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In the preceding chapter, St. Paul has been concerned to make clear the position that neither the gospel which he preached nor the commission which he held was derived from the older apostles- the history of the first years of his ministry showed this. The apostle is now addressing himself to a different subject; he wishes to show that his gospel, though not derived from the older apostles, had, however, while recognized as standing on an independent footing, received the sanction of their approval. This being his object, he had no occasion to refer in any way to visits which he may have made to Jerusalem between the one mentioned in Galatians 1:18 and the one here referred to. The tenor of his argument, therefore, so far, does not of itself determine whether this visit was either the one mentioned in Acts 11:30; Acts 12:25, or the one described in Acts 15:1-41., or possibly some other not recorded. That, however, it was in reality that of Acts 15:1-41. rather than that of Acts 11:1-30., Acts 11:12., hardly admits of a doubt, if we compare the circumstances here related with those which marked the condition of Church affairs at Jerusalem on the two occasions severally as described by St. Luke. The imprisonment of St. Peter and the whole state of distress presented to us in Acts 12:1-25. make it well-nigh inconceivable that any such incidents should have then occurred as St. Paul here speaks of; while, on the other hand, the question agitated on the occasion described in Acts 15:1-41. corresponds precisely in character with the mutual relations here described as subsisting between St. Paul and the believers of the circumcision with their leaders. What St. Paul here relates fits in very naturally into the circumstances related in Acts 15:1-41., though the situation is looked at from different points of view. "I went up again," he says; not, "I went up a second time."
The chapter falls into two sections. Of these, viewed in their leading purport, the first (Acts 15:1-10) exhibits the recognition formally accorded to St. Paul's gospel and work by the highest authorities of the Church of the circumcision; the second (Acts 15:11-21) displays in a very stalking light the independence and co-ordinateness of his position when standing face to face with the very chiefest of the apostles. But while these seem to be their leading objects, we find the apostle weaving in, after his manner, trenchant references to other matters relevant to the main purpose of the Epistle, and even enlarging upon them.
Then fourteen years after (ἔπειτα διὰ δεκατεσσάρων ῤῶν); then after a space of fourteen years. Beckoned from when? Many think from the visit mentioned in Galatians 1:18; others, from the time of his conversion. At first sight, the former seems the more obvious view; but fuller consideration determines for the latter. The apostle lays stress upon the interval being so long; as if it were, "It was not less than fourteen years after, that a conference took place between me and the older apostles relative to the gospel which I preach; during all which time I was preaching it on a footing independent of them." There appears no other motive than this for his specifying the number of years. This being so, the specification would naturally at once include the whole period during which he had been so engaged, and not leave it to the reader to add the two or three years which had elapsed before the visit mentioned Galatians 1:18. I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas (πάλιν ἀνέβην εἰς Ἱεροσόλυμα μετὰ Βαρνάβα). It is questionable whether this "again" covers the clause "with Barnabas," or not. We assume with confidence that this visit to Jerusalem is the one described in Acts 15:1-41. We know, therefore, that there had been at least one journey to Jerusalem previously taken by St. Paul in conjunction with Barnabas, viz. that of Acts 11:1-30., Acts 11:12. We know also that he had been in close association with Barnabas in that first visit to Jerusalem mentioned above in Galatians 1:18 (comp. Acts 9:27); it is very possible that they had then come up in company. Now, so affecting was the interest for St. Paul with which both these visits were fraught, the one on his own account, the ether on account of the distress then suffered by the Church, that we may feel certain that, in the careful review he is now taking of the past, both of them would most vividly recur to his recollection; so vividly that it is quite conceivable that he was writing to the Galatians of his "going again to Jerusalem with Barnabas," with allusion to those two former visits, though he has not before named Barnabas's name in connection with that one which alone he has spoken of. If this view is not admitted, we must suppose a comma present after "Jerusalem" And took Titus with me also; or rather, perhaps, and took in our company also Titus (συμπαραλαβὼν καὶ Τίτον) The σὺν in συμπαραλαβὼν seems to allude to the others whom Paul and Barnabas, as mentioned in Acts 15:2, took with them on that journey. So also in Acts 12:25 and Acts 15:37; for in these two passages we are not to suppose that John Mark is named as being their sole companion, but rather that he is specified only in preparation for what has afterwards to be told concerning him. In Acts 15:39 παραλαβόντα without the σὺν simply indicates that Mark was with Barnabas, without reference to others who may or may not have been with them. The singular number of the participle, συμπαραλαβών, appears to indicate a certain footing of independent action which St. Paul had by this time gained for himself, even when viewed in relation to Barnabas: Paul himself attached Titus to the company, At any rate, it needs to be noted that St. Paul speaks of himself as simply "going up with Barnabas," not as "taking Barnabas with him;" for it would be a misconception alike of the import of the words before us, and of the relative position as yet outwardly obtaining in public action between the two men, to think of Paul as the leader and chief organizer of the accompanying party and of Barnabas as subordinate to him. The higher apostolate of Paul was at that time only in process of manifestation, not as yet fully realized in the Church (see Introduction, Dissertation II.). Nothing is known of the antecedents of Titus, save that he was a "Greek" (verse 3), both his parents apparently being Gentiles, and that St. Paul, in designating him in the Epistle addressed to him (Titus 1:4), as his "true child" (γνήστον τέκνον), seems to mark him out as a convert of his own; while the manner in which he is here named to the Galatians suggests the surmise that he was no stranger to themselves. The apostle may be supposed to have secured his being appointed by the Antiochian Church to be one of the deputation to Jerusalem, both that he might be a representative of the Church of the uncircumcision, and on account of his great moral fitness to take part in the delicate and critical business then on foot. About the time the apostle wrote this letter to the Galatians, he was much employed by him, being entrusted with missions, which, like that earlier one, required especial firmness and discretion tempered with truly Christian sentiment (of. 2 Corinthians 2:13; 2Co 7:6, 2 Corinthians 7:13-15; 2 Corinthians 8:16, 2Co 8:22; 2 Corinthians 12:18. See Mr. Phillott's article on "Titus" in Smith's 'Dictionary of the Bible').
And I went up by revelation; or, and I went up in accordance with a revelation (ἀνέβην δὲ κατὰ ἀποκάλυτιν). The form of sentence in the Greek is similar to that(e.g.) in John 21:1; Romans 3:22; James 1:6 : a word of the preceding context is taken up afresh for the purpose of being qualified or explained. Revelations were frequently made to the apostle, both to communicate important truths (Ephesians 3:3) and to direct or encourage his proceedings. They appear to have been made in different ways: as, through dreams or visions (Acts 16:9, Acts 16:10; Acts 18:9; Acts 22:18-21; Acts 27:23); through prophets (Acts 13:2; Acts 21:11); often, no doubt, through a strong impulse borne in upon his spirit, prompting him to, or debarring him from, some particular line of conduct (Acts 16:6, Acts 16:7). The journey now in question being that recorded by St. Luke (Acts 15:1-41., init.), we have to observe that St. Luke ascribes his going to a decision come to by the brethren at Antioch (Acts 15:2). But there is no discrepancy here. It is an obvious supposition, that the apostle, taking into consideration, perhaps, the prejudice entertained against him at Jerusalem, not only, as Christ had himself intimated to him, by the unbelieving Jews (Acts 22:18), but, as James later on confessed, by even the members of the Church itself (Acts 21:21; comp. on both points, Rom 16:1-27 :31), felt at first some hesitation in accepting the commission; was he by going likely to forward their views?—but that his hesitation was overruled by Christ himself, who in some way revealed to him that it was his will that he should go. Similarly, when visiting Jerusalem for the first time after his conversion, his hasty departure from the city is attributed by St. Luke to the care of the disciples for his safety (Acts 9:25); whereas St. Paul, in his speech from the stairs, ascribes it to a" trance," in which the Lord appearing to him bade him to depart thence without delay (Acts 22:17, Acts 22:21) The two accounts in each instance are mutually supplementary, the one viewing the case historically from the outside, the other as an autobiographical reminiscence from within. The apostle's reason for thus pointedly mentioning the especial direction under which he took this journey, had evidently reference to its being the design of Christ, that thereby, together with other objects to be subserved by it, the doctrine and ministerial work of Paul should be sealed with the recognition of his first apostles and of his earliest Church—a result of prime necessity for the prosperous development of the whole Church; more important, perhaps, than even its more ostensible result as described by St. Luke. And communicated unto them (καὶ ἀνεθέμην αὐτοῖς); and I laid before them. The verb occurs in the New Testament besides only in Acts 25:14, where it means simply giving the king an account of Paul's case with the view apparently of getting his opinion upon it. In the present case St. Paul stated his doctrine to the persons referred to, with the view likewise of seeing what they would say; but certainly not with any intention of having it modified by their suggestions (cf. the use of ἀνέθετο in 2 Macc. 3:9, which presents a curiously similar conjunction of particulars). By them, i.e. those there, are obviously meant, not the inhabitants in general, but the Christians of the place, though not immediately before mentioned. We have the like use of the pronoun in Acts 20:2; 2 Corinthians 2:13. That gospel which I preach (τὸ εὐαγγέλιον ὃ κηρύσσω). The present tense of the verb points to the whole period of his ministry up to the time at which he was writing. It is implied that his teaching had been the same all along. Elsewhere he styles it "my gospel" (Romans 2:16; Romans 16:25; 2 Timothy 2:8). Among the Gentiles (ἐν τοῖς ἔθνεσι); alluding to the complexion of his doctrine as bearing upon the acceptance of Gentiles before God simply upon their faith in Christ (cf. Ephesians 3:1, Ephesians 3:6, Ephesians 3:8). But privately (κατ ̓ ἰδίαν δέ). The phrase, κατ ̓ ἰδίαν, occurs sixteen times besides in the New Testament, always in the sense of privately, apart. To them which were of reputation (τοῖς δοκοῦσι); them who were of repute; men eminent in repute and position. The phrase, οἱ δοκοῦντες, was used in this sense both in classical Greek and in the later "common dialect". There is no reason to suppose that there is any tone of disparagement in the phrase, as if the persons spoken of "seemed" to be more than they really were. The apostle repeats this participle thrice in the following context—once (2 Corinthians 2:6), as here, absolutely; and twice (2 Corinthians 2:6, 2 Corinthians 2:9) with an infinitive. This harping upon δοκοῦντες suggests a surmise that St. Paul's gainsayers in Galatia had been fond of using the expression to designate the persons referred to in disparagement of himself as a man comparatively of no mark. Compare the almost mocking reiteration of "superlatively chief apostles," in 2 Corinthians 11:5 and 2 Corinthians 11:12. l 1, referring to "pseudo-apostles." In order to determine who were the persons the apostle thus distinguishes, we naturally refer to St. Luke's account of the circumstances. St. Luke, then, seems to speak of three several meetings held on this occasion. The first (in verse 4) when Paul and Barnabas with their fellow-deputies, were "received by the Church and the apostles and the elders;" when "they [Paul and Barnabas] declared what great things God had done in co-operation with them." It cannot have been then that St. Paul gave this exposition of his gospel. But certain of the Pharisees who had joined the Church began loudly to insist upon the necessity of Gentile converts being circumcised and conforming to the Law. Whether it was at this first meeting itself that this took place, or subsequently, at all events "the apostles and the elders" judged it to be undesirable that the matter should be further discussed in so large an assemblage of the circumcision, before, in the calmer atmosphere of a private conference, they had themselves considered what course it would be best to adopt. Accordingly, St. Luke tells us (verse 6), "the apostles and the elders came together to see about this matter." "After much discussion had taken place," which upon a question so closely touching the Jew's national sensibilities must even in this more select body have been fraught with no ordinary excitement, the rising passions of controversy were stilled by Peter; he recalled the story of Cornelius, and founding thereupon, he warned his hearers, that by imposing, as many perhaps even of those then present were wishful to do, the intolerable yoke of Mosaism upon the neck of the Gentile disciples, they ran the risk of contravening and provoking God; for after all (he significantly reminded them), their own hope of salvation, as well as the hope of Gentile believers, was that they would be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus. Thereupon the "whole company" (πλῆθος, in verse 12, is used by St. Luke in the same way as in his Gospel (Luke 23:1) when speaking of the Sanhedrin; the eldership of the very large Church of Jerusalem must of itself, without the doubtful addition of elders from Judaean towns, have formed a considerable body) listened with hushed and respectful attention to Paul and Barnabas, while they gave a detailed account of what great signs and wonders God had wrought amongst the Gentiles through them. After this, upon James's proposition, "the apostles and the elders" came to the resolution that, in conjunction with the whole Church, they would choose and depute certain members of their community to convey to the Gentile brethren a certain letter, which very probably (cf. as to diction, verses 17, 23, with James 2:7; James 1:1) James himself, as presiding in their meeting, with the concurrence of the apostles and the elders, drew up. The words," with the whole Church," coming in here for the first time since verse 4, indicate a third meeting, in which the general body of believers was prevailed upon to concur in the measures before agreed upon in the second more private meeting. According to the more approved reading of verse 23 (omitting the καὶ before ἀδελφοί), the letter issues from "the apostles and the elder brethren" alone, as these also were the persons with whom (verse 2) the deputation from Antioch had been sent to confer. Now, upon the review of all the circumstances as now stated, the second of these three meetings would seem to have presented just such an opportunity as would suit the design which St. Paul had frowned, of expounding his teaching to the leading spirits in Jerusalem. When he and Barnabas were relating those signs and wonders by which the seal of Divine sanction had been put upon their ministry among the Gentiles, it was natural that Paul, here no doubt, as generally "the chief speaker," should tell their hearers with the utmost distinctness what that teaching was which Heaven had thus ratified; most especially that part of it which was so directly relevant to the practical question which was then in debate, and which is so emphatically set forth in the Epistles to the Galatians and the Romans—to wit, that all who believe in Christ are justified and have full peace and sonship with God without any works of Mosaical ceremonialism. This was precisely "the gospel" which here (verse. 