Did Peter preach Paul’s Gospel in Acts chapter 9?

DID PETER PREACH PAUL’S GOSPEL IN ACTS CHAPTER 9?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Not quite a year ago, someone first notified me of this odd teaching found in a “grace commentary.” A few individuals within the Grace Movement embrace the notion that (1) not only did Peter preach Paul’s Gospel, but (2) Peter preached Paul’s Gospel as early as Acts chapter 9—within the few years following Paul’s salvation. Is this so? Remember, friend, it does not matter what you say, I say, or any preacher says. We must look at the Bible for ourselves. “For what saith the Scriptures?”

THE TIMELINE OF SCRIPTURE

Galatians chapter 1 and Acts chapter 9 form the heart of the issue currently under discussion. We must therefore compare these two passages to establish a timeline. Both deal with Paul’s salvation and commission on the road to Damascus, and some of the immediate events in the few years following. (Please note that the Apostle Paul is also called Saul.)

Galatians 1:18-19 parallels Acts 9:26-29—notice them first. “[18] Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days. [19] But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord’s brother” (Galatians 1:18-19). “[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.”

The following two verses are also parallels. “Afterwards I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia;…” (Galatians 1:21). “Which when the brethren knew, they brought him down to Caesarea, and sent him forth to Tarsus” (Acts 9:30).

Having just looked at the pertinent Bible verses, here is what we know without doubt. Three years after Paul was saved on the road to Damascus in Syria (Acts 9:1-9), he visited Jerusalem and met with Apostles Peter and James (Acts 9:26-29; Galatians 1:18). Then, he went far north, into Syria and Cilicia (Acts 9:30; Galatians 1:21).

SPECULATIONS

It was here in Acts 9:26-29, allegedly, that Paul shared his Gospel (the Gospel of Grace) with Peter and James. Furthermore, supposedly, Peter and James (yea, all the Little Flock) began preaching the Gospel of Grace beginning in Acts chapter 9. Peter is actually said to be traveling and proclaiming Paul’s Gospel in Acts 9:32-43! Those living in Lydda and Saron “turned to the Lord” because Peter converted them (purportedly) using Paul’s Gospel. “Many believed in the Lord” because Peter supposedly proclaimed Paul’s Gospel in Joppa.

Dear friends, nothing could be further from the truth. No matter what any “grace teacher” or “grace preacher” says, Peter never preached Paul’s Gospel… and he certainly did not understand Paul’s Gospel in Acts chapter 9 to be preaching it there anyway. Someone is reading far too much into the Bible text, making the verses say something they do not say. Beware! These are nothing but the traditions of men parading as “grace teaching!”

CLARIFICATIONS

Now, someone may ask, “Brother Shawn, did not Paul travel to Jerusalem after his salvation?” Indeed! We just read it in the Scriptures (Acts 9:26-29; Galatians 1:18-19). They may inquire, “Brother Shawn, did not Paul visit with Peter and James in Jerusalem in Acts chapter 9?” Yes! The Bible says so (Acts 9:26-29; Galatians 1:18-19).

Here is a third question someone is bound to ask: “Did not Paul tell Peter and James about the Gospel of Grace in Acts chapter 9?” While not explicitly mentioned in any verses, I would say it is possible. Whenever believers in Christ gather, they inevitably have a conversation about the Word of God. In Acts chapter 9, Paul would have surely shared his testimony with Peter and James—about his face-to-face meeting with the resurrected and ascended Lord Jesus Christ, his salvation experience unto eternal life, his ministry amongst the Gentiles thus far, and so on. But, here is a point we must not miss. Whatever Peter and James heard from Paul in Acts chapter 9, they did not realize or understand Paul’s Gospel. How do we know?

In Acts chapter 15 (Galatians chapter 2), several years after Acts chapter 9, Paul and Barnabas traveled to Jerusalem to convene with Apostles James, Peter, and John. Luke wrote his account in the Book of Acts for Israel’s benefit whereas Paul wrote his version in the Book of Galatians for us the Church the Body of Christ. Friend, pay very close attention to verse 2 and verses 7-9.

Galatians chapter 2: “[1] Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also. [2] And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain. [3] But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised: [4] And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage: [5] To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.

“[6] But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man’s person: ) for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me: [7] But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter; [8] (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles: ) [9] And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.

If Peter had already known Paul’s Gospel in Acts chapter 9, and was already preaching it as early as Acts chapter 9, then why did Paul have to go at all to Jerusalem in Acts chapter 15 (Galatians chapter 2)? The language of Galatians is that James, Peter, and John first understood Paul’s Gospel at that time (and not prior—see “perceived,” or comprehended, in Galatians 2:9). Paul had no reason to visit them at all if they had already known the Gospel of Grace and had been proclaiming it in years previous! Yet, the Bible says that Paul—led by the Holy Spirit—was under the impression that the leaders of the Jerusalem Church and the Little Flock did not know his Gospel!

Galatians 2:2 again, Paul’s very words on the subject: “And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain.” Who would know more about what happened? Some alleged “grace teacher,” or Paul himself? Paul says it wasthat gospel” that he had preached. There is no need for such a restriction if Peter and the Little Flock are preaching that message as well. Paul is deliberately wording it to make his ministry separate and distinct from Peter’s! No matter how hard religionists resist, these verses are clear. Paul’s Gospel and Peter’s Gospel are not the same! They never preached each other’s Gospel message!

