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Truth before Peace


But when Cephas [Peter] came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 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. The rest of the Jews joined him in hypocrisy, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy. 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?

“We are Jews by nature and not sinners from among the Gentiles; 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.”

—Galatians 2:11–16

Ryle draws “three great lessons” from this text. The first is Great ministers may make great mistakes. The second:

Preserving the truth of Christ in his church is even more important than keeping peace.


I suppose no man knew better the value of peace and unity than the Apostle Paul. He was the Apostle who wrote to the Corinthians about charity. He was the Apostle who said, ‘Be of the same mind one toward another’;&mdash’;Be at peace among yourselves’;&mdash’;Mind the same things’;&mdash’;The servant of God must not strive’;—’There is one body and there is one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism’. He was the Apostle who said, ‘I become all things to all men, that by all means I may save some’ (Rom. 12:16; 1 Thess. 5:13; Phil. 3:16; 2 Tim. 2:24; Eph. 4:4–5; 1 Cor. 9:22). Yet see how he acts here! He withstands Peter to the face. He publicly rebukes him. He runs the risk of all the consequences that might follow. He takes the chance of everything that might be said by the enemies of the church at Antioch. Above all, he writes it down for a perpetual memorial, that it never might be forgotten,—that, wherever the Gospel is preached throughout the world, this public rebuke of an erring- Apostle might be known and read of all men.

Now, why did he do this? Because he dreaded false doctrine,—because he knew that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump,—because he would teach us that we ought to contend for the truth jealously, and to fear the loss of truth more than the loss of peace.

—J. C. Ryle, Knots Untied (Banner of Truth, 2016), 414.

Posted 2017·07·13 by David Kjos
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