Sunday Evening Bible Study

January 14, 1996

Galatians 2:11-21


Paul is writing to a group of churches which he had helped to establish.

After having established these churches, there were a group of teachers called "Judaizers" who came in and began spreading their own doctrines.

The Judaizers felt that a Gentile couldn't really be saved apart from first becoming a Jew, and that started by being circumcised.

We've had Paul describe his conversion, and how he was taught his theology not by man, but God had taught him.

Then we read at the beginning of chapter two that 14 years after his conversion, Paul went up to Jerusalem to have the apostles listen to his teachings, and make sure that he was doctrinally correct.

We saw last week that not only was Paul checked out as OK by the church in Jerusalem, but they gave him their "stamp of approval" by giving him their "right hand of fellowship".

The only thing they encouraged Paul to do was to remember the poor, which he was glad to do, and had already been doing.


:11  when Peter was come to Antioch

After Paul and Barnabas (along with Titus) finished in Jerusalem, they went back to the church in Antioch to report what had happened at the big church conference.

Then they stuck around a while to continue their ministry of teaching and preaching.

While they were there at Antioch, apparently Peter came up to visit them.

:11  I withstood him to the face ...

While Peter was visiting Antioch, Paul had to face Peter down and confront him on an issue.

You got to hand it to Paul, he certainly has guts!

Facing down the pope!

:12  certain came from James

James was the pastor in the church at Jerusalem.

He was the half-brother of Jesus, and the author of the epistle of James.

The church in Jerusalem was probably made up completely of Jewish believers at this time.

These men weren't necessarily representing James, but came from his church.

:12  he did eat with the Gentiles

Before these men from the church in Jerusalem showed up, Peter was eating with the Gentiles.

This was not a good thing for a Jewish boy to be doing.

The Jews had the idea that when you ate a meal with someone, you kind of became one with them.

You and they are both nourished with the same food.

And nobody wants to become one with a dirty Gentile.

:12  he withdrew ... fearing them

Apparently Peter wasn't operating clearly out of his convictions.

He must have been kind of okay about eating with the Gentiles, but he was unsure enough that he didn't want to face these Jewish believers and their questions.

Earlier in his ministry, Peter had been convinced by the Lord Himself that it was okay to mingle with the Gentiles.

Peter had a vision of unclean animals on a sheet, and being commanded to "kill and eat".

Yet he kept resisting, saying that he was a good Jewish boy, and didn't eat unclean food.

Then, he had some Gentile men come from Cornelius, asking him to come to the house to talk to Cornelius.

Acts 10:28  And he said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.

Then, at the big council in Jerusalem, Peter said

Acts 15:7-11  And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. 8  And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; 9  And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. 10  Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? 11  But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.

It's clear that Peter understands the truth, but he's not acting out of what he understands, he's acting out of fear.


Be careful about acting out of fear!

The Bible says:

Proverbs 29:25  The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe.

We need to be careful about actions or decisions tht are made because we're afraid.


During World War II, a military governor met with General George Patton in Sicily.  When he praised Patton highly for his courage and bravery, the general replied, "Sir, I am not a brave man -- the truth is, I am an utter craven coward.  I have never been within the sound of gunshot or in sight of battle in my whole life that I wasn't so scared that I had sweat in the palms of my hands."  Years later, when Patton's autobiography was published, it contained this significant statement by the general:  "I learned very early in my life never to take counsel of my fears."

:13  the other Jews dissembled likewise with him

dissembled - sunupokrinomai - to act hypocritically with

NIV - The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy

Peter is acting in hypocrisy now.

He's said one thing, that salvation is by faith alone in Jesus.

Yet now that there are circumcised Jews around, he's acting as if these uncircumcised Gentile believers were now suddenly unclean or something.


Watch out for play acting

The "hypocrite" was an actor, someone holding up a mask, pretending to be one thing, while being another.

About hypocrites, Jesus said:

Matthew 23:25-28  Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. 26  Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also. 27  Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness. 28  Even so ye

also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity.


  I'm sure you've heard the old story about the two men who met on the street. One said to the other, "Have you heard about Harry?  He embezzled the company out of half a million dollars." The other man said, "That's terrible; I never did trust Harry." The first man said, "Not only that, he left town and he took Tom's wife with him."  The other man said, "That's awful; Harry has always been a ne'er-do-well." The first man said, "Not only that, he stole a car to make his getaway."  The other man said, "That's scandalous; I always did think Harry had a bad streak in him."  The first man said, "Not only that, they think he was drunk when he pulled out of town."  The other man said, "Harry's no good.  But what really bothers me is, who's going to teach his Sunday School Class this week?"


 A woman wanting to impress the pastor when he came to visit, said to her little girl, "Honey, go get the book that Mommy loves so much." The little girl soon returned carrying the new Sears catalog.

:13  Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation

Even old Barney was affected by the example of Peter.

Keep in mind, Barnabas was part of Paul's missionary team, and had traveled with Paul and had already been part of the team that ministered to the Gentiles for some time.

But faced with these Jewish brothers from Jerusalem, and then finally Peter giving in and not eating with the Jews, eventually even Barnabas caved in.


You are an example.

Other people are looking to you, and are affected by the example you set.

Peter was the prominent one, setting the bad example.

To the church in Corinth, Paul wrote:

1Corinthians 5:6-8  Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? 7  Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us: 8  Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.

They had been tolerating a person in their church who was openly cohabiting with his stepmom.

