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.
3. Paul’s Resolve
1. This is lesson 3, 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 investigate Paul’s resolve in this matter of faith. The beloved apostle Paul understood God's grace and the pattern of conversion for both Jews and Gentiles. He would argue that the Law could save neither Jew nor Gentile; salvation in Christ came through "faith and obedience to the gospel of Christ." Paul would affirm that the Jews must die to law-keeping, and the Gentiles must abandon their idol worship; and God's grace saves both: “through the faith in Christ Jesus," Galatians 2:16; Galatians 3:26-27. Paul will affirm that God imparts salvation unto all men: “By grace through the faith, and not by meritorious works,” Ephesians 2:8-9. With this brief introduction, let’s consider lesson 3, in this sermon-series, Paul’s Resolve, in his rebuke of Peter.
BODY OF LESSON
III PAUL’S RESOLVE
A. Paul’s resolve. He concluded: “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?” Galatians 2:14.
1. The apostle's resolve was to ensure the "unity of the church in Antioch." This was a recurring theme in all of his letters to the saints. He was set for the “defense and confirmation of the gospel, that all saints might be partakers of the grace of God,” Philippians 1:7; Philippians 1:17. Paul wanted God to make known unto them: what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in them, the hope of glory,” Colossians 1:27-29.
2. This unity began in Jerusalem: "And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and breaking of bread, and in prayers...And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart. They were praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved,” Acts 2:42-47; Acts 4:32-33.
b. All these saints were converted from the Jewish religion into Christianity. There were no dietary disputes among them; they ate the same foods.
c. However, as the church grew, men and women from other nations were converted to Christ. These members did not follow the kosha diet of the Jews. Their diet consisted of meats and all kinds of seafood prohibited in the Jewish kosha diet.
3. Saints at Antioch. The saints at Antioch had long standings in eating with one another. What must be understood in this offense of Peter and other Jews; was not merely the diet: but their refusal to sit down with each other at the same table. Something more sinister was brewing in Antioch.
a. Recall, the woman at the well's statement to Jesus: "How is it that you are a Jew, asketh drink of me, who is a woman of Samaria? The Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans," John 4:9.
b. Here is the real issue before the church. Do Jews have dealings with Gentiles? Or was there still a "wall of partition between them?” Ephesians 2:11-19.
1) Christ broke down the “wall of separation” between Jews and Gentiles.
2) However, some religious zealots refuse to admit them into the "body of Christ" without these Gentiles "being circumcised and keeping the Law of Moses," Acts 15:1-4.
c. These Gentiles were not considered Christians; because they had not come to Christ by way of circumcision, the law, and customs of Moses. Therefore, to this sect, they were not brethren. This being the case, they refuse to eat with the Gentiles, not only because of their diet but, they were still “publicans and sinners,” in their doctrine, Luke 15:1-2; Matthew 9:11.
d. Conclusion: Were the Gentiles members of the body of Christ? Was faith and obedience to the gospel of Christ, sufficient for their entrance into the church? Were they Christians, “children of God” without circumcision and the law? This was the doctrinal stand that had to be made immediately in Antioch. It required bold and decisive leadership; to dispel this evil being spread by “the men from James.” Paul continued--