What was the role of Peter in the early church according to Acts?

After his denial of Christ (Like 22:54-62), Peter had a truer estimation of himself. He realized that his strength comes only from God. Peter repented and was fully converted. Christ controlled his zeal and he was no longer self-confident but self-possessed, teachable, and humble. The lessons he had received from Jesus (Luke 22:32; John 21:15–17) gave much fruit in his life and ministry. As God purified his natural capabilities, he rose as a great leader in the early church.

The replacement of Judas

Peter urged his brethren to rigorous action that they may fulfill the commission of Christ (Matthew 28:19). And in order to do that they needed first to select a replacement for Judas Iscariot that betrayed the Lord. So, they prayed and cast lots and the lot fell on Matthias, and he was numbered with the eleven apostles (Acts 1:15-26).

The Pentecost sermon

The book of Acts records Peter’s sermon as the only Pentecostal sermon (Acts 2:14–40). Peter’s mind was enlightened by Holy Spirit so he had a clear understanding of the Scriptures (Luke 24:45). And he spoke to the people in Jerusalem about the prophecies concerning the Messiah and their clear fulfillments in the life and death of Christ.

Then, Peter called the people to Repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins that they may receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The book of Acts gives also special attention to Peter’s other sermons (Acts 3:12–26; 4:8–12; 10:34–43).

The miracles of Peter

The apostle Luke recorded that Peter and John, performed a miracle of healing to a lamb man from his mother’s womb. At Peter’s command, the man stood up, leaped, and praised God. All the people that saw miracle, glorified the Lord (Acts 3:1–11). Again, Peter by God’s power performed other miracles “so that they brought the sick out into the streets and laid them on beds and couches, that at least the shadow of Peter passing by might fall on some of them” (Acts 5:15). Also, the apostle healed a man named Aeneas, who had been bedridden eight years and was paralyzed (Acts 9:32-35). But the most remarkable miracle of Peter was his resurrecting Dorcas from the dead (Act 9:32–41). After this amazing miracle, many believed in the name of Jesus.

Correcting the church

Peter played the chief part in rebuking Ananias and Sapphira for their sin (Acts 5:3–11). Through the gift of discernment (1 Cor. 2:14; 12:10), it was revealed to Peter that Ananias and Sapphira were lying (John 14:17, 26; 16:13). Ananias was not forced to sell his land but was only required to be honest in bringing the profits that he had promised. For their sin Ananias and Sapphira were smitten by God. And their encounter with Peter caused a great fear to come upon the early believers.

Preaching to the Gentiles

Peter was led by God through a special vision to preach to the Gentiles and specifically to the house of Cornelius (Acts 10). The Gentiles accepted the Lord Jesus and received the Holy Spirit and Peter baptized them (v. 44-48). But when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the Jews criticized him for preaching to the Gentiles. But Peter answered them saying, “If then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?” (Acts 11:17). Convicted of Peter’s words, the Jews glorified God, saying, the “Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life” (v. 18).

It is clear that Peter had a leading position in the affairs of the early church according to the book of Acts, but the apostle is not mentioned after Acts 15:7 for the focus then was on the apostle Paul.

In His service,

BibleAsk Team

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