Reading Section 4: Conflict Between Paul and Peter (2.11-21)

➡ Average Reading Time: 7 minutes

The material in the following chapters of this draft is being proofed.
They are NOT finished chapters. I invite you to read them and leave comments about what you liked, didn’t like, didn’t understand, etc.

Thanks,
Winn

Where We Are Going?

Reading the Storyline: New International Version (2011)
Reading The Storyline: Interpretative Paraphrase
Observing the Storyline
Interpreting the Storyline
Paul in Opposition with Peter (2.11-21)
So What?
Living into the Story

Reading the Storyline: New International Version (2011)

Free At LastWhen Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.

When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?

“We who are Jews by birth and not sinful Gentiles know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.

“But if, in seeking to be justified in Christ, we Jews find ourselves also among the sinners, doesn’t that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not! If I rebuild what I destroyed, then I really would be a lawbreaker.

“For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”

Reading The Storyline: Interpretative Paraphrase

Later when I was back in Antioch and Peter came to visit, I challenged him because his words and actions were different. When he arrived, he ate with the Gentiles which demonstrated his view of their inclusion into the family of Yahweh. But, when some folks came from the Jerusalem ecclesiae, he would not eat with his Gentile brothers and sisters. He appeared to be somewhat fearful of these Jewish folks from the Jerusalem ecclesiae. Other Jewish brothers and sisters followed Peter in the hypocrisy, even my partner Barnabas was swept into this nonsense. When it came to my attention that their actions and words did not match, that they had changed to a former story, I spoke to Peter in public saying, “As a Jew how is it that you can eat like a Gentile, downing a big ham sandwich, when no one is watching you, especially the troublemakers from Jerusalem? Why then would you compel your Gentile brothers and sisters to change their story? Is it because you want to make an impression that is favorable on the ones you live within Jerusalem?

We are Jewish by birth, not Gentile sinners by birth. You know that we have not been justified by following a law code with all its boundary markers. We have become Jesus-followers because we have chosen to live in Yahweh’s story about Jesus. You know that we cannot find life by following the code of the law. But, while we are set free by Jesus, we turn and discover that we are yet sinners, does that make Jesus a sinner? Absolutely not! If being good was at issue, then I would be rehearsing the code of laws but sill I would be a law-breaker. I have stopped trying to be a good Jew by law-keeping. It really never worked anyway. Instead, I decided to be one who directly follows Yahweh as Jesus shows me how to do so. Since I died with Jesus on that cross in Jerusalem, it is no longer me that is living, but it is Jesus living in me and I in him. That Jesus-life I live by faith is the main characteristic of our story. He showed me the way by loving and giving himself up for me. This is not a light thing. If I live as if Jesus did nothing by sacrificing his life, then Yahweh’s story has a big hole in it and in the end, Jesus died for nothing. That’s just not the case.

Observing the Storyline

To illustrate his faithfulness to this gospel, Paul told his readers a story about a conflict with Peter and how he, Paul, had embodied the essence of the gospel.

Interpreting the Storyline

Paul in Opposition with Peter (2.11-21)

In the final episode of his autobiography, Paul discloses his confrontation with Peter when he visited Antioch. On Peter’s visit to the church at Antioch, the congregation was an integrated congregation of Christian Jews and Christian Gentiles, and he ate with them. But, when some folks came who were representatives of James and the Jerusalem ecclesiae, he withdrew because of his fear of the Jesus-plus-Moses party. This act of Peter, Paul believed, would effectively split the ecclesiae into a Jewish and Gentile form. Peter’s actions would lead the Christian Gentiles to believe that they would have to become Jews (following boundary markers, in this case, food laws) to continue to enjoy a relationship with the Jerusalem ecclesiae and by implication with Jesus himself. This conflict that occurred in Antioch was a mirror image of the problem that was being faced off in the Galatian ecclesiae.

The closing statement in Paul’s autobiography is intensely personal and may serve as a paradigm for followers of Jesus of all ages. His address to Peter ends at Galatians 2.14 and he begins a theological reflection at Galatians 2.15 ending in Galatians 2.21. Here is how his theological reflection reads:

“But if, in seeking to be justified in Christ, we Jews find ourselves also among the sinners, doesn’t that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not! If I rebuild what I destroyed, then I really would be a lawbreaker.