2) he speaks of as "preached by him among the Gentiles" "The apostles and the elders" answer perfectly to the description of οἱ δοκοῦντες. For there is no reason for supposing that the οἱ δοκοῦντες of verses 2 and 6, or the οἱ δοκοῦντες εἶναί τι of verse 6, represent exactly the same persons as the οἱ δοκοῦντες στύλοι εἶναι of verse 9. These last are to be conceived of rather as representative of those larger bodies of men recited in tile former three references—"James" representing the elders (for the present writer makes no question but that this James "the Lord's brother" was the presiding officer or Bishop of the Church of Jerusalem, and not one of the twelve apostles), and "Cephas and John" representing the twelve, who may be believed to have been all of them at Jerusalem at this time, though these two, certainly the leading ones, are the only ones whose names there happened to be occasion for specifying. Lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain (μή πως εἰς κενὸν τρέχω ἢ ἔδραμον). The comparison of 1 Thessalonians 3:5 (μή πως ἐπείρασεν ὑμᾶς ὁ πειρὰζων καὶ εἰς κενὸν γένηται ὁ κόπος ἡμῶν) shows that τρέχω is the subjunctive. The present tense, lest I should be running, points to the time of which he is writing and the time onward therefrom. In classical Greek it would have been τρέχοιμι. The use of the verb τρέχω, "run," "rush on," a favourite word with the apostle, well characterizes the zealous forward, speeding manner of his activity. "In vain;" to an empty result; for no good. He intimates that there had been a danger lest the fruits of his earnest work among the Gentiles, might through some cause get wrecked. That this is what he means is clear from 1 Thessalonians 3:5 just cited; and not that there had been any fear lest he might himself have been somehow mistaking his way; most especially, not lest he had been at all mistaken in the doctrine which he taught, a thing which he does not for one moment imagine. His work would have been in danger of being spoilt if the Gentile Churches as planted by himself had been disowned or discountenanced by the mother Church, or if they had got split up into factious parties by the intervention, e.g. of persons coming "from James," telling them that they were not in a state of salvation. To guard against this danger, he was led by Christ himself to seek a formal recognition of his doctrine by the apostles and the elders of the Jerusalemite Church, and through them by that Church itself. As the rank-and-file of the Jewish believers at Jerusalem were even bigotedly attached to the Mosaic Law, and also regarded St. Paul himself with great suspicion, he might very easily have failed of gaining the recognition he required, if he had at once brought the matter before the general body. If their spiritual leaders had not first come forward in the cause of truth, it was but too probable that some fanatical Mosaists would have gained the ear of the multitude, and hurried them away in a course of headlong opposition to Paul and his teaching, from which it might have been very difficult afterwards to recall them.
But (ἀλλ )); and yet. "Though I explicitly stated to the leading men in the Church of Jerusalem what I taught respecting the relation of Gentile converts to circumcision and the Mosaic Law, yet in the end they, by their support, enabled us to withstand the pressure which was for a while applied for getting Titus circumcised.'' Neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised (οὐδὲ Τίτος ὁ σὺν ἐμοί Ἕλλην ὢν ἠναγκάσθη περιτμηθῆναι); not even was Titus who was with me, being a Greek, compelled to be circumcised. This, St. Paul intimates, was a crucial case. Titus was a Gentile pure; not (like Timothy) having one parent of Jewish extraction and therefore capable of being identified with the Jewish people, but Gentile-born of both parents. The clause, '"who was with me," after verse 1, was quite unnecessary for mere definition; in fact, it is not added for definition, but to mark the close association with an uncircumcised Gentile which the apostle openly displayed at Jerusalem. He took him with him, we may suppose, when he came before the Church at its public assemblies; when he appeared before the select meeting of the apostles and elders; when he joined the brethren in the agapae and the Lord's Supper—occasions of fraternal communion, in which the presence of a "dog," "an uncircumcised Greek," would be tenfold obnoxious. We cannot, by the way, but marvel at St. Paul's great courage in thus acting. Not only was this paraded fellowship with Titus sure to give deep offence to the vast majority of his Christian brethren, but it might also well expose him to serious personal risks among the highly inflammable populace of the city. At Jerusalem his "soul was among lions." The two clauses, "who was with me, being a Greek," illustrate the "not even." Openly displayed as was Titus's companionship with St. Paul before the eyes of all the Jews, both believers and unbelievers,and Gentile as he was known to be, yet not even in his case was circumcision persistently insisted upon. The aorist tense of ἠναγκάσθη is significant of the ultimate result; it implies that an attempt was made to get Titus to submit to the rite, but failed. We must observe that St. Paul does not write,"I was not compelled to circumcise Titus," but "Titus was not compelled to be circumcised." This appears to make a material difference. By putting it as he has done, the apostle intimates that it was to Titus himself that the pressure was applied. Titus was plied, we may suppose, with theological argument, with appeals to his brotherly sympathies, with appeals to his prudent care for public peace, with threats of social and religious excommunication, and with stern, indignant remonstrance. But sustained, as he all through knew himself to be, by at least St, Paul, if not also by his fellow-deputies, he through it all maintained his firm stand upon his liberty. The "we" of the εἴχαμεν in verse 5, no doubt, includes at least Titus. The question, however, arises—Who were they that for a while endeavoured to force circumcision upon Titus? The converts from the sect of the Pharisees, mentioned by St. Luke (Acts 15:5), are naturally the first to occur to our minds. But the moulding of the sentence in the next verse discountenances this solution. We cannot help identifying the "false brethren" there spoken of with just those very Pharisean converts—men who had simply thrown the cloak of professed Christian discipleship over the old Pharisean legalism still wholly clung to. But if we suppose this, we cannot imagine that the writer would have said that Titus was not compelled to be circumcised "by reason of those false brethren," if these had been the very persons alluded to as having tried to compel him. It is more probable that the persons alluded to were certain influential members of the Jewish Church, with a strong body, perhaps, of the elders of that Church, having possibly the concurrence even of James and of Cephas. James and the elders, on a later occasion (Acts 21:18-26), urged Paul himself to undertake the performance of certain Mosaical observances, with the view of conciliating the believers of Jerusalem. It is, therefore, quite supposable, at this earlier and as yet immature stage in the development of the practical application of the evangelical doctrine, that Titus was now being dealt with in a somewhat similar manner. But whoever they were that were doing it, it is plain that, in effect, they were working towards the same practical result as the most eager of the Mosaist legalists, only by a different mode of approach. Titus in particular was fastened upon for this assault, apparently because St. Paul had brought him with him as a crucial instance whereupon to try the general question.
And that because of false brethren unawares brought in (διὰ δὲ τοὺς παρεισάκτους ψευδαδέλφους); and that because of the false brethren without warrant brought in. The conjunction δὲ often is not adversative, but only introduces a fresh thought of a qualifying or explanatory character (comp. ἀνέβην δὲ and κατ ἰδίαμ δὲ of Galatians 2:2). The rendering of our English Version represents the connection with the preceding sentence quite correctly. The designation, "false brethren," after the analogy of "false apostles," "false prophets" (ψευδαπόστολοι, ψευδοπροφῆται, 2 Corinthians 11:13; 2 Peter 2:1), were those who were not really brethren in Christ, but had superinduced the profession of such over a state of mind radically incompatible with it; not children of God through faith in Christ Jesus," but only simulating faith in Christ; outwardly "baptized into Christ," but not inwardly, and therefore not really. The loud demand which those false brethren were making, that all Gentile converts should be circumcised, was distinctly rested by them upon the principle that otherwise those converts were not qualified for sonship in God's family or for admission to Church fellowship with, at any rate, the believing circumcision. This demand of theirs, made upon this pernicious principle, it was that had raised the present controversy, and had brought Paul and his fellow-deputies to Jerusalem. If, under such circumstances, Titus, with St. Paul's concurrence, had consented to be circumcised, then, whatever the motive of his consenting, it would have seemed to those false brethren, and not to them only, but indeed to the Church at large, that all had agreed in recognizing the soundness of that principle of theirs that circumcision was indispensable for perfect Divine acceptance. This consideration, we may believe, Titus and St. Paul now urged upon those who, not themselves alleging that principle, nor even allowing it to be true, yet, on other grounds, were recommending and pressing for Titus's circumcision. And the argument prevailed with them. They withdrew that pressure of theirs, and consented to leave Titus to stand there before the Church and the world, a claimant of full admission to all Christian fellowship while still in uncircumcision. It was those false brethren themselves, then, that made it impossible at the present juncture that those who held fast to the truth of the gospel should accept counsels of compromise or conciliation. In matters of indifference (ἀδιάφορα) there is a time for conciliation—this no one could ever be more ready to see and act upon than St. Paul; but there is also a time for the unbending assertion of truth, and the clamours of the false brethren made the present to be one of the latter kind. In that particular juncture of Church development, the doctrine itself of the absolute justification of men through faith in Christ was at stake. If Titus was not qualified for Christian fellowship by simply his faith in Christ, then neither was he qualified for acceptance with God by simply his faith. Without warrant brought in. In the compound verbal παρεισάκτους, the preposition παρὰ, appears to point, not so much to the manner in which they had been brought in, as e.g. stealthily, craftily, as to the circumstance that they had no business to be brought in at all; they were an alien brood. The Greek glosselogists, Hesychius, Photius, and Suidas, render it ἀλλότριος, i.e. alien. In 2 Peter 1:1, παρεισάξουσιν αἱρέσεις ἀπωλείας, reference is made to the alien character of the teaching spoken of. The apostle's feeling is that men who do not accept the truth that through faith in Christ we are justified, and through faith only, have no proper place in the Church of Christ (comp. Galatians 5:4, Galatians 5:5). If the question be asked—Who brought them in? the parable of the tares suggests the answer—The devil. Who came in privily (οἵτινες παρεισῆλθον); a set of men who without warrant came in. The preposition παρὰ in the verb has the same force as it has in παρεισάκτους. So also in παριεσέδυσαν (Jude 1:4). To spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus (κατασκοπῆσαι τὴν ἐλευθερίαν ἡμῶν ἣν ἔχομεν ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ); to spy out that liberty of ours which, etc. These men had come into the Church prepared to detect and to regard with the keenest dislike anything, either in doctrine or in Church action, which would infringe upon their own legalism, and to wage war upon it. For this notion of hostile intent is strongly suggested by the verb "to spy out" (cf. 2Ki 10:3; 1 Chronicles 19:3; and κατασκοπεῦσαι in Joshua 2:2). The infinitive (of purpose), viewed in reference to the men themselves, can be understood only of their disposed-ness to make this use of their membership; for they can hardly be supposed to have entered into the Church for that definite object; but the apostle views them as emissaries of the great enemy; Satan's design thus to wage war with our gospel liberty is by a bold figure ascribed in this infinitive to his instruments. This liberty means the whole spirit of freedom which faith in Christ imparts to the Christian, including, for one thing, his emancipation from the yoke of ceremonialism, but containing also more. That they might bring us into bondage (ἵνα ἡμᾶς καταδουλῶσουσιν [Receptus, καταδουλώσωνται], The reading of six of the uncial manuscripts is καταδουλώσουσιν; of three, σωσιν; of one, -σωνται. The variation in the mood of the verb is immaterial; for the construction of ἵνα (of purpose) with an indicative, though strange to the eye of the student of classical Greek, is not foreign to the writers of the New Testament; but the variation in the voice affects the sense. Καταδουλώσωνται would mean "bring into bondage to themselves," which most probably is not the writer's meaning; he apparently means:rather, "deprive us of our liberty by enslaving us to the Law" (cf. ch. 4:25; 5:1). The simple verb δουλόω, occurs repeatedly; the compound καταδουλόω here and in 2 Corinthians 11:20, intensifies the sense: degrade us into slavery.
