Submitted by Visitor (not verified) on Thu, 10/06/2010 – 16:37
Year C (2009-2010)
Bible Book: Galatians / Galasiers
Chapter: 2
Verse: 11 – 21

In the passage of Gal 2:11-21 Paul reflects on an incident that had happened some time before the writing of this letter. He is quite open about the fact that he publicly opposed Peter (“I withstood him to his face”, v 11 – NKJV) and confronted him about his understanding of the way “we can be made right with God” (cf v 16 – NIRV). According to verse 16 it is clear that for Paul there is only one way to be made right with God and that is “by believing in Christ, not by obeying the law” (NIRV).

In closing this passage Paul emphasises in verse 21 that his deepest concern is to regard God’s grace. “I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless” (NLT).

Paul’s argument is that our righteousness before God can only be an act of grace received through faith in Christ.

What struck me when I read this passage again, was that Paul’s confrontation with Peter was not about what Peter preached or what he taught, but was only about Peter’s behaviour. There is no reference made to Peter’s teaching in this passage. However, we learn that Peter changed the way he associated with the believers that were not Jews.

Initially Peter was comfortable to socialise with the non-Jewish believers in Antioch (cf v 12a). But after a certain group arrived from Jerusalem, “Peter wouldn’t eat with the Gentiles anymore” (v 12b – NLT). Because of the presence of these fellow Jews Peter became embarrassed to be seen eating with his fellow non-Jewish Christian brothers and sisters. Therefore he withdrew from them.

According to Paul, this new attitude and behaviour of Peter not only affected the non-Jewish Christians (they must have felt let down) – it actually put the gospel of receiving grace through faith in Christ at stake.

For Paul it is inconceivable to proclaim the gospel of justification by faith in Jesus Christ – telling people of the embracing grace of God – and at the same time disassociating yourself from fellow believers in Christ. Graceless conduct by Christians is inconsistent with the principles of the gospel.

To think about or discuss: Is it possible that the way Christians often react to people living with HIV (stigmatising behaviour) can actually endanger the gospel?

Author: N du Toit (Ds)
Language: English