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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

Galatians 2

Verse 1

Then after the space of fourteen years I went up again (επειτα δια δεκατεσσαρων ετων παλιν ανεβην) This use of δια for interval between is common enough. Paul is not giving a recital of his visits to Jerusalem, but of his points of contact with the apostles in Jerusalem. As already observed, he here refers to the Jerusalem Conference given by Luke in Galatians 2:15 when Paul and Barnabas were endorsed by the apostles and elders and the church over the protest of the Judaizers who had attacked them in Antioch (Acts 15:1). But Paul passes by another visit to Jerusalem, that in Acts 11:30 when Barnabas and Saul brought alms from Antioch to Jerusalem and delivered them to "the elders" with no mention of the apostles who were probably out of the city since the events in Galatians 2:12 apparently preceded that visit and Peter had left for another place (Acts 12:17). Paul here gives the inside view of this private conference in Jerusalem that came in between the two public meetings (Acts 15:4; Acts 15:6-29).

With Barnabas (μετα Βαρναβα). As in Acts 15:2.

Taking Titus also with me (συνπαραλαβων κα Τιτον). Second aorist active participle of συνπαραλαμβανω the very verb used in Acts 15:37 of the disagreement between Paul and Barnabas about Mark. Titus is not mentioned in Acts 15 nor anywhere else in Acts for some reason, possibly because he was Luke's own brother. But his very presence was a challenge to the Judaizers, since he was a Greek Christian.

Verse 2

By revelation (κατα αποκαλυψιν). In Acts 15:2 the church sent them. But surely there is no inconsistency here.

I laid before them (ανεθεμην αυτοις). Second aorist middle indicative of old word ανατιθημ, to put up, to place before, with the dative case. But who were the "them" (αυτοις)? Evidently not the private conference for he distinguishes this address from that, "but privately" (κατ' ιδιαν). Just place Acts 15:4 beside the first clause and it is clear: "I laid before them the gospel which I preach among the Gentiles," precisely as Luke has recorded. Then came the private conference after the uproar caused by the Judaizers (Acts 15:5).

Before them who were of repute (τοις δοκουσιν). He names three of them (Cephas, James, and John). James the Lord's brother, for the other James is now dead (Acts 12:1). But there were others also, a select group of real leaders. The decision reached by this group would shape the decision of the public conference in the adjourned meeting. So far as we know Paul had not met John before, though he had met Peter and James at the other visit. Lightfoot has much to say about the Big Four (St. Paul and the Three) who here discuss the problems of mission work among Jews and Gentiles. It was of the utmost importance that they should see eye to eye. The Judaizers were assuming that the twelve apostles and James the Lord's brother would side with them against Paul and Barnabas. Peter had already been before the Jerusalem Church for his work in Caesarea (Acts 11:1-18). James was considered a very loyal Jew.

Lest by any means I should be running or had run in vain (μη πως εις κενον τρεχω η εδραμον). Negative purpose with the present subjunctive (τρεχω) and then by a sudden change the aorist indicative (εδραμον), as a sort of afterthought or retrospect (Moulton, Prolegomena, p. 201; Robertson, Grammar, p. 988). There are plenty of classical parallels. See also 1 Thessalonians 3:5 for both together again.

Verse 3

Being a Greek (Hελλην ων). Concessive participle, though he was a Greek.

Was compelled to be circumcised (ηναγκασθη περιτμηθηνα). First aorist passive indicative of αναγκαζω and first aorist passive infinitive of περιτεμνω. Curiously enough some scholars interpret this language to mean that Paul voluntarily had Titus circumcised, instead of being compelled to do it, an impossible view in my opinion in the light of verse Galatians 2:5 and wholly inconsistent with the whole context. Paul means that he stood his ground against compulsion and all force.

