Do You Appreciate Peter Properly as the Blessed Disciple That He Was?

April 21, 2014

Overall, my perspective over the years has been that many believers consistently emphasize negative aspects of Peter’s life at the expense of a number of key good things that Scripture reveals about him. To help change this unwarranted emphasis, this post presents four points about Peter that show that he was a uniquely blessed disciple of Jesus Christ.

God the Father Uniquely Favored Peter

In Caesarea, Peter made his famous confession of Jesus as the Christ (Matt 16:13-20). Jesus responded by declaring that the Father had uniquely favored him to enable him to do so:

Mat 16:16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.

 17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.

In spite of all Peter’s failings, the Father chose to bless Peter in a special way with glorious revelation about His Son!

Jesus Uniquely Favored Peter

Not only did the Father specially favor Peter on that occasion, but Jesus did so as well. Jesus promised that He would build His church upon the rock of Peter’s confession of Him as the Christ (Matt. 16:18). In addition, He gave to Peter the keys of the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 16:19)!

Certainly, Jesus knew Peter through and through, including how he would shortly thereafter be an offense to Jesus Himself (Matt. 16:22-23). In fact, even Jesus’ full knowledge of how Peter would yet fail Him grievously in the future (Matt. 26:34, 75; Luke 22:31) did not lead Him to withdraw the special calling that He had given to Peter.

The Holy Spirit Uniquely Highlights His Selection of Peter

While Peter was thinking about a miraculous vision that he had seen (Acts 10:17-19a), the Holy Spirit spoke directly to him:

Act 10:19 While Peter thought on the vision, the Spirit said unto him, Behold, three men seek thee.

 20 Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I [Gk. egw, emphatic personal pronoun] have sent them.

Remarkably, the Spirit emphatically asserted (using an emphatic personal pronoun) that He had sent the men who came to summon Peter to come speak words to Cornelius and his household by which they all would be saved (Acts 11:14).

This is the only evangelistic account in Scripture that the Spirit directly declares that He purposed that a specific disciple would be the one who would preach the gospel on a specific occasion.

The Book of Acts Uniquely Emphasizes the Gospel Ministry of Peter

The book of Acts recounts how the Church was born (Acts 1-2) and how the disciples proceeded to evangelize the world thereafter (Acts 3-28). Of the lengthy accounts of apostolic gospel ministry that the Spirit provides us with in Acts, the records of Peter’s ministry in Jerusalem (Acts 2) and in Caesarea (Acts 10:1-48; 11:1-18; 15:7-9) are the two that are highlighted both by their being the two longest accounts and by their being the two most important accounts.

Furthermore, the inspired record of the Jerusalem Council proceedings uniquely emphasizes the gospel ministry of Peter in a way that sets his ministry in Caesarea apart from all other evangelistic accounts. To understand this unique emphasis, we must closely consider the following facets of what transpired in Jerusalem at that time.

First, Paul and Barnabas went up to Jerusalem to the apostles and elders to resolve an all-important question—did the Gentiles have to be circumcised in order to be saved (Acts 15:1-2)? Although Paul and Barnabas did contribute heavily to the proceedings of the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15:4, 12), Scripture provides only a one-verse summary of their ministry to Gentiles (Acts 15:12) in reporting what they contributed to the actual proceedings of the Council.

By striking contrast, the Jerusalem Council report highlights Peter’s ministry in Caesarea by providing five verses concerning his ministry and its implications (Acts 15:7-11). Remarkably, Peter’s ministry on that occasion is the only specific evangelistic encounter mentioned in the entire record of the Jerusalem Council proceedings.

This comparison shows that the inspired record of the Jerusalem Council features an explicit emphasis on Petrine gospel ministry while only providing a summary statement about Pauline ministry to Gentiles!

Second, James authoritatively settled the issues at hand by again referring to God’s use of Peter in Caesarea and how what took place on that occasion was in fulfillment of the words of the prophets (Acts 15:13-21). In this way, we see that the Jerusalem Council account clearly presents a unique emphasis on Petrine gospel ministry.

Conclusion

The four points discussed above show that Peter was a disciple who was uniquely favored by the Father, Son, and the Spirit! Moreover, the inspired records in the book of Acts (of apostolic evangelism and of apostolic determinations concerning how Gentiles are saved) show that Peter was a uniquely important God-chosen minister of the gospel.

Based on the biblical data, we should take care not to emphasize negative aspects of the Scriptural record about the apostle Peter at the expense of much glorious revelation concerning how he was a uniquely blessed disciple of Christ. Let us appreciate Peter properly as the blessed disciple that he was!

Rajesh

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