Answer for yourself: Did you know that Galatians chapter two is Paul's personal view of James and the Jerusalem church, let alone his personal view upon the Peter/Paul problem in Antioch?
I strong suggest you open your New Testaments to Galatians chapter 2 and read it to refresh your memory remembering all the while that this is Paul's personal view of James and the Apostles, Acts 15 Council, and Peter's later meeting with him in Antioch. Remember this was written in Asia Minor thousands of miles from James and there was no internet, TV, telephones, and the news of Paul's views would take time to work their way to James and the Jerusalem apostles following the Acts 15 Council. But by not deceived; the accounts will finally arrive and Paul will again be summoned to answer charges a second time in Acts 21! More on that later.
What happened next can be gathered from an interesting account given by Paul in the second chapter of Galatians. Understand that Galatians chapter two reflects two different events that Paul rolled into one. First, he presents his own record of the Jerusalem Council discussed above; and then he describes an incident not mentioned in Acts at all, when Peter, some time after the Jerusalem Council, visited Antioch, and serious friction occurred between Paul and Peter.
In his version of the Jerusalem Council, Paul (writing for Gentile converts who accepted his valuation of himself as an Apostle superior in inspiration to the Jerusalem leaders) gives himself a much more lofty role than appears from the account in Acts. Instead of being summoned to Jerusalem to answer charges against him, Paul represents himself as having travelled to Jerusalem "because it had been revealed by God that I should do so." What a convenient way to describe such a "summons." We say earlier that Paul did not at the Acts 15 Council reveal his "cosmic Jesus" theology to James or the Jerusalem Church. However, now in Galatians, he makes mention that he did! Instead of concealing his new doctrines concerning his "crucified sun-godman" and confining himself to the question of whether converts to belief in Jesus' Messiahship should be made into full Jews or left in "God-fearer" status, Paul represents himself as having fully revealed his new doctrines to the Jerusalem leaders, though only in private. Let me assure you that if Paul had openly told James and the Apostles that Jesus' death, in his "gospel," had replaced the Torah for Jews and non-Jews as well, then all hell would have broke loose! He might have been killed on the spot for such apostasy! Instead of a tribunal, in which the final decision is delivered by James in his capacity as head of Jesus' movement, Paul gives the impression of a conference between leaders, in which he was treated as of equal status with James. The conclusion of this "private conference" is expressed as follows:
But as the men of high reputation (not that their importance matters to me: God does not recognize these personal distinctions) - these men of repute, I say, did not prolong the consultation, but on the contrary acknowledged that I had been entrusted with the Gospel for Gentiles as surely as Peter had been entrusted with the Gospel for Jews. For God whose action made Peter an apostle to the Jews, also made me an apostle to the Gentiles.
Recognizing then the favour thus bestowed upon me, those reputed pillars of our society, James, Cephas [Peter] and John, accepted Barnabas and myself as partners, and shook hands upon it, agreeing that we should go to the Gentiles while they went to the Jews. All that they asked was that we should keep their poor in mind, which was the very thing I made it my business to do. (Galatians 2: 6-10)
Answer for yourself: Do you notice anything different in Paul's version and attitude from the Galatians texts above when compared with the Acts 15 account that we looked at earlier? If you don't then you are brain-dead!
Paul's conclusion of the Acts 15 Council differs so remarkably from the conclusion recorded in Acts that some scholars have doubted whether it refers to the same conference, while others have adopted the explanation that Paul's account deals with private discussions which took place behind the scenes at the Jerusalem Council, while Acts deals only with the public discussion. Such explanations, however, are unnecessary. Paul's letter to the Galatians, after Acts 15, was written at a time when his break with the Jerusalem leaders was widening and was almost complete. The liberty he was given at the Acts 15 council by James the the other Apostles was taken to the limit by Paul after he left; instead of no longer requiring non-Jews to accept all the Torah and only the 7 Laws of Noah Paul proceeds to adopt the ultimate in his understanding of the issues. No longer will it be required of non-Jews to accept 7 Laws but they will be required to accept no Laws; and neither will the Jews. Paul had made for himself and his followers a "Torahless" religion in Christ. As if that was not enough in the Galatians passages Paul refers to the Jerusalem Apostles and leaders (those who knew Jesus best) with defiance, stubbornness, disrespect, slander; this is hardly veiled contempt.
