The incident at Antioch, briefly described by Paul in Galatians 2, has long been a source of some perplexity to students of the New Testament. This has become possibly more evident to you since reading the first four articles in this series. In the patristic period the embarrassment of an account recorded in the New Testament where Paul openly condemned Peter for hypocrisy was avoided by such devious exegesis as that of Clement of Alexandria who maintained that a different Cephas was in view, or that of Origen who argued that the whole dispute between Peter and Paul was simulated.
Answer for yourself: What really went on in this incident at Antioch which is recorded in the New Testament from Pauls view only, and is it trustworthy? How can we be sure Paul's view as presented in the New Testament is correct?
Answer for yourself: Are there any other sources to illuminate this incident outside the New Testament, and do they confirm Pauls viewpoint or do they bring it into question?
Answer for yourself: What if you were to find that Pauls viewpoint is a gross distortion of the facts of the matter and in reality both Peter and Paul were BOTH rebuked by the men from James as the ambassadors of Yeshuas church?
Answer for yourself: Why would James, the Lord's brother and head of the Jerusalem Church, command Jewish believers not to continue to eat with non-Jewish believers?
Answer for yourself: Is it possible that non-Jewish believers were sinning when they were eating and sharing table fellowship with the Jews, and in doing so tempting the Jews to follow in their sinful ways?
Answer for yourself: It is possible that at table fellowship in Antioch, between Jewish believers and non-Jewish believers, that important parts of the Laws of Noah from the Covenant of Noah, which were binding upon all non-Jewish believers, were being violated by Paul and his churches?
Answer for yourself: What if you were to find that it was Peter and Barnabas, Pauls close traveling companions, who were the ones to repent after the rebuke from the Jerusalem Church and that it was Paul who defiantly resisted the mother church's instruction?
Dear reader I will prove to you as we conclude this series of articles on the incident at Antioch that Pauls defiance to conform to the Churchs mandate is masked in the New Testament and is recorded in a distorted one-sided account in Galatians 2. Without these facts that I will show, the casual reader of the New Testament reads this one-sided pro-Pauline account and arrives at the wrong conclusion concerning the matter. One will read Pauls self-defense in his epistle and be led to believe Paul is right and that Peter and Barnabas is wrong. You must remember that this event at Antioch occurred after the cross of Christ and the decision brought from the Jerusalem Church is the dogma and doctrine that was to enforced on both Jew and non-Jew long after Yeshuas resurrection. That brings a lot of weigh to what the Jerusalem Church taught and SHOULD matter to Christians as the followers of this Christ today.
We need to LISTEN to what the Apostles said in this matter which was in reality both a rebuke to Peter, Barnabas, and Paul as well. We have no letters from Peter and Barnabas on this issue that has survived and only have Pauls account which is definitely one-sided. Let us examine other materials which have survived which paint an entirely different picture of the matter and exposes the truth which is a direct contradiction of Pauls account. Millions of Christians read the account of Pauls slander of the "Judaizers" and "false brethren" of which Paul speaks; never knowing that Paul is referring to the "pillars" from the Jerusalem Church in Galatians chapter 2 and are led to believe that Paul is right, never knowing that those he attacks and slanders are the Jerusalem Apostles who knew Yeshua best and walked with him for 40 days following his resurrection. Sadly the other side of the coin is not presented in the New Testament but believe me it does exist. So in the light of the fact that the Roman Church, wishing to promote Gentile religion over Biblical and Jewish faith, did not include both accounts of the incident at Antioch when they put the New Testament together. So what else is new? I will, and it is my hope that our readership will understand that this issue at Antioch goes to the very heart of the Olive Tree of Israel and how the non-Jew is to relate to the people of God.
1 Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also.
2 And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain.
3 But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised:
4 And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage:
5 To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.
6 But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man's person:) for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me:
7 But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter;
8 (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the Apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:)
9 And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.
10 Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do.
11 But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.
12 For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision.
13 And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation.
14 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?
15 We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles,
16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
First of all you need to know that when the men from James came to Antioch they rebuked not only Paul, but Peter and Barnabas as well for violating their Covenant and its Covenant Laws! Not only that, but the non-Jews as well as they had been led to compromise their Covenant responsibilities under God according to the Laws of Noah and the Covenant of Noah! Paul is right in saying that before the men from James arrived Peter did eat with the Gentiles and it was this compromise at Jew-Gentile table fellowship which violated Covenant Laws. It will become more apparent as we proceed which Laws were violated and are yet violated today.
What I want you to notice in the beginning is Paul testimony that Peter repented (along with Barnabas) and withdrew and separated himself from eating with the Gentiles which had been taught wrong by Paul. They left Paul's fellowship and moved the church next door!
Answer for yourself: What has changed since then?
Answer for yourself: Should we not listen to what the ambassadors from Yeshuas Church have to say about how we, non-Jewish believers in God through the ministry of Yeshua, are to be accepted in the church of Yeshua?
Answer for yourself: If when listening to the message of the men from James we find that we as non-Jewish believers in God, have not separated ourselves from the very same activities that we encounter in the Antioch incident, are we then truly accepted by God although we feel accepted by our denominational churches?
Answer for yourself: Do our denominational churches today have greater authority than the men from James, and if you believe they do, then where do you find that they get it?
Answer for yourself: Is it possible we have lost the true message of Yeshua and his followers after 1700 years of Gentile control of the Church of Yeshua?
Answer for yourself: How much has this one-sided account of Paul, among many others, as presented in the New Testament, prevented you from learning the truth about how Yeshuas Church would have accepted or rejected you into the people of God twenty years after Yeshuas death?
