gentile Cornelius! This can only mean that Mat. 28 and the ‘Great Commission’ were understood by Peter as an order to go to Israel inside her borders only. Thank God that Acts has the function of a check-point, a strong guide-line.
Peter and the eleven continued to go to Jews only for the rest of their ministries, this is for sure. And Gal. 2:7-9 is not misinforming us at all, when Paul wrote that Peter went only to the circumcised, as Paul went to both circumcised and uncircumcised, and to kings (see Acts 9:15). It is obvious, that Peter went to Jews only, for only those were under God’s promise of a Kingdom in Israel with their Messiah Jesus as the ruling King. The world in a global sense, has never been offered a Kingdom (Millennial) on earth; only the Jews. Dan. 2:44
We find Peter’s life/ministry described mainly in Acts 1-12, and a short glimpse of him again in Acts 15 regarding the apostolic conference at Jerusalem agreeing what to teach the proselytes in the matters of Moses and the Law and ordinances. Acts 15:1-21
We notice that Peter is not even mentioned by James, who at that time, was the leader of the assembly at Jerusalem, with whom Paul met and talked with in Acts 21: 18-20. We can find no scripture saying when Peter quit his position in that large assembly, leaving it to James and the Elders. But it is held probable that he was alive still. This was around 58 A.D. – as Paul arrived at Jerusalem.
Jesus told Peter, prophesying that he should be executed when he had gotten old, as in John 21:18, 19,
“….but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will put a girdle around you and carry you where you do not wish to go. – He said this to indicate by what kind of death Peter would glorify God. And after this, He said to him, Follow Me!”
There is no doubt that Jesus thus foretold Peter, of how he would be executed by crucifixion, since he would indeed follow Jesus till the end.
This can very well indicate that Peter could have lived longer than Paul, but we cannot know for sure. The fact that Peter was not mentioned by Luke as he wrote Acts – the meeting in Jerusalem in 58 A.D. – may be an indication of Peter being somewhere else at the time. He might have been around 60 years of age. But that is not an age which deserves to be held as ‘Old’. We should rather think of Peter growing old, like, 80 to 85 years at least.
Peter’s doctrine, told in his own well formulated texts in his two epistles, really mirrors him clearly as an apostle to Israel, the circumcised, and had the hope of salvation focused on the promised millennial Kingdom at the Second Advent. Peter had nothing whatsoever to do regarding the Church, the ‘One new Man’ – the Body of Christ as pictured by Paul in Ephesians and Colossians. This is an undisputable fact as it is proven from the Bible explained to you above.
His words in 1 Pet. 1:3-5 is a perfect example of this,
“Praised be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By His boundless mercy we have been born again to an ever-living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, - into an inheritance which is beyond the reach of change and decay, unsullied and unfading, reserved in heaven for you. – Who are being guarded by God’s power through faith in the last time.”
In Peter’s sphere of doctrinal preaching on Israel’s coming Kingdom on earth, at the Second Advent, he characterize the believers to be such ones who had been ‘Born again’ (as with Nicodemus the Pharisee in John 3:3) – and that is in contrast to what Paul wrote of us, the ‘One New Man’, the Body of Christ, - for we are a ‘New Creation’ collectively spoken. To have been born is not the same as having been created!
Furthermore, we are mentioned by Paul as believers who are saved already, here and now. But in Peter’s doctrinal sphere – the believers were to be looking forward to the salvation, bestowed on them in same instance as Jesus would come down from heaven establishing the millennial Kingdom. Peter’s words of that salvation …reserved in heaven for you…was his way of saying that Jesus still was in heaven, and would come down to bring that salvation (the Kingdom) to them, to the believing Messianic Israel.
Sadly, it is true then that Jesus never came back from heaven to establish that Kingdom, in the life-time of the apostles.
