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Peter, Part 2: A Pillar In The Church

INTRODUCTION: This second part of the study on Simon Peter is again only a synopsis of major points, and the selected passages are grouped generally by chapters from Acts, demonstrating how Peter responded to being "sent" by the Lord Jesus Christ. Peter is the most prominent leader in the Jerusalem church with chiefly believers who were Jews or proselyte Jews, but the Holy Spirit uses Peter to confirm extension of the gospel directly to Samaritans and to gentiles outside the territory of Jerusalem and Judaea. Saul of Tarsus, or Paul, enters the narrative in chapter 8; and after Paul's conversion the narrative includes Peter only into chapter 15. The balance of Acts focuses on Paul, who did not become an apostle until after Christ's resurrection, when the Lord confronted him.

All Bible text is taken from the 1769 KJV bible.

Acts chapter 1, 1769 KJV

Acts 1:13 And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James.

Acts 1:15 And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty,) 16 Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus.

Acts 1:21 Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection. 26 And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

COMMENTS: The eleven apostles (minus Judas Iscariot the betrayer who had hanged himself) are individually named in the text as they met in the upper room. And in those days, Peter took the lead in the group and used a scriptural reference to start the process of selection of Matthias to become the twelfth apostle in the place of Judas. Verse 15 indicates that the disciples were numbered as 120 names at the time of the selection of Mathias, not a large group. Verses 21 through 25 define the requirement that the candidate must be one who had been with the disciples from the baptism of Jesus by John until Jesus was taken up, so this new appointee would be a first-hand witness of all that Jesus had begun to do and teach.

Acts chapter 2, 1769 KJV.

Acts 2:4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. 5 And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. 6 Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.

Acts 2:14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words:

Acts 2:37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? 38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Acts 2:41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added to them about three thousand souls. 42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

COMMENTS: The crucifixion and resurrection was followed by approximately forty days that the resurrected Christ appeared at various times, and the next events followed soon after that because Christ was the Passover lamb, and Pentecost was fifty days after Passover. On the day of Pentecost all the apostles were filled with the holy Spirit and they began to speak in many languages as the Spirit gave them speaking ability. When the diverse crowd of people heard the message spoken clearly in each of their own languages they were greatly puzzled because the men speaking were from Galilee. In verse 14 Peter begins with the prophet Joel to explain this unusual event of the apostles' ability to speak in multiple languages, then quotes from the Psalms to explain that Jesus is the king to sit on David's throne, who was to come through resurrection (which resurrection the apostles had witnessed), and then declares that Jesus is now exalted by God as Lord and Christ (Messiah). Peter's message touched the hearts of these devout Jewish travelers in Jerusalem from many regions, and they asked Peter and the other apostles what they should do in response. Peter gives his answer in verse 38 above. At that time about three thousand were added to the church and they were taught by the apostles.

Acts chapter 3, 1769 KJV

Acts 3:1 Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour. 2 And a certain man lame from his mother's womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple; 3 Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an alms. 4 And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us. 5 And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them. 6 Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.

Acts 3:11 And as the lame man which was healed held Peter and John, all the people ran together unto them in the porch that is called Solomon's, greatly wondering. 12 And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk? 13 The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go. 14 But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; 15 And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses. 16 And his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all. 17 And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers. 18 But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled. 19 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; 20 And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: 21 Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.

COMMENTS: Peter and John were together in this passage that details the miraculous healing of a lame man at the temple in Jerusalem. Peter did not credit himself for this healing, but instead used the undeniable miracle as a tool to expound about Jesus, the resurrected Christ. Peter called for his audience to repent and be converted so their sins can be blotted out when the times of "refreshing" come. It was important that the audience understand the need that each one had to be forgiven of their sin. He also told them that Jesus is presently in heaven, but will return in the times of "restitution" as spoken by the holy prophets, and this points to the reward for those converted.

Acts chapter 4, 1769 KJV

Acts 4:1 And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them, 2 Being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead.

Acts 4:8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel, 9 If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole; 10 Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. 11 This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. 12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. 13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.

Acts 4:18 And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. 20 For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.

Acts 4:23 And being let go, they went to their own company, and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them.

Acts 4:29 And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant to your servants, that with all boldness they may speak your word, 30 By stretching forth your hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of your holy child Jesus. 31 And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.

