Friday, June 9, 2017

Blogging Bible Study Galatians Week 2: Gal. 2:11 - 21

Paul is still laying the foundations for the argument he is building against a legalistic form of doctrine that required the Gentiles who were coming to faith in Christ to observe the requirements of the Jewish, become Jews before they could be recognized as followers of Christ.

Last week, we saw that Paul presented his testimony and the validation his message received from the council in Jerusalem, today, we're going to see him apply the argument to someone who might have been considered a higher authority than Paul...the Apostle Peter.

And if Paul would oppose Peter 'to his face,' how much more would he oppose those folks who were confusing the Galatian believers by mixing grace with the law?

The situation, as Paul describes it in 2: 11 - 14, was that Peter had come to Antioch and made no distinction between Jews and Gentiles until some rather influential, unnamed men came up from Jerusalem.  Then, Peter suddenly pulled back and began observing the requirements of the law by not eating with the Gentile believers, so as not to offend the new arrivals.  This set a bad example, and the other Jewish believers in Antioch, including Barnabas, Paul's co-worker, began to behave in the same manner.

Paul, who  tolerated no such nonsense,  called Peter out publicly for his, in Paul's words, 'hypocrisy'(v. 13).

According to the quotation marks in my Scofield NIV, the entire rest of chapter 2, from verse 15 through verse 21, is Paul's quotation of the argument he gave to Peter...which is the basis for the argument he will make to the Galatian churches.

Here are the main points of his argument to the Jews who would insist on observing the law:

1) We, the Jews who have had the revelation of God for generations and have followed Christ,  have put our trust in Christ for our salvation, knowing that no one is justified by observing the law. (vs. 14-16)
2)  The law makes it evident that we are sinners; we can't keep it; our efforts only prove that we can't keep it. ( 17 -19)
3) Belief in Christ means that we have accepted Him and His sacrifice...we died in Him, He lives in us.  (v.20)
 And, his final, mic drop point -- If righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing! (v. 21b).

The logic of that last point is irrefutable.  If humans, by observing rules and regulations and traditions, could become righteous and cleansed from the sin that separates us from God, there would be no need for sacrifice.  But Jesus came and sacrificed himself on our behalf,  proving that behavior modification is totally inadequate for redemption.

Paul says Peter's error came about because 'he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group.'    When have I given into the temptation to compromise my beliefs just so I won't give someone the occasion to find fault with me?  When have I valued the opinion of a person more than I valued  living out the truth of the Gospel?  How can I recognize similar situations in the future and prepare to stand my ground, even if that results in someone misjudging, misunderstanding, or just plain rejecting me?

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