The book of Acts records at length the gospel ministries of key leaders in the early church (Peter [Acts 2, 10]; Philip [Acts 8]; Paul [Acts 13, 17]). A close examination of Acts 8 and 10 reveals a vital truth that is sometimes overlooked concerning the gospel message that both Philip and Peter preached.
Luke informs us that Philip’s gospel ministry of preaching Christ (8:5) in Samaria resulted in both men and women who “believed [his] preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ” and were baptized (8:12). This key statement reveals that he did not just preach the name of Jesus Christ; he also preached about the things concerning the kingdom of God. Philip thus preached a gospel message that comprised two key aspects and not just one.
In contrast with this statement about Philip, Luke’s record of Peter’s ministry in Caesarea does not provide us with such a single statement that concisely sums up the gospel message that Peter preached. We, therefore, must carefully examine the contents of Peter’s entire message (10:34-43) to determine whether he preached the same two key aspects of the gospel message that Philip did.
Explicit mention of Jesus Christ (10:36) and His name (10:43) shows that Peter did preach “the name of Jesus Christ” just as Philip did (8:12). But, did Peter also preach “the things concerning the kingdom of God” (8:12)?
Before testifying about the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ (10:39-41), Peter declared, “How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with Him” (10:38). He thus preached that Jesus was the God-empowered Anointed One who by the Spirit of God was delivering all who were in bondage to the devil. The very close correlation of this statement with similar teaching by Jesus Himself (“But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you”; Matt. 12:28) shows that Peter in effect declared to his hearers in Caesarea that the kingdom of God had come upon all the Satanically oppressed people whom Jesus had healed.
Moreover, after testifying to the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ (10:39-41), Peter declared, “And He commanded us to preach unto the people, and to testify that it is He which was ordained of God to be the Judge of the living and the dead” (10:42). This declaration announcing the One whom God has appointed to be the supreme judicial authority over all people, living and dead, made known the One whom God has exalted to be His King over all–the King (cf. Matt. 25:34, 40) who will one day decide both who will “inherit the kingdom” (cf. Matt. 7:21; 25:34) and who will “go away into everlasting punishment” (cf. Matt. 7:22-23; 25:46).
Peter therefore preached the very same gospel as Philip did! Because the inspired record of the Jerusalem Council teaches us that we should give special attention to Peter’s gospel ministry in Caesarea (see the previous post), this comparison of Acts 8 and 10 teaches us that we must preach the same gospel about both the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ that both Philip and Peter preached!