Galatians 2:11-13

Sunday Evening Service

May 1, 2005


I have a story I thought would be appropriate for tonight …


There are many stories related to the sinking of the “Titanic.” Some have just come to light due to the success of the recent movie. For example, most people don’t know that back in 1912 Hellman’s mayonnaise was manufactured in England. The “Titanic” was carrying 12,000 jars of the condiment scheduled for delivery in Vera Cruz, Mexico which was to be the next port of call for the great ship after New York City. The Mexican people were eagerly awaiting delivery and were disconsolate at the loss. So much so that they declared a national day of mourning which they still observe today. It is known, of course, as Sinko de Mayo.

May 5 – that’s Thursday …

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, teaching the young Gentile believers that they needed to become Jewish and become circumcised before they were really saved.

Last week we saw how God had been at work in Paul’s life, how he had been taught by Jesus Christ Himself, and how He had gone to Jerusalem to make sure that he was still on track with all that he believed and taught.

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.

:11-13 Hypocrisy in Antioch

:11 Now when Peter had 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 his face, because he was to be blamed;

to his face – last Sunday morning we talked about the danger of being afraid of people, of being a respecter of persons or literally “one who sees faces”. Jesus didn’t seek people’s approval, He sought God’s approval. The person’s face that you are seeking is the person you are going to be pleasing.

Paul wasn’t afraid of Peter’s face. He got in Peter’s face.

to be blamedkataginosko (“against” + “knowledge”) – to find fault with, blame; to accuse, condemn

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

:12 for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles

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.

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 but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision.

withdrewhupostello – to draw back, lower; to withdraw one’s self, i.e. to be timid

separatedaphorizo – to mark off from others by boundaries; to exclude as disreputable

The idea is that Peter separated himself from the Gentiles he had been eating with.

fearing – it’s interesting that Paul didn’t “fear” the face of Peter, but Peter had been “afraid” of these men from Jerusalem.

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

He must have at least been “sort 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” (Acts 10). Yet he kept resisting, saying that he was a good Jewish boy, and didn’t eat unclean food. But the Lord told Peter that when God cleansed something, Peter shouldn’t call it unclean (Acts 10:15).

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

(Acts 10:28 NKJV) Then he said to them, "You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean.

Then, at the big council in Jerusalem, Peter made his conviction public:

(Acts 15:7-11 NKJV) And when there had been much dispute, Peter rose up and said to them: "Men and brethren, you know that a good while ago God chose among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. {8} "So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us, {9} "and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. {10} "Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on 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 in the same manner 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.


Fear of people

It seems that every where we turn, there’s a reason to be afraid.

Gators and Sharks

While sports fishing off the Florida coast, a tourist capsized his boat. He could swim, but his fear of alligators kept him clinging to the overturned craft. Spotting an old beachcomber standing on the shore, the tourist shouted, “Are there any gators around here?!” “Naw,” the man hollered back, “they ain’t been around for years!” Feeling safe, the tourist started swimming leisurely toward the shore. About halfway there he asked the guy, “How’d you get rid of the gators?” “We didn’t do nothin,’” the beachcomber said. “Wow, Really?!” said the breathless still-swimming tourist and slowed down. The beachcomber then added, “yup, the sharks got ‘em.”

Fear can be a good thing, if it keeps you from harm. But sometimes we become afraid of things we shouldn’t be afraid of.
Sometimes I’m afraid to stand up to somebody because I don’t want them to be mad at me.
The Bible says:
(Prov 29:25 NKJV) The fear of man brings a snare, But whoever trusts in the LORD shall be safe.
We need to be careful about actions or decisions that are made because we’re afraid of people.
I’m not sure we can always get rid of the fear, but we don’t have to let the fear stop us either.
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.”
We may not always keep from being afraid, but we don’t have to let our fears cause us to make the wrong choices in life.

:13 And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him

Peter is acting in hypocrisy, and the other Jewish believers are being influenced by him.

He’s said 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.


Love without hypocrisy

The Bible says we are to love one another.
(John 13:34-35 NKJV) "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. {35} "By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another."
Peter’s original claim of love and fellowship with these Gentile believers was apparently not the real thing. It was a shallow kind of love. Hypocritical.
The “hypocrite” was an actor, someone holding up a mask, pretending to be one thing, while being another.
About hypocrites, Jesus said:
(Mat 23:25-27 NKJV) "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence. {26} "Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also. {27} "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness.

The Pharisees were famous for pretending to be something on the outside when inside they were full of yucky stuff.

