Chapter # 2 Paragraph # 2 Study # 2
June 19, 2011
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:
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. Peter's Flawed Behavior.
- A. The pivot point: certain ones came from James.
- 1. At issue here is the specific sense of "came from James".
- a. If he actually sent them, he is as much at fault as they whom Paul unhesitatingly called "false brethren" (2:4).
- b. If they did not have instructions from James, but called themselves "followers of James" (in the sense of 1 Corinthians 1:12 ... "I am of Paul; I am of Apollos; I am of Cephas" ... ), he gets off the hook.
- 2. Peter's reaction is a strong indicator of a very real situation in Jerusalem: there is a good bit of tension in the Church in Jerusalem because of the imprecision of clarity in regard to the practice of real righteousness and godliness (that which is produced by the Spirit and not the flesh). The Grace Life is always just a small step from libertinism ("use not liberty for an occasion for the flesh" -- Galatians 5:13) on one side and legalism ("a show of wisdom in will worship" -- Colossians 2:23) on the other. The narrow way has always been narrow. Faith in Grace is indiscernible from the outside until the boundaries of legitimacy are breached to a degree that makes "justification" of the actions impossible. That Peter was able to dissimulate even to the point of misleading Barnabas reveals this difficulty. Thus, there will always be three kinds of behavior: that which is sponsored by Grace and pursued by Faith; that which is sponsored by the flesh in the direction of self-indulgence and is pursued under the banner of the "freedom" which we have in Christ Jesus; and that which is sponsored by the flesh in the direction of self-exaltation and is pursued under the banner of "submission to the Word".
- 3. Acts 15:24 helps, but does not settle the question. In the letter that the Church sent to the churches as the outcome of the resolution of the doctrinal debate, the Church said, "... we have heard that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, 'You must be circumcised, and keep the Law': to whom we gave no [such] commandment ...". Here the terminology is that "they went out from us" but, in effect, "we didn't send them". This makes it possible for us to see James as an uninvolved victim of others who used his name and influence. But Peter's own failure in Antioch makes it at least possible that James was, like Peter, being disloyal to his own "apostleship" by creating a "party of the circumcision". We cannot settle this question except to say that after the "debate", James was one of those who stood up for Paul's Gospel and extended to him the right hand of fellowship. The problem, however, remains that even with clarity on the exact terms of the Gospel, we will still have the three kinds of behavior mentioned above because people will still be people.
- B. Before.
- 1. Paul said, "...he used to eat with Gentiles...".
- 2. The term Paul used is a compound that emphasizes the process of "eating with" someone. According to 1 Corinthians 5:11, this is the minimum level of activity that communicates "acceptance". In that text Paul forbids this minimal activity with those who call themselves "brothers" yet engage in fornication, covetousness, idolatry, railing, drunkenness, extortion, and such like-things. In other words, there is to be no level of behavior that communicates "acceptance" for those who flaunt their so-called "liberty in Christ". In Luke 15:2, it was Jesus' "eating with" sinners that raised the ire of his detractors. This also indicates how insignificant an activity it is to "eat with" someone. However, it does lead to a sense of "acceptance" at least at some level. In Acts 11:3, Peter took some heat for "eating with" the household of Cornelius. In fact, it was the record of the events surrounding Acts 11:3 that makes Peter's behavior of "eating with" Gentiles clearly acceptable with God (He is the One Who gave him the vision and told him not to call the Gentiles "unclean").
- C. After.
- 1. Paul said, "...he withdrew and separated himself...".
- 2. This is a putdown of the Gentiles by Peter because it indicated that he would have nothing to do with them, not even the smallest act of acceptance.
- II. Peter's Flawed Motives.
- A. In 2:11 Paul claimed that Peter had violated his "heart" and was walking outside of fellowship with the God of Light when he put the Gentiles down.
- B. In 2:12 he assigned another element to Peter's failure: he "feared".
- 1. That there was anything to fear indicates that there was a "problem" in the Church in Jerusalem. Clearly the "false brethren" had a place at the table in Jerusalem and were making their "down the nose looks" a prominent element in their bid for power.
- 2. That Peter was intimidated by these "down the nose looks" is rather remarkable in that he had justified his behavior with Cornelius and had been accepted for his explanation in that Church.
- 3. Yet, he continued to be uncomfortable with genuine freedom and, by that, revealed that he was still a part of those who define life by who accepts them and who does not. This definition only holds water when God is the One at the core of the question, "Will He accept me?"