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Misuse of the Name of James.

In Gal. 2:11 Paul speaks of a visit of Peter to Antioch, apparently some time after the events recorded in 2 : 1-10. If it were before the Conference, Peter's conduct at Antioch would be largely relieved of the charge of cowardice. But, on the whole, we must follow the order of time as given by Paul. We do not, however, know whether this visit of Peter was before the breach between Paul and Barnabas over John Mark (Acts 15 : 36-41) or after the return of Paul from the second tour (Acts 18: 22f). If the latter is true, Barnabas had also come back to Antioch (Gal. 2:13). Patrick thinks that this visit was not long after the Conference, probably before the breach with Barnabas. At any rate, Peter at Antioch practices social equality with the Gentiles, just as Paul and Barnabas and the rest of the Jewish Christians there did (Gal. 2: 13), and just as Peter did in the house of Cornelius, though he apologized for the act then (Acts 10: 28), and at Jerusalem when called to account for it (n: 1-18). Evidently the question of social equality was not raised in the Conference at Jerusalem.

"Certain came from James", says Paul (Gal. 2:12). Patrick admits that they had some connection with James and may have borne a commission from James, though not to Peter. It is possible, of course, that rumors of Peter's liberty in the matter of social contacts may have reached Jerusalem (cf. Acts ii : iff.) where the Pharisaic element in the church were very sensitive on this point. It is difficult, however, to believe that James would have felt called upon to send a reprimand to Peter on the subject, even granting that James opposed this conduct of Peter. The Judaizers at Antioch seem to have claimed the sanction of James and the rest at Jerusalem in their opposition to Paul and Barnabas (Acts 15: i, 24f), and it is entirely possible that on this occasion the visitors from Jerusalem claimed a connection with James that was not true. Hort thinks it probable that James merely meant "to send cautions to Peter," with no thought of a rebuke, and that the messengers took the matter in their own hands and proceeded to frighten Peter with threats of a report to James about his conduct at Antioch.

It is undoubtedly true that the horizon of Jerusalem was not that of Antioch, and that Paul would have less sympathy for what Peter did under fear of consequences at Jerusalem than for James in Jerusalem, who might not fully comprehend developments at Antioch. But the Epistle of James and his speech at the Conference make me slow to believe that he had gone over to the position of the Judaizers, as Peter did at Antioch. Paul boldly charged Peter, and even Barnabas, not with a change of conviction, but with hypocrisy (Gal. 2: 13f.). Fortunately, it was only a temporary lapse, and both step back to the side of Paul in his championship of a gospel of equality and freedom for all. Paul makes no formal charge against James, and, under all the circumstances, I prefer to think that James has been misrepresented at Antioch by the visitors from Jerusalem, who dared to use his powerful name to whip Peter into line. At any rate, James, not Peter, seems to be the master spirit at Jerusalem, as Paul is at Antioch.

From Practical and Social Aspects of Christianity - The Wisdom of James by A.T. Robertson, Professor of New Testament Interpretation, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Ky. Lightly updated to the language of the 21st century by D. N. Pham. (c) 2012. The update is not complete.

Insights of the past for the present

Wisdom of James - A.T. Robertson

The Wisdom That Is From Above

The Brother of the Lord.

In the Family Circle at Nazareth.

A Scoffer of Jesus.

Seeing the Risen Christ.

In the Upper Room at Pentecost

Leadership in the Jerusalem Church.

The Writing of the Epistle.

Champion of Paul at the Conference.

Misuse of the Name of James.

Befriending Paul on His Last Visit.


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