As part of his argument, while admonishing Peter to live in accordance with the Gospel, Paul stated that he (Peter) while being a Judean, “lived” as a member of the nations and not (uniquely) as a Judean (Gal.2:14). Most people today wrongly conclude that Paul was describing Peter’s non-Jewish lifestyle, which is why Paul’s argument seems to make no sense. Yet the very basis of the conflict between the two apostles suggests otherwise. After all, the conflict was over fellowship with Gentiles who did not go through proselyte conversion.

These Gentiles worshiped Israel’s God in Christ, but did not completely obligate themselves to full Torah observance. They, therefore, remained members of the nations of the world. (Remember that the basic problem with Gentiles was not their genetic identity, but their non-Jewish lifestyle, which would have put them out of the possibility of fellowship with the rest of the Jewish people). This background, together with Peter’s apostolic commissioning to primarily minister to Judeans, renders our modern de-Judaized interpretation (of “you live as a Gentile”) nothing short of absurd.

Paul also told Peter that: “We who are Jews by birth and not Gentile ‘sinners’ know that a man is not justified by works of the Torah” (Gal. 2:15-16a). The Apostle Paul did not refer to Peter’s lifestyle, but rather to his experience in Christ! This was very much in line with what Peter witnessed himself when Israel’s God poured out His Spirit on Gentile God-fearers (Acts 10). That is without becoming proselyte converts (meaning without becoming fully committed to the entire Torah) the Gentile God-fearers became recipients of the Holy Spirit of Israel’s God!

In other words, “live as a Gentile” did not mean that Peter abandoned his Jewish lifestyle, but that he was now alive in Christ in exactly the same way as Gentiles were – by grace through faith, and not because of obedience to the Torah (Eph.2:1-22).

So, did Peter, and for that matter, Paul, “live” as Gentiles? Absolutely! They were made alive in Christ in the same way as Gentiles were! (Gal.2:15-16).

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95 COMMENTS

  1. I am still not clear about this. If both Peter and Paul live as Gentiles then why was Paul accusing Peter, saying he was wrong and by his conduct misleading other Jews even Barnabas? Like others, I have always felt that his argument here portrays bad blood.Paul it was, who argues that Peter's ministry was to the Jews and not Gentiles, contradicting Peter's testimony in Act 15:5,6. A good Christian leader will not rubbish the image of a fellow leader in public, which is the attitude we see in Peter when speaking about Paul.
    • I have been a member of a Christian Church or a member of a Messionic Congregation my entire life, 75 years old now. I have seen serveral miricals over the years and have seen many come to accept the Messiah. But you know I have never seen ' the one new man ' either in the Chruch or the Synagogue. I wonder why. Then I see these discussions and I know.

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    • To explain this scene and to be in know of the Apostle Paul's mind, the book of Galatians 2:11-14 needs to be explored. There, the basis of his rebuking Peter could then be ascertained. It has to with the behavior of Peter when he suddenly changed sighting his Jewish colleagues.
  2. I don't think that Paul rubbish the image of Peter. Galatians church needed the correction.To present. the truth forcefully Paul brought all these thing fearlessly and I believe Paul did the right thing. Paul emphasised that one cannot add anything to Salvation which is only through the faith in Jesus redemptive work at the Cross.
    • Those are wonderful words. But once you a can reread these same marvelous ancient text with your protestant glasses (and I mean this respectfully) you may see things that don't appear to be there at the moment :-).
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    • As for Salvation, we know that St Paul had to obey ACTS 2:38 and was filled with the Holy Ghost/Spirit of God speaking in tongues. This Salvation message was first preached by Peter in Jerusalem at Pentecost. Peter was preaching the Great Commission that Jesus had told them to do in Luke 24: 47.38 as did all the Apostles throughout the NT. Did they believe in having faith, hope, confessing the Lord, yes of course, but they still, AS WE ALL MUST DO, Obey ACTS 2:38 to enter Salvation's door.

