Galatians 2

Today we’re scheduled to read Galatians 2.

In our earlier readings from Acts we noted the tensions that began when God saved Gentiles and gave them the same spiritual status as the Jewish believers in Jesus had. Here in the book of Galatians, Paul is urging the churches he started in this region not to succumb to the teaching of the “Judaizers.” This is a name given to a group of people who claimed faith in Jesus but insisted that all Christians conform to Jewish law.

In this chapter Paul recounts his own first hand struggles as a Christian against the idea that Christians must obey the law. Peter recognized Paul as a genuine believer (v. 9b) and Peter and the other apostles also recognized the commission of Christ to Paul to take the gospel to the Gentiles (vv. 7, 9c). Yet Peter himself struggled at times to act “in line with the truth of the gospel.” (v. 14b). Sometimes Peter acted as if his Jewish background didn’t matter and blended right in with the Gentile believers (v. 12a). But when there were Jewish believers around, Peter feared their judgment and segregated himself from the Gentile believers (v. 12b). This was hypocrisy (v. 13a) and Paul spoke to Peter directly about it.

The point of this chapter is to emphasize the implications of the gospel. If Jesus really has fulfilled the law of God and if we are justified simply by believing in him, then it is wrong to add any religious or moral works as requirements for salvation. But a secondary lesson in this passage has to do with Peter’s hypocrisy. Despite how much Jesus loved Peter, taught him, and entrusted to him as an apostle, Peter was still human. He was still subject to fear about the opinions of others and, therefore, still susceptible to hypocrisy. Yet, despite his status as an apostle, Peter had the humility to receive Paul’s correction. Let none of us, then, think that we are above or beyond the correcting power of truth. We remain sinners until Jesus glorifies us finally, so let’s be ready to accept correction and grow from it when we are corrected with the truth.

Numbers 29, Psalm 73, Isaiah 21, 2 Peter 2

If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: Numbers 29, Psalm 73, Isaiah 21, 2 Peter 2. Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can't do all the readings today, read Psalm 73.

Is it really worth it to follow God? If you’ve ever asked that question, you identify with Asaph’s song here in Psalm 73. He begins by affirming God’s goodness to those who are righteous (v. 1) but then contrasts how he nearly lost his faith (v. 2). The problem was his envy toward those who lived sinful lives and yet seemed to prosper (vv. 3-12). In that long section of verses, Asaph describes a distorted perspective on those who are sinful. They have it all—health (vv. 4-5), confidence (v. 6), all the fun that sin can offer (vv. 7-8), the fawning attention of others (vv. 10-11), and an ever-expanding bank account (v. 12). 

If you saw all of that, and had none of it yourself, you’d wonder if you were doing life wrong just as Asaph did (vv. 13-16). So what kept him from turning away from everything he believed and the life he had always lived? Verse 17: “till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny.” It was God’s revelation that saved Asaph’s faith and his morality. When he heard God’s promises of judgment explained in the tabernacle, then he had the right perspective and the motivation to keep following God (vv. 18-20). 

What was the result of the correcting power of God’s word? Repentance (vv. 21-22) which led to a renewed love for God and appreciation for his grace. Asaph realized that God was always with him, always holding him (v. 23). He learned that God would give him wisdom to live well in this life (v. 24a) and then would bring him into eternal life (v. 24b). Understanding this gave him a deeper thirst to know and love God (vv. 24-28). These words are so encouraging, so powerful to stimulate my emotions: “Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever…. as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds” (vv. 25-26, 28).

This passage reminds us how easily our perspective gets distorted. We maximize our own pain and struggle in our minds while simultaneously concluding that everyone else has a perfect, carefree life and can do whatever they want. This is why we need the nourishment of God’s word and instruction in it as often as possible. Not only do we learn more about God but God’s word corrects our focus and reminds us of the eternal perspective we need to keep on following Christ, even when things get hard.

Now for your thoughts: What stood out in your Bible reading for today? What questions do you have about what you read? What are your thoughts about what I wrote above? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page And, feel free to answer and interact with the questions and comments of others. Have a great day; we'll talk scripture again tomorrow.