Here is the paradox though! Paul still needs to claim their sanction and authority for his own role, however, so he feels free to represent them as having acknowledged his own equal status with them and as having appointed him as "Apostle to the Gentiles; "though, in fact, as the account in Acts makes clear and as can be gathered from other sources, the Jerusalem leaders by no means gave up their proselytizing activities among the Gentiles, nor did they regard themselves as merely "apostles to the Jews." This fact is seen that in the case where it was Peter who took the "keys" to Cornelius (the first Godfearer in Acts) and not Paul! The Jerusalem Council did not hand over the whole Gentile missionary field to Paul. Nor did it ban the conversion of Gentiles to full Judaism; it merely decided that such conversion was not a necessity.
Now comes Paul's account of subsequent events:
But when Cephas [Peter] came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong. For until certain persons came from James he was taking his meals with gentile Christians; but when they came he drew back and began to hold aloof, because he was afraid of the advocates of circumcision. The other Jewish Christians showed the same lack of principle; even Barnabas was carried away and played false like the rest. But when I saw that their conduct did not square with the truth of the Gospel, I said to Cephas, before the whole congregation, "If you, a Jew born and bred, live like a Gentile, and not like a Jew, how can you insist that Gentiles must live like Jews." (Galatians 2:11-14)
This passage, despite a certain incoherence, is very revealing. One incoherence, however, arises from the New English Bible translation, "because he was afraid of the advocates of circumcision." This should read, as in the Revised Version, "because he was afraid of those of the circumcision." No one was "advocating," at this stage, that all converts to belief in Jesus' Messiahship should be circumcised, i.e. adopt full Judaism. The Jerusalem Council had enacted that this was not a necessity. The Greek simply says "those of the circumcision."
Answer for yourself: Who were these that Paul feared...the Orthodox Jews or the the Jewish Christians? Historically it can be shown that the Orthodox Jews did not bother with the Messianics very much so we have no doubt who these are to whom Paul referred: the Jewish Messianic Christians...followers of James and the Apostles and the Jerusalem Jesus Movement!
Answer for yourself: Why is this passage so important?
This passage is revealing because it shows that there was much stronger conflict between Paul and the Jewish followers of Jesus than is ever allowed to appear in Acts by it's pro-Pauline writer
Nowhere in Acts is there any criticism of Peter or any suggestion that Paul and Peter did not see eye to eye on all matters. On the contrary, Peter is represented as the link man between Paul and the Jerusalem community, struggling to bring them round to the more enlightened views of Paul. True, Peter is represented in Acts as having to overcome psychological difficulties in performing this transition role: something of the "artificial" stupidity syndrome attached to the Twelve still clings to him. But the open criticism of Peter by Paul (not followed up by any suggestion of a change of heart by Peter as a result) found in this passage in Galatians is quite alien to the portrayal of Peter in Acts. Galatians must be regarded here as much more historically reliable, not only because it is earlier, but because it reveals a state of affairs that the later Church wished io conceal; it is a passage that goes against the grain.
On the other hand, the previous passage in the chapter in Galatians, in which Paul gives his account of the Jerusalem Council, is less historically reliable than the account in Acts, since Paul has such a strong motive to aggrandize his role.
The actual point of conflict between Paul and Peter, however, is not quite so clear as the fact that serious conflict took place, and that this conflict involved not only Peter but also James (for the emissaries to whom Peter deferred are described unequivocally as "from James," unlike the previous critics of Paul, whose criticisms led to the Jerusalem Council, Acts 15:1). It seems, at first, that the issue is whether Jewish followers of Jesus should take their meals together with Gentile followers of Jesus; but Paul's last remark seems to shift the issue to the question of whether Gentile followers should observe the Jewish dietary laws. To clarify this matter, the following points should be borne in mind:
By the decision of the Jerusalem Council, Gentile followers of Jesus were not obliged to keep the Jewish dietary laws, but only to refrain from the meat of "strangled animals." This means that they were allowed to at the meat of animals forbidden to Jews, e.g. pig and rabbit, but were still obliged to kill the animals by the Jewish method, by which the blood was drained away.
This means that Jewish followers of Jesus would still not be able to share the food eaten by Gentile followers if this food consisted of meat forbidden to Jews but permitted to Gentile "God-fearers."
On the other hand, this did not mean that Jewish followers of Jesus were necessarily forbidden to share the same table as Gentile followers. Provided that the food on the table was such as could be eaten by Jews and Gentiles alike (e.g. vegetarian food, or meat from animals permitted to Jews, or fish of the varieties permitted to Jews), there was no reason why Jews and Gentiles should not share the same table.
