The Confrontation of Paul & Peter
The Catholic and Orthodox Churches celebrate the martyrdom of Saints Peter and Paul on June 29th. Both apostles died for their faith in Jesus, yet these two men were very different.
The Fisherman & The Scholar
Peter, a fisherman, followed Jesus but out of fear he denied knowing him. Paul was a scholar with a dark past who threatened those who followed Christ. They regretted their actions and went on to help shape the early Church, Peter as the head and Paul through his missions and letters.
The Jews & The Gentiles
The early Christian community faced new challenges and needed strong leaders. Jews and Gentiles did not have the same lifestyle. Jesus had liberated believers from the restraints of Mosaic Law but strict Jewish converts were reluctant to accept the non-conformity of the Gentiles.
Faith in Jesus Saves Us
This was the situation when Paul wrote his letter to the Galatians. The Council of Jerusalem in 50 AD addressed the differences between the Jews and Gentiles. It was at this Council that Peter backed up Paul’s meaning of the gospel claiming that through faith in the power of Jesus all are saved (Act 15:8-12). The leaders of the Church were also determined: Peter would become the Apostle for the Jews, the circumcised, and Paul for the Gentiles, the uncircumcised.
When Paul wrote his Letter to the Galatians, certain differences continued to be an issue, primarily the question of clean, unclean and table fellowship. A short time later, Peter arrived in Antioch, and appeared to have returned to the customs of traditional Judaism and separated himself from the Gentiles. This angered Paul and he confronted Peter publically, to his face (Galatians 2:11-21). Paul is clear in his words to Peter “For through the law I died to the law that I might live for God” (2:19). Are we willing to die to our former beliefs so that we might live for God?