10/02/11 Galatians 2:11-21
Leader: Pastor Biebert
Meeting Time: 8:00 AM & 10:15 AM
AN INTERVENTION by a tentmaker TO HELP a FISHERMAN
Apparently, sometime after the important conference Acts 15 describes, Peter had come from Jerusalem to visit the Antioch group. He was the pioneer and specialist among the apostles in working with non-Jews. At first he’d gladly mingled with everyone in the group, Jews or non-Jews. When some Christian Pharisees arrived from Jerusalem, Peter cut back on meal-socializing with non-Jewish believers (Acts 10:28). Other Jewish believers in Antioch followed Peter’s example! This caused Christian segregation.
Which Antioch was this (2:11; Acts 11:20)? Why cut out eating with some Christians (2:12)?
Jesus had taught Peter better than that (Mark 7, especially verse 19). Peter had gotten the message. He stated at the Jerusalem Conference that God had “put no difference between us and them” (Acts 15:9). James had not sent his emissaries to spy. But they had probably never seen an apostle, especially Peter, eating forbidden food. They were shocked. Now Peter began discriminating. The same Peter who caved in to pressure from a woman around the fire at the Head Priest’s home now gave in to pressure from Christian Pharisees. His behavior and that of the Jewish minority he influenced must have hurt the Antioch believing majority immensely. It implied that non-Jewish believers were second-class citizens in God’s family.
Look over Acts 10 – 11. In light of this experience, how do you account for Peter’s behavior when he visits Antioch?
In the 1st century serious Jews considered non–Jews a contaminated and contaminating race. No serious Jew would eat with non-Jews. Paul saw more than racism and more than hypocrisy. Paul saw a deadly contamination of the Jesus-plus-religiousness philosophy. Paul reacted. He confronted Peter publicly.
Why did Paul call Peter’s segregation hypocrisy (2:11-14)?
It might be helpful to consult Acts 15:19-20. Basically it said Jews could continue living like Jews after becoming Christians, and no one should force non-Jews who depend on Jesus to become Jews. The decision was to ask non-Jewish Christians to avoid things that would make it difficult for Jews to share a meal with them or spend time with them. Then everyone would be comfortable working together.
4. Why didn’t Paul confront Peter privately instead of publicly (2:14; Matthew 18:15)?
God’s verdict declares that He has officially forgiven humanity. This frees people from the guilt and penalty their sins deserve. It has nothing to do with how religious a person is.
5. How was Peter “not acting in line with the truth of the Gospel” (2:14)?
This is the first time we see the important word “justification” in this letter, and probably in Paul’s writings (if Galatians was his first letter). “Justification” is legalese. It’s the main teaching God brought out of the dark in the 1500s A.D. Jesus’ purpose was not to codify a new system of requirements to be God’s people. For Christians who feel the weight of “oughts” and “shoulds”, this is welcome news.
6. How do we use the word “justified” today? How does Paul mean it (2:16-17)?
Justification is something God does for people, not people for God (Romans 8:33). Paul’s opponents argued that since justification by faith eliminated the Law, it encouraged sinful living. A person could depend on Jesus and then do as he pleased, since you don’t have to do good to get to heaven. Paul hotly denied the charge, especially since this made Jesus the promoter of sin.
How could Paul die to the law “through the law” (2:19)?
Romans 6:1–6 and 1 Corinthians 12:13 show Jesus’ connection with believers. God uses baptism to promise that when He damned Jesus, He was punishing each human. This means the death of obligations to qualify us with God. It also brought a change in us: “I no longer live.” The gospel kills off our self-righteous, self-centered side. Paul didn’t have to summon up the strength to do better as a Christian. The Holy Spirit injects the personality of Jesus into each believer as we hear what Jesus did for us.
One paraphrase of Galatians 2:20 suggests, “If He loved me enough to give Himself for me, then He loves me enough to live out His life in me.” Evaluate.
Add arsenic to medicine, and you have a deadly remedy. Paul staged an intervention because of another kind of adulteration – adulteration of the Gospel. People’s lives were on the line. When that happens, it’s time to take action. It needs to be public action.
1. When have Christians been guilty of racism other Christians?
2. What does today’s Bible account suggest about the influence of legalism?
3. What “necessary additions” to Christianity might outsiders notice with us?
4. How does this section connect to Matthew 18:15-20? What’s the connection to Ezekiel 33:7-11?