As far as "food sacrificed to idols" was concerned, this was forbidden both to Jewish and Gentile followers of Jesus, so did not constitute any difficulty in fellowship at table.
Even if food forbidden to Jews was served to Gentiles at the table, while permitted food was served at the same table to Jews, this would not infringe any essential law, though pious Jews might look askance at this arrangement, feeling that there might be some danger of getting permitted food mixed up with forbidden food.
In view of the above points, one may ask what exactly Peter was doing when he shared meals with Gentile followers of Jesus. Commentators have assumed that he was actually sharing forbidden foods, such as pig, with the Gentile believers. This would mean that he had, by this time, adopted Paul's view that the Torah was obsolete, having been supplanted by the salvation doctrine of identification with the sacrifice of Jesus and his resurrection. On this view, Peter, having made this radical transition from observant Pharisee to pork-eating Christian, suddenly had cold feet when some emissaries from James arrived and pusillanimously removed himself from the table of the Gentile converts and started acting like an observant Jew again. Upon this, Paul upbraided him, not for this vacillating behavior, but for "insisting that Gentiles must live like Jews." Such an insistence had been renounced by the Jerusalem Council, and had, in any case, never formed part of Jewish doctrine, so it is extremely puzzling that this now should be made the issue.
The explanation to which commentators are forced is that the Jerusalem elders, led by James, had changed their minds and reversed the decision of the Jerusalem Council, and were now sending emissaries to insist that, after all, Gentile believers in Jesus' Messiahship must undergo full conversion to Judaism.
This whole exegesis is confused and improbable. If Peter had crossed the gulf from Torah observance to Paul's new salvation religion, he would not have slipped back into observance with such ease. In any case, the evidence is that Peter never renounced adherence to the Torah.
The probable explanation of the incident is as follows.
Peter arrived in Antioch believing that Paul was adhering to the terms of the Jerusalem Council, by which Gentile converts would refrain from food offered to idols and from meat containing blood. In this belief, Peter had no hesitation in sharing meals with Gentiles, who, he was confident, would not offer him anything forbidden to a Jew and would themselves not eat anything forbidden by reason of idolatry or blood.
Then, however, emissaries arrived from James who informed Peter that his confidence was misplaced. Information had reached James that Paul was not adhering to the Jerusalem decision, but was allowing Gentile converts to eat everything without restriction, including food offered to idols.
Answer for yourself: What evidence exists that Paul was disobeying James and the Jerusalem Council?
Answer for yourself: Have you read I Cor. chapter 8 recently?
It is here that Paul declares that this prohibition of not eating meat sacrificed to idols applies only to the "weak" people who cannot distinguish the food from its idolatrous uses.
This is a severe violation of the Covenant of Noah and the Laws of Noah let alone direct disobedience to James and the decree of the Jerusalem Acts 15 Council which Paul was commissioned to enforce.
Paul's behavior and his epistles teach us, if one again knows Judaism and the events accurately, that he no longer adhered to the distinction between the Torah and the Laws of the Sons of Noah, because Paul now regarded all law as outmoded and as irrelevant to salvation in any form, shape, or fashion!
Answer for yourself: STOP! Turn to Matthew 19 where Jesus is asked:
Matt 19:16-17 16 And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? 17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. (KJV)
Paul no longer believes this. His "revelation" on the Damascus road, whatever it was, has completely turned him against Jesus' teachings and the salvation offered the world in the light of the Jewish nation and their Torah!
On receiving this information from James, Peter withdrew from fellowship at table with Paul's Gentile converts, since he no longer trusted them to keep the Noahide dietary laws or to respect his own adherence to the Torah dietary laws - they might well put before him food which they knew was forbidden to an observant Jew. This withdrawal of Peter from fellowship at table with Paul's Gentile converts was no weak vacillation but a climactic act of withdrawal from Paul himself, and a decisive break between the Pauline movement and the Jerusalem community. It marked the rejection by Peter of Paul's new doctrines, which demolished the whole distinction between Jews and Gentiles within the movement; or rather (since there was never any question of Peter adopting such a doctrine) it marked the recognition by Peter that Paul had indeed adopted such a doctrine, which put him beyond the pale of Judaism and made it impossible for any follower of James to associate with him or his converts. No longer was rumors that incriminated Paul and his teachings slowly making their way to Jerusalem; now we have eyewitness proof from Peter that Paul was two-faced...."becoming all things to all men...I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some." A better understanding is that since being rejected by the Sadducees as recorded by the Ebionites and having not his way with James previously in Acts 15 where he had to hide his "true beliefs that departed from Judaism, Moses, the Prophets, and the Writings, and Jesus," he was not above lying to accomplish a name for himself and a following. Such is the shame of the ego of such a man!
