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Q. Is the confrontation between Paul and Peter in Galatians 2 before or after the Jerusalem Council?

Bob, thanks for your teaching on Paul and Peter in Galatians 2. I’m beginning a sermon series in Galatians and am trying to discern if the confrontation between Paul and Peter was before or after the Jerusalem council?

The Lord bless you,
Thanks again for your ministry.

Answer

Brother *****,

As to your question concerning the relationship between the Jerusalem Council of Acts 15 and Paul’s confronting Peter in Galatians 2, I’m just not sure. And since the Scriptures don’t take the effort to inform us on this matter clearly I’m inclined to view this in the light of Deuteronomy 29:29.

What I do see is this: In Acts 15 Peter takes his stand on the basis of divine revelation (Acts 10-11) and clearly declared principle, as declared by Peter himself:

7 After there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brethren, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles would hear the word of the gospel and believe. 8 “And God, who knows the heart, testified to them giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us; 9 and He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith. 10 “Now therefore why do you put God to the test by placing upon the neck of the disciples a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? 11 “But we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they also are.” Acts 15:7-11

In Galatians 2 Peter denies his own principle (as declared by him in Acts 15) by disregarding it in practice at Antioch. And this he did out of fear of the circumcision party.

What one eats or does not has been dealt with by Paul as a matter of personal conviction (Romans 14 & 15). We are not to divide over our convictions, Paul says here, but to glorify God with one voice (15:5-6). It looks like convictions were held more strongly than doctrine. This is probably assuming the best as the circumcision party may still cling to the view they expressed in Acts 15:1: “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.”

The wonder of it all to me is that even Barnabas (Galatians 2:13) was caught up in this, for he was the one who rejoiced at the report that Gentiles had come to faith (Acts 11:22-24).

If I were preaching this text, I would be inclined to expose ways in which we practically deny (or selectively obey) truths that we emphatically declare. For example, we pick and choose those sins which we denounce. We pound the pulpit, so to speak, with regard to adultery and sexual perversion, yet we are silent about sins included in the same list in Romans 1: greed, malice, envy, strife, deceit, gossiping. We love to condemn the sins we hate, but hate to denounce the sins we love.

Hope this helps,
Bob Deffinbaugh

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