The reason for that is crystal-clear: Israel fell from her high position with God as a nation of God – sat over all other nations – and the eleven Synagogues at Rome with their leaders were the last resort in regard to have the Lord return. As found in Acts 28:27 – they would not repent, so God could heal (restore the nation) the land. The Second Advent is thus postponed to a future time ahead, and in the meantime Christ has His Church on earth preaching the free Gospel of grace, given Paul alone to administrate in his time, as he wrote in Eph. 3:1-9. This time (almost 2000 years now) with Israel as fallen away and the Church preaching the grace gospel is soon over. I am sure.
In the entire time as we find Israel as fallen, the Church and its Grace Gospel, according to Paul, will be on earth. We are not here in place of Israel, but rather in lack of Israel.
The dispensation of the free grace of God shall be ended/concluded by God sending down to Israel His prophets, Elijah and Moses, to start up and activating the ‘Great Tribulation’. (See my free booklet on this site, called “Moses and Elijah is Coming with the Day of Vengeance”.)
Peter’s gospel doctrine in both his epistles, speak of this earthly Kingdom-salvation for Israel only. You won’t ever find anything with Peter concerning the free Grace Gospel – like revealed to Paul after Israel fell from God in 62 A.D. when Paul confronted the disbelieving leaders there. Had Jesus returned in Peter’s lifetime, he would be one among twelve who would govern the nation together with Jesus, sitting on twelve thrones over the twelve tribes of Israel (Mat. 19:28).
None of the doctrinal things taught by Peter to the Messianic believers in his time, have any validity for the Church, the ‘One New Man’. It only concerned the earthly Kingdom, and not heaven up above!
Our Pastors and evangelists and church-leaders should quickly get learned in these truths – truths that must be held as an ABC-study for the Church, and thus try to leave behind all misunderstandings of doctrine. We MUST hold Peter separated from Paul, especially when we discuss faith-doctrine.
From the time Paul had the ‘Mystery’ in Ephesians and Colossians revealed to him by God and Christ, we learn that it is HEAVEN up above which is our hope of salvation! But in Peter’s time and doctrine, it was the earthly Kingdom for Israel. Don’t tell me that this is not important. It is actually two different doctrines which cannot be united. Therefore: Stop confusing these two hopes! Get things right, by listening to Paul only, for only he is our teacher. The apostle to the Gentiles. Peter and Jesus were teaching the circumcised, Israel only.
Since Jesus did not come back from heaven in the time of the apostles, Peter and all those believers who had been expecting the Kingdom to be established, were automatically transferred in to the Grace-salvation hope, heaven up above. They will inherit together with the Church, the eternal life in heaven, and NOT in the earthly Kingdom to come. Peter and the twelve will not be sitting on thrones like Jesus said in Mat. 19:28 – for He did not return in their lifetime. Those who will be ruling with Christ in the millennial Kingdom, are seen in Rev. 20:4 – raised from the dead, and ruled with Christ for a thousand years. They had died as martyrs, refusing to take the mark of the beast on them, and were killed by Anti-Christ.
The model for Kingdom-believers ‘transfer’ over to the free Grace Gospel, we find clearly as we know that those at Ephesus had come to faith in the days when Paul still only taught the Kingdom-Gospel and the New Covenant to them.
As he then wrote to them his epistle, they find suddenly a doctrine of salvation which is NOT the Kingdom on earth, but the (Greek, Epiouranos) heaven up above the heavcns. And in same epistle they find, shockingly, that Paul declares the Law of Moses for abolished. To a Jew at that time, this must have sounded like a curse-word, a swearing in Church. Eph. 2:14, 15.
I talk a lot of Paul here, because I am comparing the two, as I said in the headline.
If we check out Acts 16 where Paul and Silas went back to assemblies Paul had established with his first visits there, they held forth the decision regarding the Gentiles’ relations to the Law of Moses, how to live properly. These rules were agreed upon by Peter, James, Paul and others – that Gentiles need not take circumcision, but they needed to keep the food ordinances in Lev. 17, not eating meat with its blood still in it…Acts 15:20,
“But we should send word to them (the Gentiles) in writing to abstain from and avoid anything that has been polluted by being offered to idols, and all sexual impurity, and eating meat of animals that have been strangled, and tasting of blood.” (Sexual impurity is mostly dealt with in Lev.18, including incest).
