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Bible Commentaries

Bell's Commentary on the Bible

Galatians 2

Verses 1-21

  1. Intro: For Me
    1. In ch.1, Paul establishes that his apostleship and gospel came from God, not people. Here, Paul demonstrates that both were validated by the leaders of the church in Jer.
    2. I’ve been to my share of board meetings:
      1. CM (31yrs). Colina de Luz (23). Mercy Projects (21). HEF (19) & others.
      2. Some have been boring…& some have been pretty exciting. Some seemed like a waste of time, some were important life/ministry changing events.
      3. In this chapter we have 2 important church board meetings that shaped the future of the church. One in Jerusalem & the other in Antioch. Acts 15.
  2. 1 GOSPEL, 2 APOSTLES, 3 PILLARS (1-10)
    1. SEE PAUL RUN, RUN PAUL RUN (1-2)
    2. This is Paul’s 2nd trip to Jerusalem, 14 yrs later.
    3. Paul was a runner…on the right track, headed in the right direction, for the right goal.
    4. TITUS THE TEST CASE (3-5)
    5. (3) The Judaizers are still dogging Paul’s steps.
    6. Titus…an uncircumcised Gentile convert to Christianity.
    7. Circumcision – was a sign of the covenant relationship with God.
      1. It was commanded of God’s chosen people.
      2. They must have thought, why wouldn’t Titus want to appropriate this sign that represented being in covenant relationship to God?
      1. And Titus would have thought can’t I just but a Christian Tee-shirt.
    1. (4) Notice false brethren, secretly, stealth, spy, bondage.
    2. Spied out our liberty i.e. that Titus wasn’t circumcised??? (weird, in Roman Bath house)
      1. This was liberty espionage at its finest.
    3. Bring us into bondage – Paul saw it was a freedom/bondage issue.
      1. This was a deadly battle Paul was in, & it held an eternal outcome.
    4. (5) Spurgeon said it well when he said, Whitefield & Wesley might preach the gospel better than I do, but they cannot preach a better gospel.
    5. ​​​​​​​1 GOSPEL, 2 APOSTLES, 3 PILLARS (6-10)
    6. (6-9) Same God, same Gospel; same Spirit, same aspiration, same grace; same vision, same mission; same message...different ministry.
      1. Here we have: 1 Gospel, 2 Apostles, & 3 Pillars.
      2. 1 Gospel (shared by all participants). 2 Apostles (representing the 2 spheres of the missionary outreach i.e. Jew/Gentile). And 3 Pillars (James, Peter, John).
      3. Paul is both unified & affirmed & has full support by the Pillars.
      4. Peter said, 2 Pet.3:15,16 And remember, our Lord’s patience gives people time to be saved. This is what our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you with the wisdom God gave him - 16 speaking of these things in all of his letters. Some of his comments are hard to understand, and those who are ignorant and unstable have twisted his letters to mean something quite different, just as they do with other parts of Scripture.
    7. ​​​​​​​(9) The right hand of Fellowship - endorsed them & their differences of labor.
    8. (10) Remember the poor – Christians in Jerusalem who were suffering persecution & loss of property. Paul was already doing this.
      1. We show our love to Christ when we sing or pray to Him. But we can also evidence our love to God one more way, by ministering to the poor, the less fortunate, the underprivileged.
      2. This also would cement the bond of friendship between Jewish & Gentile Christians.
  3. TABLE MANNERS/FELLOWSHIP (11-14)
    1. ​​​​​​​This was dangerous because this very thing spawned the Jerusalem council to begin with.
      1. Don’t seek to be a polite preacher, but a Great Saint. Whitefield
    2. (11) Swindoll, No one is immune to the allure of legalism, w/its glittering promise of membership in the holier-than-thou club.
      1. Don’t think you are stronger than this apostle Peter.
    3. Peter knew better – Acts 10
      1. Staying in Joppa at Simon the Tanners (treating the skins of dead animals). Peter was taught (by the descending sheet 3x’s, kill & eat) if God called food or people clean, then they were.
