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Bible Commentaries

The Bible Study New Testament

Galatians 2

Verse 1


Fourteen years later. Probably fourteen years after the visit mentioned in Galatians 1:18. [Johnson thinks it should be measured from Paul’s conversion to Christ.] This certainly is the Jerusalem Meeting of Acts ch 15, and Ramsay gives the date as 49 A.D. The church began in Jerusalem on Pentecost, 30 A.D. (by the corrected calendar), and Paul’s conversion must have been between 31 and 33 A.D. The visit of Galatians 1:18 is probably the same as Acts 9:26. Paul made a second visit (Acts 11:30) which is not mentioned here. Barnabas. Acts 4:36. Titus. Paul seems to have taken Titus as a test case. Many of the Gentile Christians had already been “Gentiles converted to Judaism” before they heard of Christ. Titus was a direct convert from idolatry to Christ. Compare 1 Thessalonians 1:9.

Verse 2


Because God. “The Twelve did not call me to Jerusalem! I want you to know that God himself sent me!” In a private meeting. “Not wanting to cause trouble, I talked this matter over privately with Peter, James, and John. I had no doubts about the truth of the gospel I had been preaching, but if the other apostles did not stand with me on this, I was afraid all my work as an apostle would go for nothing!”

Verse 3


Was not forced to be circumcised. The circumcision party would expect Peter, James, and John (the “apostles of circumcision”) to take their side in the argument. Paul was opposing centuries of anti-Gentile hostility. The future of the whole Christian church hung in the balance!!! Titus was the test case, and if Peter, James, and John had insisted that Titus must be circumcized (after he had been already buried with Christ in baptism), the history of Christianity would have been drastically changed!!!

Verse 4


Although some men. The NIV adds “This matter arose” to show the source of the problem is the false brothers mentioned. These are certainly the ones mentioned in Acts 15:1. Paul’s choice of words imply that these are a particular group (probably Pharisees) who have infiltrated the churches with the idea of seizing control of them. The freedom we have. Christians have been set free from slavery which The Law brings. These false brothers wanted to make slaves of every Gentile Christian by persuading them to obey The Law of Moses. Chapter 5 examines this.

Verse 5


In order to keep the truth. Paul’s motive was to preserve the truth! If he had given in and allowed Titus to be circumcised, that would have compromised the truth. [In the case of Timothy (Acts 16:3), he could do it without compromising the truth.]

Verse 6


Who seemed to be the leaders. Peter, James, and John. What they were. “The fact that they were with Christ in his earthly ministry, does not make me any less an apostle, because God doesn’t play favorites on the basis of such things!” Made no new suggestions. This was their chance to “set Paul straight,” if there were some mistakes in what he had been preaching.

Verse 7


On the contrary. “Not only did they not make any new suggestions, they did accept me as being an apostle equal with themselves!!! They saw that God had sent me to the Gentiles, just as He sent Peter to the Jews!!!”

Verse 8


For by God’s power. “The same God made both Peter and myself apostles!!!”

Verse 9


Recognized that God. “These outstanding leaders in the church, James, Peter, and John, recognized that God had appointed me to this work, and had given me the same supernormal powers that they all had!!!” Shook hands. “They shook hands with Barnabas and me as a sign of our fellowship as servants of Christ!” As partners. “As partners together in the service of Christ, it was unanimous that Barnabas and I would work among the Gentiles and they would continue to work among the Jews in Judea.” This last is implied in Acts 8:1.

Verse 10


Remember the needy. The NIV adds continue to show it was something that was already going on and must be kept up. The TEV adds in their group to show that this is concerned with one special group of poor, the Christians in Judea. The hostility of the Jewish leaders certainly made employment impossible for many of the Christians there, and there were also repeated famines. A third factor was the unrest which climaxed in the Jewish wars and brought on the destruction of Jerusalem. We see God’s hand in this, as more than once, the Gentile Christians send money and help to the Christian poor in Judea, cementing the bond of fellowship between the Judeans and the Gentiles.

