But when I saw that they were deviating from the truth of the gospel, I told Cephas in front of everyone, "If you, who are a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you compel Gentiles to live like Jews?"Galatians 2:14(HCSB)
The glorious gospel of salvation, by grace through faith in the sacrificial death and wonderful Resurrection of the Lord Jesus, should delight the worst of sinners. He paid the price for our sin on the Cross. He freed us from the curse of the Law which shows that the wages of sin is death. Christ died to pay the price for our sin so that we do not need to die to pay the price for our sin. He paid it ALL and He ROSE from the dead so that by faith in Him, we may also rise to life immortal.
However, in those early days of the Church, there was much opposition to the truth. Before the New Testament had even been penned, Galatia was a hotbed of apostate teaching, filled with Judaisers who opposed the legitimate, God-ordained ministry of Paul and the liberating gospel of grace. They even tried to tether Christian truth back into the Law of Moses.
So pervasive was this false, Judaistic encroachment into Christian teaching, that even Peter and other Jewish Christians, were influenced by its deceptive qualities and had to be openly challenged by Paul: "As soon as I saw they were not walking uprightly in the spirit of the Good News, I said to Peter, before them all, 'If you, though you are a Jew, live as a Gentile does, and not as a Jew, how can you make the Gentiles follow Jewish customs?'"
It happened while Peter was visiting the Church in Antioch with some Church elders from Jerusalem. They were encouraged to revert back to their pre-Cross, Jewish customs. They withdrew themselves from the company of Gentile believers and even refused to eat with them. This was the antithesis of the gospel they were called to teach, where there is neither Jew nor Gentile but One New Man In Christ - One Body of people who trust in Christ's death and Resurrection for salvation.
As soon as Paul saw that they were not walking uprightly in the spirit of the gospel, he confronted them. He challenged Peter in front of them all, asking why they were reverting back to Jewish customs when they knew the Law was impossible to follow. "How can you Jewish believers make the Gentile Christians follow Jewish customs, when you are unable to keep them?" he asked.
Paul's commission to teach the gospel came directly from the glorified Jesus Christ on the Road to Damascus. His commission was equally authoritative as the other apostles of Christ and he was not intimidated by Peter or any of Christ's former disciples. Paul was prepared to challenge any area where they were straying from the truth of the gospel of God.
Paul may or may not have followed the correct 'protocol' given by Christ when admonishing an erring brother, i.e. to approach him in private before exposing him in public - as there is no record of this. However, there is no doubt that Paul was concerned that many other believers had quickly deviated from the truth. Paul quickly realised there was division in the Body of Christ, due to Peter's bad example, and Paul wisely addressed the disturbing behaviour of the older apostle because it was having such a negative impact on many members of the Church - both Jew and Gentile believers alike.
During Christ's ministry on earth, it was the gospel of the kingdom that was taught to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, but because they rejected their Messiah, the nation of Israel and the imminent gospel of the kingdom, was set aside. At that point, a new dispensation began - the gospel of the grace of God was taught by the Church - which is the Body of Christ. But many staunch Jews who believed in Christ, could not accept that the dispensation of the Law with its Aaronic priesthood, sacrificial offerings, male circumcision, and Sabbath days, had been set aside and a new dispensation initiated. Many today continue to hold fast to this thinking and promote this unbiblical belief.
What a lesson to all of us to hold fast to the truth and not to be influenced away from the gospel of God! If Christ's chosen apostles could so easily be swayed into compromising the gospel, how much more should we earnestly desire to stand firm on the Word of truth in these closing days of the Christian era. How important it is, to study the Word of God and not to deviate from the gospel of grace so that we are approved unto God and not ashamed when we stand before Him.
Heavenly Father, keep me mindful of the truth of Your Word, and prevent me from being influenced away from the truth of the gospel into any erroneous teachings. Guide me into all truth and help me to become increasingly familiar with the glorious gospel of grace, that Christ died and rose again according to the Scripture, as the sacrificial offering for sin. Help me to be vigilant in testing the teachings of others. Help me to search the Scriptures daily to see if I am holding fast to the truth of Your Word and not compromising Scripture, or deviating into legalism or some other deviant doctrine. Give me a teachable spirit and lead me in the path of righteousness, for His name's sake. This I ask in Jesus' name, AMEN.