But rather than confronting the individual, the church seemed rather proud of itself for being so "open-minded".

Paul warns them that when they allow sin like that to not be dealt with, it eventually affects the whole church.


It's hard to go on a diet by yourself, especially when everybody else in the house is eating hamburgers and ice-cream.

If you see other people in the church openly getting away with sin, don't you start thinking to yourself, "It's not that big of a deal!"


Think twice before joining the crowd.

Look at Barnabas.

Everybody else is acting in sin, and rather than play the outsider, Barnabas jumps in too.

Listen to your mother:  "If everyone decided to jump off the cliff, would you do it too?"

:14  walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel

The truth of the gospel is that salvation comes only by trusting in Jesus.

This alone is what makes a person clean or worthy before the Lord, not circumcision.


Eat with sinners.

Beyond that, look at the example of Jesus Himself:

Mark 2:16-17  And when the scribes and Pharisees saw him eat with publicans and sinners, they said unto his disciples, How is it that he eateth and drinketh with publicans and sinners? 17  When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

Jesus was criticized by the Pharisees because He ate with "sinners".

Yet those are the people that need to be reached.


Don't eat with backslidden Christians.

The only people that you and I are not to "fellowship" with, are those who claim to be Christians, but are in open rebellion against the Lord.

Even those who are caught in a sin need to be reached and brought back.

It's only when a person rejects the counsel to get right before the Lord, and continues in their sin, that we are to "dis-fellowship" with them.

1Corinthians 5:9-13  I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: 10  Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. 11  But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. 12  For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? 13  But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.


:14  I said unto Peter before them all

This is kind of unusual, since the general rule to follow when a person is living in sin is to confront them privately (Mat.18:15-17).

If they don't listen to you, then you go again with a witness.

If they still don't listen, then you bring it to the church.

But the difference here is that this is an issue that involves the whole church, and Peter is respected as an elder in the church.

1Timothy 5:19-20  Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses. 20  Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.

It's not easy being an elder!

:14  If thou, being a Jew ...

NAS  "If you, being a Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how is it that you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?

Peter is living a double standard.

He allows himself to live like a Gentile for awhile, but later behaves in a way that tries to make the Gentiles do the changing.

:15  Jews by nature

Those who are born Jewish.

Paul is appealing to Peter's Jewishness, and the fact that he knows the truth.

:15  sinners of the Gentiles

Those who weren't so lucky to be born Jewish.

:16  a man is not justified by the works of the law

Paul could have even used Peter's own words before the church council in Jerusalem:

Acts 15:10  Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?

:16  but by the faith of Jesus Christ

or, "by faith in Jesus Christ"

Again, Peter's own words to the Jerusalem church:

Acts 15:11  But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.

:17  while we seek ... we ourselves also are found sinners ...


If we claim to be saved by faith in Christ, yet there is no change in our lives, and we only continue in sin, does that mean that Jesus promotes a sinful life?

Absolutely not.

:18  if I build again ... I make myself a transgressor

If Paul (or, rather, Peter) would want to go back to trying to please God through the law, the only thing that is evident is that he is sinful.

The purpose of the Law was to show men their sinfulness, not to justify men before God.

:19  I through the law am dead to the law

When I look at my life in light of the Law, I am only worthy of death, because of my sins.

:19  that I might live unto God

The law came to condemn you to death.

Then you might be open let God do His work in you.

:20  I am crucified with Christ

This is one of the mysteries of the believer's life.

Somehow, as we come to trust in Jesus, we find that we were somehow wrapped up in Jesus when He died on the cross.

And when He died, so did we.

One of the benefits of being crucified:

Romans 6:6-7  Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. 7  For he that is dead is freed from sin.

Our freedom from that slavery of sin comes by dying.


Learn to be the walking dead.

Sounds pretty gruesome, huh?

We need to learn to allow our old sin nature to be crucified, and to die.

One of the keys to victory over sin is learning to die.

It's not by casting out the "Demon of Lust".

It's by crucifying the sucker.

:20  nevertheless I live

Though I'm dead, somehow I keep on living, but in a new way.

:20  Christ liveth in me

Here's the next key to walking in victory over sin!


Let Jesus do the walking.

The more I allow Jesus to have control of my life, the more I exerience victory.

It's letting Him have everything.


It's kind of like the glove and the hand.

A glove can't do much by itself.

It certainly can't play the piano.

But if I put my hand in the glove, it can do a lot better!

Let Jesus fill your life!

:20  I live by faith

It's a matter of trust - another key to victory


Get in the wheelbarrow!

The old Niagra Falls story - the tight rope walker.

We need to live our lives in the wheel barrow.

:20  who loved me, and gave himself for me

Keep in mind who has His hand on the wheelbarrow.

It makes is a lot easier to climb in when you keep in mind His love for you, and how He's proved it.

:21  if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain

The whole reason the Jesus came to die was because man was helpless on his own to achieve the necessary righteousness to stand before God.

Man is totally helpless to fulfill God's standards of righteousness.

And that's why Jesus died.


Warning for legalists:  Why did Jesus die?

For people who want you to think that you must now please God by keeping a set of rules and regulations, they need to think about the Law.

Has man ever been able to please God by keeping the Law?

Romans 3:23  For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

Isaiah 64:6   But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags;

Our pleasing God can only come by the means of what God has done for us.

The best we can do is simply trust in God's work for us.