What is the difference between Peter’s gospel and Paul’s gospel?
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We are getting close to a portion of Scripture that I think has been totally confused by almost all groups, and we’re just going to take it for what it says. We’re not going to spiritualize it, or allegorize, it we are going leave it right where it is. Verse 36:
“Therefore (because of all that has just taken place. Israel has had The Messiah for three years, performing signs and miracles, they crucified Him, God raised Him from the dead, and sent the Holy Spirit, and everything is falling into place) let all the house of Israel…”
Now you can’t put us Gentiles in this verse, unless you force it. Peter is speaking to Jews on Covenant grounds. It’s the fulfilling of the Covenant which God made with Abraham. Let’s pause for a moment and go to Chapter 3, so you’ll know what I’m talking about. And again Peter is preaching to a Jew-only crowd.
“Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days.” What days? Everything that has just taken place. According to Peter, the Crucifixion, Resurrection, ascension and coming of the Holy Spirit was prophesied. Look at verse 25:
“Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant (only the Nation of Israel. All prophecy is directed to the Nation of Israel, they are the ones that will be at the core of these prophetic events. Even the horrible events in Revelation will be directed primarily at the Jew. But the whole world will also reap the fallout from these events. Jeremiah 30 tells us it’s the time of Jacob’s trouble) which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, ‘And in thy seed (through the Nation of Israel) shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed.’”
So Peter is on Covenant ground. He’s still on the basis that everything that has been since Abraham, that is: the Nation of Israel was to receive the Redeemer, The Messiah, The King and the Kingdom, and it would be through Israel that God would gather the Gentiles. I never like to leave people with the idea that God had cast off the Gentiles. Oh, not at all. But He was going to use the Nation of Israel on Covenant grounds to bring them to Salvation. Even right here God has never said a word to anybody that He’s setting the Covenant promises aside for awhile. He hasn’t told anybody yet that they don’t have to keep Temple worship, or keep the Law. He hasn’t told people they must believe in His death, burial and Resurrection for their Salvation. Not a word about that as of yet. You can’t find it here. And that is what I try to tell people to understand. Don’t take my word for it. Search the Scriptures, but be sure you understand that the Scripture is putting Salvation on His death, burial, and Resurrection. Remember, there is never any reason to force anything into Scripture. Just leave them where they are. You can’t put a square peg in a round hole without doing a lot of damage. So here Peter is still on Covenant ground. Back to Acts 2:36:
“Therefore let all the house of Israel (He’s talking to Jew only) know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.”
Now we have to compare Scripture with Scripture. Come to the Book of Galatians, and just look at the difference in the language. We just saw Peter accusing the Nation of Israel of killing their Messiah, and now look what Paul tells us here in the Church Age.
“Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, Who gave himself for our sins,…”
And that’s Paul’s theme all through his writings. It’s as different as day from night with Peter’s message. Peter’s sermon just doesn’t fit Paul’s doctrine at all. And it wasn’t supposed to. God hadn’t revealed Paul’s message yet. It’s still a secret kept in the mind of God. Now back to Acts verse 37:
“Now when they heard this (heard what? That they were guilty of crucifying their Messiah. And remember, Peter isn’t just talking to 40 or 50 people. He’s got thousands out in front of him listening out there in that Temple complex. This is the feast of Pentecost and they have come from everywhere as we seen in verses 9-11) they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, ‘Men and brethren what shall (what’s the pronoun?) we do?’”
Remember Peter is addressing this great crowd of Jews on Covenant ground. He has accused them of killing their Messiah, and now they are so convicted that I suppose in one way or another word gets up to Peter as he is speaking. And they say, “Well, Peter, what in the world are we (and remember that pronoun) supposed to do?” Now that is the question coming from the Nation of Israel.
