Author: Ron Graham
Paul’s Gospel and Peter’s
—Were they different?
Some people say that Paul’s gospel to the Gentiles was different from Peter’s gospel to the Jews. It is said that there were two gospels, one preached to the Jews and another preached to the Gentiles. This idea, however, is mistaken. We will look at some facts showing that Paul and Peter preached one gospel to both Jew and Gentile.
1 Two Cultures but One Gospel
Paul may seem to say there are two gospels in these words: "They saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel for the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel for the circumcised." (Galatians 2:7 ISV).
Paul simply means here that he was entrusted with the gospel for outreach to the Gentile nations whilst Peter was entrusted with the gospel for his work among the Jews. There were the two audiences, each requiring a special approach by the preacher, but there were not two gospels.
Paul Preached to Jews
As you know, when Paul went to a place to preach, he would first enter the synagogue there and preach to the Jews. For example, "At Iconium they entered together into the Jewish synagogue and spoke in such a way that a great number of both Jews and Greeks believed" (Acts 14:1).
Paul preached to his hearers in the synagogue with an approach targeted at Jews, and God-fearing Gentiles who were converts to Judaism. Inside the synagogue, and out in the streets among pagans, Paul taught the same gospel. But in each case he would speak so as to engage his audience.
In Athens Paul was stirred up by all the idols he saw. "He continued to reason in the synagogue with the Jews and those who worshipped God, and every day in the market place with those who happened to be there." He was invited by certain philosophers to speak at the Areopagus. (Acts 17:16-34).
In the Areopagus Paul tailored his speech in a different fashion from how he would talk in the synagogue. But in both places he preached one and the same gospel that Christ sent him to preach, and also sent Peter to preach.
2 One Power for Saving All
Paul writes, "I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes —to the Jew first and also to the Greek." (Romans 1:16
You can see that Paul says the gospel of Christ is the power for the salvation of any person, Jew or a Gentile. The Jew is not expected to believe a different message than the Greek believes. The gospel of Christ is the one message for both.
3 One Body, One Faith, for All
Paul writes to the congregation at Ephesus, "Try hard to keep the unity of the Spirit in the peace that binds you together. There is one body and one Spirit, as you also were called in one hope at your calling. There is one Lord, one faith, one immersion, one God and Father of all..." (Ephesians 4:3-6)
How could Paul claim such unity in the body of Christ in Ephesus —if the Jews in that congregation followed a different faith than its Gentile members? There was one faith and it was "the faith of the gospel" (Philippians 1:27).
The One faith came from the gospel of Christ, not two different gospels, or two versions of the gospel. Just the one. So, "There is neither Jew nor Greek ...for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28).
So we conclude that there is one gospel, the gospel of Christ. He gave his gospel to Paul just as he did to Peter. Have you listened and responded to the gospel? Whoever you are, wherever you come from, the gospel is for you.