To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour (οἷς οὐδὲ πρὸς ὥραν εἴξαμεν) To whom; i.e. to the false brethren; not the persons immediately referred to in Galatians 2:3 as seeking to compel Titus to be circumcised. These last used advice and persuasion; the false brethren demanded with clamour (δεῖ, Acts 15:5). The phrase rendered for an hour occurs also John 5:35; 2 Corinthians 7:8; Phmon 2 Corinthians 1:15. There seems to be an underlying allusion to those occasions on which the apostle did, as he says, "to the Jews become as a Jew, to the weak, weak" (1 Corinthians 9:20, 1 Corinthians 9:22); but this he would not do when dealing with false brethren, whose aim was in effect to turn gospel freedom into legal slavery. We; I, Barnabas, Titus. The words οἶς οὐδὲ most certainly belong to the original text. Not merely does only one uncial manuscript omit them, but their omission would leave behind a sentence self-convicted of absurdity. For it would run thus: "But because of the false brethren without warrant brought in, a set of men who without warrant came in to spy out our liberty, that they might degrade us into slavery, we yielded for a season with subjection, that the truth of the gospel might lastingly abide with you;"—yielded, i.e. by circumcising Titus; for this is what this reading most probably supposes St. Paul to have done. In this sentence the vituperative description of the false brethren, so extended and so intensely emphatic, instead of being an implied argument in favour of the course of action which the apostle states he adopted, namely, concession to those men, both lacks all motive for its introduction here, and works wholly in favour of the opposite course, of resistance to their wishes. The only suitable and logical description of those for whose sake the concession would have been made would have been that they were brethren meaning well, but weak in the faith, who should, by concession for a season, be won over to more perfect accord with the gospel. By subjection (τῇ ὑποταγῇ): in the way of subjection. As ὑποταγὴ In the other passages in which it occurs means the habit or spirit of subjection, and never an act of submission (cf. 2 Corinthians 9:13;! Timothy 2 Corinthians 2:11; 2 Corinthians 3:4), it probably denotes here subjection of spirit to those who were so authoritatively laying upon us their injunctions, tie might give way in a point of this kind in a spirit of brotherly concession; but he would bow to no man's imperative injunction. The article before ὑποταγῇ is the article before an abstract noun, as in τῆς ἀγάπης (Galatians 5:13); τῇ ἐλαφρίᾳ (2 Corinthians 1:17). That the truth of the gospel (ἵνα ἡ ἀλήθεια τοῦ εὐαγγελίου). The truth, the sure unadulterated doctrine, which is embodied in the gospel, and is its very hinge and substance. The same phrase is found in Colossians 1:5. The "truth" is that enunciated in Colossians 1:16, and that it is the very essence of the gospel is declared Romans 1:17. The refusal of Church fellowship to a believer of this gospel except he were circumcised, by just inference vitiated and, indeed, nullified the truth that faith in Christ is the sole and sufficient ground of justification. Might continue with you (διαμείνῃ πρὸς ὑμᾶς). Might never cease to have its home with you, to be believingly entertained by you. Διαμένω is an intensified form of μένω. The preposition πρὸς is used as in Galatians 1:18, where see note. It is possible that, as Alford observes, the Galatians may not specially have been in St. Paul's mind at that time, but only the Gentile Churches in general; and that for greater impressiveness he applies to the particular what was only shared by it in the general. It is, however, supposable that the eases of the several Churches which he had then lately founded with Barnabas were much in his thoughts at that time; for, as is shown by his numerous references to his specific intercessory prayer, his spirit was incessantly conversant with "all the Churches" (2 Corinthians 11:28); and he was anxiously cognizant of efforts made from the very first by legalizing Christians to pervert their faith. It is not certain that Acts 16:6 records the first occasion of his visiting the "Galatic country;" he may have been there and founded "the Churches of Galatia" before the occurrences described in Acts 15:1-41.; and the opinion is even held by many that Iconium and Derbe, belonging to the Roman province of Galatia, were two of "the Churches of Galatia".
But of these who seemed to be somewhat (ἀπὸ δὲ τῶν δοκούντων εἶναί τι); now from those who were reputed to be somewhat. The conjunction δὲ does not seem to be adversative here, but simply introductory of a new particular. The writer is about to introduce, which he does in the next five verses (6-10), a fresh illustration of the independent position, which in point both of doctrine and of ministerial footing he held in relation to the first apostles and to the heads of the Jerusalemite Church, and at the same time of the full recognition which in both respects these had accorded to him. The construction of this sentence, as it proceeds, is interrupted and changed. When St. Paul wrote, from those who were reputed to be somewhat, he would seem to have meant to add, "I received nothing fresh either in knowledge of the gospel or in authority as Christ's minister," or some-tiring to that effect; but in his indignant parenthesis asserting his independence with respect to those whom his gainsayers in Galatia would seem to have pronounced his superiors, both in knowledge and in office, he loses sight of the beginning of the sentence, and begins it afresh in another form with the words (ἐμοὶ γὰρ οἱ δοκοῦντες), for they who were of repute, etc. Reputed to be somewhat; that is, thought highly of. The phrase is of frequent occurrence, both in Greek and in Latin authors. It is obvious that he refers to the twelve and the leaders of the mother Church of Jerusalem. Whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me (ὁποῖοί ποτε ἦσαν οὐδέν μοι διαφέρει); of what sort they at any time were maketh no matter to me. The ὁποῖοι (of what sort) is suggested by the preceding τι (somewhat), and the ἦσαν (they were) by the δοκούντων (reputed); from those reputed to be somewhat whatever they really were. The comparison of the usage of ὁποῖος in other passages (Acts 26:29; 1 Corinthians 3:18; 1 Thessalonians 1:9; James 1:24) hardly favours the specific interpretation, "how great." In respect to the ποτέ, in a classical author, as Bishop Light foot observes, we should have no hesitation in taking it as equivalent to cunque. But the word occurs in the New Testament in thirty-one ether places, and in not one is it cunque, but always the adverb of time, either "sometime," "in time past," as above, Galatians 1:13, Galatians 1:23; John 9:13; or "any time," as 1Co 9:7; 1 Thessalonians 2:5. The latter shade of meaning seems the more appropriate here. The any time, though not to be limited to, would, however, cover the time when the twelve were in personal attendance upon our Lord—a circumstance which St. Paul's detractors were no doubt wont to hold up as a mark of distinction not possessed by him. It seems best to take of what sort as dependent upon the following words, maketh no matter to me. This last clause is not exactly equivalent to "I care not," as if it were an almost supercilious waving aside of the consideration; it is rather a grave assertion of a matter of fact. Whatever were the gifts of knowledge and spiritual insight which the twelve or other heads of the Jerusalemite Church possessed, or whatever their ministerial privileges or authority, whether derived from personal intercourse with the Lord Jesus when upon earth or in any other way, Paul's knowledge of the gospel and Paul's apostolic authority were neither of them at all affected by them. Now, at the time that he is writing this Epistle, he was just the same in respect to the possession of the essential truth of the gospel and to his apostolic authority as if he had had no intercourse with the spiritual rulers of the Jewish Church. God accepteth no man's person (πρόσωπον Θεὸς ἀνθρώπου οὐ λαμβάνει). The order of the words in the Greek throws especial emphasis upon "person:" person of man God accepteth not; that is, it is never on account of his person that God accepteth a man. This phrase, "accept a man's person," is of frequent occurrence in the Bible. In the New Testament it is always used in a bad sense, which in the Old is by no means the case. This difference is due, as Bishop Lightfoot observes, to the secondary sense of actor's mask attaching to the Greek noun, the actor on the Greek stage, as also on the Roman, being wont to wear a mask suited to the character in which he appeared; whence also πρόσωπον got to signify this character itself. The corresponding technical term among the Romans was persona, a word never used of the natural face, as πρόσωπον was. This explains the adoption of this last term in its Anglicized form by our English translators in the phrase now before us. With the like metaphorical application of the idea as that which was so common among the Romans, the word "person" seemed well fitted to denote the part, or certain accessories of the part, which a man plays on the stage, so to speak, of human life, in contradistinction to his more interior and essential character. The phrase denotes accepting a man, for example, for his worldly rank or position, for his office, for his nationality, even for his Church status (see James 2:1, James 2:9; Acts 10:34; 1 Peter 1:17). The special adjuncts of a man's person referred to in the present passage are those of the outward call aforetime to be apostles and personal attendants upon the Lord Jesus while upon earth, and, in the case of St. James the Lord's brother, personal relationship to him. And St. Paul means to intimate that his knowledge of Divine truth and his ministerial fidelity and efficiency might be as real and as great, if God's will were so, as the knowledge and ministerial fidelity and efficiency of the twelve and St. James, whom his gainsayers were honouring so far above him merely for their person's sake. God made no such difference between him and them, but wrought with him just as much. For they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me (ἐμοὶ γὰρ οἱ δοκοῦντες οὐδὲν προσανέθεντο); for to me they who were of repute in conference added nothing. The verb προσανέθεντο, as it stands here, appears related to the ἀνεθέμην of verse 2. I laid before them my gospel; they imparted to me nothing fresh (πρός). Thus Chrysostom and Theodoret. In Galatians 1:16, where the same verb occurs (see note), there is nothing to accentuate the πρός, as there is here. The "for" appears related to the foregoing clause. That God does not respect man for his person was evidenced by the fact that Paul's knowledge of the gospel was already so complete and his work was so honoured by God, that those whose person seemed to many so markedly superior to his, found that all they had to do was to frankly recognize his teaching as already adequate and complete, and his work as standing on a perfectly equal footing with their own.
