Fear of the circumcision party faction (Gal. 2:12)

“Until certain people

Came from James,

Peter ate with the gentiles.

But when they came,

He drew back.

He separated himself,

Fearing the circumcision party faction.”

πρὸ τοῦ γὰρ ἐλθεῖν τινας ἀπὸ Ἰακώβου μετὰ τῶν ἐθνῶν συνήσθιεν· ὅτε δὲ ἦλθον, ὑπέστελλεν καὶ ἀφώριζεν ἑαυτόν, φοβούμενος τοὺς ἐκ περιτομῆς.

Paul said that until certain people came (πρὸ τοῦ γὰρ ἐλθεῖν τινας) from James (ἀπὸ Ἰακώβου), Peter ate with (συνήσθιεν) the gentiles (μετὰ τῶν ἐθνῶν).  But when the Jerusalem party came (ὅτε δὲ ἦλθον), Peter drew back (ὑπέστελλεν).  He separated himself (καὶ ἀφώριζεν ἑαυτόν), fearing (φοβούμενος) this circumcision party faction (τοὺς ἐκ περιτομῆς).  Paul described his objection to Peter.  Peter had been eating with the gentile Christians until a group of Jewish Christians from James came to Antioch.  Then Peter drew back and separated himself from the gentile Christians.  He had already been criticized for eating with the uncircumcised gentiles in Acts, chapter 11:3, after he had converted the gentile Cornelius to Christianity.  Traditional Jews did not have social contact or share meals with gentiles, because the gentile food might violate Torah dietary laws.  Peter did not seem to worry about that until the people from the circumcision party of James showed up in Antioch.  Either they came by themselves or were sent by James, the leader of the Jewish Christian church in Jerusalem.  This Jerusalem Christian group was very strong on the importance of circumcision and the Jewish Torah.  Thus, Peter changed his ways when they showed up in Antioch, since he wanted to show them that he too was a Jewish Christian.  Do you think that there should be a distinction between Jewish Christians and non-Jewish gentile Christians?

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