Paul is urbane, and his references are from the city, but he enjoys the rare ability to be all things to all men. He can proselytize, engage pastorally, and argue theologically for a spiritual or ascetical viewpoint as the fulfillment of God's promise. He is the right man at the right place at the right time. His Letters are the first corpus of explanation of what the Church believes, for he is evangelizing to non-eyewitnesses.
If Peter’s personality is fatherly, Paul’s is intensely single-minded, indefatigable, irrepressible, unflinching, and decisive. Not everyone is enamored of him. He doesn’t speak what is congenial to the listener, especially when he talks about incest to the Corinthians. Paul adapts to hardship and goes to synagogue when the mob is there to lynch him. Of his inner life, he says little except for 2 Corinthians 12:1: He is caught up in the third world. His memorable expressions can engage in difficult paradoxes, such as, “when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor 12:10).
Peter and Paul in Dialogue
At Antioch, a dispute arose as to whether the Gentiles were required to become Jews before becoming followers of the Lord. Paul and Barnabas brought the matter before the elders. Arguing in the affirmative, the new-converted Pharisees used the Mosaic Law as their defense. In the role of conciliator, Peter stood with Paul and Barnabas arguing that the Gentiles, like the Jews, were given the Holy Spirit and purified hearts of faith. God had worked wonderful signs through these new converts, the Gentiles (Acts 15:12). The face of Christianity would have sounded a different tone without the harmony of Peter and Paul to resolve this controversy.
Preface of Peter and Paul
In the preface of the Mass celebrated for the solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, special mention is given to them in their twofold mission in the Church. The preface reads in part:
“Peter raised up the Church from the faithful flock of Israel.
Paul brought your call to the nations and became the teacher of the world.
Each in his chosen ways gathered into unity the one family of Christ.
Both shared a martyr’s death and are praised throughout the world.
Now, with the apostles and all the angels and men, we praise you, Father, forever.”