Confrontation Back to all sermons

Date: May 17, 2015

Speaker: Sean Grossman

Series: Galatians

Scripture: Galatians 2:11–2:14

Tags: church, Gospel, Sacrifice, Darkness, Jesus, Peter, Jews, Gentiles, Christ, Grace, Propitiation, Courage, Courageous, Cost, Hope, God, Apostle, Paul, James, Apostles

05-04-Welch

 


But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy.

But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?”

Galatians 2:11-14 (ESV)

But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. Galatians 2:11, ESV

Peter at Antioch
Cephas is the Apostle Peter
Why did Peter go to Antioch?
Likely he went after his release from prison (see Acts 12, though Acts is quiet as to where he goes)
Antioch would be a good choice since it is far enough but close enough to Jerusalem
Who/What is condemning Peter?
The likeliest explanation is that Peter is under condemnation by God

For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party.
Galatians 2:12, ESV

Visit from Jerusalem
We’re unsure of the reason for their going to Antioch
To update Peter? To see what is going on in Antioch?
We see the prominence of James here
Whether these men came from James in order to stop what was occurring is unknown
All we know is that these men come and cause a disruption
Before they come, however, Peter is eating with Gentiles
It could mean Peter merely ate with them (but not their food)
Or it could mean that Peter ate their food also (this is the likeliest explanation)

Visit from Jerusalem (2)
Peter has a change of character (he no longer eats with the Gentiles
This would naturally cause some tension between ethnically Jewish and Gentile Christians
Peter’s character changes out of fear of the “circumcision party”
The ESV takes some liberties here
The Greek here is ἐκ (Eck) περιτομή (Pear-Ih-Toe-May)
This literally means “those of the circumcision”
This is a bit vaguer than the ESV translation, and requires us to consider who these are

Those of the Circumcision
There are three ways this is used in the New Testament (four including this particular text)
The first is Jewish Christians
Those who are ethnically Jewish and converted to Christianity (such as the Apostles)
The second are Judaizers
Those who are demanding Gentile Christians to be circumcised and must follow the Law for salvation
They were there when Paul and Barnabas presented the Gospel to the Apostles (Acts 11/Gal 2:1-10) and are likely the ones who are causing trouble in Galatia

Those of the Circumcision (2)
The third are those sent by James
In this case, Peter is afraid of those who have been sent by James and likely assumes that this delegation would be Judaizers
While these are possible they seem unlikely
Peter, along with James and John, agreed with Paul’s Gospel
It seems unlikely, then, that he would fear them
Likewise, it was Peter who had the vision of the unclean foods in Acts 10
The fourth view is that “those of the circumcision” means unconverted Jews
Peter is not afraid of Jewish Christians, but unconverted Jews

Those of the Circumcision (3)
The third are those sent by James
In this case, Peter is afraid of those who have been sent by James and likely assumes that this delegation would be Judaizers
While these are possible they seem unlikely
Peter, along with James and John, agreed with Paul’s Gospel
It seems unlikely, then, that he would fear them
Likewise, it was Peter who had the vision of the unclean foods in Acts 10
The fourth view is that “those of the circumcision” means unconverted Jews
Peter is not afraid of Jewish Christians, but unconverted Jews

Those of the Circumcision (4)
During this time the Zealot Movement was growing
There was a continual estrangement between Jews and Gentiles in Judea especially
This would all come to head during the Jewish-Roman war which would result in the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.
There was also debates as to how much one could eat with Gentiles
The more lenient views held that you could sit at the same table but not eat the same food
Others held that to eat with a Gentile would lead to moral and ritual impurity

Those of the Circumcision (5)
The end result for this lifestyle would be persecution
Peter was not unaware of persecution
He already suffered it, especially in Acts 12 when James the brother of John was martyred and Peter arrested
It is most likely, then, that what causes Peter to fear is the persecution from the zealous Jewish nationalists

