“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 focus on 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 on a straight path of truth, the truth of the gospel of grace.
I said to Peter before them all,
Paul rebuked Peter publicly before the whole church. This must have stung Peter’s pride. Since he did not walk in conformity to gospel truth, public damage deserves public rebuke. Paul took the situation seriously. Many churches today do not take a serious stand for truth. They have a tenuous and unsound biblical backbone.
“Those who are sinning rebuke in the presence of all, that the rest also may fear” (1 Timothy 5:20).
Since Peter’s public sin required public rebuke, Paul had to make a public issue of his legalism. His rebuke of Peter’s action was not personal. He had no desire to humiliate Peter publicly. The overwhelming problem for Paul was the integrity of the gospel of grace. So Paul stood nose to nose with Peter.
If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews,
Paul says that Peter, as a converted Jew, accepted Gentiles as a principle of grace into the body of Christ. He lived as a legalistic Jew before his conversion, but after becoming a Christian and especially after his revelation that Gentiles were accepted into the body of Christ in Acts 10, he believed in and practiced 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 return to the law. He cannot simultaneously live under both law and grace; the two beliefs are mutually exclusive (Ro 11:6).
why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews?
Peter compelled Gentiles to live as Jews by his legalistic behavior. The word “compel” denotes put constraint upon. He, by inference, forced Gentiles into Jewish theology. Peter’s capitulation to the legalists divided the church at Antioch. Peter was especially blameworthy because of his station as an apostle. A leader’s error always causes much 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 correct, but our walk is wrong. When we live legalistically, we deny God the glory of His grace and rob believers of their liberty in Christ.