COMMENTS: Because the priests and Sadducees were disturbed that Peter and John were preaching about Jesus and the resurrection, they apprehended them for questioning. It should be noted that the sect of the Sadducees did not believe in resurrection, unlike the sect of the Pharisees. Peter, being filled with the Holy Spirit, delivered quite an impressive brief discourse. Then the text states that the interrogators realized these were not highly educated men, but they took note that they had been with Jesus. This would be startling because the speech seemed to be of those tutored by a master teacher, but these religious leaders had rejected their teacher Jesus, claiming that he blasphemed God . So, after some conferencing, they commanded Peter and John that they not teach or even speak in the name of Jesus. Peter continued his boldness by stating that the leaders should judge whether it is more important for the apostles to obey (harken to) them, or to obey God. Since the healing of the man was so astonishing, the leaders decided to let Peter and John go free. After Peter and John reported to the other disciples, they gave praise to the Lord, and prayed for continued power to heal and do other signs in the name of Jesus. Then the place where they were assembled was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and preached the word of God with boldness.

Acts chapter 5, 1769 KJV

Acts 5:3 But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?

Acts 5:8 And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much. 9 Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out. 10 Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband. 11 And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things.

Acts 5:16 There came also a multitude out of the cities round about unto Jerusalem, bringing sick folks, and them which were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed every one. 17 Then the high priest rose up, and all they that were with him, (which is the sect of the Sadducees,) and were filled with indignation, 18 And laid their hands on the apostles, and put them in the common prison. 19 But the angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors, and brought them forth, and said, 20 Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life.

Acts 5:27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them, 28 Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man's blood upon us. 29 Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men. 30 The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. 31 Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. 32 And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him.

Acts 5:40 And to him {Gamaliel} they agreed: and when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. 41 And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name. 42 And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.

COMMENTS: In the first eleven verses of chapter 5, a husband and wife fell dead at the feet of Peter when he confronted them with their deception, which Peter labeled as more serious than lying to men, because it was a direct affront to the Holy Spirit. This event brought great fear upon the church and all others who heard about it. In verses 16 through 20, word spread and people came from surrounding areas and were healed of various illnesses. The reaction by the priests to this growing activity was to arrest the apostles and place them in prison, but the angel of the Lord released them and sent them back to the temple to preach. The ruling council had them apprehended again and reminded the apostles they had been commanded not to teach in the name of Jesus. Peter and the other apostles say that they must obey God rather then man (Which Peter had essentially said earlier before to the council). As they addressed the council, they spoke of Jesus in the fulfillment of scripture, and said they must tell of things they had witnessed. They also spoke of the Holy Spirit given to those who obey God. Gamaliel advised the council to consider carefully before taking measures too drastic for the situation. So the apostles were flogged, ordered again not to preach Jesus, and were released. Verse 42 above tells us that the apostles still believed it is better to obey God than man because they did not cease to teach and preach Jesus Christ.

[NOTE: chapters 6 and 7 are omitted due to content exclusive of Peter.].

Acts chapter 8, 1769 KJV

Acts 8:1 And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles. 2 And devout men carried Stephen to his burial, and made great lamentation over him. 3 As for Saul, he made havock of the church, entering into every house, and haling men and women committed them to prison. 4 Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word. 5 Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them. 6 And the people with one accord gave heed unto those things which Philip spake, hearing and seeing the miracles which he did.

Acts 8:14 Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: 15 Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: 16 (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) 17 Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.

COMMENTS: Chapters six and seven describe the selection of seven other men to supplement the work of the apostles, then two of those seven are given very special coverage in the scripture. Chapter eight then opens with a comment about Saul (Paul) after Stephen was killed by stoning. A great persecution broke out against the church at Jerusalem, and the apostles remained in Jerusalem, but many saints were scattered throughout Judaea and Samaria. Those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word. Philip, who was not one of the twelve apostles, had a very effective ministry among the people in Samaria. When the apostles at Jerusalem heard about the spread of the word in Samaria, they sent Peter and John there, and certain of those people received the Holy Spirit at that time, thus confirming the authenticity of their conversion. This spread of the gospel was now expanding beyond Jerusalem and Judaea as Jesus had said would happen. Acts 1:8 "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth."

Acts chapter 9, 1769 KJV

Acts 9:26 And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took him, and brought [him] to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. 28 And he was with them coming in and going out at Jerusalem. 29 And he spake boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus, and disputed against the Grecians: but they went about to slay him. 30 Which when the brethren knew, they brought him down to Caesarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus.

Acts 9:31 Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied. 32 And it came to pass, as Peter passed throughout all quarters, he came down also to the saints which dwelt at Lydda. 33 And there he found a certain man named Aeneas, which had kept his bed eight years, and was sick of the palsy. 34 And Peter said unto him, Aeneas, Jesus Christ maketh thee whole: arise, and make thy bed. And he arose immediately.

