“Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage” (Galatians 5:1).
At first glance, Galatians 5:1 may seem to represent little more than an encouragement to pursue liberty in Christ. But those with a knowledge of the New Testament Scriptures may notice something familiar in the phrase, “…do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.”
You see, this same imagery appeared earlier in the book of Acts by way of the following question: “…why are you testing God by placing a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we have been able to endure?” (Acts 15:10 AMP). The Apostle Peter spoke those words as he addressed a council that met to consider the question of circumcision and its relationship to salvation.
Yet this was the same Peter who had earlier been reprimanded by Paul the Apostle for his hypocritical attitude towards the non-Jewish Christians of Antioch (see Galatians 2:11). Despite this, Paul echoed Peter’s theme from the book of Acts here in Galatians 5:1- and his example offers an important reminder for God’s people today.
You see, Peter was a fisherman while Paul was an educated intellectual. Peter was impetuous; he was prone to speak without thinking and sometimes failed to consider the potential consequences of his actions. On the other hand, Paul was studious, forthright, and encouraged his readers to consider the ramifications of his message.
Peter once misinterpreted his leadership role and was rebuked for it. Paul seemingly had no such issues. Peter was reprimanded for caring too much about what others thought of him. Paul cared very little in that regard. Nevertheless, it seems that both men recognized the others’ calling despite these differences.
This is something that is important to remember as we interact with other members of Jesus’ family. Just because others may differ in character and personality doesn’t necessarily mean they are wrong. Peter and Paul were very different but they were both led by the same Holy Spirit. This allowed Paul to borrow from Peter’s sermon in Acts while Peter said the following in defense of Paul…
“Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom that God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction” (2 Peter 3:15-16 NIV).