Verse 4

But because of the false brethren privately brought in (δια δε τους παρεισακτους ψευδαδελφους). Late verbal adjective παρεισακτος from the double compound verb παρεισαγω, found in papyri in the sense of brought in by the side or on the sly as here. Evidently some of the Judaizers or sympathizers whom Paul had not invited had come in as often happens. Paul terms them "false brethren" like "the false apostles" in 2 Corinthians 11:13 of the Judaizers in Corinth.

Who came in privily (οιτινες παρεισηλθον). Repetition of the charge of their slipping in unwanted (παρεισερχομα, late double compound, in Plutarch, in N.T. only here and Romans 5:20).

To spy out (κατασκοπησα). First aorist active infinitive of κατασκοπεω, old Greek verb from κατασκοπος, a spy, to reconnoitre, to make a treacherous investigation.

That they might bring us into bondage (ινα ημας καταδουλωσουσιν). Future active indicative of this old compound, to enslave completely (κατα-) as in 2 Corinthians 11:20. Nowhere else in N.T. This was their purpose (ινα and future active indicative of this causative verb). It was as serious a conflict as this. Spiritual liberty or spiritual bondage, which?

Verse 5

No, not for an hour (ουδε προς ωραν). Pointed denial that he and Barnabas yielded at all "in the way of subjection" (τη υποταγη, in the subjection demanded of them). The compromisers pleaded for the circumcision of Titus "because of the false brethren" in order to have peace. The old verb εικω, to yield, occurs here alone in the N.T. See 2 Corinthians 9:13 for υποταγη.

The truth of the gospel (η αληθεια του ευαγγελιου). It was a grave crisis to call for such language. The whole problem of Gentile Christianity was involved in the case of Titus, whether Christianity was to be merely a modified brand of legalistic Judaism or a spiritual religion, the true Judaism (the children of Abraham by faith). The case of Timothy later was utterly different, for he had a Jewish mother and a Greek father. Titus was pure Greek.

Verse 6

Somewhat (τ). Something, not somebody. Paul refers to the Big Three (Cephas, James, and John). He seems a bit embarrassed in the reference. He means no disrespect, but he asserts his independence sharply in a tangled sentence with two parentheses (dashes in Westcott and Hort).

Whatsoever they were (οποιο ποτε ησαν). Literally, "What sort they once were."

Hopoioi is a qualitative word (1 Thessalonians 1:9; 1 Corinthians 3:13; James 1:24). Lightfoot thinks that these three leaders were the ones who suggested the compromise about Titus. That is a possible, but not the natural, interpretation of this involved sentence. The use of δε (but) in verse Galatians 2:6 seems to make a contrast between the three leaders and the pleaders for compromise in verses Galatians 2:4.

They, I say, imparted nothing to me (εμο γαρ ουδεν προσανεθεντο). He starts over again after the two parentheses and drops the construction απο των δοκουντων and changes the construction (anacoluthon) to ο δοκουντες (nominative case), the men of reputation and influences whom he names in verses Galatians 2:8. See the same verb in Galatians 1:16. They added nothing in the conference to me. The compromisers tried to win them, but they finally came over to my view. Paul won his point, when he persuaded Peter, James, and John to agree with him and Barnabas in their contention for freedom for the Gentile Christians from the bondage of the Mosaic ceremonial law.

Verse 7

But contrariwise (αλλα τουναντιον). But on the contrary (accusative of general reference, το εναντιον). So far from the three championing the cause of the Judaizers as some hoped or even the position of the compromisers in verses Galatians 2:4, they came boldly to Paul's side after hearing the case argued in the private conference. This is the obvious interpretation rather than the view that Peter, James, and John first proposed the circumcision of Titus and afterwards surrendered to Paul's bold stand.

When they saw (ιδοντες). After seeing, after they heard our side of the matter.

That I had been intrusted with the gospel of the uncircumcision (οτ πεπιστευμα το ευαγγελιον της ακροβυστιας). Perfect passive indicative of πιστευω, to intrust, which retains the accusative of the thing (το ευαγγελιον) in the passive voice. This clear-cut agreement between the leaders "denotes a distinction of sphere, and not a difference of type" (Lightfoot). Both divisions in the work preach the same "gospel" (not like Galatians 1:6, the Judaizers). It seems hardly fair to the Three to suggest that they at first championed the cause of the Judaizers in the face of Paul's strong language in verse Galatians 2:5.

