Excerpt from St. John Chrysostom's homily: "On the chiefs of the apostles Peter and Paul, and on their most-glorious martyrdom" (amateur translation)
I behold heaven and earth in contest today, for this present feast of the memory of the apostles, with the heavenly powers preciously praising their pained voice of teaching, through which was made known to the world the mystery, as Paul cries out: “So that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 3:10)”, while men on earth rush to rightly praise and show honor to the chiefs, through whom they have entered into salvation. For how was Peter great? How was Paul equal? Through their works and words they conquered all creation in the heavens and upon earth. For though the clay of their bodies was covered with wounds, they were found greater than the angels. What, therefore, shall I say towards those teachers of the creation above and below? I will not find a proper word to honor those who honored our people, who passed through the whole earth and sea, and uprooted the roots of sins, and sowed the seeds of piety in the hearts of disobedient men.
Peter, the teacher of the apostles; Paul, who is known to the world, and who partakes with the powers above. Peter, the bridle of the ungrateful Judeans; Paul, the entreaty for the nations. And I see the surpassing wisdom of the Master, for Peter was chosen from among fishermen, while Paul from the maker of tents, and He did this for our benefit. For he drowned the glory of the Judeans. Because of this, to the fisherman, the Lord said: “Go to the shore, and cast out your hook, and the first fish you find, open its mouth, and you will find a coin.” By sea, I take it to mean the lawless judgment of the Judeans. By hook, the crafted word of preaching. By fish, He symbolizes the law. Regarding the opening of its mouth, He speaks of its explanation. To find a coin in it, He means to spiritually examine it. While Paul was used as a tent-maker for the nations, that they who were naked, through the law and grace, might be clothed with the red covering that was dyed in the water and blood of the Master. Therefore, the Master cries to him: “Go forth, therefore, for I send you to the far away nations.” O blessed dyad, in which the souls of the whole world have believed! Peter, the beginning of orthodoxy, the great revealer of the Church, the needed counselor of Christians, the treasure of the powers from above, the apostle honored by the Master. Paul, the great preacher of the truth, the boast of the world, the man in heaven, and angel upon the earth, the glory of the Church, the eagle that soars in the heights, the lyre of the Spirit, the swallow and cicada (τέττιξ), the Master’s organ, the speedy servant of Christ. Paul and Peter, the yoked oxen of the Church, who passed through the world well in things, taking up the cross instead of a yoke, instead of a driver the Savior, instead of a furrow laid down the Scriptures, instead of the plow the grace of the Holy Spirit. Paul and Peter, who daily gladden the Church, the Master’s treasuries, the inns of the world, the receptacles of the Spirit, those who explain the Holy Trinity, those who relate the economy of the divine word. Peter, my spiritual love; Paul, the vessel of election, and my staff. Peter, the temple of God; Paul, the mouth of Christ, the lyre of the Spirit, a man of three cubits and who reaches the heavens; who is outlined in place, and outlines the Master of all for the world; who proceeded from Jerusalem and around as far as Illyricum fulfilling the Gospel of Christ; the long-distance runner, the eagle who reaches heaven; he who fulfills divine grace, he who witnessed for the Lord, bearing His name before the whole world; the three-floored building leading to heaven, and entering paradise, and reaching the Master, and incomprehensible throne that ascends, and he who hears unspeakable mysteries, which cannot be spoken of by man.