Paul opposes Peter. Oh my, two of the greatest leaders of the Christian Church are opposing each other? Is this the first break up of the Christian Church into denominations before it really gets going? It obviously was not, but like all verses in the Bible it gives us insight as to how we should live.
God bless Peter. Peter who makes several mistakes that are documented in the New Testament is a person that can still rise to be the first Pope of the Christian Church. The fact that God can use Peter, with all of his faults (denies Christ three times after the last supper and is reprimanded by Paul in today's verses for supporting division between Jews and Gentiles), in such an important way gives hope to me that God can use me, faults and all, to further His will too.
Let's look at the way Paul reprimands Peter in today's reading. Sometimes sincere Christians, even Christian leaders, make mistakes. It can take other sincere Christians to get these people back on track. Paul shows us how we should confront another believer if we feel they are off base. We should confront that person directly, face to face. There is no place for backstabbing in the body of Christ.
In Paul's confrontation with Peter, verse 16, to me, is so powerful. In it Paul uses the word justified which means to declare righteous. Paul says, "a man is not justified by observing the law." What Paul means by this is justification is by faith in Jesus Christ and not by following the Jewish law. The opponents to this message argue that if people are not following the law then they are free to sin. In other words, someone could say they are a follower of Jesus but then live as they wish. But as we know, and as Father Rob pointed out in his sermon last Sunday, to follow Christ means to live a life that Christ wants us to live. To have full faith in Jesus, one must walk the talk. One must demonstrate the actions of Christ through one's actions.
Paul walks the talk. And fortunately for us, so does Peter most of the time.
Wishing you the best in your walk with Christ,