Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States
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Did God’s inspiration to write His word interfere with the apostles’ behavior and character? Did it immune them against sin and human weaknesses, or did it allow them to say and do what they wanted? Please comment on the Holy Book of Galatians 2:11-19 and Holy Book of Acts 21:18-24.

Let me first comment on the passages you quoted:
  1. Regarding the passage in the Holy Epistle to the Galatians, some view the behavior of St. Peter as weakness. However, St. Jerome and St. John Chrysostom have a different opinion. St John Chrysostom, in his commentary on the Epistles to the Galatians, writes: "Many, on a superficial reading of this part of the Epistle, suppose that Paul accused Peter of hypocrisy. But this is not so, indeed it is not, far from it; we shall discover great wisdom, both of Paul and Peter, concealed herein for the benefit of their hearers ...The Apostles, as I said before, permitted circumcision in Jerusalem, an abrupt severance from the law not being practicable; but when they came to Antioch, they no longer continued this observance, but lived indiscriminately with the believing Gentiles which thing Peter also was at that time doing. But when some came from Jerusalem who had heard the doctrine he delivered there, he no longer did so fearing to perplex them, but he changed his course, with two objects secretly in view, both to avoid offending those Jews, and to give Paul a reasonable pretext for rebuking him.[1] For had he, having allowed circumcision when preaching at Jerusalem, changed his course at Antioch, his conduct would have appeared to those Jews to proceed from fear of Paul, and his disciples would have condemned his excess of pliancy. And this would have created no small offence; but in Paul, who was well acquainted with all the facts, his withdrawal would have raised no such suspicion, as knowing the intention with which he acted. Wherefore Paul rebukes, and Peter submits, that when the master is blamed, yet keeps silence, the disciples may more readily come over. Had Peter disputed Paul's sentence, he might justly have been blamed as upsetting the plan, but now that the one reproves and the other keeps silence, the Jewish party are filled with serious alarm; and this is why he used Peter so severely. Observe too Paul's careful choice of expressions, whereby he points out to the discerning, that he uses them in pursuance of the plan, (oikonomias) and not from anger."

  2. As for the advice given by St. James it was not a wrong advice but rather a wise one. St. James and the elders asked St. Paul to take those Nazirites and observe one of the rites of the Mosaic religion, so that those who accused him of forsaking the Law of Moses may have evidence that it is not his purpose or practice to speak contemptuously of those rites, or to undervalue the authority of Moses. Note that those who gave this counsel were Christians, and they could not wish him to do anything, which would imply that he was not a Christian. St. Paul himself wrote to the Corinthians saying "And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the Law, as under the Law, that I might gain them that are under the Law" (1 Cor 9:20). Sometimes it was found necessary, in propagating the Gospel among the pagan, not to offend them needlessly, but to conform to their innocent customs in regard to clothing, language, modes of traveling, sitting, eating, etc. St. Paul did just that without violating the standard of honesty and truth.
The holy Apostles and Bible writers had an extraordinary power given to them by the Holy Spirit that appears in their writings and their teachings.

St. John testifies that the Lord Jesus gave them a promise, saying, "However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth" (John 16:13). And again: "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you" (John 14:26). "For it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you" (Mt 10:20). So the Holy Spirit was not only guiding them in writing but in speaking also.

Moreover, the Lord Jesus did not only promise them that the word proceeding from their mouth would be a word of the Holy Spirit, but He granted them such personal power and authority that it would be as if God Himself spoke through them. St. Paul testified of this saying: "For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God" (1 Thess 2:13).

This power has nothing to do with being sinless and infallible; for no one is without sin. St. John himself proclaimed, "If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us" (1 John 1:8). The apostles were filled with the Holy Spirit, and were partakers of the heavenly illumination; so that the man of sin was driven, back, and the new man was powerfully revealed in them. They were holy apostles by virtue of their holy calling and the working of the Holy Spirit that was promised and given unto them.

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