Galations 2:11. And when Peter was come to Antiochia,
I withstood him to his face, for he was to he blamed.
Paul goeth on still in his confutation, saying, "that he not only
hath for his defence the testimony of Peter, and the other Apostles
which were at Jerusalem, but also that he withstood Peter in the
presence of the whole church of Antioch." He showeth here a
matter, not done in a corner, but in the face of the whole church;
for, as before I have said, he hath here no trifling matter in hand,
but the chiefest article of all Christian doctrine, the utility and majesty
whereof whoso rightly esteemeth, to him all other things shall seem
but vile and nothing worth; for what is Peter, what is Paul, what is
an angel from heaven, what are all other creatures to the article of
justification? Which if we know, then are we in the clear light; but
if we be ignorant thereof, then are we in most miserable darkness.
Wherefore, if we see this article impugned or defaced, fear not
to resist either Peter or an angel from heaven, following the
example of Paul, who, seeing the majesty of this article to be in
danger for the dignity of Peter, had no regard of his dignity and
estimation, that he might keep the same pure and incorrupt.
For it is written, "He that loveth father or mother, or his own life,
more than me, is not worthy of me." (Mark x. 37.)
Wherefore we are not ashamed, for the defence of the truth,
to be counted and called of the hypocrites, proud and obstinate,
and such as will be only wise, will hear none, will give place to
none. Here we must needs be obstinate and inflexible. For
the cause why we offend man, that is to say, tread down the
majesty of the person or of the world, is so great, that the sins
which the world judgeth to be most henious, are counted singular
virtues before God. "In that we love our parents, honour the
magistrates, show reverence to Peter and other ministers of the
word, we do well." But here we have in hand the cause
neither of Peter, nor parents, nor magistrates, nor of the world,
nor of any other creatures, but of God himself. Here if I give
no place to my parents, to the magistrate, or an angel from
heaven, I do well. For what is the creature in respect of the
Creator? Yea, what are all creatures, being compared unto him?
Even as one drop of water in respect of the whole sea. Why
then should I so highly esteem Peter, which is but a drop, and
set God aside, which is the whole sea? Let the drop therefore
give place to the sea, and let Peter give place unto God. This I
say, to the end that ye should diligently weigh and consider the
matter whereof Paul entreateth: for he entreateth of the word of
God, which can never be magnified enough.....
.....and Peter, although he heard this commandment of Christ, "Go
into the whole world," &c. (Matt xxviii.), had not gone unto Cornelius,
if he had not been admonished by a vision. (Acts x. 12.) And in this
matter he did not only err, but also committed a great sin; and if Paul
had not resisted him, all the Gentiles which did believe, had been
constrained to receive circumcision and to keep the law. The believing
Jews also had been confirmed in their opinion: to wit, that the observation
of these things was necessary to salvation; and by this means they had
received again the law instead of the Gospel, Moses instead of Christ.
And of all this great enormity and horrible sin, Peter, by his dissimulation,
had been the only occasion. Therefore we may not attribute to the saints
such perfection as though they could not sin......
.....So circumcision of itself is good, but this end is evil: if thou be not
circumcised after the law of Moses, thou canst not be saved. Also to
eat meats prohibited in the law is not evil; but this shrinking and
dissimulation of Peter is evil. For it might be said, Peter abstaineth from
meats forbidden in the law, wherefore if thou dost not likewise abstain,
thou canst not be saved. This Paul might in no wise dissemble; for
the truth of the Gospel was here in danger. To the end therefore that this
truth might continue sound and incorrupt, he resisted Peter to his face.