Galatians 2:12
For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision.
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(12) Certain came from James.—The expression used leaves it an open question whether the persons intended brought, or claimed to bring, any sort of official authorisation from St. James (comp. Acts 15:24), or whether they merely belonged to the Church of Jerusalem, in which, if St. James was not actually bishop, he at least exercised a sort of presidential jurisdiction.

He did eat with the Gentiles.—By eating with Gentiles a Jew contracted Levitical defilement. St. Peter had been accused of this before, on account of his intercourse with Cornelius. (Comp. Acts 11:3.) He had not, however, stability and firmness enough to treat the question of principle as settled for him then once for all, and he yielded to a repetition of the old remonstrances. Our Lord Himself had braved Jewish opinion on this point. (Comp. Luke 15:2.)

When they were come.—The reading of the oldest MSS. here is “when he came,” of which it seems impossible to make any satisfactory sense. It may have been a slip of the pen, either in the original or in some very early copy. Other instances of mistakes in the oldest MSS. would be—Mark 4:21, “under a candlestick,” instead of “on a candlestick;” John 1:15, “he who said,” for “he of whom I said;” and a Greek form in Philippians 2:1.

Withdrew and separated himself.—The Greek expression brings out the timid and gradual withdrawal, ending in complete separation.

Them which were of the circumcision.—This appears to mean, not merely “those who advocated circumcision,” but “those who were made converts from a state of circumcision”—i.e., from Judaism.

2:11-14 Notwithstanding Peter's character, yet, when Paul saw him acting so as to hurt the truth of the gospel and the peace of the church, he was not afraid to reprove him. When he saw that Peter and the others did not live up to that principle which the gospel taught, and which they professed, namely, That by the death of Christ the partition wall between Jew and Gentile was taken down, and the observance of the law of Moses was no longer in force; as Peter's offence was public, he publicly reproved him. There is a very great difference between the prudence of St. Paul, who bore with, and used for a time, the ceremonies of the law as not sinful, and the timid conduct of St. Peter, who, by withdrawing from the Gentiles, led others to think that these ceremonies were necessary.For before that certain came - Some of the Jews who had been converted to Christianity. They evidently observed in the strictest manner the rites of the Jewish religion.

Came from James - See the note at Galatians 1:19. Whether they were sent by James, or whether they came of their own accord, is unknown. It is evident only that they had been intimate with James at Jerusalem, and they doubtless pleaded his authority. James had nothing to do with the course which they pursued; but the sense of the whole passage is, that James was a leading man at Jerusalem, and that the rites of Moses were observed there. When they came down to Antioch, they of course observed those rites, and insisted that others should do it also. It is very evident that at Jerusalem the special rites of the Jews were observed for a long time by those who became Christian converts. They would not at once cease to observe them, and thus needlessly shock the prejudices of their countrymen; see the notes at Acts 21:21-25.

He did eat with the Gentiles - Peter had been taught that in the remarkable vision which he saw as recorded in Acts 10. He had learned that God designed to break down the wall of partition between the Jews and the Gentiles, and he familiarly associated with them, and partook with them of their food. He evidently disregarded the special laws of the Jews about meats and drinks, and partook of the common food which was in use among the Gentiles. Thus he showed his belief that all the race was henceforward to be regarded as on a level, and that the special institutions of the Jews were not to be considered as binding, or to be imposed on others.

But when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself - He withdrew from the Gentiles, and probably from the Gentile converts to Christianity. The reason why he did this is stated. He feared those who were of the circumcision, or who had been Jews. Whether they demanded this of him; whether they encountered him in debate; or whether he silently separated himself from the Gentiles without their having said anything to him, is unknown. But he feared the effect of their opposition; he feared their reproaches; he feared the report which would be made to those at Jerusalem; and perhaps he apprehended that a tumult would be excited and a persecution commenced at Antioch by the Jews who resided there. This is a melancholy illustration of Peter's characteristic trait of mind. We see in this act the same Peter who trembled when he began to sink in the waves; the same Peter who denied his Lord. Bold, ardent, zealous, and forward; he was at the same time timid and often irresolute; and he often had occasion for the deepest humility, and the most poignant regrets at the errors of his course. No one can read his history without loving his ardent and sincere attachment to his Master; and yet no one can read it without a tear of regret that he was left thus to do injury to his cause. No man loved the Saviour more sincerely than he did, yet his constitutional timidity and irresolutehess of character often led him to courses of life suited deeply to wound his cause.

