Key Verse: “I’ve been crucified with Christ” (Galatians 2:20 NKJV)
11-13 Later, when Peter came to Antioch, I had a face-to-face confrontation with him because he was clearly out of line. Here’s the situation. Earlier, before certain persons had come from James, Peter regularly ate with the non-Jews. But when that conservative group came from Jerusalem, he cautiously pulled back and put as much distance as he could manage between himself and his non-Jewish friends. That’s how fearful he was of the conservative Jewish clique that’s been pushing the old system of circumcision. Unfortunately, the rest of the Jews in the Antioch church joined in that hypocrisy so that even Barnabas was swept along in the charade.
Reflection: (Galatians 2:11)
The Judaizers accused Paul of watering down the Good News to make it easier for the Gentiles to accept, while Paul accused the Judaizers of nullifying the truth of the Good News by adding conditions to it.
The basis of salvation was the issue: Is salvation through Christ alone, or does it come through Christ and adherence to the law?
The argument came to a climax when Peter, Paul, the Judaizers, and some Gentile Christians all gathered together in Antioch to share a meal.
Paul probably thought that by staying away from the Gentiles, he was promoting harmony – he did not want to offend James and the Jewish Christians.
James had a very prominent position and would later preside over the Jerusalem council (Acts 15).
But Paul charged that Peter’s action violated the Good News.
By joining the Judaizers, Peter was supporting their claim that Christ was not sufficient for salvation.
Compromise is an important element in getting along with others, but we should never compromise the truth of God’s Word.
If we fell we have to change our Christian beliefs to match those of our companions, we are on dangerous ground.
Reflection: (Galatians 2:11-12)
Although Peter was a leader of the church, he was acting like a hypocrite.
He knew better, yet he was driven by fear of what James and the others would think.
Proverbs 29:25 says, “Fearing people is a dangerous trap.”
Paul knew that he had to confront Peter before his actions damaged the church.
So, Paul publicly opposed Peter.
Note that Paul did not go to the other leads, nor did he write letters to the churches telling them not to follow Peter’s example.
Instead, he opposed Peter face-to-face.
Sometimes sincere Christians, even Christian leaders, make mistakes.
And it may take other sincere Christians to get them back on track.
If you are convinced that someone is doing harm to himself / herself or the church, try the direct approach.
There is no place for backstabbing in the body of Christ.
14 But when I saw that they were not maintaining a steady, straight course according to the Message, I spoke up to Peter in front of them all: “If you, a Jew, live like a non-Jew when you’re not being observed by the watchdogs from Jerusalem, what right do you have to require non-Jews to conform to Jewish customs just to make a favorable impression on your old Jerusalem cronies?”
15-16 We Jews know that we have no advantage of birth over “non-Jewish sinners.” We know very well that we are not set right with God by rule-keeping but only through personal faith in Jesus Christ. How do we know? We tried it—and we had the best system of rules the world has ever seen! Convinced that no human being can please God by self-improvement, we believed in Jesus as the Messiah so that we might be set right before God by trusting in the Messiah, not by trying to be good.
Reflection: (Galatians 2:15-16)
If the Jewish laws cannot justify us, why should we still obey the Ten Commandments and other Old Testament laws?
We know that Paul was not saying the law is bad, because in another letter he wrote, “The law itself is holy, and its commands are holy and right and good” (Romans 7:12).
Instead, he is saying that the law can never make us acceptable to God.
The law still has an important role to play in the life of a Christian.
- guards us from sin by showing us God’s values in the world;
- convicts us of sin, leaving us the opportunity to ask for God’s forgiveness;
- drives us to trust in the sufficiency of Christ, because we can never keep the Ten Commandments perfectly.
The law cannot possibly save us.
But after we become Christians, it can be an aid in guiding us to live as God desires.
17-18 Have some of you noticed that we are not yet perfect? (No great surprise, right?) And are you ready to make the accusation that since people like me, who go through Christ in order to get things right with God, aren’t perfectly virtuous, Christ must therefore be an accessory to sin? The accusation is frivolous. If I was “trying to be good,” I would be rebuilding the same old barn that I tore down. I would be acting as a charlatan.
Reflection: (Galatians 2:17-19)
Through studying the Old Testament Scriptures, Paul realized that he could not be saved by obeying God’s laws.
The prophets knew that God’s plan of salvation did not rest on keeping the law.
Because we have all been infected by sin, we cannot keep God’s laws perfectly.
Fortunately, God has provided a way of salvation that depends on Jesus Christ, not on our own efforts.
Even though we know this truth, we must guard against the temptation of using service, good deeds, charitable giving, or any other effort as a substitute for faith.
19-21 What actually took place is this: I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn’t work. So I quit being a “law man” so that I could be God’s man. Christ’s life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God. Christ lives in me. The life you see me living is not “mine,” but it is lived by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I am not going to go back on that.
Is it not clear to you that to go back to that old rule-keeping, peer-pleasing religion would be an abandonment of everything personal and free in my relationship with God? I refuse to do that, to repudiate God’s grace. If a living relationship with God could come by rule-keeping, then Christ died unnecessarily.
Reflection: (Galatians 2:19-20)
How have our old selves been crucified with Christ?
- Legally, God looks at us as if we had died with Christ.
Because our sins died with him, we are no longer condemned (Colossians 2:13-15).
- Relationally, we have become one with Christ, and His experiences are ours.The Christian life began when, in unity with Him, we each died to our old life (See Romans 6:5-11).
In our daily lives, we must regularly crucify sinful desires that keep us from following Christ.
This, too, is a kind of dying with Him (Luke 9:23-25)
And yet the focus of Christianity is not on dying but on living.
Because we have been crucified with Christ, we have also been raised with Him (Romans 6:5).
- Legally, we have been reconciled with God (2 Corinthians 5:19) and are free to grow into Christ’s likeness (Romans 8:29).
- in our daily lives, we have Christ’s resurrection power as we continue to fight sin (Ephesians 1:19-20).
We are no longer alone, for Christ lives in us – He is our power for living and our hope for the future (Colossians 1:27).
Reflection: (Galatians 2:21)
Believers today may still be in danger of acting as if there was no need for Christ to die.
By replacing Jewish legalism – they are giving people extra laws to obey.
By believing they can earn God’s favor by what they do, they are not trusting completely in Christ’s work on the cross.
By struggling to appropriate God’s power to change them (sanctification).
If we could be saved by being good, then Christ would not have had to die.
But the cross is the only way to salvation.