Paul Confronted Peter
“I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20
Peter—one of Jesus’ original disciples—had grown up in a culture where the Jews believed that God only cared about them, not the Gentiles or non-Jews. Most of the Jews looked down on the Gentiles and refused to even associate with them because Jews believed Gentiles were unclean; Gentiles didn’t live the right way to please God. Any Jew who did associate with Gentiles did so at the risk of being ridiculed by his own people.
After Jesus’ resurrection and ascension, God shared with Peter that He loved not only the Jews, but the Gentiles as well. (Acts 10:9-16) Peter took to heart this message from God and began associating with Gentiles, even eating with Gentile believers. That is, until some Jewish believers came around. When he was among Jews, Peter did not eat with the Gentiles and even told them they were supposed to follow certain Jewish laws. But he knew that was not true! Peter also led Barnabas, known for encouraging believers and bringing them together, into acting the same way.
When the apostle Paul learned about this, he confronted Peter in person. Paul reminded Peter that they both knew that God accepts people not based on how they live but by faith. (Rom. 3:21-22) Peter’s actions contradicted that core gospel message.
Paul shared this story with the believers in Galatia (a major province of Rome in modern Turkey) to remind them—and us—of the same truth. Salvation is not based on ethnicity or external obedience to the law. Salvation comes from faith in Jesus Christ, a faith that is freely available to people of every tongue, tribe, and nation.
Peter was wrong to separate himself from the Gentiles. The gospel is for everyone, and we should show love to everyone. Paul reminded Peter that only Jesus can save people from sin. God accepts people who have faith in Jesus, not people who try to earn salvation on their own.
As you talk to your kids this week, encourage them not to wonder if they have what it takes to be saved. Salvation is found in Jesus. Remind them that because God loves all people, we—in Jesus—can love all people too.
Check this session’s Activity Page and Big Picture Card as well as the Gospel Project for Kids Family App for ways to interact with the Bible content this week.
BIG PICTURE QUESTION:
- Why does God want us to obey Him? We obey because God loves us.
BIBLE STORY: PAUL CONFRONTED PETER
- Paul told a story about something Peter did.
- Peter made the Gentiles think they had to follow the special rules that Jews followed.
- Paul told Peter following rules does not save people.
- Paul wrote that we are saved through Jesus alone.
FAMILY DISCUSSION STARTERS:
- Why was it wrong for Peter to not eat with the Gentile believers?
- What did Paul tell Peter about following the rules?
- What do the rules show us?
- Make up a new rule. When someone breaks the rule, point out how hard it is to keep rules.
- Invite a family different from yours to your home for a meal. Celebrate that God has the same gospel for all people.