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Summary: What takes place in these verses is orthopedic Christianity: one Christian correcting another in his walk with the Lord.

Orthopedic Christianity

Galatians 2:11-14


Isn’t it amazing how orthopedic medicine corrected Forest Gump’s problem and enabled him to run like he did. Orthopedic medicine gave us, “Run, Forest, Run.”

Orthopedics is a branch of medicine, according to Webster’s Dictionary, that is concerned with the correction or prevention of skeletal deformities and disorders.

Many have used orthopedic surgeons to replace knees or to work on shoulders, some have used orthopedic doctors to aid with feet problems.

You might find it odd that I am talking about Orthopedics, but it really is a good introduction to our study in Galatians chapter two. Our passage today will teach us about Orthopedic Christianity.

Sounds odd, doesn’t it? Well, let me define it for you and then let me show it to you from the text. Orthopedic Christianity is concerned for the correction or prevention of Christians straying from the Lord. That is my own definition, but it seems to be a good one. I came up with this term by studying verses eleven through fourteen of Galatians chapter two. What takes place in these verses is orthopedic Christianity: one Christian correcting another in his walk with the Lord.

One of the evidences of Divine inspiration of the Scriptures is found in the honesty concerning the lives of the men and women recorded in the Bible. If the Bible was of human origin, then we probably wouldn’t see all the imperfections of so many people. We humans have a tendency to gloss over our faults.

Our passage of Scripture is one of those passages where we see the failing of a man of God; not just any man of God, but the apostle Peter.

I will admit to you that passages like this one in Galatians encourage me. It is not that I revile in one man’s failure, but that I realize that even the godliest of people have moments of failure. I like to call those times down times.

My definition of down time in this context speaks of those times in our Christian walk where we find ourselves living inconsistent of our high calling as Christians. Down times are those times when we fail to apply our Christianity to our behavior.

Every Child of God has those down times. We see it in Scriptures. We see it in history. We see it in lives around us; we see it in ourselves. The truth of our Christian walks is that there are times we are up and there are times when we are down. You know, “When your hot your hot, and when your not, your not.” That is a good description of the Christian life.

The passage that we are looking at in our study of Galatians reveals how we should deal with those down times. It teaches us about orthopedic Christianity.

In verses eleven through fourteen we see orthopedic Christianity taking place. We see Paul correcting Peter in his Christian walk. Peter experiences some down time and lives inconsistent Christian behavior. Let’s read the confrontation beginning with verse eleven, “But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. [12] For prior to the coming of certain men from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to withdraw and hold himself aloof, fearing the party of the circumcision. [13] The rest of the Jews joined him in hypocrisy, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy. [14] But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in the presence of all, "If you, being a Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how is it that you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?”

In these verses there are three principles that teach us about orthopedic Christianity. They teach us how to deal with those down times. We see first that down times must be confronted.

I. Down Times must be Confronted

This first principle is set forth in verse eleven, “But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned." One cannot read verse eleven without seeing the reality of a confrontation.

a. The Reality of Confrontation

Paul gives us a situation that takes place between Cephas, whom we know as the apostle Peter, and himself. The situation that he speaks of took place in Antioch. There is great debate on the chronology of this event. I believe that it happens sometime after the Jerusalem council that is recorded in the first part of Acts chapter fifteen, and the second missionary journey of Paul recorded in the last verses of the same chapter.

Paul says that when Peter came to Antioch, he had to oppose him to his face. That is, Paul had to confront him. The reason Paul says, “because he stood condemned.” The meaning, literally is that Peter stood, “self-condemned.” Peter was guilty of something, and the guilt had already been proven; now it was a matter of passing the sentence. What was the reason for this confrontation?

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