Paul Teaches Respect To Peter
Our slogan is “Respect begins with me. Peter forgot this point in the event recorded for us in Galatians 2:11-18. Peter was visiting in Antioch, the apostle Paul’s home congregation. It was a mixed congregation of Jews and Gentiles. Paul, a Jew himself, was the apostle sent by God to preach the gospel to the Gentiles while Peter’s primary work was among the Jews (Gal. 2:8-9). So long as Peter was there with no one he knew from Jerusalem, he fully fellowshipped the Gentile Christians (v. 12). But when someone from Jerusalem, who might report his actions back home, came to Antioch, Peter withdrew himself from the Gentile Christians. In so doing, he influenced other Jewish Christians, even Barnabas, to do the same.
Have we not seen similar violations of respect in our world? A boy or girl befriends someone in their neighborhood only to draw back after they find them to be disliked at school because of race, money, habits or some other prejudice. Quite often someone is focused upon in the jokes or gossip of the workplace. So as to be disrespected in the same way, others back away from have associations with that person. Boys and girls and men and women can be quite disrespectful and hurtful to others. Internet or text hazing, done by both kids and adults is extremely disrespectful. I am sure you can think of other similar situations.
In the case before us, disrespect began with Peter. Paul “withstood him to the face because he was to be blamed” (v.11) and because in showing such disrespect, Peter and the others, “walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel” (v. 14). Consider some of the possible consequences of this disrespect:
- Peter’s action was a way to say to other Jews, we are better than Gentile Christians.
- Peter’s action could have brought both and emotional and physical division in the church at Antioch.
- Peter’s action could have supported Jewish Christians who already had sinful prejudice against the Gentiles.
- Peter’s action led others to be untrue to Christ.
- Peter’s action was hypocritical, a point that Paul made in his rebuke (v. 14-16).
- Peter and others could have lost their souls.
In this case, Paul did the right thing. Respect begins with me.