Click here to join the effort!
Week Three: 2:1-10 Paul’S Backing From The Apostles
To begin, this passage tends to contradict the previous chapter. Here we see Paul going to see the apostles, seemingly to check his message with them. In the previous chapter he was strong to the point that he did not seek out the apostles, and that the message he had was from God.
We will see that in the first chapter he was concentrating on the source of his message that was from God and here he will concentrate on the content of the message of the gospel. Evidently he knew his gospel was from the Lord, but that he wanted to check the content of the message with what the apostles were teaching.
I have a suspicion that he wanted more to check their message with the one he had received from the Lord rather than to check his message with the message of the apostles.
Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with [me] also.
We see an old mind set of the Jews in this passage. Paul mentions that he went "up" to Jerusalem. All Jews felt that Jerusalem was the center of the universe, that all roads led to Jerusalem. Anywhere in the world away from Jerusalem was down and when you went to Jerusalem you went up to the city.
Jerusalem was not only a special spot for the Jew but if you study the Bible you will find that it is a very special spot for the Lord as well. There is a study on my site relating to the location of the Garden of Eden. I conclude that it was Jerusalem, or more specifically the temple area in Jerusalem.
Why this spot is so important to God is not clear from the Scriptures, though it probably relates to the fact that this is where He created man, where He walked with man, and where He confronted man with his sin. It is also where the Kingdom will be centered and possibly the final judgment. It is the center of all of God’s working with man. All His relationships with man seem to begin and end with Jerusalem, even in the Revelation an integrated part of the eternal scene will be a new Jerusalem.
"Barnabas" means "son of rest" and "Titus" means "nurse." Barnabas was a companion of Paul’s on some of his excursions and seemed quite useful to Paul in his ministry. His name is of Aramaic origin and is mentioned numerous times in the book of Acts.
We know Titus from his letter from Paul. His name is from Latin, and the Lexicon lists him as a gentle companion of Paul’s on his journeys.
He was evidently an apostolic delegate of Paul’s to the island of Crete (Titus 1:4 ff) since Paul left him in Crete to set things in order.
This visit is the one mentioned in Acts 15:1 ff I suspect since the topic seems to be the same. Some suggest that Acts 11:27-30 is the visit mentioned in Galatians two, because it is a private visit. Upon reading the chapter eleven passage I am left with the impression that this was not an apostle to apostle meeting, but a messenger delivering something to the elders, not the apostles.
1. As I have studied Paul’s letters I have noticed the wide divergence of people he worked with. He did not surround himself with clones, he surrounded himself with those God brought into his path. Many churches when looking for pastors look for a certain type of person, while they ought to be seeking a man that is qualified and able to teach the word.
Another item that can be observed is when a church has multiple staff and the head pastor is replaced. Often he will literally run off the other staff because they aren’t just like him. This is a travesty of God’s leading of men. If God has lead other staffers to a work, then a new man ought not "redo" God’s planning for the church.
2. We saw that Paul did not want to be empty handed at the judgment. How are you doing? Are you doing good works, works that will count for something when you see the Lord?
Many preachers equate good works with soul winning, in other words if you aren’t out winning souls with the church on Saturday visitation day, then you aren’t doing good works and you will not be a pleasing servant to God.
This is not true. We are all to be witnessing, but there are also other good works that we can do as well. God will be viewing ALL good works, not just the soul winning. Paul speaks of wanting to see fruit in the believers and the context is not soul winning only.
Philippians 4:16-17 mentions "For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity.
Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account." Here we see that giving is a fruit and it also shows that there is accounting for our good works.
If you have no good works then you ought to evaluate your life and make changes that will allow good works to flow from you to serve God.
3. Let’s recap the trips to Jerusalem.
a. After leaving Damascus the made his first trip. Acts 9:26-30; Galatians 1:18-20
b. Later when there was a famine he took gifts Acts 11:27-30; Galatians 2:1-10
c. The Council at Jerusalem Acts 15:1-29
d. A stop at the end of his second missionary journey Acts 18:22)
e. and his final visit just prior to being jailed Acts 21:15-40; Acts 22:1-30; Acts 23:1-35
The thinking that this is the second trip rather than the third is based on the revelation of a famine through Agabus, as well as the fact that this was a subdued visit as opposed to the "council" of the third trip. Both Barnabus and Paul are mentioned on the second so many feel this is proof enough.
There is one major problem with this in my mind, since Paul is talking about Judaizers in Galatians, why would he go to Jerusalem and talk to the apostles, and settle this law being part of salvation business, then a while later go a second time with the same Judaizers problems.
I don’t know that the "council" was all that huge a meeting that it couldn’t fit into the Galatians text. Actually I am not sure that it matters either way to our understanding of the text. It is clear that he went to declare that his gospel was truth and that it came from God and not man, and to be assured that the apostles were in agreement with it and its source.
4. The section is ended with an admonition and challenge. The apostles told him not to neglect the poor, and he made it clear that he was already doing his part in that area of life.
