"This is another thunderbolt which strikes the Papacy of Rome. It exposes the impudent pretensions of the Roman Antichrist, who boasts that he is not bound to assign a reason, and sets at defiance the judgment of the whole Church. Without rashness, without undue boldness, but in the exercise of the power granted him by God, this single individual chastises Peter, in the presence of the whole Church; and Peter submissively bows to the chastisement. Nay, the whole debate on those two points was nothing less than a manifest overthrow of that tyrannical primacy, which the Romanists foolishly enough allege to be founded on divine right. If they wish to have God appearing on their side, a new Bible must be manufactured; if they do not wish to have him for an open enemy, those two chapters of the Holy Scriptures must be expunged."
I have to laugh at the arrogance of Calvin, a "thundebolt!" Whoa...! As if he had just discovered the secret of how to bring down Achilles! We must now abandon the Scriptures! There is so much hot air in the writings of Calvin, that if you cut out all of the ad-hominem attacks in his 'Institutes' or those in his Biblical commentaries you would have only the scraps of a few paragraphs of text left to read. This would certainly cut down on wading through all of his boorish blabber, to which he is now accountable before the almighty throne of God for! If we however examine this passage of Scripture closely, we see that his foolish assertions do not hold up to scrutiny. I encourage you to read the following commentary written by Cornelius Lapide pertaining to this passage, which goes into great detail in examining what the Church Fathers had to say about it. Yet, there is one simple explanation that strikes at the core of Calvin's warped interpretation which Lapide summarizes at the end. Is St. Paul's rebuke of St. Peter, the "thunderbolt" or ace in the hole that Calvin so childishly though it was? No, it was only another conjured up fantasy in his mind used to reject Christ and His Church.
"Some one will object then: Since Paul corrected Peter, he was of equal, if not superior authority; in other words Paul, and not Peter, was the head of the Apostles.
I deny the consequence. For superiors may, in the interests of truth, be corrected by their inferiors. Augustine (Ep. xix.), Cyprian, Gregory, and S. Thomas lay down this proposition in maintaining also that Peter, as the superior, was corrected by his inferior. The inference from what they say is that Paul was equal to the other Apostles, inferior to Peter, and hence they all were Peter’s inferiors; they were the heads of the whole Church, and Peter was their chief. Gregory (Hom. 18 in Ezech.) says: “Peter kept silence, that the first in dignity might be first in humility;” and Augustine says the same (Ep. xix. ad Hieron.): “Peter gave to those who should follow him a rare and holy example of humility under correction by inferiors, as Paul did of bold resistance in defence of truth to subordinates against their superiors, charity being always preserved.”Commentary below taken from Lapide
Ver. 11.—I withstood him to the face. Erasmus and others interpret this to mean in appearance, outwardly, feignedly, and by previous arrangement. The literal meaning is better: I openly resisted Peter, in order that the public scandal caused by him might he removed by a public rebuke (Augustine, Ambrose, Bede, Anselm, and nearly all other authorities).
Because he was to be blamed. (1.) Because he had been blamed (κατεγνωσμένος) by other brethren, whom Peter had offended by this proceeding, in their ignorance of his true intention and motive, as Chrysostom and Jerome say, or, as Ephrem turns it, “because they were offended in him.” (2.) Theophylact and Œcumenius understand it: Peter had been blamed by the other Apostles because he had eaten with the Gentile Cornelius at Cæsarea. Fearing lest he should be blamed again by them or by other Jews, he withdrew himself from all intercourse with the Gentiles. (3.) The opinion of Ambrose is better. He had fallen under the condemnation of the truth and of Gospel liberty, which sets the Gentiles free from the darkness and slavery of Judaism. (4.) The Vulgate reprehesiblis (in place of reprehensus, as with the authors cited above) is better, and agrees with the context. It gives the reason for resisting Peter, because he was to be blamed for simulating Judaism.
It may be asked whether Peter was really blameworthy and was actually blamed by Paul.
For many years there was a sharp dispute on this point between S. Jerome and S. Augustine, as may be seen in their epistles. Jerome, Chrysostom, Theophylact, Baronius answer in the negative, and hold that the rebuke was only theatrical. They argue that Peter, who had lawfully followed the Jewish customs at Jerusalem among Jews, lived as a Gentile among Gentiles at Antioch; when, however, the Jews arrived who had been sent to Antioch from Jerusalem by James, he withdrew from the Gentiles in favour of the Jews, lest he should offend those who had been the earliest to receive the faith (see ver. 9), and also that he might at the same time give Paul, the Apostle of the Gentiles, an opportunity of rebuking him, that by yielding he might teach the Jews that the time for Judaising was past. On the other side S. Augustine maintains that Peter was really blameworthy, and was blamed by Paul, as the record distinctly declares.
Out of this arose a dispute between S. Augustine and S. Jerome about simulation and lying. Jerome argued from this action of Peter’s that any similar simulation is lawful. Augustine denied that he did simulate, and laid down the unlawfulness of all lying or simulation, especially in matters of religion. In this second question, however, neither seems to have understood the other’s position. Jerome did not maintain that Peter told a lie, or put on a profession of Judaism while secretly detesting it, as Augustine, by the strength of his language, seems to think that Jerome held. The latter did not say that Peter was right in professing Judaism; if he did, then it would be right for any one of the faithful to make a profession of any false faith or any heresy. But Jerome only held what S. Chrysostom did, viz., that the rebuke administered to Peter by Paul was not really intended, but was merely theatrical, it being arranged between them beforehand that Paul should rebuke Peter, not for simulation, but for thoughtless dissimulation, and that Peter should accept the rebuke thus arranged for, that so the Judaisers might be really rebuked in the specious rebuke given to Peter, and with him might clearly understand that Judaising was forbidden. The lawfulness of such an action is not denied by Augustine, all he denies is that the proceeding was of this nature.
