Summary: To establish that Paul rebuked Peter for walking not uprightly before the church. When men from James came to Antioch, Peter withdrew and separated himself from eating with the Gentiles, for fear of the circumcision. This same fear exists today, among believers and leaders in the Lord’s church.
2. Paul’s Reason
1. This is lesson 2, in the sermon-series entitled: “He walked not uprightly.” This sermon deals with an important truth to be heard again by the church, and maybe for the first time the religious world. There may come a time, and today is that time; a man of faith will have to correct his brother's error. This is the situation we find ourselves observing between Peter and Paul. It should be stated: it took tremendous courage to rebuke another, in a public setting. We must applaud Paul for what he did save the church of Christ in Antioch, and the entire world, by fulfilling his apostolic work: "reprove, rebuke, and exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine," 2 Timothy 4:1-3.
2. In this lesson, we will discuss Paul’s reason for his rebuke of Peter. This was a turbulent time for the church at Antioch. There was a faction growing among the saints regarding the Gentiles entrance into the church. Before certain came from James (the Jerusalem church), Peter did eat with the Gentiles: but when they arrived, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation. This withdrawal and separation presented a hypocritical behavior for Peter, Barnabas, and the other Jews. These "men from James were scrutinizing them." They felt it improper for the Jews to eat with these uncircumcised Gentiles. In their judgment, they were yet "publican and sinners." They had not come into Christ, through circumcision and the Law of Moses. Therefore, they were not Christians and not to be eaten with or have fellowship with these unbelievers. Paul would confront this error head-on! With this brief introduction, let’s consider lesson 2, in this sermon-series, Paul’s Reason, for his rebuke of Peter.
BODY OF LESSON
II PAUL’S REASON
A. Paul’s reason. He continues: “For before those certain came from James (the Jerusalem church), he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation,” Galatians 2:12-13.
B. Before certain came from James. These were converted Jews to Christ, who kept many of the customs of Moses, Acts 21:17-25. They were from the churches of Judea, perhaps some even from the Jerusalem church. Peter must have known of their teachings and their dislike of Jews eating with the Gentiles. Paul had no quarrels in “keeping the customs of Moses,” Romans 13:7-8. His dispute with the “men from James,” was their insistence that they must be observed for “salvation sake.” Circumcision was a matter of “cleanliness,” not salvation! However, the matter of withdrawing and separating oneself while eating with the Gentiles, presented a deeper problem among the church. It was discriminatory! Paul continued--
1. Peter did eat with the Gentiles. The words “did eat” in Gr., is synesthio or sün-es-the'-o, which means to take food in company with:—eat together. The idea is to dine with or eat together with another.
2. Until the sect, “the men from James” came to Antioch, Peter, Barnabas, and the other Jews: ate with the Gentile saints, uninhibited. They followed the apostolic practice: “to eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,” Acts 2:46.
3. B. W. Johnson wrote: “Thou…didst eat with them. This was a positive violation, not of the laws of Moses, but...the rules of the orthodox Jews. Though Peter laid aside his Jewish exclusiveness at Cæsarea, he at least once afterward(s) relapsed (Gal. 2:12),” Page 293.
4. Peter had eaten with the Gentiles in Caesarea and Antioch. He staggered in his practice of eating with them, only when the sect of the Pharisees (certain from James), came to Antioch. He did this in fear of these of the circumcision. We have discussed this earlier, so no more will be added here.
C. Certain men from James came to Antioch. Anytime the church is growing and walking in the gospel's faith, evil will eventually show up to cause contention and confusion, among the saints. These sectarians from James have come to Antioch, to sow their divisive doctrine of “circumcision and the law of Moses,” Acts 15:24. Paul calls these “certain men” “false brethren” which came in privily to spy out our liberty in Christ,” Galatians 2:4. Once they're in the assembly, their presence negatively influenced Peter's usual behavior among the Gentiles. Observe--
1. Peter withdrew from the Gentiles. We now get to the essential issues in Peter's actions. Paul wrote: "Peter... withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision,” Galatians 2:12.
a. Paul tells us about his actions; and why he so acted before the church. We are going to look at both of these words in Greek. Consider--