Galatians 2:1-5 1 Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also. 2 And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain. 3 But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was[not] compelled to be circumcised: 4 And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage: 5 To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.
We have discussed on more than one occasion the idea of literary genre in the scriptures. One of the points that I made was that there are different rules that have to be utilized when studying the epistles versus narrative literature. As we pointed out, narrative literature tells a story. Therefore, in order to properly interpret narrative literature, the context of the story must be understood. Once the context of the story is understood, then the theology that God desires to communicate through the story can be properly understood.
What is interesting about this part of the epistle (letter) to the Galatians is that there is a narrative taking place. So we are dealing with a narrative within the epistle. Essentially, Paul is telling the story of how things progressed after his conversion. He explains that he was taught the truth of the Gospel through revelation. He has also explained that he had minimal contact with the original disciples for quite some time after his conversion.
In the portion we will cover tonight, he explains that he encountered the same group that is perverting the Gospel and turning the Galatians away from the truth on two previous occasions. The first occasion occurred in Jerusalem when Paul and Barnabas left Antioch and took Titus with them to see the disciples in Jerusalem. The second occurrence took place when these Judaizers came from Jerusalem to Antioch and caused trouble through Peter.
As always, in order to properly understand a narrative, you have to be familiar with the characters of the story. In addition, you also have to be aware to some extent about geography and time frames. Lastly, which should be obvious, the more overall context you have regarding the circumstances, the more you can understand what the story is communicating.
In this first portion of scripture, the important characters are Titus and the Judaizers. Essentially, you could say that the dispute or problem is centered upon this group and this individual Titus. Paul and Barnabas had been in Antioch doing ministry:
Acts 11:22-26Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch. 23 Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord. 24 For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord. 25 Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul: 26 And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.
So Paul and Barnabas are first hand seeing the Gentiles being converted to Jesus. And there are problems with some people in Jerusalem still going around saying that people must be circumcised and obey the Law in order to be saved:
Acts 15:1 And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.
Now, it is important for us to understand that any modern day preacher in his right mind would not teach something this ridiculous. However, let me say that the same spirit that was behind this lie then is alive and well and operating in the church today. It is called the spirit of legalism. Legalism states that something must be added to the work of Jesus. Some would say, "I would never fall prey to that because I know that you cannot do anything to be saved." But what they do not realize is that many preachers will present a message that teaches faith in Jesus for salvation, but a system of works in order to live for Him.
The same way we received him is the same way that we are to continue daily walking in Him:
Colossians 2:6 As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him:
With all this in mind, many scholars believe that Paul purposefully brought Titus to Jerusalem as a "test case" to see how the disciples would respond. In other words, Paul wanted to see if they really did believe that man is saved based on faith in Jesus Christ and Him Crucified alone.
We don't have time to cover it in detail here, but as you read the book of Acts, you will discover that Paul had another protege named Timothy whom he did encourage to be circumcised. At first glance, it would seem that Paul was double- minded. However, his reasons for reacting differently we're based on the context. In the case of Timothy, the purpose was to give them access to areas where only Jews could go in order to preach the Gospel. Timothy was half Jew, and he was willing to be circumcised for the sake of spreading the Gospel. Paul said, "I have become all things to all men so that I might win some...to the Jew, I became a Jew." However, in the case of Titus, the pressure was coming from false brothers who were stating that without circumcision there was no salvation.
This is Paul's description of that encounter:
4 And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage: 5 To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.
Paul explains that they were Pseudo adelphos = false brethren. They called themselves Christians, but they believed in a different Gospel. Essentially, you could say they were working for Satan whether they knew it or not because they were attempting to pervert the Gospel.
Privily= that they came in with stealth for the purpose to steal.
What did they want to steal? They wanted to steal Paul, Titus, and Peter's liberty. Paul was constantly accused by the opposition of giving his followers license to sin. In other words, the message that he preached was the finished work of Christ for both salvation and righteous living. His point was that the Law was fulfilled in Christ and God's righteousness is no longer found written on tablets of stone. Instead, God's righteousness is a person named Jesus who has come to live in the hearts of those who have believed. The result is that the righteous one now dwells within us giving us strength to accomplish what He desires and behave the way that He requires. The false brethren and others felt as though if the people did not have the boundaries of the Law before them, then they would live lives of sin. However, the prophet promised that in the New Covenant, the Law would be written upon the hearts of the people (Jeremiah 31:31). In other words, in the New Covenant, the author of the Law would reveal God's will internally. And the grace of the New Covenant would give the believer strength to accomplish God's will.
But false doctrine wants to steal that liberty through Law and bring the believer under bondage. Paul's response is that they did not subject themselves even an hour to these people. The idea of subjection means that they undoubtedly wanted Paul to come under their authority. But Paul's response is that it did not happen...not even for a moment. Paul stood strong in the face of opposition because he knew what was at stake. What was at stake? The truth of the precious Gospel that Jesus bled and died to purchase for the church.
Galatians 2:6-10 6 But of these who seemed to be somewhat [disciples], (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man's person:) for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me[added nothing to my message]:7 But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter; 8 (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:) 9 And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision. 10 Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do.
6 But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man's person:) for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me.
As we know, the Judaizers were belittling Paul to the Galatians. And based on what Paul is stating here it seems that the Judaizers might have been overly impressed with and possibly putting the Apostles on a pedestal above everyone else. Paul's response is that God is not a respecter of persons. The Judaizers can say what they want, but when Paul sat with the apostles and explained the message he preached, the apostles did not add to it. Instead, they endorsed Paul and Barnabas' ministry [giving of the right hand].
Furthermore, it was obvious to the disciples that the same God that was working in Peter ministering to the Jews was the same God that was working in Paul as he ministered to the Gentiles.
In this passage, the words translated in English: effectually and mighty are the same word in the Greek. The word is: Energeo- to be active: to be mighty.
Galatians 2:11-16 11 But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. 12 For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. 13 And the other Jews dissembled [to act hypocritically] likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation [hypocrisy]. 14 But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews? 15 We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, 16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
Essentially, what happened in the story is that Peter came from Jerusalem to Antioch to visit the work that Paul and Barnabas were doing. While there, he enjoyed fellowship with the Gentile brothers. But when certain men came from James [the church in Jerusalem] Peter acted like a hypocrite by separating himself from the Gentiles and staying with the Jewish brothers. His act of hypocrisy was so blatant that it began to cause a ripple effect in the church there. Even Barnabas was caught up in the mess.
The situation was causing so much damage that Paul rebuked Peter openly in front of everyone. It is important for us to realize that sometimes public correction is required. Peter's actions were done in public therefore the correction needed to be done in public.
It is important that we understand that in Christ we are all level at the foot of the cross. In other words, God does not look at skin color, finances, nationality, or anything else regarding a person's right standing with Him. Unfortunately, people do. There are rich people in churches across America that do not want to associate with poor people. And there are white people in churches across America that do not want to associate with people of color. And there are people in churches across the globe that do not want to associate with others because of differences in national origin.
But if you are in Christ, you are not black or white! You are not rich or poor! You are not American or European! You are a new creation in Christ and Jesus shed His blood to ransom your soul. Anyone in the church who would treat you any other way may not even be born again. And if they are truly born again, I can assure you that God is not pleased with their behavior.
If you look at the second part of verse 14 "...if you being a Jew..." through the end of 16, the idea of what Paul is saying is that we, as Jews were given the Law [Word] of God. We are a nation that He created for His own specific purpose to reveal Himself to the world. But as God's people, living under the Law, we were incapable of being pleasing or righteous in the eyes of God. We have learned firsthand that righteousness comes through faith in the Christ...not through the working of the Law.