Galatians 2:11-16Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)
Freedom from the Law
11 But when Cephas[a] came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face because he stood condemned.[b] 12 For he regularly ate with the Gentiles before certain men came from James. However, when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, because he feared those from the circumcision party. 13 Then the rest of the Jews joined his hypocrisy, so that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that they were deviating from the truth of the gospel, I told Cephas[c] in front of everyone, “If you, who are a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you compel Gentiles to live like Jews?”[d]
15 We who are Jews by birth and not “Gentile sinners” 16 know that no one is justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ.[e] And we have believed in Christ Jesus so that we might be justified by faith in Christ[f] and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no human being will[g] be justified.
At the church I am attending Vineyard Church of Delaware County, they are doing a series on Galatians, and have been discussing what the gospel is and what it isn’t according the Paul’s letter to the churches in Galatia. As the Apostle Paul was planting churches in Galatia, believers in Jesus who were culturally Jewish came behind Paul and were persuading the new believers that they had to become Jews in addition to believing that Jesus is their messiah. According to Paul this was not the gospel (Gal. 1:6-9) and was a distortion of the truth. In chapter 2, even Peter who was one of Jesus principle disciples and had a vision the gospel spreading to the Gentiles (Acts 11), still was being Jewish around the Jewish believers, and acting like Gentile around Gentile believers. To Paul, Peter was not being authentic, and one of the most intimate types of gatherings was the table-fellowship which the believers enjoyed in others homes. To Paul, this was discrimination.
JT asked three questions that reflected the passage above:
- Do I have to be Jewish to be saved?
- What is the difference between faith and works?
- What is the gospel?
JT quoted NT Wright (an Anglican Bishop and scholar) who state that the gospel is “the good news that the crucified and risen Jesus is the Messiah of Israel and therefore the Lord of the world.”
Lastly, JT made three points about this passage. First, gospel is about the redemptive work of Jesus, and we do not have to do anything other than have faith that Jesus is Lord, and choose to be loyal to him as our Lord and King. Second the Gospel is the great equalizer (Gal. 2:14). No culture, tribe, or nation has a special status, once we become a follower of Jesus, we are all one in him (Gal. 3:28). Lastly, he said that the gospel is essential for our daily lives.
For me, I think it is important as a church that the Vineyard Church of Delaware County is going through the book of Galatians. I believe many of us who are Christians do not understand what the gospel is and what it isn’t. The gospel is not believing in Jesus and then trying to not to sin anymore, the gospel isn’t just affirming God’s love and discounting the need for a savior, and the gospel isn’t being a follower of Jesus and having added things to your faith in order to be a Christian (like following certain dietary laws, wearing certain clothing, etc.). In our world that is becoming increasingly like the early church where the norm is not Christianity, it is good to have a refresher on the gospel.