Verse 8

He that wrought for Peter unto the apostleship of the circumcision (ο γαρ ενεργησας Πετρω εις αποστολην της περιτομης). Paul here definitely recognizes Peter's leadership (apostleship, αποστολην, late word, already in Acts 1:25; 1 Corinthians 9:2) to the Jews and asserts that Peter acknowledges his apostleship to the Gentiles. This is a complete answer to the Judaizers who denied the genuineness of Paul's apostleship because he was not one of the twelve.

Verse 9

They who were reputed to be pillars (ο δοκουντες στυλο εινα). They had that reputation (δοκουντες) and Paul accepts them as such. Στυλο, old word for pillars, columns, as of fire (Revelation 10:1). So of the church (1 Timothy 3:15). These were the Pillar Apostles.

Gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship (δεξιας εδωκαν εμο κα Βαρναβα κοινωνιας). Dramatic and concluding act of the pact for cooperation and coordinate, independent spheres of activity. The compromisers and the Judaizers were brushed to one side when these five men shook hands as equals in the work of Christ's Kingdom.

Verse 10

Only (μονον). One item was emphasized.

We should remember (μνημονευωμεν). Present active subjunctive, "that we should keep on remembering."

Which very thing (ο--αυτο τουτο). Repetition of relative and demonstrative, tautology, "which this very thing." In fact Barnabas and Saul had done it before (Acts 11:30). It was complete victory for Paul and Barnabas. Paul passes by the second public meeting and the letters to Antioch (Acts 15:6-29) and passes on to Peter's conduct in Antioch.

Verse 11

I resisted him to the face (κατα προσωπον αυτω αντεστην). Second aorist active indicative (intransitive) of ανθιστημ. "I stood against him face to face." In Jerusalem Paul faced Peter as his equal in rank and sphere of work. In Antioch he looked him in the eye as his superior in character and courage.

Because he stood condemned (οτ κατεγνωσμενος ην). Periphrastic past perfect passive of καταγινοσκω, old verb to know against, to find fault with. In N.T. only here and 1 John 3:20.

Verse 12

For before that certain came from James (προ του γαρ ελθειν τινας απο Ιακωβου). The reason (γαρ) for Paul's condemnation of Peter. Articular infinitive in the genitive after προ with the accusative of general reference (τινας), "for before the coming as to some from James." Does Paul mean to say that these "certain" ones had been sent by James to Antioch to inspect the conduct of Peter and the other Jewish brethren? Some scholars think so. No doubt these brethren let the idea get out that they were emissaries "from James." But that idea is inconsistent with the position of James as president of the conference and the author of the resolution securing liberty to the Gentile Christians. No doubt these brethren threatened Peter to tell James and the church about his conduct and they reminded Peter of his previous arraignment before the Jerusalem Church on this very charge (Acts 11:1-18). As a matter of fact the Jerusalem Conference did not discuss the matter of social relations between Jews and Gentiles though that was the charge made against Peter (Acts 11:1).

He did eat with the Gentiles (μετα των εθνων συνησθιεν). It was his habit (imperfect tense).

He drew back (υπεστελλεν). Imperfect tense, inchoative action, "he began to draw himself (εαυτον) back." Old word υποστελλω. See middle voice to dissemble (Acts 20:20; Acts 20:27), to shrink (Hebrews 10:38).

Separated himself (αφωριζεν εαυτον). Inchoative imperfect again, "began to separate himself" just like a Pharisee (see on Galatians 1:15) and as if afraid of the Judaizers in the Jerusalem Church, perhaps half afraid that James might not endorse what he had been doing.