1 Cor 9:20-22 20 And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; 21 To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. 22 To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. (KJV)
Paul's alleged reproof of Peter was thus never delivered to Peter in person, but was an afterthought inserted by Paul in his account of the break. What this afterthought amounts to is this: "Peter, when you consented to share a table with my Gentile converts, you were accepting the abolition of the distinction between Gentiles and Jews. Now, however, you are insisting on the old requirements by which Gentiles must keep a law of their own, and if they want to achieve full fellowship with the people of God, they must adopt the whole Torah." However, the inconsistency of which Paul is accusing Peter did not really exist, for Peter, when he shared a table with the Gentiles, was not conceding any point essential to Judaism, since he thought that they were adhering to the Jerusalem resolution (THINK)!
Let us set the stage so our understanding of these events is correct. Paul got out of the Acts 15 situation unscathed and without tipping his "theological hand" in front of the Jewish Apostles. Now at Antioch things escalated! We now have eye-witness Apostolic proof of Paul's apostasy and rumors no longer are the only evidence of unsubstantiated facts. So far, the break between Paul and the Jerusalem leadership was only on the personal level of a quarrel between Paul and Peter. Later came the final and decisive break, in which Paul was officially repudiated by the Jerusalem movement as a whole.
Answer for yourself: If the coming of the Messiah was the hope of Israel then why is Paul continually beaten by Jewish Christians and the followers of James and the Jerusalem Church in Asia Minor where they continually monitored his activities?
There is ample evidence in Paul's Epistle to the Galatians, and also in his two Epistles to the Corinthians, that in the years following his quarrel with Peter in Antioch, he had to face continual opposition from emissaries of the "Jerusalem Church," who were sent out by James and Peter to counteract Paul's teaching about the abrogation of the Torah. Moreover, it appears that Paul had to defend himself frequently from the charge of being without true authority in his teaching, since he had no direct personal link with the historical Jesus, but relied only on visions, which were of doubtful validity. However, this uneasy situation did not yet lead to a complete schism. On the one hand, the Jerusalem leaders, while deeply suspicious of Paul, were not yet sure that he was actually preaching against the Torah. Paul's missionary activities were almost entirely among Gentiles, who were not required to observe the Torah. Consequently, his teaching to them could always be plausibly represented by Paul, when enquiry was made from Jerusalem, as not contravening any essential Jewish doctrine. He seems to have been quite willing to use a considerable amount of deception in his relations with Jerusalem, and to have done his best to reassure Jerusalem of his loyalty to Judaism, while at the same time, as his Epistles show clearly, teaching his new converts that the Torah was now entirely obsolete. Paul himself proclaims his policy of adapting his tone to his audience, and hiding his anti-Torah beliefs from those who were loyal to the Torah:
To Jews I became like a Jew, to win Jews; as they are subject to the law of Moses, I put myself under that law to win them, although I am not myself subject to it. To win Gentiles, who are outside the Law, I made myself like one of them, although I am not in truth outside God's law, being under the law of Christ. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. Indeed, I have become everything in turn to men of every sort, so that in one way or another I may save some. (1 Corinthians 9:20-22)
This passage ostensibly describes only his policy in winning converts to belief in Jesus, whether Jews or Gentiles: but if Paul could pretend to be an adherent to the Torah when approaching Jewish prospective converts, he could easily use the same deception when reporting his doings to the central body of the Jesus movement in Jerusalem. In fact, we have, in Acts, in an episode to be considered shortly, a vivid description of Paul's effort to convince the Jerusalem leaders of his orthodoxy by the performance of an elaborate ritual act; this episode shows how far Paul would go to disguise his true beliefs about the Torah from the Jerusalem leaders.
Answer for yourself: Why would Paul go to such lengths to avoid a break with the Jerusalem leadership?
Answer for yourself: Why did he not simply found a Church of his own, since his views differed so radically from those of James and Peter?
