- LIVE WHAT YOU SAY AND BELIEVE –
11 Now when [a]Peter had come to Antioch, I [b]withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed; 12 for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing [c]those who were of the circumcision. 13 And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, “If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, [d]why do you compel Gentiles to live as [e]Jews?
Last Sunday, I shared about the story of Cornelius and Peter about “What God has cleansed, you must not call common in Acts 10-11. (don’t know if you still remember it). Peter had a trance, a vision that comes from God. He saw in a vision about the animals and foods that were forbidden to eat in Leviticus 11 for all the Jewish nation. God opened the eyes of Peter that any food (Physical or spiritual in significance) that God has cleansed, you must not call ordinary, undefiled or common.
Then after that, Peter ministered to Cornelius and all his household and they got saved thru the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They were the first believers called “Christians.” Salvation is for all who believes in Jesus Christ and repents from all their sins. There is now no distinction between Jews and Gentiles anymore, we are now one in Christ Jesus our Lord.
In Galatians 2:11-14, we can see here that there was a turn of event. Although Peter was a leader of the church, he was acting like a hypocrite.
- DO NOT COMPROMISE THE TRUTH NOR TOLERATE SINS
But a problem arose when certain men came from James. The “James” that this would be referring to is James, the brother of Jesus, one of the pillars in the Jerusalem church. We saw his named mentioned back in verse 9. Now we learned from verse 9 that James agrees with the truth of the gospel, along with Paul, Peter, and John. We see this also in Acts 15:13-21 where James at the Jerusalem council declared that the prophets agree that the Gentiles are not under the Law of Moses and are not to be troubled by telling them to keep any of those customs.
What caused him to cave into hypocrisy at this point? PEER PRESSURE OR FEAR
Peter feared the circumcision party. That is, he fears the Jewish Christians who are claiming the need for Gentile Christians to keep the Law of Moses and to be circumcised to be saved. The rest of the Christians in Antioch also fell into this fear, and it seems even Barnabas caved under the fear. They are afraid of what these Christians are going to say. They are under pressure to compromise the truth of the gospel and are doing such because they are in fear.
We know that James is not the problem. But certain people came from James. Paul has told us in verse 4 that false brothers had secretly slipped in, and it seems it was some of these who came from James to Antioch to cause trouble. When these men came, Peter drew back and separated himself from the Gentile Christians. He no longer ate with them after they came (2:12). Unfortunately, not only did Peter do this, but the rest of the Jewish Christians also followed Peter’s actions, so much so that even Barnabas was swept away into this.
STAND FIRM ON YOUR FAITH
This is exactly the problem Paul identifies. Peter’s conduct was no longer in step (ESV) or “in line” (NIV) with the truth of the gospel.
Christian living is a continual realignment process with the scriptures as the standard, not people. It is our job to bring everything in our lives into conformity with the scriptures. Our thinking, our feelings, and our behavior must be brought into line with the truth of the gospel.
Paul knew he had to confront Peter before his actions damaged the church. Therefore, Paul publicly confronted Peter. Paul did not go to the other leaders, nor did he write letters to the churches telling them not to follow Peter’s example. Instead, he confronted Peter face to face. Sometimes sincere Christians or Christian Leaders make mistakes; it may take sincere Christians to get them back on track.
Despite Paul was younger and newer Apostle than Peter, Paul stood on his ground based on his belief, he was living in the truth of the Gospel. Paul’s motive was righteous and not just to humiliate Peter in front of the Public and he did rebuke Peter with love to correct and get him back on track.
If you are convinced. That someone is doing harm to himself or the church, a direct approach is usually the best one to take. There is no place for backstabbing in the body of Christ.
WALK YOUR TALK, another part of our continual realignment is
- the need to always change our lives to the gospel. Everything in our lives must be brought under submission to Christ. This means a constant checking of our heart, our beliefs, and our actions.
- If Peter can fall, anyone can fall. We are never so strong so as to not be able to fall.
- Evaluate your hearts. Is Jesus your one and only desire and the gospel that to which you will submit all things in your life under? Pressure will be given by family, friends, and even seeming Christians to do otherwise.
- Give Jesus everything and live in line with the gospel.