What lessons can Christians learn from the life of the Apostle Peter?

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Peter is a very different personality from, say, the Apostle Paul. The Apostle Paul is type A. He has opinions about everything and he is always right. I think Paul was probably difficult to work with, especially if you were of an opposite temperament—John Mark learned that on the first missionary journey. Paul didn’t want to have anything more to do with him if it hadn’t been for Barnabas, and later they were definitely reconciled.

Peter, on the other hand, is a person who appears in Scripture warts and all. There’s no attempt to camouflage the terrible things he did. He spoke before he even thought about what he was saying. I like the fact that Peter is such an important Apostle. He is the number one Apostle until Paul comes on the scene. It is to Peter that Jesus says, “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church” (Matt. 16:18). In the first twelve chapters of Acts, it’s Peter. It’s Peter on the day of Pentecost. It’s Peter and John preaching in the days and weeks subsequent to Pentecost.

Most of us are flawed characters. We all have flaws in our character. We’ve done things we wish we hadn’t, and we’re embarrassed about them. It is interesting that Peter, despite his flaws, despite his weaknesses, despite his tendency to pride (which is not surprisingly given that Jesus told him at Caesarea Philippi that He would build the church on Peter’s preaching), dwells on multiple occasions in his epistles on needing to be humble, needing to be servant-like, and submitting ourselves to God. I think Peter is reflecting on a lesson that took him a lifetime to learn.

This transcript is from a live Ask Ligonier event with Derek Thomas and has been lightly edited for readability. To ask Ligonier a biblical or theological question, email ask@ligonier.org or message us on Facebook or Twitter.