Summary: In Galatians 2:11-13 Paul explains Peter’s deviation from the gospel. In this we see 1) The Clash, 2) The Cause, and 3) The Consequence
A Domino a rectangular tile with a line dividing its face into two square ends. A popular way of playing with dominos is lining them up end to end and knocking them over. This domino effect is fun to watch when handling the physical tiles but, if it occurs metaphorically in worldwide financial markets it can be most unsettling. Credit market pressures have intensified since the weekend collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., government rescue of the AIG insurance group and fears that other large U.S. financial companies would also be dragged down. In what is being described as part of the biggest bailout package in the U.S. since the Great Depression, the White House is asking Congress to allow the government to takeover US$700 billion in bad debts. This effort to stem further collapses and inject financial capital in order to stabilize the markets would result in raising the legal limit on the US national debt from $10.6 trillion to $11.3 trillion to allow for the bailout. All this is to end the continuing domino effect of financial collapse.
Galatians 2, reports the events in Antioch, where the fear of the Apostle Peter causes the domino effect on other Christians like Barnabas, where they changed how the acted and associated when the influential groups like the circumcision party was around. This action promoted a dangerous precedent that has the potential to undermine the truth of the Gospel and testimony of the early church.
One of the greatest challenges today to the Christian message and testimony is the domino effect where people begin to take their cues of doctrine and practice, not from Scripture, but popular opinion and practice. Often the slide is gradual and unnoticed, but effectively neutering the message and impact of the Gospel.
Consider who is taking their cues of doctrine and practice from you? Who at home, your children, spouse, your friends, family, or coworkers, bases what God expects from your actions? What in your life does not match your doctrine, and what do you do or say different when influential people are around? This lesson from Galatians 2 is a sobering look how even the greatest among us, like the Apostle Peter himself, can succumb to fear and slip into hypocrisy. Let us take heed, lest we likewise fall (1 Cor. 10:12).
1) THE CLASH (Galatians 2:11)
Galatians 2:11 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned.
The Judaizers had told believers in the Galatian churches that Paul was not a true apostle.
Paul not only was equal to the other apostles but had on this occasion even reprimanded Peter (Cephas), the one who was recognizably the leading apostle among the Twelve. Both Peter and Paul had experienced salvation by grace through faith, both were directly chosen by the resurrected Jesus Christ to be apostles, and both had been mightily used by the Holy Spirit in establishing and teaching the church. The book of Acts can be divided between the early church ministry that centered on Peter (1–12) and that which centered on Paul (13–28). But in Antioch these two men of God came into head-on collision.
Antioch, in Paul’s day was renowned for its architectural splendor and strategic political importance. During the New Testament period Antioch was the third largest city in the Roman Empire and boasted a population of more than half a million. Its political importance derived from the fact that it served as the capital city of the Roman province of Syria. A series of Roman emperors beginning with Julius Caesar lavished attention and resources upon this “Rome of the East,” furnishing it with theaters, aqueducts, public baths, a great basilica, and a famous colonnaded main street adorned with a marble pavement and vaulted stone roofs (George, T. (2001, c1994). Vol. 30: Galatians (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; The New American Commentary (170). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.).
The Jewish community in Antioch formed a significant segment of the city’s population, numbering some sixty-five out of the total population of five-hundred thousand. Less than ten years before the clash between Peter and Paul, the emperor Caligula (A.D. 37–41) had instigated a virulent attack against the Jews of Antioch. During this crisis many Jews were killed and their synagogues burned. The same kind of harassment was being carried out in Palestine as well and may account for the overly zealous attitude of many Jewish Christians there concerning issues of circumcision, food laws, and adherence to worship in the temple. (George, T. (2001, c1994). Vol. 30: Galatians (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; The New American Commentary (170). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.)