I guess in our own society the obvious question is what do we do about the poor? How do we interact with the pan-handlers, how do we help the homeless, how do we assist the poor?
This is quite an issue of our day so possibly some principles would be appropriate here.
a. Help the poor in your family first, if there are any. Help, but not to hindrance. Most of the problems of welfare and homelessness today are caused by the enablement of the welfare system that advertises to gain clients and enables them to continue on living off the backs of the taxpayer.
Yes, help those that are in need, but many times those in need are the ones the system will not help.
If you have a family member that has need, give them assistance. Do not enable them to live off the family however - require responsibility.
b. Help the pan-handler - offer to take him into a nearby restaurant for a meal. That normally will tell you of his need for help or need for booze money.
Be careful, they often know how to work people as well as the system. Most can get free medical so they don’t need money for meds, most can get free meals at a mission, so no real need for cash. Many have income - they just want to add to it.
We often go out for Sunday morning breakfast. It is the only entertainment we afford ourselves. We are amused as we sit and watch the homeless people passing by with their Starbucks coffee and a Sunday newspaper under their arms, on their way to free breakfast at the rescue mission.
c. Help the poor in your church. Help the church help those in need. You can give cash - many have a deacon’s fund collection for such purposes. You can donate good clothing, food, house hold articles, cars etc.
I have often thought a clothing/household article exchange room would assist many in the church. Take all your outgrown kids clothes in, all those unused articles to the room and leave them for others to use - if they do the same you may find things that you can use.
d. Help those you come in contact with. I’d guess many come into contact with people through their jobs that have needs, help as you can.
e. Help by giving knowledge assistance. If you know someone in your church is barely making it and you are a mechanic, fix their car, if you are a lawyer, assist them if they have need, if you are good with electronics, fix their equipment that is in need. The church is supposed to be a place where we get all our needs supported.
f. Some would suggest, but what if I get ripped off? Don’t worry about it because you most likely will, but that is the rippers problem when he meets God and I don’t think I want to be him.
A young man came to our door one day telling me he had just moved into a house around the corner, which I didn’t think was true. He gave me a long story and I gave him a twenty for gas, which he promised to return the next day (ya, right), I was fairly sure it was a scam, but didn’t know so erred on the safe side. As he walked away he said, "The Lord bless you mister!" I replied, "Don’t worry, He does, but if you are lying to me he probably won’t bless you." You know that I am still waiting for the twenty, but sadder still is that something is awaiting him, and it ain’t gunna be pretty.
For those times, pray that God can get hold of those people and bring them to Himself so he can forgive them of their sinful ways - you know, kind of like He brought us!
5. It was made clear that the apostles would go to the Jews and that Paul would go to the gentiles. Not sure what that says about the group. Twelve going to the Jewish minority and Paul gets the rest of the world - where is the fairness in that?
So, why is this statement important, or was it just informational? It is clear that the apostles only "suggested" that Paul care for the poor thus indicating an equality about the group rather than the apostles being over him and telling him to care for the poor.
But why did the apostles declare that Paul was the apostle to the gentiles and they to the Jews. Isn’t it the same gospel? Isn’t the spiritual need of Jew and gentile the same?
Let us think - if you had been a good Jew following all that you had been taught and you were talking, to say Peter, at the Jack in the Box over coffee, what would he be telling you to bring you to Christ?
Would he be telling you that you needed to be saved? No, not really, because you, as a Jew, were right before God as you understood it and on your way to heaven. Isn’t it more likely that Peter would begin explaining that Jesus was the Messiah that was prophesied, the Messiah that had come, the Messiah that had fulfilled all that was required for God, the Messiah that had freed you from the law as the Old Testament.
There is no difference in the result of the gospel, but the gospel or good news that was presented to the Jew and to the gentile would certainly have to include a lot of different information. The gentile would need to know that there is a God, that He is a God to be reckoned with, and that He is a personal God that has done all that is needed to save you from your sinful nature, your sinful ways and your sinful end in hell.
I think that there was a distinctly different message given to the Jews by the apostles and to the gentiles by Paul. Both ended in satisfaction that Christ was the provider of their salvation, but much different information.
Of course there would have been Jews that were not spiritual Jews, and there would be gentiles that would have been spiritual Jews, (sojourners with the Jews) so the message would be adjusted to their position in belief.
This brings up one further clarification of the Gospel. Most today tell the lost they must accept Christ and that their salvation is because they did so. However, isn’t salvation based on faith in what God has said, rather than an act by Christ. The faith is in the promise of God to do all that is needed to save us. The Old Testament saint was placing his faith in that promise, not in the fact that a man/God would one day die on a cross - they had no concept of this, but they did have all the promises of God in the Old Testament.
Today, we also, must place our trust in the veracity of what God has revealed - belief that Christ provides the salvation that we seek.
And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain.
This verse indicates that the apostle might have been having some doubts about the gospel that he had been preaching. I have to wonder if he had run into some Judaizers that were attempting to change his mind as to the simplicity of the gospel.
