Galatians 2 (English Standard Version)
Paul Accepted by the Apostles
1Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas,
In Galatians 1:18-19, Paul described a trip he made to Jerusalem three years after Jesus met him on the road to Damascus. Now, he describes a second trip to Jerusalem, fourteen years later. Remember Paul’s point from Galatians 1. He demonstrated that his gospel came by a revelation from Jesus, not from man, not even from the apostles in Jerusalem. Two visits to Jerusalem over 14 years shows that Paul did not sit at the feet of the disciples of Jesus to learn the gospel.
taking Titus along with me.
In Titus 1:4, Paul calls Titus “a true son in our common faith.” It is clear that Paul loved and trusted Titus, and regarded him as a valuable co-worker in the faith.
2I went up because of a revelation and set before them (though privately before those who seemed influential) the gospel that I proclaim among the Gentiles, in order to make sure I was not running or had not run in vain. 3But even Titus, who was with me, was not forced to be circumcised, though he was a Greek.
Paul’s point is that the leadership in Jerusalem accepted Titus, a Gentile convert, even though he was not circumcised in accord with the Mosaic law. This shows that the Jerusalem leadership accepted Paul’s gospel of grace.
Why would anyone compel someone like Titus to be circumcised? Why was it even an issue? Because circumcision – the cutting away of the male foreskin – was the sign of initiation into the Jewish faith and the Mosaic covenant. If a Gentile man wanted to become a Jew, he would have to be circumcised as an adult. Jewish men were circumcised as babies. Since all Jewish men were circumcised, and most all Gentile men were not, it was an easy way to refer to “those part of the covenant” and to “those outside of the covenant of Moses.”
4 Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in—who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery— 5to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you.
No doubt the “false brothers” thought of themselves as true brothers, upholding what was right and good! Oh, Lord, give us eyes to see Your truth!
6And from those who seemed to be influential (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—those, I say, who seemed influential added nothing to me. 7On the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised 8(for he who worked through Peter for his apostolic ministry to the circumcised worked also through me for mine to the Gentiles), 9and when James and Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given to me, they gave the right hand of fellowship to Barnabas and me, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. 10Only, they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.
Mark 10:21 (New Living Translation)
Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
Paul Opposes Peter
11But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12For 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. 13And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy.
Does no one remember that Jesus ate with publicans and sinners? He broke the law! So why is Peter afraid to eat with Gentile believers?
14But 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?”
Justified by Faith
15We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; 16yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.
“To give a short definition of a Christian: A Christian is not somebody who has no sin, but somebody against whom God no longer chalks sin, because of his faith in Christ. This doctrine brings comfort to consciences in serious trouble.”
17But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! 18For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor.
How is it a sin to build again a way to God through the Law of Moses? In many ways, but perhaps the greatest is that it looks at Jesus, hanging on the cross, taking the punishment we deserved, bearing the wrath of God for us, and says to Him, “That’s all very nice, but it isn’t enough. Your work on the cross won’t be good enough before God until I’m circumcised and eat kosher.” What an insult to the Son of God!
Of course, this is the great tragedy of legalism. In trying to be more right with God, they end up being less right with God. This was exactly the situation of the Pharisees that opposed Jesus so much during His years of earthly ministry. Paul knew this thinking well, having been a Pharisee himself (Acts 23:6).
19For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. 20I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
“Blessed is the person who knows how to use this truth in times of distress. He can talk. He can say: ‘Mr. Law, go ahead and accuse me as much as you like. I know I have committed many sins, and I continue to sin daily. But that does not bother me. You have got to shout louder, Mr. Law. I am deaf, you know. Talk as much as you like, I am dead to you. If you want to talk to me about my sins, go and talk to my flesh. Belabor that, but don’t talk to my conscience. My conscience is a lady and a queen and has nothing to do with the likes of you, because my conscience lives to Christ under another law, a new and better law, the law of grace.’”
21I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.
from Experiencing God Day-by-Day,
by Henry T. Blackaby and Richard Blackaby
AN EXCHANGED LIFE
The Christian life is an exchanged life: Jesus’ life for your life. When Christ takes control, your life takes on dimensions you would never have known apart from Him. When you are weak, then Christ demonstrates His strength in your life (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). When you face situations that are beyond your comprehension, you have only to ask, and the infinite wisdom of God is available to you (James 1:5). When you are faced with humanly impossible situations, God does the impossible (Luke 18:27). When you encounter people whom you find difficult to love, God expresses His unconditional love through you (1 John 4:7). When you are at a loss as to what you should pray for someone, the Spirit will guide you in your prayer life (Romans 8:16). When Christ takes up residence in the life of a believer, “all the fullness of God” is available to that person (Ephesians 3:19).
It is marvelously freeing to know that God controls your life and knows what it can become. Rather than constantly worrying about what you will face, your great challenge is to continually release every area of your life to God’s control. The temptation will be to try to do by yourself what only God can do. Our assignment is to “abide in the vine” and to allow God to do in and through us what only He can do (John 15:5). Only God can be God. Allow Him to live out His divine life through you.
Steve Green and “Embrace the Cross.”
From your friendly English teacher! – Synecdoche (pronounced: si-nek-duh-kee) is a kind of figurative language in which a part stands for the whole, or vice versa. Saying “the White House,” to mean the United States government, is an example of synecdoche. Here, “the cross” stands for Christ and all Christ has done for us to obtain salvation.
English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.