Chapter # 2 Paragraph # 2 Study # 4
July 3, 2011
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:
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. Paul's Response to Hypocrisy.
- A. He "saw" that their behavior and the Gospel were in opposition.
- 1. He couches his thought in the phrase "the truth of the Gospel", implying that there is a truth that serves as the core to all of the other truths.
- 2. This core truth is not directly Christological; it is fundamentally methodological. It is not about who Christ is or what He did, per se, but whether what He did can be believed in terms of its scope. Can a person believe that Christ's death for his/her sins was all that was necessary for the gift of eternal life, or must that person perform at some level beyond "faith"?
- 3. Peter's withdrawal and aloofness was an "action" statement that more than "faith" is required. Did not Abraham offer his son Isaac? Did not Rahab hide the spies? Could they have been justified if they had refused to do these things? Hebrews 11:17 says that Abraham's action was "by faith" and it claims that "he who had received the promises offered up his only begotten". This verse clearly reveals that Abraham had already "believed" and had already "received" before he ever took that faithful action. Thus, as James declared, "the Scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness" (James 2:23). Peter's actions, on the other hand constituted an "unbelieving" response to the promises because they did not come "out of a prior faith", but were, instead, an ungodly addition to that prior faith.
- 4. At issue is the question of the essence of Peter's actions.
- a. Clearly those actions said, "You are not 'good enough' for my fellowship."
- b. Just as clearly, Paul identified the occasion of those actions: the coming of false brethren who demanded "Jewishness" of the "saved".
- c. Paul also said that Peter's motivation was "fear" of those false brethren; clearly not "love" for the Gentile brethren.
- d. Since the real issue is this "fear/love" conflict, we must conclude that Peter's actions were a theological statement about the essence of the love of God: His love is conditioned upon Gentiles becoming "Jewish". Since this is the lie of that occasion, we can conclude that it is the truth about the love of God that is the truth of the Gospel which Peter's actions contradicted.
- B. He "said" to Cephas in the presence of all... . Paul determined to address the problem in public because it was not only a distortion of the Gospel, it was also a public humiliation for all of the Gentile brethren.
- 1. If you, being a Jew, are living in the manner of a Gentile and not in the manner of a Jew, how do you compel the Gentiles to live as Jews?
- a. This was indisputable: before those from James arrived, Peter had been "living as do the Gentiles".
- a. This is the essence of the charge of hypocrisy: insisting that others do what you are not doing.
- b. At this point, the issue is not the "doctrine" behind the "living"; it is the contradiction of doing what you refuse to allow others to do.
- c. But it is impossible to dismiss the "doctrine" behind the "living": the one drives the other. The behavior of Cephas was that of a "false brother", a "teacher of legal justification". Since Paul labeled "false brethren" as those who were "accursed" as promoters of a false Gospel, it is clear that there is a sliding scale in his thinking in respect to "false brethren". Cephas and Iscariot; Cephas and "false brethren" -- the issues are matters of "degree", not "kind". There is a fundamental difference between betrayal and denial and there is a fundamental difference between preaching another Gospel and living as if another Gospel is the truth; but, the differences are differences of degree, not of kind. Both arise from the presence in human beings of the "Satan" reality ("Get thee [Peter, Confessor of Christ] behind Me Satan [Opponent of Truth]" -- Matthew 16:23) (Ephesians 2:2). It is clear from the New Testament that God has determined to create a new humanity in Christ out of people who still participate in the old humanity in Adam to a large degree. There is an "I" who does not sin; and there is an "I" that still sins (Romans 7:20) and both dwell in the same physical body and location.
- 2. We [are] by nature "Jews" and not "sinners" from among the nations.