He went by revelation. In other words God had directed him to do this by a vision or revelation of some sort. He seemed to be sharing with them what he had been preaching to be sure he wasn’t running the course in vain.
Vain has the thought of empty. It is used of vessels that are empty. I would assume that he speaks of being empty handed at the judgment when he is evaluated by the Lord as to his works.
This idea of whether he was doubting what he had been preaching interests me. Why else would he phrase it this way if he did not want to double check what he had been doing for some time. Actually something that he seemed to have a real confidence in earlier in the book.
He went to great length to show that his message was from above, not from man, and here he seems to be double checking with man.
The answer is clear as you take a moment and read Acts 15:1 ff. Some had come from Judea (area of Jerusalem) preaching circumcision as an integrated part of salvation. Paul and Barnabus had some serious discussions with these men and all decided to go to the apostles to discern the matter.
Wouldn’t it be great to have the apostles to go to to find out if the socks women wear under long skirts should be black or white, and other catastrophic church problems? All the problems that seem to come to fester and split churches could be handled by the apostles. Humm, maybe that is one reason the apostles died off so quickly - so we would go to the Word for our decision making rather than other men.
But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised: 4 And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage:
Here we see evidence of the correctness of our assumption about Paul’s wanting confirmation as well as the implication of some Judaizers.
Imagine, having preached the same simple gospel for a long time then run into men that say you have to be circumcised to be saved. I think we see Paul being open to these men, but I think we also see a strong belief that he was right. The next verses seems to bear this out.
To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you. 6 But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man’s person:) for they who seemed [to be somewhat] in conference added nothing to me: 7 But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as [the gospel] of the circumcision [was] unto Peter; 8 (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:) 9 And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we [should go] unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision. 10 Only [they would] that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do.
This seems straight forward, but I would like to add some thoughts about this passage.
1. Paul recognized the authority of the apostles, not exactly that he was under it, for he seems to go to lengths in the first of the book to specify he wasn’t. He does view them as pillars of the church - or that which holds the church up.
2. He paid little attention to these Judaizers other than to confront their error. He doesn’t seem to sit and worry about the situation for a week before acting, he just takes the bull by the horns and throws it to the ground and walks on through history preaching the gospel he knew to be true.
Many are the times that I have wished that I had the confidence of Paul in similar situations. I have found myself with people that disagree with me on a doctrinal issue and I normally sit and worry my way through those situations. If you have studied through a certain doctrine, be confident in what God has taught you. As with Paul, if there is a way to seek assistance from "Pillars" (which we will discuss next) do so, but be confident in what God has shown you.
Worry is an interesting thing. Someone once said, I know worry works. Look at all those things I have worried about - none of them came true so worry must help. Well, not so, God is the answer we need to seek.
3. There is a certain authority of the apostles. How does this relate to the church today? What authority is there for those that God calls to minister for Him?
Who is that authority today, since the apostles are long gone?
At the outset of this point I want to make it clear that I believe in the independence and autonomy of the local church, however there seems that there ought to be some sort of authority over that church. That authority is not to be men selected in any way from other churches, it is not to be a selected few that are set up to be pillars.
This authority in my mind must be made up of two things. Tradition and the Word. By tradition I am not suggesting the papal traditions of the Roman church nor the visions of some leader, but I am suggesting that the teachings of great men of God through the ages should have SOME weight in our running of the local church.
The ultimate authority must be the Word itself, and no preaching of man, but the preaching of the past and present can be a guide. Warning, warning, this is a guide, and a possible guide only. Today if you took the current preaching you would have to mold your church around the current craze of doing church like the lost like it. This is not acceptable.
We must look to two thousand years of preaching to see how the church worshiped. Even within this guide we should overshadow anything we glean from tradition with what the Word tells us of worship. Both must be our information giver, with emphasis on the Word.
Some examples. Some today require that baptismal services be segregated by sex. There are no men with the women and vice versa. They base this not on anything in the Word that I know of but rather on the fact that in the early church some observed this protocol.
Some today do not allow pianos and organs in their services, due to the fact that the Bible never states that there are pianos and organs in the church service. It is of note that they don’t allow any instruments in the church. This to me seems to be adding to the Scripture in that just because the Bible doesn’t state something, then it is wrong.
It could be suggested that automobiles, pa systems, stereos, and televisions are not mentioned in the Bible so are wrong, yet many of these church parking lots are full of cars and their preachers utilize PA systems on a weekly basis.
Now, relating to how we might use tradition and the Word as our authority. I received a letter from a man that wanted advice about a problem in his church. The church leadership had instituted the normal contemporary music/praise team concept in the church. There were many older people in the church that were not accepting of the change and wanted to meet with the leadership to discuss the situation.
The discussion did not call the Word nor tradition in for clarification for what they were doing, the leaders only quoted the music policy, which the leaders had drawn up, as proof of their authority to make the changes. They ignored the "congregational" form of government that they supposedly had in their constitution, they ignored the desires of over half their congregation and they basically ignored everything that was against what they wanted to do.
