by Shawn Brasseaux
Many church members wrongly believe there is only one Gospel in the Bible. Setting aside my own opinions, and anyone else’s ideas, we allow the Holy Scriptures to prove, without a shadow of a doubt, that Peter and Paul did not preach the same Gospel.
Everything that Peter and the eleven apostles of Israel preached, they learned from the Lord Jesus Christ in His earthly ministry (Matthew 28:19,20; Mark 8;31; John 14:26; Acts 1:21,22). Galatians 1:11-18 makes it absolutely clear that the Apostle Paul did not receive the doctrines he taught from Peter and Israel’s other apostles:
“11 But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.
12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by therevelation of Jesus Christ…
15 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother’s womb, and called me by his grace,
16 To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:
17 Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus.
18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days.”
Paul did not learn the grace doctrines from Jesus Christ in His earthly ministry either. In fact, Paul wrote: “Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh: yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more” (2 Corinthians 5:16). The ascended Lord Jesus Christ (post-resurrection) revealed to Paul alone the “revelation of the mystery” (Romans 16:25; cf. Galatians 1:11-18). Peter, James, and John never used the expression “the revelation of the mystery” in their epistles—only Paul used that term.
How can we be absolutely sure that Peter and Paul did not preach the same thing? Read what the Apostle Peter wrote toward the end of his life (2 Peter 3:15,16 KJV):
“15 And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;
16 As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.”
For those who want to discard Paul’s epistles of Romans through Philemon and reject the doctrines of grace, they would also have to throw away the Apostle Peter because Peter identifies Paul’s writings as “Scripture.” If you deny Paul’s apostleship, then you forced to deny Peter’s as well! Furthermore, the Apostle Peter admitted that he did not understand everything that Paul taught and wrote. If Peter and Paul preached the same message, then Peter would have no trouble understanding Paul’s teaching. Peter did have difficulty in grasping some of the doctrine Paul taught, so it is only logical to conclude that Paul and Peter preached different messages.
Why did Peter not understand the writings of Paul? Peter could not and did not understand Paul’s preaching because Peter was an apostle of the nation Israel (Matthew 10:5-7; Galatians 2:9). Paul, on the other hand, was sent to the Gentile, non-Jewish world. Paul was “the apostle of the Gentiles” (Romans 11:13; Romans 15:16; Ephesians 3:1; 2 Timothy 1:11).
In Romans 2:16, Romans 16:25, and 2 Timothy 2:8, Paul said that the Gospel of Grace is “MY gospel.” Why? The Gospel of the Grace of God was committed to PAUL’S trust, which is exactly what the Bible says in Acts 20:24 and 1 Timothy 1:11. According to Romans 16:25,26 and Ephesians 3:5, everything Paul preached—including the Gospel of the Grace of God—was “kept secret since the world began, but now is made manifest.” The now there is Paul’s ministry—the revelation of the mystery was kept secret until God revealed it to Paul (which was after Christ’s earthly ministry, and after Jesus had already taught the twelve apostles of Israel). If Peter was preaching the Gospel of Grace before Paul came on the scene, as so many people claim, then both God and His Word lied.
Did Peter and Paul preach the same Gospel? Consider the following:
- Paul is the only person in the Bible who uses the term “the Church the Body of Christ” (1 Corinthians 12:13; Ephesians 1:22,23; et al.) Peter, James, John, Jesus in His earthly ministry, and all the other apostles of Israel do not use the term “the Church the Body of Christ.” Grab any Bible concordance, and you will not find a single reference to “the body of Christ” outside of Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon. Why? Paul claims that he alone received the revelations and doctrines for this the Dispensation of Grace (Romans 16:25,26; Ephesians 3:1-9; Colossians 1:23-27).
