JESUS VS PAUL #11: The Holy Ghost missed Peter and Paul

There is a website which seems dedicated to sharing what some people think are discrepancies in the Bible. The following is from JESUS VS PAUL #11: The Holy Ghost missed Peter and Paul

(11) Jesus–“but the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you” (John 14:26) versus Paul–“But when Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he ate with the gentiles, but when they came he drew back and separated himself fearing the circumcision party. And with him the rest of the Jews acted insincerely, so that even Barnabas was carried away by their insincerity. But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, `If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?” (Gal. 2:11-14 RSV) and “For it has been reported to me by Chloe’s people that there is quarrling among you, my brethrem. What I mean is that each one of you says, `I belong to Paul,’ or `I belong to Apollos,’ or `I belong to Peter’ or `I belong to Christ.’ Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?” (1 Cor. 1:11-13 RSV). The Holy Ghost must not have reached both Peter and Paul. Apparently, he also missed some of the brethren.

We will examine the text to get a fuller understanding of the events in question.

John 14:26 (NIV)

26But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

Notice thee is no mention of HOW the Holy Spirit would teach and remind the believers. Certainly He guides us internally, through thoughts, feelings, dreams or visions (recorded in Acts as having happened in Acts 9 and Acts 11). But sometimes we miss that guidance/prompting. When that happens, God will guide us externally, using people and events, to teach us and remind us of the truth.

Now let us examine the passage in Galatians in context.
Galatians 2:6-21 (NIV)

6As for those who seemed to be important—whatever they were makes no difference to me; God does not judge by external appearance—those men added nothing to my message. 7On the contrary, they saw that I had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, just as Peter had been to the Jews. 8For God, who was at work in the ministry of Peter as an apostle to the Jews, was also at work in my ministry as an apostle to the Gentiles. 9James, Peter[c] and John, those reputed to be pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the Jews. 10All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.

11When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong. 12Before 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. 13The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.

14When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?

15“We who are Jews by birth and not ‘Gentile sinners’ 16know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.

17“If, while we seek to be justified in Christ, it becomes evident that we ourselves are sinners, does that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not! 18If I rebuild what I destroyed, I prove that I am a lawbreaker. 19For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. 20I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”

Notice that Peter was the apostle to the Jews. Further note that Peter had been interacting with the Gentile believers, as was appropriate, since God had made clear to Peter, as recorded in Acts 11, that God shows no favorites. The Holy Spirit had worked in Peter, and was working in Peter. But then some of those to whom he was to minister to showed up – people who believed you must be a Jew (through circumcision and following the other elements of the Law) to be saved. This is either an example where Peter was unable or unwilling to heed the Holy Spirit, or an example where God purposefully did not choose to prompt Peter internally so as to use this as an example for other believers of how people SHOULD behave – including calling those who are not acting right on their behavior (Luke 17:3). Maybe Peter thought he was doing as Paul said he had done – being all things to all people that he might win some. We don’t know all his reasoning. But we do know Peter was led astray by his fear of those of the circumcision group. Paul felt led to remind Peter that he could not be a hypocrit. Peter, indeed all believers, had to not be led astray from living a life of faith by anything – be it a desire to win others to Christ, or a fear of what the Jewish would think or say. Paul reminded Peter, and the other believers, that we are justified by faith, not by doing the things mentioned in the Law. Paul was clear, that even if we should move back towards the Law, God is still faithful. In this, Peter had not let himself be led by the Holy Spirit internally, so the Holy Spirit led Paul to confront Peter with the truth of the matter. Thus the Holy Spirit guided Paul internally in this matter, and Peter externally.

Now let us look at the passage 1 Cor. 1:11-17 (NIV).

11My brothers, some from Chloe’s household have informed me that there are quarrels among you. 12What I mean is this: One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”; still another, “I follow Christ.”

13Is Christ divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized into the name of Paul? 14I am thankful that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, 15so no one can say that you were baptized into my name.16(Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas; beyond that, I don’t remember if I baptized anyone else.) 17For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.

I am uncertain how this particular passage is considered evidence that the Holy Spirit did not guide Paul. It is evident from the passage that Paul is defending the unity of the body of Christ – those who believe in Christ as their Savior. The Holy Spirit was guiding Paul in his actions and word choice here. He was clear that Christ is not divided. People should not claim to be following one leader or another. Instead, they were baptized into the name of Christ and should follow Christ. Baptism is evidence of faith – as Father Robert, a friend of the blog, put it, “discipleship and baptism are connected.” Indeed, if one is trusting in Christ, then the Holy Spirit is within them (John 14:17), guiding them. This does not mean a believer will always hear or listen or obey said guidance. But if we believe, then we have the Holy Spirit guiding us.

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2 Responses

  1. This kind of reminds me of the Book of Acts (Acts 15:36-40) when the Paul would not take John Mark with them again, and he and Barnabas split up over it. Who was right? St. Paul? We can only say so in providence. But later of course in 2 Timothy John Mark is back (4:11) at Paul’s request. Yes, they too had to be lead by the grace of God within the Spirit of God & Grace!
    Fr. R.

  2. I agree, Fr. Robert. Who knows whether God was splitting up Barnabas and Paul to minister separately for a time? Certainly Acts recorded the travels of Paul. But this does not mean Barnabas was not used by God during this time. It certainly seems as though he was, for Mark was able to grow in maturity and faith to be of use to Paul, as you pointed out.

    Yes, indeed, they too had to be lead by the grace of God by the Holy Spirit.

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