12. certain—men: perhaps James' view (in which he was not infallible, any more than Peter) was that the Jewish converts were still to observe Jewish ordinances, from which he had decided with the council the Gentiles should be free (Ac 15:19). Neander, however, may be right in thinking these self-styled delegates from James were not really from him. Ac 15:24 favors this. "Certain from James," may mean merely that they came from the Church at Jerusalem under James' bishopric. Still James' leanings were to legalism, and this gave him his influence with the Jewish party (Ac 21:18-26).

eat with … Gentiles—as in Ac 10:10-20, 48, according to the command of the vision (Ac 11:3-17). Yet after all, this same Peter, through fear of man (Pr 29:25), was faithless to his own so distinctly avowed principles (Ac 15:7-11). We recognize the same old nature in him as led him, after faithfully witnessing for Christ, yet for a brief space, to deny Him. "Ever the first to recognize, and the first to draw back from great truths" [Alford]. An undesigned coincidence between the Gospels and the Epistle in the consistency of character as portrayed in both. It is beautiful to see how earthly misunderstandings of Christians are lost in Christ. For in 2Pe 3:15, Peter praises the very Epistles of Paul which he knew contained his own condemnation. Though apart from one another and differing in characteristics, the two apostles were one in Christ.

withdrew—Greek, "began to withdraw," &c. This implies a gradual drawing back; "separated," entire severance.

It should seem that Peter had been at Antioch some time; while he was there, there came down certain Jews from James, who was at Jerusalem: before they came Peter had communion with those Christians at Antioch, which were by birth Gentiles, and at meals eat as they eat, making no difference of meats, as the Jews did in obedience to the ceremonial law; but as soon as these zealots for the Jewish rites (though Christians) were come, Peter withdrew from the communion of the Gentile Christians, and was the head of a separate party; and all through fear of the Jews, lest they should, at their return to Jerusalem, make some report of him to his disadvantage, and expose him to the anger of the Jews.

For before that certain came from James,.... The Lord's brother, mentioned before with Cephas and John, who resided at Jerusalem, from whence these persons came; and who are said to come from James, because they came from the place and church where he was, though, it may be, not sent by him, nor with his knowledge. They were such as professed faith in Christ; they were "judaizing" Christians believing in Christ, but were zealous of the law. Now before the coming of these persons to Antioch,

he, Peter,

did eat with the Gentiles; which is to be understood, not of eating at the Lord's table with them, but at their own tables: he knew that the distinction of meats was now laid aside, and that nothing was common and unclean of itself, and that every creature of God was good, and not to be refused if received with thankfulness; wherefore he made use of his Christian liberty, and ate such food dressed in such manner as the Gentiles did, without any regard to the laws and ceremonies of the Jews; and in this he did well, for hereby he declared his sense of things, that the ceremonial law was abolished, that not only the Gentiles are not obliged to it, but even the Jews were freed from it, and that the observance of it was far from being necessary to salvation: all which agreed with the preaching and practice of the Apostle Paul, and served greatly to confirm the same, and for this he was to be commended: nor is this mentioned by way of blame, but for the sake of what follows, which was blameworthy:

but when they were come he withdrew and separated himself; not from the church, and the communion of it, for then he had been guilty of schism, but from private conversation with the Gentiles: he did not visit them in their own houses, and sit down at table and eat with them, as he was wont to do; which argued great inconstancy and instability, very unbecoming one that seemed to be, and was a pillar in the church of God, as well as much dissimulation, for he knew better than he acted; his conduct did not agree with the true sentiments of his mind, which he covered and dissembled; and which must be very staggering to the believing Gentiles, to see so great a man behave in such a manner towards them, as if they were persons not fit to converse with, and as if the observance of Jewish rites and ceremonies was necessary to salvation. What induced him to take such a step was, his

fearing them which were of the circumcision: that is, the circumcised Jews, who professed faith in Christ, and were just now come from Jerusalem; not that he feared any danger from them; that they would abuse his person, or take away his life; but he might either fear he should come under their censure and reproofs, as he formerly had for going to Cornelius, and eating with him and his; or lest that they should be offended with him, and carry back an ill report of him, as not acting up to his character as an apostle of the circumcision. This led him into such a conduct; so true is that of the wise man, that "the fear of man bringeth a snare", Proverbs 29:25.

{2} For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision.

(2) Another most vehement proof of his apostleship, and also of that doctrine which he had delivered concerning free justification by faith alone. And it was for this doctrine alone that he reprehended Peter at Antioch, who offended in this, in that for the sake of a few Jews who came from Jerusalem, he played the Jew, and offended the Gentiles who had believed.


Galatians 2:12 ff. Paul now relates the particulars of the occurrence.

ἀπὸ Ἰακώβου] sent by James. It belongs to ἐλθεῖν. Comp. Plat. Prot. p. 309 B, ἀπʼ ἐκείνου ἔρχομαι: Matthew 26:47; Mark 5:35; 1 Thessalonians 3:6. Why they—and, to judge from the impression made upon Peter, they were certainly men of importance, strict in their Jewish-Christian observances—were sent to Antioch by James, we know not, any more than why Peter journeyed thither.[85] But the conjecture that they belonged to the ψευδάδελφοι of Galatians 2:4 (Winer, Schott), conflicts directly with the fact, that they were sent by James: for at the apostolic conference the latter had nowise made common cause with the ψευδάδελφοι; and therefore in sending any of them to Antioch he would have acted very unwisely, or would, with reactionary intent (so de Wette, whereby, however, the character of James is placed in a very awkward position, which is not to be supported by Acts 21:18), have simply supplied new fuel to the scarcely settled controversy. Others (as Studer, Usteri, Zeller[86]), connecting the words with τινάς, understand adherents of James (comp. οἱ ἀπὸ Πλάτωνος and the like; Schaefer, Melet. p. 26 ff.; Bernhardy, p. 222), or, as Winer (comp. Wolf) says, “qui Jacobi auctoritate sive jure seu secus utebantur;” but this brings upon James the designation of a party-chief (some Jacobites!), which would be neither necessarily nor wisely introduced here, even supposing Winer’s modification to be mentally supplied. Lastly, the explanation of Beza, Grotius, Olshausen, Baumgarten-Crusius (following Chrysostom), that ἀπὸ Ἰακώβου means nothing more than from Jerusalem, because James was the president of the church there (comp. Koppe), is an unauthorized setting aside of the person, who is named expressly and not without due reason.

μετὰ τῶν ἐθνῶν συνήσθιεν] he joined in meals with the Gentile Christians. Comp. on συνεσθίειν in this sense, Plat. Legg. ix. p. 881 D; Luke 15:2; 1 Corinthians 5:11. Notice the imperfect. The Jew might not eat with Gentiles without incurring Levitical defilement (Acts 11:3); but Peter, who previously by special revelation (Acts 10 f.), had been instructed as to the invalidity of this separation in Christianity, had in the apostolic conference defended Christian freedom (Acts 15:7 ff.), and taken part in passing the decree that, as regards food, the Gentile brethren should only have to abstain from meat offered to idols, things strangled, and blood (Acts 15:29). This decree was received and accepted with joy by the church at Antioch (Acts 15:30 f.). It would therefore have been all the easier for Peter in Antioch to follow his divinely attained conviction,[87] and to take part without hesitation in the more familiar intercourse of meals with the Gentile Christians there—free from any scruple that he should defile himself by Gentile food, which no legal enactments restricted except as to those three points. But to this free and correct standpoint the stricter Jewish Christians, who were still entangled in the observances of the Levitical precepts as to purity (comp. Acts 21:20), had not been able to rise; and to this class belonged the ΤΙΝΈς (Galatians 2:12). When, therefore, these peopled arrived from Jerusalem and from James, Peter unhappily no longer continued his previous liberal-minded conduct in Antioch, but drew back and separated himself from intercourse at meals with the Gentile Christians, whereby he gave a practical denial to his better conviction. How similar to his conduct in his former denial of the Lord! Calovius, however, justly, in conformity with the temperament of Peter, remarks, “una haec fuit Petri actio, non habitus.”