But in Col. 2:16 Paul leaves this food-doctrine, even if it was agreed upon by the leaders such as Peter, James – and even Paul, - and again we must learn to observe that something has happened, which caused Paul to leave that Jewish and Mosaic tradition of certain parts of the ordinances.
Paul had gotten a new revelation from Christ: The Law of Moses is now abolished, with its commandments and ordinances…Eph. 2:14, 15,
“…by abolishing in His flesh the enmity the Law with its decrees and ordinances; that He from the two (Jews and Gentiles) might create in Himself one new man, so making peace.”
That is why Paul now could inform the Colossians, that Lev. 17 – the food ordinances, were cancelled,
“Therefore let no one sit in judgment on you in matters of food and drink, or with regard to a feast day or a New Moon or a Sabbath.”
Sorry, Seventh-Day Adventists around the world. Paul called off Sabbaths and every food ordinance you can find in the Tora. It is not me, Jan Lilleby, who says you don’t ever have to keep food-rules and Sabbaths – it was our chief-teacher, the apostle to the Gentiles, Paul and no other. Will you obey God by agreeing with Paul’s faith-doctrine in Ephesians and in Colossians then?
One of the most foolish things you may hear from a ‘Die Hard Adventist’ is: If you don’t keep the Sabbath, you have taken on you the mark of the beast – the anti-Christ logo. Quite the nonsense and rubbish!
Will we be obedient to God’s apostle for us, we – the Gentiles – or would we make our own fictive ‘gospel’ with all the quirks and clerks that goes with it? Both the Ephesian and the Colossian believers were given the same up-dating of faith-doctrine from Paul; all the important issues regarding the fresh new free Grace Gospel; a concept which had in times past been held secret and hidden in God Himself. Paul was the very first man in history to have the Mystery revealed to him.
The reason for such a great revelation is obvious: The fall of Israel made keeping the Law and the ordinances obsolete and irrelevant. For only Israel had ever been given the Law of Moses, to keep. Never did God at any given time in history demand that the nations, other than Israel, should observe such commandments, originally given to God’s own nation.
I am convinced that the news about this new grace gospel from Paul must have reached Peter, so that he could be informed about this intervention from God. Thus he may very well have read the epistle to the Ephesians, for all what we know.
Bible scholars hold the views, most of them, that Peter’s remarks on Paul’s epistles as writings that may be difficult to understand, points to the fact that Peter may as well have read all of Paul’s letters. But they also hold the view that it is the epistle to the Romans that might be the one stamped as difficult. So, it is very probable that Peter can have read all the other epistles as well – simply because he says so in 2 Pet. 3:15, 15 “…speaking of this as he does in ALL OF HIS LETTERS…” – the issue here seem to be that the saints must take care, not going astray into sin (see ref. verse 11 especially). I must point out, then, that Peter’s mention of holiness and godly qualities in verse 11, goes very well with Paul’s exhortation in Eph. 5:5. It could also actually be that Peter, saying this, recognized Paul’s new free Gospel of Grace as the faith-doctrine to follow from that point in time. (?)
I mentioned the downfall of Israel above, when Paul was in Rome held in custody 62 A.D. Here I would like to point out for you an important historical fact regarding the Jews, which has not been told in the New Testament, eventually the Book of Acts,
While Paul experienced that the majority of the leadership in the eleven Synagogues in Rome had turned down his preaching of Jesus as their Messiah, something gruesome happened to the assembly at Jerusalem.
Ananias II (he who slapped Paul in the face, Acts 23:2-4) and the priesthood, had the leadership – James and the Elders – arrested and stoned to death!
The reason for this, says Josephus the writer of “The Jewish War”, was that Governor Festus got very sick and went to Rome for cure. That left the Roman office at Jerusalem without Festus’ steady rule and sharp eye to keep order in the city.
A large contingent of the assembly fled up to Pella to escape the persecution.
