Paul Confronts Hypocrisy: Galatians 2:11-13
“11) But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12) For prior to the coming of certain men from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to withdraw and hold himself aloof, fearing the party of the circumcision. 13) And the rest of the Jews joined him in hypocrisy, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy.” Galatians‬ ‭2:11-13‬
Paul now includes a story of confronting Peter and a growing Jewish delegation that some time after the Jerusalem Council had visited the Gentile church in Antioch. It seems that Peter had arrived prior to James and the rest of the Jewish delegation. During this time he dinned openly with the Gentiles. But after James arrived with other Jewish believers, Peter withdrew and separated himself from the Gentiles in keeping with Jewish tradition. The pressure was so great that even Barnabas himself joined in the hypocrisy.
Paul reacted very strongly to what he called “hypocrisy.” He recognized that the doctrine of justification by faith was being undermined and the whole message of the unity of the body of Christ was being trampled under foot. If all believers are one in Christ then we must treat one another with acceptance, respect and dignity. (See Ephesians 2:11-22)
I believe he included this account of confronting Peter, James and the Jewish delegation in the book of Galatians to demonstrate his unbending loyalty truth and the full application of the gospel. It underlined his claim of not being inferior to the other Apostles.
It furthermore demonstrated that he was consistent with his teaching from the beginning and had never accepted two forms of Christianity. He maintained that both Jew and Gentile were one in Christ. He refused to accept hypocrisy in living out the truth of the gospel.
Though this account of Peter and James visiting the church at Antioch is only recorded in Galatians chapter two, it was monumental in healing the breech that was beginning to divide the early church. Paul single handed forced the early church leaders to wrestle with the full implications of the Gospel.
Herein is a lesson for every believer. We must seriously wrestle with how the gospel impacts every area of our lives. Either Jesus Christ is Lord of all… or He is not Lord at all. I maintain that the Gospel impacts every area of the life of a believer and is not merely a “get into heaven free card” when we get to the end of our life.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global