The confrontation at Antioch between Paul and Peter was a calling out of the double standard of the new movement called the Church. The early Church was going through the stages of preadolescence. The immaturity, brought about by self-centered agendas, was front and center to the organization of the “Jesus people.” So many times we search the Scriptures for “dessert verses” instead of the lessons that expose the flaws and inconsistencies of the Believer. Always remember that the verses you have not underlined are just as valid as the ones you have emphasized in your Scriptural diary.
When Peter came to Antioch, he immediately displayed an acceptance of the Gentiles with, of course, a stipulation that they had to conform to the Jewish standard of faith. On one day in particular, he was having lunch with some of the people when word came that some VIP’s from Jerusalem were coming to town. Peter, not wanting to be embarrassed by being caught fellowshipping with Gentiles, immediately left the luncheon. His behavior caused other Christian “tourists” to follow Peter’s action. Paul must have been in town and witnessed Peter’s action. He confronted Peter and the visiting dignitaries and demanded how they could be such hypocrites. He stated that if they could accept the Gentiles one day and the next day demand they act like Jews, they were posing a double standard. Paul swung his sword of spiritual authority with precision. He stated that man is not justified by works, but “by the faith of Jesus Christ.” Paul ended his rebuke by saying, “I do not frustrate the grace of God… (Galatians 2:11-21)
Today, so many Christians talk and walk a faith that challenges the very authority of God’s Word. We tend to share the Word without exhibiting obedience on our part. In other words, our actions sometimes contradict our words. We demand that a new Believer follow an agenda that we so many times fail to follow ourselves. Corrective preaching and teaching seem to have faded like a disappearing fad. To demand that someone conform to Biblical standards that are not practiced personally is to define hypocrisy. What turns off so many people are Believers that do not exhibit publicly what they claim to believe inside their citadels of worship.
Peter exhibited conformity to “religious authority” instead of an openness to the “whosoever’s” of the world, namely the Antioch people. The Believer must never look down on others. We must never think we are too Christian to interrelate with others. Pride on display hinders the Gospel. Paul stressed the importance of being truthful to one’s faith. How you live your life around Believers should also be the life you display in public. Peter needed a course correction and Paul did just that by exposing his hypocrisy. Let us be a shining example of Jesus and live a life of consistent obedience.