Sunday, June 26, 2011

Paul gets in Peter’s face

In Galatians 2:11-21, Paul withstands Peter to his face because Peter plays the hypocrite.  What I don't understand is why this is such a big issue.  It says Peter lived (or ate) as the Gentiles until certain Jewish men came around.  Because of fear of those certain men, Peter would then withdraw from the Gentiles.  Yet, Peter was teaching the Jews to live as gentiles, yes?  Is Paul disgusted because Peter would at one time follow the law correctly by only eating with Jews (when certain men were around) but then when they were gone, he'd freely eat with the gentiles?  Wasn't it against Jewish law for them to eat with gentiles?

The wording in vs. 16 confuses me because of being justified by faith and not works.  I must say, I am very confused over these scriptures because it sounds like Peter is being corrected by Paul for going back to the law.  It appears that Paul is reminding Peter that the law is done away with and vs. 19 died to the law that I might live to God.

In Galatians 2, the whole issue is about Peter being a hypocrite in front of the gentiles!

The problem with what Peter did is that Paul made it crystal clear to both Peter, and those gentile believers in the body of Christ that Peter ate (fellowshipped) with at Antioch, that "Jewishness" had nothing to do with what God was doing today, and that it was perfectly fine in the eyes of God for him to eat/fellowship with those gentiles. By Peter eating/fellowshipping with the gentiles, and then withdrawing himself from them when Jewish men from Israel came to visit, Peter was taking away from the ‘truth of the gospel!’

What is the ‘truth of the gospel?’ That ”in Christ” (that is, in the current, present-day program of God called the Mystery [the church, the body of Christ]), being a Jew does not matter and is not the issue! The only thing that matters is anybody--Jew or Gentile--who trusts the shed blood of Christ for their sins, can be saved and fellowship with all the saints. In fact, Jewish things matter nothing to God today!

So by Peter withdrawing himself from the gentiles (holier-than-thou type of attitude because of religious pressure), which made it look like that the gentiles were still unclean, and that the Jews still had some special status or were still better than the gentiles, he confused them, and took away from the GLORY of what God is doing with us gentiles!  Paul says that his sin was that he was "compelling the gentiles to live as Jews"!  Paul writes…

Colossians 1:27
To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:

Gentiles are not required by God to live as do the Jews, in fact, Jews are to come to the cross just like us gentiles to get saved like us!

That is why Paul makes such a big deal about what Peter did. Peter gave the gentiles the false impression that eating with them was now wrong once those Jewish men showed up! He allowed those religious Jews from Israel to make him feel ashamed to eat with gentiles, and that was wrong! He was sending mixed messages, mixed signals to the gentiles, and Paul would not let that go on because he was told by Christ that the Jews have no special place before God in this present dispensation!

By the way, I see in your email that you said "Peter was teaching the Jews to live as gentiles," but that is not what Peter taught Jews. What Peter taught Jews, was to live as Jews. By separating himself from the gentiles in the eyes of those religious Jews, he was in essence telling those religious Jews that "being a Jew" still meant something special, when it did not! But when among the gentiles (especially the saved members of the Body of Christ), it was ok, and perfectly fine by God if Jews ate/fellowshipped with the gentiles because they were now clean by the blood of Christ!

Ephesians 2:13-18
But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.

Thru Paul's message of grace, both Jew and gentiles were able to eat/fellowship/live side by side, etc., because in the dispensation of grace, there is no difference! We are all the same in the eyes of God today! We are all heathen (i.e., lost Jew or gentile)!  All mankind is either in Adam (lost Jew or gentile), or In Christ (saved Jew or gentile).

Romans 3:21-23; 11:30-32
But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief: Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy. For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.

Peter was no longer under the constraints of the Law of Moses for righteousness [Romans 10:4] ( i.e., can't eat pork, etc.; although if his conscience would not allow him to eat it because of his upbringing, he would not eat it—but he was freed by God to eat pork if he wanted to). So he was no longer under its demands! The saved kingdom Jew, or the saved Body Jew could both keep the remnants of their Jewish culture if they wanted (Paul did at times, i.e., he kept the feast, etc.), but they were also free to eat pork, catfish (and other "unclean" meats because God made them clean) if their conscience allowed. They did not, if they chose, have to observe the Sabbath because that program was put on hold—but they could if they wanted to.

Here are some verses that show that after Paul's salvation, that Jewish religion was not the issue with God:

1 Corinthians 7:19
Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God (thru Paul...).

1 Corinthians 14:37
If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I [Paul] write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.

Galatians 5:6
For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.

Galatians 6:15-16
For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.

Colossians 3:10-11
And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:  Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all

You see, after Paul's salvation, God changed his attitude toward the Jews, temporarily, and their religion. It no longer was a big deal to be Jewish. It was not against Jewish law for them to eat with gentiles because God was no longer operating that program. And Peter knew that! He learned that in Acts 10, and Acts 15. Paul taught Peter and the rest of those Jewish apostles that in Acts 15/Galatians 2, but Peter went back to "being Jewish" in front of those gentiles when Jewish men came from Israel and confused the gentile believers at Antioch.

Peter is not being corrected by Paul for going back to the law so much as he is for doing it in front of gentiles—acting like in order for those gentiles to be "more spiritual" they should do the same. And even worse,by separating himself from the gentiles, he made them feel like they were "less than" him because they were not Jews!

Here is the rule from Paul...

1 Corinthians 9:19-23
For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. And this I do for the gospel's sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you.

So when around Jews, Peter could "be Jewish" if he wanted (although he had perfect right to eat pork if he wanted, or to not observe the Sabbath, as long as it did not offend another Jewish brother's conscience). But around gentiles, Peter could "act like a gentile" within the will of God, i.e., eat pork, don't observe the Sabbath, etc. Rather, his sin was withdrawing himself from the gentiles as if they were "less than" or somehow "unclean" in comparison with those Jewish men who came from Israel! He sent them the wrong message, and the Lord Jesus Christ himself had Paul rebuke Peter for that.

Now onto the “wording of verse 16” in Galatians 2...

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.

Here, the Apostle Paul is reminding Peter about what he already taught Peter...that is, that the "works of the law", i.e., religion/religious status has no place in God's current program of grace. By adding works you destroy God's grace!

Romans 11:6
And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.

Grace and works, especially for justification (to be declared righteous before God) DO NOT mix!

Paul tells Peter that he already knew this!

What justifies a man, both for salvation, AND sanctification (during his Christian walk) is the "faith of Christ". It’s all about His faith/faithfulness—God sees us IN CHRIST!

So Peter's, yours or my own religious works are vain, empty, and useless in the eyes of God today! Peter stopped operating that way as soon as some pressure came from the religious Jewish crowd. And because Peter was "somebody" of note/reputation among men, how he conducted himself has a PROFOUND effect on others! So Paul HAD to withstand him to his face, and before others.

Paul said we have believed in Jesus (put our faith and trust in him) so that we might be justified, not by our own merit, but by his. Now that Christ came and fulfilled all the righteous requirements of the Mosaic Law perfectly, man does not have to come to God on that basis anymore; now, only thru him.

Acts 13:38-39
Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.

I realize that this may be a lot, but I have determined to share with others what the Lord has shown me in his word over the years. The word is like food and sometimes it's a lot of meat to digest, but it is very tasty! I look at myself like a gourmet chef who delights to cook a feast for others!

Hopefully this helps...Maranatha!

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