Vol. 2, No. 8 – 2017
I had to oppose him publicly, speaking strongly against what he was doing, for it was very wrong. Galatians 2:11
Peter and Paul—two peas in a pod—two leaders. Can they co-exist? What if they had different ideas? Can one be so altogether right and the other altogether wrong?
Let’s think for a few minutes about leaders working side-by-side; can it really work? Which leader will have the say? Which leader has to be subservient?
Maybe it would be best for them to separate; each in charge of a separate branch. Maybe just send reports to one another; existing in their own offices and domains. After all, it is best to avoid offence; just be a peacekeeper, not a peacemaker (peacemaking is sort of like work).
- One (Peter) was a pillar of a leader in the city
- The other (Paul) was a pillar in the outlying cities
- Both were strong-willed, competent, and committed to the cause
Paul was upset with Peter because of his “error” in conduct—so serious, according to Paul, that he must be confronted face-to-face; eyeball-to-eyeball; man-to-man. Paul decides to confront openly, in front of an audience. It was Augustine that remarked, “It is not advantageous to correct in secret an error which occurred publically.”
Really? Is it not true that if you do not discipline, you lose credibility? Was the action of Peter inexcusable? Well, who does he surround himself with? Who does he eat with? What kind of people are they, and how do they think? What is their heritage; are they like us?
Who sets the rules for associations? What if we drive good leaders away because of our own rules? Who loses? How do we know when those who associate with us are not following the rules?
When I saw that they were not following the truth of the Good News, I said to Peter in front of all the others, “Since you, a Jew by birth, have discarded the Jewish laws and are living like a Gentile, why are you trying to make these Gentiles obey the Jewish laws you abandoned?” Galatians 2:14
In other words, it is not enough that those Gentiles are converted, they need to follow our rules (some of which we make up along the way). They can be more like us if they try! However, you, their leader, are not teaching them our Jewish way of life! Get with the program!
We Jewish Christians know that we become right with God, not by the continuing of making laws, but by faith in Jesus Christ. Membership in the body, the organization, of Christ is from absolute trust in the finished work of Christ, not in some ceremonial law or tradition imposed upon us.
Silence! You could hear a pin drop! Suddenly the two peas in a pod embrace, and the Gospel of Grace triumphs. The confrontation of Peter was suddenly seen for what it is; tinged by the legalism formed by the select group of city theologians. Paul suddenly came to understand he did not have a right to build his own reputation at the expense of a fellow-worker, fellow-leader.
I will make myself guilty if I (attempt to, or) rebuild the old system I already tore down. Galatians 2:18