Verse 11


I opposed him in public. “I want to show you that I am equal in authority to all the other apostles and that I have the right to oppose one of the ‘apostles of circumcision’ when they are wrong!!!” This was not a sharp confrontation, but a scolding in public. But it was serious in that what Peter was doing would have far reaching consequences!!!

Verse 12


Before some men. Peter had a vision (Acts 10:9-16), and he witnessed the Spirit come on Gentiles (Acts 10:44-47). This taught him that God had removed the barrier between Jew and Gentile. Knowing this, he ate with the Gentile Christians and thought nothing about it! But after these men arrived. Note that James sent them. This implies that James, the Lord’s brother, was at this time the head of the circumcision party, yet we know that he was willing to take God’s side at the Jerusalem Meeting (Acts 15:13-19). In eating with the Gentiles, Peter would be violating the customs and Kosher code of the Jewish dietary laws. Knowing this would cause a hostile reaction from the Judean Jews, Peter took the easy way out!

Verse 13


The other Jewish brothers . . . even Barnabas. See how Peter’s action set off a chain-reaction!!!

Verse 14


When I saw. Paul could see clearly the consequences of this action. Peter was being a hypocrite when he taught that all are one in Christ, and then acted as though the uncircumcised Gentiles were unclean. This was not an act of panic, but by taking the easy way out to avoid trouble, Peter was putting severe pressure on the Gentiles to live like the Judeans did. This is the very thing that was settled at the Jerusalem Meeting!!!

Verse 15


We are Jews by birth. As Paul continues his public scolding of Peter, he adopts the language of the Judeans, and speaks of Gentile sinners.

Verse 16


Yet we know. “We know by the Old Testament Scriptures, as well as by the Spirit God gave us, that it is not obedience to the Law of Moses, but FAITH in Jesus Christ that puts us right with God!!!” We, too. “Peter, you and I who are Jews by birth, had to believe in Christ to be put right with God! The Law of Moses was no help!” On the nature of faith, see note on James 2:19. For no man. “When we Jews convert to Christ, we are declaring that we cannot be saved by The Law!”

Verse 17


If, then. “But if we, in our effort to reach out through faith to seize Christ and be put right with God, must then let go of The Law and put ourselves in the same group with Gentile sinners, does Christ then serve sin??? By no means!” The next verse explains.

Verse 18


If I start. “You, by again making The Law an obligation, are proving that what you were doing while you lived as the Gentiles do, was in fact a violation of The Law. That is, during the time you neglected it and did not follow its rules.” This is in effect what Paul is saying to Peter.

Verse 19


However, I am dead. “I and all the other believers DIED with Christ, killed by The Law itself, since its CURSE killed Christ. Now that the Law considers me dead, I am free to live for God!” Compare Rom. ch 7. I have been. “The way I died to the Law, was to share or be united to Christ’s death on the cross!” Compare Romans 6:6; 2 Corinthians 5:17.

Verse 20


But it is Christ. Under The Law, it was Paul the proud Pharisee who lived. But the old man died with Christ, and now it is Paul the Christian who lives. Or rather, it is Christ who lives in Paul! I live by faith. Faith links Paul to Christ!!! Christ is the vine, believers are the branches! Compare John 15:1-11.

Verse 21


I do not reject. “I do not reject God’s grace, but you and the circumcision party are doing it when you try to be put right with God through The Law. If The Law puts a man right with God, then Christ need not have died at all!” Motive is all important in Christianity. Paul himself could participate in Jewish rites (Acts 21:26) with a clear conscience because he KNEW that these had nothing at all to do with his salvation. But for those who really believed The Law could save them, the ritual of The Law would condemn them eternally! See Galatians 5:3-4.

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Bibliographical Information
Ice, Rhoderick D. "Commentary on Galatians 2". "The Bible Study New Testament". College Press, Joplin, MO. 1974.