Had the leaders gone to the Word to see what it has to say about worship, had they considered what the church in the past has done for worship there is no way that they could come to the decision they made. I am not condemning contemporary music, but I think churches should consider the Word rather than what their fellow pastors are doing. (For further on the subject of Contemporary music I would suggest the book WORSHIP IN THE MELTING POT. this book is written by a reformed man, but he has many Biblical principles that should be considered in our churches today.
Authority? The Word of God must be our authority. By looking to tradition we can see how the church has done things and how it has believed.
Is there any other authority? I do not believe there is, however gatherings of pastors/laymen to fellowship and discuss issues can be very helpful in seeing all sides of an issue, as long as you go to the Word for final authority.
I trust I have not dug myself into a bottomless pit on this issue.
4. Some tried to add circumcision to faith in Christ for salvation. Are there any today that seek to "ADD" to the simple gospel? Yes, there are.
The Christian church movement or at least many in the groups require baptism for salvation. They often base their belief in this exact false error of Galatians. They view circumcision as part of salvation in the Old Testament and then they falsely transfer the male circumcision of the Old to the men AND women of the New Testament. I have asked these people on the internet how they make that jump from male only to male and female and I have never received an adequate answer.
I must admit that some of the people in this movement have reconsidered their position and have come to a slightly altered position. Some I have discussed this with will ultimately admit that baptism is not required for one to be saved, but that baptism is the natural response to true salvation. In other words, if a person is truly saved, they will go on to be baptized.
I tend to agree with this in principle - if a person is saved they will want to be obedient to the Lord’s desire for them to be saved.
5. Note should be taken that Paul went to extended lengths to assure his correctness. Some today would suggest he was fixated on being right, but I think there is a principle to be seen here. If you know God has said thus and so, then you should do your best to show that to be fact, not just your opinion.
If pressed, you should take actions that are needed to assure you do all that you can to show God’s way. If this requires your leaving an organization, then do it, if it means being the only one in a group believing a certain way, then believe what is right. If you find that you have opportunity to show the correctness of your belief then do so.
It would seem from this text that the other side may have been forcing the issue so that Paul was required to prove his point. I am not sure in my own mind that he would have gone to Jerusalem had he not been forced to prove these men to be in error.
This may also be indication of why he often declared clearly his apostleship and authority. Many writers mention his need to declare these items to counter the detractors and this may be the incident that was the center of that need.
We should note also that this is an issue of just what the gospel is, not the color of stockings women wear. Leaving a group over minor doctrine is not right, nor is making a fuss over it in the assembly.
It is of note to me today that we have some that make EXTRA-BIBLICAL items into issues over which you can and cannot be members of churches. The King James Only issue is an issue that exists outside the Bible itself and it is a basis for membership/fellowship in some churches.
Be careful what you decide to make an issue.
6. In verse six it isn’t that Paul is setting himself above the other apostles, not that they detract from him, only that they add nothing to the message he had been given by God nor the authority of that message or its giver.
7. It is good to note that he recognizes their prominence, their importance and their authority, he just makes it clear that they have no superior authority over him, nor his message.
One might wonder at the feelings of the apostles over this issue. How did they accept this former persecutor of Christians that was now declaring that he was equal to them? I’m sure each of them had to deal with these items in their own minds.
Week Four: 2:11-21 Paul Explains A False Issue
I would suggest at the outset in this section that if you spend any time in commentaries you will most likely find a lot of supposition and speculation. Beware, and stick to the text as closely as you can. For example, some suggest that Peter was the leader of the Judaizers in Jerusalem and that the Jews that came to Paul’s area in this text were Judaizers. I am not sure you can validate that scripturally.
Is it important to know who the Jews from Jerusalem were? Yes, because this is Scripture we are dealing with and all is important but in the grand scope of things - not in my mind, they were Jews and the others were Gentiles and Peter acted in a way that was inconsistent with the Gospel. Yes, if they were the Judaizers it would be clearer for us to understand, but I can’t imagine why Paul would clobber Peter over what he did if the Judaizers were present with their false doctrine. I would guess he would have had a revival meeting in the back room with the Judaizers and if that was unsuccessful I’d guess that he would have preached a message to the Gentiles about their false teaching. Additionally, if Peter were the head of the Judaizers, as some suggest, I doubt he would have avoided mentioning his false teaching in with his inconsistent living.
To say these were Judaizers and that Peter was identifying with them is to say that he believed that the law was a requirement of salvation along with Christ. I am not sure that I believe that, nor that it can be supported with the Word.
One author suggests that Peter was changing his beliefs to accommodate those he associated with when he sat with the Jews rather than with the Gentiles. Again I am not sure I believe this nor that it is the teaching of the Word.
