Paul rebukes Peter for inconsistency towards Gentiles
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"Paul and the Other Apostles (Compare Acts 15.1-21)" - 1 Fourteen years later I went back to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along with me. 2 I went because God revealed to me that I should go. In a private meeting with the leaders I explained the gospel message that I preach to the Gentiles. I did not want my work in the past or in the present to be a failure. 3 My companion Titus, even though he is Greek, was not forced to be circumcised, 4 although some wanted it done. Pretending to be fellow-believers, these men slipped into our group as spies, in order to find out about the freedom we have through our union with Christ Jesus. They wanted to make slaves of us, 5 but in order to keep the truth of the gospel safe for you, we did not give in to them for a minute. 6 But those who seemed to be the leaders—I say this because it makes no difference to me what they were; God does not judge by outward appearances—those leaders, I say, made no new suggestions to me. 7 On the contrary, they saw that God had given me the task of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, just as he had given Peter the task of preaching the gospel to the Jews. 8 For by God’s power I was made an apostle to the Gentiles, just as Peter was made an apostle to the Jews. 9 James, Peter, and John, who seemed to be the leaders, recognized that God had given me this special task; so they shook hands with Barnabas and me, as a sign that we were all partners. We agreed that Barnabas and I would work among the Gentiles and they among the Jews. 10 All they asked was that we should remember the needy in their group, which is the very thing I have been eager to do.
Paul Rebukes Peter at Antioch - 11 But when Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him in public, because he was clearly wrong. 12 Before some men who had been sent by James arrived there, Peter had been eating with the Gentile brothers and sisters. But after these men arrived, he drew back and would not eat with the Gentiles, because he was afraid of those who were in favour of circumcising them. 13 The other Jewish brothers and sisters also started acting like cowards along with Peter; and even Barnabas was swept along by their cowardly action. 14 When I saw that they were not walking a straight path in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you have been living like a Gentile, not like a Jew. How, then, can you try to force Gentiles to live like Jews?”
Paul rebukes Peter in Antioch for shunning Gentile Christians: Soon after the Jerusalem Conference mentioned in Act 15:1-35, Paul chastised Peter (Cephas) in Antioch for his hypocrisy. At the time both Peter and Paul had been in Antioch, and both Peter and Paul had been eating together with the Gentiles, which was contrary to Jewish law but consistent with Christian justification by living faith rather than justification by ritual acts. When the disciples of James (Jesus' brother) arrived in Antioch, Peter disassociated himself from his earlier unprejudiced acceptance of the Gentiles of the Antioch church. In Gal 2:12 Paul said that Peter "drew back and would not eat with the Gentiles, because he was afraid" of the more Jewish-oriented followers of James who favored circumcision and strict adherence to Jewish law. Paul then publicly rebuked Peter for his hypocrisy. As Paul stated in Gal 2:11 (TEV), "I opposed him in public, because he was clearly wrong." In Gal 2:13 (TEV) Paul also expressed disappointment that "even Barnabas was swept along by their cowardly action." To further explore this, see "Part 2. An illustration of repeated need for correction of an early church leader" at http://www.bibletexts.com/qa/qa078.htm.
Paul and Barnabas contend and separate in Antioch: Gal 2:13 provides the real explanation of the fallout between Paul and Barnabas that is mentioned in Act 15:37-39. The sharp contention between Paul and Barnabas appears to have arisen from Barnabas' following Peter's lead in distancing himself from the Gentiles. According to Act 15:39-41 Barnabas sailed with his cousin John Mark to Cyprus and Paul took Silas throughout Syria and Cilicia. (Outside of the Book of Acts, Silas is known in 2Co 1:19, 1Th 1:1, 2Th 1:1, and 2Pe 5:12 by the Latinized name of Silvanus).
The historical record - Events described in Paul's writings compared with events described in the book of Acts: It is useful to note that Paul's letter to the Galatians was written in about 53-54 A.D. and that the Book of Acts was written approximately 30 or 40 years later, somewhere between 85 and 95 A.D.; thus, Paul's own account is considered to be more reliable.
The Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts were written as a single work in two separate volumes. Though Luke-Acts is traditionally attributed to "Luke, the beloved physician" (Col 4:14), who is believed to have traveled with Paul during his later journeys, there is uncertainty as to who actually wrote this two-volume work. Even if the author of this work is Luke, he would not have been traveling with Paul at the time of the events described in Gal 2:1-14. This reaffirms the greater reliability of Paul's own first hand account of the events.
The two references to "Luke" in the New Testament are in Col 4:14 and 2Ti 4:11. Colossians is often believed to have been written sometime before 80 A.D. by an actual disciple of Paul, and 2 Timothy is usually believed to have been written around 115 A.D. by a later Christian.
Copyright 1996-2004 Robert Nguyen Cramer