Lesson 2 – Introduction to JAMES –The Pillar of Working Faithful, Part 2

Peter’s Big Mistake…

“11 ¶ But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. 12 For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. 13 And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation. 14 But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews? 15 We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles,” (Galatians 2:11-15 AV)

13. The People of Israel by nature were under the law of the LORD God, and lived according to His statutes, judgments and commandments. They were the Chosen People of the LORD GOD JEHOVAH, and He was their God. They are often called “Hebrews”, or the “Jewish people” or the “Jews”. They belong to the twelve tribes of Israel that originally came from the lineage of Abraham. Through their promised inheritance, they became the Chosen People of the LORD God, ruled by His laws, and living the lives He directed.

14. Gentiles by nature were sinners, and were not obedient to following the laws of the LORD God. They were not His Chosen People, and He was not their God. They practiced pagan worship to false gods as their heathen natures led them. They are often called the “Greeks”. Their dwelling places were in the world, and their worldly natures caused them to focus on worldly pleasures without restriction or remorse.

15. James, Peter and John had gone to the Jews, and told them of the Messiah Jesus Christ, and how the LORD God had freed them from the stringent laws that they obeyed to deal with the sin.

They spoke of the more perfect plan of salvation, that the LORD God had established for the faithful, through the sacrifice of His Only Begotten Son, and the shedding of his blood to cover their sins.

This message brought the law-obeying Hebrews distress and confusion. The LORD God was their God because He gave them laws and they obeyed them. When they failed to follow the laws of Him, He punished them severely. Their people had been led by the LORD God for so long, that their very natures were different from the natures of the people of the world. The failure to embrace Jesus Christ as the promised Messiah, and their inability to comprehend this new message of salvation, was impossible for them to understand.

To the Hebrews, the message of James, Peter and John, was confusing and misunderstood. It sounded as if they were telling them to forget the laws that the LORD God had commanded to be obeyed by them, and to embrace the life of a Gentile, who lives without law. To live without the Laws was horrifying to them, and to ask them to become one of the repugnant Gentiles that were under no law was a hideous insult to their people.

It was a difficult and trying time for James, Peter and John, as they tried to explain to the Jews the more perfect plan of salvation through Jesus Christ, and try to convince the Jews that Jesus Christ would not lead them backwards to sin, but forward to righteousness.

In the mean time, Paul and Barnabas are in the Gentiles presence, trying to teach them to repent of their sinful ways, accept Jesus Christ as their Savior and receive salvation and redemption through His shed blood, as well as eternal life through His resurrection. It was the first time in the dirty, sinful lives of a worldly and repulsive people that they had heard about being held accountable for their sinful actions. It was not a common occurrence for anyone to dare hold them to any standard of behavior, yet here came Paul and Barnabas in their midst, preaching of their need to accept the shed and atoning blood of Jesus Christ for their salvation, and His Word for their life.

In the climate of confusion and anger of both peoples, Peter committed a horrible trespass that made the Gospel of Jesus Christ to appear to be a lie…

16. Peter sat down with the Gentiles and ate food with them.

For many generations, the Hebrews had obeyed the statutes, laws and ordinances of the LORD God, and performed His Works as He directed them to do. Many of these ordinances that were given to the Hebrews to obey were the laws of clean and unclean foods. Many foods were designated unclean to eat, leaven was representative of false doctrine and was controlled, and tradition had progressed to the point that rigid and practiced procedures were followed to ensure every part of the meal remained “clean” and acceptable to the LORD God’s dictated Ways.

To eat with a Gentile would be a trespass upon a trespass upon a really dirty and nasty act. To eat with a dirty and sinful Gentile, who has wallowed in the clay and muck of the world, and to eat of the food which was haphazardly prepared without any regard to the clean and unclean laws of the LORD God, was horrifying to the Hebrews.

Are you able to see the big picture of betrayal that the Jews are about to be confronted with, as soon as they arrive to Peter’s location and find him hiding from them after being caught eating with the Gentiles?

James, Peter and John had been fighting an uphill battle to try to explain to the Jews why they are released from the stringent expectations of law and works that they had obeyed for generations, and now were given a better way through faith. Most importantly, they were reassuring them over and over, that it was not about giving up the law and moving away from their LORD God, but instead, it was walking closer toward Him in Faith, and having the ability to become more HOLY and RIGHTEOUS through their acceptance of Jesus Christ as King.

