Thursday 17 March 2022

Bible Book:

On the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel for the uncircumcised just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel for the circumcised …. they gave to Barnabas and me the right hand of fellowship. (vs 7 & 9)

Galatians 2:1-14 Thursday 17 March 2022

Psalm 102:12-28


In this passage we see for the first time the real issue between Paul and his co-workers and the Judaean apostles brought out into the open. Circumcision was for Jews a sign of the covenant between Abraham and God. It was a question of identity for Jews, in the first century AD, just as it is now. As we live in a time where ‘identity’ has become a major issue we can empathise with this passage perhaps more than with others.

Identity is a question of a person knowing who they are, who else is in ‘your’ group and perhaps, more significantly who is not in your group. As soon as Gentiles began to become followers of the Jesus Way, for Jewish Christians the question of identity markers became critical. There were a number of ‘identity markers’ - questions around food and shared eating, for example. However, the issue became focused on circumcision – the clearest of the markers.

This passage speaks of Paul’s second visit to Jerusalem where he went in response to a revelation from God and told the Jerusalem apostles of the gospel he was preaching. They came to an agreement about a division of labour – Peter and the apostles to circumcised, Paul and his co-workers to the uncircumcised. All agreed to help providing for the poor.

However, when Peter visited Antioch, Paul accused him of hypocrisy because he decided to separate himself from eating with Gentiles in order not to disturb his relationship with the Jews. This type of inconsistency was not acceptable to Paul – putting on a mask or acting in another way just for respectability was a challenge to the gospel.


To Ponder:

  • How well do you think we are dealing with questions of identity in our multi-cultural and multi-ethnic congregations?
  • Can you think of examples from your own experience when the desire for respectability has trumped the demands of the gospel?


Almighty and all-knowing God, grant us discernment and wisdom to stand up for the values of the gospel. May we recognise that all of God’s children are loved and valued equally. Amen.

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