Crucified with Christ

Galatians 2:11-21

Jerry A Collins




·        When should we publicly rebuke another believer?

·        How does someone become a hypocrite?

·        Does the law play any role in my life today?


A third century rabbi counted  365 prohibitions and 248 positive commands in the OT Law of Moses. David reduced them to eleven in Psalm 15. Isaiah turned them into six in Isaiah 33:14-15. Micah 6:8 binds them into three commands. Habbakuk reduces them all to one great statement: The just shall live by faith! For us today, that is the truth of it. We are not saved by the law nor are we sanctified by it. We are saved by faith in Christ and then must live by faith in Christ. The commands of Christ, the NT, are to be applied by faith. To insist on either a justification or sanctification by works will nullify the grace of God and pervert the very gospel we claim to believe. However, we will always have to fight the tendency to either demand others or rebuke others based on our personal convictions, preferences or perspectives rather than the principle of God’s Word. It was difficult for Peter and the others he misled this way.


The only basis of our relationship with one another and our fellowship with each other is solely on an understanding of the written Word of God. When we replace that with our preferences or our convictions we place on arbitrary standard on our oneness and that is sinful.  Peter the apostle stood condemned 11-13 This conflict happened in gentile territory, in the city of Antioch 11. Antioch is fast becoming the center of the church replacing Jerusalem, as the church widens her circumference away from the city of origin moving into the gentile world. Peter often visited here and ate with the gentile believers. His vision in Acts ten taught him that God had widened His circle of acceptance in Christ to the gentile, Cornelius and his family, and beyond. Peter had already given the right hand of fellowship and agreement to Paul in his mission to further reach the gentiles vs 9. But something happened that motivated the apostle Paul to get into Peter’s face. It was justified because Peter stood guilty—condemned vs 11. The comraderie existing between the Jews and gentiles in Antioch was threatened with the coming of certain men from James. Before that, the oneness between Jew and gentile was evident at mealtimes—just like it was evident whenever the disciples and Jesus ate together. It all began to fall apart when Peter slowly at first, began to gradually withdraw himself from these mealtimes until he finally stopped eating with them at all. Peter feared that his reputation was at stake with these men from James. These are the same men who demanded that gentiles must be circumcised and keep the Jewish regulations of the law in order to honor God.  Peter  who denied the Lord because of fear of man incredibly now troubled by that same fear again—afraid of what others might say about him. He has been so bold up to now. Unfortunately, like falling dominoes, Peter’s defection pressured others to follow suit like the rest of the Jews including even Barnabas vs 13, Paul’s friend and companion in ministry. Why was this conduct sinful? (1) It had a sinful motivation—it was based in fear of others. It was based on a desire not to offend and yet Peter had been with Jesus who was accused of eating with sinners and drunkards offending this very crowd he was worried about accommodating. (2) It caused some to stumble. This sinful conduct was an example others followed. (3) It was hypocritical. Their actions were in error since they were not based on what was believed about the gospel. (4) It was a denial of the gospel 14. We deny our oneness in Christ when we motivate people to conduct selves according to our preferences rather than understanding the word. (I went to letterman concert instead of Wednesday prayer meeting though fear I would be censored).

2. OUR PREFERENCES COMPROMISE THE GRACE OF THE GOSPEL  This is the principle reason that set Paul off and created a public and personal confrontation with Peter. The gospel in practice had violated the gospel in principle!

(1) Inconsistency 14 Peter was Jew, he lived like a gentile, at least during his stay in Antioch. Peter had betrayed the freedom he had to eat with the gentiles because of newfound oneness together in Christ and even forced others to surrender their freedom too in order for him and these others to stay on good terms with their old friends. So they were denying by their actions the truth that on the basis of Jesus death and resurrection Jews and gentiles are accepted equally before God. He stood condemned alright for casting a slur upon the fellow gentile believers   he ate with. This behavior was teaching something sinful with it’s hypocrisy.

(2) Superiority 15-16 From a Jewish perspective, gentiles were inferior because they did not possess the law so the gentiles were sinners who needed the Jews help to become righteous before God vs 15. But the point is that the Jews forsook this very law for justification by faith vs 16. Making gentiles adopt Judaism, OT law-keeping as a means of pleasing God, was a way to preserve their supposed superiority over gentiles. But noone is justified by the works of the law. Only thru faith in Christ Jesus. Just as the Jews had done 16b. If Jewish xians are saved in exact same way the gentile xians are then there is no claim to any kind of spiritual superiority. And Peter has completely misrepresented the gospel of grace and led people astray from the truth! The law can only reveal your need it cannot take care of it. It is like washing yourself with dirty soap! You are only a fool if you believe that after using that soap you are now clean.

(3) Misunderstanding 17-18 It is true that in order to be justified in Christ necessary to abandon faith in law as means of deliverance 17a. Then become sinners in sense of being reduced to level of gentile and sinners vs 15—so both gentile and Jew must admit their sin to be justified in Christ. It does not follow tho that Christ then becomes an agent of sin-in sense of promoting wrongdoing. In other words, since justification eliminated law it encourages sinful living—so xian must return to that law to live godly life. But to do so vs 18 would only demonstrate you are a sinner—a lawbreaker since it cannot be kept which is what Peter’s actions were demonstrating and misleading.

(4) Futility 19-21 In Christ one dies to the law 19 so it can no longer condemn him. Powerless to live righteously under it he is now free to live to God. It is utter futile to try to become righteous under something which a person has died to. Now he is able to live a new life by faith not by works 20. Christ now lives in me and I live a new life by faith in the Son of God. Returning to the law only makes sin inevitable. The law was never intended to saver not to sanctify. So there are only two choices 21; (1) I can live by faith in Christ and experience it’s grace or (2) I can strive for righteousness under law. But what you cannot do is buttress faith by law-keeping. If the law was sufficient to save or sancitify then Christ’s death becomes needless. God’s grace is either all or nothing.

(1) We are not to be vascillating in doctrine or practice. (2) Under law it is impossible to live to God.  (3) Under grace the goal is to live to God not licence to sin. (4) We do not crucify ourselves-Christ was but we live by faith. (5) The gospel must be applied personally ‘I’ vs 20.