Fearing them that were of the circumcision (φοβουμενος τους εκ περιτομης). This was the real reason for Peter's cowardice. See Acts 11:2 for "ο εκ περιτομης" (they of the circumcision), the very phrase here. It was not that Peter had changed his views from the Jerusalem resolutions. It was pure fear of trouble to himself as in the denials at the trial of Christ.

Verse 13

Dissembled likewise with him (συνυπεκριθησαν αυτω κα). First aorist passive indicative of the double compound verb συνυποκρινομα, a late word often in Polybius, only here in N.T. One example in Polybius means to pretend to act a part with. That idea here would help the case of the rest of the Jews, but does not accord with Paul's presentation.

Insomuch that even Barnabas (ωστε κα Βαρναβας). Actual result expressed by ωστε and the indicative and κα clearly means "even."

Was carried away with their dissimulation (συναπηχθη αυτων τη υποκρισε). First aorist passive indicative of συναπαγω, old verb, in N.T. only here and 2 Peter 3:17. Hυποκρισε is in the instrumental case and can only mean hypocrisy in the bad sense (Matthew 23:28), not merely acting a part. It was a solemn moment when Paul saw the Jerusalem victory vanish and even Barnabas desert him as they followed the timid cowardice of Peter. It was Paulus contra mundum in the cause of spiritual freedom in Christ.

Verse 14

But when I saw (Αλλ' οτε ειδον). Paul did see and saw it in time to speak.

That they walked not uprightly (οτ ορθοποδουσιν). Present active indicative retained in indirect discourse, "they are not walking straight." Ορθοποδεω (ορθος, straight, πους, foot). Found only here and in later ecclesiastical writers, though ορθοποδες βαινοντες does occur.

According to the truth of the gospel (προς την αληθειαν του ευαγγελιου). Just as in Galatians 2:5. Paul brought them to face (προς) that.

I said unto Cephas before them all (ειπον τω Κηφα εμπροσθεν παντων).

Being a Jew (Ιουδαιος υπαρχων, though being a Jew). Condition of first class, assumed as true. It was not a private quarrel, but a matter of public policy. One is a bit curious to know what those who consider Peter the first pope will do with this open rebuke by Paul, who was in no sense afraid of Peter or of all the rest.

As do the Gentiles (εθνικως). Late adverb, here only in N.T. Like Gentiles.

As do the Jews (Ιουδαικως). Only here in N.T., but in Josephus.

To live as do the Jews (Ιουδαιζειν). Late verb, only here in the N.T. From Ιουδαιος, Jew. Really Paul charges Peter with trying to compel (conative present, αναγκαζεις) the Gentiles to live all like Jews, to Judaize the Gentile Christians, the very point at issue in the Jerusalem Conference when Peter so loyally supported Paul. It was a bold thrust that allowed no reply. But Paul won Peter back and Barnabas also. If II Peter is genuine, as is still possible, he shows it in 2 Peter 3:15. Paul and Barnabas remained friends (Acts 15:39; 1 Corinthians 9:6), though they soon separated over John Mark.

Verse 15

Not sinners of the Gentiles (ουκ εξ εθνων αμαρτωλο). The Jews regarded all Gentiles as "sinners" in contrast with themselves (cf. Matthew 26:45 "sinners" and Luke 18:32 "Gentiles"). It is not clear whether verses Galatians 2:15-21 were spoken by Paul to Peter or whether Paul is now simply addressing the Galatians in the light of the controversy with Peter. Burton thinks that he is "mentally addressing Peter, if not quoting from what he said to him."

Verse 16

Is not justified (ου δικαιουτα). Present passive indicative of δικαιοω, an old causative verb from δικαιος, righteous (from δικε, right), to make righteous, to declare righteous. It is made like αξιοω, to deem worthy, and κοινοω, to consider common. It is one of the great Pauline words along with δικαιοσυνη, righteousness. The two ways of getting right with God are here set forth: by faith in Christ Jesus (objective genitive), by the works of the law (by keeping all the law in the most minute fashion, the way of the Pharisees). Paul knew them both (see Galatians 2:7). In his first recorded sermon the same contrast is made that we have here (Acts 13:39) with the same word δικαιοω, employed. It is the heart of his message in all his Epistles. The terms faith (πιστις), righteousness (δικαιοσυνη), law (νομος), works (εργα) occur more frequently in Galatians and Romans because Paul is dealing directly with the problem in opposition to the Judaizers who contended that Gentiles had to become Jews to be saved. The whole issue is here in an acute form.

