Galatians 2:1-21 NIV
Paul Accepted by the Apostles
1 Then after fourteen years, I went up again to Jerusalem, this time with Barnabas. I took Titus along also. 2I went in response to a revelation and, meeting privately with those esteemed as leaders, I presented to them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles. I wanted to be sure I was not running and had not been running my race in vain.
3 Yet not even Titus, who was with me, was compelled to be circumcised, even though he was a Greek. 4This matter arose because some false believers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves. 5We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you.
6As for those who were held in high esteem—whatever they were makes no difference to me; God does not show favoritism—they added nothing to my message. 7On the contrary, they recognized that I had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the uncircumcised,a just as Peter had been to the circumcised.b
8For God, Who was at work in Peter as an apostle to the circumcised, was also at work in me as an apostle to the Gentiles. 9 James, Cephasc and John, those esteemed as pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the circumcised. 10All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I had been eager to do all along.
Paul Opposes Cephas
11When Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12For before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. 13The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.
14When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of them all,
“You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?
15“We who are Jews by birth and not sinful Gentiles 16know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith ind Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.
17“But if, in seeking to be justified in Christ, we Jews find ourselves also among the sinners, doesn’t that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not! 18If I rebuild what I destroyed, then I really would be a lawbreaker.
19 “For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me.
21I do not set aside the Grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”e
This chapter, therefore, may be regarded as divided into two portions, namely:
I. The account of his visit to Jerusalem and of what occurred there, Galatians 2:1-10.
(a) He had gone up 14 years after his conversion, after having labored long among the Gentiles in his own way, and without having felt his dependence upon the apostles at Jerusalem, Galatians 2:1-2.
(b) When he was there, there was no attempt made to compel him to submit to the Jewish rites and customs; and what was conclusive in the case was, that they had not even required Titus to be circumcised, thus proving that they did not assert jurisdiction over Paul, and that they did not intend to impose the Mosaic rites on the converts from among the Gentiles, Galatians 2:3-5.
(c) The most distinguished persons among the apostles at Jerusalem, James, Cephas (Peter) and John received him kindly, and admitted him to their confidence and favor without hesitation. They added no heavy burdens to him Galatians 2:6; they saw evidence that he had been appointed to bear the gospel to the Gentiles Galatians 2:7-8; they gave to him and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship Galatians 2:9; and they asked only that they should remember and show kindness to the poor saints in Judea, and thus manifest an interest in those who had been converted from Judaism, or contribute their proper proportion to the maintenance of all, and show that they were not disposed to abandon their own countrymen, Galatians 2:10. In this way they gave the fullest proof that they approved the course of Paul, and admitted him into entire fellowship with them as an apostle.
II. The scene at Antioch, where Paul rebuked Peter for his hypocrisy, Galatians 2:11-21.
The main object of mentioning this seems to be to show, first, that he did not regard himself as inferior to the other apostles, or that he had not derived his views of the gospel from them; and, secondly, to state that the observance of the Jewish rites was not necessary to salvation, and that he had maintained that from the beginning. He had strongly urged it in a controversy with Peter, and in a case where Peter was manifestly wrong; and it was no new doctrine on the subject of justification which he had preached to the Galatians.
He states, therefore:
(a) That he had opposed Peter at Antioch, because he had dissembled there, and that even Barnabas had been carried away with the course which Peter had practiced; Galatians 2:11-14.
(b) That the Jews must be justified by faith, and not by dependence on their own law; Galatians 2:15-16.
(c) That they who are justified by faith should act consistently, and not attempt to build again the things which they had destroyed; Galatians 2:17-18.
(d) That the effect of justification by faith was to make one dead to the Law that he might live unto God; that the effect of it was to make one truly alive and devoted to the cause of true religion; and to show this, he appeals to the effect of his own heart and life Galatians 2:19-20.
(e) And that if justification could be obtained by the Law, then Christ had died in vain; Galatians 2:21. He thus shows that the effect of teaching the necessity of the observance of the Jewish rites was to destroy the gospel, and to render it vain and useless.