Galatians Chapter 2
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1 Then after an interval of fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along also. - Galatians 2:1

 

Barnabas, a Levite who became a Christian, Titus a Gentile who became a Christian. The present of these two that are accompanying Paul are the unwritten testimony of what Paul will say later in Galatians 3:28 where he states:

 

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. - Galatians 3:28

 

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. - Galatians 2:2

 

"Those who were of reputation." Verse 6 through 9 seem to show who the audience is. In verse 6 Paul describes those who were of "high reputation" and verse 7-9 introduce James, Cephas (Peter), and John. If this is in regard to the very similar events in Act 15:2 this meeting was to discuss what Paul has been writing to the Galatians about thus far, the issue of works & circumcision as a requirement of the gospel.

 

"I did so in private" Paul may have saught the meeting to be private to remove the peer pressure the Apostles were under by the Judaizers. Peter, for example, as we see later in Galatians withdrew from hanging out with the Gentiles "fearing the party of the circumcision" (v 2:12). This meeting with the Apostles can be found in Acts 15:1–6 which record the events surrounding and ultimately provoking this meeting.

 

15 Some men came down from Judea and began teaching the brethren, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” 2 And when Paul and Barnabas had great dissension and debate with them, the brethren determined that Paul and Barnabas and some others of them should go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and elders concerning this issue. 3 Therefore, being sent on their way by the church, they were passing through both Phoenicia and Samaria, describing in detail the conversion of the Gentiles, and were bringing great joy to all the brethren. 4 When they arrived at Jerusalem, they were received by the church and the apostles and the elders, and they reported all that God had done with them. 5 But some of the sect of the Pharisees who had believed stood up, saying, “It is necessary to circumcise them and to direct them to observe the Law of Moses.”

The apostles and the elders came together to look into this matter.

 

"for fear that I might be running, or had run, in vain." - Paul was concerned that his going to these brothers to debate the issue of a perverted, works demanding gospel, would be fruitless and get no where. He was concerned that this leaven that leavens the whole lump of dough (Gal. 5:9) had permiated even those who were of "high reputation" and his trying to reason with them would be in vain.

 

In the next verse Paul however shares with the Galatians that it was not in vain. Reporting to them regarding their brother Titus.

 

3 But not even Titus, who was with me, though he was a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised. - Galatians 2:3

 

Looking back at Acts 15, 1-11, The debate originally included a much larger group of those under the flag of Christianity. This included a "sect of the Pharisses" (Acts 15:5) who were perverting the gospel as Paul put it, this sect was claiming that "It is necessary to circumcise them and to direct them to observe the Law of Moses." The group then meets privately (Acts 15:6) including only the Apostles and elders to "look into this matter".

 

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. - Galatians 2:4

 

Those that would try to put a yoke on you requiring works as part of salvation are false brethren. Acts 15:10 Peter addresses such brethren head on.

 

After there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brethren, you know that in the early days God made a choice among you, that by my mouth the Gentiles would hear the word of the gospel and believe. 8 And God, who knows the heart, testified to them giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He also did to us; 9 and He made no distinction between us and them, cleansing their hearts by faith. 10 Now therefore why do you put God to the test by placing upon the neck of the disciples a yoke which neither our fathers nor we have been able to bear? 11 But we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they also are.” - Acts 15:7-11

 

"spy out our liberty".

 

All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify. - 1 Cor. 10:23

 

All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything. 1 Cor. 6:12

 

It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. Gal 5:1

 

For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. Gal 5:13

 

You are under grace and not under the obligations of any law. Christ having fulfilled the law on our behalf then bestows this fulfillment on all who are in Him. Therefore we meet all the legal requirements of the law and we are no longer under it's bondage but we are free. As Paul writes it is indeed true, all things are lawful for us. Let that sink in. You who are in Christ are free to do anything.

 

HOWEVER not all things are profitable. Yes you can't out sin the grace of God but because you have such freedom should you abuse it? No. If you truly have an appreciate of what Christ has done for you than you should be disgusted at the idea of abusing so great a gift seeing it as a mere license to sin. Paul in Romans 5, having elaborated on the wonderful gift of liberty we have in Christ; Paul, anticipating certain people in viewing such liberty as a license to sin addresses such a person head on in Romans 6:1

 

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? 2 May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? - Romans 6:1

 

The truth of the matter is you are free. However in this freedom which comes from so great a gift as the grace found in Jesus Christ and His finished work on the cross the receipient should be provoked not out of obligation but out of appreciation and admiration to use that freedom to choose God, to seek His kingdom, to be compelled to do according to His will. This freedom should not be an opportunity for the flesh, as Galatians 5:13 states but rather, in love, should provoke you to serve one another.