But contrariwise (ἀλλὰ τοὐναντίον)l as 2 Corinthians 2:7; 1 Peter 3:9. This "contrariwise" is illustrated by the foregoing note. When they saw (ἰδόντες); when they got to see. This implies that the fact was new to them. A few of them, no doubt, were apprised of it previously, Cephas in particular (see Galatians 1:18 and note); but the majority of that assemblage of apostles and elders knew Paul chiefly by hearsay, and hearsay not always the most friendly to him. The three named in the next verse are to be conceived of as acting as they did in order to give expression to this newly awakened feeling of the general body, and not merely to their own individual judgment. That the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter (ὅτι πεπίστευμαι τὸ εὐαγγέλιον τῆς ἀκροβυστίας καθὼς Πέτροβ τῆς περιτομῆς); that I had been put in trust of the gospel … as Peter of that of, etc. The perfect present πεπίστευμαι, viewed from the time of their seeing it. So the present ὀρθοποδοῦσιν in 1 Peter 3:14, and μέναι in John 1:40. The perfect is used anti not the aorist (cf. Romans 3:2), as marking the then still continuing holding of the trust, and also perhaps, as implying the con-tinning identity of the doctrine preached. Gospel of the uncircumcision. The word "gospel" is frequently used by St. Paul to denote, not so much the substance of its doctrine as the business of proclaiming it (comp. Romans 1:1, Romans 1:9; Romans 15:19; 1Co 9:14, 1 Corinthians 9:18; 2 Corinthians 2:12); and thus the gospel of the uncircumcision does not indicate any diversity in the doctrine communicated to the uncircumcision from that communicatcd to the Jews, but simply a diversity in the sphere of its proclamation. Ἀκροβυστία denotes the class of the uncircumcised in contrast to περιτομή, that of the circumcised, as in Romans 3:30. As Peter of that of the circumcision. This distinction between the spheres of work entrusted severally to the two apostles held good of them only as viewed in the main in either case; for as St. Peter was, in fact, the first who opened the gospel to the Gentiles, and afterwards, towards the close of Iris work, cared for the welfare of Gentile Christians by writing his two Epistles to them, so also St. Paul everywhere in his ministerial work addressed himself in the first instance to the Jews. Nevertheless, in the main, Peter was the head of the Church of the circumcised, Paul of that of the uncircumcised. But how completely the substance of Peter's doctrine was one with that of Paul's is strikingly evinced by his two Epistles (see 1 Peter 5:12). It is difficult to feel that St. Paul could have written as he here does, if he was aware that St. Peter had been constituted by the Lord Jesus to be his own vicar upon earth, supreme over the whole Church and all its ministers.
For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision (ὁ γὰρ ἐνεργήσας Πέτρῳ εἰς ἀποστολὴν τῆς περιτομῆς); he that had wrought on Peter's behalf for apostleship of the circumcision. In form, the sentence is an absolute statement of fact; but its bearing in the context would be fairly represented by rendering it relatively, "for that he who," etc.; for it was the perception of the fact here stated which led that assembly to the conviction that Paul had been entrusted with the apostleship of the uncircumcision. The dative Πέτρῳ can scarcely be governed, as the Authorized Version presupposes, by the preposition in ἐνεργήσας, this verb not being a separable compound; it is rather the dativus commodi, as in Proverbs 31:12, Ἐνεργεῖ τῷ ἀνδρὶ εἰς ἀγαθά. When operation in a subject is meant, the preposition ἐν is added, as Ephesians 1:20; Ephesians 2:2; Galatians 3:5. The worker is God, not Christ. God wrought on Peter's behalf for apostleship of the circumcision; that is, towards, in furtherance of, his work as their apostle, by constituting him their apostle, by making his ministry effectual in turning their hearts to Christ, and by miracles wrought by his hands, including the impartation through him of miraculous gifts to his converts; for such were "the signs of the apostle" (2 Corinthians 12:12). The same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles (ἐνήργησε καὶ ἐμοὶ εἰς τὰ ἔθνη); had wrought also on my behalf towards the Gentiles. Comp. Acts 15:12, "They hearkened unto Barnabas and Paul rehearsing what signs and wonders God had wrought (ἐποίησεν) among the Gentiles by them;" where likewise, as here, the aorist tense is used of action they were then looking back upon as past. The absence of Barnabas's name in this verse, though mentioned in the next, is significant. Barnabas was not an apostle in that highest sense of the term in which Paul was an apostle, and which alone he is now thinking of; although he was associated with Paul, both in ministerial work and in that lower form of apostleship which beth had received from men (comp. Acts 14:4, Acts 14:14; and Dissertation I. in the Introduction).
And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me (καὶ γνόντες τὴν χάριν τὴν δοθεῖσάν μοι Ἰάκωβος καὶ Κηφᾶς καὶ Ἰωάννης οἱ δοκοῦντες στύλοι εἶναι); and perceiving of a certainty the grace that was given unto me, James and Cephas and John, those reputed to be pillars (gave). This is the order in which the words stand in the Greek, in which the participle γνόντες ("perceiving of a certainty") stands co-ordinate with the participle ἰδόντες ("when they saw") of verse 7, so that this latter participle has "James, Cephas, and John" for its subject equally with the former, and verses 7 and 9 appear as forming one sentence. The expression, "the grace that was given unto me," occurs also 1 Corinthians 3:10; Romans 12:3; Romans 15:15; in which passages, as well as here, it is used with a definite reference to the office of apostle having been conferred upon him together with the qualification and aid for its efficient discharge. This definite reference to a heavenly gift connected with his official character is prominent in the apostle's use of the word "grace," also in Rom 1:5; 1 Corinthians 15:10; 2 Corinthians 12:9. The "grace that was given unto him," therefore, sums up the facts of his having been put in trust of the gospel of the uncircumcision, and of God's having wrought on his behalf in his discharge of that trust, which are presented in the two preceding verses. There is not much difference in the meaning of the participle γνόντες in this verse as compared with the participle ἰδόντες in 2 Corinthians 12:7; for as we find the verb "seeing" used with reference to objects not discernible by the bodily sense but perceived only through the medium of evidencing facts, as in 2 Corinthians 12:14 of this chapter, and in Luke 9:47; Luke 17:14; Matthew 9:2; Acts 11:23; Acts 14:9; Acts 16:19; so also the verb ἔγνων is sometimes used of perceiving, becoming apprised of, some fact, as Mark 6:38; Mark 8:17; Luke 9:11; John 12:9, when there is no clear intention of emphasizing the idea of certain knowledge. Sometimes, however, it seems as if the writer had such intention, as in Mark 8:17; Mark 15:45; Luke 8:46; Philippians 2:19; and probably it was in this more emphatic sense that the apostle here substituted "knowing" for the foregoing "seeing." "James, and Cephas, and John." This James is, no doubt, the same James as appears in Acts 15:1-41. holding so prominent and apparently presidential a position in the great meeting of Acts 15:6-21. The "James" of the old triumvirate of the Gospels, "Peter, James, and John," was now no more. This James, whose personality has been discussed above in note on Galatians 1:19, is named first, before even Cephas and John, though not an apostle, as being the leading "elder" (bishop, as such a functionary soon got to be designated) of the Church of Jerusalem; for in the classification of the component members of that meeting in Acts 15:6, "the apostles and the elders," James must be assigned to the latter category. The twelve had no distinctive official connection with this particular Church more than with other Churches; and, therefore, in meetings held at Jerusalem, the presidential position would naturally be conceded, not to any one of the apostles, but to the man who was statedly recognized as the superior "elder" of this particular community. St. John's name is not mentioned in Acts 15:1-41; but in other places in St. Luke's history "Peter and John" are found acting in conjunction, and this in such a manner as to betoken their holding a very prominent place among the apostles (Acts 3:1; Acts 4:13; Acts 8:14). The reason why these three are named, and none but these, is probably that on the occasion referred to these three alone—James as on behalf of the Church of Jerusalem, and Peter and John as on behalf of the twelve—stepped forward at the general request before the meeting, and formally all three clasped hands with Paul and Barnabas in token of their recognizing and ratifying their doctrine and ministry. In reference to the name "Cephas,' it may be observed that St. Paul finds occasion to name this apostle nine times; in seven of these he writes, according to the best manuscripts, "Cephas' (1 Corinthians 1:12; 1Co 3:22; 1 Corinthians 9:5; 1 Corinthians 15:5; Galatians 1:18; Galatians 2:9,Galatians 2:14); in two, "Peter" (Galatians 2:7, Galatians 2:8). The Judaizers in the Church, whether at Corinth or in Galatia, in their morbid hankering after whatever was distinctively Jewish, were sure to affect the use of the Hebraic form; on which account, probably, St. Paul, in dealing with these men, is seen so frequently using this form himself. Those reputed to be pillars. The apostle's object in adding this clause is apparently, to indicate why these three, rather than any others, represented the rest in this act of formal proceeding, and at the same time to intimate to his Galatian readers the supreme character of the attestation thus afforded, both to that gospel of his which certain among the Galatians were now tampering with, and to his official character which those same persons were beginning to disparage. "Pillars." The apostle, years after, in writing to Timothy, speaks of its being the proper function of "the Church of the living God" that she should be "a pillar and settled basis (ἑδραίωμα) of the truth," i.e. upholding the truth (1 Timothy 3:15). This suggests to us his meaning in using the same figure here. Those three men were by general consent looked up to as especially steadfast upholders of the truth of the gospel or of the Christian cause. In Revelation 3:12 the "pillar" seems thought of, not so much as upholding a superstructure as of something itself stationary, and also, perhaps, beautiful and glorious. Clement of Rome, in his Epistle to the Corinthians (§ 5), borrows the phrase with a more extensive application. The idea couched in the word "Cephas," rock, is so nearly identical with that of "settled basis," that the like affinity of ideas as led the apostle to connect "pillar" with the latter term in 1 Timothy 3:15 may be supposed to have led him now to connect "pillar" with "Cephas" and his two illustrious brethren. They gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship (δεξίας ἔδωκαν ἐμοὶ καὶ Βαρνάβα κοινωνίας); they each of them clasped each of us by the right hand, in token that they both did then, and would thereafter continue to, regard us, and we also them, as partners with one another in a common work. We meet with the phrases, "give right hands," "receive right hands," in 1 Macc. 11:50, 52; 13:50, with reference, apparently, to the victor conceding, and the vanquished accepting, terms of peace to be ratified by the mutual clasp of right hands. This, however, is not precisely what is meant in the present case; there is no room here for the notion of reconciliation. Neither seems there intended a signification of love, such as the "kiss of love" would have afforded. This hand-clasp simply ratified by a palpable gesture the formal assurance between the two parties that they regarded each other as friendly partners in a common undertaking. That the use of this gesture in ratifying compact has been very common in all ages, is shown by the instances in Liddell and Scott's 'Lexicon' (Δεξία), and in Facciolati ("Dextra"), as well as by Bishop Light feet's note on the present passage. Its use among the Jews is attested, not only by the very phrase employed here and in the Maccabees, but by the phrases, "strike hands" and "give one's hand," in Job 17:3; Proverbs 6:1; Ezekiel 17:18. Josephus's remark in 'Ant.,' 18. Ezekiel 9:3, on the unique inviolability which the Persians, Parthians, and other Oriental nations felt to attach to engagements thus ratified, by no means precludes the supposition that Jews used this gesture of guarantee, but only shows that it was not with them the most sacred of all forms of covenanting: they would, of course, regard an oath by the Name of God as affording a higher sanction. In the case now under consideration there was no "strife" between James, Cephas, and John, and Paul and Barnabas, which needed to be "ended" by "an oath:" the solemn and cordial mutual pressure of the right hand seems just the kind and measure of form appropriate to the circumstances. That we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision (ἵνα ἡμεῖς εἰς τὰ ἔθνη αὐτοὶ δὲ εἰς τὴν περιτομήν); literally, that we unto (or, for) the Gentiles, and themselves unto (or, for) the circumcision, without any verb. We have a very similar ellipsis of the verb in a carefully balanced antithesis, and before the same preposition εἰς, in Romans 5:16 (comp. also 2 Corinthians 8:14). We may read it either thus, "should go unto," as in both the Authorized and the Revised Versions; or, "should be ministers for," taking the εἰς with the like shade of meaning, as in Romans 5:8. This distribution of the several provinces of work is shown by the subsequent practice on both sides (see note on Romans 5:7, subfin.) to have been intended to be geographical rather than national; which understanding is also indicated by the mention in the next verse of "the poor" whom Paul and Barnabas were, notwithstanding this distribution, to bear in mind; they were the poor in Judaea, the province of James, Cephas, and John.
