top of page

Helping Other Believers Stay On Course

But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face because he stood condemned. 12 For he regularly ate with the Gentiles before certain men came from James. However, when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, because he feared those from the circumcision party. 13 Then the rest of the Jews joined his hypocrisy, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that they were deviating from the truth of the gospel, I told Cephas in front of everyone, “If you, who are a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you compel Gentiles to live like Jews?” (Galatians 2:11-14)


Continuing on his multi-level defense against the Judaizers, Paul shares a story of proof of his apostolic leadership position, when he had to confront Peter. In verse 11, Paul went to Antioch specifically to correct Peter’s behavior because “he stood condemned,” Peter was in the wrong. As Max Anders writes, “By assuming the authority to correct Peter, Paul shows his authority and the truth of his message of grace.”


In verse 12, Peter was regularly fellowshipping and eating with the Gentiles. Because Gentiles were considered ceremoniously unclean, mainly due to their lack of following in circumcision, if a Jew interacted with them, even eating with them and their food, the Jewish individual would be considered ceremoniously unclean. However, everything changed after Christ died on the cross, unifying believers regardless of Jew or Gentile background. This was made evident to Peter in Acts 10:15 when the Lord told Peter “What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.”


Yet, in this instance, the Judaizers, “the circumcision party,” came by, and Peter, fearing what they would think about him, “withdrew and separated himself.” Peter thought that by withdrawing away from the Gentiles, James’ legalistic friends would not be offended. Again, Anders summarizes, “Peter by his actions was compromising grace. By identifying with them, Peter was promoting their false, legalistic beliefs.” Because of Peter’s actions, in verse 13, other Jews, including Barnabas, joined in the act, separating themselves from the Gentiles, leading them down the path of “hypocrisy.”


So, Paul, seeing what damage this could do the church unity and were “deviating from the truth of the gospel, [he] told Cephas in front of everyone, ‘If you, who are a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you compel Gentiles to live like Jews?’” Paul openly confronted Peter’s action of supporting division with this rhetorical question.


Paul implemented tough love in a dire situation. Yet, he did this with the leading and prompting of the Holy Spirit. Paul did not allow titles or status get in the way of the bigger picture, the message of the gospel and the unity of the body of believers under Christ.



Isaac De Guzman


Featured Posts
Recent Posts
Search By Tags
Follow Us
  • Facebook App Icon
  • SoundCloud App Icon
bottom of page