I hope you enjoyed studying and journaling this passage as much as I did. Let’s jump in!
In verses 11-14 Paul tells how he opposed Peter “to his face” about his change in behavior. Apparently, Peter had been fellowshipping with Gentiles (eating in their homes) but then stopped because of pressure from the circumcision party (a group of Jews who taught that Gentiles must first become Jewish before becoming a Christian). As a Jew, eating with Gentiles in their homes would be a huge no no - it would make Peter unclean. But as a Christian, it was what Peter was called to do to build the church.
Wouldn’t you love to have been a fly on the wall to see how this confrontation went down??? I would love more details - specifically how Peter responded, but we don’t know much more. I imagine it must have been at least a little bit hard for Paul to stand up to Peter. Here’s a guy who spent 3 years with Jesus, the man Jesus said He would build His church upon, and Paul says, “Sorry, Peter, but you’re getting it wrong and you’re being a hypocrite.” Ouch.
Paul goes on to further explain why this whole topic is such a big deal. Before Christ’s death on the cross, all Jews lived under the law. They attempted the impossible task of keeping the law in order to be justified or reconciled to God. It was a system of justification by works - the work of keeping the law. It was impossible, but at the same time there is comfort in the illusion of control when we think we are in charge. The law revealed our desperate need for a savior - it pointed to Christ. Jesus’ work on our behalf is what provides us with freedom from the law.
So there is a progression: 1)the law reveals sin and points to our need of a savior, 2) Jesus died in order to redeem us and pay for our sins and 3) when we put our faith in Jesus we are justified and freed from the law.
Paul is saying that you can’t go backwards. If you believe Christ died and paid for your sins, but you also still want to cling to the law, you are nullifying His work. Clinging to the law and insisting that Gentiles become Jews is implying that Jesus’ death wasn’t enough.
But what a blessing to us that it WAS ENOUGH! He did it all on the cross and when we place our faith in Him we are justified before God. It is as if we never sinned. Thank you, Jesus!
What stood out to you as you studied? I can’t wait to see your journaling and read your thoughts! :)