And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy.
Galatians 2:13, ESV

The Result
Peter’s fear causes him to make the wrong decision
Ultimately the Christian Jews follow in his footsteps
The results are not private, but lead to public failure by the Jewish Christians
Barnabas also fell into the temptation
This helps us see just how strong the fear was
Also it shows just how influential Peter was as a pillar

But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?”
Galatians 2:14, ESV

Confrontation
Paul recognizes that they are not in step with the Gospel of truth
He likely targets Peter because of Peter’s influence
Paul then states that Peter lived as a Gentile
This like reflects earlier how Peter ate among them (living like them likely implies he ate what they ate)
Paul’s argument is that you cannot force the Gentiles to live as Jews while you live like a Gentile
Paul sees a probable schism between the Gentile and Jewish Christians
The implications are that unless the Gentile Christians abide by Jewish customs they are not part of the faith

Main Points
The first: Paul’s Gospel comes from God not man
Second: Paul is willing to confront anyone who goes against the Gospel of faith
Third: Gentile Christians are not bound by the Law in order for salvation

Application Points
Stumbling
None of the disciples really emphasized themselves as much as Peter (Matthew 14:22-33, 15:15, 16:13-20, 21-23, 18:21, 19:27, 26:33-35, 26:69-73)
We see his faults, passion, zeal, all spelled out in different ways
It shouldn’t surprise us to see Peter who once got it so right, getting it so wrong!
His fear is an honest fear, if not for himself, then for others
Peter’s failure reminds us that though we are saved by Jesus’ blood, we are not perfect
We still stumble into transgressions
Sometimes we win, other times we lose

Application Points
Stumbling (2)
When we do fall into sin it does effect our relationship with God, ourselves, and others
We can see this in Peter’s situation
He is condemned (most scholars agree it is by God) hence his relationship with God is effected (and therefore his relationship with himself)
His relationship with the Gentile and Jewish Christians is effected
This leads to the world, who would logically look at Peter and consider him to be a hypocrite

Application Points
Stumbling (3)
The same thing occurs when we fall into sin
Though we do want to notice, Paul does not consider Peter a false brother
But, even if he is an apostle, he still must seek repentance from sin
Likewise, Peter is not falling into a different theology
The motivation is not a change in revelation but a change based upon fear
Peter’s failure reminds us of two things: the first is that we sin just as Peter sinned

Application Points
Stumbling (4)
Because of this there are many who consider the Church to be nothing but hypocrites
We must be careful with this
While Christians do stumble into sin, unlike the unconverted we recognize that we should not remain in our sin
They question us when they see us stumble, and wonder how we can anything to anyone else when we sin so badly
It is true that we need a good dose of humility
Because we recognize our righteousness is not attained by what we do but by what Jesus has done (Romans 1-3, and if you want to look ahead Galatians 2:15-21 )
The World will see hypocrisy, but it should also see us being transformed

Application Points
Stumbling (5)
We can rejoice when we struggle
The very fact that we struggle implies that there is something going on within us
We rejoice when we triumph over sin, recognizing God’s working within us to triumph
We can also have hope when we fall into sin
Because we will be abled by God to repent of our sin and turn to faith in Christ (Philippians 1:6)
There is a difference between us and the world
While we sin, we desire something different
When the world sins there is no remorse
Yet when we sin we see our dependence upon Jesus Christ (see esp. I John 1-2)

Application Points
Stumbling (6)
So have hope, knowing that you are not alone in the struggle
Know that our righteousness does not come from within, but from Christ
This should cause us to rejoice and to alleviate the sorrow of sin
For though you struggle, and though you sin, you are still a child of God (again I John 1-2, Romans 8, I Timothy 2:5, Hebrews...especially 7:25)
Turn to Him and you can know His overwhelming love if you repent and place your faith in Him

Application Points
Stand
It will be necessary for us to make a stand for Christ sometime in our lives
There are three areas especially where we must stand for Christ
The first us within ourselves
The second is with other believers
The third is against the world
The first: we have already seen how the struggle comes into play (the struggle of our hearts and from the world…James 4, Matthew 18:7-9)
It means seeking to live rightly in the will of our God