“For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” (Gal. 2.15-24. NIV)
This is one of the more dense arguments of Paul in the book of Galatians. Volumes have been written on it. So, here is a simplified summary.

In Paul’s own experience of being a Jew by birth, he now understood that he was justified by faith in Christ and not by keeping the boundary markers. By clear implication, Gentiles could only be justified by faith in Christ and not by having to add the boundary markers of the Jewish faith. Paul sought justification only through Jesus. But he was found by his Jewish brothers and sisters to be a sinner because he was eating with Gentiles (effectively breaking the Law). Since his table fellowship with his Gentile converts was based on a common faith in Jesus, Jesus was being blamed as the agent that caused Paul to break the Law. The notion that Jesus was the cause of Paul’s supposed breaking of the Law was thoroughly rejected by Paul.

When he writes, “If I rebuild what I destroyed, then I really would be a lawbreaker,” he is suggesting that as a Jewish convert to Jesus, he had forfeited the opportunity of ever returning to the boundary markers as the primary orientation for governing his life. Finally, in the last three sentences of this reflection, he says that Jews who convert to Jesus find death to the boundary markers through the death of Jesus on the cross and new life because of the resurrection. Jesus died for nothing if the boundary markers were the way one joined the people of God. In this theological reflection, Paul seeks a hearing that participation in the life of the gospel story and not adherence to the cultural lifestyle of Judaism was indeed the source of new life. In the next reading section, Paul used the story of Abraham to make the same point as here.

So What?

It is helpful from time to time to revisit our own past life (before we were followers of Jesus) and realize what the end of such a life would not have been a reality without the intervention of God’s grace. We need to review what Jesus has done for us in his sacrifice on the cross. It is in those moments of realization that we can offer God genuine thanks for what he has done for us.

In addition, we should examine ourselves to discover if we are letting the story of God have its full implication of freedom in our lives. We should ask whom we might be discriminating against other cultures, the opposite sex, other sexual preferences, and our families. We need to allow the gospel of justification to penetrate us deeply so we shed the additives that hold us from moving forward into growth and maturity.

We delude others and ourselves if we think that by making some decision in the past, that we are done with it forever and are safely secure with our ticket to heaven. We delude ourselves if we think that our present life is not radically changed because of an encounter with Jesus. We delude ourselves if we act like we can live immoral lives, sleep with other partners who are not our spouse, defraud others of money, take no action to care for the social ills of the world, and live in constant tension with those around us. We have been changed.

Living with old boundary markers will not do. Living with new boundary markers where we include and exclude people will not do. We need to shed our additives so that we can proclaim to a hurting world the simple story of forgiveness that will lead to an improved quality of life even in this present evil age.

Living into the Story

End of Sesssion
 

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Read Me First

 

Throughout these sessions, I have used the word ecclesia (singular) for the usual word church and ecclesiae (plural) to indicate a church in a particular geographic place, i.e., the ecclesiae at Corinth, meaning the whole of the many smaller ecclesia that met in homes in Corinth. This is to distinguish between the Institutional Church model (IC) and ecclesia that meet in cities and towns around the world. The ecclesiae written about by the authors of the Second Testament were not the same as what the “church” has become over the years of its existence. Usually, but not always, folks think of a church as a place where they go to a building and set in rows of pews and listen to music and sometimes sing and listen to sermons by a pastor or senior pastor. The ecclesiae of the Second Testament time did not invoke this model.

 

I have discovered over the years that if you want to try and change minds about something special, you have to venture out and reword it in order to grasp a foothold for a new refreshed understanding of the idea presented by the word. Such is the case between "church" and "ecclesia."

 

Happy Reading!

Read Me Second

 

Referenced verses in the text of this study are not used to prove some point of view. They are merely markers where the subject matter is referenced by other books and authors. To gain a larger view of each quote, a serious student of the Holy Writ would take the time to view the reference and see what the background is. The background provides tracks on which the meaning of a text rides. So knowing the context of a referenced passage would help the reader to gain a more thorough understanding of an author than just the words quoted and marked by a verse number that was not a part of the original author's text, which as you might remember was performed on the text in a random fashion many years later.

 

Happy Reading!

Read Me Third

 

The verses that are referenced in these sessions are not meant to prove a point. They are simply pointers to where the idea being written about may have a correlation. In order to see if they accomplish the thesis presented by the original author, a student should read, at a minimum, the chapter in which the verse is found as well as trying to ascertain what the original author may have meant to say to the original audience.

