Chapter # 2 Paragraph # 2 Study # 2
Thesis: Treating brethren as "unacceptable" for being non-Jews is not only a sin against them and God, it is a frontal attack upon the Gospel itself.
Introduction: As we began our study of this current paragraph, we saw that "Cephas" had no guarantee of godliness, that his behavior was pre-Acts 15, and that Paul was unwilling to allow his behavior to put a theological bomb under the Gospel in Antioch.
This evening we are going to pursue Paul's explanation of why he took Cephas on publicly in Antioch.
June 19, 2011
- I. Paul's Discernment of Cephas' Motives.
- A. On one hand, he saw that Cephas was violating his own heart.
- 1. Paul, by inspiration, chose a word (translated "to be blamed" by the translators of the AV or "condemned" by the translators of the ASV) that is only used three times in the New Testament, but that has precisely to do with a person being in contradiction against his own "heart" (1 John 3:20-21).
- 2. This choice of words reveals that Peter had turned away from the God of Light/Life in order to feed a false grasp of that which produces Life.
- a. In effect, he was among those who, like the Galatians, turn away from the God Who "calls into the Grace of Christ" (1:6).
- b. All behavior is doctrinally rooted and all false behavior is rooted in false doctrine.
- 3. This choice of words nails an "apostle" for being false to his gift (the biblical "gift" of apostleship guarantees that Peter knew better).
- a. The word Paul chose was actually "coined" to suit the need for a word that declares someone "knew better than to..." (kata + ginosko).
- b. In English we actually use the phrase, "he/she knew better than to do that", to criticize someone for doing something foolish/evil (thus illustrating the need to have a word to describe this situation).
- B. On the other hand, he saw that Cephas was defining the quality of his life in an idolatrous manner.
- 1. Paul simply declared that Cephas "was afraid" of "those who were of circumcision".
- 2. Since "perfect love casts out all fear" (1 John 4:18), all fears are rooted in false values and false values directly affect our definitions of the mechanisms of Life.
- 3. Since the mechanism of Life is "fellowship with God", all who capitulate to "fear" are demonstrating that they have not yet shed the vestiges of their idolatries.
- 4. Those who were "of circumcision" were clearly idolatrous in that they rooted their relationship to God in the pride of their own performance.
- a. This rooting is, fundamentally, a "fear" based theology wherein one refuses to turn loose of his perception that one's own control over his destiny (in both short and long term senses) is rooted in his/her own behavior.
- b. The "fear" here is either of being denied some "good" thing, or of being subjected to some "bad" thing and has, fundamentally, to do with being without Omnipotence wedded to Omni-Wisdom (creatures, by definition, are subject to their Creator with, or without, their acquiescence).
- II. Paul's Explanation of Cephas' Actions.
- A. The pivotal activity.
- 1. Paul says "certain ones from James came".
- 2. We are forced to two conclusions.
- a. The "from James" phrase most likely has the same weight as the Acts 15:24 phrase in which the Church acknowledges that certain "went out from us" but did so on their own ("we gave [them] no [such] commandment").
- b. There was a significant level of confusion in the Church in Jerusalem in regard to the concept of Life by the Spirit.
- 1) There are three possible sources for any behavior that has the appearance of being legitimate.
- a) Behavior rooted in Grace and pursued by Faith.
- b) Behavior rooted in the flesh in the direction of self-indulgence and pursued under the banner of the "freedom" which we have in Christ Jesus.
- c) Behavior rooted in the flesh in the direction of self-exaltation and pursued under the banner of "submission to the Word".
- 2) The Church in Jerusalem was inundated by the past and the cultural pervasiveness of the third option above.
- 3) There were, from the beginning, those for whom divine revelation was marginal and were seriously reluctant to embrace their "equality" with the nations.
- 4) The use of "intimidation" by those in the flesh has always been a "weapon" of choice and some, like Cephas, were significantly susceptible to it.
- A. The "before" activity.
- 1. Peter "ate together" with the Gentiles.
- 2. Peter was "free" to do this because of his history with Cornelius under the direction of the divine mandate to "call not thou common" anything/anyone whom "God hath cleansed" (Acts 10:15).
- B. The "after" activity.
- 1. Peter withdrew and separated himself from the Gentiles.
- 2. This was, typically, not a big deal since "eating together" was a "minimal" activity of "acceptance" (see 1 Corinthians 5:11).
- 3. However, since it is an "acceptance" issue, it became a behavioral apostasy by undercutting the Gospel of "acceptance" by grace.
- III. Paul's Tacit Declaration That the Gospel Was Not Faring Well in Jerusalem.
- A. If the Gospel had been "clear" in Jerusalem, there would have been no "party of the circumcision".
- B. If the Gospel had been "clear" in Jerusalem, there would have been nothing to "fear".