Paul to Peter: Stop it, hypocrite!
...So that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you. ..But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel... Gal. 2:5, 14
A little early church history:
** Paul joined Barnabas in Antioch, thousands of Gentiles followed Jesus Christ (Acts 11)
** Some Jewish leaders said, "no, no, Nanette!" Gentiles must become Jews to be saved
** Leaders gathered in Jerusalem to debate this issue (Acts 15) -- decided Gentiles do
not have to become Jews to follow Jesus as Messiah -- but give 4 recommendations
Then, Jewish leader Peter visited the mostly Gentile church in Antioch, and ate with Gentiles, until other Jewish Christian leaders came to Antioch, whereupon he stopped, "fearing the circumcision party." At this point Paul "opposed him to his face..."
"And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas (Peter) before them all, 'If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?"
What's the point? This is a fantastic example of one Christ-follower (Paul) rebuking another Christ-follower (Peter) for the truth of the gospel. According to Paul, Peter behaved out of fear of the Judaizers (who maintained that Gentiles must become Jews and follow Mosaic code in order to follow Jesus) rather than according to the truth of the gospel. He was willing to rebuke his fellow apostle in order to maintain the gospel's validity. Not to judge, or look down on Peter, but for the truth. In our day of "don't rock the boat" -- "it's none of my business, or yours" -- "don't worry, be hoppy," there are
times when truth trumps friendship. Speaking the truth in love is a biblical phrase -- though we don't use truth as a hammer, we do use it. Truth matters, especially in relationships with our brothers and sisters.
Genuine Christian community brims with compassion, fellowship, love -- and rebuke. It's part of the package, we do well to remember, and practice it.
Clinging to Jesus, who said I am the truth, Perry Floyd