When Peter Met Paul…
Two of the most influential Christians ever meet for the first time:
Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to confer with Kephas and remained with him for fifteen days. But I did not see any other of the apostles, only James the brother of the Lord. -Galatians, 1:18-19, NAB
During his first few years as a Christian, St. Paul, as we learn earlier in Galatians 1:17, spent most of his time in Damascus. Now, he is making the trip to Jerusalem – his first time since becoming a Christian. There, he will spend time with Peter (Kephas in Aramaic) to learn and share with him.
Imagine these two men sitting in a room together and talking about their faith. Do you think they realized how significant their roles in the Church would become over the next two thousand years?
Some Christian denominations downplay the role that St. Peter held in the early Church. Catholics, obviously, see Peter as the first leader of the Church. Does today’s verse tell us anything about St. Peter’s role? Was there any significance to St. Paul’s visit?
If St. Paul went to Jerusalem, it was to spend time with Peter – to learn from him. Other than James, a close relative of Jesus and the bishop of Jerusalem, there were no other Apostles there. Even St. Paul, then, recognized the authority that St. Peter held and wanted to spend time with him.
Does this verse tell us specifically what roles each of these men would play? No. But we know that St. Paul’s letters comprise much of the New Testament, and he, as one of the Bible’s most prolific writers, found it valuable to spend time with St. Peter (who also wrote two of the New Testament books). Without a doubt, this was a meeting of two great Biblical minds.