Take the 2-minute tour ×
Biblical Hermeneutics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for professors, theologians, and those interested in exegetical analysis of biblical texts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Why does Paul say the following when Acts 10 shows Peter bringing the gospel to the Gentiles?

... the gospel for the uncircumcised had been committed to me, as the gospel for the circumcised was to Peter (for He who worked effectively in Peter for the apostleship to the circumcised also worked effectively in me toward the Gentiles)... (Galatians 2:7-8, NKJV).

share|improve this question

3 Answers 3

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Peter was present when the gospel was first introduce to the Gentiles — Cornelius being the first. Peter was the first (or was present) for the introduction of the gospel to all major groups (Jews, Samaritans, Gentiles).

That does not means that that was Peter's primary mission field. Paul's primary mission field was initially to Jews living outside of Israel, but eventually changed to be primarily Gentiles (Acts 18). Peter's primary mission field remained to the Jews in Jerusalem.

"Bringing the gospel to the Gentiles" is not a one-time event, but a career. Keep in mind that Acts covers a rather large block of time from just before the Ascension (c. 33 AD) to just before Paul's execution (67 AD).

share|improve this answer
Can you cite historical sources (ideally the text itself) to verify your claims? –  maj nem ɪz dæn Dec 2 '13 at 19:51
Is the argument that he had to be present for the opening of the kingdom to each group because he had the keys? I think Tertullian makes an argument like that if I remember correctly. –  david brainerd Aug 3 at 6:42
@david interesting thought. Something like that seems to be happening in Acts 8:14-17 –  Jack Douglas Aug 3 at 12:54

As long as there are 2 variables, you can not draw (or fade) a conclusion (e.g. why is Tiger Woods not doing well at the 2014 PGA Championship? Is it because of his recent back surgery or has he changed his swing?)

Thus, the Church is remiss in acknowledging Paul as the apostle to the Gentiles. The Church has placed all her eggs in one basket. Do we have 1 Gospel or four? Do we have 1 synoptic Gospel or 3? How many writings of Paul are in the New Testament vs. Peter?

We know that God, Jehovah, confirms his will with confirmation in 3s.
Samuel was called by God 3 times until Eli recognized it was God calling Samuel. Peter denied Jesus 3 times before the cock crowed. Jesus was 3 days and 3 nights in the heart of the earth. Peter saw a vision of a sheet going up and down [3 times] full of unclean and common(e.g. those clean touching the unclean making them common - a manmade distinction) animals. God knew Gentiles were clean, not common, as Peter assumed. God hates manmade distinctions. The Pharisees were great at manmade distinctions. After seeing the Holy Spirit fall on Cornelius and his group, Peter was estatic!
He knew then that God made no distinctions, and that all men were clean before God because of Jesus. God wanted Peter to know it was okay to go to the house of Cornelius and associate with him, a gentile. Jews would not do such things.

As for Paul, we do not see God confirming in 3s during the story of Paul and his vision on the road to Damascus. That could be highly significant. We also know that Paul was not with Jesus in the flesh from Baptism through Resurrection and Ascension. Matthias who replaced Judas was. These are significant facts to consider when asking was Peter or Paul the man ordained by God to the Gentiles.

share|improve this answer
Thank you for your comment, but your conclusion goes at odds what the Apostle Paul said about himself (and so you discredit the assertions of the Apostle Paul). Can you provide some explanation (which was the original question) as to why Paul would make such an assertion in light of the fact that the Gospel first appeared to the Gentiles through Peter? –  Joseph Aug 11 at 2:30

Peter is the God ordained Apostle to the Gentiles

ACTS 15: 6 The apostles and the elders met together to consider this matter. 7 After there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “My brothers,[b] you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that I should be the one through whom the Gentiles would hear the message of the good news and become believers. 8 And God, who knows the human heart, testified to them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as he did to us; 9 and in cleansing their hearts by faith he has made no distinction between them and us. 10 Now therefore why are you putting God to the test by placing on the neck of the disciples a yoke that neither our ancestors nor we have been able to bear? 11 On the contrary, we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.”

So whose vision do you believe?

  • Peter's vision of a sheet being let down from heaven 3 times (3 is a divine confirmation) containing unclean animals for him to kill and eat, representative of the Gentiles whom God calls clean and fit to receive salvation by Jesus. or..
  • Paul's vision of Jesus as a bright light and voice, blinding him, on the road to Damascus. Remember, Satan masquerades himself as an angel of light. Jesus always appeared in the flesh after his resurrection.

Revelation chapter 21 states there are 12 Apostles of the Lamb. We know that Matthias replaced Judas as the 12th. Matthias met the criteria the 11 Apostles decided upon for apostleship, that of having been with Jesus from the beginning to the end of his earthly ministry. Paul had no such distinction.

share|improve this answer
This answer will undoubtedly be downvoted into oblivion. However, I think it is somewhat accurate as to the view of Acts, which clearly for all its Paul worship doesn't view him as greater or even equal to the 12. Acts never calls Paul an apostle except in Acts 14:14 where its says "the apostles Barnabas and Paul tore their robes," putting Paul on the same level as Barnabas (a virtual nobody) and even listing Barnabas ahead of him. –  david brainerd Aug 3 at 6:36

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.