Monday after the Tenth Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: Galatians 2:1-21 (NKJV)
2:1 Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and also took Titus with me. 2 And I went up by revelation, and communicated to them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to those who were of reputation, lest by any means I might run, or had run, in vain. 3 Yet not even Titus who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised. 4 And this occurred because of false brethren secretly brought in (who came in by stealth to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage), 5 to whom we did not yield submission even for an hour, that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.
6 But from those who seemed to be something—whatever they were, it makes no difference to me; God shows personal favoritism to no man—for those who seemed to be something added nothing to me. 7 But on the contrary, when they saw that the gospel for the uncircumcised had been committed to me, as the gospel for the circumcised was to Peter 8 (for He who worked effectively in Peter for the apostleship to the circumcised also worked effectively in me toward the Gentiles), 9 and when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that had been given to me, they gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. 10 They desired only that we should remember the poor, the very thing which I also was eager to do.
11 Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed; 12 for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision. 13 And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy.
14 But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, “If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews?
15 “We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, 16 knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.
17 “But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is Christ therefore a minister of sin? Certainly not! 18 For if I build again those things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.
19 “For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.”
Compulsion and fear are the weapons of the Judaizing false teachers who want to bring Christians back under the yoke of the Law. In Jerusalem they compelled Titus to be circumcised, teaching that submitting to circumcision was necessary for salvation along with faith in Christ. In Antioch, Peter originally ate with Gentiles, demonstrating his Christian freedom from the Law of Moses, until some from Jerusalem arrived. In fear he separated himself from the Gentile Christians. Many others, including Barnabas, were carried away by Peter’s spinelessness.
Christian righteousness does not come by works of the Law, but by faith in Christ. The Law is fulfilled by Christ so that all who are in Christ by faith are credited with His perfect righteousness. So Titus would not be circumcised, and Peter must be publicly challenged in Antioch. Christians are not justified by the Law. We are justified solely by faith in Christ.
The Judaizers wanted to pull men away from justification by faith alone. They wanted men to be righteous by a combination of faith and works. This is what Paul’s entire epistle to the Galatians is about. Justification does not come by works of the Law, whether they are man-made works or divinely-instituted works like Mosaic Law. All who believe in Christ have been crucified with Christ and have died to the Law. Being righteous by faith, the Law has no power to compel or frighten us with its demands and condemnations.
We pray: O God, who declarest Thine almighty power chiefly in showing mercy and pity, mercifully grant unto us such a measure of Thy grace that we, running the way of Thy commandments, may obtain Thy gracious promises and be made partakers of Thy heavenly treasure; through Jesus Christ, Thy Son, our Lord. Amen.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.