Some people are like Peter. They hate confrontation.
They do not want to cause any trouble or make a scene, so they avoid conflict.
However, Paul was not one of those people.
He really didn’t care what anybody else thought.
Even when it came to another apostle, Paul cared enough to confront.
For him, it was not peace at any price, but the gospel at all costs.
Here was Paul’s protest to Peter’s pretense: 14 "But when I saw that they were deviating from the truth of the gospel, I told Cephas in front of everyone, “If you, who are a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you compel Gentiles to live like Jews?”” ()
Paul sees these men as not walking in the direction of the gospel truth.
They weren’t pursuing a straight course in accordance with that truth.
This course of action was pulling them away from the truth of the gospel.
When Paul sees this, he addresses his fellow apostle.
He doesn’t talk behind his back.
This is a pastoral note here: Those who sin publically (as Peter did) are rebuked publically.
Not only was Peter in the wrong, but he was also setting a bad example.
This is why Paul had to confront him in public.
A private offense deserves a private rebuke, but a public scandal demands public exposure (see ).
Peter was the leader. His example influenced what everyone else did.
Suddenly, observing Old Testament dietary laws was all the rage:
13 "Then the rest of the Jews joined his hypocrisy, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy.” ()
We can sense Paul’s shock and disbelief. Even Barnabas!
Even Barnabas, his close friend, who had
introduced him to the church and
defended him before the other apostles.
Even Barnabas, who had helped him in his mission to the Gentiles.
Paul could hardly believe it.
What Paul objected to was the hypocrisy of Peter, Barnabas, and the others.
The word “hypocrite” comes from the Greek theater, where actors wore masks to play their parts.
Paul saw that Peter, Barnabas, and the others were putting on a charade.
They did not really believe that Gentiles were second-class Christians, but they were acting as if they did.
Their actions were not consistent with their theology.
They were talking the talk but not walking the walk.
This is another warning for us.
Our behavior can undermine our belief.
It is possible for professing Christians to believe the gospel
in their minds and
even confess it with their mouths,
yet deny it with their lives.
What do our actions say? Are our actions out of step with the gospel?
But look at what Paul does here.
He point out that he and Peter, along with all other Jewish Christian, by placing their faith in Jesus Christ,
had acknowledged that the Jewish law was unable to make them right with God:
15 "We are Jews by birth and not “Gentile sinners,” 16 "and yet because we know that a person is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we ourselves have believed in Christ Jesus. This was so that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no human being will be justified.” ()
The word “justified” is used three times in v16.
It means: declared righteous, found righteous, acquitted.
The wonder of is tall is that those whom God declares righteous in are not themselves righteous, but sinners (see ; );
it is only because God has provided Christ as the atonement for their sins
that He can remain righteous Himself while declaring unrighteous people to be righteous ().
Paul’s point is that God attributes righteousness to the one who believes (; , ).
Secondly, Paul denies that this abandonment of Jewish observances makes the gospel of Christ an instrument of sin.
17 "But if we ourselves are also found to be “sinners” while seeking to be justified by Christ, is Christ then a promoter of sin? Absolutely not! 18 "If I rebuild those things that I tore down, I show myself to be a lawbreaker.” ()
By placing their faith in Christ, believers die to the law (vv. 19–20; ), and since
the dead are no longer subject to the law, they cannot be accused of breaking it ().
If (as the Judaizers asserted) faith alone in Christ alone does not save, then men are left in their sin.
Thus Christ, in that sense, would become the servant or the promoter of sin.
Thirdly, in one of the most profound statements in his letters, Paul asserts that it is the law itself, paradoxically, that has led him to this course of action:
19 "For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live for God.” ()
Through Christ’s perfect obedience to the law the believer is delivered from the law’s demand for personal obedience in order to be justified.
Paul died to the law in the death of Christ; he was crucified with Christ (v. 20), for he was united to Christ, who died in his place (3:13; ; ).
So, too, he was raised with Christ and reconciled to God (; ).
Death to the law does not violate the law, for Christ met the law’s demands on the believer’s behalf.
Believers, however, are not released from the obligation to follow God’s law as their guide to what pleases God in their sanctification (; ).
Look at 3:24 and see what the function of God’s Law is: 24 "The law, then, was our guardian until Christ, so that we could be justified by faith.” ()
Fourthly, the apostle makes crystal-clear what has motivated him to speak so strongly
20 "I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 "I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died for nothing.” ()
It is the value of the death of Christ, and therefore the principle of grace, that is at stake.
If we live to God, it is only because we have been united with Christ crucified (see also 6:14).
He gave himself for us, and he makes possible the life of faith.
If the Judaizers were right—if we could receive righteousness by observing the law—
there would be no need for grace, and Christ’s self-giving would have been a waste.
“live by the faith”.
Daily rely upon the Christ as revealed in the promises of God for wisdom, righteousness before God,
increasing holiness, and ultimate redemption from all evil (cf. ).
“loved me, and gave himself for me.”
Christ’s death was motivated by a love for particular persons chosen by God to be His true church (; ).
Look up , How does Peter feel about Paul, his rebuker? (“dear brother”)
Listen to what David felt about rebukes: 5 "Let the righteous one strike me— it is an act of faithful love; let him rebuke me— it is oil for my head; let me not refuse it. ...” ()
7 "The one who corrects a mocker will bring abuse on himself; the one who rebukes the wicked will get hurt. Don’t rebuke a mocker, or he will hate you; rebuke the wise, and he will love you.” ()
1 "A wise son responds to his father’s discipline, but a mocker doesn’t listen to rebuke.” ()
31 "One who listens to life-giving rebukes will be at home among the wise.” ()
10 "A rebuke cuts into a perceptive person more than a hundred lashes into a fool.” ()
25 "Strike a mocker, and the inexperienced learn a lesson; rebuke the discerning, and he gains knowledge.” ()
23 "One who rebukes a person will later find more favor than one who flatters with his tongue.” ()