I PETER 2
PETER…WHO HE WAS AND WHO HE WAS NOT!
As we begin this study of the writings of the Apostle Peter, I think it is important for us to clarify just who and what Peter was and what he was not . To do this we will use only what is revealed to us in the Bible, for where one of God’s selected servants is concerned, no other source can be trusted.
It is not uncommon for men to take one isolated passage of Scripture and build an entire doctrine on it. They ignore all other Scriptures and Biblical principles that should be considered before an isolated interpretation is made. Then a group of followers is formed on the basis of one man’s or group’s interpretation. By this means all of Christendom has been divided into competing factions and error is proliferated.
Peter probably wrote this letter from Rome to Christians who had left Rome because of the persecutions of the Roman Emperor. He was not the Bishop of Rome, as some have concluded. He addresses his remarks, at one place, to other elders, and says he is one of them. At no point does he indicate that he is giving orders, or that he is superior. He was an Apostle, and that was about as high in point of authority as anyone could be, but among the Jews, the word elder was the epitome of religious rank and respect, so Peter used that term, but with it he only ranked himself equal to the other elders.
An example of using a single passage, or even a single word, to build an entire doctrine is found in the statement that Jesus made when He told Peter that He would give him the “keys to the Kingdom of Heaven”. This did not mean that Peter had the authority to let people in or keep them out of the Kingdom. God’s Kingdom is a Spiritual Kingdom. The keys to that Kingdom address the mind and spirit of man, which must be prepared in order to get into the Spiritual Kingdom of Heaven. On Pentecost Peter told them what was necessary for them to do before they could come in. Thus he was using the keys by telling them what would open the door of the Kingdom of God. He introduced them to Jesus Christ and told them to repent of their sins and turn their lives over to Christ if they were to leave the kingdom of Satan and sin, and enter the Kingdom of God’s Dear Son. Thus he used the “keys” that Jesus promised him. Jesus is the only One who can give you access to God, for He Himself said, “No man cometh unto the Father but by Me”. Peter is not the access to God. He introduced men to the One who is the only access to God, and that is not any man who walks on the earth. It is Jesus Christ and Him alone, not His Apostles nor any of His emissaries.
As a matter of fact, the very words Peter spoke were not his words, but the words inspired by God for him to say. He did not, himself, really understand all that he was saying as is seen in the fact that he told them, the Jews in his audience, that the “promise was to them and their children, AND those who were afar off [i.e., the Gentiles] even as many as the Lord, your God, would call”. That Peter did not realize what he was saying was evident when, later, on the housetop, God had to give him a vision and a miracle to make him understand that he should go with the men who were coming to him from the house of Cornelius, a Gentile, and go into that Gentile’s house and preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to him.
When Jesus said, “What you bind on earth shall be bound in Heaven”, etc., He was simply saying that God was directing the words of Peter, so that what he said was Heaven sent. What Peter told them to do was what God ordered, and so what he said was bound in heaven and applies to men on earth. It did NOT give Peter the right
to make any decisions for the church, ever!
Finally, when Jesus, speaking to Peter, said, “On this rock I will build my church”, He did not mean on Peter. The eternal Kingdom of God was not built on a mere man. This is what Peter said he was, when Cornelius tried to bow down to him. Peter said, “Stand up, I am just a man!” The rock was the confession Peter made, stating that Jesus was the Son of God. The foundation of the church was the love of God for sinful man. “God so loved the world that He gave His Only Begotten Son, that whoso believed on Him should have eternal life”. No man “cometh unto God” except by Jesus Christ. No man nor woman stands between you and God. Jesus is our advocate, the One who is preparing a place for us, i.e., forgiving our sins, so that we might have a home in Heaven. He and He alone is our only access to God.
I have written this from what I find the Bible to say in its entirety about who Peter was and who he was not. With that in mind, let us read and study the magnificent message presented by this dedicated man who was truly a servant of our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.