#166 “PAUL CONFRONTS PETER OVER HYPOCRISY” (GALATIANS 2:11-15)
Is there someone in your life that you need to confront? In today’s episode, we take a closer look at when Peter confronted Peter for his hypocritically living.
- 11 But when Cephas came to Antioch (located in Syria), I opposed him to his face (faced him down; in his presence), because he stood condemned. Not only did Paul call out the false teachers who were twisting the gospel (1:6-9; 2:4-5) but he also confronted Peter for resorting back to the Judaizers and neglecting fellowship with Gentiles. Ironically, Peter went to Antioch to support the Gentile-Christian church. Opposed him to his face—Paul met with Peter face-to-face to challenge his way of treating the Gentiles who put their faith in Christ as Savior. This confrontation had major significance: (1) It helped Peter admit guilt and repent; (2) It prevented the spread of compromise throughout Antioch among Jews and Gentiles; and (3) It solidified Paul’s authority among the apostles and the early church.
- 12 For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back (withdrew out of fear) and separated himself, fearing (intense stress or concern)the circumcision party. This group of Judaizers (who allegedly came from James) were telling Peter and other Jews that they still needed to abide by the dietary restrictions in order to attain purity and liberty in the Law. The Jerusalem Council (Ac. 15) would later repudiate the claim that these Judaizers were sent by James and pass down a ruling that Gentiles didn’t need to be circumcised and there would be no need to abandon fellowship with Gentiles over matters of dietary and purity restrictions. Fearing the circumcision—Peter’s hypocrisy exposed his selfish desire to want to belong to the elite group of Judaizers. He cared so much of what they thought of him that he was willing to compromise his beliefs, break fellowship with Gentile Christians, jeopardize his standing as an apostle of the gospel, and embrace heretical doctrine.
- 13 And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led (change of belief) astray by their hypocrisy (hypokrisis, to act in an ungodly fashion). Peter’s compromise caused even Barnabas to give into the pressure of the Judaizers. Barnabas was the disciple who persuaded the apostles to take in Paul as one of their own (Ac. 9:27). Barnabas appears 29 times in the book of Acts and is mentioned by Paul five times in his letters. Even though Peter and Barnabas believed in the message of grace, they, nonetheless, were swept up in the cultural and social structures of influential Jews and reverted to the false teaching that holiness is attainable in the observance of the Law. Hypocrisy—Paul points out to Peter that he is acting like a Pharisee by avoiding Gentile Christians.
- 14 But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?” 15 We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners—Paul calls Peter out for falsely telling Gentiles to observe the dietary laws of the Jews. It’s clear Peter still struggled with the salvific truth that God liberated the Gentiles through the gospel of Jesus. Not long before Peter’s public display of partiality God had sent him to share the gospel to Cornelius and his family (see Acts 10). We ourselves are Jews—In 1 Cor. 9:20-23, Paul demonstrates how he ministered to Jews and Gentiles without compromise: “To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.”
- Three powerful lessons Paul taught Peter:
- Christians are not to be men-pleasers: 1:10, “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
- Christians are not to follow false teaching: 4:9, “But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more?”
- Christians are not to live hypocritical lives: 6:3, “For if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.”