Answer for yourself: How does it feel to realize that you might be in good standing with your Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist, or your Catholic Church, but in Heaven not accepted by God in His assembly (Yeshuas Church) because you are yet guilty of the same conduct as were the Galatian non-Jews and you don't know it? Serious questions I must say!
Answer for yourself: Can we assume that Peter accepted Paul's rebuke and amended his conduct? Or is the truth closer that Peter and Barnabas accepted the men from James rebuke and altered their conduct and that Pauls defiance is cloaked in a supposed rebuke of Peter and Paul later self-defenses in the Book of Galatians and Romans? Sadly millions trust this New Testament document for Divine truth when it can be shown to be "fixed" in hundreds of places. We have lost so much due to anti-Semitism and the Roman Church and "their documents: http://geocities.com/faithofyeshua.
Answer for yourself: What was the actual conduct that was exposed that caused Peter and Barnabas and the Gentile followers of Paul to repent and leave Pauls fellowship in Galatia?
Answer for yourself: What was the dynamics that would later cause Paul to say in 2 Tim 1:15: thou knowest, that all they which are in Asia (a whole continent) be turned away from me (Paul)? READ THAT AGAIN!
Answer for yourself: If Peter did not did not heed Paul but the men from James, what does that tell us about the development of Paul's missionary work, about his subsequent relations with Jerusalem and Peter, about factions within first-century Christianity (Peter and Paul parties, etc.)?
Answer for yourself: Did you ever stop to think that it was the Jerusalem Church and the Apostles which were responsible for Pauls troubles to which he refers constantly? Any wonder why "the Jews" are painted in such a negative light as if they did not know any better?
Dear one these issues were first raised in their present sharp from by the work of F. C. Baur, Paul: His Life and Works (1845); ET 2 vols: London/Edinburgh: Williams and Norgate, 1873). I learned of this in Seminary as we spent 2 minutes on it. I, being inquisitive, later investigated this on my own. It seemed important to me and hopefully you understand the immense repercussions that such knowledge can make if one has it. This is not new material only materials that you have NOT yet been exposed to as of yet. The New Testament presents one perspective; I assure you that opposing this "one view" is the testimony of Moses, the Prophets, and even Jesus that assures us that the Law and Covenants of God have not passed away in spite of what other "self-appointed" authorities of God might say. For centuries men have seen behind the deception of Galatians 2 and Pauls rebuke of Peter and it is time you do as well.
Answer for yourself: Again, where does the Antioch incident fit within the history of that period?
Answer for yourself: Can we assume that it formed the impetus to the Jerusalem council recounted by Luke in Acts 15?
Answer for yourself: Or is the issue more complex, with the historicity of Acts being called in question in part at least by Paul's account?
For all that the significance of the Antioch incident has been recognized in many such discussions, there has been remarkably little detailed work done on the incident itself. The question of whether or not Galatians 2.1-10 is an accurate portrayal of Acts 15 has been overlooked my many. And when commentators or historians have moved on to the Antioch incident they have not paused long over what must on any reckoning be a crucial question: What was the nature of the table-fellowship that Peter enjoyed with the Gentile believers?
Answer for yourself: What was involved in this table-fellowship which was so unacceptable to the men from James?
Answer for yourself: What precisely did he withdraw from when the men from James arrived?
The ready assumption by most is that the whole Antioch incident was all simply a matter of the Jewish food laws and little more need be said. But was it quite so simple? Is this not another exegetical assumption which ought to be examined more closely? Without some clearer idea of what table-fellowship at Antioch involved prior to Peter's withdrawal, our grasp of what was at stake is seriously defective, and consequently also our ability to assess the significance of Peter's and Paul's conduct. You need to understand that the issues involved at table fellowship at Antioch involved commandments and conduct described in the Laws of Noah. The Laws of Noah and the Covenant of Noah is the Covenant whereby the non-Jew finds his standing before God! If the non-Jew converts to Judaism then he "moves up" so to speak, but Covenant relationship with God is determined by how one fulfills his Covenant responsibilities! It was these Commandments given by God to all non-Jews long before the Laws of Moses which Paul had compromised and was teaching others to do the same. Thus the consternation of the Jerusalem church over this incident and Paul.
At that time of the Antioch incident many of these "Commandments" given to the non-Jew as seen expressed in various "conducts" had been relaxed by Paul to his church and even Peter and Barnabas had been "taken in" by such violations of these Commandments in the name of "winning souls". God was not pleased that His Commandments were violated and broken in the name of "ministry" and such goes on today almost everywhere today in the Christian Church which has forsaken Judaism and the non-Jew's relationship to God within it. Instead, the Gentile Church "created another way" and walks in it today; never questioning is if "this new way" is accepted by God. The horror of such actions is masked by documents altered from the "original truths" once held by the Jerusalem Church and the Apostles, let alone Yeshua.
It is toward this area and aspect that I wish to focus in what follows. My belief that such an investigation is necessary is the product of reflection on several overlapping and wider issues, a reflection stimulated by various items of recent scholarship. The overlapping and wider issues inform us of the broader historical context within which we must attempt to assess if we are truly to understand the Antioch incident and will engage our attention in future articles in this series. In the light of our findings there we will attempt some exegesis of Galatians 2.11-18 in the hope of clarifying the incident itself, including the reasons for Peter's conduct and the force of Paul's response. Finally we shall consider possible implications for some of the more familiar questions connected with this passage.
Now let us continue on to deeper matters that will reflect on the non-Jews relationship or lack of relationship with Yeshuas Church as seen from the eyes of the men from Jerusalem which reflect the mandate of the head Pastor of Yeshua Church James the Righteous Yeshua's brother.