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Galatians 2:11-16 Study Guide


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Galatians 2:11-16

11 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. 13 And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?”

Main Idea: Justification is by faith alone, not by observing the law.

Overview: This is one of the most tense and dramatic episodes in the New Testament. Two leading apostles of Jesus Christ come face to face in open conflict. The truth of the gospel is at stake. Here we see Peter’s hypocrisy when he changed his behavior out of fear of man. In response, Paul not only publicly rebukes Peter, but he also clarifies the essence of the gospel; that we are justified by faith in Jesus Christ and not by our works.

Observation and Interpretation

  • How were Peter’s actions not in line with the truth of the gospel? What impact did Peter’s hypocrisy have on others?
  • Paul reproved Peter publicly and directly? Why do you think he confronted Peter in this way? What does this say about Paul’s validity and authority as an apostle?
  • In Galatians 2:15-16, what is Paul’s definition of justification? What other verses can you think of that show that justification is by faith in Jesus Christ and not by works?


  • How does the fear of man cause you to get out of step with the gospel? Can you think of a time when you shrank back from what you knew to be true because of a particular circumstance or the people around you?
  • Why is it difficult to confront a brother or sister in Christ who is out of line with the gospel or living in hypocrisy? What are some specific principles of biblical confrontation from this passage?
  • We know and believe that justification comes only through faith in Jesus Christ and not by works. But in what ways are you tempted to trust in your works instead of in Christ alone?

Prayer Point: Spend some time asking God to reveal to you any way that you are out of step with the gospel. Acknowledge, repent and renounce that sin, then accept God’s forgiveness and thank God for making justification possible through Jesus Christ alone!

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