That they walked not uprightly - Ουκ ορθοποδουσι· They did not walk with a straight step - they did not maintain a firm footing.
According to the truth of the Gospel - According to that true doctrine, which states that Christ is the end of the law for justification to every one that believes; and that such are under no obligation to observe circumcision and the other peculiar rites and ceremonies of the law.
If thou, being a Jew, livest - This was a cutting reproof. He was a Jew, and had been circumstantially scrupulous in every thing relative to the law, and it required a miracle to convince him that the Gentiles were admitted, on their believing in Christ, to become members of the same Church, and fellow heirs of the hope of eternal life; and in consequence of this, he went in with the Gentiles and ate with them; i.e. associated with them as he would with Jews. But now, fearing them of the circumcision, he withdrew from this fellowship.
Why compellest thou the Gentiles - Thou didst once consider that they were not under such an obligation, and now thou actest as if thou didst consider the law in full force; but thou art convinced that the contrary is the case, yet actest differently! This is hypocrisy.
But when I saw that they walked not uprightly - To walk, in the Scriptures, is usually expressive of conduct or deportment; and the idea here is, that their conduct in this case was not honest.
According to the truth of the gospel - According to the true spirit and design of the gospel. That requires perfect honesty and integrity; and as that was the rule by which Paul regulated his life, and by which he felt that all ought to regulate their conduct, he felt himself called on openly to reprove the principal person who had been in fault. The spirit of the world is crafty, cunning, and crooked. The gospel would correct all that wily policy, and would lead man in a path of entire honesty and truth.
I said unto Peter before them all - That is, probably, before all the church, or certainly before all who had offended with him in the case. Had this been a private affair, Paul would doubtless have sought a private interview with Peter, and would have remonstrated with him in private on the subject. But it was public. It was a case where many were involved, and where the interests of the church were at stake. It was a case where it was very important to establish some fixed and just principles, and he therefore took occasion to remonstrate with him in public on the subject. This might have been at the close of public worship; or it may have been that the subject came up for debate in some of their public meetings, whether the rites of the Jews were to be imposed on the Gentile converts. This was a question which agitated all the churches where the Jewish and Gentile converts were intermingled; and it would not be strange that it should be the subject of public debate at Antioch. The fact that Paul reproved Peter before “them all,” proves:
(1) That he regarded himself, and was so regarded by the church, as on an equality with Peter, and as having equal authority with him.
(2) that public reproof is right when an offence has been public, and when the church at large is interested, or is in danger of being led into error; compare 1 Timothy 5:20, “Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.”
(3) that it is a duty to reprove those who err. It is a painful duty, and one much neglected; still it is a duty often enjoined in the Scriptures, and one that is of the deepest importance to the church. He does a favor to another man who, in a kind spirit, admonishes him of his error, and reclaims him from a course of sin. He does another the deepest injury, who suffers sin unrebuked to lie upon him, and who sees him injuring himself and others, and who is at no pains to admonish him for his faults.
(4) if it is the duty of one Christian to admonish another who is an offender, and to do it in a kind spirit, it is the duty of him who has offended to receive the admonition in a kind spirit, and with thankfulness. Excitable as Peter was by nature, yet there is no evidence that he became angry here, or that he did not receive the admonition of his brother Paul with perfect good temper, and with an acknowledgment that Paul was right and that he was wrong. Indeed, the case was so plain, as it usually is if men would be honest, that he seems to have felt that it was right, and to have received the rebuke as became a Christian. Peter, unhappily, was accustomed to rebukes; and he was at heart too good a man to be offended when he was admonished that he had done wrong. A good man is willing to be reproved when he has erred, and it is usually proof that there is much that is wrong when we become excited and irritable if another admonishes us of our faults. It may be added here that nothing should be inferred from this in regard to the inspiration or apostolic authority of Peter. The fault was not that he taught error of doctrine, but that he sinned in conduct. Inspiration, though it kept the apostles from teaching error, did not keep them necessarily from sin. A man may always teach the truth, and yet be far from perfection in practice. The case here proves that Peter was not perfect, a fact proved by his whole life; it proves that he was sometimes timid, and even, for a period, timeserving, but it does not prove that what he wrote for our guidance was false and erroneous.
If thou, being a Jew - A Jew by birth.
Livest after the manner of the Gentiles - In eating, etc., as he had done before the Judaizing teachers came from Jerusalem, Galatians 2:12.
