When Peter was come to Antioch - There has been a controversy whether Πετρος, Peter, here should not be read Κηφας, Kephas; and whether this Kephas was not a different person from Peter the apostle. This controversy has lasted more than 1500 years, and is not yet settled. Instead of Πετρος, Peter, ABCH, several others of good note, with the Syriac, Erpenian, Coptic, Sahidic, Ethiopic, Armenian, later Syriac in the margin, Vulgate, and several of the Greek fathers, read Κηφας . But whichsoever of these readings we adopt, the controversy is the same; for the great question is, whether this Peter or Kephas, no matter which name we adopt, be the same with Peter the apostle?
I shall not introduce the arguments pro and con, which may be all seen in Calmet's dissertation on the subject, but just mention the side where the strength of the evidence appears to lie.
That Peter the apostle is meant, the most sober and correct writers of antiquity maintain; and though some of the Catholic writers have fixed the whole that is here reprehensible on one Kephas, one of the seventy disciples, yet the most learned of their writers and of their popes, believe that St. Peter is meant. Some apparently plausible arguments support the contrary opinion, but they are of no weight when compared with those on the opposite side.
But when Peter was come to Antioch - On the situation of Antioch, see the note at Acts 11:19. The design for which Paul introduces this statement here is evident. It is to show that he regarded himself as on a level with the chief apostles, and that he did not acknowledge his inferiority to any of them. Peter was the oldest, and probably the most honored of the apostles. Yet Paul says that he did not hesitate to resist him in a case where Peter was manifestly wrong, and thus showed that he was an apostle of the same standing as the others. Besides, what he said to Peter on that occasion was exactly pertinent to the strain of the argument which he was pursuing with the Galatians, and he therefore introduces it Galatians 2:14-21 to show that he had held the same doctrine all along, and that he had defended it in the presence of Peter, and in a case where Peter did not reply to it. The time of this journey of Peter to Antioch cannot be ascertained; nor the occasion on which it occurred. I think it is evident that it was after this visit of Paul to Jerusalem, and the occasion may have been to inspect the state of the church at Antioch, and to compose any differences of opinion which may have existed there. But everything in regard to this is mere conjecture; and it is of little importance to know when it occurred.
I withstood him to the face - I openly opposed him, and reproved him. Paul thus showed that he was equal with Peter in his apostolical authority and dignity. The instance before us is one of faithful public reproof; and every circumstance in it is worthy of special attention, as it furnishes a most important illustration of the manner in which such reproof should be conducted. The first thing to be noted is, that it was done openly, and with candor. It was reproof addressed to the offender himself. Paul did not go to others and whisper his suspicions; he did not seek to undermine the influence and authority of another by slander; he did not calumniate him and then justify himself on the ground that what he had said was no more than true: he went to him at once, and he frankly stated his views and reproved him in a case where he was manifestly wrong. This too was a case so public and well known that Paul made his remarks before the church Galatians 2:14 because the church was interested in it, and because the conduct of Peter led the church into error.
Because he was to be blamed - The word used here may either mean because he had incurred blame, or because he deserved blame. The essential idea is, that he had done wrong, and that he was by his conduct doing injury to the cause of religion.
6, 7. Trouble in Galatia—In almost every church there were some members who were Jews by birth. To these converts the Jewish teachers found ready access, and through them gained a foothold in the churches. It was impossible, by scriptural arguments, to overthrow the doctrines taught by Paul; hence they resorted to the most unscrupulous measures to counteract his influence and weaken his authority. They declared that he had not been a disciple of Jesus, and had received no commission from Him; yet he had presumed to teach doctrines directly opposed to those held by Peter, James, and the other apostles. Thus the emissaries of Judaism succeeded in alienating many of the Christian converts from their teacher in the gospel. Having gained this point, they induced them to return to the observance of the ceremonial law as essential to salvation. Faith in Christ, and obedience to the law of ten commandments, were regarded as of minor importance. Division, heresy, and sensualism were rapidly gaining ground among the believers in Galatia. 6BC 1108.1Read 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 »