Saints Peter and Paul

Apostles – the disciples of Christ, who followed Him during His earth serving and later went separate countries with sermons about Christian faith. Saints are traditionally pictured with books or scrolls and circular nimbus. Apostles Peter and Paul are called the first and the principal apostles. It does not mean that they were principals in apostles’ community or they were honored more. The principal of apostles’ community and the head of all Church was and is Jesus Christ. All His Apostles are equal servants. But Peter and Paul worked on quick and wide dissemination of Christianity outside of Israelite. They both became famous due to their serving for the sake of different Christian communities in all corners of huge Roman Empire. And in the Acts it is mainly written about the work of these apostles. That is why they are called first and principal.

Apostle Peter is honored by church because he was among the first apostles who called Jesus Christ the Son of God. Paul is honored because he worked more than others and was included to the highest Apostles by Holy Spirit (Cor.2:5). Peter and Paul were different, their living lives were different but they are honored in one day, as a sign that they both served God a lot. But these two great men have something in common. The Church sees and mentions them as people who sinned first, but then confessed and improved. Peter denied the Lord at first because of fear, but he confessed. Paul at first put up a resistance and was against the spreading of faith; he took part in the persecutions of the Christians. But later he came to believe in God and became the greatest preacher and spreader of Christian faith.

Apostle Peter

Saint apostle Peter was older brother of apostle Andiy. His name was Simon (Shimon), later Jesus called him Peter, which means “rock” (it sounded like Kepha in Arabian language and in translation to Geek sounds like Peter). Jesus made him the principal in the apostolic community.

And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. (Mathew 16: 18-19)

Peter was a simple fisherman. He worked hard during his life to keep his family: his wife, his kids and his mother-in-law, who lived in his house. He was not educated; he was not rich or silver-tongued. He was very energetic and enthusiastic. He could be easily absorbed by some idea, but he did not always have enough power to stand on it. He usually said what he felt and did not think about his words for a long time. He was famous for his lack of restraint and prudence. So, he was a simple man with all ups and downs.

After the Last Supper at night when Jesus was arrested Peter denied Jesus three times before the following cockcrow sang, it happened exactly as Jesus foretold it. But he confessed at once that he was weak. According to the retelling Peter remembered his weakness and renunciation of Christ all his life the moment cockcrows started to sing every morning and he started to cry with pain. And as much as his confession was sincere the Lord forgave him.

He was the first apostle who came to the Jesus’s grave after His Resurrection and he was the first who saw Resurrected Savior. He was on Mount Tabor together with Jacob and John, when Transfiguration of the Lord happened. Peter is also the author of two synodic epistles, which were included to the New Testament.

After the descent of Holy Spirit in the day of Pentecost Peter with his true sermon turned to the new faith several thousands of listeners. Twelve chapters in the Holy Acts of Apostles are told about his further predicant missionary work. According to the testimony of church the power of his sermons was so strong that it healed hopeless sick people and even rose from dead. According to retellings apostle Mark wrote his Gospel for Roman Christians used the story of apostle Peter.

On June 29, 67, Peter came to Rome by order of Tertullian and was crucified head downwards. The Vatican Cathedral of Saint Peter was built on the grave of Saint Peter.

Apostle Paul

Apostle Paul is usually called the apostle of heathens. His life is absolutely different from the life of Saint Peter. He was not a part of twelve apostles, he never met Jesus Christ during His earth life. Apostle Paul (or Saul of Tarsus, Saulos of Tarsus) was born in a devout Jewish family in the city of Tarsus and since his childhood he took all traditions of Jews’ devotion. Paul was a Roman citizen by birth from father and it was a great rarity, because Roman citizenship with all privileges had only some very influenced Jews. There are some evidences that Paul’s family controlled the trade of fabric in cities on Eastern coast of Mediterranean Sea.

It is quite possible that Paul was preparing to become a rabbi. He got a perfect education, he fluently spoke few languages, he learned rhetoric and oratory, he also learned Roman and Hellenic art, literature, philosophy. He took active and efficient part in persecutions of Christians, and he also was present when the first martyr Stephan was beaten with stones.

The life of Paul was changed very suddenly and abruptly in one minute.

Once he went to Damascus with the aim “to disroots the heresy of Christ’s disciplines”. And on his way the miracle had happened with him. In the Acts of Apostles it is written in such way:

Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” 5 And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do.” The men who were traveling with him stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one. Saul rose from the ground, and although his eyes were opened, he saw nothing. So they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus. And for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank. (Actions, IX: 3-9)

When Paul came to Damascus he took Epiphany.

At first his situation was difficult because Jews started to persecute him, because he changed, but Christians did not accept him still remembering his participation in their persecutions. But during some time he secured Paul’s, Mark’s and Varnava’s aid and friendship, so he was able to reach the peace with Christian community.

During next years Paul preached beyond the borders of Israelite. He was in Syria, Cilicia, the Balkans and Italy. The Epistles of Paul to different people and numerous communities became the background of Christian theology. Apostolic service of Paul is extremely majestic. Paul completed passionate and sincere sermons of Peter with intellectual content. He took the knowledge of Christ known only by Jews and spread it over all nations of Roman Empire. He is often called “the apostle chosen by God”.

Paul was executed in Rome for the spreading of Christ faith during the time of Tertullian. As long as he was the Roman citizen he was not allowed to be crucified or killed in a shameful way, so his head was cut. It was build a Papal Basilica of Saint Paul on the place of his grave.

Honoring of Saint Peter and Saint Paul

The honoring of Saint Peter and Saint Paul by church happens equally. One is honored for passion and persistence; and the other is for light wisdom. The icons of these apostles are full of deep kindness. They are two wise men, who are blessed with God’s Love.

The memory of Apostles Peter and Paul is celebrated in one day - the twelve of July (June 29)