Only they would that we should remember the poor (μόνον τῶν πτωχῶν ἵνα μνημονεύωμεν); only, that we should be mindful of the poor, or perhaps, their poor; for the clause must be understood subjectively, as referred to the standpoint of those who" gave us the right hands of fellowship." If there is the ellipsis of any participle at all which needs to be supplied, which many critics suppose, though Meyer not unplausibly thinks otherwise, perhaps "stipulating" presents itself more readily than either "willing" or "requesting;" for this ἵνα depends as much upon the δεξίας ἔδωκαν as the preceding ἵνα does, and therefore seems to introduce something as much as that a part of the compact. What the apostle means is this: "In one respect only did this mutual compact of equal brotherly partnership leave us who were ministers of the Gentiles unfree in relation to the circumcision and their ministers; we consented to allow ourselves bound to be mindful of the duty of helping their poor. In all other respects, we were to still pursue the same plan of evangelization as we had been pursuing, with no modification of either our doctrine or Church practice; with no such modification, for example, as these false brethren were clamouring for." St. Paul's methods of work thus received the full sanction of the "pillars," being recognized by them as standing on the same level of truth and heavenly guidance as their own. The same which I also was forward to do (ὃ καὶ ἐσπούδασα αὐτὸ τοῦτο ποιῆσαι); the very thing this which I was even of myself zealous to do. The as; makes prominent the notion of intense earnestness, which St. Paul is wont to express in the use of σπουδάζω, as well as of σπουδὴ and σπουδαῖος. He did not merely consent to bear in mind the poor of Judaea; apart from such stipulation, apart from regard to any request of James, Cephas, and John, it was a matter which of himself he regarded as one of very great importance, demanding his most earnest attention. The especial force of this verb ἐσπούδασα is evinced by Ephesians 4:3; 1 Thessalonians 2:17; 2 Timothy 2:15; and especially by 2 Corinthians 8:16, 2 Corinthians 8:17, in which the frame of mind it expresses is distinguished, as here, from that of mere willingness to consent to another person's request. The principal reason for making this matter so prominent lay, no doubt, in the great distress prevailing amongst the poor in Judaea, justifying the application of the principle stated in 2 Corinthians 8:14, 2 Corinthians 8:15 (see Stanley's note on 1 Corinthians 16:1). But we can hardly err in supposing that, as a subsidiary motive, both the leaders of the Jewish Church and St. Paul himself were greatly influenced by the consideration that such practical manifestation of Christian sympathy would both evince, and help to cement, the unity with each other of the Jewish and Gentile Churches. It was this organic unity which constituted the obligation of rendering such assistance (comp. Romans 15:27 with Romans 11:17, Romans 11:18). How perseveringly and how earnestly the apostle strove to aid the poor of the Jewish Churches both before and after the conference here spoken of, is seen in Acts 11:29, Acts 11:30; 1 Corinthians 16:1 (where reference is made to collections in Galatia); 2 Corinthians 8:1-24., 2 Corinthians 8:9.; Romans 15:25-27; Acts 24:17. Since in this last cited passage it is only incidentally that St. Luke is led to mention the collection which St. Paul brought with him in that journey of his to Jerusalem recorded in Acts 21:17, it is quite supposable that he brought collections with him also in that former visit merely glanced at in Acts 18:23. We may surmise that St. Paul has a special purpose in mentioning to the Galatians this particular item of that important compact. In his First Epistle to the Corinthians, written at no long interval whether before or after the sending of this letter, he tells them (1 Corinthians 16:1) that he had given order to the Churches of Galatia respecting the manner in which they should collect for this object. It seems the more probable supposition that those directions were not given until this letter had had the happy effect of restoring better relations between himself and them than he was able at present to reckon upon. Meanwhile, however, this historical reference would serve to prepare them in some measure for the appeal, when he should think it prudent to make it.
It is well to observe, in reference to this whole passage (verses 6-10), the extent to which the apostle goes in identifying Barnabas's position with his own. Barnabas had laboured with himself as evangelizing "apostle" sent forth with himself from the Antiochian Church, and both before and. after that missionary journey in the neighbourhood of Antioch itself. Accordingly he tells his readers that the "pillars" had without qualification recognized the work of them both and had fraternally greeted their further prosecution of it. But it is of himself alone that he speaks when he contrasts Cephas's apostleship of the circumcision with his own apostleship (for this is implied) to the Gentiles. The reason for this is that Barnabas was not an apostle in that other higher sense of the term in which Cephas and himself were (see Introduction, Dissertation I.). Again, when mentioning the stipulation which the "pillars" made, that we should be mindful of their poor, he does not add, "the very thing this which we were of ourselves resolved to do," but makes the observation with reference to himself only. This is explained by the unhappy rupture which St. Luke tells of as so soon after occurring between them—which account of St. Luke's finds thus here a latent confirmation. What we otherwise know of Barnabas's character leaves no room to doubt but that he too zealously set himself to carry out the stipulation in that separate sphere of work among Gentiles which, after the rupture, he engaged in. But this is no longer St. Paul's business, while relating facts falling under his own cognizance. And this consideration throws light upon the time of the action expressed by the aorist ἐσπούδασα: it does not mean, "I had already before been forward to do so;" for then he would not have left out Barnabas; but, "thenceforward in my whole subsequent career I zealously made it my business," the aorist embracing the whole in one view.
Further, our attention is arrested by the extreme importance and the pregnant significance of the incident here related. Here was one who, neither directly nor indirectly, owed to those who had been previously sent forth by Heaven as teachers of the gospel, either his conversion, or his knowledge of the Christian doctrine, or his mission to preach; but had nevertheless gone forth proclaiming what he affirmed to be Christ's gospel communicated to him by Divine revelation, gathering disciples to be baptized into Christ, and combining such disciples into Churches. In what relation did this doctrine of Paul and the Church organizations which he was setting on foot in the Gentile world stand to the doctrine of the twelve and to the Church organizations framed by them in connection therewith at Jerusalem and in Judaea? These last were assumed to be from heaven; were those more recent phenomena, of doctrines taught and societies formed by Paul, in harmony with the previous ones? Unquestionably and glaringly there were important differences between the external religious life of the twelve and the Jewish believers, and the external religious life which Paul taught the Gentile Churches to adopt. The twelve and the Jewish Christians in general still practised in their daily life the usages of Mosaism, blending the use of such outward forms and ceremonies as appertained to Christian discipleship with those older habits of life preserved intact; in the Gentile Church as moulded by Paul the usages of Mosaism were altogether wanting. Was the seal of Heaven to be recognized as affixed to the Pauline doctrine and the Pauline Church life, as certainly as it was seen to be affixed to the doctrine of the twelve and the Judaeo-Christian Church life? Yes. The verdict of the great leaders of the Jewish Church decided for the full recognition of the Pauline doctrine and the Pauline Church life as in root and essence identical with their own, and as equally with their own derived from heaven. It was a decision come to in the teeth of intense and deeply ingrained prejudices prompting to the adoption of a different conclusion; and must have been due to overpowering evidence leaving them no alternative, seconded we may believe by the secret swaying of their souls by the Holy Ghost. We cannot help reflecting
(1) how disastrous the effects would have been of a decision of another kind;
(2) how remarkably is here illustrated the essential oneness of the Christian life amidst most extreme diversity in its outward manifestation; and
(3) what a strong attestation is afforded to the certain truth of the gospel, revealed to the world through two wholly distinct channels of communication, which yet concurred in delivering what was in reality one and the same message.