Another author suggests that due to James and his bent toward legalism that he had sent some of his followers to check up on Peter. Again, what is this based on? This is not the record that Paul gives us. It would seem they are looking at the book of James and judging him to be legalistic and then further assuming that he is causing problems, which I might add, is not true on either count.
11. But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. 12 For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. 13 And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation. 14 But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before [them] all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?
After telling the reader that he had the apostle’s agreement, he tells them that he confronted Peter. This guy thinks he has the truth and is going to enforce it from the looks of things.
The 19th century German scholar, F. C. Baur suggests that there was a conflict so deep at this point that the conflict between Peter and Paul continued for quite some time. He suggests that any book by either that doesn’t show this conflict between law and grace is not valid. He interpreted those books that were left according to this theory. Few hold to his thinking and most feel that the conflict was over quickly.
I guess some pundit would say that if only Peter and Paul had found Mary there would have been peace and not conflict, but I don’t think I would want to say that in print.
Some suggest that this conflict occurred before the Jerusalem Council and call to reference the fact that the conflict did not last long because in Galatians there is conflict and later at the council there is only support from Peter for Paul.
We see in this section Paul’s final argument to the Judaizers, in that his gospel was from Christ, his gospel was validated by the apostles and now that he had the power to confront Peter, an apostle, when he was found to be in the wrong.
There are four areas of error:
Peter and the Jews seemed to be out of line in their actions - they wanted to separate themselves from the Gentiles.
There must have been some stumbling in the Gentile group to have called for confrontation.
Not only was there the problem of causing others to sin it was hypocritical of Peter to suggest that eating with Jews only was the spiritual thing to do.
And finally there is the problem that it appeared that they were going back to a keeping of the law in some manner instead of living a life of grace.
Now, the question in my mind is whether Peter even thought of the problems that he had caused. Had he consciously set about to offend others? No, definitely not. He simply feared that he would be thought to be in error if he did not eat with the Jews. I don’t think there was an attempt to cause trouble, only to protect himself and his character. That can be a problem at times - don’t protect your character at the cost of others.
1. We have a very clear threefold application that needs to be looked at.
a. Paul had the umph to confront an apostle with wrong doing. Wow, do we dare suggest there is application for us today in this thought? Dare we not apply what we have seen?
First, if you see another, or especially in this context, a leader of the church in error we must confront them with their error. They are not exempt from church discipline if required.
Secondly, if you do confront a leader, be sure to duck very quickly and run for cover for the fountains of verbiage will expel upon your head profusely. I’ve tried it a time or two and the results were very ugly. What am I saying here? Duck and run :-)! Be sure you are correct in your assessment of the situation, pray for your own preparation and confront the wrong.
This is all you can do, this is what Scripture requires us to do and it is what the Lord wants us to do, however if it goes real sour, don’t be surprised, don’t be dismayed, know that you have done right.
Years ago I confronted our pastor with having betrayed a confidence I had shown him. He did not deny it, just sat there and stared at me. He, like a trooper, took the ire of the upset member so the member would leave, then he promptly started spreading rumors about me.
Ultimately we had to leave the church because the deacons backed him completely and had accepted all his lies about me as truth. I found later that he had done the same to a couple of other students, and he did it to the two that followed me.
Know that truth is on your side and that you must follow its dictates and not fear’s.
b. The obvious next application is to the other party in the conflict. First if you do wrong accept confrontation openly and correctly. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a leader faltering now and then as long as it is unintentional. Secondly, step up to the consequences if there are any.
To admit error and to accept consequences is a lot more spiritual than to lie and backbite behind your oppositions back. There is never a time that a leader should take the low road to conflict resolution.
Peter faced what needed to be done and did it. There was no argument, there was no passing of the buck, and there was no rationalization. He did what needed to be done.
That must have been hard for Peter - think of it - the man that preached the message that founded the church - the man all looked up to as the leader of the church - how difficult it must have been for him to face criticism, to admit wrong, and correct his action. Peter may have been a lot of things, but at the very least he was a big man to admit his error.
c. Of course there is the third aspect to this application - Paul did it to Peter’s face. He didn’t slink off to Jerusalem and corner the rest of the apostles and say "Hey, you know what Peter is doin now?" He went face to face and confronted the error with the man that was committing it.
2. This might be a good place to clarify the law. Paul is not saying that the law is done away with, and he is not saying it is of none effect, nor is he saying we should set it aside. He is merely saying that it is not an integrated part of being saved - that is through Christ’s work on the cross and it alone. The law is something that is good as he states in Romans 7:12 "Wherefore the law [is] holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good."
This is not to say that we need to follow the ceremonial law for Christ is the Lamb, and there is no need for any other. The moral law however is something that we should use as a guide for our lives. The Ten Commandments are moral guide posts for our everyday living.
3. The Life Application Bible notes state that these men from James were Judaizers and that the problem was that Peter had been eating with Gentiles prior to their arrival and when they arrived he started eating with the Judaizers. They did not state any proof of this, and I think it was just an embellishment to show greater conflict than was really there. There may be evidence of this but I am not aware of it at the present.
