Opening prayer –
Begin by praying this prayer. Almighty God, we praise you that your blessed apostles Peter and Paul glorified you by their life and ministry in the world. Grant that your people throughout the world may always be instructed by their teaching and example, be knit together in unity by your Spirit, and ever stand firm upon the one foundation who is Jesus Christ our Lord, for he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen
Part 2: Peter
Simon Peter, the brother of Andrew, was a fisherman and a disciple of Jesus. Peter often asks questions and speaks for the disciples. He is present when Jesus heals his mother-in-law, at the Transfiguration and in the Garden of Gethsemene. Although he denies Jesus during his trial, he is among the first to learn of the Resurrection. On the Day of Pentecost, he speaks to the entire crowd and becomes a key leader in the early church.
The video below provides a full discussion of Peter’s life and ministry. The entire video is worth watching if you are really interested in learning about Peter, but if you jump ahead to 20:35 and watch until 23:51, you will learn a little more about Peter’s role in the early church and the interaction between Peter and Paul as the church developed.
Part 3: Paul
Saul was a faithful Jew who persecuted the followers of Jesus. Jesus appeared to Saul on the road to Damascus as a bright light from heaven. He became a follower of Jesus and changed his name to Paul. Paul traveled around the region proclaiming the story of Jesus to Jews and non-Jews. He wrote many letters to the churches teaching about a life of faith. He was arrested and sent to Rome where he died in jail.
Part 4: So What Does this Mean?
In the early church, Peter and Paul were two of the most powerful voices sharing the story of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. Peter, as a leader among the original 12 disciples, was a natural choice to be a leader in the early church. He was with Jesus at critical points in Jesus’ journey like the Transfiguration, the Feeding of the 5000 and in the Garden of Gethsemane. He raced to the tomb when word came of Jesus’ resurrection and inspired by the Holy Spirit, he addressed the crowds on the Day of Pentecost. In the days and months following Pentecost, Peter became a fixture in Jerusalem and a key leader in the growth and development of the church.
Paul, on the other hand, was the last person you would expect be a witness to Jesus. As a devote Jew who viewed the early Christian movement as a heresy, Paul persecuted Christians until his experience on the road to Damascus completely changed his understand of who Jesus was and what he meant to the world. Once Paul embraced Jesus as the Messiah, his gift for writing, his passion for missionary work and his openness to including Jews and non-Jews made him the perfect person to take the story of Jesus to the whole world. As you can see from the map below, Paul traveled around the whole region.
While Peter and Paul didn’t always agree about methods for proclaiming God’s Word, together, they were a perfect team for sharing the story of Jesus with the people in Jerusalem, around the Roman Empire and across the centuries.
Discussion Questions – answer the questions below:
- If you could pick one of the two men to spend time with, would you rather talk with Peter or Paul and why?
- Paul wrote letters and sent them to young churches around the Roman Empire to answer questions about who Jesus was and what the church should be like. Since most people don’t write letters today, compose a message in 140 characters of less telling the world about Jesus and share it below.
Part 5: Conclusion & Closing Prayer
Closing Prayer – Pray the follow prayer at the close of the session. Eternal God, by your word, your creation sprang forth, and we were given the breath of life. By your word, eternal God, death is overcome, Christ is raised from the tomb, and we are given new life in the power of your Spirit. May we boldly proclaim this good news in our words and our deeds, rejoicing always in your powerful presence; through Jesus Christ, our risen Lord. Amen.
Opening and Closing Prayers adapted from Sundays and Seasons.com. Copyright 2017 Augsburg Fortress. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission under Augsburg Fortress Liturgies Annual License #25165.