The curious Hebrews had been convinced of the sincerity of James and his ministry to them, and were becoming convicted that Jesus Christ was indeed a more perfect way to salvation, holiness and righteousness. Then the new Jewish converts made a disheartening discovery when they left James and came into the town of Antioch; there they found Peter trying to hide from them after he had been sitting and eating an unclean meal with the dirty Gentiles.

Peter was not increasing his righteousness and holiness as had been preached to them and he knew it. He was eating with the common dirty people of the world, and he was unclean and unworthy to be in their presence as a result. If he had not been guilty of great trespass, then he would not have had the need to hide from them.

They must have felt foolish and scared; embarrassed that they had been manipulated into believing a new walk toward righteousness was possible, and angry when they felt the betrayal of manipulated apostolic fervor, which appeared to be a farce.

“11 ¶ But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. 12 For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. 13 And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation. 14 But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews? 15 We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles,” (Galatians 2:11-15 AV)

Some may interpret that Peter was guilty of even more than just eating with the Gentiles. Certainly “to eat” is often symbolically used to show a person attempting to understand something by partaking of its nourishment. One could easily make the argument that he was participating in more of the worldly Gentile lifestyle than the specific word usage reveals.

At any rate, Peter was caught red-handed, and the new Jewish converts were faced with a choice; return to their Jewish laws and face the wrath of the LORD God as a result of their straying, of face the ridicule of their peers as a result of their foolishness of their Jewish upbringings, and fully participate with Peter in eating of the lawless and dirty things of the world. Eventually, the hypocrisy of Peter and his Jewish cohorts were making the Gentile life look so appealing, that Barnabas also became carried away with it all, and joined the merry band of hypocrites.

17. Paul found Peter and Barnabas polluting the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ, through their disobedient and unrighteous walk with the dirty and worldly Gentiles.

18. Paul was very angry, and he stood Peter before him, face to face, with all of the Jews and Gentiles looking on, and he proceeded to chastise him for his actions.

The biggest problem with the ministry of the five Men of God had been trying to speak the same message to the two different peoples, which needed to be expressed in two different ways. One message was given to the heathen Gentiles, and another message was given to the Jewish law keepers. One message tried to move the Gentiles toward standards and values upheld by Jesus Christ, and one message tried to move the Jews away from the extreme standards that their law had grown to, and toward the faith of a follower of Christ.

Conflict after conflict arose, as the workers of Jesus Christ were accused of attempting to make Jews become Gentiles, and Gentiles becomes Jews, and rumors swirled all around them, yet the Apostles were making headway, until the hypocrisy of Peter encouraged the disregard of the Gospel of Christ. His Works nearly destroyed any chance they would have of explaining the new salvation and grace of the LORD God.

“15 We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, 16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. 17 But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid.” (Galatians 2:15-17 AVRLE)

19. Paul was angry and disgusted at the situation that Peter had created, and the chastisement that he gave to Peter, and the teachings that resulted from that backsliding and chastisement are recorded in the Book of Galatians starting at Galatians 2:15. This potential ministry-ending mistake was turned into one of the most powerful encouragements to the faithful to obtain their spiritual growth and avoid the false gospels and false teachers that could sway them.

20. The focus of the message of Paul to Peter was that “if we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid.”

And that message brings us to the point that strongly suggests that James, the brother of Jesus Christ, is the author of the General Epistle of JAMES. It is that specific message of Christian accountability, which carries over so completely into this book of JAMES.

James talks about the faith of a believer when faced with tribulations, trials and temptations. He speaks of the proper response to the Word of God in faith. He brings faith to a place for all people through impartiality, and encourages the active faith in doing the works of teaching. He encourages the faithful to work against worldliness and natural desires, and warns of their dangers.

It seems as if James, the brother of Jesus Christ, wrote this Epistle to prevent the chance of another mistake like Peter’s from stopping the spread of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is a nice thought to imagine brother looking after the things of brother, ensuring the sacrifice of His blood for the sins of the world would not be in vain as a result of shaky faith.

As you read his words, with this knowledge in your heart, you sense the wise words of James as he encourages a dedicated faith walk that has a deeper and more profound purpose than first meets the eye…as the Word of God speaks deeply the things that are important to our faith and our works, according to His Will.

