29th June Ss. Pater and Paul continued

When we celebrate great saints like these two we can forget that they were not just in at the great moments but part of what was at times a very messy birth of the new Church. What direction should it take? How Jewish should it be? How missionary? Peter and James were based in Jerusalem, James was the head of the Church there and he took a very traditional Jewish line. He kept the Jewish Law as he always had and possibly viewed the new Gentile Christians rather warily. However at the big assembly when Paul arrived, bringing with him young Titus, an uncircumcised Greek Christian, probably to show Jerusalem what a ‘Gentile’ Christian looked like and how acceptable he was, the whole assembly agreed with Paul that the Law was no longer required it was the Spirit that led us to salvation. So the new Gentile Christians did not have to be circumcised, the men that is of course, and follow the Law. A bit later Paul comes across Peter in Antioch, who had been eating with Gentiles, but because followers of James arrive, Peter backs away from the Gentiles and goes back to following the Law. There was a massive dust-up. Paul was shocked, even Barnabas had followed Peter’s example, and words of a very tough kind were said. In fact, Paul tore a strip off Peter. What a difference it would have made to the Church if Paul had lost the argument. Would there be a Church? Certainly not as we now know it.

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