And not as do the Jews - Observing their special customs, and their distinctions of meats and drinks.
Why compellest thou the Gentiles - As he would do, if he insisted that they should be circumcised, and observe the special Jewish rites. The charge against him was gross inconsistency in doing this. “Is it not at least as lawful for them to neglect the Jewish observances, as it was for thee to do it but a few days ago?” Doddridge. The word here rendered “compellest,” means here moral compulsion or persuasion. The idea is, that the conduct of Peter was such as to lead the Gentiles to the belief that it was necessary for them to be circumcised in order to be saved. For similar use of the word, see Matthew 14:22; Luke 14:23; Acts 28:19.
What is lying against the truth? It is claiming to believe the truth while the spirit, the words, the deportment, represent not Christ but Satan. To surmise evil, to be impatient and unforgiving, is lying against the truth, but love, patience, and long forbearance are in accordance with the principles of truth. Truth is ever pure, ever kind, breathing a heavenly fragrance unmingled with selfishness.... TMK 185.2Read in context »
There are those who do not humble their hearts before God, and who will not walk uprightly. They hide their true purposes, and keep in fellowship with the fallen angel, who loveth and maketh a lie. The enemy puts his spirit upon the men whom he can use to deceive those who are partially in the dark.... TDG 312.4Read in context »
Jerusalem was the metropolis of the Jews, and it was there that the greatest exclusiveness and bigotry were found. The Jewish Christians living within sight of the temple naturally allowed their minds to revert to the peculiar privileges of the Jews as a nation. When they saw the Christian church departing from the ceremonies and traditions of Judaism, and perceived that the peculiar sacredness with which the Jewish customs had been invested would soon be lost sight of in the light of the new faith, many grew indignant with Paul as the one who had, in a large measure, caused this change. Even the disciples were not all prepared to accept willingly the decision of the council. Some were zealous for the ceremonial law, and they regarded Paul with disfavor because they thought that his principles in regard to the obligations of the Jewish law were lax. AA 197.1
The broad and far-reaching decisions of the general council brought confidence into the ranks of the Gentile believers, and the cause of God prospered. In Antioch the church was favored with the presence of Judas and Silas, the special messengers who had returned with the apostles from the meeting in Jerusalem. “Being prophets also themselves,” Judas and Silas, “exhorted the brethren with many words, and confirmed them.” These godly men tarried in Antioch for a time. “Paul also and Barnabas continued in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also.” AA 197.2
When Peter, at a later date, visited Antioch, he won the confidence of many by his prudent conduct toward the Gentile converts. For a time he acted in accordance with the light given from heaven. He so far overcame his natural prejudice as to sit at table with the Gentile converts. But when certain Jews who were zealous for the ceremonial law, came from Jerusalem, Peter injudiciously changed his deportment toward the converts from paganism. A number of the Jews “dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation.” This revelation of weakness on the part of those who had been respected and loved as leaders, left a most painful impression on the minds of the Gentile believers. The church was threatened with division. But Paul, who saw the subverting influence of the wrong done to the church through the double part acted by Peter, openly rebuked him for thus disguising his true sentiments. In the presence of the church, Paul inquired of Peter, “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?” Galatians 2:13, 14. AA 197.3Read in context »
(Psalm 119:126, 127; 1 Timothy 4:1.) Traitors to Truth Become Her Worst Persecutors—Much so-called Christianity passes for genuine, faithful soundness, but it is because those who profess it have no persecution to endure for the truth's sake. When the day comes when the law of God is made void, and the church is sifted by the fiery trials that are to try all that live upon the earth, a great proportion of those who are supposed to be genuine will give heed to seducing spirits, and will turn traitors and betray sacred trusts. They will prove our very worst persecutors. “Of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them;” and many will give heed to seducing spirits. 6BC 1065.1
Those who have lived on the flesh and blood of the Son of God—His Holy Word—will be strengthened, rooted, and grounded in the faith. They will see increased evidence why they should prize and obey the Word of God. With David, they will say, “They have made void thy law. Therefore love I thy commandments above gold; yea, above fine gold.” While others count them dross, they will arise to defend the faith. All who study their convenience, their pleasure, their enjoyment, will not stand in their trial (The Review and Herald, June 8, 1897). 6BC 1065.2Read in context »