It is my belief that this evil deed committed by Ananias II and the priesthood, as well as the leadership in Rome and the eleven Synagogues turning Paul’s preaching down, collectively resulted in that Christ – as in Matt. 22:7 – turned angry and sent the Roman army to kill those murderers. I mentioned this prophetic parable early in this article.
How can pastors, evangelists and other ministers and church leaderships use examples from Peter’s life and ministry with the Kingdom-doctrine – for example miracles and signs performed by him as described in Acts 1-12, putting it in their sermons as if any of that should be faith-doctrine for the Church, the ‘One New Man’, when the Bible so clearly picture Peter as an apostle ONLY to the circumcised???
For crying out loud, why are you avoiding Paul and his free Grace Gospel for all nations, and put more weight on Peter’s Kingdom-Gospel which was only for one nation, Israel?
Peter never was an example for the believers in the Church dispensation, in same manner as Paul is. Paul was the ONLY apostle to the Church, in which we find Gentiles in great majority. Jews are of course welcome in the Church as individuals, if they believe on Jesus Christ.
You see, Peter had NOT been told to go to Gentiles at all. There is found only one small example of that, in Acts 10 – as I thoroughly explained above. He had to be strongly persuaded by God, before he dared to visit Cornelius the Gentile Roman Centurion. Peter was shocked, and so were all his colleagues – that the apostles should even have any contact with Gentiles at all!
Hello! Is there anyone out there who wakes up from the misunderstanding of Scripture, and manage to correct yourselves accordingly?
PAUL – THE APOSTLE TO THE GENTILES
Having already mentioned several issues regarding Paul, even as I tried to study Peter’s life and ministry – we find a soft transfer over into Paul’s sphere of ministry and teachings.
In regard to Israel, Jesus had 12 men elected as His disciples – a number which was leaning towards Israel made up of 12 tribes. We notice that the number was frozen, as Judas Iscariot was replaced by Matthias after he had taken his own life. IMAGE: The oldest artwork found ever, picturing Paul, in the ceiling inside a church building.
Mainly these twelve men were men of the people, and not of academia. They were not learned in Tora Scripture. They were plain workers, even fishermen, such as Peter. A rough and tough impulsive type of man, but one that Jesus made a real man out of; a man who gave his life for his Master, and ended his life like his Master, dying on a cross.
Paul, on the contrary, was a Tora educated young Pharisee who had learned the Scriptures from the renowned Gamaliel. He was obviously a very eager and ambitious character, the young Paul (Saul) – thinking that he could serve God by trying to stop the Jesus-believers. We read of him in Acts 7:58 as the one who accepted the stoning of Stephen, by watching over the garments of those who performed the stoning. Acts 8:1 present Paul as a man who supported this act of stoning, - and so we have the worst start and intro of a minister for Christ we possibly could imagine! Actually, reading Acts – we find that Paul scared the leaders in the Jerusalem assembly. And they were scared still, even after Paul had converted to Jesus Christ. They suspected him to be sneaking into the flock to spy out who he might arrest and send to execution.
Paul carried his remorse and regretful mind over his bad actions the rest of his life. As he wrote the epistle to the Ephesians, he called himself, the least of all the saints – as in Eph. 3:8.
I am sure, that Paul thought he was going to die, when he fell blinded to the ground, hearing the voice of the Lord, Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?
Acts 9:16 gives us a merciful Christ, Who did not threaten Paul telling him that from now on he would be suffering hardships and persecution, such as we find when reading Acts. Jesus was merciful to just inform Ananias, the disciple at Damascus, saying of Saul (Paul),
“For I will make clear to him how much he will be afflicted and must endure and suffer for My name’s sake.”
Paul is quoted by Luke often in Acts, so we can learn what Paul was teaching, and what he experienced. I shall not go through all of those details, since that would demand a book, not just an article. And, indeed, I have written a book already – and it is free of charge and in a Word format, called “Paul – the Only Apostle God Sent to us Gentiles”. Send me an email, and I will send the book to you. I really recommend it!
