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One Gospel, Uncompromised


But when Cephas 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. . . . when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel . . .

—Galatians 2:11–14

So Paul rebuked and corrected Peter. John MacArthur writes,


It was not a disagreement about the substance of the gospel message. The problem, rather, was that Peter was “not straightforward about the truth of the gospel” (Gal. 2:14). . . .

—John MacArthur, The Gospel according to Paul (Thomas Nelson, 2017), 7.

Peter wasn’t preaching a false or compromised gospel himself; he was merely accommodating those who did, to avoid offense. But that was a thin distinction, one that Paul apparently did not recognize.

Paul’s point in recording this incident is not to embarrass or belittle Peter, but to defend the integrity of the gospel. The soundness of the gospel is infinitely more important than the dignity and prestige of even the most eminent apostles—including Paul himself. . . .

Paul himself might have said the surest way to twist Scripture to one’s own destruction is by altering the gospel—or even by passively tolerating those who preach a modified gospel. He strictly cautioned readers to beware “if (someone) preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted” (2 Cor. 11:4). He said alternative gospels are rooted in the same brand of deception the serpent used to deceive Eve (v. 3).

So this theme reverberates throughout Paul’s inspired epistles: there is only one gospel.

—Ibid., 7–8.

What would Paul say if he visited us today? Would he overlook our admiration of authors whose wit, eloquence, sincerity, and passion lead us to wink at their heretical views of justification, atonement, the after-life, etc.? Would he smile indulgently at the songs we sing about a god that exists only in the imaginations of emotion-driven mystics? Peter was no heretic. He was an apostle, part of an elite group of men hand-picked by our Lord himself, of which, in all of history, there are only twelve. He was the one upon whose confession Christ declared, “I will build my church.” If Paul was compelled to rebuke a man of such stature, can we expect less?

Posted 2018·06·21 by David Kjos
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Posted in: John MacArthur · The Gospel according to Paul

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