Monday, July 24, 2017

Paul Novel 4.6 Blow-Up at Antioch

continued from last week
But everything changed when more men arrived from Jerusalem, from James. When they saw that the Christian Jews were eating with Gentiles--indeed that Peter himself was--they took Peter aside.

"What are you doing, Peter?" they asked him. "You are the apostle, the first one to whom our risen Lord appeared! You have to set the tone. You have to be an example for the church because everyone is looking to you as their leader."

They explained to Peter that it was exactly this sort of situation that James had feared. Did Peter know for sure whether the Gentiles he was with were clean? Did he know how the meat had been prepared? Did he know what kind of life they were living?

It all came to a head the next Lord's Day. In the morning, they all met for worship in the morning by the river. But that evening the love feast was to take place at the home of Titus' family. As they were about to disperse for the day's work, Titus' father Menander stood up to remind everyone where the love feast was to be held that day.

At this point Peter stood up and interrupted. "We need to make some changes in the love feasts from here on. Because we who are Jews have to keep the Law, we cannot eat the meal with the God-fearers. And there are too many of you really to meet in only one house anyway. So we who are Jews will be having our love feast at the home of Menaen, while the Gentile believers will continue to meet at the home of Menander."

Paul was completely taken off guard, as were Menander and the other God-fearers. There was an audible murmur among the group. Barnabas, who was standing next to Paul, knew what was about to happen and grabbed Paul by the arm. "Paul, don't say anything publicly. We'll meet with Peter and figure this out. Just let it go for now and we'll get to the bottom of this."

Paul completely ignored him.

"This is hypocrisy!" Paul said loudly. "You do not keep the Law, Peter! You are a hypocrite," Paul said angrily. "I was a Pharisee. I know what it is to keep the Law. You don't keep the Law. Do you tithe your mint or cummin? Why you ate at the house of Mycenas this last Tuesday. You would have these Gentiles become zealous keepers of the Jewish Law when you yourself are not zealous for the Law.

There was another gasp to hear Paul confronting one of the pillars, one of the very disciples of the Lord. Paul then turned to the Gentiles in the group.

"Gentiles, God does not consider us to be in right standing before him because of these works of the Law, things like circumcision, purity laws, Sabbath observance. These works of the Law will not justify anyone before God. God has only made Israel--and now all God's people--finally right again with him again through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ, as I have heard Peter himself preach!"

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