Wednesday: Confrontation in Antioch
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Some time after Paul’s consultation in Jerusalem, Peter made a visit to Antioch in Syria, the location of the first Gentile church and the base of Paul’s missionary activities described in Acts. While there, Peter ate freely with the Gentile Christians, but when a group of Jewish Christians arrived from James, Peter—fearful of what they would think—changed his behavior entirely.

Why should Peter have known better? Compare Gal. 2:11–13 and Acts 10:28. What does his action tell us about just how powerfully ingrained culture and tradition can be in our lives? 



Some have mistakenly assumed that Peter and the other Jews with him had ceased following the Old Testament laws about clean and unclean food. This, however, does not seem to be the case. If Peter and all the Jewish Christians had abandoned the Jewish food laws, a major uproar in the church certainly would have followed. If so, there would surely be some record of it, but there is not. It is more likely that the issue was about table-fellowship with Gentiles. Because many Jews saw Gentiles as unclean, it was a practice among some to avoid social contact with Gentiles as much as possible.

Peter had struggled with this issue himself, and it was only a vision from God that helped him to see it clearly. Peter said to Cornelius, the Roman centurion, after he entered his house, “ ‘You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a Jew to associate with or to visit anyone of another nation, but God has shown me that I should not call any person common or unclean’ ” (Acts 10:28, ESV). Although he knew better, he was so afraid of offending his own countrymen that he reverted back to his old ways. That’s, apparently, how strong the pull of culture and tradition was in Peter’s life.

Paul, though, called Peter’s actions exactly what they were: the Greek word he used in Galatians 2:13 is hypocrisy. Even Barnabas, he said, was “carried away with their hypocrisy” (NKJV). Strong words from one man of God to another.

Why is it so easy to be a hypocrite? (Isn’t it, perhaps, that we tend to blind ourselves to our own faults while eagerly looking for faults in others?) What kind of hypocrisy do you find in your own life? More important, how can you recognize it and then root it out?

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Wednesday: Confrontation in Antioch — 6 Comments

  1. There was never any doubt but that the Jewish Christians were as Jewish as before they became Christians. The only thing that separated them from their non-believing brothers was their acceptance of Jesus as Messiah.
    "Thou seest brother, how manythousands of Jews there are which believe and they are all ZEALOUS OF THE LAW".... Acts 21:20

    The above directive came from the disciples, as was directed to Paul; making the disciples as ardent in keeping the ceremonial laws as the "many thousands of Jews that believe".
    Peter only did what any Jew who believed the law given by God not to allow Gentiles into the Temple, among other prohibitions against the gentiles ...he only did what he himself believed when he would not have gone into Cornelius' house, even though he himself, filled with the Holy Spirit, had won more than three thousands souls to Jesus, Messiah on the day of Pentecost..yet still; he would not have gone into Cornelius' house had he not been given the vision by God to go.

    Peter's behaviour was just in keeping with the belief of the Christian Jewish community led by the disciples.

    Should some think that this proves disunity with the gospel taught by the disciples with that gospel taught by Paul, let them think again.

    Truth does not cease being truth even when honest seekers after truth are in error. Some of John's disciples never did hear or accept the teachings of Jesus' disciples; but they were still godly followers.....John 4:1.. and as this is also evidenced by Paul's' own words..."This man was instructed in the way of the Lord, and being fervent in the Spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John". Acts 18:25

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  2. A good friend of mine once spoke from the pulpit saying, “When you point your finger at someone, look at the rest of your fingers and see where they are pointing.” I think this sums up what this question is asking. As for masking our own hypocrisy, isn’t it more of human nature than a cultural or traditional thing? Maybe as traditions go it could be said for comparison to others not of our “faith”. Either way, I believe it is not for us as Christians to be pointing at anyone for anything. Isn’t our job to “plant the seed” of the love of God and then, let the Holy Spirit move the person in the right direction. Personally I find the fact that another person’s faults, doesn’t make them less, rather than showing me that we are all the same, and have our own faults. That makes us all completely dependent on Jesus for our salvation, and can only find the peace of change through Him.

    Another favorite quote by the same friend, but off topic was “Church is not a place for the righteous to gather, but a hospital for sinners.” I personally found this statement to be very comforting.

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  3. The Tongue
    Peter was afraid of what the governing leadership would say. He was afraid, not of the truth, but of the twisted words that flowed from the mouths of the unconverted. He wasn't as strong as Paul. He was more like the average SDA christian today.
    Psalm 52:2
    The tongue deviseth mischiefs; like a sharp razor, working deceitfully.
    Psalm 57:4
    My soul is among lions: and I lie even among them that are set on fire, even the sons of men, whose teeth are spears and arrows, and their tongue a sharp sword.

    If you think this is not so; then let a SDA member who has a job in the public sector, whether be a school teacher, guidance counselor, employer or any position of leadership or authority, let him or her quote God's stance on homosexual practices. Let them openly appose adoption of a lesbian couple and let them speak against educating their grandchildren in public elementary school the acceptance of the gay lifestyle. They know the scandal this could cause and the consequences.
    Proverbs 18:21
    Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.

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  4. I have found it is easy for Christians (especially Seventh Day Adventists) to be hypocrisy as Peter. Although Peter was one of the disciples of Jesus, having a direct contact with the Messiah unlike Paul, but still he continued to hold the Jewish tradition. he did not let Jesus take control of his whole being. He wanted to please men instead of God. This shows how many of us are. It does not matter how long we have been believers but we can still fall into the trap just as Peter until we are ready to surrender ourselves at the feet of Jesus.

    But despite the shortcomings I saw in Peter that too many of us have, I see the love of God how He uses various ways to bring people to repentance. He used Paul to tell Peter about his hypocrisy in front of those he tried to please, he also gave him a vision (the story of Cornellius).

    Another thing I see is the strength of faith of Paul. By knowing whom he believed he was not ashamed to tell Peter his mistake, although he would think that would bring diversity of the gospel. He did not care the differences between them considering the fact that Peter was a disciple of Jesus and Him not. No wonder he said "my gospel is not from men neither was sent by men" This teaches us that even today we should have the courage to rebuke sin openly regardless of one's position or background. Be ready to defend what you believe according to the word of God even if it might hurt others.
    God bless!

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  5. Indeed sin has to be called by its name. I also believe that rebuke has to be handled with care. I have witnessed incidences where zealous men of God fail to convey their message of rebuke in the right manner and hence peoples hearts were hardened and turned a deaf ear to the rebuke. One point i would like to stress is that we should teach the truth in love, in light of 1 Timothy 5:1-2.

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  6. There's so much 'FAVORITISM' in the churches today, that it seems impossible to make a point or a correction on a subject. people tend to use that phrase so often "don't point you fingers cause many are pointing back" or "clear the wax off you eyes first before you try to clear mine" because of this, people tend to keep it inside, instead of talking to that brother or sister. I think that every year the churches should change members positions, and I mean not the same members, musician, deacons, treasurer etc. To many time we refuse to quote whats in the word of God and spread false doctrine. The word of God is true.
    http://theadventmessage.com/viewtopic.php?f=19&t=140

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