|(Above: a depiction of the Apostle Paul.) Paul|
severely rebuked Peter not simply because his
behavior was uncharitable and showed a lack
of love and unity of the body; but also because
it was an implicit denial of the gospel.
(Excerpt from The Kinist Heresy: A Biblical Critique of Racism)
In the book of Galatians, we have an incident between Paul and Peter that explicitly contradicts the whole kinist way of thinking. Galatians 2:11-16 reads,
Now when Peter had come to
, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed; for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision. And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy. But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, “If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews? We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified. Antioch
This confrontation takes place in
in Antioch the third largest city in the Syria Roman Empire (estimated at 480,000 inhabitants with 65,000 Jews). Scholars believe that the first Christian churches were founded in by Greek proselytes who had fled the persecution of the Sanhedrin in Antioch . The church itself in Jerusalem contradicts the kinist paradigm in that it had large numbers of both Jews and Greeks as members. The Greeks were of European stock while the Jews were Semitic. They were peoples from two different continents which had two completely unrelated language groups. If the apostolic church held to the kinist paradigm, such fully integrated churches would not even have existed and there would have been no need of a confrontation between Paul and Peter because the Jews would have had their own separate congregations. Antioch
What happened in
is proof that kinist doctrine was unacceptable to God. Peter came to Antioch from Antioch and observed a church where both Jewish and Gentile believers ate together at the same table. The church was functioning as a fully integrated body with no racial separation at all and Peter had no problem with that at all. This ought to be expected, for God had revealed to Peter that the Gentiles were no longer to be regarded as unclean (Ac. -28) and the Gentiles were baptized with the Holy Spirit (Ac. -48) indicating an equal status with Jews in the church. But, when a group of Judaizers came from Jerusalem , who claimed to be disciples of James, visited the church in Jerusalem , Peter contradicted his earlier behavior by separating himself from the Gentiles. The verbs “withdrew” or “began to draw back” and “separated” are all in the imperfect tense. These verbs suggest that the withdrawal did not happen all at once, that it took some time for the Judaizers’ pressure to have its effect on Peter. In verse 12, we are told that Peter feared those of the circumcision party. Peter’s bad kinist-like example led other Jews astray, so that even Barnabas was involved in Peter’s uncharitable behavior. Antioch
Note Paul’s reaction to Peter’s hypocritical behavior. He withstood Peter to his face (that is, he confronted him in person) and he confronted him publicly. A public sin merits a public admonition. Paul severely rebuked Peter not simply because his behavior was uncharitable and showed a lack of love and unity of the body; but also because it was an implicit denial of the gospel. “If you, being a Jew, live in a manner of Gentiles and not as Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews?” Peter’s behavior implied that the Jews were superior to the Gentiles, that if the Gentiles wanted full status in the
, they would have to adopt the Jewish culture. kingdom of God
All of this raises some good questions. If it was wrong for Peter, an apostle, to divide the body of Christ because of race or ethnicity, even though the Jews had been a separated people for thousands of years, how can the kinist teaching be biblical?