In today’s first reading and yesterdays, we are seeing Peter playing a very significant role in the Book of Acts. Michael Barber has written a series of posts on the primacy of Peter in the New Testament. Here is an excerpt from his section on Peter’s primacy in Acts:
Peter’s Primacy in ActsThe book of Acts also underscores Peter’s importance in the early Church. While most scholars recognize this, the sheer number of instances in which this is evident is nothing short of staggering.
- It is Peter who first stands up and speaks of the need to appoint a replacement for Judas—a direction which is dutifully followed without hesitation (cf. Acts 1:15–26).
- It is Peter who addresses the crowds on Pentecost (cf. Acts 2:14–36) after which the crowds respond by addressing, “Peter and the rest of the apostles” (εἶπόν τε πρὸς τὸν Πέτρον καὶ τοὺς λοιποὺς ἀποστόλους), and Peter himself responds (cf. Acts 2:37–40).
- Peter performs the first miracle after Pentecost (cf. Acts 2:1–10)
- When Peter and John are arrested, it is Peter who speaks for them (cf. Acts 4:8–12).
- It is Peter who deals with Ananias and Sapphire after they misrepresent their offering―an offering which was originally laid “at the apostles feet” (cf. Acts 5:1–11).
- People are said to be brought to the “apostles” so that Peter’s shadow might fall on them to heal them (cf. Acts 5:12–16).
- When the apostles are brought again before the Jewish leaders, Peter again is prominent (cf. especially Acts 5:29: ἀποκριθεὶς δὲ Πέτρος καὶ οἱ ἀπόστολοι εἶπαν).
- When it is discovered that Christians in Samaria have been baptized but not yet received the Holy Spirit, Peter and John go to lay their hands upon them (cf. Acts 8:14–17). When a man named Simon wants to buy the ability to give the Spirit he approaches Peter, and it is Peter who rebukes him. Simon then asks Peter(note: John is not included) to pray for him (cf. Acts 8:18–24).
- Peter is described as going out to all the Christians (Acts 9:32: γένετο δὲ Πέτρον διερχόμενον διὰ πάντων κατελθεῖν), performing miracles (cf. Acts 9:32–43).
- It is Peter who is sought out by a Roman centurion, whose entire household ends up being baptized by him (Acts 10)—an episode which is described as the watershed moment as the Gospel is accepted by Gentiles.
- It is Peter who first opposes the circumcision party (cf. Acts 11:1–18). Peter’s words “silences” them (ἡσύχασαν; Acts 11:18).
- After Herod kills James, he specifically sets out to find Peter (cf. Acts 12:3).
- Peter plays a crucial role at the council of Jerusalem where “after there had been much debate” Peter speaks. The response is immediate—the assembly falls silent; while James comes up with the best pastoral solution, it was Peter’s statement that ended the debate (Acts 15:6:29).Indeed, scholars have noted that in the book of Acts Peter’s baptism of the centurion appears to serve to validate the church’s Gentile ministry. This of course underscores the unique respect accorded to him by early Christians.