I would suspect Paul would have blown a gasket if that had been the case.
4. I am going to offend some with the following, but so be it. The crux of what Paul is saying is that you must not include the law in your gospel else wise you push Christ out of it. If you trust the law and Christ for your salvation, then you are trusting the law. You have replaced the gospel of Christ with the gospel of the law.
Likewise there are many today that substitute other rules and regulations as being part of the gospel. You accept Christ, but you must also bow to these laws to be saved.
Now, there are others that suggest if you see any do’s and don’ts in the Word of God and try to follow them then you are a legalist. This ism number one, totally absurd and against the teaching of what legalism is, and secondly seems to be a form of legalism itself. Aren’t they saying that to believe the true gospel you must reject all do’s and don’ts from the Scripture? It seems that this is a set of laws that are added to the simple gospel of Christ.
If I accept Christ and then find I must not follow the do’s and don’ts of Scripture to be saved is this not legalism of a sort? I think so.
Some today add Lordship to the simple Gospel. To be properly saved you must accept Christ and you must make Him Lord of your life. That seems to me to be a two step process when God has given only a one step process.
I agree that Lordship should be a part of all believers’ lives, but it may not be an immediate condition after salvation. Many things might hinder even the understanding of Lordship thus if these folks thinking is correct, the person has accepted Christ but is not saved until they understand and act on Lordship. Not a teaching that I would like to espouse.
5. Life Application Bible notes suggest three ways in which the law is good for the believer.
First, it gives us the proper standard to follow so allows us to live properly. Secondly, when we view it we are convicted of sin and are able to know our path is to seek God and his forgiveness. Thirdly, it requires us to trust wholly in Christ and Christ alone, because we can never keep the law and even if we could it could not save us.
6. It seems to me that Paul says Peter was eating with Gentiles, then when the Jews came he started eating with them, and the Gentiles, if they wanted to eat with Peter, would have to live as Jews. This seems the crux.
Today, when someone is saved what do we do - mold them in our image. I have fought this all my life and seemingly have lost. Glad Paul got away with the truth.
I was born and raised in a little farming town in the middle of Nebraska. I was raised as a common sort of person. My parents had education, but they lived as everyone else lived in town. When I went into the ministry, I found there was great pressure to conform to a certain, "stuck up" in my mind, image of a minister. Clean cut, proper English, proper manners, and all that stuff.
I am from Nebraska. Though not an official redneck, I am somewhat of that mentality. Why should I become something that I am not? I’m sure if I were to go to a class reunion the classmates would see the drastic changes in my manner, even though I have attempted to remain as I was - a simple Nebraska kid at heart. I have never taken on the holier than thou rhetoric, I have not always followed the crowd and as a result I have been on the outside most of my life.
Not to worry, I have done what God has called me to do and it is He I attempt to please not those that are around me.
When we see someone that lives a little differently, if it is not sinful, then what business is it of ours to try to make them to be like ourselves - in a word or two, isn’t that a little arrogant?
7. A further problem or possibly the main problem, the eating only being a symptom, is the implied superiority of the Jew. They ate separately, they separated from the Gentiles. This was the real problem and that is what Paul addressed next.
I mentioned I am the Nebraska kid, well this Nebraska kid has always felt that I should dress in my best clothes to go to meet in God’s house. I have always done this even though I did not have a suit for many years, but I always wore the best clothes I could afford.
At one point I was judged, by some super saints that wore suits, as having spiritual problems because I wore cowboy boots (the best I had - only footwear I owned) and dress slacks and sweaters over white shirt and tie. It ultimately lead to the pastor confronting me with my spiritual problems.
Now, it seems that there had to be a little arrogance on the part of some in this situation, in that they were trying to require me to go buy a suit that I definitely could not afford so that I could be as spiritual as they. I might mention in passing that when we had a couples get together for the church nobody showed up - seems they, like Peter, separated themselves as well - we had no fellowship with the people in that church though we tried very hard.
Now, that casual is in for church dress, I have bought a couple of suits over the years, and find that I am now on the outs with the casuals. One assistant pastor came to me one morning, looked me up and down, and said, "Boy you make me look like a scrounge." His assessment, not mine. His comment as well as others he made over a few months seemed clearly to say, you really aren’t dressed properly, you really ought to dress like me.
I don’t wear suits to make others uncomfortable; I wear suits because that is the best I have to wear when I go to church.
Oh well, Nebraskans aren’t known for their fitting into ........... Enough said :-)
8. The believer today can deny the gospel by the way he lives. This is what Peter was doing.
9. We should look forward to our most basic beliefs and practices being tested. Peter walked into this test of his lifestyle and came out changed because he was in error. I trust that we will be open to change our belief/practice if we find it to deny basic truth from the Word.
I have a particular doctrine in which I hold to a little different view than most. I have put it on the internet for people to consider and question. I am not saying categorically that I would teach this doctrine as truth, since I am still comparing the Word to that belief to see if it really stands up to the Word.
