…for before certain men came from James, he [Peter] would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision. – Galatians 2:12
Scripture reading: Galatians 2:1-16
Antioch was one of the largest cities in the Roman Empire. It consisted of many nationalities and religions. Antioch was one of the first places where the good news of Jesus was preached to the uncircumcised, the Gentiles. Many Gentiles from different backgrounds believed in Jesus. The new believers formed a church which became the base for the apostle Paul’s missionary travels.
In one situation, the apostle Paul resisted the apostle Peter to his face. Why? Because Peter, by his actions, left the impression of a two-tiered membership in the church. There were the noble Jews who believed in Jesus, and then… Well… There were the others who believed in Jesus.
Peter had enjoyed fellowship with the Gentiles and ate with them. But when a group of Jews came from Jerusalem to visit Antioch, Peter withdrew and separated himself from the Gentiles, for fear of what the Jews would say. The rest of the Jews started playing along with Peter in his hypocrisy. Even Barnabas, Paul’s helper, was carried away by the lie.
The apostle Paul sets Peter straight with the truth of the gospel. Men and women, no matter the background, are justified by faith in Christ. All who believe are fully accepted by God and are accepted equally. At God’s table, He removes all ethnic and social barriers in our fellowship in Christ. Is this so in our fellowship and at our tables? Are we living by the truth of the gospel?
Suggestions for prayer
Thank God for how He continues to gather His church out of all nations. Pray that God will remove residual pride we may have because of our social rank or birth. May God help us to express this in our fellowship with one another.
Rev. Tony Zekveld currently serves as missionary-pastor in the Hope Congregation in East Brampton, Ontario, sent by Covenant Christian Church (URCNA) of Wyoming, Ontario. Rev. Zekveld and his wife, Arley-Ann, have five children and, so far, eight grandchildren. This daily devotional is also available in a print edition you can buy at Nearer to God Devotional.