Worksheet for Lesson 2

34. What was the nature of the people of Israel during James’ time? Gal 2:11-15 (13)
A. They were faithful followers of Jesus Christ
B. They were learned intellectuals who debated and changed the course of their faith as the situations dictated.
C. They were ruled by every aspect of their lives according to the commandments, statutes and judgments of the LORD GOD JEHOVAH
D. They worshipped many gods and had many natures as a result

35. What are some of the names that the people of Israel were known by? (13, 14, BONUS)
(More than one answer)
A. Christians
B. Uncircumcised
C. Circumcised
D. Chosen people of the LORD GOD
E. Jew or Jewish
F. People of the Law
G. People of Faith
H. People of the Twelve Tribes of Israel
I. Inheritors of the LORD GOD’s promise to Abraham
K. Sinners
L. Locusts
M. Heathen
N. Adopted
O. Hebrews
P. Greeks
Q. Men
R. Sons of God

36. What are some of the names that the people of the Gentiles were known by? (13, 14, BONUS)
(More than one answer)
A. Christians
B. Uncircumcised
C. Circumcised
D. Chosen people of the LORD GOD
E. Jew or Jewish
F. People of the Law
G. People of Faith
H. People of the Twelve Tribes of Israel
I. Inheritors of the LORD GOD’s promise to Abraham
K. Sinners
(More answers on next page)
L. Locusts
M. Heathen
N. Adopted
O. Hebrews
P. Greeks
Q. Men
R. Sons of God

37. (BONUS) What are the names that the people of Israel and the Gentiles known by when they accepted the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ? Galatians 2:11-15 (BONUS)
A. Christians
B. Uncircumcised
C. Circumcised
D. Chosen people of the LORD GOD
E. Jew or Jewish
F. People of the Law
G. People of Faith
H. People of the Twelve Tribes of Israel
I. Inheritors of the LORD GOD’s promise to Abraham
K. Sinners
L. Locusts
M. Heathen
N. Adopted
O. Hebrews
P. Greeks
Q. Men
R. Sons of God

38. What was the nature of the Gentiles during James’ time? Gal 2:11-15 (14)
A. They were faithful followers of Jesus Christ
B. They were learned intellectuals who debated and changed the course of their faith as the situations dictated.
C. They were ruled by every aspect of their lives according to the commandments, statutes and judgments of the LORD GOD JEHOVAH
D. They practiced pagan worship to false gods, and were heathens and sinners

39. Where were the dwelling places of the Gentiles? Gal 2:11-15 (14)
A. Within the world and its affairs
B. Within the Nation of Israel
C. Within the Tribes of Israel
D. Just in Greece

40. What did the worldly nature of the Gentiles cause them to focus on? Gal 2:11-15 (14)
A. Salvation and repentance of sin
B. Dying, they hoped for afterlife
C. The Foundation of Jesus Christ
D. Worldly pleasures without restriction or remorse

41. What was the message that James, Peter and John had taken to the Jews? Gal 2:11-15 (15)
A. The prophesized Messiah was Jesus Christ
B. The LORD GOD had freed them from the stringent laws of obedience
C. A more perfect plan of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ was established by Him
D. The shedding of Jesus Christ’s blood was their sacrifice and atonement for sin
E. All of the above

42. (Let’s Talk)

Why did the message that James, Peter and John bring such strong emotions and confusion among the Jews?

Why did the message that Paul and Barnabas brought to the Gentiles cause terrible distress to come among them?

What types of distress, confusions and resentments are exhibited from believers in religions that are false and dangerous, when the Truth from the Word of God is placed before them?

What types of emotions would be experienced today if a frank and truthful talk between a faithful Christian and a Law abiding Jew were to take place?

How would the emotions escalate even higher if the faithful Christian, the Law abiding Jew and the Servant Muslim, along with a common person of the world who worships false gods, were to be frank and speak openly about the truth of their beliefs?

How would you approach the Gentiles if you were in Paul and Barnabas’ shoes?

How would you approach the Tribes of Israel, if you were in James, Peter or John’s position?

How could you demonstrate that your faith in Jesus Christ was the true Faith of the LORD GOD’s Will?

How are you faced with the same problems of evangelism and upholding the true Word of God that these five men of God were faced with in their situations?

