Galatians 2:11–21

Read the passage.

Now that Paul has established his apostolic authority, he addresses the attack saying he was modifying his message to suit his audience. Remember that Peter (called Cephas in Aramaic) was the one to receive the vision of the sheet full of unclean animals before meeting Cornelius the Roman centurion and baptizing him and his household. Peter was also at the Jerusalem council that Paul and Barnabas attended wherein the church officially welcomed Gentile believers and laid out the relatively few expectations of conduct. So then, it is not unusual for him to fellowship with Gentile believers when he visits Antioch. When the circumcision party arrives and Peter starts pulling away and others follow after him in this hypocrisy, Paul has to remind him of the truth of the gospel.

Paul has used “the truth of the gospel” twice now, which is his shorthand for the fact that Christ’s sacrifice is completely sufficient to save sinners. Even the faith in His work on the cross is a gift of grace from the Lord, and to impose any other conditions or requirements is to deny His sufficiency. Paul shows that both the Jews who kept God’s law and the Gentiles who didn’t are not justified before Him in either case. Instead, both groups of people must have faith in Jesus Christ in order to be justified.

The next part of Paul’s argument is a little hard to follow, but I will endeavor to explain it clearly. The agitators were calling Paul a sinner in the same sense he himself used it in verse 15 to describe the Gentiles: one who doesn’t follow the Law of Moses. However Paul responds by saying that if he is a sinner because of his justification through Christ, then wouldn’t that make Christ a promoter of sin? But that cannot be. Instead, Paul claims unity with Christ in His death and resurrection which allows him to be justified before the law. If this were not the case, then God’s grace wouldn’t mean anything; if it were possible to be justified by doing the works of the law, then Christ’s death would also be meaningless.

We are sinners who do not deserve Your love for us that allows us to be justified in Your sight.

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