When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?
Galatians 2:14 KJV
Paul spoke a lot about grace in his epistles. Because of the misconception that James preached legalism, some people uphold the assertion that it is okay to preach legalism amongst religious folks and preach grace to New Testament believers. I would love to have you know that legalism has been overtaken by the grace of Jesus.
If we preach different gospels like they claim we should, then our Christianity is confused.
“We who are Jews by birth and not sinful Gentiles know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified. “But if, in seeking to be justified in Christ, we Jews find ourselves also among the sinners, doesn’t that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not! If I rebuild what I destroyed, then I really would be a lawbreaker. “For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Galatians 2:15-20 KJV
That’s the life I now live. Not by the dos and don’ts. I don’t live by the law, but by the Spirit.
When Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group.
Galatians 2:11-12 NIV
Paul opposed Peter to correct him. When it comes to issues of the Faith, there’s no senior by “who came first,” but who knows truth. As a minister of God, you must learn to always allow truth take a stand, and not uphold a lie because you refuse to drop your ego.
Peter withdrew from eating with the Gentiles when he saw the Jews because the Jews were very violent people – they don’t joke with the law. When Jesus said that He was the son of God, they picked up stones to throw at Him. They did likewise when Stephen also made some proclamations about his Faith in Christ. So, Peter was simply trying to play safe, not because he didn’t know that what he was doing was wrong.
It was the same Peter, in Acts 10 who upheld his Jewish beliefs in the vision God showed him about Cornelius.
The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.
Galatians 2:13 NIV
So, if you have two gospels, you’re a hypocrite.
This Barnabas, alongside Paul have contended with falsehood, yet he was led astray by their hypocrisy.
Certain people came down from Judea to Antioch and were teaching the believers: “Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved.” This brought Paul and Barnabas into sharp dispute and debate with them. So Paul and Barnabas were appointed, along with some other believers, to go up to Jerusalem to see the apostles and elders about this question.
Acts 15:1-2 NIV
This same Barnabas went astray. Why? When you see a lie and don’t contend with it, that lie will grow to seem as truth and as a babe, you could also be deceived by it.
It was to this fact that Paul said in Galatians 1:8 that no matter who brings another gospel other than what they had received, let such be banned, separated, accursed (Greek: anathema).
If you find people teach things against context, separate yourself. Why? Because teachings are what forms doctrines and doctrines form your future. For as a man thinks, so is he (Proverbs 23:7).
Look out for those dogs [Judaizers, legalists], look out for those mischief-makers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. For we [Christians] are the true circumcision, who worship God in spirit and by the Spirit of God and exult and glory and pride ourselves in Jesus Christ, and put no confidence or dependence [on what we are] in the flesh and on outward privileges and physical advantages and external appearances–
Philippians 3:2-3 AMPC
You don’t need physical circumcision to be saved.
It was for the fear of them that Paul called Peter an apostle to the Jews, not because Peter was only called to the Jews. When Jesus called Peter in John 21:15-17, did He instruct him to the Jews only? It was Peter who adopted to be an apostle to the Jews.
That Paul called himself an apostle to the Gentiles and Peter, an apostle to the Jews, did not mean that God had separated the gospel (See, Galatians 2:7-8).
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
Galatians 3:28-29 KJV
We have one message. There’s neither Jew nor Gentile. It was Jesus’ prayers for us to be one just as He is one with the Father.
When Jesus came, He didn’t play to the politics of the Gentiles. If He did, they would have been good friends with Him.
So, don’t be party to those who adulterate the gospel in an attempt to be acceptable before the people or for personal gains. Stand for truth, and nothing else but truth.
Pastor Preston Idoro.