I’ve heard repeatedly that the teaching Paul got in trouble for over and over about was preaching that Jesus was the Messiah and that Paul never preached freedom from the Law. And I have heard it was that teaching, not teaching freedom from the Law, that had the Jewish leaders angry with him. However, Galatians would say otherwise.
1 Then after an interval of fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along also. 2 It was because of a revelation that I went up; and I submitted to them the gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but I did so in private to those who were of reputation, for fear that I might be running, or had run, in vain. 3 But not even Titus, who was with me, though he was a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised. 4 But it was because of the false brethren secretly brought in, who had sneaked in to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, in order to bring us into bondage. 5 But we did not yield in subjection to them for even an hour, so that the truth of the gospel would remain with you.
If in place of the gospel teaching you insert “Jesus as the Messiah”, it makes no sense. What does Jesus being the Messiah have to do with Titus’ decision not to be circumcised. And all the talk about liberty in Christ vs. being brought back into bondage: none of that makes any sense if the topic of heated debate was Jesus as the long-awaited Messiah.
What makes sense, however, is to insert the “freedom from the Law” as what was being taught. That fits perfectly.
11 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 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. 13 The rest of the Jews joined him in hypocrisy, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in the presence of all, “If you, being a Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how is it that you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?
Similarly, in this passage above, Peter (Cephas) eating with Gentiles is so far removed from a debate of Jesus being the Messiah and so closely linked with freedom from the Law (specifically food laws).
11 Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, “The righteous man shall live by faith.” 12 However, the Law is not of faith; on the contrary, “He who practices them shall live by them.”
6 And without faith it is impossible to please Him…
The Law is “not of faith” and “without faith” we cannot please God.
These passages speak clearly of freedom from the Law being taught by Paul. He also taught Jesus as Messiah. But he did not stop there. He clarified what it means to live under the new covenant under the constraints of a living Spirit instead of a written Law. Following the Law will lead you into bondage. Follow the Spirit where He leads, and in faith, and you will please God.