Full Text for Galatians- Volume 21 - What happened at Antioch that caused Paul to be so upset with Peter? Can church leaders be upset with one another without this being a sin? (Video)

No. 21. >> Thank you, Dr. Just. I truly appreciate your taking the time to respond to me. Now I want to ask one more question. At the incident at Antioch Peter and Paul appear to be at odds with each other. What happened at Antioch that caused Paul to be so upset with Peter? Can church leaders be upset with one another without this being a sin? >>DR. ARTHUR A. JUST, JR.: Those are good questions, Josh. And I'm not sure I can answer the last one. But I think we can look at the text and see what happens here between Peter and Paul. And as I mentioned before in Acts 15, I think we see that reconciliation has taken place. But this is a very disturbing part of Galatians. And in fact it's a very disturbing part of the New Testament. Because you see that there tends to be here not just on the surface but deep down a potential break, a potential source of deep trouble when Paul and Peter in Antioch. Now, this is called the incident in Antioch. And over the years many have tried to reconcile this or explain it away. But I think you've got to take these words at face value. That something happened in Antioch that caused Peter to withdraw. Now, let's look at the text. I think the text needs to be looked at carefully here. Because it will tell us what it is that we need to know about this. First of all, you have Cephas in Antioch, you've got Paul and you've got Barnabas and you also have this reference some from James. So in other words, everybody who was at the private meeting are now at least referred to here in the Antioch incident. It clearly takes place after that private meeting. And as I mentioned earlier in my words about the history of the early Christian church, it appears as if Paul left this meeting in Jerusalem that was recorded in the first ten verses of Chapter 2 just elated. There was the right hand of fellowship. And I think that Peter did, as well. I think Peter runs to Antioch now. And of course he knew Antioch. He had been to Antioch. This is the first place where Christians were called Christians. This is a great church. This is a church that is a significant player. And Antioch of course was in a place where a lot of commerce came. So it was a place to spread the Gospel everywhere. I think Peter goes running from Jerusalem to Antioch and just rejoices in being able to participate in a church now made up of Jews and Gentiles. Remember now, like I said, he is the founder of the mission to the Jews, founder of the mission to the Gentiles. So Peter in himself embodies both missions even though he lives more like a Jew, even though he may be more closely associated with Jerusalem and the mission to the Jews, Antioch now embraces all of what had happened to Peter in the first 10, 11 chapters of Acts. Now, I think when he was there, he loved celebrating the Lord's Supper with the Gentiles, eating in their houses, eating the foods that they served. Perhaps for the first time, as I said, eating foods he had never eaten before. But it says -- this is Verse 11: But when Cephas came to Antioch -- and I think it's important to see that Cephas, Peter who is coming to Antioch -- I opposed him to his face because he stood condemned. Now, that is a strong statement. And clearly, you know, maybe Peter left for a while, came back. But what happened happened in Antioch. And when he comes now back to Antioch, Paul is in his face. Now, remember what I talked about Paul, short guy, skinny neck, kind of bulging eyes, fierce kind of countenance, long hook nose, shrewd. High pitched voice. Imagine him getting in your face. When I played sports in high school, we had a coach who whenever he wanted to talk to us always got right here in our face. He just violated our space. We called him Lou the Face because he would always get right in our face. And I can see -- you know this is an expression that we have: In your face. I think Paul is in Peter's face here. And he says -- you know, literally he says: I got in his face because he stood condemned. Now, condemned. I mean, was Peter you know destined to hell? Well, I don't know. But he clearly did something that caused Paul to think that he had compromised the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And then he says this: Before some from James came -- now that's a very colorless expression. We don't know what that means. And we do not think -- and I think this is important to state. And we do not think that they represented James. They may claim they are from James. And that certainly may be something. Oh, we're from the bishop. The bishop sent us. But I don't think that's the case. There's no indication anywhere else in the New Testament that James held to this position. But it says: Before some from James came, Peter -- this is an ongoing act in the past -- was continually eating with the Gentiles. Now, I think that means both kind of normal meals and table fellowship at the Lord's Supper. I think it's table fellowship in both the common meals and the supper of the Lord. Peter was continually over and over again eating with Gentiles. But it says: But when they came -- and these words are very important -- he drew back and he separated himself because he feared those who were out of the circumcision party. Now, this is a loaded statement. And I want to explain a couple of the words here. The word there for drawback is a military word. Remember I said the Galatians were military men. They were soldiers. And so this is the sense of retreat. Now, I think you can see this as the Gospel is moving forward, it's taking ground. I mean, this conference in Jerusalem, this private conference brought all these players together to show that the Gospel is now to move among the Gentiles. And Peter is in Antioch moving forward. I mean it's an extraordinary moment in the church history. And then all of a sudden because these from James came, he began to retreat. He began to back off. Like an army would as it's beginning to take territory and then receiving resistance begins to have to retreat because it doesn't want to have to lose any more forces. And the word that's next and again it's an ongoing action in the past. And he was repeatedly over and over again separating himself. Now, that word separate is a Celtic word. What that means is is that it's talking about the context of liturgy. Of cult. Of worship. He's separating himself from the Lord's Supper. So