 

Of course, this is a lot of work but it is beneficial work. If one does not understand what the author meant when it was written and the audience could not have understood by what was written, then the words on the page can mean anything that a present reader may assign as a meaning, thus distorting what God was inspiring for the original writer to write to the original audience to hear.

A great and recent book by N.T. Wright and Michael F. Bird entitled The New Testament in Its World would be a wonderful addition to your reading helps.

 

Happy Reading!

Jesus Followers

 

There are many synonyms to use for the word believer, which is the most common word for a person who has "converted" to follow Jesus. I have chosen "Jesus follower(s) or follower(s) of Jesus instead of the word believer in these presentations to allow the reader an opportunity to move away from the idea of believer which conjures up the possible thought of "ascent" to a set of doctrines that have been assembled by different groups over the centuries and show up in this day and age as a set of statements posted on web sites and other written material. These sets of beliefs are suggested by many as the ones that one should ascent to so that upon death the one who assents can go to heaven, i.e., just believe and you are good to go. Jesus followers/followers of Jesus suggest an action that one should take. Remember, Jesus told his disciples to follow him. Yes, belief is important, but one must move beyond belief to action.

 

(See "Discipleship" Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels. 182-188.)

Read Me First

 

Throughout these sessions, I have used the word ecclesia (singular) for the usual word church and ecclesiae (plural) to indicate a church in a particular geographic place, i.e., the ecclesiae at Corinth, meaning the whole of the many smaller ecclesia that met in homes in Corinth. This is to distinguish between the Institutional Church model (IC) and ecclesia that meet in cities and towns around the world. The ecclesiae written about by the authors of the Second Testament were not the same as what the “church” has become over the years of its existence. Usually, but not always, folks think of a church as a place where they go to a building and set in rows of pews and listen to music and sometimes sing and listen to sermons by a pastor or senior pastor. The ecclesiae of the Second Testament time did not invoke this model.

 

I have discovered over the years that if you want to try and change minds about something special, you have to venture out and reword it in order to grasp a foothold for a new refreshed understanding of the idea presented by the word. Such is the case between "church" and "ecclesia."

 

Happy Reading!

Read Me Second

 

Referenced verses in the text of this study are not used to prove some point of view. They are merely markers where the subject matter is referenced by other books and authors. To gain a larger view of each quote, a serious student of the Holy Writ would take the time to view the reference and see what the background is. The background provides tracks on which the meaning of a text rides. So knowing the context of a referenced passage would help the reader to gain a more thorough understanding of an author than just the words quoted and marked by a verse number that was not a part of the original author's text, which as you might remember was performed on the text in a random fashion many years later.

 

Happy Reading!

Read Me Third

 

The verses that are referenced in these sessions are not meant to prove a point. They are simply pointers to where the idea being written about may have a correlation. In order to see if they accomplish the thesis presented by the original author, a student should read, at a minimum, the chapter in which the verse is found as well as trying to ascertain what the original author may have meant to say to the original audience.

 

Of course, this is a lot of work but it is beneficial work. If one does not understand what the author meant when it was written and the audience could not have understood by what was written, then the words on the page can mean anything that a present reader may assign as a meaning, thus distorting what God was inspiring for the original writer to write to the original audience to hear.

A great and recent book by N.T. Wright and Michael F. Bird entitled The New Testament in Its World would be a wonderful addition to your reading helps.

 

Happy Reading!

Jesus Followers

 

There are many synonyms to use for the word believer, which is the most common word for a person who has "converted" to follow Jesus. I have chosen "Jesus follower(s) or follower(s) of Jesus instead of the word believer in these presentations to allow the reader an opportunity to move away from the idea of believer which conjures up the possible thought of "ascent" to a set of doctrines that have been assembled by different groups over the centuries and show up in this day and age as a set of statements posted on web sites and other written material. These sets of beliefs are suggested by many as the ones that one should ascent to so that upon death the one who assents can go to heaven, i.e., just believe and you are good to go. Jesus followers/followers of Jesus suggest an action that one should take. Remember, Jesus told his disciples to follow him. Yes, belief is important, but one must move beyond belief to action.

 

(See "Discipleship" Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels. 182-188.)