Paul, in his three great missionary journeys, had founded many Gentile communities of Christians, and, if he had broken his links with Jerusalem altogether, could have set up a Gentile Christian Church under his own leadership; this, indeed, is what happened in later years, after Paul's death. But Paul, apparently, could not envisage such a drastic step. The authority of .Jerusalem still remained paramount for him, just as the authority of the Old Testament never lost its hold over him, compelling him to reinterpret it in weird, unpredictable ways, but never allowing him to cut himself loose from it, in the way adopted by the more logical Paulinist of the next century, Marcion. Through the Jerusalem leadership, Paul saw himself as linked to the whole history of Israel, from Abraham onwards; to detach himself would be to sink into the forlorn status of being a Gentile again, without past or future. To transform Judaism was his aim, not to abandon it. The masters of Pharisaism were to come to him for instruction; and this could only happen if they occupied the same arena.
Paul was prepared to adopt devious tactics in order to maintain the links between himself and the Jerusalem leadership. The first crisis had been successfully surmounted by the decision of the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15, by which Paul was given a free hand and was able to keep his new doctrines to himself. A second crisis, however, now arrived in Antioch by the surprise visit of Peter and the fall-out of such a confrontation is seen as recorded in Acts 21. Paul was once again summoned to Jerusalem one more time to give an account of himself. This time the charges were more serious and the prospect of some ingenious compromise more unlikely. This might have been the moment to refuse to come and thus precipitate a complete break. Instead, Paul accepted the summons. He still hoped to lull the suspicions felt against him by the Jerusalem leaders; and he also felt that he had a strong means of appeasing them by bringing them a substantial sum of money collected by him for the upkeep of the Jerusalem community.
This culminating scene of Paul's relations with the Jerusalem Nazarenes is described in muted terms in chapter 21 of Acts. As in the case of the Jerusalem Council (about five years before), the author of Acts is much concerned to play down the conflict, so that it will not appear that Paul was the true founder of Christianity rather than Jesus and his immediate disciples. Yet even the author of Acts has difficulty in disguising the bitter conflict of this scene:
So we reached Jerusalem, where the brotherhood welcomed us gladly. Next day Paul paid a visit to James; we were with him, and all the elders attended. He greeted them, and then described in detail all that God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. When they heard this, they gave praise to God. Then they said to Paul: "You see, brother, how many thousands of converts we have among the Jews, all of them staunch upholders of the Law. Now they have been given certain information about you: it is said that you teach all the Jews in the gentile world to turn their backs on Moses, telling them to give up circumcising their children and following our way of life. What is the position, then" They are sure to hear that you have arrived. You must therefore do as we tell you. We have four men here who are under a vow; take them with you and go through the ritual of purification with them, paying their expenses, after which they may shave their heads. Then everyone will know that there is nothing in the stories they were told about you, but that you are a practising Jew and keep the Law yourself. As for the gentile converts, we sent them our decision that they must abstain from meat offered to idols, from blood, from anything that has been strangled, and from fornication.µ So Paul took the four men, and next day, after going through the ritual of purification with them, he went into the Temple to give notice of the date when the period of purification would end and the offering be made for each one of them. (Acts 21:18-26)
It is clear that the author of Acts has much softened the tone of the discussion here recorded between Paul and the elders of the Jerusalem community. We know that for a fact if we balance all the events discussed up to now with the account as presented by the pro-Pauline writer of Acts. It is stated that he was greeted warmly on his arrival, and congratulated on his achievements among the Gentiles. This is rather hard to believe when by Paul's own accounts he was consistently and constantly accosted by them and beaten by those of the same religious persuasion several times before. Then the elders mention, as if incidentally, that, though the elders themselves believe Paul to be a fully observant Jew in spite of the rumors to the contrary. The author would have us completely forget Peter's first hand account of Paul's apostasy in Antioch which by now had been personally reported back to James. Let us not forget that it was this report by Peter of Paul's total disregard for the Torah for both Jews and Gentiles in Antioch that prompted his summons to answer charges before James a second time! Instead of a heated encounter when Paul is accused to his face by James of outright lying and misrepresenting Jesus and Jesus' message to the nations we have this watered-down account of mutual admiration. Again something is out of step with the events of the time. Lucky for us we don't have to depend totally upon the New Testament to dig out glimmers of truth as evidence exists outside the Bible that fills in these gaps for us. But Rome made sure you did not see that!
We are falsely led to believe that some thousands of those within the Jesus Movement are doubtful about this Pauline apostasy and the charges brought against Paul. The deception is beyond measure. We are led again to believe that the Apostles, in the face of such testimony of Peter and others, only need to be reassured that their suspicions about Paul were not valid; this was to be accomplished by an elaborate demonstration of loyalty to the Torah. Otherwise, there will be trouble of some unspecified kind (They are sure to hear that you have arrived).