Application Points
Stand (2)
We do not seek righteousness and salvation through how we live
Instead we recognize God’s love for us, and so we love God by following His commands (see John 14:15, 21)
His will for our lives can be seen in the Scriptures, and the antithesis between sin and righteousness (see II Timothy 3:16-17)
This struggle can be found within us every day
Yet the second type of stand is not necessarily experienced often, but should be ready for, and that’s when we must stand against a fellow Christian

Application Points
Stand (3)
This does not mean that we beat and bash them to pieces
We are to watch over each other and keep each other from sinning
The greatest friend anyone can have is the one who tells you the most truth about yourself
If someone in our congregation falls into sin it is our responsibility as a community to help them see their sin and encourage them to seek repentance
If that person does not acknowledge the sin then it becomes an issue for Church discipline
The goal, however, is reconciliation

Application Points
Stand (3)
When we stand in love then true reconciliation is possible
If, however, the sin remains and we allow it to remain we are at fault
This occurs in I Corinthians 5
Paul critiques the Corinthian Church informing them that a little yeast infects the whole dough (a little sin infects the entire congregation)
True love is not accepting people’s sin, but encouraging one another to turn from sin and to turn to Christ

Application Points
Stand (4)
The final place we stand is against the world
We do this when we are prophetic against this dark world
We are prophetic when we preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ
Jesus Christ is the Light of the world, which is why it is always prophetic to proclaim His Gospel
Without the Gospel, and without proper communication of this Gospel, then all else we do is useless
Whenever we focus on something other than the Gospel, we end up giving the world the world and end up losing all hope

Application Points
Stand (5)
The Gospel is our primary motivation and our primary means of standing against darkness
Yet, Christ saves all of us
This means all that we do should fall under the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ
It is right to have Christian artists, politicians, educators, and businessmen
Under His reign all things are reformed
Though this does not mean that Christianity can be forced on anyone
Instead we present the Christian worldview through persuasion, showing that Christianity is total truth for individuals and society

Application Points
Stand (6)
We stand against the world when we stand with the truth presented in Scripture
It is scandalous to present truth where all is relative
The Bible is not exhaustive in content, but it is truth
Without this foundation our theology will turn into a replication of the philosophy of the world
So in order to stand against the world, we must know the truth found in Scripture
When Paul stands against that which is false, it encourages us to stand as well
The world is in desperate need of the Gospel
Yet, even if the whole world rejects the Gospel, it is still worth proclaiming, because it is not man’s gospel, but God’s

Application Points
Stand (7)
There may be a cost to standing up for Christ
It might cost friendships
It might cost reputation
It might cost us much of the world
Yet to stand for truth is worth every drop of martyrs blood
Stand for the truth, against the world of darkness that surrounds us on all sides

Application Points
The Gospel
When Paul stands against the darkness, he stands with the power of the Gospel on his side
This power comes from the Gospel itself, not Paul
It’s authority comes from God because it is God’s Gospel
We are created beings, created in the Image of God
He made us personal, diverse, with the ability to reason, to know truth

Application Points
The Gospel (2)
Yet, we fell into sin
That which was once in light is now in darkness
All of our relationships have been broken (with God, self, others, the world)
We are like thirsty men who drink water from the ocean, yet our thirst is never quenched
It all then leads to being morally guilty before God
We are then in despair because of this
We seek foundations, absolutes, and yet everything we build upon causes us to sink
We are in despair because of our brokenness, and our sin
Yet, God did not leave us this way forever

Application Points
The Gospel (3)
Instead, God sent His Son to die on the cross
He became a propitiation, atonement, for the sins of those who repent and place their faith in Him
Though we stumble and fall, we find the love of God carrying us through
For those who are in Christ are children of God

Application Points
The Gospel (4)
There is the future
No matter what we are all heading there
For those who do not repent and place their faith in Jesus there is judgment
Yet for those who do repent and place their faith in Jesus there is hope
For Christ intervenes on our behalf
Though we have no righteousness, we cling to the righteousness of Christ
The Judge then sees us as His own children, and from there we enter into an eternal kingdom with peace forever with our God