-2

From this link, the word hypocrite is rooted in the Greek word hypokrites, which means “stage actor, pretender, dissembler.” So think of a hypocrite as a person who pretends to be a certain way, but really acts and believes the total opposite.

From this wiki about the Pharisee's hypocrisy, it's easier for me to understand it. For example, point 5 on that page says:

They presented an appearance of being 'clean' (self-restrained, not involved in carnal matters), yet they were dirty inside.

In Galatians, Paul refers to Peter as a hypocrite:

When Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray. Galatians 2:11-13 (NIV)

But I can't figure out in what way Peter is being a hypocrite.

He could be being a hypocrite by claiming not to force gentiles to obey Jewish laws, while actually making them do exactly that. But that would seem to contradict his experience with Cornelius, which show he wouldn't force gentiles to obey jewish law.

Alternatively, he could be claiming we do need to force gentiles to follow jewish customs, while actually not believe that was true. But in that case, there would be no reason for him to be scared of the circumsision group, since outwardly he appeared to agree with them.

Since neither of these seem correct, how is Peter being a hypocrite, according to Paul?

  • 2
    You seem to already know why he's a hypocrite, so I don't know why you're asking this. – curiousdannii Apr 27 at 0:11
  • Personally, I would be more careful what words I uttered about the Chief Apostle of Jesus Christ, who wrote two books of scripture and was martyred for his faith. – Nigel J Apr 27 at 0:21
  • @curiousdanni, do you mean my own answer is correct ? that the outer part : Peter is pretending that he is not the kind of Jew who force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs, and the inner part : Peter actually the kind of Jew who force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs. If yes you mean like that, then actually it raise another question. And do you mean my own example that Peter is afraid of being beaten to death by the circumcision group is correct ? If yes you mean like taht, then actually it raise another question. – karma Apr 27 at 0:54
  • @NigelJ, I'm sorry as I don't know which one. Do you mean Paul is the Chief Apostle of Jesus ? Or Peter ? – karma Apr 27 at 1:03
  • 1
    @karma Simon Peter is the Chief Apostle, to whom Jesus gave the keys. Paul is he whom Jesus called from heaven and of whom Peter testified that his writings were 'scripture'. Jesus Christ, himself, is the Apostle and High Priest of those who profess his name. – Nigel J Apr 27 at 4:29
2

But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?”. - Galatians 2:11-14

Paul explains here the way the hypocrisy is playing out. Peter is eating with the Gentiles as though he does not recognize anything wrong with that activity; in fact, he already knows directly from God that all foods are now clean. When some men (Jews) come from James, Peter draws back and separates from eating with the Gentiles as though he now does recognize something wrong with that activity.

Peter's hypocrisy then was in fearfully altering his behavior depending upon what crowd he was in rather than steadfastly holding to the truth he had directly from God. His behavior was not in keeping with the truth he proclaimed.

While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles. For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter declared, “Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to remain for some days. - Acts 10:44-48

This caused other Jewish believers and even Barnabas to be led astray and it was serious enough to cause Paul to oppose Peter personally like a good brother should.

| improve this answer | |
  • Hi Mike, thank you for the answer. You wrote : "When some men (Jews) come from James, Peter draws back and separates from eating with the Gentiles as though he now does recognize something wrong with that activity". That's what I want to know... so, which part is the pretending ? (A) Peter pretends that nothing's wrong eating with the Gentiles ---> the action is : eating with the Gentiles (B) Peter pretends that it's wrong eating with the Gentiles ---> the action is : separating himself from the Gentiles. – karma Apr 28 at 17:53
  • You wrote : "Peter's hypocrisy then was in fearfully altering his behavior depending upon what crowd he was". This is also what I want to know : what is Peter afraid of ? . If I use the answer "Peter is afraid of being criticized by the circumcision group", my answer doesn't fit because I don't see Peter is afraid in Acts 11, when the circumcised believers criticized him, it doesn't show that Peter is afraid of them because the following verse tell that "Peter told them the whole story" – karma Apr 28 at 18:01
  • You wrote : "Peter's hypocrisy then was in fearfully altering his behavior depending upon what crowd he was". I'm sorry I don't understand the bold sentence. Do you mean something like this : "because after the other group arrived causing the number of circumcision people is larger than then number of Gentile people, Peter get fear" ? – karma Apr 28 at 18:06
  • I also don't understand Paul's sentence : "How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?" Because this sentence made me think that : Peter actually still holds "it's wrong to eat with the Gentiles". In other words, Peter is just the same kind with the newly arrived circumcision group who force the Gentiles to follow Jewish customs. – karma Apr 28 at 18:14

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.