A few years after putting the file online I was contacted by one of the internet writers that seems to know all, see all, and tell all, especially the tell part. He started blasting me about the teaching, which was okay - I had asked for input. As I countered many of his points, he would suggest many more. It was obvious that he was discussing this from the point of view that he was right and that I was wrong. There was no thought to the fact that he might be in error, or that I might have some valid points.
I didn’t mind the testing, but I minded the closed mind at the other end. There was no real thought as to the possible validity of my point. I further, in my file raised a number of items in Scripture, problems if you will, that my line of thought answers most perfectly.
I asked that he respond to the problem areas with his answers to them. There was never any mention of these questions, totally ignored went they.
Know the Word, know the Lord and know your heart, and from there give thought to criticism from others. It will come, consider it and make your decision, then be comfortable in that decision. If change is needed, do so; if not then go forward in your life knowing that you have considered the possibles.
10. Giants fail - Peter did wrong, and he was confronted on the issue.
11. Confrontation of public wrong should be public, not private. I have been told that when one of the seminar people was in his prime some of his teaching was found wanting. Someone asked to discuss the teaching openly, and he refused calling up Matthew 18:1-35 as the reason - he said he would be glad to discuss it privately.
The accuser stood firm and pointed out that his teaching was public and that some of his students were taking his teaching to extreme limits and it was wrong. Since the supposed wrong was in public, the discussion should be in public.
Right on! That accuser stood for truth. He gained that discussion and from what I am told there was public recognition of wrong teaching.
Sin needs to be confronted - it should be confronted personally if it is personal and public when it is public. Confrontation is very important. If we don’t do it we gain a church as we have today - one that is full of sin - open sin - and nothing is being done about it. How in the world can we be a witness to the world of sinners when we are being a witness of open sin? Never can we be the light of the world. The church must purify itself before we can be a witness for our Lord.
12. Courage strengthens the church. This incident was one that straightened out a problem in the early church. It took courage for Paul to confront Peter, the leader of the church, the one that preached the first sermon of the church, the one that Christ seemed to favor - how does one gather enough courage to say, hey, you, you are doing wrong?
I fear - good choice of words - that I have been very weak in this area of Christian life. I find it easy to confront the wrongs I see in the church in the printed page, or online, but when it comes to face to face, nose to nose, and toes to toes confrontation I find it terribly hard to muster enough courage to do what is called for.
Those few times I mustered courage enough, the one I confronted was in no spiritual condition to see the truth of what I was saying, or just didn’t care to be logical and spiritual.
The fact is that God wants us to confront, whether we are rebuked or if we are accepted - our responsibility is to confront wrong, it is up to God to deal with the result.
13. I wonder if part of the problem was that Peter was raised in Judaism and all that Judaism was at this time, thus when he accepted Christ he had that struggle of how to change his life to properly picture the change in direction of his life and belief.
It doesn’t take long to think of the Roman Catholic that accepts the Lord. Some never leave the Roman church - not that it is right for them to stay, but it is understandable when you realize the life long indoctrination and habit that they have had and still have.
I don’t see Peter as looking at this situation and deciding "I am going to offend the Gentiles and fellowship with the Jewish boys because they are my kind. Rather, I envision Peter just doing what he wanted to do and not thinking of the implications of how it looked and what message it was sending.
A strong point to remember - think about how you live your life and how it appears to others.
14. The question to be asked at this point: If a person accepts Christ then begins to add the law because he thinks it will help in his salvation, is he really a Christian. Another question that automatically comes up is this; if a person that is keeping the law in Judaism accepts Christ and continues to obey the law, is he really a Christian. One further question is if a person has been a Christian for several years and comes to believe that obedience to the law is required for his salvation, is he a person that was lost as we all were, and became a Christian, then by accepting the law became lost?
God will sort it out is the proper attitude, but let us see if we can sort it out a little more for our own minds.
I think it is clear that Paul is speaking hypothetically to prove a point - that the Judaizers are not correct in their doctrine. He is using logic to show that adding the law to grace has all sorts of illogical conclusions. In reality you can’t add law to grace. Grace is complete in its work and no matter how hard you try you cannot assist it to its end.
In conclusion, I would suggest that if a person accepted Christ and later added the law, that he probably did not truly accept Christ unto salvation. A person can make a mental assent to the gospel without really accepting the reality of it within their life.
Years ago we met a Jewish woman that had been "led to the Lord" by a pastor. She had a glowing testimony for several months, but soon started seeking further spirituality. She ended up falling into the trap of the charismatic movement - seeking the baptism so she could be really complete.
Ultimately she happened into a little Baptist church and heard the gospel in its simplicity and reality and accepted Christ as payment for her sin. Some suggested that she was saved the first time and just didn’t understand her salvation; others felt that the pastor did not clearly share the gospel with her.
Today, we have a watered down gospel that lets everyone accept - the gospel is so broad that anyone can believe it. We need first to get them lost in their minds, and then they can be saved.