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  3. "So, did Peter, and for that matter Paul, “live” as Gentiles? Absolutely! They were made “alive” in Christ in the same way as Gentiles were! (Gal.2:15-16)." There is no such thing as Apostles leaving as Gentiles, If you're talking about non converted Gentiles, because Gentiles did not keep the 10 Commandments. When Gentiles made a Covenant with Christ they committed to keep the 10 Commandments. John 14:15 (KJV) "If ye love me, keep my commandments." The new Covenant never got rid of keeping the Law of God (10 Commandments) Jesus made it clear NKJV “Do not think that I came
    • Matthew 5:17 “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. This is true that while Christ was on earth he lived under the Law. However Christ fulfilled the Old Covenant upon His death. Just like any legal document once it is fulfilled it is null and void. The commandments that Christ was speaking of were the ones that are part of the New Covenant. The other part to this verse is for the Apostles alone at that time for they were under the Old Covenant.

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    • Gab, it sounds like you’re a strong believer, however, you may be taking John 14:15 out of context. It is true that Jesus said that, but what commandment(s) was he talking about? Was it ‘the 10commandments’ or was it the ‘New commandment he gave in John13, that we love each other as he loved us..?
  4. I find no support for a claim that Peter's primary mission was to Jews and Paul's mission was to Gentiles. The claim is Pauline and is made by Paul's secretary, Luke, and comes from no apostolic authority. The claim is contrary to fact. In fact, if we were to name the Apostle who most successfully ministered to Gentiles it would have to be Thomas. His work in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Southern India not only is well documented but lasts even to this day. The question of whether G-d-fearers need to follow all the precepts of Judaism was answered long ago.
  5. Acts 15:21 shows us that the returning tribes were to continue their Torah education in the Shabbat portions read every sabbath and in every city from which thay came. Then, eventually all the details would be received and incorporated into their lifestyles. Sadly some teachers stop and forget the early verses of Acts 15 and make a case for returning lost sheep not having to to obey all the Torah. A careful study of the study proves יהוה requires all of both houses of Yisrael to be equal and identical benefits and blessings, associated with Torah complience.
    • Luis, the verse you refer to is specifically about the law for eating Passover. It specifies that whoever eats it must be circumcised, whether native born or a sojourner. Paul says to remain uncircumcised if you are called alive in Christ as a Gentile.so SOMETHING is new and different in the new covenant, yes? In Christian churches we say you must be a believer to take the Lord’s supper. An unbeliever cannot partake. Some churches say you must be baptized, some say only you must be a believer. Perhaps representing spirit of vs letter of?

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  6. I don't understand . Who was ministering to gentiles ? Paul or Peter? I thought that Paul and Peter , (actually let's call them by their real names: Saul and Simeon) had an argument because Saul corrupted Jesus' teachings and Simeon (and James the brother of Jesus) wanted to follow a different line of teachings, the real one.
    • Guillermo, I don't know if I understand what you are saying , are you saying Paul/Formerly Saul, "corrupted" Jesus' teachings...if so poppycock. peter and Paul both were believers, God / Jesus used both men to write most of the new testament. The men wrote the words physically ( or scribes for them did ) the WORDS are ALL Christ's words, all scripture is from Jesus, all , men don't write scripture themselves. They were in deed sinful, imperfect men, but in terms of writing scripture or spreading the TRUE gospel, they did, neither one corrupted anything. Period.
  7. So are you essentially saying that the way in which every believer should “live“ is in the manner physically manifested by the inner work of the Spirit: alive only through Christ (as described below)? I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me; (Eph. 2:20) ...for “‘In him we live and move and have our being’; (Acts 7:28)
  8. Torah consists of instruction specifically for the priests and their Temple duties, instructions just for men, instructions just for women and instructions for His all His people. Don’t confuse Torah with rabbinic teaching over the past 2000 years. Look at the heart of Torah and you will see the Savior. He is the one who gave the instructions and said in Matt 5:17-19 that Torah would not pass away and anyone who teaches that will be least in the kingdom of heaven. We get all confused because we mix 2000 years of negative teaching about Judaism with G-d’s Word.
  9. Sir, I am not sure what your essay is really about. Paul stood up to Peter, who acted as a hypocrite. When the Judiazers came he abandoned eating with Gentiles to eat with them because he couldn't stand up to social criticism. If Paul had not stood up to Peter, then there might have been a long lasting rift between Jewish and non-Jewish early Christians. I wonder why you state that God is Israel's god. The possessive case seems inappropriate. God is everyone's god. Grace and not works, including works arising from the Torah. and so on.
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