Though Peter’s failures before Christ’s death are well-known, his later public failure as a Church leader while visiting the city of Antioch has been memorialized by God in Scripture as well! (See Galatians 2:11-21) Peter prayed for Samaritans and preached to Gentiles - even standing up at the Jerusalem Council to fight for Gentiles (non-Jews) to be welcomed into the Church by their faith and not by their obedience to the Law of Moses. Yet, Peter - along with Barnabas (his nickname, given by the apostles, meaning “Son of Encouragement”), refused to associate with their non-Jewish Christian brothers when some strict Jewish Christians came to Antioch from Jerusalem. Paul publicly rebuked both Peter and Barnabas (who had befriended Paul when nobody believed Paul was a Christian!) for their religious and racial hypocrisy. Their wrong dealings in Antioch were dishonest in light of Gospel truth, and their actions were emotionally hurtful to Christians of another ethnicity. Paul called them out for hypocrisy, yet Peter and Barnabas are two of the most important heroes of the early Church!
How might church history have gone differently had these two leaders been disregarded by the Church simply for this incident of hypocritical behavior? Would we just cut off someone (a church leader, no less!) who similarly didn’t “practice what they preached”?
How mature were the early Christians that they would confront and resolve hypocrisy rather than gossip and divide over it?
How courageous, honest, and godly were Paul, Peter, and Barnabas that they could have this ugly public incident not affect their fellowship or their service to the Church? Do we have similar “Kingdom priorities”?