Generally speaking, all of Christendom follows the apostle Peter. Catholics teach that Peter founded the Roman Catholic church at Rome and was its first bishop for 25 years. Most Protestant churches teach the Church began at Pentecost under the ministry of the apostle Peter. But that's where the similarity ends.
What does the New Testament have to say about Peter? This is the only authoritative place we can go if we want to know the truth about this man.
HE WAS ONE OF THE TWELVE APOSTLES
At the beginning of the earthly ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ, He picked twelve men to help Him in this ministry. The first two men were Peter and his brother Andrew. This is recorded in Matthew 4:18-20 and in Mark 1:16-18. Ten other men were added a little later to make twelve members. All of their names are mentioned in Matthew 10:2-4. The commission of the 12 Apostles is also given in this chapter:
These twelve Jesus sent forth and commanded them, saying, 'Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not; but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matt. 10:5-6).
The first thing the Lord mentioned to them was that they were not to go to the Gentiles. They were to stay within the boundary of Palestine and preach only to their own people. Why were they restricted by the Lord? They were restricted because the nation of Israel had to be saved first before the Gentiles could hear the Word of God. This is what we learn from Genesis 12:2-3:
"And I will make of thee [Abraham] a great nation [Israel], and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed."
This is why the Lord Jesus confined His earthly ministry to such a small part of the earth. One needs to understand the Abrahamic Covenant before he can understand the earthly ministry of Israel's Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ.
The position of Peter as one of the Twelve Apostles of Israel never changed, and it is the same with the rest of the Twelve. They remained Israel's Apostles until they died. The Lord promised them that they would sit on twelve thrones, governing the twelve tribes of Israel in the Kingdom (this is yet future):
And Jesus said unto them, 'Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of His glory ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel' (Matt. 19:28).
Their names are going to be written on the twelve foundations of the New Jeruslaem:
And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. (Rev. 21:14).
The only Apostle who lost his standing and his reward was Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed the Lord. When he died, he went to his own place (Acts 1:18-20, 25). Under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the Eleven chose Matthias to fill the vacancy. They were, once again, twelve Apostles.
TO WHOM DID PETER WRITE?
The Apostle Peter wrote two letters to the Jewish believers of the Messianic church, who were scattered around the Mediterranean:
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia (1 Peter 1:1)
Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ (2 Peter 1:1)
He referred to the Gentiles twice in his two letters (1 Peter 2:12; 4:3) and only because the Jewish believers were living among the Gentiles. They were not to act like them.
All of Peter's teachings in his two letters are in relation to the coming Tribulation period and to the Millenial Kingdom. His letters are full of New Covenant truth, which covenant will be God's standard of righteousness during the Millenium. You can classify his teachings as "evangelical Judaism," and they compliment the writings of James, John, and Jude.
WHAT PETER PREACHED
When the Lord Jesus commissioned the Twelve, He also told them what to preach:
"And as ye go, preach, saying, 'The kingdom of heaven is at hand.' Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give" (Matt. 10:7-8).
The Good News of the Kingdom of Heaven is the only message Peter preached. This Gospel of the Kingdom is the only message Peter knew. Salvation, according to the Gospel of the Kingdom, was accomplished when the Jewish person believed and was baptized in water for the forgiveness of sins:
He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned (Mark 16:16).
Then Peter said unto them, 'Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost' (Acts 2:28).
This was God's way at that time:
But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the counsel of God against themselves, being not baptized of him (Luke 7:30).
But when Israel murdered Stephen, as recorded in Acts ch. 7, then the Gospel of the Kingdom gradually began to be withdrawn over the next 27 years until Israel was set aside in Acts 28. The Divine gospel that had taken its place is the Gospel of the grace of God that was committed unto the Apostle Paul.
Not one person or Christian organization is setting forth the Gospel of the Kingdom today the way the Lord gave it to the Twelve Apostles. Lepers are not being cleansed; the dead are not being raised. The Gospel of the Kingdom that Peter preached cannot be preached in all its fulness because it is not God's message for today.
WHAT WAS PETER'S ATTITUDE TOWARD PAUL?
Even though Paul severely rebuked him on one occasion (Gal. 2:11-18), Peter got over it. Toward the end of his second letter, Peter mentioned Paul:
And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction (2 Peter 3:15-16).
The Apostle Peter knew about the revelations given to Paul by the risen Christ but he did not fully understand them. The only thing he realized was that they were Scripture, that they were inspired by God. What Peter said about Paul's letters, that there were "some things hard to be understood" in them, is the same attitude most believers have today. This attitude does not please the risen Lord. The vast majority who make up the Body of Christ do not really understand what Paul wrote. And when some of the important aspects of this dispensation of grace are pointed out to them, they would rather close their minds to it and keep on holding to the teachings of Peter (and the other circumcision apostles) that their churches teach.
As for me, there has been nothing greater than to get a glimpse of the marvelous truths that the risen Christ revealed to the Apostle Paul. The plan of salvation that God now offers to all mankind is the simplest plan of all. All one needs to do is to accept the Lord Jesus Christ as his Savior. The Church can't save you; water baptism can't save you; living a good life can't save you; doing good works can't save you. But the One who died on the cross for your sins CAN SAVE YOU. He is the only One who can save you.
If you are saved, which Apostle does your church follow? Does it follow Peter with his Gospel of the Kingdom? Or does it follow Paul with his Gospel of the grace of God? If you don't know which Apostle it follows, it would be wise to find out. Much depends on it.