φοβούμενος τοὺς ἐκ περιτ.] By this are meant the Jewish Christians generally, as a class, so far as they were represented by those τινές, who belonged to the stricter school. Peter feared the Jewish-Christian strictness, displeasure, disapprobation, etc. The explanatory gloss of Chrysostom (Οὐ ΤΟῦΤΟ ΦΟΒΟΎΜΕΝΟς ΜῊ ΚΙΝΔΥΝΕΎΣῌ, ἈΛΛʼ ἽΝΑ ΜῊ ἈΠΟΣΤῶΣΙΝ; comp. Theophylact, ΜῊ ΣΚΑΝΔΑΛΙΣΘΈΝΤΕς ἈΠΟΣΚΙΡΤΉΣΩΣΙ Τῆς ΠΊΣΤΕΩς), which is followed by Piscator, Grotius, Estius, and others, favours Peter quite against the literal sense of the words (Matthew 10:26; Matthew 14:5; Mark 9:18; Luke 12:5; Acts 5:26; Romans 13:3).

Observe also, on the one hand, the graphic force of the imperfects ὑπέστ. and ἈΦΏΡ., and, on the other hand, the expression of his own bad precedent, ἙΑΥΤΌΝ, which belongs not merely to ἈΦΏΡ., but also to ὙΠΈΣΤ. (Polyb. vii. 17. 1, xi. 15. 2, i. 16. 10); he withdrew himself, etc., and thereby induced his Jewish-Christian associates also to enter on a like course (Galatians 2:13). It is not, according to the context, correct that these imperfects express an enduring separation (Wieseler); the behaviour begins when the τινὲς ἀπὸ Ἰακώβ. have come; it excites the unfavourable judgment of the church, and Paul immediately places himself in decided opposition to Peter. The imperfects are therefore the usual adumbrativa; they place the withdrawal and separation of Peter, as it were, before the eyes of the readers. On the other hand, the συνυπεκρίθ. which follows is the wider action which took place and served further to challenge Paul; hence the aorist.

[85] The book of Acts is silent both on this point and also as to the whole scene between Peter and Paul,—a silence indeed, which, according to Baur and Zeller, is supposed to be maintained intentionally, and in consistency with the false representation of the transactions in Jerusalem. According to Ritschl (altkath. Kirche, p. 145), they were deputed by James to bring the relation between the Jewish and Gentile Christians back to the rule of the apostolic decree, as James understood it, that is, according to Ritschl, in the sense of a retractation of the Jewish-Christian defection from the law, and on behalf of restoring the separation between the two parties as respected their customs of eating. This assumed task of the τινές is neither in any way intimated in the text, nor is there a trace of it in Acts (comp., on the contrary, Acts 15:30 ff.). Just as little can it be proved that, as Ewald thinks, a decree had been passed in the church at Jerusalem that the Jewish Christian should refrain from eating in company with Gentile Christians (because he did not know whether blood or something strangled might be among their food), and that those τινές had come to Antioch to make known this new decree. Hilgenfeld also assumes that those sent by James had some charge relating to withdrawal from the Gentile Christians. Comp. Holsten, z. Evang. d. Paul. u. Petr. p. 357, in whose opinion they were sent after Peter, because his intercourse with the Gentiles had been notified at Jerusalem.

