– 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 The rest of the Jews joined him in hypocrisy, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy.
Sometime after the Jerusalem conference A, Peter came from Jerusalem to Antioch. He enjoyed fellowship with all the believers, Jews, and Gentiles alike. To “eat with the Gentiles” meant to accept them, to put Jews and Gentiles on the same level as one family in Jesus.
Jesus taught while He was with Peter that the gospel was to be carried to all the nations, as Israel was supposed to have accomplished B. The Holy Spirit had reemphasized it when He sent Peter to the home of Cornelius, the Roman centurion C. Furthermore, the truth had been accepted and approved by the conference of leaders at Jerusalem A. Peter had been one of the key witnesses at that time.
But Peter lost his courage. “The fear of man bringeth a snare” D. He ceased to enjoy the “fellowship” with the Gentile believers and separated himself from them.
Peter’s fall made him a hypocrite. Also, Peter led others astray with him. Even Barnabas was involved. Barnabas had been one of the spiritual leaders of the church in Antioch E, so his disobedience would have a tremendous influence on the others in the fellowship.
Suppose Peter and Barnabas had won the day and led the church into legalism? What might the results have been? Would Antioch have continued to be the great missionary church that sent out Paul and Barnabas? F Would Paul have written 13 New Testament books? But Paul was prepared to fight for grace alone.
Before we criticize Peter, perhaps we had better examine our own lives to see how many familiar Bible commandments we are actually obeying.
It is one thing for us to defend a commandment in church, and something else to put it into practice in everyday life. We are certainly capable of being hypocrites just like Peter, saying one thing and doing another!
Notes: A- Galatians 2:1-10, Acts 15:1-35; B- Exodus 19:6, Hosea 4:6, Matthew 21:43, 28:16-20,Acts 1:8, Centurian Servant Luke 7:2-9, Samaritian women and village John 4:4-42,C- Acts 10-11:18; D- Proverbs 29:25; E- Acts 11:19-26; F- Acts 13;