In the narrative which the apostle next proceeds to give, several points, we may suppose, were definitely meant by him to be intimated to his readers. Thus to those Gentile Galatians who were wavering in their attachment to himself and to the gospel which he had preached to them, he shows his claim to their firm affectionate adherence, on the ground of the steadfastness with which, as before at Jerusalem so now afresh in Antioch, he had successfully asserted their rights and their equal standing with Jewish believers, when these were assailed by "certain come from James." In contrast with his own unflinching championship of their cause, were here seen vacillation and inconsistency on the part of "Cephas;" were, then, any justified in exalting those "pillars, James and Cephas," as certain were disposed to do, for the sake of disparaging him? This experience at Antioch should lead them to regard with suspicion Jewish or Philo-Judaic brethren, who were setting themselves to tamper with the truth of the gospel. Crooked conduct was sure to accompany such darkening of the truth, as on that occasion was most palpably evinced in the case of even Barnabas, and was in open encounter before the whole Church exposed and rebuked. And, especially, there was the grand principle that the Law of Moses was for the Christian believer annihilated through the crucifixion of Christ; which principle he had then held aloft in the view of the Church, and here takes occasion to enlarge upon, because it was so directly relevant and helpful in respect to the trouble now springing up in Galatia. But when Peter was come to Antioch (ὅτε δὲ ἦλθε Κηφᾶς [Receptus, Πέτρος] εἰς Ἀντιόχειαν); but when Cephas came to Antioch. The reading Κηφᾶς for Πέτρος is generally accepted. The time at which this incident took place is in a measure determined, on the one side, by its being to all appearance after the visit to Jerusalem which has been previously spoken of, and, on the other, by the reference to Barnabas in verse 13; that is, we are naturally led to assign it to that time of Paul's, and Barnabas's united labours at Antioch which is briefly indicated in Acts 15:35. It can hardly have occurred subsequently to the rupture between them which St. Luke immediately after describes. The manner in which St. Peter's coming to Antioch is introduced seems to betoken that his coming thither was not felt to have been at all an extraordinary circumstance. It is open to us, and indeed obvious, to conjecture that the visit was made in the course of one of those journeyings of St. Peter "throughout all parts," of which another, taking place fourteen years or more previously, is mentioned in Acts 9:33. As the "apostle of the circumcision," he was, we may reasonably suppose, in the habit of traversing, in company often with his wife (1 Corinthians 9:5), the whole of those districts of Palestine which were largely inhabited by Jews, and extending as far as Antioch itself, in the exercise of apostolic supervision over the Jewish converts. Quite supposably, this was not his first visit to this city. The lengthened continuance of his stay, which may be inferred from Acts 9:12, is thus explained. It may be assumed that it was this exercise of apostolic superintendence that gave rise to the tradition, which gained early acceptance in the Church (Eusebius, ' Hist. Eccl.,' 3:36), that Peter was the first Bishop of Antioch. His presence there now, while St. Paul was also there, found, probably, its analogy, twelve or fourteen years later, in the simultaneous presence of St. Peter and St. Paul at Rome; St.. Peter being there also, we may suppose, in the discharge of his office as apostle of the circumcision. I withstood him to the face (κατὰ πρόσωπον αὐτῷ ἀντέστην). I seized an opportunity at a meeting of the brethren (Acts 9:14) of publicly confronting him as an adversary. It seems almost suggested that their spheres of work at Antioch, which was a very large city, were so far not identical that they were not commonly to be seen together. The verb ἀντέστην, "set myself to oppose him," expressing deter mined oppugnancy (2 Timothy 3:8; James 4:7; 1 Peter 5:9), strikes us the more, as coming so soon after the "gave us the right hands of fellowship of Acts 9:7. His adopting of this mode of recalling his straying brother instead of dealing with him in a more private manner, is indicated with an evidently intended pointedness. His course of proceeding was both justified and required by the public nature of St. Peter's offence, and by the necessity of promptly exposing and beating back the aggressions which Israelitish bigotry was always so ready to make upon the perfectly equal footing possessed by all believers, by virtue simply of their relation to Christ. Because he was to be blamed (ὅτι κατεγνωσμένος ἦν); because he stood condemned. The perfect passive verb is commonly felt to point, not so much to the censures of bystanders, as to the glaring wrongness of his conduct viewed in itself (comp. John 3:18; Romans 14:23). The rendering to be blamed, correct so far as it reaches, is inadequate in expressing the sense which St. Paul had of the gravity of St. Peter's offence. It is interesting to note the clear reference to this verse made in the second century by the Ebionite author of the ' Clementine Homilies,' who, writing in a spirit of bitter hostility to St. Paul, who is covertly attacked in the person of Simon Magus, represents St. Peter as addressing Simon thus: "Thou hast confronted and withstood me (ἐναντίος ἀνθέστηκάς μοι). If thou hadst not been an adversary, thou wouldest not have calumniated and reviled my preaching If thou callest me condemned (κατεγνωσμένον), thou accusest God who revealed Christ to me" ('Hom.,' Acts 17:19). Not only is this a testimony to the authenticity of.. the Epistle; it betokens also the sore feeling which this narrative of St. Paul's and the manner of its diction left behind in the minds of a certain section of Jewish Christians.
For before that certain came from James (πρὸ τοῦ γὰρ ἐλθεῖν τινὰς ἀπὸ Ἰακώβου). Since the apostle writes "from James," and not "from Judaea" (as Acts 15:1) or "from Jerusalem," the surmise suggests itself that these men had a mission from St. James. Alford's view appears probable, that St. James, while holding that the Gentile converts were not to have the observance of the Law forced upon them, did nevertheless consider that the Jewish believers were still bound to keep it. Possibly he had sent them to Antioch to remind the Jewish Chris-liens of the city of their obligations in this respect. This would be in no way inconsistent with Acts 15:10, where the emphatic words, "them which from the Gentiles turn to God, tacitly imply that the obligations of Jewish believers continued the same as before (comp. Acts 21:18-25). He did eat with the Gentiles (μετὰ τῶν ἐθνῶν συνησθιεν). The Greek expression is no doubt equivalent to τοῖς ἔθνεσι συνήσθιεν. There appears to be no ground for restricting this "caring with" them to uniting with them at the agape or at the Lord's Supper. The words in Acts 11:3, spoken some ten years before this, "Thou wentest in (εἰσῆλθες) to men still in their uncircumcision, and didst eat with them," pointed to a social participation of food rather than to one merely religious; though, it must be confessed, these two things were not as yet so sharply distinguished from each other as it was afterwards found necessary that they should be (1 Corinthians 11:34). While thus eating with Gentiles, St. Peter may well have fortified his mind with the thought, that the Lord Jesus had been wont to hold, not merely teaching converse, but social intercourse also, with persons whom "the scribes and the Pharisees" regarded as themselves unclean and by contact polluting (Luke 5:30; Luke 15:2; Luke 19:7). Christ, it is true, both himself observed the Law and taught his disciples to observe it. He wore "the border" (κράσπεδον) attached to his garment; but he did not wear the "border" unnecessarily "enlarged." On the contrary, the rabbinical exaggerations of legal prescriptions, inconsistent with charity or with reason, he was wont emphatically to repudiate. But when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself (ὅτε δὲ ἦλθον ὑπέστελλε καὶ ἀφώριζεν ἑαυτόν); but when they came, he began to shrink back and separate himself from them. Ἑαυτὸν is governed by ὑπέστελλεν as well as by ἀφώριζεν ὑπέστελλεν ἑαυτὸν being equivalent to ὑπεστέλλετο, the use of which middle voice is illustrated by Acts 20:27. The Gentile converts could not but perceive that his manner with them was less openly cordial than heretofore. He was no longer so ready to go to their houses. In public, he shrank from being seen with them on terms of frank and equal companionship. Fearing them which were of the circumcision (φοβούμενοβ τοὺς ἐκ περιτομῆς); fearing the brethren drawn from the circumcision If the apostle had written φοβ. τὴν περιτομήν, the expression would have taken in the not-believing Jews as well; whereas the preposition ἐκ, like ἀπὸ in Acts 15:19, indicates the branch of mankind from which the converts had come (Acts 10:45; Acts 11:2; Colossians 4:11; Titus 1:10).
And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him (καὶ συνοπεκρίθησαν αὐτῷ καὶ οἱ λοιποὶ Ἰουδαῖοι); and the rest of the Jews dissembled likewise with him. "The Jews," i.e. the Christian Jews who were at Antioch before these brethren "from James" arrived there, and who, as Cephas had done till their coming, associated quite frankly with the Gentile Christians. "Dissembled with him;" they as well as he acted in a manner which did not faithfully represent their own inward man. They were, in reality, convinced that Christ had made all those who believed in him alike righteous before God with themselves, and alike meet to be admitted to Christian fellowship. But now, by practically siding with those who treated their Gentile brethren as more or less unclean, not fit for them to associate with, they disguised their real sentiments from "fear' of forfeiting the confidence and good will of those narrow-minded Jews. The apostle brands their behaviour as "dissimulation" or "hypocrisy," because their motive was a deceitful one. They, though, no doubt, in a degree unconsciously, wished to make those newly arrived Jews suppose that they themselves did at bottom feel as they did as to a certain measure of uncleanness attaching even to the believing uncircumcision. Insomuch that Barnabas also (ὥστε καὶ Βαρνάβας); so that even Barnabas. The last man from whom such conduct could have been expected! The expression shows how deeply the apostle felt Barnabas to have hitherto sympathized with himself with regard to Gentile believers; as, indeed, the history of the Acts proves, beginning with Acts 11:21-26 to Acts 15:12, Acts 15:25. Further, the tone of this reference to him, written three or four years after the occasion spoken of, as well as of that which he makes in his First Epistle to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 9:6), written at nearly the same time as this Epistle to the Galatians, shows in the most natural manner the high and cordial esteem with which he then regarded him, notwithstanding the unhappy variance which sprang up between them soon after the circumstances here mentioned. Again, years later on, he commends Mark to the consideration of the Colossians (Colossians 4:10), as being a cousin of Barnabas's, this giving him a high title to their respect. Obviously, the disapproval which St. Paul so openly expressed at Antioch of the behaviour of St. Peter and those who acted as he did, Barnabas, it seems, being one of them, helps to explain the sharpness of his subsequent difference with Barnabas concerning Mark. If St. Paul now, so long after the occurrence, does not hesitate in calm relation to brand the conduct of the party with the stern censure of "hypocrisy," it is not likely that he denounced it with less severity at the time in the excitement of actual conflict. How sharply and unsparingly he could on occasion express himself, his Epistles elsewhere very abundantly exemplify; and such vehement censure, so publicly expressed, and, which made it so especially cutting, so justly deserved, might well leave a sore feeling in the mind of the whole Judaic party, including even Barnabas, making the latter but too ready to Lake umbrage when the apostle insisted, with apparently again so much justice, upon the want which Mark had evinced of thoroughgoing sympathy with the work of evangelizing the Gentiles. This last was, in fact, a continuation of the conflict waged with Cephas probably but a short while before. On this point the Acts and the Epistles sustain each other. Was carried away with their dissimulation (συναπήχθη αὐτῶν τῇ ὑποκρίσει); or, with the hypocrisy of them. The position of αὐτῶν ("of them") is emphatic. St. Paul means that, if it had not been for their hypocrisy, Barnabas would never have fallen into so grievous a mistake in conduct himself. The construction of the verb συναπάγομαι here is the same as in 2 Peter 3:17; the dative which follows in each case being governed by the σὺν in the verb: "their dissimulation" was as it were a mighty torrent which swept even Barnabas away with it.