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Let’s pick up again in the Book of Acts and for a short review we will start at Chapter 2 verse 36. Remember this is a Jewish feast day that is being celebrated. Jews from the then-known world have come to celebrate the feast of Pentecost. This is one of the seven feasts listed in Leviticus 23. Now it’s on this day of Pentecost that this huge crowd of Jews are out there in the Temple area and Peter, through the power of the Holy Spirit, is addressing this great gathering. And regardless what nations these Jews have come from, they are hearing it in their own language. And this is the miracle of it all. Peter is speaking to Jew only (with an occasional proselyte). There is no Gentile ground here. God doesn’t put Gentiles in this group and neither should we. It’s a Jewish feast day, a Jewish crowd, a Jewish speaker, and a Jewish message. And now verse 36:
“Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly (this is all twelve tribes that are represented here, and God knows who they are), that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.” Peter is accusing these Jews of killing Christ their Messiah. “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?” And before we look at Peter’s answer, I want to take you back to Acts Chapter 16.
In Chapter 16, Paul has begun his missionary journey throughout western Turkey. Earlier in this chapter the Holy Spirit directed him over into Greece. One of the first cities he approached there was Philippi. And that is where he met Lydia, who was the first European convert. After the conversion of Lydia, he is arrested and beaten along with Silas, and cast into the lower dungeon of the jail, as in verse 25. The setting is completely different than in Acts 2. This is all Gentile ground, a Gentile prison, a Gentile jailer, This Gentile jailer may have witnessed Paul and Silas preaching, and saw their arrest and beating. Now he was given charge over these two men along with the rest of the prisoners.
“And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God; and the prisoners heard them.”
“And suddenly there was a great earthquake (we still haven’t left the economy of signs and miracles, and wonders. These will pass off the scene in Paul’s ministry at a little later time. But at this time we have a miraculous earthquake with a distinct purpose), so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed.”
“And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled.” The Roman authority would have killed him if prisoners had escaped.
“But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, ‘Do thyself no harm: for we are all here.’” Although they could have fled they didn’t, because this is a Sovereign God at work.
“Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas,”
Why did this pagan Gentile jailer pick Paul and Silas out of all his prisoners? Somehow, God let him know that here was the answer to his dilemma. He’s got all these prisoners loose, ready to flee, but they are staying there. God lets that jailer know the answer to his problem, but it’s going to be a lot more than a bunch of prisoners, it’s going to be the man’s own soul.
“And brought them (Paul and Silas) out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” Now look at the comparison.
Peter, preaching in Acts Chapter 2, is dealing with the Covenant Nation of Israel. And they say in verse 37, “What must we do?” But God doesn’t deal with Gentiles on Covenant ground. He deals with us as individuals. Every individual has to ask that same question. “What must I do…?” Let’s compare the answers each were given. In Acts Chapter 2, it is very clear, anyone can understand it. I’m leaving every word the way it’s in your Bible and mine. I’m not changing a thing. Israel says, “What must we do?” Look at Peter’s answer.
“Then Peter said unto them, ‘Repent, and be baptized (the next two words are crucial) 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,’”
Everyone of them would have to be converted and accept Christ as their Messiah for God to pick up where He had left off. He would have sent back The King and set up the Kingdom. Peter also tells them this in Acts 3:26. Look at the message. Peter says, “Repent and be baptized.” Who began that message? John the Baptist. John was the herald of The King, and his message was, “Repent and be baptized.” That was for the Nation of Israel. Now compare this with Paul’s answer to the Gentile in Acts Chapter 16. Paul is not talking to the Nation of Israel, he’s talking to a Gentile. And when this Gentile asks what he must do to be saved, what does Paul tell him?
“And they (Paul and Silas) said, ‘Believe on The Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.’”
Does it say Repent and be baptized? No, and if that was the criteria it would have been in here. That was the Jewish program, and by this time it has fallen through the cracks because Israel is rejecting it again. God has now turned to the Gentiles through the Apostle Paul, without Israel. So the jailer said, “What must I do?” The answer is simple: “Only Believe on The Lord Jesus Christ.” Now when you know the rest of Paul’s message, he only had one Gospel to believe: “That Christ died for your sins, was buried and rose from the dead.” You can find that message in many places in Paul’s letters, for example I Corinthians 15:1-4. Believe the Gospel. And it’s no different for Gentiles today, and the Jew as well. That is the criteria tonight. We have to believe the Gospel and nothing else. You search Paul’s letters from Romans through Hebrews (and Hebrews is more Jewish than the rest and there is a reason for that), and show me one place where Paul teaches repentance and baptism for Salvation. You won’t find it. Paul doesn’t teach it. Paul’s message is a different economy and you can’t mix them. A lot of people try to. Our Lord didn’t mix them and neither should we. The verses in Galatians 2:7-9 exist because they were two different messages. That’s why Peter says Paul’s message of Salvation is hard for him to understand in II Peter 3:15-16. To the Jew it was repent and be baptized. To the Gentile it is believe the Gospel. See how simple that is. Now let’s come back to Acts 2 and make another tremendous comparison. Read verse 38 again:
“Then Peter said unto them, ‘Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins,…’” The whole Nation of Israel had to repent and be baptized.