[86] So also Vömel, Br. a. d. Gal. mit deutsch. Uebers. u. krit. Anm., Frankf. 1865, p. 29.

[87] That the Christian fellowship in meals included also the joint observance of the agapae (which Thiersch, Hilgenfeld, and others take to be meant), is obvious. It is not, however, expressly denoted by συνήσθιεν.

Galatians 2:12. Ἰακώβου. Any visitors from the Church of Jerusalem might perhaps be said to come from James, who was its permanent head; but these brethren appear to have been in special sympathy with James in regard to their strict observance of the Law, and the respect paid by Peter to their opinion suggests that they were representative men, probably deputed for some purpose by their Church. There is, however, no reason to conclude that James prompted or approved the intrigue against Gentile freedom at Antioch. Scrupulous as he was about observing the Law, he had taken a leading part at Jerusalem in shaping the recent contract with their Gentile brethren, and was the last man to sanction an evasion of its terms.

The imperfect tenses ὑπέστελλεν, ἀφώριζεν give a graphic picture of Peter’s irresolute and tentative efforts to withdraw gradually from an intercourse that gave offence to the visitors.—τ. ἐκ περιτομῆς. The omission of τῆς before περιτομῆς is conclusive against the rendering of our versions, them … of the circumcision. For περιτομή without an article does not denote the body of men, but the rite. By τ. ἐκ περιτομῆς are meant the party who based their faith on circumcision, and made that the charter of God’s covenant rather than baptism, and not the Jewish Christians in general. It is clear from the context that the Circumcision as a body did eat with their brethren until Peter set the example of withdrawal through fear of this determined minority of partisans. In Acts 11:2 the phrase obviously singles out a particular party who pressed the claims of circumcision in an assembly consisting wholly of circumcised men. In Acts 10:45 οἱ ἐκ π. πιστοί distinguishes those who believed after circumcision from the uncircumcised who believed; and in Colossians 4:11 οἱ ὄντες ἐκ π. οὗτοι μόνοι συνεργοί designates those men who were my only fellow-workers after circumcision. (For the force of the elliptical phrase οἱ ἐκ cf. Galatians 3:7; Galatians 3:9, Romans 4:14.)

12, 13. The decree of the Council of Jerusalem had virtually exempted Gentile converts from the observance of the Jewish ceremonial law (see Acts 15:1; Acts 15:5; Acts 15:28-29). It is probable that James, fearing lest the Jewish Christians should be led to claim the same exemption, sent delegates to Antioch to keep them steadfast in their adherence to it. This would be quite in accordance with his conduct as recorded Acts 21:20-25. St Peter had been taught by a heavenly vision not to call any man common or unclean (Acts 10:28). Before the coming of these delegates, he had boldly exercised his freedom in the Gospel, and had eaten with Gentile believers, not only at the Holy Communion and the Agapæ, or love feasts, but perhaps in social life. The Pharisees regarded such intercourse with abhorrence. They had murmured against our Lord, saying, ‘This man receiveth sinners and eateth with them’. [To those murmurs the Church owes the three parables of Luke 15] But on the arrival of the emissaries from James, Peter began to shew signs of timidity and gradually withdrew from the company of the Gentile Christians.

did eat] used to eat with.

withdrew] A word used of drawing off troops, and in nautical matters of shortening sail. It describes conduct the reverse of that boldness and impetuosity which had marked St Peter’s previous course.

fearing them which were of the circumcision] fearing to give offence to the converts from Judaism. Not for the first time did Peter learn by experience that “the fear of man bringeth a snare”, Proverbs 29:25.

Galatians 2:12. Συνήσθιεν) He ate, like as we did, along with the Gentiles.—ὑπέστελλε, he began to withdraw[11]) gradually.—ἀφώριζεν, separated) entirely.—φοβούμενος, fearing) The fear of man is very injurious.

[11] This is the force of the Imperfect—ED.