- In 1 Timothy 1:11 Paul wrote “it [the Gospel of the Grace of God of 1 Corinthians 15:1-4] was committed to his trust.” Peter, James, and John are not mentioned in 1 Timothy 1:11. This “Gospel of the blessed God” could not be the same Gospel that Peter and the eleven preached. Otherwise Paul would have said “committed to our trust,” indicating Israel’s apostles too. Paul wrote that this Gospel of the blessed God was committed to his trust because it was committed to his trust alone. In Galatians 2:2, Paul says “I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them [Peter, James, John; verse 9] that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles….” Evidently, Paul shared with James, Peter, and John something they had not previously known. Indeed, Paul and Peter preached two different Gospels!
- Look at Galatians 2:7,8 KJV: “7 But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter; 8 (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:).” Do you see that there are two Gospels in that verse alone? A Gospel of the Circumcision (the Jews’ Gospel of the Kingdom), and a Gospel of the Uncircumcision (the Gentiles’ Gospel of God’s Grace). You do not find any reference to “the Gospel of the Kingdom” in Paul’s books. Outside of Paul’s ministry, you do not find “the Gospel of the Grace of God.” There are two separate Gospels here: one which God entrusted to Paul’s apostleship and one which God entrusted to Peter and the eleven’s apostleship. There is nothing complicated or contradictory as long as you keep them separate!
- Who laid the foundation of the Christian faith for this the Dispensation of the Grace of God? THE APOSTLE PAUL! Jesus Christ is the foundation, but Paul is the “wise masterbuilder” (architect) who laid the foundation Jesus Christ, His death, His burial, and His resurrection as means for salvation (1 Corinthians 3:10,11).
- Notice 1 Timothy 1:15,16 KJV: “This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.” A pattern is the first, and the Holy Spirit says that Paul is our pattern. He was the first to get placed into the Church Body of Christ—the “hereafter” refers to people who get saved after Paul. The word “chief” implies Paul is the first, the primary one, and the head of the line (see “chief” in Acts 14:12, Luke 22:26, Acts 28:7 where “chief” means “first, main.”) Because Paul is our pattern for this dispensation, the Holy Spirit tells us to follow Paul as he follows Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1; cf. 1 Corinthians 4:16; Ephesians 5:1; Philippians 3:17; 1 Thessalonians 1:6). There is no command to follow Peter, James, or John in the Bible. Why? Remember, Paul is “the apostle of the Gentiles” (Romans 11:13 KJV; Romans 15:16; 2 Timothy 1:11). Remember, James, Peter, and John were apostles of Israel (Matthew 10:5-7; Matthew 19:27,28; Galatians 2:9).
- When the nation Israel asked the Apostle Peter, “What must we do to be saved?,” notice Peter’s answer: “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 Ghost” (Acts 2:38; cf. Acts 3:19). However, when the Philippian jailor asked Paul and Silas, “What must I do to be saved?,” notice what Paul and Silas declared: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house” (Acts 16:31). Obviously, these are not the same message. Peter told people to repent and then get water baptized, so they could receive forgiveness of sins and receive the Holy Spirit. Yet, Paul simply taught that salvation comes by “believing on [trusting] the Lord Jesus Christ,” without any reference to water baptism or repentance. If words mean anything, Peter and Paul preached two separate Gospels.
Confusion abounds when you mix the nation Israel with the Church the Body of Christ. Learn to “rightly divide” the Bible, separating Law from Grace (Romans 6:14,15), the prophetic program (Acts 3:21) from the mystery program (Romans 16:25,26a), just as the Apostle Paul instructed Timothy: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15 KJV). All of the Bible is for us, but not all the Bible is to us or about us.
Anyone who does not see the clear distinction between the ministries and apostleships of Paul and Peter is actually unwilling to see the difference. The verses are in plain English, and no seminary degree is necessary. If you disagree with any of these verses, you are denying the plethora of Scriptural support, and you are arguing with God’s Word. Be not foolish, friend.
“If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord. But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant” (1 Corinthians 14:37, 38 KJV). If you do not see the simple Bible truths contained in this study, you do not want to see them, and are being dishonest with the Bible and yourself. We conclude that one who ignores these truths is doing so in order to embrace vain church tradition and fallible denominational biases and interpretations.