Chapter # 2 Paragraph # 2 Study # 1
June 12, 2011
11 But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.
12 For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision.
13 And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation.
14 But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?
15 We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles,
16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
17 But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid.
18 For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.
19 For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.
20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.
1901 ASV Translation:
11 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I resisted him to the face, because he stood condemned.
12 For before that certain came from James, he ate with the Gentiles; but when they came, he drew back and separated himself, fearing them that were of the circumcision.
13 And the rest of the Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that even Barnabas was carried away with their dissimulation.
14 But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Cephas before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest as do the Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, how compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?
15 We being Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles,
16 yet knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, even we believed on Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ, and not by the works of the law: because by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
17 But if, while we sought to be justified in Christ, we ourselves also were found sinners, is Christ a minister of sin? God forbid.
18 For if I build up again those things which I destroyed, I prove myself a transgressor.
19 For I through the law died unto the law, that I might live unto God.
20 I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I that live, but Christ living in me: and that life which I now live in the flesh I live in faith, the faith which is in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself up for me.
21 I do not make void the grace of God: for if righteousness is through the law, then Christ died for nought.
- I. Verse Eleven is Paul's Summary Statement.
- A. He declares the situation in a nutshell.
- B. He follows up with the details.
- II. Cephas in Antioch.
- A. A comparison of the Authorized Version with the ASV again reveals the different textual traditions behind the use of "Peter" and "Cephas".
- 1. Those texts that lie behind the Authorized Version only have "Cephas" in six texts (John 1:42; 1 Corinthians 1:12; 3:22; 9:5; and 15:5; and Galatians 2:9).
- 2. Those texts that lie behind the ASV have "Cephas" in nine texts (John 1:42; 1 Corinthians 1:12; 3:22; 9:5; and 15:5; and Galatians 1:18; 2:9, 11, and 14).
- 3. That the texts behind the Authorized Version only vary from those behind the ASV in regard to Cephas in Galatians is revealing.
- a. They concede that Paul typically referred to "Peter" as "Cephas". Outside of Galatians, Paul never called "Cephas" "Peter".
- b. Because they are in the extreme minority in respect to the other manuscripts of Galatians, there is no real reason to believe they are the actual representatives of Paul's original letter.
- B. The real issue is why Paul would have reverted to "Peter" only in Galatians 2:7-8.
- 1. In the New Testament "Cephas" only shows up in the nine texts listed above (I.A.2). Everyone else in all of the references to Cephas call him "Peter" (The Word lists 157 texts where the man is referred to as "Peter").
- 2. Why would Paul conform to the typical use of "Peter" only in the two verses in Galatians 2?
- a. The most likely reason is that "Peter" is the most well-known reference to the man as an "apostle" of Jesus, the Christ. The only two times Paul chose this form of the man's name was in a deliberate context of people recognizing that "Peter's" God-produced "apostleship to the circumcision" was no different than his own God-produced "apostleship to the uncircumcision".
- b. That Paul went against the typical use of "Peter" in favor of "Cephas" may likely indicate Paul's appreciation of the fact that "Simeon" was changed into "Cephas" by the Spirit of the Lord according to Jesus' own words in John 1:42. This appreciation fits Paul's focus upon Life by the Spirit.
- c. It is also clear from 2:9 that "Cephas" was reputed to be a "pillar" of the Church. That "Cephas" was "defeated" in his hypocrisy by the content of Paul's Gospel makes Paul's argument (that his Gospel is the only true Gospel) insurmountable.
- C. The question, then, is why Paul would call the man "Cephas" when, in the paragraph before us, "Cephas" pulled a real boner by acting the hypocrite before the party of the circumcision.
- 1. The use of "Cephas" as a man changed by God's power in a paragraph revealing his deep-seated flaw raises this question.
- 2. It may be that Paul wished to show that the content of his Gospel triumphed over the flaws of even the men who have been changed by God. The fact is, if a man falters on the content of the Gospel, even God will not "change" him unless he returns to the principles of Life by the Spirit instead of life by fear. Paul said of "Cephas" that his reason for playing the hypocrite was that he "feared" those who agitated for circumcision and lawkeeping as a part of the Gospel (Galatians 2:12).
- D. The setting in Antioch is also highly significant. In a very real sense, it was "Antioch" from which the Gospel was launched into the nations, not Jerusalem. Thus, for Cephas to be in Antioch when he determined to execute his fearful failure is a critical place for the content of the Gospel to be undermined. If "Satan" (Matthew 16:23) can launch an effective attack on the Gospel in Antioch, the purity of the Gospel among the nations will be compromised.
- II. Paul's Rebuke of Cephas.
- A. Paul's claim is that he "withstood/resisted him to the face".
- 1. Paul's choice of words includes the one translated "withstood" (AV) or "resisted" (ASV) and it means "to oppose the flow of effects that someone has set in motion".
- 2. He also did this "according to his face", which Paul interprets to mean publicly (he says he "said unto Peter before them all..." in 2:14). There is no "going to him in private" here. Since Jesus commanded a first confrontation in private when a brother sins (Matthew 18: 15), Paul must have had a good reason to go public right off the bat. The reasons are at least two: first, Jesus' command was couched in terms of "...if thy brother shall trespass against thee..." (a kind of one against one problem) and Peter's sin was against all of the Gentiles he had slighted; and, second, Peter's sin was significantly public and had created a swell that had the potential to carry his error throughout the Gentile world. Unless a sea wall of opposition could be mounted to stop the onslaught of a "Cephas" corrupting the Gospel, that Gospel stood in danger of being eradicated (Galatians 2:5). Paul's "sea wall" was a public confrontation that put all on notice that he rejected out of hand what Peter was doing. Since he was the prime mover in the progress of the Gospel to the nations, this was no small matter. Suddenly, by the failure of Cephas, the two "prime movers" (2:7-8) of the Gospel in the world are in direct opposition over the precise terms of that Gospel.
- B. Paul's accusation was that Cephas "was to be blamed" (AV), or "stood condemned" (ASV).
- 1. This word choice is rare in the New Testament. Paul used it only this once, and John used it twice in 1 John 3:20-21. John's use is instructive: it signals an incapacity to "have confidence before God" if one is "blamed/condemned". In other words, whatever Paul meant, it included the fact that Peter was not only outside of the Truth with his hypocrisy, he was also incapable of being confident before God.
- 2. Interestingly, the word under consideration here was "coined" to indicate a situation wherein a person did something that he "knew better than" to do. The essence of the word is "to know". Paul is actually accusing Peter of acting against his better judgment because, as we say, "he knew better". Being a passive participle indicates that Paul was painting Peter as one whose "knowing" actually put him up as Paul's "target" -- he was publicly blameworthy for doing as he did. He accuses him of maintaining a position that was unsustainable and he knew it. This has to mean that, at least for a time, Peter was involved in a spiritual skid that had distanced him from a healthy relationship with God. Paul's accusation actually reinforces the biblical concept of "apostle" because the "gift" of apostleship guarantees "right knowledge". An "apostle" may not "believe" and "act" on what he knows, but one thing is sure: he knows. Here we may have the ultimate explanation for why God used Paul to write the majority of the New Testament even though Jesus had spent the majority of His ministry life "schooling" twelve other apostles: those others may not have had the tenacity of "faith" that is required for "apostles" to actually minister to the Church. This certainly was Paul's thought as he went up to Jerusalem so that he might not have "run in vain" (the only way his efforts could have been made "vain" was if "apostles" acted against their own understanding given to them by God, and since Peter had done that, he had no confidence that it was impossible for the others).