Verse 12. - The Judaism of the earliest Pentecostal Church not rabbinical. Any one who will be at the pains of reviewing the contents of the four Gospels with an eye to this particular subject, cannot fail to be struck by the frequency with which Christ in his own conduct placed himself in even the sharpest antagonism to the "traditions of the eiders," and encouraged his disciples in likewise setting them at nought. And this he did in cases in which the contrast of his behaviour to the abject submission to those traditions paraded by the Pharisees must have been most striking, and have jarred, no doubt, very often even painfully, upon the ill-instructed religious sensibilities of those, who had grown up in the belief that to observe the traditions was both seemly and pious and to neglect them unseemly and schismatical. For example, in daily life, neither he nor his disciples would "baptize" themselves when coming home from the market, nor even apply lustral water to their hands before taking a meal, though there before their eyes stood tire vessels filled with water which had been provided for the guests and which the other guests were punctual in using. It was not without significance that in his first miracle he withdrew the water which had been set apart for such lustrations from one use of it which he would pronounce to be utterly frivolous and vain, to apply it to one which should really be serviceable and beneficent. Again, many were the restrictions which the traditions imposed upon men's actions on the sabbath - restrictions which not only were additional to those enjoined by the Law, but also in many cases contravened the calls of mercy and benevolence. Such restrictions Christ very frequently, and in the most public and pointed manner, so as to directly challenge attention to what he did, broke through, and taught his disciples to disregard; the Pharisees being repeatedly so enraged at these transgressions of the traditions as to endeavour in consequence to take his life. The fastings enjoined by the traditions, he and his disciples likewise offended the Pharisees by taking no account cf. The traditions of especially one popular school of teaching allowed so great a facility of divorce as served to disguise a frightful excess of licentiousness, in which many of the Pharisees were themselves implicated; in opposition to which Christ was wont publicly to declare that 'connections formed after divorces not justified by adultery were themselves adulterous. Continually was the Lord warning his followers against the leaven of Pharisaism, to wit, its ostentation in religious observances; its laying so much stress upon the outward act, in neglect of the inward motive and the posture of the spirit; its draining away the forces of moral earnestness from the prosecution of justice, mercy, and truth, to squander them upon scrupulous and vigilant devotion to the veriest trifles of formalism; the consequent hollowness and hypocrisy of the religious character of its votaries; their love of money; their eagerness for social distinction; their cruelty to the poor amid all their ostentatious almsgiving; their hardheartedness to the fallen; their intense, devilish hatred of real piety. All the four Gospels abound in indications of that antipathy to Pharisaism and traditionalism which Christ both entertained himself and was careful to instil into the minds of his disciples. It cannot, therefore, be questioned that the disciples who formed the first nucleus of the Christian community, especially the twelve and the brethren of the Lord, were animated by similar sentiments of anti-Pharisaism; and so also the Pentecostal Church at Jerusalem as moulded under their influence. The Law of Moses, no doubt, they continued to obey, as their Master had done - the Law of Moses, however, as construed in the more humane and spiritual sense put upon it by the Sermon on the Mount, and not as stiffened and hardened into intolerable cruelty by the rabbinism which the Pharisees insisted upon. Such, we may feel certain, had been the attitude of St. Peter's mind in reference to the Law when, years before at Joppa, he had received the summons to go and visit Cornelius at Caesarea. It was with constraint put upon his own hitherto cherished tastes that he submitted to the call; and when he entered the Gentile's house, the fibre of Israelitism in his soul is seen quivering, shrinking back from the step which he was compelled to take. "Ye yourselves know," he said to the company of uncircumcised men among whom he found himself, "that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to join himself or to come unto one of another nation; and yet unto me hath God showed that I should not call any man common or unclean." It was painful to him as an Israelite and a Mosaist; but God's declared will was leaving him no alternative. Now, whence had arisen those feelings of repulsion? Partly it was, no doubt, a kind