Save (εαν μη). Except.

Even we (κα ημεις). We Jews believed, had to believe, were not saved or justified till we did believe. This very point Peter had made at the Jerusalem Conference (Acts 15:10). He quotes Psalms 143:2. Paul uses δικαιοσυνη in two senses (1) Justification, on the basis of what Christ has done and obtained by faith. Thus we are set right with God. Galatians 2:1-5. (2) Sanctification. Actual goodness as the result of living with and for Christ. Galatians 2:6-8. The same plan exists for Jew and Gentile.

Verse 17

We ourselves were found sinners (ευρεθημεν κα αυτο αμαρτωλο). Like the Gentiles, Jews who thought they were not sinners, when brought close to Christ, found that they were. Paul felt like the chief of sinners.

A minister of sin (αμαρτιας διακονος). Objective genitive, a minister to sin. An illogical inference. We were sinners already in spite of being Jews. Christ simply revealed to us our sin.

God forbid (μη γενοιτο). Literally, "May it not happen." Wish about the future (μη and the optative).

Verse 18

A transgressor (παραβατην). Peter, by his shifts had contradicted himself helplessly as Paul shows by this condition. When he lived like a Gentile, he tore down the ceremonial law. When he lived like a Jew, he tore down salvation by grace.

Verse 19

I through the law died to the law (εγω δια νομου νομω απεθανον). Paradoxical, but true. See Romans 7:4; Romans 7:6 for picture of how the law waked Paul up to his real death to the law through Christ.

Verse 20

I have been crucified with Christ (Χριστω συνεσταυρωμα). One of Paul's greatest mystical sayings. Perfect passive indicative of συσταυροω with the associative instrumental case (Χριστω). Paul uses the same word in Romans 6:6 for the same idea. In the Gospels it occurs of literal crucifixion about the robbers and Christ (Matthew 27:44; Mark 15:32; John 19:32). Paul died to the law and was crucified with Christ. He uses often the idea of dying with Christ (Galatians 5:24; Galatians 6:14; Romans 6:8; Colossians 2:20) and burial with Christ also (Romans 6:4; Colossians 2:12).

No longer I (ουκετ εγω). So complete has become Paul's identification with Christ that his separate personality is merged into that of Christ. This language helps one to understand the victorious cry in Romans 7:25. It is the union of the vine and the branch (John 15:1-6).

Which is in the Son of God (τη του υιου του θεου). The objective genitive, not the faith of the Son of God.

For me (υπερ εμου). Paul has the closest personal feeling toward Christ. "He appropriates to himself, as Chrysostom observes, the love which belongs equally to the whole world. For Christ is indeed the personal friend of each man individually" (Lightfoot).

Verse 21

I do not make void the grace of God (ουκ αθετω την χαριν του θεου). Common word in LXX and Polybius and on, to make ineffective (α privative and τιθημ, to place or put). Some critic would charge him with that after his claim to such a close mystic union with Christ.

Then Christ died for nought (αρα Χριστος δωρεαν απεθανεν). Condition of first class, assumed as true. If one man apart from grace can win his own righteousness, any man can and should. Hence (αρα, accordingly) Christ died gratuitously (δωρεαν), unnecessarily. Adverbial accusative of δωρεα, a gift. This verse is a complete answer to those who say that the heathen (or any mere moralist) are saved by doing the best that they know and can. No one, apart from Jesus, ever did the best that he knew or could. To be saved by law (δια νομου) one has to keep all the law that he knows. That no one ever did.

Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright © Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Galatians 2". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.