Winning the whole world has never been implied with Paul. In Acts 15, when even James had to agree that God is using Paul to go to the Gentiles, what was the expression that James used? Calling out a people for His name. That doesn’t imply 99 or 100%. Christianity has always been just a small percentage. But we should always be ready to share the Gospel that Paul presents to everyone we come in contact with when the opportunity presents itself. I get a kick out of the Gallop polls, the last one I saw was 60% of Americans were professing Christians. That’s a joke because 60% of the Bible belt aren’t Bible believing Christians, let alone other vast areas of our country. But it’s always been that very small percentage, and it hasn’t changed that much. Another comparison here in verse 38:
“…and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost,”
I’ve had questions asked of me about this for many years, and let me ask you a question. What was the prerequisite in this verse for receiving the Holy Spirit? Repentance and baptism. That is the first part of the verse. Look at it again:
“…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 Spirit.”
Is there any mention of the death, burial, and Resurrection? Any mention of the shed blood for atonement? Not a word. But only the name. When you talk about the name of someone, what does that imply? Who he is. If I say the name of one of our Presidents, what do you associate that with? The White House. You speak the name and immediately it’s the position that you’re tied to. So, Peter doesn’t mention death, burial, and Resurrection. But what were they to put their faith in? Who Jesus was. He was The Christ their Messiah, and they had killed Him. But God had raised Him from the dead. They were to repent and be baptized for the remission of sins and then they would receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. In Acts Chapter 10, we have Peter at the house of Cornelius, a Gentile. This is seven years after the Cross. Not a Gentile has been saved. Back in Acts 2, the Jews had to repent and be baptized, then they could receive the Holy Spirit. Now look at what it says here:
“While Peter yet spake (he hadn’t come to the end of his message) these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. “
And we know they all believed. Have they been baptized yet? No, these are Gentiles who haven’t heard anything of the Law. But the moment they believed Peter’s message the Holy Spirit came down, and the amazing thing is God had to prove to Peter and these six other Jews that God was doing something totally new, and that was saving Gentiles! Not on the basis of repentance and baptism, but the moment they heard the word and believed. Peter is still tied to that Jewish economy, so when he sees what is happening he commands these Gentile believers to be baptized after the fact instead of before as we saw in Acts 2:38:
“Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have (past tense) received the Holy Ghost as well as we?”
This isn’t a contradiction, this is not Chapter 10 contradicting Chapter 2, but rather a change of events. Ten is Gentile and Two is still Jew. Acts is a transitional book, so always be aware that what was good for the Jew under that Jewish economy seems like a contradiction, but it’s not, it’s only God changing the program. The moment we believe for our Salvation the Gospel of Grace, that Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, the Holy Spirit baptizes us and we are saved. Don’t put the message that Peter preached and the message that Paul preached in a blender and mix it all up and expect to understand it. That will give you heartburn, and you will never be able to see what you should clearly believe for your Salvation. But if you will realize that God is changing the program when He goes to the Gentiles, and leave the Scriptures right where they are, I believe the Scriptures will be opened to you. So many people come into my classes and almost immediately have their eyes opened. I don’t do that, the Holy Spirit does that when you search the Scriptures.
Editor’s Note: Peter’s gospel, called the gospel of the kingdom or the gospel of the circumcision, was preached to the nation of Israel under the law of Moses. Paul’s gospel, called the gospel of grace or the gospel of the uncircumcision, was preached to the Gentiles under grace. Whether we are Jew or Gentile, Paul’s gospel is the way of salvation for us in this present age of grace.