he's retreating. He's moving himself away from the Gentile celebration of the Lord's Supper and just doing a Jewish one. And here is the critical reason: Because he was afraid. Now, we're afraid of a lot of things. But the word fear both in the gospels and here I think in Paul has to do with fear that comes from persecution for confessing the true faith. Peter was afraid of confessing the faith that was agreed upon in that private meeting in Jerusalem right before this text that he had with Paul and Barnabas and the church in Antioch. He was afraid of being persecuted by the circumcision party. Now, I think we have to be a little gentle here on Peter. Not that we want to excuse his behavior. But I think he's afraid not just of being ridiculed or being considered somebody who doesn't have a backbone. I think he's afraid maybe not so much for his life but the life of those who are his followers. Because these are those terrorists. These are those people who are literally killing people who they do not think are living like a Jew should live. And in this case that they think a Jewish Christian should live. So in order to preserve life, Peter retreats, Peter withdraws. Now, it's important to recognize here that Peter is being condemned by Paul because he is a leader in the church. And his actions have an impact beyond himself. I also think it's important to say that Peter perhaps isn't saying: Oh, yes, I now believe that salvation is by grace through faith alone and works of the law. I don't think he's saying that. I think if you were to nail Peter down here and say: What do you believe, Peter? He would say it's salvation by grace through faith. So he's not making a different confession. But he is by his actions showing that he is afraid of publicly portraying that in the life of an intermixed church of Jews and Gentiles. Now, the reason I say that is Verse 13. And it says: That the rest of the Jews -- see this -- the rest of the Jews played the hypocrite with Peter. Now, hypocrite -- a hypocrite is somebody who puts a facade up. And if you read the teachings of Jesus, a person is a hypocrite because they are afraid of confessing the true faith. So Peter and the rest of the Jews put up a facade now. In other words, they retreat behind a wall because they are afraid of confessing the true faith with these Judaizers from Jerusalem, the circumcision party. And his leadership is so powerful. Peter is such a significant figure that not only do the rest of the Jews go with him -- and this must have just killed Paul -- so that even Barnabas, even Barnabas -- and I think this is such a word with such ***pathos that even Barnabas was led astray. Was in a sense perverted by their hypocrisy. Now, this is his traveling companion. This is the man what went with him on his first missionary journey. This is his good friend. The man who in many ways taught him to be a missionary. Even Barnabas is swayed by Peter. Now, this is Paul's conclusion. And I think it's very important. He says: But when I saw that they were not walking in an Orthodox way, literally ortho, they were not walking lightly to the truth of the Gospel -- there is that expression again, the Gospel that is the truth, the truth that is the Gospel that they were not walking to what he, Paul, considers the truth of the Gospel. And notice, this isn't a private thing. This isn't like Matthew 18. This is a public sin. Public act. It takes a public rebuke. He said: I said to Cephas -- that's Peter -- before all of them, the whole church -- he didn't just take Peter in a corner and say: Hey, what are you doing? He goes before the whole church and says to Cephas -- and this is a very important statement here and this shows his hypocrisy. If you, Peter, though you are a Jew -- your being is a Jew. And he's admitting there that Peter lives like a Jew. And that's okay. That's what he is. Ethically he is a Jew. Even though you, Peter, are a Jew are now living like a Gentile and not like a Jew -- now that shows you that Peter fully immersed himself in the Gentile life. Which means he was eating their foods. He was participating in things that would have been uncleaned by Jews. So he's living like a Gentile. If you, Peter, even though you were brought up as a Jew are living like a Gentile and not like a Jew -- and here is the killer and here is the same word that was used to compel circumcision. How can you force to compel Gentiles to live like Jews? Now, whether or not Peter was fully doing that, it doesn't say. But the fact that he withdrew and separated himself indicates that he is making a statement in which perhaps it is necessary as the circumcision party says that these Gentiles must first become Jews in order for them to become Christians. Now, this is a serious breach in the church. And it is my guess that after Paul said this, there was a tremendous tragedy here. That Paul went his way and Peter went his way. And Barnabas, who knows what. But obviously from Acts 15, there was great dissension. And even though Luke kind of glosses it over a little bit, it's very clear that Paul and Barnabas were in great discussion. Barnabas comes along with Paul. So Barnabas is converted first. And I think as I mentioned in the Apostolic Council, when Peter stands up and represents the Gentile point of view, that is his way -- and this is why I think that's such a courageous move -- his way of publicly repenting to the church in Jerusalem and really to the whole Christian church that he was wrong in Antioch. But I think at this moment as Paul writes this letter before that Antioch -- before excuse me; the Apostolic Council in Acts 15, Paul doesn't know what's going to happen to Peter. He is so agitated by the fact that the Gospel may be compromised now not only in Antioch but maybe in Galatia. So I think you can see that this situation in Antioch is an extremely, extremely upsetting one to Paul. And probably upsetting to Peter. Now, is this a sin? Well, it is a very, very wrong thing to confess something that isn't the truth. But even though you're afraid, even though it's something that might cause you great anguish or even may cause the life of some of your followers, at the end of the day, you've got to stand up for the truth. I think Peter was a broken man here. And so was Paul. Because he wasn't sure what was going to happen to the church. And as we now move forward into the final part of this second chapter, we're going to see that this incident in Antioch is the occasion for the first statement by Paul on justification by grace through faith.