But when I saw that they walked not uprightly (ἀλλ ὅτε εἶδον ὅτι οὐκ ὀρθοποδοῦσι); but when I saw that they were not walking rightly. The strongly adversative ἀλλὰ seems to imply: But I set myself to stem the mischief; comp. "withstood" (Galatians 2:11). The precise force of ὀρθοποδεῖν is doubtful. The verb occurs nowhere else except in later writers, who, it is thought, borrowed it from this passage. Etymologically, according to the ambiguous meaning of ὀρθός—"straight," either vertically or horizontally—it may be either "walk up- rightly," that is, "sincerely," which, however, is an unusual application of the notion of ὀρθότης; or, "walk straight onward," that is, "rightly." As the apostle is more concerned on behalf of the truth which he was contending for than on behalf of their sincerity or consistency, the latter seems the preferable view. Compare the force of the same adjective in ὀρθοβατεῖν ὀρθοπραγεῖν, ὀρθοδρομεῖν ὀρθοτομεῖν, etc. According to the truth of the gospel (πρὸς τὴν ἀλήθειαν τοῦ αὐαγγελίου); with an eye to the truth of the gospel. Πρός, "with an eye towards," may refer to the truth of the gospel, either as a rule for one's direction (as in 2 Corinthians 5:10, Πρὸς ἃ ἔπραξεν) or as a thing to be forwarded (cf. Ὑπὲρ τῆς ἀγηθείας, 2 Corinthians 13:8). The same ambiguity attaches to the use of the preposition in Luke 12:47. The "truth of the gospel," as in Luke 12:5, is the truth which the gospel embodies, with especial reference to the doctrine of justification by faith. Peter and Barnabas were acting in a manner which both was inconsistent with their holding of that truth, and contravened its advancement in the world. I said unto Peter (εἶπον τῷ Κηφᾶ [Receptus, Πέτρῳ]); I said to Cephas. Here again we are to read Cephas. Before them all (ἔμπροσθεν πάντων). At some general meeting of the Antiochian brethren. Both the expression and St. Paul's proceeding are illustrated by 1 Timothy 5:20, "Them who sin [sc. of the elders] reprove in the sight of all (ἐνώπιον πάντων ἔλεγχε)." If thou, being a Jew (εἰ σύ Ἰουδαῖος ὑπάρχων); if thou, originally a Jew, as thou art. Υ̓πάρχων, as distinguished from ὤν, denotes this, together with a reference to subsequent action starting from this foregoing condition. Compare, for example, its use in Galatians 1:14; Philippians 2:6. This distinctive shade of meaning is not always discernible. Livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews (ἐθνικῶς ζῇς καὶ οὐκ Ἰουδαΐκῶς); livest as do the Gentiles and not as the Jews. In what sense, and to what extent, were these words true of St. Peter? When, in the vision at Joppa, unclean animals together with clean were offered to him for food, he had answered, "Not so, Lord; for! have never eaten anything that is common and unclean." This shows that, up to that time, the personal teachings of Christ when he was upon earth had not relieved his mind of the sense that to use certain kinds of meat was for him an unlawful thing. The heavenly rejoinder, "What God hath cleansed, make not thou common," appears to have been understood by him with reference, at least in the first instance, to human beings (Acts 10:28). There seems to be no doubt that the habit of mind generated by long subjection to the Levitical Law. producing repugnance to Gentiles as habitually using unclean meats, he brought with him when crossing Cornelius's threshold; and that it is quite supposable that, in "eating with Gentiles" while his visit to Cornelius continued, he had had no occasion to break through those barriers of restriction which the Law of itself imposed. But, on the other hand, it is also quite supposable that the answer made to him in the vision had, if not at once, at least later, led him on to the further conviction that God had now made all kinds of meat lawful for a Christian's use, although, when consorting, as in the main he had to do, with Jews, he would still bow to the Levitical restrictions. The Petrine Gospel of St. Mark appears, according to the now by many accepted reading of καθαρίζων in the text of Mark 7:19, to have stated that Christ in teaching, "Whatsoever from without goeth into the man, it cannot defile him," had said this, "making all meats clean." There is no question that in St. Paul's own view at that epoch of his ministry when he wrote this Epistle, "nothing," to use his own words, "is unclean of itself" (Romans 14:14; 1 Corinthians 10:23, 1 Corinthians 10:25); and we have no reason to doubt that he had "been in the Lord Jesus persuaded" of this long before,—at the very outset probably of his ministry. It is, therefore, not unlikely that this same persuasion of the real indifferency of all kinds of meat had been by Christ instilled into St. Peter's mind as well. But if it were thus in respect to the use of meats, it would be thus also in reference to all other kinds of purely ceremonial restriction. Very shortly before these occurrences at Antioch, St. Peter had at Jerusalem openly and strongly expressed the feeling which he experienced, how intolerably galling were the restraints imposed by the Levitical, not to say by the rabbinical, ceremonialism; "a yoke," he said, "which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear "—language which seems to betoken a mind which had spiritually been set at liberty from the yoke. On the whole, the inference naturally suggested by St. Paul's words, "Thou livest as do the Gentiles, and not as do the Jews," commends itself as the true one; namely this—that St. Peter, not on that occasion only, but also on others, when thrown into contact with masses of Gentile converts, was wont to assert his Christian liberty; that, like as St. Paul did, so did he: while, on the one hand, to the Jews he became as a Jew, to them under the Law as under the Law, that he might gain the Jews, gain them that were under the Law, so also, on the other, to them that were without Law he became as without Law, that he might gain also them (1 Corinthians 9:20, 1 Corinthians 9:21). Why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews? (πῶς [Receptus, τί] τὰ ἔθνη ἀναγκάζεις Ἰουδαΐ́ζειν;). In place of τί, why, recent editions read, πῶς, how, which is a more emphatic interrogatory with a tinge of wonderment; as if it were, "How is it possible that?' (so 1 Corinthians 15:12). The verb "Judaize" occurs in the Septuagint of Esther 8:17, "And many of the Gentiles had themselves circumcised and Judaized (ἰουδάΐζον) by reason of their fear of the Jews." It is plainly equivalent to ἰουδαΐκῶς ζῇν. Compellest, i.e. settest thyself to compel. The "compulsion" applied by Cephas was a moral compulsion; he was, in effect, withholding front them Christian fellowship, unless they Judaized. Put into words, his conduct said this: "If you will Judaize, I will hold fellowship with you; if you will not, you are not qualified for full fraternal recognition from me." The withholding of Christian fraternization, short of formal Church excommunication such as 1 Corinthians 5:3-5, is a powerful engine of Christian influence, the use of which is distinctly authorized and even commanded in Scripture (Romans 16:17; 1Co 5:11; 2 Thessalonians 3:6, 2 Thessalonians 3:14; 2 Timothy 3:5; Titus 3:10; 2 John 1:10), and may on occasion be employed by private Christians on their own responsibility. But its use, when not clearly justified, is not only a cruelty to our brethren, but an outrage upon what St. Paul here calls the truth of the gospel. It is at our peril that we grieve, by a cold or unbrotherly bearing towards him, one whom we have reason to believe God has "received" (Romans 14:3; Romans 15:7). If God in Christ owns and loves him as a son, we ought to frankly own and love him as a brother.
We who are Jews by nature (ἡμεῖς φύσει Ἰουδαῖοι); we being Jews by nature; or, we are Jews by nature. In point of construction, it may be observed that, after εἰδότες in the next verse, recent editors concur in inserting δέ. With this correction of the text, we may either make this fifteenth verse a separate sentence, by supplying ἐσμέν, "we are Jews by nature," etc., and begin the next verse with the words, "but yet, knowing that … even we believed," etc.; or we may supply in this verse" being," and, conjoining it with "knowing," take the two verses as forming one sentence; thus: "We being Jews... yet knowing that... even we believed," etc. For the general sense, it is quite immaterial which mode of construing we adopt. The Revisers have preferred the latter. The former makes the passage run more smoothly; but this, in construing St. Paul's writings, is by no means a consideration of weight. "We," that is, "I Paul, and thou Cephas," rather than "I Paul, and thou Cephas, with those who are acting with thee;" for we read before, "I said unto Cephas," not" unto Cephas and the rest of the Jews." "By nature;" because we were Jews by birth. But the two expressions, "by nature" and "by birth," are not convertible terms, as is evident from Galatians 4:8 and Romans 2:14; the former covers wider ground than the latter. The prerogatives attaching to the natural position of a born Jew were higher than those which appertained to a circumcised proselyte. This is why he adds," by nature." "Jews;" a term of honourable distinction, closely by its etymology connected in the mind of a Hebrew with the notion of "praise" (comp. Genesis 9:8; Romans 2:29); a term, therefore, of theocratic vaunting (Romans 2:17). And not sinners of the Gentiles (καὶ οὐκ ἐξ ἐθνῶν ἁμαρτωλοί); and not of the Gentiles sinners. The word "sinners" must be here taken, not in that purely moral acceptation in which all are "sinners," but in that mixed sense in which moral disapproval was largely tinged with the bigoted disdain which the theocratic Israelite felt for "the uncircumcised;" the Levitically purist Jew for them who, having no" Law "(ἄνομοι), wallowed in every kind of ceremonial pollution, "unclean,'' "dogs" (comp. Matthew 15:37; Philippians 3:2; Acts 2:23). As a notion correlative to that of "Jews," the word is used by our Lord himself when he spoke of his being delivered into the hands of "sinners" (Matthew 26:45; comp. Matthew 20:19). As correlative to that of persons fit for the society of the righteous and Levitically holy, it is used by Christ and the evangelists in the phrase, "publicans and sinners," in which it is nearly equivalent to "outcasts." So the apostle uses it here. With an ironical mimesis of the tone of language which a self-righteous legalist loved to employ, he means in effect, "not come from among Gentiles, sinful outcasts." May not the apostle be imagined to have quite lately heard such phrases from the lips of some of those Pharisee-minded Christians to whom Cephas was unhappily now truckling? For the right appreciation of the train of thought which the apostle is now pursuing, it is important to observe that both Cephas and Paul had reason to regard themselves as having been, before they were justified, sinners in another sense of the deepest dye. St. Paul felt to the very end of his days that he had once been, and that therefore in himself he still was, a chief of sinners (ἀμαρτωλούς ὧν πρῶτός εἰμι ἐγώ); and surely the wickedness into which Cephas precipitated himself on the morning of his Lord's passion must have left ever alter in his mind too a similar consciousness.
Knowing (εἰδότες δέ: see note on Galatians 2:15); yet knowing. That a man is not justified by the works of the Law (ὅτι ου) δικαιοῦται ἄνθρωπος ἐξἔργων νόμον); or, by works of Law; or, by works of the Law. That is, works prescribed by the Law of Moses. The verb δικαιοῦται is in the present tense, because the apostle is stating a general principle. The sentence, Οὐ δικαιοῦται ἐξ ἔργων νόμου, if regard be had to the exact sense of the proposition ἐξ, may be supposed to mean "does not derive righteousness from works of the Law;" does not get to be justly regarded as holy, pure from guilt approvable, in consequence of any things done in obedience to God's positive Law. The precise meaning and bearing of the aphorism will appear presently. But by the faith of Jesus Christ (ἐὰν μὴ διὰ πίστεως Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ); but only through faith of Jesus Christ. Ἐὰν μή, like εἰ μή, properly means "except," "save;" but St. Paul would have betrayed his own position if he had allowed that "works of the Law" could ever have any part whatever in procuring justification. Ἐὰν μὴ must, therefore, be understood here in that partially exceptive sense remarked upon in the note on Galatians 1:7 as frequently attaching to εἰ μή, that is, it means "but only." The apostle plainly intends to make the categorical affirmation that no man gains justification save through faith in Christ; οὐ δικαιοῦται ἄνθρωπος εἰ μὴ διὰ πίστεως Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. The variation of the proposition, διὰ in this clause for ἐκ in the preceding clause, we find again in Philippians 3:9, "Not having a righteousness which is mine own, that which is (ἐκ νόμου) of the Law [i.e. derived from the Law], but that which is (διὰ πίστεως) through faith of Christ." That no real difference is here intended in the sense is shown by the use immediately after of ἐκ in the clause, ἵνα δικαιωθωμεν ἐκ πίστεως Χριστοῦ. For the apostle's present argument it is immaterial whether we are said to gain righteousness through faith or from it. As Bishop Lightfoot, however, observes, "Faith is, strictly speaking, only the means, not the source of justification. The one proposition (διὰ) excludes this latter notion, while the other (ἐκ) might imply it. Besides these, we meet also with ἐπὶ πίστει (Philippians 3:9), but never διὰ πίστιν, 'propter fidem,' which would involve [or, might perhaps suggest] a doctrinal error. Compare the careful language in the Latin of our Article XI., 'per fidem, non propter opera.'" The genitive Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ after πίστεως is paralleled by ἔξετε πίστιν Θεοῦ in Mark 11:22, and by πίστεως αὐτοῦ in Ephesians 3:12. Possibly the genitive was preferred here to saying εἰς Ἰησοῦν Χριστόν, as verbally presenting the sharper antithesis to ἔργων νόμου. Even we (καὶ ἡμεῖς); just as any sinful outcast of a Gentile would have to do. Have believed in Jesus Christ (εἰς Χριστὸν Ἰησοῦν ἐπιστεύσαμεν); did in Christ Jesus believe. The aorist of the verb points to the