Galatians 2:14 – But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the Gospel…
Paul is writing a letter to the church in Galatia encouraging the church towards Christ-likeness. One of the struggles in the young church is a tendency to choose divergent paths from the Gospel. The church in Galatia is listening to some who have come into their ranks and added unnecessary requirements for salvation. The heretical teachers are urging the church to follow a way that is not in step with the Gospel Paul delivered to them. The only answer to such turmoil in the church is for Truth to be the guide.
Paul gives the church in Galatia a great example showing the importance of accountability. Paul recounts to the Galatians a situation with Peter from the church in Antioch, the epicenter of the church during this time.
Peter is part of the church in Antioch teaching and exhorting. He has the privilege of leading many to Christ – Jews and Gentiles. At the beginning, we see a church doing what it is supposed to do – showing the glory of God to the world. Peter, the very one who had a vision in Acts 10 (look it up if you do not know what that means) eats with the Gentiles and encourages them through fellowship and proclamation of the Gospel. All is well.
However, when a group of Jewish people come from Jerusalem and join the church in Antioch, Peter changes his behavior and actions. He stops fellowshipping and eating with the Gentiles because he falls back into his traditional way of thinking – Gentiles are not God’s chosen people. They are dirty/unclean and do not deserve the Gospel. By his actions, Peter contradicts the message of Gospel acting as if Gentiles should clean themselves before they could be saved. He was not living out the message that anyone who believes in Jesus will be saved. The same message given to the Philippian jailer – believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved (Acts 16:31).
Peter’s actions not only defy the Gospel in his own life, but by his example, he is leading others astray. Even Barnabas falls back into the sinful pattern.
Paul rebukes Peter in front of those involved and reminds him of the Truth of the Gospel. Fortunately for his own sake and the sake of the church, Peter responds in grace and repents. This example is a reminder that even the most prominent leaders in the church are sinner and must be held accountable. If it can happen to Peter, the Rock, it can happen to anyone. You and I can be entangled in the snare of sin and need help – help even when we don’t want it. We all need a community in our lives where brothers and sisters hold us accountable. A community that notices when we are not in step with the truth of the Gospel and rebukes us so we can come back into step with the Truth of God’s Word. If you have not found a family of brothers and sisters in the Gospel in which you share life, you must find one today. The Christian life is not to be lived in isolation. We need community and we need accountability. This is why we cannot depend on television and internet preachers to be a substitute for meeting together with a body of believers. You need the church and the church needs you.