Acts 13:32, 33 and 39 is arch-typical on what was Paul’s message to the Jews and proselytes in the Acts period, the years previous to when he had his revelation of the Mystery, the new Grace Gospel,
“So now we are bringing you the good news (Gospel) that what God promised to our forefathers – this He has completely fulfilled for us, their children, by raising up Jesus, as it is written in the second psalm, You are My Son; today I have begotten you. -- And that through Him everyone who believes is absolved from every charge from which he could not be justified and freed by the Law of Moses and given right standing with God.”
This is for sure NOT our Grace Gospel, like we find in Eph. 1-3. This was God’s New Covenant offer to His own people, a new covenant given Israel’s house – ref. Hebr. 9:15. Based on the promise of a millennial kingdom which shall be ruled by God’s Messiah, Jesus. And in the whole time-span described in Acts (30 years, 32 – 62 A.D.) this was the only faith-doctrine presented.
The Grace Gospel as we know it from Paul, did not come before Acts was closed, and we come right over into Ephesians and Colossians.
I said above, that this comparison between the two great apostles is meant as a follow-up to the article-series on ‘The Great Commission’ (4 parts).
Particularly in Part 4 I make clear and pointing to Biblical proofs, not the least Biblical history, which shows that Paul actually had taught the entire Christianity during his later part of ministry, the new free Grace Gospel, same as we today have as faith-doctrinal basis. Again, it is all written down for us in the two epistles mentioned, and the sum of those makes up the real great commission to the church.
Not only had Paul already taught the entire Christianity, but he had done so long BEFORE ANY OF THE FOUR GOSPELS HAD BEEN ISSUED, as well as the Book of Acts.
Matthew was issued in 80 A.D. – fifty years after Pentecost in Acts 2, and Mark was issued in 82-83. Luke was either issued in 62 A.D. at the earliest, but probably not before 73 A.D. as several scholars believes. John is also under dispute. Some holds to around 98 A.D. for Revelation Book – and think that he lived to be 104 years of age. John’s Gospel was around same time as Revelation, perhaps 2-3 years earlier. Put shortly: Absolutely NONE of the Gospels were issued while Paul established Christianity in the Grace Gospel faith-doctrine!
The apostles never ever had the possibility to read anything from the four gospels, - they did not even exist in their time of ministries.
The Great Commission and other issues, were unknown to all except Peter and the eleven – but still we cannot find one trace in N.T. that Peter refers to that commission. They obviously took this order from Jesus as an order that only the twelve should and could carry out. And thus it was never passed on to other believers as if this should be going into the future generations to come!
Had anyone come up to Paul, after the time (62 A.D.) when he had the revelation of the Mystery explained to him, and the free international Grace Gospel, replacing the previous Kingdom-Gospel to Israel, - and pointed out to him with Matthew and Mark gospels in hand claiming validity of doctrine, validity of having miracles, signs and wonders and so forth, - then Paul would have stopped them in their tracks, telling them that we cannot keep offering a Kingdom to Israel anymore, for she is fallen away from God. The Law of Moses abolished. The ‘Wall of Partition’ between Gentiles and Jews torn down. None of the four gospels have any word of those important facts, simply because those writings are just Jewish history.
If anyone (and those are, unfortunately, many!) tries to ‘read those gospels into’ the faith-doctrine of Paul’s Ephesians/Colossians, he is really confused and does not understand the order of Scriptures at all.
The four gospels, Acts and Revelation are historical documents, the latter has history told in advance. All epistles in N.T. except for Ephesians/Colossians (and Philemon, but it has no faith-doctrine) are written to Israel and proselytes, based on New Covenant doctrine. They cannot be applied to the Church in our time. Only Paul’s final two epistles has the free international Grace Gospel doctrine. That was what he spent his final years on earth to teach and spread around. Decades before any of the four Gospels were entering the book market.
Stop using the four gospels as if they are faith-doctrine to the Church. They are not. They are nothing but historical writings, and that’s it. Same thing with Acts. History only, even if we can trace something out of a few references there, such as speeches held by Peter, John, Paul, Stephen, Philip and others.
We have to keep the faith-doctrine given to us by Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles.