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In Galatians 2 Paul describes a time when he rebuked Peter (Cephas) publicly:

Galatians 2:11-14 (NIV): When Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.

When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?

But Jesus told us in Matthew 18 that we should first confront a fellow believer privately, and only expose the sin publicly if they won't repent.

Matthew 18:15-17 (NIV): If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

Is there anything in either of these passages that would explain why Paul thought it was acceptable to start with a public rebuke?

  • @ curiousdannii, I put "according to the Calvinist". I hope the question is ok now. – karma Jun 8 at 8:05
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    Please quote all the verses you reference so that we can more easily understand the context. And can you explain the relevance of this question to Calvinism? – curiousdannii Jun 8 at 8:20
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    how do you know that he didn't? – KorvinStarmast Jun 8 at 12:37
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    The verse says "When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to [Peter] in front of them all..." In other words he is not just rebuking Peter, but the entire group that are sinning, and those are the people who are there. – DJClayworth Jun 8 at 13:01
  • @DJClayworth, can you please explain me how he is not just rebuking Peter ? When it read I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned ---> Not "them"/"their"/"they" .... I said to Cephas ---> Not "them"..... You are a Jew, so the "you" here is Peter, not you in plural. – karma Jun 9 at 11:03
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It's obvious Paul the apostle didn't speak to the apostle Peter beforehand about this future. Matthew 18:15 reads "if your brother sins against you, go, reprove him between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother." This wasn't a business or personal offense against Paul, alone. But rather concerned the truth of the good news.

This wasn't Peter's hidden or private act, but his public Judaizing. It wasn't only acceptable, but "necessary" that Paul did this. Referring to others in a slightly different context: "To them we yielded with the subjection demanded not even for an hour, that the truth of the gospel might remain with you." Galatians 2:5.

(In Acts 16:37 in a legal and physical context, with (unbelieving) authorities: "Paul said to them, They have beaten us publicly, uncondemned, men who are Romans, and have thrown us into prison; and now secretly they are thrusting us out? No indeed! But let them come themselves and bring us out.")

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  • Thank you for the answer, Walter. I'm sorry, I don't understand what do you mean on "his public Judaizing" ? That time in Paul's mind, Peter is afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group which causing Peter to separate himself from the Gentiles. How come Peter's one time act like at that time means "Peter is Judaizing the whole Gentiles there publicly" ? – karma Jun 22 at 10:40
  • Matthew 18:15 reads "if your brother sins against you...". As curiousdannii suggested, I probably will make another question as the Mat 18:15 I quoted in this question has no against you, Walter. Thanks. – karma Jun 22 at 11:02
  • a) it was public. b) Paul pointed out Peter's hypocrisy which was in the form of Judaizing. And attributing to him the same guilt as the "James party" of putting [ceremonial] law on the Gentile saints. c) Peter was a notable in that he was an original disciple and an apostle who took the lead in speaking at Pentecost and Cornelius' home, and probably a leader in the assembly in Jerusalem. d) This was after the matter had ostensibly been settled in Acts 15 and 11. e) Again, it was an offense against the Truth, not against Paul alone. f) I understood that Mt's Greek has "against you" – Walter S Jun 22 at 20:58
  • Walter, You wrote : "Paul pointed out Peter's hypocrisy" , What still I don't understand is : "how a ONE TIME act because afraid of something = hypocrisy" ? How did Paul when he saw Peter ONE TIME act which is separating himself from the Gentiles say that Peter's act at that time : separating himself from the Gentiles = Peter is Judaizing everyone in that place ? – karma Jul 17 at 12:15
  • Thanks for your kindness in asking. i'm honored. I answered the 'one time act' matter in my previous comment. If it's hidden, i'd love to make it very explicit. But first, please, if you want, or have time, could you comment ever so briefly how, even if this is only his one time act, it's not hypocrisy in your mind? Isn't a (first-time) act hypocrisy if it contradicts one's faith or previous faithful actions? (As far as 'everyone in that place,' I hope most present weren't Judaized by Peter or those from James, but it sounds like several were--whether consciously or 'unconciously.') – Walter S Jul 18 at 3:59
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Why didn't Paul talk to Peter privately?

In Galatians 2 Paul describes a time when he rebuked Peter (Cephas) publicly:

Galatians 2:11-14 (NIV)

Paul Opposes Cephas

11 "When Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. 13 The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray."

14" When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?"

They all needed correction.

Peter was obviously ashamed to eat with the Gentile Christians in the presence of the Jewish Christians that arrived from Jerusalem. Instead of talking behind Peter's back, Paul stood up to Peter in front of them all. Why? Because "other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray."(Vs 13) It is obvious that peer pressure made Peter and the others reject their Christian principles, it was a sin on the part of Peter and the others to cause a division in the Christian congregation, they all needed correction.

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  • Thank you for the answer, Ozzie. In Paul's mind Peter is not ashamed to eat with the Gentile Christian, but afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. – karma Jun 22 at 10:57
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Why didn't Paul talk to Peter privately ?

We don't know for sure that he didn't, but, since this does indeed constitute a viable interpretation, my answer, in this particular scenario, would be as follows:

At a council (such as the one mentioned in Acts 15), many of those present take their turn to speak, and, afterwards, the presiding forum reaches a final formal conclusion, which then becomes binding on all members; as such, there would have been no (other) time to do that without jeopardizing the sole purpose of their entire gathering; therefore, when his (one) chance to address the public meeting came, he (obviously) took it, having no other viable alternative. (Of course, this would imply a difference as to the exact succession of events between Galatians and Acts, but, then again, there are also small variations between the four Gospels, so it would not be completely unthinkable).

Is there anything in either of these passages that would explain why Paul thought it was acceptable to start with a public rebuke ?

Yes:

he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles

...and, presumably, from those (Jews) associated with them as well, such as Paul himself, thus leaving him with little or no opportunity to speak with Peter privately, prior to his public address, least by being seen together with Paul, or speaking with him, Peter might draw suspicion to himself, which he clearly wished to avoid at any cost. Though technically circumcised themselves, Jews advocating against the circumcision of the Gentiles, such as Paul, clearly did not belong in the so-called circumcision group, otherwise the following explanatory remark would make little or no sense:

he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group

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