Acts 9:38 And forasmuch as Lydda was nigh to Joppa, and the disciples had heard that Peter was there, they sent unto him two men, desiring him that he would not delay to come to them. 39 Then Peter arose and went with them. When he was come, they brought him into the upper chamber: and all the widows stood by him weeping, and shewing the coats and garments which Dorcas made, while she was with them. 40 But Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed; and turning him to the body said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes: and when she saw Peter, she sat up. 41 And he gave her his hand, and lifted her up, and when he had called the saints and widows, presented her alive. 42 And it was known throughout all Joppa; and many believed in the Lord.

COMMENTS: The end of chapter 8 and the beginning of chapter 9 cover events with Philip the evangelist, and with the conversion of Saul (Paul). Barnabas had to bring Paul to the apostles because they did not believe his conversion and they were afraid of him. After a time though, Paul was accepted by the apostles and moved among them. Paul spoke boldly about the Lord apparently beginning to reach other than just the Jews, because the text tells us that the Grecians became so opposed that they planned to kill him. But the brethren got Paul away from Jerusalem to the port city of Caesarea, and sent him from there to Tarsus. With one of the major persecutors of the church now converted, but also removed from the region where so much uproar surrounded him, the church in Judaea, Galilee, and Samaria flourished during a time of calm. As Peter "passed throughout all quarters", in the western part of Israel in the name of Jesus he healed a man who had palsy for many years. Messengers from nearby Joppa urgently ask him to come because Dorcas had died. The Holy Spirit then used Peter to even bring someone back from death. As this became known throughout all Joppa, according to the scripture many believed in the Lord. Once again a miracle worked through Peter, brought glory to Jesus and brought conversion of souls.

Acts chapter 10, 1769 KJV

Acts 10:1 There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of the band called the Italian [band], ... 5 And now send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter:

Acts 10:7 And when the angel which spake unto Cornelius was departed, he called two of his household servants, and a devout soldier of them that waited on him continually; 8 And when he had declared all [these] things unto them, he sent them to Joppa. 9 On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour:

Acts 10:13 And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat. 14 But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean.

Acts 10:17 Now while Peter doubted in himself what this vision which he had seen should mean, behold, the men which were sent from Cornelius had made enquiry for Simon's house, and stood before the gate, 18 And called, and asked whether Simon, which was surnamed Peter, were lodged there. 19 While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men seek thee.

Acts 10:23 Then called he them in, and lodged them. And on the morrow Peter went away with them, and certain brethren from Joppa accompanied him. 24 And the morrow after they entered into Caesarea. And Cornelius waited for them, and he had called together his kinsmen and near friends. 25 And as Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him, and fell down at his feet, and worshipped him. 26 But Peter took him up, saying, Stand up; I myself also am a man.

Acts 10:34 Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: 35 But in every nation he that fears him, and works righteousness, is accepted with him.

Acts 10:42 And he commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is he which was ordained of God to be the Judge of quick and dead. 43 To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whoever believes in him shall receive remission of sins. 44 While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. 45 And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. 46 For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, 47 Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?

COMMENTS: Cornelius, a gentile, saw a vision from God and sent to Joppa for Peter. Meanwhile, Peter received a sign in a vision from heaven 3 times, and then was directed by the Lord to take the gospel message as requested by some gentiles at Caesarea. Peter and a small group of circumcised believers from Joppa witness the Holy Spirit coming upon gentiles with a visible and audible manifestation for confirmation to them as Jewish witnesses. In Acts 8, the gospel had been confirmed in Samaria, which was important because the Jews and Samaritans (Jews who were intermarried with gentiles) had very strong dislike for one another. Now, Peter the apostle has been used of God to confirm acceptance also of the gentiles into the body of Christ. It should be noted also in verses 25 and 26 that Peter made it very clear that he was only a man, and thus should not be worshipped for even miraculous things he did, because all glory must go only to the Lord.

Acts chapter 11, 1769 KJV

Acts 11:1 And the apostles and brethren that were in Judaea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God. 2 And when Peter was come up to Jerusalem, they that were of the circumcision contended with him, 3 Saying, Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them. 4 But Peter rehearsed the matter from the beginning, and expounded it by order unto them, saying, ... 11:15 And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning. 16 Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost. 17 Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God? 18 When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.

COMMENTS: Upon his return to Jerusalem, Peter defended his involvement with gentiles who had become Christians by receiving the Holy Spirit as witnessed by circumcised believers and himself. Peter recounted his vision from heaven omitted from the above quotation), and the following events at Caesarea. As this was accepted by the Jewish saints, they glorified God that he had granted to the gentiles repentance to life. This "life" is the gift that God gives eternally to all who are saved by grace through faith. The remainder of chapter 11 describes activities of scattered Jewish saints, and brings Saul back into the story as he and Barnabas bring relief from other churches to Judaea because of hard times in that land.

