Explore the Bible
September 9 2018
Galatians 2:11-21 (HCSB)
Galatians 2 presents three pictures that answer the question “How can I please God and not be a respecter of persons?” Orthopraxy (correct behavior) follows orthodoxy (correct belief). In Galatians 2:1-10 Paul painted a picture of legalism which is right behavior with wrong belief. In Galatians 2:11-14 he painted a picture of hypocrisy which is right belief with wrong behavior. The third picture is in Galatians 2:15-21 which described pleasing God as right belief with right behavior. This lesson begins with the picture of hypocrisy.
Paul started out this book by establishing his apostolic authority. This authority was exerted in a very powerful way in Galatians 2:11 when he reprimanded Peter (Cephas). Paul said he “opposed him to his face.” The word “opposed” is the Greek word anistemi which is a strong defensive word meaning “to hinder or forbid.” Why was Paul upset with Peter? Why did Paul say Peter “stood condemned?”
Paul was in a literal battle for the truth with the Judaizers.
Peter had ostracized the Gentiles by not eating with them for fear of the Judaizers. In essence Peter had joined the Judaizers. In doing so he brought into question the true gospel of Christ. Peter had brought the gospel to the Gentiles in Acts 10. He had the right belief with the wrong behavior. Some Jews and even Barnabas followed his practice. Paul called this a “deviation from the truth of the gospel” (Gal. 2:14). Peter was condemned because he was guilty of sin by taking a position and practice he knew was wrong.
How do we truly please God and not be a respecter of persons? It is the right belief with right behavior. We cannot change our behavior just to be accepted by others. Through faith in Christ we are accepted and justified before God (Gal. 2:15-17). It is a gift of God’s sovereign grace. We should never set the grace of God aside to be a respecter of any person.