The Berean Expositor
Volume 51 - Page 30 of 181
Index | Zoom
had to face Peter publicly and rebuke him, regrettable though this was, and once more
make a public declaration of the truth of the gospel.
From verse 15 to the end of the chapter, there follows a passage of close theological
argument, anticipating chapters 3: and 4: We have a problem like that which meets us
often in John's gospel, in deciding where Paul's words to Peter end and his argument
relating to the truth for the benefit of the Galatian begins.
Probably the whole section was delivered to Peter and the believers present, for all of
it related to the pressing problem of the moment. Paul remonstrates with Peter by
reminding him, that although he was a Jew by birth and hedged in by the food restrictions
of the law, yet now, under God's instruction, he fully shared meals with Gentile
believers. Then, through fear he withdraws and puts up the barrier again:
"When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to
Peter in front of them all, you are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew.
How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?" (Gal. 2: 14, N.I.V.).
"For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor" (2: 18).
Not only was Peter's action undoing what God had taught him in Acts 10:, but it could
be construed that works and law-keeping were necessary for acceptance with God. But
the Lord Jesus, in His earthly ministry had made it clear that He had not come for people
who thought themselves to be righteous, but for sinners who needed repentance
(Matt.ix.13). And later on, Paul, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, was going to
declare that "there is none righteous, no, not one", and that "all have sinned, and come
short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3: 11, 23). Consequently he continued by saying to
"Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus
Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of
Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law shall no flesh be
justified" (2: 16).
Justification by faith in Christ was at the heart of the gospel which had been
committed to the Apostle Paul. In English we can express "justification" by the word
"righteousness", but it is important to remember that there is no such distinction in the
Greek word or its derivatives. "Just" and "righteous" are similar in thought. A righteous
being, as God uses the term, is one that has never sinned once in thought, word or deed
and is therefore perfect inside as well as outside. It should be obvious that no such being
has walked this earth since the fall of Adam (Psa. 143: 2), with the exception of One,
Who is God manifest in the flesh.
All this and more is developed in Romans written later. What is the meaning of "the
faith of Christ"? This could be construed as an objective genitive and be rendered "faith
in Christ" as the R.V. and many modern translations. On the other hand faith is often
used as the equivalent of faithfulness, and then the constant faithfulness and
unchangeability of the redeeming work of the Lord Jesus would be the basis of
justification rather than the believers' faith in Him. Both are of course true and can be