“But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, “If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews?”
But when I saw
When Paul realized that Peter and the crowd that followed him defected from the gospel, he took decisive action. Since no one but him kept his eyes open to the grace principle, he did something about it.
that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel,
The word “straightforward” means to walk in a straight course. “Straightforward” comes from two words: straight and foot. Metaphorically, it means to act uprightly. Here, the idea is to walk in a straight path in the truth of grace.
I said to Peter before them all,
Paul rebuked Peter publicly before the whole church. This must have stung Peter’s pride. Peter did not walk in conformity to gospel truth. Paul took the situation seriously. Many churches today do not take stands for truth. They have little biblical backbone. Public injury deserves public rebuke.
“Those who are sinning rebuke in the presence of all, that the rest also may fear” (1 Timothy 5:20).
Public sin requires public rebuke. Paul’s rebuke of Peter was not personal. Paul had no desire to humiliate Peter publicly. The overwhelming issue to Paul was the integrity of the gospel of grace. So Paul stood nose to nose to Peter.
If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews,
Paul says that Peter is a Jew. This is his current condition under the appearance of legalism. Peter lived as a Jew before his conversion. Peter’s life as a Gentile means that he believed and lived the grace principle. If Peter accepted grace, how can he go back to legalism? It is impossible to have both. If he was right under grace, he is wrong to go back to the law. He cannot live under both law and grace at the same time.
why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews?
Peter compelled Gentiles to live as Jews. The word “compel” denotes put constraint upon. He forced Gentiles into Jewish theology. Peter’s capitulation to the legalists tore apart the church at Antioch. Peter was especially blameworthy because of his station as an apostle. A leader’s error always causes more consternation than anyone else’s.
Our walk must be consistent with our talk.
We can deny what we believe not only by what we affirm but by how we act. Our talk can be right, but our walk wrong. When we live legalistically, we deny God the glory of His grace, and we deny believers their liberty in Christ.