Now, back to the question. I, at this point in my study of the Word, believe that a person that is truly saved that adds obedience to the law is not really adding anything to grace. They are only adding bondage to their living. Are they lost, I don’t believe they are. Do they mock grace in their lives, very definitely. Does their obedience to the law detract from grace, now, how could it, grace is complete.
Do they hinder their ability to evangelize? Definitely, they are preaching a polluted gospel - however it is no more polluted than the easy believism that evangelicals have allowed themselves to slide into.
I do believe that it is God that will have to sort things out in the end. To clarify, if I may, to work after salvation is good, but if you do it for salvation, you work in vain. If at any point you are truly trusting in your works for salvation, then you are not trusting God for them and you probably are not saved.
If a saved person is swayed into believing they must work to be saved, I do not believe that they have lost their eternal salvation, only the peace that grace can give. That person is not being overly nice to God in suggesting that He didn’t do it right, but once a person is saved they cannot move themselves out of that personal relationship with God.
We [who are] Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, 16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
Verse sixteen seems to say three times in quick succession, that the law doesn’t cut it in salvation - I rather think Paul was trying very hard to get that point across to his readers.
Darby translates the verse this way. "We, Jews by nature, and not sinners of [the] nations"
The "we" being Peter and Paul - we - Jews by our very nature and heritage, and not lost as the Gentiles, know that we aren’t justified by the law, but by faith is the thought of verse fifteen. Another clear declaration of salvation by faith in Christ alone, without any part of the law.
But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, [is] therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid.
Jamieson Fausset and Brown suggest that Paul is saying, if we, justified by faith in Christ, are found to be sinners - by eating with the Gentiles - then is Christ not the one causing us to sin if we eat with them?
Just an observation before we move on, I have to wonder what kind of relationship Peter and Paul had intellectually. This is Paul’s side of the conversation, and it is such a detailed complicated response - what must Peters comments have been to elicit such a response? Just a thought to ponder.
It seems that Paul saw some feeling in the Jews, that Christ had made things different for them. The Jews and Gentiles were considered as sinners before God and seemingly the Jews may have felt that since they knew about God before the Gentiles did that they should have some special standing before God. Paul seemed to sense that there was a feeling that Christ dying for the Gentiles to was somehow causing them trouble with the Gentiles.
Paul says Christ did not cause this sin.
My own view of this verse is this. If you are seeking to be saved by faith in Christ and look to the law also - which is going to tell you that you are a sinner - then does Christ become the purveyor of sin - definitely not - it is the law that is the problem not Christ.
Verse eighteen (18 For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.) follows to say if I lay on the law I lay on the sin as well and make myself again a sinner, when in reality Christ has made us free and Christ is all we need to remain so - if we in fact take on the law then we take on sin once again. No, I am not speaking of security at all. He is explaining the relation of the law to Christ.
Verse nineteen adds to this! 19 For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.
I’m dead to the law and it can no longer make me a sinner, because I cannot obey all of it.
I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. 21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness [come] by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.
There is a choice to make. You can trust in the grace extended by Christ or you can trust the works of your mind and body to gain acceptance with God and gain entrance into his heaven. There are two choices, but only one can be had per person, you can’t have it both ways, you can’t do both, the one excludes the other.
Kind of like toast. Dry and crumbly, only way it comes but a little butter seems to make it a little more acceptable. No, works do not make the cross a little more acceptable - the cross stands on its own or it does not stand.
The overall argument to the Galatian believers - my gospel is from God, my gospel teaches right living, and just to add a little proof to the pudding, my gospel corrected Peter himself. If my gospel does it all, how can you want to try to live by someone else’s perverted gospel?
Verse twenty-one restates it all again, if I take upon myself the law I render Christ’s death null and void - for myself, not for all man. (21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness [come] by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.)
Note that the law frustrates the grace of God. Oopps, I say ooopppppps, that verse should frustrate also the Calvinist that believes man cannot frustrate or interfere with what God wants to do. If we follow through on the thinking - if I take on the law it seems that it will hinder grace. Just how far can we take this? If I am a lost person and take upon myself the law am I not countering grace completely? It would seem so. IF I counter grace completely am I not choosing the state of the lost? It would seem so, and since this counters the rest of the Word we need to understand this text in the spirit in which it was given not in some intellectual manner.
Paul is giving a defense of doctrine, not stating cases in point. He is speaking hypothetically. Not that one can choose to step outside of salvation, but that this is the end result of what the Judaizers are attempting to do. It is impossible to do in actuality.
Copyright 2008. Used by Permission. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording or otherwise without the prior permission of the author, except as provided by U.S.A. copyright laws. Do feel free to make copies for friends that might be interested as long as you do not make profit from the copies. This is God's work and I don't want anyone to profit from it in a material way.
Derickson, Stanley. "Commentary on Galatians 2". "Derickson's Notes on Selected Books". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany