Saturday, November 20, 2010

Unit 7 - Table Fellowship at Antioch (Gal. 2:11-21)

I. Introduction

A. Overarching theme - According to Paul the unity of the church is based on nothing other than the good news of God's grace.
B. Coursar - Fourfold Purpose of this Section

II. Coursar - Fourfold Purpose of this Section

A. One - Must understand dynamics at work in Antioch
B. Two - Why did Paul include the incident in this letter and at this point in his argument?
C. Three - What can be learned from the structure and logical flow of Paul's complicated response to Peter?
D. Four - Essential, must examine the phrases "works of the law" and "faith in Christ"

III. Dynamics at work in Antioch

A. Why did Peter, Barnabas and the other Jewish Christians stop eating with the Gentiles at Antioch?
1. Scripture tells us they stopped after "people came from James...for fear of the circumcision faction."
2. Coursar believes James sent word that strong Jewish nationalists (not even members of Jewish Christian church in Jerusalem) were demanding no contact with Gentiles.
3. Peter's eating with Gentiles at Antioch was causing difficulty for Jewish Christians in Jerusalem with these Jewish nationalist zeolets.

B. Why did Paul so vigorously appose that choice?
1. Paul does not believe Peter is changing his core beliefs. Rather, Peter is compromising in order to "keep the peace".
2. However, Paul believes Peter has failed to see the larger implications of his choice to compromise
a. Peter's separation from the table fellowship implies Gentile Christians can only be considered second-class citizens
b. Unity of the church would then be based on circumcision and adherence to the law rather than the gospel of grace.

IV. Why did Paul write about this incident to the Galations and why at this particular point in the letter?

A. Why tell the Galations about this incident in Antioch?
1. It further clarifies Paul's stance in relation to the Jerusalem apostles.
a. He serves only one master, Christ
b. He will not compromise his belief in the one gospel.
2. Reporting the incident serves to reiterate point made earlier in the letter - the gospel alone provides the bond for Christian unity.
B. The account provides a transition to the themes of justification by faith and dying with Christ (dominant in Ch. 3).

V. What can be learned from the structure and logical flow of Paul's complicated response to Peter?

A. Your guess is as good as mine. It's Paul, he talks in circles

VI. Examining the phrases "works of the law" and "faith in Christ"

A. Works of the law
1. 'Law' means Torah
2. Paul isn't condemming law for law's sake, rather is condemming belief that following law results in salvation.
3. Salvation comes exclusively by God's grace in Jesus Christ.

B. Faith in Christ OR Faith of Christ
1. RSV and most other new translations say "faith in Christ"
2. KJV says "faith of Christ"
3. Coursar outlines impact of each translation. Complex and difficult to understand.
4. Bottom line to me is this: It is because of my faith in God's grace (through Jessus Christ) that I choose to follow the law to the best of my ability.

(1) Interpretation Bible Studies: Philippians and Galations, Stanley P. Saunders, Westminster John Knox Press, 2001
(2) The Letters to the Galations and Ephesians, William Barclay, Westminster John Knox Press, 2002
(3) Interpretation Bible Commentary: Galations, Charles B. Cousar, John Knox Press, 1982

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