Paul and Peter were ministering in Antioch together. No doubt some incredible times of storytelling and memories of Jesus while on earth. Then from out of nowhere a party from James and the church of Jerusalem shows up and begins to alter Peter and Barnabas’ conduct. How is my conduct altered by who is around me? How does that impact the gospel? How do I let others impact the gospel by impacting me? It is chilling to hear Paul say, “But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel.” This party had arrived and now Peter along with the other Jews are attempting to add things to the gospel in particular Jewish works. Paul is infuriated by this distortion of the gospel and immediately goes to providing a proper view of the gospel. Our strict obedience to the law is an attempt to win God’s approval and it’s a perilous attempt because faith in Jesus is only acceptable. Paul gives a theological smack down to Peter & Co. for willfully misrepresenting the good news of Jesus and making it void. If Jews were able to come to God through the law then the death of Christ was for no purpose. We are now in Christ not the law and we live by faith in Christ not by attempted obedience to the law.
How do parties attempt to add to the gospel? I’ve certainly watched people try to add translations to the gospel. I’ve seen individuals attempt to add dress styles to the gospel. I’ve seen people try and attach attendance to church events and service in those events to the gospel rather than a response to the good news of Jesus. Unfortunately, in some cases I altered my behavior as Peter and allowed these things to distort the gospel. It should be unacceptable to allow cultural milieu define the gospel. This can also be altered in the opposite direction when individuals attempt to dress cool and establish a style somehow attempting to connect it to the gospel.