2 Peter 3:15 …even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;
The Apostles Peter and Paul had the same calling; to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Within this calling, they were called by God to different kinds of people and therefore, different kinds of ministries.
In the very next verse, verse 16, Peter points out that some of Paul’s writings were “…hard to be understood…”. This is not so much because the vocabulary of Paul was too difficult for Peter to understand, as we will see in a bit, but rather that the revelations that the Lord gave to Paul were difficult for Peter to understand for at least a few different reasons:
- Peter didn’t have the New Testament yet to explain these revelations (as it was still being written), and
- Peter was an apostle to the Jews while Paul was an apostle to the Gentiles, and thus God was giving Paul special insights that He was not giving Peter.
Being that this was the case, Peter wouldn’t have understood God’s plan for the Gentiles like Paul because God only deals with ministers about THEIR ministry at THEIR level of calling. There was a point in time at which Peter had to be corrected concerning these things.
Remember in Galatians 2, where Paul recounts the time in Antioch where he had to openly rebuke Peter? A rebuke is not only a correction, but it is a sharp correction, and sometimes it is public, as this one was. To be clear, probably no one likes to be corrected, especially sharply, so great care has to be taken in both the giving and the taking of correction.
What was Peter doing wrong? Peter was hanging out with the Gentiles, and acting like a Gentile, but when the Jews would show up, he’d start acting like a Jew again. The Bible says even Barnabas, a faithful brother, was carried away with this activity.
Here is how Paul recounts that episode: Galatians 2:11-14 But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. (12) For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles (non-Jews): but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision (Jews). (13) And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation. (14) But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?
It was a public offense, so Paul had to deal with this hypocrisy publicly and let Peter know, “You’re undermining the truth of the gospel; that we have all been made one in Christ, and you’re doing it by keeping people locked into social categories and acting Jewish around the Jews and acting “Gentilish” around the Gentiles”. In Christ, there is no such thing as Jew, Gentile, Black, White, or Hispanic, we are all one in Christ!
Love After a Rebuke
Did Peter get his feelings hurt from this public correction? Probably! “How dare someone call out my wrongdoing? Especially someone who hasn’t been following Jesus as long as I have!” Someone called it out because wrong is wrong, no matter how old you are or how long you’ve been following the Lord! Paul just had the guts to say it! But notice at this point, even after all that, Peter still calls him, “…our beloved brother Paul…”.
We see that, even after this very public event, rather than running from the call of God or holding a grudge against Paul, Peter still had love for his brother Paul because Peter realized he was the one who was in the wrong and not Paul or anyone else and Peter realized “It is my choice as to how I allow this to affect me”.
Today, regardless of how someone may correct us, whether they are right, or even if they are wrong, you and I are ultimately the ones with the choice of how we allow it to affect us. This is an opportunity where we can be more like Jesus, by being more like the Apostle Peter, and remember that, “They’re still my brother or sister in the Lord”.
Is that an approach you are willing to take?