Prior to Paul’s conversion the Apostles stayed in Jerusalem. Jesus had told them to go out and proclaim the Gospel, the Good News, to every nation.
But the Apostles went nowhere. Paul, then called Saul, assisted as religious Jews murdered a young man named Stephen for boldly speaking out against the actions of the Jewish authorities.
That event led to the Apostles leaving town and spreading out. God gave Peter a vision that essentially tore down any division between Jews and Gentiles.
Emboldened by the Holy Spirit, Peter spoke publicly and stood up to the authorities. Not fearing prison, or execution, Peter went out and spread the news of Jesus, the Messiah.
Why it matters
Jesus did not come to put up barriers between people, but to unify and build a community. Jews and Gentiles did not associate with each other. Jews had strict laws about what foods to eat and how to live.
God showed Peter that all of that was no longer necessary. The vast majority of the world was Gentile, so to do the work that Jesus called him to do, Peter had to associate with the gentiles and accept them as brothers and sisters. In Christ there is no jew or gentile, only believers.
34 Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism 35 but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right.
36 You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, announcing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.
37 You know what has happened throughout the province of Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached
38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.
Why it matters to you
People are reluctant to talk about matters of faith, for fear that they will be rejected, or worse yet, laughed at. Peter was too afraid to speak out, and too immersed in his Jewish heritage to fully understand what Jesus wanted him to do.
We all have doubts.
Jesus broke down the barriers for Peter and gave him freedom to speak out. The man who denied Jesus three times would become a bold and powerful Apostle. This same man was transformed into a powerful force for Jesus and the Kingdom.
He would not longer fear the Romans, the Jewish authorities and like Jesus, would give up his life for the Kingdom.
Peter had denied Jesus three times after He was arrested and bound over for trial. Fearing for his life, he denied being a disciple, or even knowing Jesus.
With the city in an uproar over the rial and crucifixion, and fearing Roman reprisals for any public display of faith, Peter and the rest of the disciples hid away.
But after receiving the Holy Spirit, Peter was no longer afraid and spoke boldly to Jews and gentiles alike about Jesus and the kingdom of God.
What you may not know
Jesus said that he would build his church upon this rock, referring to Peter. Actually, Peter more correctly translated, means pebble.
Three hundred years later, when the Roman emperor Constantine converted to Christianity, the headquarters of the church was moved to Rome, and thus the Roman Catholic Church was established.
Centuries later it was decided that Peter was the first pope, even though there was no formal church when he lived. As time went on after Jesus left the earth, the church would slowly form and traditions and practices would come about.
Peter did not say mass, or go to catechism. Also interestingly, Peter was Jewish not Roman.