Peter vs Paul: Identity vs Control

Peter: The Bold Man Who Learned the Boldness of Servant Leadership

Peter and Paul are two of the most influential members of the early Christian Church. Peter was a bold fisherman who wasn’t afraid to yell out his answers or cut off the ear of someone who was in a group bothering his teacher.

Paul was a Pharisee who, in his strict dedication to prove himself himself right, approved the stoning and capture of other Jews who did not believe in the same Messiah that Peter did.

Yet, Jesus called them both on the same path…but in radically different ways..and ended up at the same level of peace.

For Peter, the journey was one of identity.

Peter knew who he was-a Jewish fisherman who believed boldly with his heart that Jesus was the Chosen One…..but he had a lot to learn.

Throughout His time, Jesus would teach Peter that His Way involved a boldness that Peter never knew. It required a boldness to forgive radically, to act with a miracle-producing faith, and to love people that didn’t look or act like he expected.

This is what Jesus alluded to in John 21:18 (NIV):

Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.”

Jesus knew what kind of man Peter was: indepedent, bold, and stubborn…but He knew that Peter’s potential was bigger than that.

And he was.

Peter, a fisherman by trade ended up the leader of a church movement that changed the world. He performed miracles, had letters written that have survived thousands of years, and has become an instrumental leader in growing the Church that Jesus started.

And he achieved a level of peace so that he could say this:

But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. “Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.” (1 Peter 3:14)

Paul: A Bold Man Who Learned Control is in God’s Hand

For Paul, the lesson was of control. Paul knew what he wanted, but he didn’t know that his way wasn’t the God wanted him to serve.

Jesus alluded to this in Acts 9:16 (NIV):

I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”

When Paul turned to Jesus, his life was turned upside down.

One thing we notice about Paul is control. Paul described himself as a “Hebrew of the the Hebrews” in Phillipians 3:5, someone trained in the strictest form of Jewish spiritual law. In other words, Paul believed that he could control his way to God by “being strict enough”.

In an ironic twist, Jesus flipped this around.

After becoming a Christian, Saul (who changed his name to Paul) was arrested by other Jews in his community for “not being strict enough” with non-Jewish converts ((Acts 21:27–28)

When the seven days were nearly over, some Jews from the province of Asia saw Paul at the temple. They stirred up the whole crowd and seized him, shouting, “Fellow Israelites, help us! This is the man who teaches everyone everywhere against our people and our law and this place. And besides, he has brought Greeks into the temple and defiled this holy place.”

But even in this, Paul achieved more than he ever thought possible.

Instead of being someone who was known in his society, but forgotten by history, Paul’s writing in the New Testament survived thousands of years (and are with us today) and his influence (both in church leadership and outreach) transformed and expanded Christianity beyond anything anyone had ever seen.

As a result of his challenges, Paul learned to be comfortable with not being in control….and he found peace.

As Paul himself said:

“However, I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me — the task of testifying to the good news of God’s grace. (Acts 20:24).

So, in the end…both men with strong personalities became more…but it wasn’t solely because of their own efforts. With Jesus Christ, they achieved things that they never even dreamed about.

And that is the lesson for us:

No matter how strong a personality we think we have, no matter how fixed we think out life, Jesus has a way of taking that…. and transforming that in a way into something we never thought possible. …and achieve a peace we never thought we could ever have.


PS Bible verses are in New International Version

Believer. Student. Writer. Prayer Warrior.

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