 

But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter. - Rom. 7:6

 

"in order to bring us into bondage" (Gal. 2:4). The opposite of liberty. In Galatians 5:1 Paul calls it a yoke of slavery. Peter, in Acts 15:10, calls it an unbearable yoke.

 

Works often feel good. They are a nice illusion to those with limited view. The world based system of works of which we are all familiar feels good when we view it with worldly eyes. In God's eyes however it's quite contrary, the notion that works is somehow required as part of our salvation or even our sanctification is extremely ugly. It mocks what Jesus Christ has done and as Galatians 5:4-6 puts it, it once again crucifies the Lord Jesus Christ by once again putting him on the cross.

 

While works looks pretty it's actually quite ugly. Because it looks good we not only tolerate it in our church we give attaboys for it. Forgetting that at our best we've only done what is required of us (Luke 17:10). We admonish eachother on how God will be obligated to bless us because of our works. I'm not saying God doesn't bless us in our works, I'm saying our works will in no way earn His blessing. If we truely want to judge these blessings based on how we scratched God's back and therefore He will be obligated to scratch our back then you are forgetting the debt which you owed before the cross, that is what the law demanded of you, and after the cross, that is how Christ has already done far more for you than you can ever come close to repaying. If you are going by the back scratch analogy, and I speak in foolishness, you have a never ending yoke of paying God back for what He's done for you so by that measurement why would you think God ever owes you anything.

 

Not only should we not welcome legalism in our church, we should oppose it. Such a person Paul describes as false teachers, false brethren (Gal. 2:4) who are to be accursed. (Gal 1:8-9). By letting such a person continue we are not only allowing their heracy to permiate and lead astray Christians, but we are condoning it.

 

You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. 5 For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness. 6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love. - Gal. 5:4-6

 

Paul and the other Apostles quickly put a stop to such false teaching for the sake of their congregation.

 

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. - Gal. 2:5

 

Even Peter and Barnabas weren't exempt from this much needed correction. As Paul goes into next even Peter who was yielding to his fear of "the party of the circumcision" (Gal. 2:11) was rebuked right away when it was seen by Paul that they weren't being straightforward about the truth of the gospel. (Gal. 2:14). Galatians 2:13 says that in this perversion "even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy". Stop the leaven before he permiates. (Gal. 5:9, 1 Cor. 5:6).

 

But from those who were of high reputation (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—well, those who were of reputation contributed nothing to me. Galatians 2:6

 

"God shows no partiality" While the fact they had a high reputation Paul acknowledges but he understands it in God's eyes that God shows no partiality. While these may be honored among men God is not partial to them giving them favortism over another.

 

"contributed nothing to me" They had nothing to add to the gospel of grace already revealed to Paul through a revelation of Jesus Christ. (Gal. 1:12).

 

7 But on the contrary, seeing that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been to the circumcised 8 (for He who effectually worked for Peter in his apostleship to the circumcised effectually worked for me also to the Gentiles), 9 and recognizing the grace that had been given to me, James and Cephas and John, who were reputed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, so that we might go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. - Gal. 2:7-9

 

The other Apostles recognized the grace given to Paul from God and by that fruit recognized Paul as a fellow; that he was one of like mindedness sharing the same Holy Spirit as they, shining with the same light of Christ.

 

They only asked us to remember the poor—the very thing I also was eager to do. - Galatians 2:10

 

"They only asked" They fully recognized Paul as being an Apostle and entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumsized similarly to how Peter had been to the circumsized (v.7). That foundation was established. Apart from that they entreated Paul to remember the poor not as a legal requirement but because they were provoked by the goodness of God, who as Paul said, "shows no partiality". It's interesting the contrast this brings up. The debate so far had been on whether or not there were inherit legal demands of the gospel, on what people could do to merit the favor of God. Now, on the contrary, the deciples here who had been entrusted with the true gospel, the gospel of grace, were compelled to go to those who had nothing to give back as they were poor.

 

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