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  • Ethos Church


March 8, 2023

But when Peter came to Antioch, I had to oppose him to his face, for what he did was very wrong. When he first arrived, he ate with the Gentile believers, who were not circumcised. But afterward, when some friends of James came, Peter wouldn’t eat with the Gentiles anymore. He was afraid of criticism from these people who insisted on the necessity of circumcision. As a result, other Jewish believers followed Peter’s hypocrisy, and even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. When I saw that they were not following the truth of the gospel message, I said to Peter in front of all the others, “Since you, a Jew by birth, have discarded the Jewish laws and are living like a Gentile, why are you now trying to make these Gentiles follow the Jewish traditions?


Some Bible teachers think this is one of the most tense episodes in the New Testament. Here are two leading apostles of Jesus Christ face-to-face in conflict. Paul, still fighting for freedom in Christ, confronts Peter over a theological issue. Peter believed and preached the gospel of grace, yet in this instance, his life contradicted his message. It’s possible to unsay with our actions what we say with our mouths, and that’s hypocrisy.

When Peter was in mixed company in Galatia, he chose the path of least resistance; he chose to separate himself from the Gentiles because he lost his courage to stand for the truth. He was driven by fear of what James and other leaders would think. By joining the Judaizers, Peter sent the message that Gentiles could not be set right with God unless they abstained from certain foods. He was adding law on top of grace, which erased grace entirely. Compromise is an important element in getting along with others, but we should never compromise the truth of God’s Word.


1. Does your life contradict your message?

2. Paul insisted that he and Peter were justified by grace through faith in Christ and that the rules of Jewish culture had thereby become optional. If a person today is saved by grace through faith in Christ, are the rules of Christian culture optional? Explain.


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