of caste sentiment. It had been then more than two thousand years a traditional consciousness with the Hebrew race that their circumcision lifted them to a higher level than the rest of mankind stood upon; and the persuasion inspired them with a disdain of uncircumcised nations, which with the most had little or no admixture of really religious feeling, being felt by the idolatrous Ephraimites as well as by the less unfaithful children of Judah. With the more pious members of the nation, this repulsion from Gentiles was partly the outcome of their sense of the deep degradation, religious and moral, in which heathen nations were sunk, steeped as they were in idolatry; but their sense of this was greatly intensified by the moral effect of the separation from other nations enforced by the ceremonial law. This was effected partly by the distinction between clean and unclean animals, which, recognized in an elementary degree as early as the time of Noah, was made in the Levitical legislation a matter of very minutely definite prescription (Leviticus 11.); and partly by the prohibition of eating either certain kinds of fat (Leviticus 3:17) or blood: to partake either of the flesh of an unclean animal, or of suet or blood, was emphatically declared by the Law, and by the long-inherited tradition of the nation had grown to be instinctively felt to be, "defilement" and "abomination." There is no ground for supposing that St. Peter's shrinking back from Gentiles as common or unclean was caused by rabbinism. Rabbin-ism, no doubt, added much to the bitterness of the repulsion with these who served the traditions; but even where there was no bondage owned to the dicta of the elders, repulsion from the contact of a Gentile was a powerful sentiment, having its roots deep in the instinctive sentiments of the Hebrew race and in the feelings instilled by the peremptory enactments of the Divine Law. Now, however, in Cornelius's house, St. Peter does not allow his spirit to be dominated by sentiments such as these. God and Christ his Master were making it manifest, as in other ways, so especially by the astonishing illapse of the Holy Spirit into these believing hearers of the gospel message, that they were no longer unclean, and therefore he cannot possibly any longer treat them as unclean. He tarried with them certain days, and, according to the charge immediately after preferred against him and not denied, ate with them. That he partook of the same food as they, whether of a kind forbidden by the Mosaic Law or not, is not stated and is no necessary inference drawn from the circumstances. He would not, we may well believe, scruple now to recline at the same table with them; but it may be readily imagined that for a guest so highly revered, of whose Jewish sensibilities respecting food they could not be unaware, even if he or the six Jewish brethren who accompanied him from Joppa did not make a point of apprising them, the wealthy centurion and his family would be only too anxious to provide such food as both he and his fellow-visitors would find acceptable. Thus St. Peter might have "eaten bread" with the Gentiles, neither, on the one hand, himself breaking the Levitical Law by partaking of food which was forbidden to him as a child of the legal covenant, nor, on the other, declining to recognize the full acceptableness before God and the equal brotherhood in Christ of believers who were still in their uncircumcision. The caste feeling of proud disdain of uncircumcised men as men of an inferior grade, and the dread of ceremonial defilement from contact with those who were levitically unclean, dared no longer assert themselves, could, indeed, no longer be permitted to lodge in his bosom, in the face of the clear proof which had been afforded that the Almighty had in Christ adopted them as his own children equally with himself. Thus it appears that when at Antioch, at the time here referred to by St. Paul, Cephas was seen partaking of social meals in company with the Gentile converts, he was only acting in the same way as he had acted at Caesarea ten years before.

Galatians 2:12

Did eat with (συνήσθιεν)

A.V. misses the force of the imperfect, marking Peter's custom. Not only at church feasts, but at ordinary meals, in defiance of the Pharisaic that this prohibition was not binding (Acts 10:28; Acts 11:8, Acts 11:9), and had defended that position in the apostolic conference (Acts 15:7 ff.).

Withdrew and separated himself (ὑπέστελλεν καὶ ἀφώριζεν ἑαυτόν)

Or, began to withdraw, etc. Ὑποστέλλειν only here in Paul. It means, originally, to draw in or contract. Thus of furling sails, closing the fingers. Middle voice, to draw or shrink back from through fear. Hence, to dissemble or prevaricate. There seems to be no special reason for making it either a military metaphor, as Lightfoot, or a nautical metaphor, as Farrar. See on Acts 20:20.

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