Galatians 2:11 But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.
12 For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision.
13 And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation.
14 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 Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?
Peter was an interesting man. He was a fisherman before Jesus called him to follow Him. Jesus knew all about Peter, and He chose him. Peter spent 3+ years with Jesus. He was a very aggressive type of person. He chose to be the spokesperson for the disciples on several occasions. He also tried to interfere with Jesus’ purpose for coming to earth. Jesus rebuked him at that time and called him Satan. Peter went so far as to deny knowing the Lord Jesus Christ when He was on trial. After the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, Peter was the one who chose to lead those waiting in Jerusalem for the gift of the Holy Spirit, to choose a replacement for Judas Iscariot. Jesus had commanded them to wait for the coming of the Holy Ghost. Peter was one who did not know how to wait as of yet. He took it upon himself to lead the others in doing something they were not told to do. The rest of the group consented to Peter’s leadership and together they chose a replacement for Judas. It was not God’s choice but it was their choice. Jesus Christ would replace Judas in His time with Saul (Paul).
Peter was also the one chosen by God to preach the first message after the apostles were filled with the Holy Spirit. He and John were very bold in preaching Jesus Christ in the early years after Jesus’ ascension. They were arrested, beaten and ordered not to speak in Jesus’ name any longer. They gave a bold and truthful answer in Acts 4 & 5. They could not stop preaching about Jesus Christ. He is the only Saviour. The message of salvation needed to be preached in every place. Jesus had commanded His disciples to preach the Gospel everywhere. They could not dismiss that command for the wicked ideals of God-haters.
Peter was also the one who was imprisoned by Herod and set to be killed. Herod was a lost man who wanted to keep the lost Jews on his side. He had already had James killed and saw that the lost Jews liked that and so he arrested Peter and intended to kill him as well. God spared Peter’s life.
In our text, the same Peter was in need of some further teaching and a public rebuke for his stubbornness with regard to what the Gospel is.
Antioch had become the headquarters for the spreading of the Gospel. Paul was there and Peter came there as well. Peter was still desirous to be seen as a leader. He was chosen as an apostle by Jesus Christ. However, Peter was a slow learner. He was very slow to obey the command of Jesus with regard to the power of the Gospel and that salvation is by God’s grace alone. Circumcision was a Jewish command and had nothing to do with salvation. It did not apply to Gentiles.
In verse 11, Paul needed to withstand Peter because he was guilty of causing divisions between the Jewish Christians and the Gentile Christians.
In verse 12 we see what the problem was. Peter had no problem eating with the Gentile Christians, unless some Jewish Christians were present. The Judaizers were Jews who were lost but tried to impose law keeping as part of salvation. Particularly, they tried to impose circumcision upon the Gentile believers.
Peter was bold in some ways, but he was very timid when it came to this matter of the purity of the Gospel. Peter’s actions were not innocent. His actions had a negative effect on other Jewish Christians. Not only that, but Barnabas was being carried away with this “dissimulation”. The Greek word translated as “dissimulation” means hypocrisy, or deceit.
Paul had the love of God in his heart. Adding anything to the Gospel spoils the Gospel. Peter was keeping people from knowing the peace of God in their hearts. Paul had already addressed this issue in chapter 1. He had stated that the perverted Gospel was not the Gospel. Paul also stated that those who preach this perverted Gospel are accursed. Now, Peter was guilty of corrupting the Gospel as well.
Paul needed to address this sin publicly. The corruption of the Gospel cannot be left alone. It is important to warn the saved of the corruption. Godly pastors need to be obedient to God and teach the whole counsel of God. It is important to keep the truth before the saints and also warn people of the subtilty of the false teachers. There are always different versions of the lies being brought out. The devil is always trying to find a “new way” to deceive people. There are many corruptions of the true Gospel today. The New Evangelical “gang” has many variations of this corruption. Many professing Christians are quite comfortable with this corruption. They are willfully ignorant of the truth and choose to believe smooth talkers. We have noted before that there are those who have itching ears and they want someone to scratch the itch. They do not want the itch removed. They just want it scratched.
The Bible warns of the danger of a shallow belief system. The saved person must be building on the Lord Jesus Christ alone. There is no other foundation upon which to build. We are reminded that we need to constantly examine how we are building on that foundation. In Acts 17:21 we are warned of the Athenians who were always looking for some new thing.
When a person does not build on the Lord Jesus Christ, they will grow tired of what they have. Their facade will be insufficient.
God is always working on those who are lost to help them to see the emptiness of their facade. God is always working on the saints to help them to see the need for purity in their belief system. The devil is good at setting up diversions to keep saved and lost people from settling on the truth. God wants those who are chosen by Him as leaders to help others to see the importance of carefully building properly.
In our text, Peter was a chosen leader of God. He was personally chosen by the Lord Jesus Christ. He shows us that leaders are not infallible. Leaders need humility. Leaders may need to be publicly rebuked at times. They are still leaders. Spiritual leaders must teach the truth with their words as well as with their actions. Spiritual leaders must walk in humility and they must submit to God’s Word in all things.
Peter was inventing his own “truth” on salvation and it was wicked. Paul confronted him on it so that all at that time and in the future would know the truth. We must build on the truth in all things.