What type of danger exists today as you uphold the Word of God and evangelize among those who believe differently from you?

What types of worldly danger are waiting to ensnare Christians as they enter into the world to bring the Word of our Lord Jesus Christ and our LORD GOD to those who will hear?

43. What terrible trespass did Peter do to make the testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to appear to be a lie? Galatians 2:11-15 (Notes)
A. Peter sat down with the Gentiles and ate food with them
B. Peter challenged the authority of the Pharisees
C. Peter challenged the authority of Paul
D. Peter had a difficult time in leaving his nature that followed after the traditions and laws of his people

44. (Essay) Why had Peter’s terrible transgression caused the five men’s ministries to appear to be false? Galatians 2:11-15 (Notes)

45. What basic messages were James, Peter and John trying to get across to the Jews in their ministries? Galatians 2:11-15 (Notes)
A. That they are released from the stringent expectations of law and works that had been obeyed for generations.
B. That there was a better way to come close to the LORD GOD, and that was through faith in Jesus Christ
C. That it is not about giving up the law and moving away from the LORD GOD, but rather, walking closer toward Him in Faith and having the ability to become more Holy through Jesus Christ.
D. All of the above

46. What basic message did the Jews believe that James, Peter and John were trying to force on them? Galatians 2:11-15 (Notes)
A. That the Jewish race was the Chosen People of the LORD GOD
B. That the LORD GOD had spoken to their Rabbis and revealed a more perfect plan for salvation
C. That James, Peter and John were trying to make them like the worldly and heathen Gentiles, who were worshippers of false gods, and without laws and standards.
D. All of the above

47. Why were Jewish men traveling to Antioch after leaving the Teachings of James? Galatians 2:11-15 (Notes)
A. They were becoming convinced of the sincerity of James and his ministry
B. They were becoming convicted that Jesus Christ might indeed be a more perfect way to salvation
C. They were traveling to Antioch to hear the Teachings of Peter, who was the ministry partner to James, to confirm his sayings
D. All of the above

48. What did the curious Jews discover when they arrived in Antioch? Galatians 2:11-15 (Notes)
A. Peter was preaching to the Gentiles instead of the Jews
B. Peter was hiding from them because he was fearful of being caught eating with the Gentiles
C. Peter was rebuking the teachings of James
D. All of the above

49. (Essay and Discuss) What must the Jews have thought when they discovered Peter in the place that he was? Galatians 2:11-15 (Notes)

50. What do the symbolic words “to eat” represent in the Word of God? Galatians 2:11-15 (Notes)
A. Consuming all foods to enhance belief
B. Digesting different foods for Faith
C. Receiving understanding by partaking of nourishment
D. All of the above
51. What happened when Peter was found by the Jewish travelers? Galatians 2:11-15 (Notes)
(May be more than one answer)
A. The Jewish men disassembled with Peter, and copied his behaviors
B. In the passions of the movement, Barnabas was also carried away, and joined the transgressors
C. Caught up in the new worldly freedoms without laws, the group of men did not walk upright according to the truth of the Gospel
D. They repented of their sins
E. The converted many Gentiles to the Christian Faith that day
F. They pleased Paul for bringing the Jews and the Gentiles together in harmony
G. They pleased the LORD GOD for moving his message into the midst of the Gentiles through their liberal attitudes and adoption of the world’s standards

52. What did Paul do when he found Peter in Antioch committing the transgressions that go against the Word of God? Galatians 2:11-17 (18, 19)

A. Paul angrily chastised Peter, face to face, in front of Jews and Gentiles alike
B. Paul offered to pray for strength for Peter to overcome power over the sins of the world
C. Paul gathered several believing leaders together, and they offered Peter support as he struggled with his human nature
D. Paul accepted Peter for who he was, a man who was confused for the moment, but still had faith in Jesus Christ.

53. (Essay) What was the focus of the message of Paul to Peter? Galatians 2:15-17 (20)

54. (Essay and Discuss) Why does the focus of the message of Paul to Peter, and the surrounding events that caused the chastisement, lead us to the possibility that James, the step-brother of Jesus Christ, and the “Pillar” who taught the Jews the things of Jesus Christ, wrote the Epistle of JAMES? Galatians 2:15-17 (20 & Notes)