EVERY LIFE TELLS A STORY
Speak to my heart through Your word, I pray.
Read Galatians 2:11–21
Paul Opposes Cephas
11 When Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. 13 The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.
14 When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?
15 “We who are Jews by birth and not sinful Gentiles 16 know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in[a] Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.
17 “But if, in seeking to be justified in Christ, we Jews find ourselves also among the sinners, doesn’t that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not! 18 If I rebuild what I destroyed, then I really would be a lawbreaker.
19 “For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”[b]
a Galatians 2:16 Or but through the faithfulness of … justified on the basis of the faithfulness of
b Galatians 2:21 Some interpreters end the quotation after verse 14.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectWhat’s the big deal in what Peter did?
The last time Peter and Paul met, they shook hands. Now Paul rebukes Peter publicly. Peter hadn’t changed his mind about the Gospel, but actions speak louder than words. By withdrawing from the Gentiles, he implied that they were second-class citizens because of what they did or didn’t do.
No, says Paul, there’s a level playing field. And Peter, you know this (16)! Everyone is accepted by God because of what Jesus has done. The cross was never about what we have done, or do, or could ever do. We stood condemned in a law court, but Jesus bore our sin and guilt on the cross, and God the judge declared us innocent (“justified”).
So the Gospel is for everyone. There are no second-class Christians. How could there be when salvation is all about Jesus? He did everything. We did nothing. There’s nothing people can do to make themselves more acceptable to God. The Gospel frees us with a new kind of living; it doesn’t burden us with how good we need to make ourselves.
The Gospel is also personal. Count up how many times Paul talks about being “in” Christ. God’s grace is not a thing—it’s a person. And you are his. You can’t be half united to Christ by the cross, and half not. You are wholly his, and he is wholly yours.
Even apostles forget and mess up. But the Gospel is all or nothing (21). Confess your amnesia, rejoice in his grace and pray for grace to walk in line with the Gospel.
God, I don’t always walk according to Your ways. I get off-track. Help me to follow You regardless of what other people think.