top of page

No More People Pleasing! (Galatians 2:11-21)

Galatians 2:11–21 - 11 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For prior to the coming of certain men from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to withdraw and hold himself aloof, fearing the party of the circumcision. 13 The rest of the Jews joined him in hypocrisy, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in the presence of all, “If you, being a Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how is it that you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews? 15 “We are Jews by nature and not sinners from among the Gentiles; 16 nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified. 17 “But if, while seeking to be justified in Christ, we ourselves have also been found sinners, is Christ then a minister of sin? May it never be! 18 “For if I rebuild what I have once destroyed, I prove myself to be a transgressor. 19 “For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God. 20 “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. 21 “I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.” 


What does today’s passage say?

In today's passage, Paul confronts Peter for acting hypocritically over table fellowship with Gentile believers (vv. 11-14). Previously, Peter had no issue eating with them. But when representatives from the Jerusalem church arrived, Peter withdrew out of fear of their view that Gentiles must fully convert to Judaism to belong to God's people. Peter's hypocrisy even temporarily swayed Barnabas. So, Paul called out Peter publicly, saying his behavior wrongly implied works contribute to justification alongside faith, separating Jewish and Gentile believers in contradiction to the true gospel (vv. 15-17). Paul declared that removing human distinctions like ethnicity or religious background best honors Christ's sacrifice. Genuine faith unites believers to Jesus in His death and resurrection, supernaturally transforming them to live righteously (vv. 18-21).


How can I apply Galatians 2:11-21 to my life?

Paul confronts Cephas (Peter) for hypocritical behavior that compromised core gospel truths. This account reminds us that believing the gospel correctly is no substitute for living it out consistently. All disciples of Jesus must guard against the dichotomy of professing spiritual realities yet practicing the opposite - hypocrisy. Although facing temptations to compromise, believers are called to match righteous words with righteous deeds through the Spirit’s empowerment. Contextual pressures must not undermine our displaying the gospel’s reconciling power to a divided world. As modern followers of Christ, examining this confrontation and its underlying principles helps us in avoiding similar pitfalls today. Rather than growing discouraged when seeing leaders stumble, we can humbly pray for them while we evaluate our own lives. Here are some basic principles from this passage that we should apply to our lives:

1.     Avoid Hypocrisy by Living According to the Gospel (vv. 11-14): When Peter withdrew from eating with Gentile Christians to pacify the Jewish Christians from Jerusalem who still held to the idea that circumcision was a requirement to be saved, he betrayed core gospel convictions previously professed and practiced. His hypocrisy even led Barnabas astray, provoking Paul’s sharp rebuke. Believers today must likewise ensure our conduct aligns with closely held biblical truth, guarding against hypocrisy which divides the body and hurts the Christian witness of the church. Though facing external pressures to condone prejudice, the gospel compels embracing all equally. Authentic gospel living fosters welcoming diverse believers as one spiritual family, disregarding fleshly distinctions. It requires nurturing unity amidst differences, equally valuing each member’s contribution to Christ’s body. We must not cluster exclusively according to personal preferences, ostracizing others to obtain religious approval. Following Jesus’ example, we ought to champion inclusion, hospitality, and empathy. As grace-transformed beneficiaries, may we shine light into darkness by living out reconciliation, spurring others to encounter the cross’s radical power. This aligns word and deed, and does away with hypocrisy (John 13:34-35, Acts 10:28, 2 Corinthians 5:16-19).

Food for Thought: Are any aspects of my life misrepresenting core biblical beliefs I profess? How can our church tear down walls between groups and cultivate gospel-centered unity?

2.     Know That Justification Comes Through Faith in Christ, Not Works (vv. 15-17): Paul's blunt correction of Cephas highlights an essential Christian truth: no one gains right standing before God by religious works or law-keeping, only through wholehearted faith in Jesus. Even Peter as a Jew was not made righteous by his heritage or spiritual resume. Jews and Gentiles alike must trust in Christ's atoning sacrifice to be justified, not personal merit or good deeds. Paul stresses that pursuing acceptance via legal obedience actually leads us away from depending on God’s grace in Christ Himself. Regardless of background, all redeemed sinners are justified identically: turning from sin and clinging in belief to the Savior's flawless life, sacrificial death, and triumphant resurrection victory. Followers of Jesus today must remain vigilant against subtly drifting toward a performance-based salvation mentality. We contribute zero to our justification besides the rebellion that makes it necessary; righteousness is a gift received by faith, not wages earned through effort. As beneficiaries of God's matchless grace, our obedience flows from salvation rather than qualifying us for it. We walk rightly to magnify our Rescuer, not secure rescue. May perpetual praise for justification by faith alone keep us from wandering down the fruitless path of legalism (Ephesians 2:8-9, Romans 3:20-24, Galatians 5:1-6).

Food for Thought: Does spiritual pride sometimes surface when I compare my walk with others? What friend can I build up this week by emphasizing justification by faith, not personal effort?

3.     Genuine Love for and Faith in Christ Compels Us to Righteous Living (vv. 18-21): Paul explains that truly embracing justification by faith does not promote unrighteousness. Rather, genuine love for and gratitude towards Christ transform one's deepest motives and empower righteous living. The same gospel that declares us righteous also renews us inwardly by uniting us with Jesus in His death and resurrection. As we fix our eyes on the enormity of Christ's sacrifice, sin loses its grip over us. We joyfully dedicate all that we are and have to the One whose boundless grace liberated us from legalistic religion. All believers must guard against using salvation as a license to sin. While good works play no role in gaining justification, the faith that justifies also sanctifies from within. Those changed by amazing grace yearn to honor their Redeemer. We do not obey to qualify for divine favor but because we already stand approved in the Beloved. Our obedience serves as a testimony to others that although once enslaved to selfish passions, we now gladly serve a Risen King and submit freely to His Lordship. May profound awe at Calvary’s cross always compel our steps into righteous paths (Titus 2:11-14, 1 Peter 1:13-19, 1 John 4:19).

Food for Thought: Do those around me see evidence that grace has transformed my priorities and passions? What area of obedience do I need grace to practice this week not legalistically but freely out of love?

Today's passage confronts problems that still challenge churches today - ranking people by human labels, suspicions between groups, hypocrisy, and legalism. All local fellowships of believers should pursue gospel-centered diversity that welcomes any background fully, downplaying distinctions. When Christians dishonor core principles like justification by faith alone, it weakens public witness and fosters division. Scripture envisions redeemed people from every tongue and nation blending voices in a chorus of praise, not spectators but participants in Christ's unfolding kingdom. By God's grace, may we align beliefs and actions to proclaim and demonstrate the harmonizing message of the cross to a fractured world for God's praise.



Dear Heavenly Father,

I pray that You would give me grace to live according to the gospel I proclaim. Expose any hypocrisy in my life and grant me courage to confess it openly. Sever any tendency to consider myself superior based on religious performance. Anchor my identity in being Your beloved child through faith alone. Deliver me from legalism or basing acceptance on outward standards. Produce vibrant unity across ethnic, cultural, and economic barriers within our church by the Spirit's power. Crucify my fleshly nature and create in me a heart motivated by love for You that overflows in joyful obedience.

I pray these things in the most precious name of Jesus, Amen.


Galatians 2:20 - “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”



With His Blessings,

Pastor Corby

0 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page