Early Christians shared a common meal. Everyone brought something.
Jewish law was clear: Israelites were not to defile themselves by eating with Gentiles.
When Peter came to Antioch, he at first gloried in new-found faith; ate with Gentiles
Worked on Peter to maintain Jewish disntinctiveness.
Paul saw two things clearly:
According to William Barcaly, the root of the matter was that the Council of Jerusalem was a compromise.
Paul points out that the "Gentile sinners" were defined by the Jewish mindset. Gentiles, according to Jews, were sinners not so much because of their specific behaviors but because they did not have the law. The absence of the Law is what defined "sinners".
Even though the Jewish Christians knew that Jesus, not the law, saved them, they still had the visceral conviction that the law gave them an advantage.
The Jerusalem agreement allowed the Jews to keep the trappings of the Old Covenant while not requiring them of the Gentiles. This compromise perpetuated the sense of chosen-ness and holiness, the sense of being the remnant, based on inheritance and privilege and understanding.
Paul confronts Peter in Antioch and argues that not only did the Gentiles have to come to Christ and behave like Christ followers, but the Jews had to give up the law and throw themselves on the mercy of Christ. If sin, he argued, is defined by not keeping the law, then are we going to say that Christ taught us to sin? Obviously not.
Only one conclusion is possible: The old laws were wiped out. A new law is in its place: Love one another as I have loved you.
We are tempted to try to prove ourselves worthy of God and to compare ourselves with our fellow Christians.
A religion which measures itself by one's activities or which drives us to compare ourselves to others is not true Christianity.
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