Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Preservation of the Truth of the Gospel

Galatians 2:6
  • And from those who seemed to be influential (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality) - those, I say, who seemed influential added nothing to me.

Paul met Peter, James and John when he came to Jerusalem to discuss with them about the gospel.

It is quite surprising how Paul makes a statement that those influential apostles of Jesus made no difference to him, because Paul himself received apostleship from Jesus and preserved the true gospel of Jesus. Paul preached the gospel to Gentiles, and it was confirmed by the Lord Himself and the Holy Spirit bore witness to it.

Additionally, Paul says that Peter, James and John, though they were influential added nothing to Paul because he preached the true gospel and lived out the true gospel in his own life. Rather, Peter displayed his hypocrisy as in Galatians 2:11-14

  • But when Cephas (Peter) came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 
  • For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. 
  • And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. 
  • But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?” 

 So Paul agrees that Peter (Cephas), James and John were influential. However, whether they were influential or not, the more important issue was the preservation of the truth of the gospel. Peter erred in the instance above. He acted hypocritically.

Therefore, let us learn to preserve the truth of gospel through our belief in it, manifested in our conduct as well. And also, let us seek the truth of the gospel rather than fame and influence in this world. When we seek the truth of the gospel, we may even become famous and influential just as Peter and Paul were.

"God shows no partiality"

Paul reiterates in this statement that the apostleship, ability, gift and influence were all given to the apostles by the grace of God, rather than they were of their own.

God who worked in Peter, James and John also worked in Paul as well. Jesus shows no partiality.

1 Corinthians 12:11
  • All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and He distributes them to each one, just as he determines.

The implication is that in this day and age, we need to watch that our own hearts do not idolise famous, influential preachers, pastors and Christians around the world, or in the history of Christianity. We all need to focus on the truth of the gospel rather than men. If we idolise men, we may lose the focus of the truthfulness of the gospel, and we may even accept false theology from other Christians. 

Paul was clear in that he was obsessed with the truth of the gospel, which lead to his biblical discernment of seeing the fact that although Peter may have been more influential than Paul at the time, he could see Peter's hypocrisy when it was practiced right before Paul's eyes. And he was able to confront Peter for it.

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