From this it appears how little ground Cassian (Collat. xvii. 17- 25), Origen, Clement, Erasmus, and others (see the passages in Sixtus of Sens, lib. v. annot. 105) had for founding the lawfulness of lying on this passage, or for endorsing the saying of Plato, that, although a lie is an evil thing, yet it is occasionally necessary, just as we use hellebore or some other drug, for this is now an established error condemned by Innocent III. (Tit. de Usuris, cap. super eo.), and by Ecclesiasticus vii. 14. Against it too S. Augustine writes two treatises, one entitled de Mendacio and the other contra Mendacium. Nor is there any exception to be taken here against Jerome and Chrysostom. They only understand and excuse a secret arrangement, whereby no lie was acted, but a rebuke was simulated, and this is a legitimate action, as is evident in military stratagems, when for instance, the enemy feigns to flee, and so draws its foes into an ambush.
A third question was also disputed between Jerome and Augustine as to the date when the Old Law came to an end, but this is outside the present subject, and it is sufficient therefore to say very briefly that the Old Law, so far as obligation goes, came to an end at Pentecost, when the New Law was promulgated, but that its observance did not wholly cease, it being lawful to observe it for a while, till the Jews had been gradually weaned from it, that so in due time it might receive an honourable burial. In this dispute Augustine seems to have held the stronger position.
It may be urged that in this act of Peter’s there was at least something sinful, if not actually erroneous in faith, as some have rashly asserted. By his action it may be thought that he thoughtlessly made a profession of Judaism, and so put a stumbling-block in the way of the Gentiles, and tempted them to Judaise with him. He had previously lived with the Gentiles, but he afterwards withdrew from them suddenly, went over to the Jews, and lived with them. From this the Gentiles might properly infer that judaism was necessary to salvation, both for him and themselves, and was binding on Christians; for though the Old Law, with its ceremonies, was not yet the cause of death, and might be preserved so as to secure for itself an honourable burial, and also to draw the Jews to the faith of Christ, yet it was dead, and in one sense death-giving, viz., to any one who should keep it on the supposition that it was binding on Christians. Although Peter, however, did not so regard it, yet his action was so imprudent as to give the Gentiles good reason for thinking that he did.
The justness of this remark is evident from the two remarks made by Paul: I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed; and: When I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the Gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, Why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?—viz., by your simulation, or what the Greeks call hypocrisy. All this shows that either Peter sinned or that Paul told a lie, which God forbid. See S. Augustine (Ep. 8, 9, and 19 to Jerome), Cyprian (Ep. ad Quintum), Gregory (Hom. 18 in Ezech.), Ambrose, &c.
To what has been said I add this: This sin of Peter’s was venial, or material only, arising from want of thought, or from want of light and prudence. He seems to have thought that, being the Apostle of the Jews especially, that he ought rather to avoid scandalising them than the Gentiles, and that the Gentiles would readily recognise the rightfulness of this line of action. In so doing he erred, for “although,” as S. Thomas says, “the Holy Spirit who descended an the Apostles at Pentecost established them thereafter in such prudence and grace as to keep them from mortal sins, yet he did not also save them from venial sins.”
Observe that a lie may consist in deeds as well as in words. For example, if a man lead another to suppose by his conduct that he is a good man or his friend, when he is neither of these, then he is guilty of a lie. This lie by deed is what is properly called hypocrisy. Similarly, if any Christian at Rome wears a yellow cap he acts a lie, by thus giving himself out as a Jew.
Notice, however, with Cajetan that falsity in deeds is more easily excused than falsity in words. The reason is that words are express signs of mental concepts, but deeds are not, and so admit a wider interpretation. Hence if soldiers feign flight to draw the enemy into an ambush, they are not guilty of hypocrisy, as they would be if they were to say in words: “We flee, 0 enemy, because we are afraid of you.”
Again, observe the following rule: When there is a just cause of concealing the truth, no falsehood is involved. Peter, in the act under discussion, had partly a just cause, viz., the fear of offending the Jews. His withdrawal from the Gentiles was not a formal declaration that he was a Judaiser, but only tantamount to saying that he preferred to serve the Jews rather than the Gentiles, the just cause of this preference being that he was more an Apostle of the former than of the latter. I say partly, for he was not wholly justified in so acting, inasmuch as he was bound, as universal pastor, to care for the Jews without neglecting the Gentiles. Hence it follows also that in one respect he sinned through want of due consideration. The infirmity of man’s mind, however, is such that he cannot always hit the exact mean, and under complex circumstances benefit one without harming another.
Some one will object then: Since Paul corrected Peter, he was of equal, if not superior authority; in other words Paul, and not Peter, was the head of the Apostles.
I deny the consequence. For superiors may, in the interests of truth, be corrected by their inferiors. Augustine (Ep. xix.), Cyprian, Gregory, and S. Thomas lay down this proposition in maintaining also that Peter, as the superior, was corrected by his inferior. The inference from what they say is that Paul was equal to the other Apostles, inferior to Peter, and hence they all were Peter’s inferiors; they were the heads of the whole Church, and Peter was their chief. Gregory (Hom. 18 in Ezech.) says: “Peter kept silence, that the first in dignity might be first in humility;” and Augustine says the same (Ep. xix. ad Hieron.): “Peter gave to those who should follow him a rare and holy example of humility under correction by inferiors, as Paul did of bold resistance in defence of truth to subordinates against their superiors, charity being always preserved.”