But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of the Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?
We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified. Galatians 2:14-16
This verse is easily overlooked, because it is a little hard to understand. What is happening is that Paul is telling the Galatians about a disagreement he had with Peter. Paul said he ‘called Peter out’ on the subject of Gentiles verses Jews, and about what is required for salvation.
In the previous verses, Paul talks about a meeting he had with high-ranking Christian Jews. He had been ministering for fourteen years to the Gentiles. These Jewish Christians were not sure about whether the Gentiles should be circumcised, because Titus was with Paul, and he was not circumcised.
They had already discussed this issue earlier, when the Church was new, and had decided not to burden the Gentiles with this requirement. God poured out His Spirit on Cornelius, a Gentile, and Peter was witness to it at that time. Cornelius didn’t have to be circumcised to be saved, and experience the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
Paul says in this verse in Galatians, that he had to remind Peter that he was not being obedient to the truth of the gospel.
I love the fact that when Paul thought Peter was in the wrong, he didn’t just let it slide, he debated it. Paul was bold, because Peter actually lived and walked with Jesus. The church was built on Peter’s testimony. Paul didn’t let Peter’s high position stop him from rebuking him, or discussing this issue of salvation with him.
Paul had to remind Peter, that it was by faith and grace that we have been saved, through Jesus Christ. It wasn’t through works. Paul wanted God’s Spirit to work freely among the Gentiles, without placing fleshly burdens on them. Circumcision was an outward sign of an inward covenant with God. Our baptism in the Lord is like that ‘circumcision’.
That should be an example for all of us. When we see someone preaching something that is not true, we need to ‘call them out’ on it, and discuss the issue. Many churches have accepted false doctrine, and really need to go back to God’s Word, and re-examine the truth. Leaders will be held more accountable, as they are shepherds and over-seers of our faith.
It is up to us, as followers of Christ, to examine the truth and test the spirits, and see if what people are telling us is true.
This verse in Galatians is worth a second look. It is a good example of how we need to be careful of what we are taught. Not everyone who says, Lord, Lord, will be saved. There are many false teachers, so again, be aware.
Lord Jesus, show us the truth. Help us not to be deceived. Help us to call out church leaders who teach false doctrine, and show them the truth, with Your help. If we are in error, than help us to know the truth. In Revelations, You remind us that there are churches practicing false doctrines during the end times. There will be rewards and punishments for those churches. For the ‘lukewarm’ You said You would spit them out of Your mouth. (Rev. 3:16) Help us to be ‘on fire’ for You! Help us to stay in Christ. Protect our hearts and minds. Thank You! Amen!