      2. Peter got to watch a transformation happen right before his eyes w/Cornelius.
        1. He was not only a Gentile, but a Roman-Gentile-Centurion. Who...got saved, was filled w/the HS, spoke w/tongues, was water baptized, & then Peter even stayed w/ him a few more days. Read Acts 11:2,3, 15-18.
    4. Meeting face to face is a healthy 1st step toward handling church conflict constructively.
      1. Often times an email, letter, phone call, or hearing it from a friend, usually causes surmising to the issue at hand.
    5. Application: We are accountable to other Christians for what we say & do.
      1. On one hand the gospel makes us free but not free to live irresponsibly
      2. On the other hand, we aren’t called to serve as a secret squad of lifestyle police.
    6. Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty, said Wendell Phillips. And that applies to our spiritual liberty as well.
    7. (12) Since Gentiles didn’t observe Jewish food laws, the groups did not eat together. At first, Peter shared meals with Gentiles as an act of unity in Christ, but his later separation from them reinforced a divisive atmosphere in the Antioch church.
      1. Peter’s actions were hypocritical because he witnessed this cleansing mercy firsthand at Cornelius’ home (Acts 10) and because, as one of the Jerusalem leaders, he already approved of Paul’s law-free gospel (Gal 2-10)
      2. Do you know what Peter was eating that day?…a waffle...then crow. Ha!
    8. Reason for this behavior? Fear! – the fear of man brings a snare, Prov.29:25
      1. Out of fear of reproof from influential Jews, he acted contrary to his beliefs.
      2. Heb.13:6 So we may boldly say: The LORD is my helper; I will not fear. What can man do to me?
    9. (13) Hypocrisy – he was sending mixed signals. He was blurring the message of the gospel. He was comfortable eating ham sandwiches until James friends showed up.
      1. Remember our words & actions have consequences beyond ourselves.
      2. How we live affects others in the family.
    10. (14) Not straightforward – lit. to walk w/straight feet.
      1. ​​​​​​​Not walking a straight path towards the truth of the gospel.
    11. Before them all – public sin, public rebuke. (private sin, private rebuke)
      1. Has anyone brought your actions to your attention? How did you respond?
    12. We’re all tempted to succumb to peer pressure & lapse into behavior that contradicts our beliefs. Note: this didn’t take him out of the ministry. God can still use us.
      1. ​​​​​​​But sometimes it takes a Paul to confront us & get us back on track.
        1. Can you think of a time you gave in to pressure?
        2. Can you think of a time you acted contrary to your beliefs?
        3. How has God demonstrated His forgiveness & His willingness to continue to use you in His work?
    13. Application: The gospel must not only be taught but applied.
      1. What you do speaks so loudly, I cannot hear what you say.
    14. Lessons we learn:
      1. Great leaders can be in error. Peters 2 biggest blunders are recorded for us:
        1. Denying Christ & Distorting the Gospel. But so are all the times he stood strong for his Lord, suffered for him, & preached in power.
      2. God’s grace means there is no 2nd class Christians. Racism, discrimination, or caste systems, of any brand, w/in any culture, is incompatible w/the truth of the gospel.
      3. Standing for the gospel can be a lonely business. (be a brave warrior)
  4. SOLA FIDE (15-21) FAITH ALONE
    1. ​​​​​​​(16) Justified – Opposite of being condemned. Declared just. Made rt w/God.
      1. It is absolving a man from a charge, the acquitting him when accused, & pronouncing him righteous.
      2. The one who formerly stood condemned has now been granted a new status at the bar of divine justice.
      3. Paul spells it out: Acceptance w/God comes through a simple act of trust in Jesus…& nothing else.
      4. If we lose on this truth we lose...God, Christ, all the promises, righteousness, faith, & eternal life.
    2. Justified by faith –
      1. He is the well, but we must by faith draw water out of it.
        He is the refuge, but we must by faith enter His borders.
