on Galatians 2 :14
That they walked not uprightly - Ουκ ορθοποδουσι· They did not walk with a straight step - they did not maintain a firm footing.
According to the truth of the Gospel - According to that true doctrine, which states that Christ is the end of the law for justification to every one that believes; and that such are under no obligation to observe circumcision and the other peculiar rites and ceremonies of the law.
If thou, being a Jew, livest - This was a cutting reproof. He was a Jew, and had been circumstantially scrupulous in every thing relative to the law, and it required a miracle to convince him that the Gentiles were admitted, on their believing in Christ, to become members of the same Church, and fellow heirs of the hope of eternal life; and in consequence of this, he went in with the Gentiles and ate with them; i.e. associated with them as he would with Jews. But now, fearing them of the circumcision, he withdrew from this fellowship.
Why compellest thou the Gentiles - Thou didst once consider that they were not under such an obligation, and now thou actest as if thou didst consider the law in full force; but thou art convinced that the contrary is the case, yet actest differently! This is hypocrisy.
on Galatians 2 :14
But when I saw that they walked not uprightly - To walk, in the Scriptures, is usually expressive of conduct or deportment; and the idea here is, that their conduct in this case was not honest.
According to the truth of the gospel - According to the true spirit and design of the gospel. That requires perfect honesty and integrity; and as that was the rule by which Paul regulated his life, and by which he felt that all ought to regulate their conduct, he felt himself called on openly to reprove the principal person who had been in fault. The spirit of the world is crafty, cunning, and crooked. The gospel would correct all that wily policy, and would lead man in a path of entire honesty and truth.
I said unto Peter before them all - That is, probably, before all the church, or certainly before all who had offended with him in the case. Had this been a private affair, Paul would doubtless have sought a private interview with Peter, and would have remonstrated with him in private on the subject. But it was public. It was a case where many were involved, and where the interests of the church were at stake. It was a case where it was very important to establish some fixed and just principles, and he therefore took occasion to remonstrate with him in public on the subject. This might have been at the close of public worship; or it may have been that the subject came up for debate in some of their public meetings, whether the rites of the Jews were to be imposed on the Gentile converts. This was a question which agitated all the churches where the Jewish and Gentile converts were intermingled; and it would not be strange that it should be the subject of public debate at Antioch. The fact that Paul reproved Peter before "them all," proves:
(1) That he regarded himself, and was so regarded by the church, as on an equality with Peter, and as having equal authority with him.
(2) that public reproof is right when an offence has been public, and when the church at large is interested, or is in danger of being led into error; compare 1 Timothy 5:20, "Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear."
(3) that it is a duty to reprove those who err. It is a painful duty, and one much neglected; still it is a duty often enjoined in the Scriptures, and one that is of the deepest importance to the church. He does a favor to another man who, in a kind spirit, admonishes him of his error, and reclaims him from a course of sin. He does another the deepest injury, who suffers sin unrebuked to lie upon him, and who sees him injuring himself and others, and who is at no pains to admonish him for his faults.
(4) if it is the duty of one Christian to admonish another who is an offender, and to do it in a kind spirit, it is the duty of him who has offended to receive the admonition in a kind spirit, and with thankfulness. Excitable as Peter was by nature, yet there is no evidence that he became angry here, or that he did not receive the admonition of his brother Paul with perfect good temper, and with an acknowledgment that Paul was right and that he was wrong. Indeed, the case was so plain, as it usually is if men would be honest, that he seems to have felt that it was right, and to have received the rebuke as became a Christian. Peter, unhappily, was accustomed to rebukes; and he was at heart too good a man to be offended when he was admonished that he had done wrong. A good man is willing to be reproved when he has erred, and it is usually proof that there is much that is wrong when we become excited and irritable if another admonishes us of our faults. It may be added here that nothing should be inferred from this in regard to the inspiration or apostolic authority of Peter. The fault was not that he taught error of doctrine, but that he sinned in conduct. Inspiration, though it kept the apostles from teaching error, did not keep them necessarily from sin. A man may always teach the truth, and yet be far from perfection in practice. The case here proves that Peter was not perfect, a fact proved by his whole life; it proves that he was sometimes timid, and even, for a period, timeserving, but it does not prove that what he wrote for our guidance was false and erroneous.
If thou, being a Jew - A Jew by birth.
Livest after the manner of the Gentiles - In eating, etc., as he had done before the Judaizing teachers came from Jerusalem, Galatians 2:12.
And not as do the Jews - Observing their special customs, and their distinctions of meats and drinks.
Why compellest thou the Gentiles ... - As he would do, if he insisted that they should be circumcised, and observe the special Jewish rites. The charge against him was gross inconsistency in doing this. "Is it not at least as lawful for them to neglect the Jewish observances, as it was for thee to do it but a few days ago?" Doddridge. The word here rendered "compellest," means here moral compulsion or persuasion. The idea is, that the conduct of Peter was such as to lead the Gentiles to the belief that it was necessary for them to be circumcised in order to be saved. For similar use of the word, see Matthew 14:22; Luke 14:23; Acts 28:19.
on Galatians 2 :14
2:14 I said to Cephas before them all - See Paul single against Peter and all the Jews! If thou being a Jew, yet livest, in thy ordinary conversation, after the manner of the gentiles - Not observing the ceremonial law, which thou knowest to be now abolished. Why compellest thou the gentiles - By withdrawing thyself and all the ministers from them; either to judaize, to keep the ceremonial law, or to be excluded from church communion ?