Why did Paul rebuke Peter, but not James on the same issue?

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chuckd

Puritan Board Sophomore
"but should write to them to abstain from the things polluted by idols, and from sexual immorality, and from what has been strangled, and from blood." Acts 15:20, ESV
"But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, 'If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?'” Gal. 2:14, ESV

(regarding abstaining from meat sacrificed to idols) "He requireth nothing at their hands but that which they were bound to do by brotherly concord." -Calvin's Commentary on Acts
"his conduct was greatly aggravated by compelling the Gentiles to observe Jewish ceremonies, while he, being a Jew, left himself at liberty. The law was given to Jews, not to Gentiles; so that he argues from the less to the greater...he compelled the Gentiles, by withdrawing from their communion, unless they chose to submit to the yoke of the law" Calvin's Commentary on Galatians

It seems that James was requiring the Gentiles to live like Jews in order to keep "brotherly concord." Though nothing wrong in itself with the meat, the Jews see it as wrong so let's abstain to keep the Gentile & Jewish church united. (a lesson in our day regarding alcohol consumption among brothers?)

Why did Paul rebuke Peter in Galatians, but not James in Acts?
 

rbcbob

Puritan Board Graduate
I would suggest that James, in Acts, was giving apostolic instruction to the Gentile churches on how to so walk as not to unnecessarily offend their Jewish brethren in this time of Jewish majority in the Church of Jesus Christ. This was wise, prudent and needed no rebuke. Peter, however, in his conduct rebuked by Paul, was strongly indicating by his actions that there was still a wall between Jew and Gentile contrary to the gospel.
 

Jack K

Puritan Board Doctor
I would suggest that James, in Acts, was giving apostolic instruction to the Gentile churches on how to so walk as not to unnecessarily offend their Jewish brethren in this time of Jewish majority in the Church of Jesus Christ. This was wise, prudent and needed no rebuke. Peter, however, in his conduct rebuked by Paul, was strongly indicating by his actions that there was still a wall between Jew and Gentile contrary to the gospel.

Well said.

I'll add that the main thrust of the council's decision in Acts 15 was NOT to tell Gentiles to act like Jews. The main point was to tell them they didn't have to... except in a few especially touchy matters, so as not to offend or be unnecessarily divisive.

Peter's behavior went in the opposite direction. Out of a desire to appear godly to the Jewish believers, he separated himself from the Gentiles, thus (1) participating in erecting a divide and (2) possibly giving Gentile believers the impression they should be required to act like Jews after all.
 

chuckd

Puritan Board Sophomore
Thanks for the responses! Really cleared it up. In application, should we abstain from alcohol among our brothers who think it's ungodly as to remain united and "unnecessarily divisive" or rebuke them for erecting the divide in the first place?
 

chuckd

Puritan Board Sophomore
Thanks for the responses! Really cleared it up. In application, should we abstain from alcohol among our brothers who think it's ungodly as to remain united and "unnecessarily divisive" or rebuke them for erecting the divide in the first place?
Chuck,

To keep from derailing the thread (although, it's your thread, do what ya want), you might find this thread of interest in regards to alcohol.

http://www.puritanboard.com/f103/john-macarthurs-position-alcohol-69217/

I immediately thought this topic probably had been beaten to death in previous threads and I should probably just search those out. I retract my last post. My question has been answered.
 

chuckd

Puritan Board Sophomore
I immediately thought this topic probably had been beaten to death in previous threads and I should probably just search those out. I retract my last post. My question has been answered.
Just so you know, I wasn't rebuking you. I think your question in this thread is a good one for discussion and thought, perhaps, getting on the alcohol and weaker brother subject, might derail it. But, again, as I noted earlier, it's your thread, and you can do what you want (with qualifications, obviously). :)

I didn't take it that way. :hug: Thanks for the link. I'm finding it interesting.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
I believe the Jerusalem Council was called in the wake of both the Antiochean dust-up, and the Galatian crisis. Paul writes to the Galatians to correct their defection from the gospel, and tells them how he confronted Peter on this very issue.

The council, which included a persuasive (recorded) speech by Peter in which he essentially defends Paul's side (showing that he openly amended his way), stated definitively that Gentiles did not have to become Jews in order to be full-blown Christians. James' letter is a resounding affirmation of the Pauline doctrine--that is to say, what he preached was the apostolic doctrine, pure gospel.

When the letter gives the judgment of what the church should observe in connection to various "Jewish" scruples, I am of the opinion that their observations are neither temporary, nor an exercise of simple ecclesiastical authority of positive prescription. I think there are excellent biblical reasons for their three basic insturctions.

1) Avoiding all overt connections to idolatry. Paul's commentary/elaboration on this in Rom.14 and 1Cor.10 is not in conflict with James'/Jerusalem's statement, but rather is entrely in keeping with it's letter and spirit.

2) Maintaining any biblical injunctions that are outside Sinai. This is an affirmation of the moral/natural law, as well as any other universal commandment, which is reflected in the justice of God over all nations as seen in Psalms, prophetic writings, etc. Gen.9:4--long before Sinai, before even Abraham--says that God commanded the human race not to consume the blood of creatures. And of course, all the 10C are affirmed/stated in Genesis.

3) Defining what "sexual immorality" means. What are the proper limits? Are we left entirely to the judgment of nature? No, the Mosaic legislation will still have this utility: it will spell-out for everyone what are the limits of proper, God-honoring sexual behavior in the NT age as well as before it.

These three items are not "open-ended," nor do they rely explicitly on any residual authority in Moses for their force. They are grounded in Creation and Genesis.
 

Tirian

Puritan Board Sophomore
Peter was Moderator of the council and should have been setting a good example in providing leadership during that OT/NT crossover.
 

Contra_Mundum

Pilgrim, Alien, Stranger
Staff member
Peter was Moderator of the council and should have been setting a good example in providing leadership during that OT/NT crossover.

vv13 & 19 taken together are usually interpreted as indicating that James (the Lord's brother, Gal.1:19) was presiding at the council, rather than Peter.
 
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