        He is the bread of life, but we must by faith eat of Him.
        1. Yet don’t turn faith itself into one of the works of the Law.
        2. We are saved by faith, but not on account of our faith.
    3. So what is the truth of the Gospel? That God’s acceptance of us depends solely on His Grace - The grace of His Son’s substitutionary payment of our sins on the cross that we accept by faith…Plus nothing!!! (Charles Swindoll, Galatians, pg.31)
    4. Slide14 (17,18) Swindoll, “To us, our best efforts may seem like a sturdy enough staircase to ascend to God. But, like rotten wood, they can’t hold us. We can’t even take the 1st step toward heaven w/o its snapping into splinters beneath us.” Jesus is our only secure staircase.
    5. (19) The Law is not a way of life, it is a way of death. The Law kills.
      1. ​​​​​​​The Law kills us that the gospel might rise us up again.
    6. Slide15 (20) Martin Luther said, On Good Friday I clearly see my sin – but on the Day of Easter no sin is any longer to be seen. :)
    7. This is the Christian life...When He died, I died. When He rose, I rose. When I live my life, He is actually living it out through me, as I walk by faith.
    8. ​​​​​​​I have been crucified with Christ – It’s ok to wear a cross around your neck, tattoo it on your body, or have it on your ring...but it’s most important to wear it in your heart. And a cross in the heart helps carry every cross on the back.
      1. Paul said, I have been crucified with Christ. He did not say, I have made a determination to imitate Jesus Christ, or, I will really make an effort to follow Him, but I have been identified with Him in His death.
      2. What died then? my old nature, my flesh, my self, my rights, my way.
    9. The life which I now live in the flesh – like sap from the stem, running into me, the branch.
    10. I live by faith – saving faith cannot be reduced to a one-time decision or event in the past; it is living, dynamic reality permeating every aspect of the believers life. I live by faith.
      1. When you become a Christian, you place your sins on Him, He places His righteousness on you.
      2. He then is treated like He’s done everything you’ve done. And you are treated like you’ve done everything He’s done. [like all His medals placed around your neck]
    11. Who loved ME & gave Himself for ME – Can you say this?
      1. Brian has been crucified with Christ; it is no longer Brian who lives, but Christ lives in Brian; and the life which Brian now lives in the flesh Brian lives by faith in the Son of God, who loved Brian and gave Himself for Brian.
      2. Wow…how daringly personal Paul makes this.
      3. No Christian who has grasped these truths could ever seriously contemplate reverting to the old life. Stott
      4. We are talking the unmerited, immeasurable, & infinite love of God…that sent Jesus to the cross.
      5. One paraphrase of Galatians 2:20 suggests, If He loved me enough to give Himself for me, then He loves me enough to live out His life in me.
    12. (21) If it were possible to obtain a right standing before God through the works of the Law, than Christ had no business dying.
      1. Jesus would be just a footnote in history.
      2. But he didn’t die in vain. His death was purposeful, deliberate, & designed by God Himself to secure our salvation.
    13. Every man’s heart is his throne. Before one is saved, self reigns supreme in arrogance and pride. Only the grace of God can dethrone the ego and let Christ have his rightful place.
      1. In the Christian, self is the last enemy to be destroyed. Self will permit the believer to do anything, sacrifice anything, suffer anything, be anything, go anywhere, take any liberties, bear any crosses, afflict soul or body to any degree... Anything, if it can only be allowed to live.
      2. Self dies hard! Yet self must die, if Christ is to reign supreme. Feb8, Bread
        1. Sign the death certificate of your sin nature.
Copyright Statement
These files are the property of Brian Bell.
Text Courtesy of Calvary Chapel of Murrieta. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on Galatians 2". "Bell's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cbb/galatians-2.html. 2017.