Moreover, as late as Acts chapter 15—please note this is long after (a decade-plus after) Acts chapter 9—Peter is still associated with preaching “the gospel of the circumcision” whereas Paul is still related to “the gospel of the uncircumcision.” Turn back to Galatians chapter 2, verse 7: “But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me [Paul], as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter;….” Which is the correct view? The Bible, or the speculations of men? Peter is not preaching Paul’s Gospel and Paul is not preaching Peter’s Gospel; they have always had separate Gospel messages. That is true in Acts chapter 15 (Galatians chapter 2) and thereby true of all chapters prior (including Acts chapter 9).

Paul’s Gospel involves salvation and blessing going to Gentiles (nations) through the fall of national Israel. Hence, it is called “the Gospel of the Uncircumcision” (“Uncircumcision” being Gentiles, non-Jews—see Ephesians 2:11-13). Romans 11:11-14 is Paul’s inspired comments on the subject: “[11] I say then, Have they [Israel] stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. [12] Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness? [13] For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: [14] If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them.”

If Peter knew Paul’s Gospel in Acts chapter 9, then he (Peter) would have been aware of Israel’s fall. He would have known that the middle wall of partition between Jew and Gentile was broken down (Ephesians 2:11-22). Yet, Peter, in Acts chapter 10, struggles with the idea of preaching to Gentiles (Cornelius et al.). Would not Peter be willing to preach Paul’s (Gentile) Gospel to Gentiles? Evidently, Peter was not preaching Paul’s Gospel anyway!

Turning to Acts chapter 10: “[12] Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. [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. [15] And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. [16] This was done thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven…. [28] And he [Peter] 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.”

Again, if Peter is preaching the Gospel of Grace (allegedly starting in chapter 9), then why he is so opposed to preaching to Gentiles in chapter 10?! Why is he still observing the dietary instructions of the Mosaic Law as evidenced in Acts 10:14 and trying to avoid Gentiles as in verse 28? Evidently, Peter was not preaching Paul’s Gospel… in Acts chapter 10. That means he could not have been preaching it in Acts chapter 9 either!! Galatians chapter 2 affirms Peter did not preach Paul’s Gospel—ever. They intentionally kept their ministries separate, both their audiences and their Gospel messages. If you must, read and re-read Galatians 2:1-10 until it soaks into your mind and heart.

CONCLUSION

A very few individuals in the Grace Movement claim that Peter not only learned of Paul’s Gospel directly from Paul in Acts chapter 9, but that Peter in fact preached Paul’s Gospel in Acts chapter 9. There are several problems with such teachings. It is important to listen to and believe Bible verses rather than go by preachers and commentaries—especially so-calledgrace” leaders and allegedgrace” commentaries!!

While Paul visited Peter and James in Jerusalem just a few years after his salvation (three years), neither Peter nor James understood Paul’s Gospel. Acts chapter 10 makes that very clear. Paul probably did share the Gospel of Grace with them, but they neither needed it for their salvation nor for their audience’s salvation. The 12 Apostles (leading the Little Flock) were expected to stay with their ministry and message, the Gospel of the Kingdom, the Gospel of the Circumcision, before dying off. See Galatians 2:9: “And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.”

It is important that we distance ourselves from any brethren (even if they claim to be “grace”-oriented) when they begin blurring or breaking down the distinctions between Peter and Paul, prophecy and mystery, Israel and the Body of Christ, Law and Grace. When we say Peter preached Paul’s Gospel, further doctrinal departures will result. The Bible becomes contradicted even further. Eventually, we could say that the Little Flock became part of the Body of Christ. Then, we get into Covenant Theology or Replacement Theology—the idea that the Body of Christ replaced Israel. We begin compromising with religious tradition more and more. We exalt and insert opinions when we should read and believe the Bible.

If the legalistic Little Flock became members of the Body of Christ, then would the Little Flock be under Grace or Law? Would that mean we the Body of Christ are under Grace or Law? Would that mean Peter and the 11 are our apostles too? Will they rule in the heavenly places with us, or will they be on Earth? (A split Body of Christ—serving in Heaven and on Earth?!) Are we members of the Body of Christ recipients of the Abrahamic Covenant? (After all, the Abrahamic Covenant belongs to Little Flock. If the Little Flock joined the Body of Christ, would not all the Body of Christ inherit the Abrahamic Covenant? Or, would only some of the Body of Christ be heirs?) If Peter and Paul preached the same message, then why do these two men acknowledge they have been going to different audiences and will keep going to different audiences?

Galatians 2:7-9 once again: “[7] But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter; [8] (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles: ) [9] And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.”

Dear brethren, how dangerous and confusing the Bible becomes when we undermine and/or ignore the dispensational distinctions therein! Beware of the traditions of men parading as “grace” teaching!! Let God be true, but every man a liar.

Also see:
» Can you compare and contrast the ministries of Peter and Paul?
» Who are the people in 2 Corinthians 11:22—the 12 Apostles, or others?
» What is “Acts 9/28 Hybrid Theology?”

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