This is a most unlikely tone for the elders to adopt. If the reports of Paul's abandonment of the Torah were so insistent (and indeed they were perfectly true), the elders themselves, who were no less "staunch upholders of the Law" than any of their flock, would have been thoroughly concerned, especially as Peter (who, strangely enough, is not mentioned specifically as present on this occasion) will have told them about his own rift with Paul and the reasons for it. It is much more likely that this incident was in the nature of an official enquiry or even a trial, and that Paul had been officially summoned to attend it in order to answer, once and for all, the charges now being made against him on all hands.
If he failed to attend or failed to satisfy the elders having attended, he would be formally ejected from the Nazarene movement. Paul could not have that. Everything he had worked so hard for (his following and recognition among his Gentile churches) was at stake. It seems that, in the course of this enquiry, Paul refused to admit that he had advocated the abandonment of the Torah in his teaching. Consequently, James and the other elders had decided to put him to the test or rather to devise a procedure by which he would publicly repudiate any teaching that he might have given against the continuing validity of the Torah. The news of this public repudiation by Paul of his former views would quickly reach his Gentile converts in Asia Minor, and thus strengthen the hands of the emissaries from Jerusalem who were working to correct Paul's teaching. Then and only then would Paul's disciples know for sure that behind Paul's "gospel" was allegiance to the Torah that Jesus supported and taught his whole life. The elders were probably convinced that Paul had indeed spread an anti-Torah doctrine, but they hoped to counteract the effect of this by an exhibition of repentance on Paul's part.
Paul had thus failed to find any compromise formula to save his face, as he did at the previous Jerusalem Council. He was forced to capitulate and to agree to a public humiliation and retraction.
Answer for yourself: Why does Paul not begin, at this point in the story in Acts, to spout the gospel he preached among the Gentiles concerning Jesus to James? Since they don't agree with or adhere to Paul's beliefs concerning Jesus why is Paul not trying to "save them" by teaching the same things to them he did elsewhere? How many "gospels" are there? Well, there really is two: Jesus' and Paul's and both are 180 degrees opposite.
Commentators have strangely failed to comment on this abject behavior of Paul's and his failure to defend "his gospel" at this point in his religious career when answering charges before James for the second time. Since he had proclaimed in his Epistles and all through Asia Minor that the Torah was dead, that circumcision was no more than a mutilation, and that observance of the Torah was of no effect towards salvation, which could only be obtained through the sacrifice of Jesus and the partaking of Jesus in his Eucharistic supper, one would have thought that this was an excellent occasion to give witness to these views and his revelation before the Jerusalem Council once and for all. Let us not forget that these views were the core of Paul's New Testament and were for him all important! Instead of trying to convert the Apostles to his Damascus road revelation of Jesus as he had done among the non-Jews, he consented meekly to an action that reinstated the Torah, and thus relegated Jesus to the status of a Jewish Messiah figure with no aim of salvation, but only of liberation - the freeing of the people of God from foreign domination so that they could devote themselves more fully to the study and practice of the Torah.
Answer for yourself: What is wrong with Paul? Where are his convictions? Was Paul's "becoming all things to all men" being shown in broad daylight for what it really was? Would Paul make a good politician today since he evidently can say and do anything as the situation demands?
Paul must have been overawed by James on this occasion. It is hard to imagine Peter as a hothead throughout the New Testament but a pansy when up against Paul! Surely James and Peter were up for the test when then encountered this "Pharisee of Pharisees." Probably, though this is not mentioned in the account in Acts, Peter too took a prominent part in the enquiry, and the third leader, John, who receives only passing mention in Acts, must have been a formidable character as well. Though Paul could convince himself, when not in their presence, that he was their equal or even superior, as well as convince his non-Jewish audiences whom had never met them, he could not sustain this attitude to their faces. In reality, these men had the gravity and presence of the great Pharisee teachers (such as Hillel and Gamaliel), and the upstart Paul could not withstand them in their own milieu; he succumbed, and consented to what was in effect a recantation.
Quite apart from the awesomeness of the Jerusalem leaders, however, there were strong factors compelling Paul to adopt unpalatable emergency policies while in Jerusalem. He was surrounded by enemies, some of whom threatened physical danger. To comply with the demands of one set of enemies meant to offend another. All of Paul's considerable powers of adaptability were called for in order to escape the situation into which he had plunged by obeying the summons to Jerusalem.
We will continue our study of the events that unfolded next in the forthcoming article in this series.