Real love ought to be sincere. It shouldn’t change depending on the environment or the people around you.
A doctor writes …
I stand by the bed where a young woman lies, her face postoperative, her mouth twisted in palsy, clownish. A tiny twig of the facial nerve, the one to the muscles of her mouth, has been severed. The surgeon had followed with religious fervor the curve of her flesh; I promise you that. Nevertheless, to remove the tumor in her cheek, I had cut the little nerve.
Her young husband is in the room. He stands on the opposite side of the bed, and together they seem to dwell in the evening lamplight, isolated from me, private. Who are they, I ask myself, he and this wrymouth I have made, who gaze at and touch each other so generously, greedily? The young woman speaks.
“Will my mouth always be like this?” she asks.
“Yes,” I say, “it will. It is because the nerve was cut.”
She nods, and is silent. But the young man smiles.
“I like it,” he says. “It is kind of cute.”
All at once I know who he is. I understand, and I lower my gaze. One is not bold in an encounter with a god. Unmindful, he bends to kiss her crooked mouth, and I am so close I can see how he twists his own lips to accommodate to hers, to show her that their kiss still works.

-- Richard Selzer, Mortal Lessons

Real love shouldn’t change because the circumstances do.
I see it in teenagers when they are so concerned about being accepted. They can be okay with a certain group of friends, except when the extremely “cool” person walks into the room. Then suddenly things change. They are no longer willing to claim to be friends with other kids because it’s no longer “cool”.
Paul wrote,
(Rom 12:9 NKJV) Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good.

When you commit yourself to a person, to a group, real love stays committed. It doesn’t change.

:13 so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy.

Even old Barney was affected by the example of Peter.

Keep in mind, Barnabas was the older, more mature 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. (Imagine being “stumbled” by the “pope”)
When Paul was dealing with the church in Corinth, there was a problem of “contagious sin” in the church.
There was a fellow in their church that was having sex with his stepmom.  And apparently the folks at church knew about it.
But rather than confronting the individual, the church seemed rather proud of itself for being so “open-minded”.
Paul warned them that when they allowed sin like that to not be dealt with, it eventually affects the whole church.
Paul wrote:

(1 Cor 5:6 NKJV) Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?

If they refused to deal with the problem, then the problem would infect them.

Imagine that one of us has a deadly, contagious disease.  And we all know about it.  But we continue to ignore the disease and continue hugging and kissing each other.  Somebody else is going to get infected.

Sin works that way to.  It’s contagious.


President Clinton was infamous for his relationship with Monica Lewinsky.  He claimed in front of the television cameras, “I did not have sex with that woman”.  He said later that he could make that statement because He did not classify what he did as “sex”.  And today there’s a whole generation that agrees with him.

One person sets the example and others follow.

God wants us to be an example for good:
 (1 Tim 4:12 NKJV) Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.

What would it be like if every one around you prayed as much as you do? What would it be like if everyone read the Word as much as you do? What would it be like if everyone shared their faith as much as you do?


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.
There’s something in our human nature that wants to “belong”. We wanted to be accepted by others.
Peer pressure can be a very strong, influential factor in our lives.

Dr. Dobson tells of a study done at a University where a teacher supposedly was testing a group of students on their perception. A group of students was shown two drawings of lines. One line was definitely shorter than the other. The group was asked to choose which line they thought was shorter than the other. But in the study, everyone in the group was told ahead of time to pick the wrong line, all but one student. When the teacher pointed to the longer line and asked who thought the line was shorter, everyone raised their hand except the one student who wasn’t “in the know”. In almost every time they ran the experiment, the “unclued” student eventually went along with the rest of the crowd, even though they knew they were wrong.

Sometimes peer pressure can be good.
That’s what “fellowship” is all about. We need others in our lives who will be a positive influence on us.

(Heb 3:12-13 NKJV) Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; {13} but exhort one another daily, while it is called "Today," lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.

We need people around us who will be a good influence on us.

Sometimes peer pressure can be bad.
(Prov 1:10 NKJV) My son, if sinners entice you, Do not consent.

Teenagers aren’t the only ones affected by peer pressure.

Herod liked John the Baptist, but because of peer pressure, he had John put to death. (Mark 9:26)

There were Jewish leaders (John 12) who didn’t follow Jesus openly because they were more concerned about what people thought.

We often are looking around us to see what other people are doing.

Why is it so important for politicians to be aware of their “poll numbers”? Because our nation moves with a “herd mentality”. Many people don’t think for themselves, they just go with the crowd.

What is “fashion” about?  It’s knowing what is acceptable and trying to conform to it by dressing in a certain way.

What is really sad is when the “bad” peer pressure comes from people you would hope to be influencing you for the good.

Barnabas is with other “church people” and they’re pressuring him to do the wrong thing.