Although Paul and Peter were ministering to different people-groups they were in true fellowship. They were not in competition nor did they despise each other because of their radically different ministries. They recognised that the work, to which they had been called, was God’s work; and that He had given them the same gospel to be presented in different ways, but with the same ‘Jesus-crucified-and-raised’ content.
The three leaders of the church in Jerusalem did not criticise the converted persecutor, but recognised that God had given His grace to Paul. Without that Holy Spirit gifting and empowering, he would have had no ministry at all. Also, his writings have been the basis of much of the church’s teaching ever since. But Peter, James and John wanted to stress the need to care for poor people, which was already one of Paul’s practical concerns.
Sometimes, there is a needless competition between churches, ministries, evangelists, pastors and congregations - who link themselves with one style of ministry, or personality of minister. Of course, it is most important that we should stay true to the content of the gospel as revealed in the Scriptures: that is the basis of our fellowship. Then, with the apostolic gospel in our hearts, we should support others who share the same grace of God, in the workplace as well as worship-place, even though they may work among different sorts of people. At the same time we all need to show our faith practically in giving to those who cannot give back to us, in money and time and loving care: and we need God’s grace to do that as well.
© Dr Paul Adams