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Sabbath School Lessons on Missionaries in the Bible
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Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 41 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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Lesson 9: A Pillar of Mission: The Apostle Peter *
Introduction: Last week we looked at Peter's "early years" in the
ministry. His failure to understand the self-sacrificing nature of
the gospel work ahead of him was replaced with an understanding of
his true mission and the future glory which awaited him in heaven.
What can we learn from a mature Peter? How does a mature Christian
live? Or, is Peter not an example for us because he was given special
authority not available to us? Let's dive into our study of the Bible
and find out!
- Pope Peter?
- Read Matthew 16:13-14. Many organizations hire a
"clipping service" to collect all of the newspaper reports
that mention them. They want to know how they are
portrayed in the press. Is Jesus asking for a similar
service from His disciples? What is Jesus' motive for
asking? (Jesus may have been curious about the public's
perception of Him, but what He was really looking for was
how His disciples viewed Him.)
- Read Matthew 16:15-17. Last week we discussed Peter's
failure to take advice with the result that he had a wrong
view of Jesus' role on earth. (See Matthew 16:21-23.) Does
Peter's answer fit with his (then wrong) view? (Peter
thought Jesus would establish a kingdom on earth and what
Peter says here is compatible with that view.)
- Has Peter taken advice here? ( Matthew 16:17 says God
revealed this to Peter. He was taking advice - at
least at that moment.)
- Read Matthew 16:18. Who or what is this rock? (Peter's
name in Greek means rock or a stone. Jesus is saying "You
are a rock (or a stone) and on this rock I will build my
- It seems that Jesus is literally referring to
building His church on Peter. Is that what you think
Jesus means? (Strong's says the Greek for Peter means
"a piece of rock" while the Greek for the word rock
in this verse means "a mass of rock.")
- Read 1 Corinthians 10:3-4. Who is the rock here?
- Ephesians 2:19-20. Who or what is the rock here?
- Read 1 Peter 2:7-8. Who or what is the rock here?
- Protestants argue that the rock of Matthew 16:18 is not
Peter. Last week we studied some of Peter's very "un-rock" like failures. However, since the text says that
Jesus will build His church on this rock, would that not
include Peter? (I think we are missing an important lesson
when we totally dismiss Catholic claims that Peter is the
rock and the "First Pope." Ephesians 2:20 teaches us that
the apostles and prophets were a "foundation" and Jesus is
the Chief Cornerstone. This suggests that Jesus is the
Rock, and the apostles (including Peter) are rocks in the
foundation of the church. Peter's confession of Jesus as
God is also a rock - for this is the theological
foundation of the church.)
- Do you have a gate at your home? Have you ever been
attacked by a gate? What does Jesus mean in Matthew
16:18 that Hell's gates will not overcome the church?
(I like this word picture. Gates don't attack, they
defend. This is a picture of the church taking on
evil. Evil is on the defensive against
- Read Matthew 16:19. What do you get for having "rock"
status? What kind of a "key" are you given? (You get the
keys to heaven.)
- What does that mean? (I'm far from sure what all it
means. However, when I'm given the keys to a car or
to a house I am in charge. I am able to enter them
and use them. I can let others in or keep others
out. I think that at a minimum, those who acknowledge
the divinity of Jesus are given access to heaven.
Those who were apostles then, and who are church
leaders now, are given special privileges and
responsibilities to invite others into the Kingdom of
- When Jesus says that the apostles (and current church
leaders?) get to "bind" and "loose," things, what
does He mean? (Read Acts 15:5-11. Here Peter says
that the Gentile converts should not have to follow
the law of Moses. If you continue by scanning Acts
15:12-21 you will see that James delivered the
judgment that only the matters specified in Acts
15:20 would still be binding from the ceremonial law.
Peter and the church are here "loosing" commands
given to Moses by God.)
- We see in this event that James, not Peter,
seems to hand down the final word. Read Matthew
18:15-18. This is Jesus speaking to His
disciples (and perhaps a listening crowd). What
does this context suggest about binding and
loosing? (It suggests this addresses disputes
within the church.)
- Rock Peter
- Read Acts 2:1-4 and Acts 2:14-16. This describes the first
day of Pentecost following Jesus' resurrection. What
significance does Pentecost have to the early church?
(This is where Jews from ( Acts 2:5) "every nation under
heaven" got to see the power of the Holy Spirit and hear
that Jesus was the Messiah!)
- Who is the leader in this event? (Peter!)
- Read Acts 10:9-13 and Acts 10:16-18. What is the meaning
of Peter's vision? (If you do not know this story, read
all of Acts 10. The meaning of the story is that Peter
should not call Gentiles "unclean" and refuse to share the
gospel with them. The specific application was to
Cornelius and his representatives.)
- What does this event add to Peter's resume? (Peter
was first in preaching to the Jews world-wide at
Pentecost. If Acts is written in chronological
order, Peter is now the leader in sharing the gospel
with the Gentiles. In Acts 15:7 Peter confirms this
idea by saying the Gentiles heard the gospel "from my
- Read Acts 2:42-43. What new activity do we find among the
apostles? (They performed "many wonders and miraculous
- Why was this power found just among the apostles, and
not the members? Is this part of the "binding and
- Read Acts 3:1-5. If you were this beggar, what would you
- Read Acts 3:6-8. What do we add to Peter's resume now?
( Acts 2:43 tells us that many miracles were performed by
the apostles, but Peter performs the first recorded
- Look again at Acts 3:6. Does Peter perform this
miracle in the authority given to him? (No, he
performs it in the name and power of Jesus.)
- What, exactly, does Peter have (verse 6 "but
what I have I give to you") which he gives to
this crippled beggar?
- Is Peter sharing his "binding and loosing"
power? (Read Mark 16:15-18. It would be easy to
say that Peter (and the other apostles) had
special power not available to the rest of the
believers. But, Jesus' words in Mark 16:17-18
show that the power is available to all who
believe. Peter is sharing with the beggar his
faith and his access to the power of God.)
- Read Acts 5:15. Did this work? Read Acts 19:11-12. Did
this work? (The first text does not say that this worked,
but the second text tells us it did work. My guess is that
if touching Paul's handkerchief got you healed, Peter's
shadow should be enough.)
- As you consider all of these attributes about Peter, is it
fair to call him a "rock"? What about the "First Pope?"
- Rocky Peter
- Read Galatians 2:8-10. How is Peter involved in the
organization of the work of the early church? (They
divided the work among the various people.)
- Read Galatians 2:11-13. Why did Peter change his
- How could a man who had the vision of the unclean
animals do this? Why would he do it?
- Read Galatians 2:14-16. How are eating relationships part
of the "truth of the gospel?" (The truth of the gospel is
that the gospel is for all people. I believe Peter acted
as he did to try to avoid controversy with the Jewish
Christians who were sent by James.)
- What does this teach us about Peter the Rock? (Even
church leaders can be wrong. Even those blessed by
God to open new frontiers for the gospel can make
- Friend, have you made mistakes during your Christian life?
Do you find, that even after you are a mature Christian,
you still make them? Peter's story is an encouragement to
all sinners who want to follow their Lord. Peter's
miraculous work is an example to all who want to do great
things for God.
- Next week: Women of Mission.
* Copr. 2008, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.