Galatians 7: Barriers

Traffic Cones

Discussion: Should a pastor drink alcohol?

Read: Galatians 2:11-21


There are 2 competing truths claims (gospel definitions) challenging for the hearts and minds of the Galatians.


2. The “other teachers” claim of JESUS + LAW is what makes you a part of the people of God.  Or you must become Jewish in order to truly be a part of the people of God.

In 2v1-11 we saw that there was agreement among the apostles as to the validity of Paul’s gospel – that is was not necessary for the Gentiles to become Jews in order to be justified.

In 2v11-4 we see Paul calling Peter out for being a hypocrite.  He withdraws from table fellowship with the Gentiles and begins again keeping the Jewish food law.  Not because he is convicted about the truth of the “other teachers” claims but because he is afraid of them.  In so doing, Peter gives great perceived credibility to the gospel of the “other teachers”.  It would appear that Peter now disagrees with Paul and is now siding with the “other teachers”.

What does Paul accuse Peter of in v14?

Not acting in line with the truth of the gospel.

How do Peter’s actions contradict the truth of the gospel of FAITH ALONE, GRACE ALONE, CHRIST ALONE?

God accepts us by our being justified by faith in Christ, nothing else. Who are we, Paul asks to put barriers and additional requirements on the Gentiles, before we accept them into fellowship of God’s covenant community. Requirements that God does not require.

Paul takes Peter back to the truth of the gospel on which they are both agreed. The truth on which there is not difference of opinion between them. They were agree that God accepts sinners through faith alone on the basis of Christ and his work alone. This is the way of salvation for all sinners Jews and Gentiles – there is no distinction.

What are the results of adding additional requirement to the gospel and being accepted as a part of God’s people?

1. Barrier to true gospel fellowship.

Now if God justifies Jews and Gentiles on the same basis and puts no differences between them – who are we, Paul says to withhold our fellowship from uncircumcised Gentiles. If God does not require circumcision, works of the law or food laws before accepting Gentiles who are we to impose conditions which God does not impose.

“If God has accepted them, how can we reject them? If he receives them to His fellowship, shall we deny them ours? He has reconciled them to himself; how can we withdraw from those whom God has reconciled.” John Stott p55

2. It actually creates a distortion of the gospel and a barrier to people putting their faith in Jesus.  Even if people hear what they think is the gospel they misunderstand what it is exactly that Jesus is proclaiming.  As a result they either reject a false understanding of the gospel or (perhaps worse) they accept a false gospel and become legalists and holier than thou “Christians” who create a further misconception of the gospel.

What are some of the things that people misunderstand as being the gospel today?

e.g. not drinking alcohol, dating, being good, attending Sunday meetings, social justice activism, moralism, having an experience of the Holy Spirit, worship services, sexual abstinence, health and wealth gospel, etc

What could we do in order to remove these barriers?

What about “the weaker brother” principle that we find in Romans 14:13-18?

There are different issues at play here – the one has to do with distorting the gospel. People who would say you cannot do this or must do this IN ORDER FOR YOU TO BELONG TO THE PEOPLE OF GOD.

The weaker brother principle is not a salvation issue – it is a love issue.  Galatians 5:13 sums it up nicely.  The gospel brings freedom and that freedom must be defended, as Paul does in the rest of Galatians.  But the result of that freedom is not selfishness but rather service.  We may at times CHOOSE to lay down that freedom in order to love and serve our brother or sister.  It is not an issue of requirement but of service and love.

~ by John on April 1, 2009.

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