In Acts 15 a dispute between Paul and Peter is described. Here are the details, as I understand them:
- Peter was denying table fellowship to new Christian converts who were not circumcised and who did not obey Jewish ceremonial washings. (Galatians 2:11-12)
- Peter himself had given up obedience to the strict Jewish customs himself, yet was still requiring the same of new converts. (Galatians 2:14)
- In doing this, Peter was deferring to James the Brother of Jesus.
- This all suggests that James was the de facto leader of the young Christian movement.
My first question: is this incident at Antioch the same one that is described by Luke-Acts in Acts 15? What are the options?
Luke-Acts takes pains to suggest that there was great harmony between Paul and the Jerusalem Elders. In Acts 9:27-28 Luke-Acts states that very soon after his marvelous conversion on the road to Damascus, that Barnabas took Paul to the Jerusalem Elders and was accepted by them. It seems that Paul disagrees with this later account by Acts-Luke. In Galatians 1 Pauls describes his own miracle story. Paul incists that he was not taught the Gospel by those in Jersulam (or by anyone else, see Galatians 1:11-16). In verse 17 he explicitly states that, contrary to Act 9, he did not go directly to Jerusalam, but instead went into Arabia. Only after 3 years did he go to Jerusalem, and while there saw no other Apostles besides Peter and James. The Jerusalem leaders accepted Paul's authority and struck a deal whereby Paul would teach to the Gentiles while Peter and James et al would teach to the Jews.
My second question: Is this factually correct?
Third question: What are the other interpretive options here?