Acts chapter 12, 1769 KJV.

Acts 12:1 Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church. 2 And he killed James the brother of John with the sword. 3 And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. (Then were the days of unleavened bread.)

Acts 12:5 Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him. 6 And when Herod would have brought him forth, the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison. 7 And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands.

Acts 12:11 And when Peter was come to himself, he said, Now I know of a surety, that the Lord hath sent his angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews.

Acts 12:16 But Peter continued knocking: and when they had opened the door, and saw him, they were astonished. 17 But he, beckoning unto them with the hand to hold their peace, declared unto them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, Go shew these things unto James, and to the brethren. And he departed, and went into another place. 18 Now as soon as it was day, there was no small stir among the soldiers, what was become of Peter. 19 And when Herod had sought for him, and found him not, he examined the keepers, and commanded that they should be put to death. And he went down from Judaea to Caesarea, and there abode.

Acts 12:21 And on a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat on his throne, and made an oration to them. 22 And the people gave a shout, saying, It is the voice of a god, and not of a man. 23 And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost. 24 But the word of God grew and multiplied.

COMMENTS: After the apostle James, the brother of John, had been killed by Herod, Peter was arrested to become the next to be executed, partly to please the Jews. But the Lord miraculously released Peter from prison and he reported to the brethren that he was free. After that Peter left to go to another place. Later, Herod was struck dead by the angel of the Lord at Caesarea as he accepted acclaim as a god (see verses 22 and 23 above). So this murderous ruler Herod was removed as a threat to the church, and Peter went to another place which is not disclosed in the scripture. But the word of the Lord grew and multiplied! Peter is not mentioned in the next two chapters of Acts, so those chapters are not individually covered herein. Saul (or Paul) and Barnabas returned to Antioch, and Acts chapters 13 and 14 detail their travel to establish churches in other regions, and their eventual return to Antioch to make report, after which they remained there for some time.

Acts chapter 15, 1769 KJV

Acts 15:1 And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. 2 When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question.

Acts 15:7 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. 8 And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; 9 And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. 10 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? 11 But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they. 12 Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had worked among the Gentiles by them.

COMMENTS: Certain men came to Antioch from Judaea and taught that it was necessary to be circumcised after the manner of Moses to be saved. Paul (a Pharisee) and Barnabas ( a Levite), had very strong dispute and dissention with these men over this matter. As a result, the church sent Paul, Barnabas, and others to the apostles and elders at Jerusalem to have the question settled. This is an indication of the authority and respect attributed to the apostles and elders who remained at Jerusalem. Having not heard about Peter since his brush with death at the hands of Herod, we find that he is still in Jerusalem probably decades now after the resurrection of Christ. Peter finally stood up during the continuing contentious debate. He once again described how he had been used to carry the gospel to gentiles who believed, and how God had given them witness of the conversion of the gentiles by the gift of the Holy Spirit. Peter continued by saying that God put no difference between gentile and Jew, because he purified their hearts by faith. He also said, we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they. After this, we hear no more about Peter through the remainder of the book of Acts. The apostles agreed that gentiles do not need circumcision to be saved, and a letter was sent back with Paul and Barnabas to Antioch to confirm the judgment of the apostles and elders in this matter so important to bringing Jews and gentiles together.

--- Reflections in prayer ---

Lord, I praise you for the ability you gave the apostles to establish a foundation for your church in Jerusalem,. This is the city of David, the place you chose for your temple, and the very city where you were rejected by the Jewish religious leaders. But then you became the sacrificial lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world. In the power of the Holy Spirit, Peter became a leader among the apostles, using scripture as the foundation for his decisions, and directing praise to you and not to himself. May I follow this example, using scripture as the basis for my decision processing, and directing all praise to Christ Jesus. Thank you Lord for building your church on the foundation of the prophets and apostles, and for opening the way for gentiles such as I, to partake of the inheritance in your kingdom. Use me Lord to continue spreading the Word of life, and to encourage others in the kingdom to do likewise. As the zeal of Peter was harnessed and directed by your Holy Spirit to fulfill your will, may I also be completely surrendered to your will and purpose for my life. Thank you Lord that I know in those times when I fall short in my love for others whom you have not rejected, you will be gracious to correct me as you did with Peter when he found it difficult to completely accept the gentiles as part of your church. May many more be brought to repentance for conversion and the removal of sin, in preparation for the time of refreshing when Jesus will return from heaven for the restitution as spoken by the prophets. I rejoice Lord that I will be part of that restitution, and only because of your mercy and grace! Amen.

Published 7 September 2005