time of first making Christ the object of trust. The changed order, in which our Lord's proper name and his official designation appear in this clause compared with the preceding, and which, somewhat strangely, is ignored in our Authorized Version, does not seem to have any real significance; such variation frequently occurs in St. Paul, as e.g. 1 Timothy 1:15, 1 Timothy 1:16; 2 Timothy 1:8, 2 Timothy 1:10; Ephesians 1:1, Ephesians 1:2. In the present instance it may have been dictated by the reversal of the order of the ideas, πίστεως and Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. That we might be justified by the faith of Christ (ἵνα δικαιωθῶμεν ἐκ πίστεως Χριστοῦ). Renouncing all thought of gaining righteousness by (or from) doing works of the Law, we fixed our faith upon Christ, in order to gain righteousness by (or from) believing in him. The form of expression does not determine the time when they expected to become righteous; but the whole complexion of the argument points to their justification following immediately upon their believing in Christ. That full recognition of fellow-believers, which is the hinge on which the discussion turns, presupposes their being already righteous through their faith. And not by the works of the Law (καὶ οὐκ ἐξ ἔργων νόμον). This is added ex abundanti, to clench more strongly the affirmation that works of the Law have no effect in making men righteous. For by the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified (διότι [or rather, ὅτι] οὐ δικαιωθήσεται ἐξ ἔργων νόμου πᾶσα σάρξ). This simply repeats the affirmation in the first clause of the verse, with only an intensified positiveness; the future tense, "shall be justified," expressing, not the time at which the act of justification takes place, but the absoluteness of the rule that no human being is to expect ever to be justified by works of the Law. In Romans 3:20 we have identically the same sentence with the addition of "in his sight." Instead, however, of the διότι, found in that passage, many recent editors here give ὅτι, there being no more difference between διότι, and ὅτι, than between "because that" and "because." In both passages it looks as if the apostle meant to be understood as citing a locus probativus; and the addition of the words, "in his sight," in Romans indicates that the authoritative passage referred to is Psalms 143:2, which in the Septuagint reads, Ὀτι οὐ δικαιωθήσεται ἐνώπιόν σου πᾶς ζῶν. The clause, ἐξ ἔργων νόμου, added in both, is a comment of the apostle's own, founded as it should seem upon the ease of the people of Israel, whom the psalmist manifestly included in his universal statement; those who had the Law yet lacked justification before God, every one; those even of them who more or less were doing its works. This verse, viewed as a statement of the individual experience of the two apostles Peter and Paul themselves, is verified with respect to tile latter by the accounts given in the Acts of his conversion. With respect to St. Peter, its verification is supplied to the reflective student of the Gospels by his realizing the process of feeling through which that apostle's mind passed in the several situations thus indicated: "This day thou shalt deny me thrice;" "He went out and wept bitterly;" "Go and tell his disciples and Peter, he goeth before you into Galilee;" "The Lord is risen indeed, and hath appeared to Simon;" "Simon, son of John, lovest thou me?" "They worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy." Further, the highly animated language with which, in their writings, each of these apostles—St. Paul, for instance, in the Romans (5. and 8.) and Ephesians, and St. Peter in several passages of his First Epistle—portrays the peace and exulting joy which Christ's disciples experience through faith in him, is evidently drawn from their own mental history. And this happy experience of theirs was, most palpably, in no degree whatever derived from works of the Law, but solely from the grace of Christ As St. Peter had recently intimated at Jerusalem, their hearts, as truly as the hearts of their fellow-believers of the Gentiles, "God had cleansed" from the sense of guilt and pollutedness before him "by faith" (Acts 15:9). It is necessary here to be quite clear as to the nature of those "works of the Law" which the apostle has now in his view. This is determined by the preceding context. The works of the Law now in question were those, the observance of which characterized a man's "living as do the Jews" and their non-observance a man's "living as do the Gentiles." It was the disregard of these works on the part of the Gentile believers which the Jewish Christians, whom St. Peter would fain stand well with, considered as disqualifying them from free association with themselves. So, again, when St. Peter was "living as do the Gentiles," he was viewed as setting at nought, not the moral precepts of the Law, but its positive ceremonial precepts only. It is the making that distinction between believers living as do the Gentiles and believers living as do the Jews, which Peter and the brethren from James were in effect making, that the apostle here sets himself so sternly to reprobate. It is with this view that he here asserts the principle that through faith in Christ a man is made righteous, and that through faith in Christ only can he be, these works having nothing whatever to do with it. "You Cephas," he says, "and I were living as do the Jews; no unclean sinners of Gentiles were we! And both you and I have been made righteous. And how? Not through those works of the Law, but through believing in Christ Jesus. And these Gentile brethren, from whom you are now shrinking back as if they were not good enough for us to associate with,—they believe in Christ as truly as we do; they are therefore as truly righteous as we are. It is absurd for you to try to thrust upon them those works of the Law; by the works of the Law can neither they be made righteous nor yet we. So neither, on the other hand, by disregarding the works of the Law can either they or we be made sinners." This last position, that the neglect of the works of the Law does not disqualify a fellow-Christian for brotherly recognition, is plainly essential to his present argument. But this is true only of the neglect of the positive Levitical precepts of the Law; the neglect of its moral precepts does disqualify him (1 Corinthians 5:11). Does it not seem a just inference from this course of argument, that no man whom we have reason to believe to be justified by faith in Christ is to be refused either Christian association or Church fellowship?
But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ (εἰ δὲ ζητοῦντες δικαιωθῆναι ἐν Χριστῷ); but if while seeking to be justified in Christ. The present participle, "while seeking," that is," while we sought," is referred back to the time indicated in the words, "we believed," of the preceding verse—the time, that is, when, made aware that works of the Law could not justify, they, Cephas and Paul, severally set themselves to find righteousness in Christ. At that time they in heart utterly renounced the notion that "works of the Law" had any effect upon a man's standing before God; they saw that his doing them could not make him righteous, as well as that his not doing them would not make him a sinner (see Matthew 15:10-20). This was an essential feature of their state of mind in seeking righteousness in Christ. They distinguished Levitical purity and pollution from spiritual and real. And the principle was not only embraced in their hearts, but, in course of time, it embodied itself also, as occasion served, in outward deed. They, both Paul and Cephas himself, were bold to "live after the manner of Gentiles" (Galatians 2:14), and with Gentiles to freely associate. If this was wrong, it was most heinously wrong; for it would be nothing short of a presumptuous setting at nought of God's own Law by which they flagrantly proved themselves to be, in a fatal and damning sense, sinners. But it was by the gospel that they had been led to think thus and to act thus; in other words, by Christ himself. Would it not, then, follow that Christ was a minister to them, not of righteousness, but of sin, of damning guilt? The participle "seeking" does not merely mark the time at which they were found to be sinners, but also and indeed much more, the course of conduct by which they proved themselves such. The words, "in Christ," are not equivalent to "through Christ," though the former idea includes the latter; the preposition is used in the same sense as in the sentences, "In God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Thessalonians 1:1); "Of him are ye in Christ Jesus" (1 Corinthians 1:30); "Sanctified in Christ Jesus" (1 Corinthians 1:2). It denotes a state of intimate association, union, with Christ, involving justification by necessary consequence. Comp. Philippians 3:9, "That I may be found in him, not having a righteousness of mine own, even that which is of the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ." We ourselves also are found sinners (εὑρέθημεν καὶ αὐτοὶ ἁμάρτωλοι); we ourselves also were found sinners. The word "found" hints a certain measure of surprise (comp. Matthew 1:18; Acts 8:40; Rom 7:21; 2 Corinthians 10:12; 2 Corinthians 12:20). Cephas was behaving now as if to his painful surprise he had found himself to have been previously acting m a most guilty manner. The word "sinners" appears to denote more than the state of ceremonial uncleanness incurred by violating the prescriptions of Levitical purity; indeed, it meant more even as used by thorough-going ceremonialists (as in Philippians 3:15); it points to the gross outrage which would in the case supposed have been put upon the majesty of God's Law. In the next verse "transgressor" is used as a convertible term. "Ourselves also"—as truly as any Gentile of them all. There is a touch of sarcasm in the clause, having a covert reference to St. Peter having turned his back upon his Gentile brethren as unfit for him to associate with; he thereby was treating them as "sinners." Is therefore Christ the minister of sin? (ἆρα Χριστὸς ἁμαρτίας διάκονος;); is Christ a minister of sin? Αρα is found in the New Testament besides only in Luke 18:8 and Acts 8:30, in both which passages it simply propounds a question, without indicating whether the answer is expected to be negative or affirmative. So Soph., ' (Ed. T.,' ἆρ ἔφυν κακός; ἆρ οὐχὶ πᾶς ἄναγνος; The inference here is so shocking that the apostle is unwilling to put it forward except as a question that might fairly be asked upon such premisses. This gives the sentence a less repulsive tone than the reading, which without an interrogative puts it thus: Ἄρα Χριστὸς ἁμαρτίας διάκονος. God forbid (μὴ γένοιτο). "Abhorred be the thought!" we both say; but (the apostle means his interlocutor to understand) since it cannot without horrid impiety be said that Christ was a minister to us of sin and not of righteousness, it follows of necessity that we did not sin against God when we set the works of the Law aside and sought righteousness in Christ alone without any respect had to them. The Greek phrase is one of several renderings which the Septuagint gives to the Hebrew word chalı̄'lah, ad profana, which is frequently used interjectionally to relegate some thought to the category of what is utterly abhorrent and polluted. The Hebrew word is discussed fully in Gesenius's 'Thesaurus,' in verb. St. Paul uses the Greek phrase twice again in this Epistle (once absolutely, Acts 3:21, and once inweaved in a sentence, Acts 6:14); ten times absolutely in his Epistle to the Romans (3, 4, 6, etc.). It occurs also Luke 20:16. It is impossible to mend the vigorous rendering of our Authorized Version.
For if I build again the things which I destroyed (εἰ γὰρ ἂκατέλυσα ταῦτα πάλιν οἰκοδομῶ); for if I am building up again the things which I pulled down. I make myself a transgressor (παραβάτην ἐμαυτὸν συνίστημι [or, συνιστάνω another form of the same verb]); a transgressor is what I am showing my own self to be. I must be wrong one way or the other; if I am right now, was wrong then; and from the very nature of the case now in hand, wrong exceedingly; no less than an absolute transgressor. This word "transgressor" denotes, not one who merely happens to break, perchance inadverdently, some precept of the Law, but one who, perhaps in consequence of even one act of wilful transgression, is to be regarded as trampling upon the authority of the Law altogether (comp. Romans 2:25, Romans 2:27; James 2:9, James 2:11, which are the only places of the New Testament in which the word occurs; it is therefore a full equivalent to the word "sinner" of James 2:17). The Greek verb συνιστάνω, "to put forward in a clear light," is used similarly in 2 Corinthians 6:4; 2 Corinthians 7:11. It is much debated, and is certainly nowise clear, how far down in the chapter the rebuke addressed to St. Peter extends. If it does not reach to the end of the chapter, as some think it does, the break may be very well placed at the end of this verse. For this verse clearly relates to St. Peter, whether actually addressed to him or not; notwithstanding that the verbs are in the hypothetical first person singular, they cannot be taken as referred to St. Paul, not being at all applicable to his case. On the other hand, with the nineteenth verse the first person is plainly used by St. Paul with reference to his own self, which is indeed marked by the emphatic ἐγὼ with which it opens.
For I through the Law am dead to the Law (ἐγὼ γὰρ διὰ νόμου μόμῳ ἀπέθανον,); for I, for my part, through the Law died unto the Law. This ἐγὼ is not the hypothetical "I" of Galatians 2:18, which in fact recites the personality of St. Peter, but is St. Paul himself in his own concrete historical personality. And the pronoun is in a measure antithetical; as if it were: for whatever may be your feeling, mine is this, that I," etc. The conjunction "for" points back to the whole passage (Galatians 2:15-18), which has described the position to which St. Paul had himself been brought and on which he still now, when writing to the Galatians, is standing; he here justifies that description. "Through the Law;" through the Law's own procuring, through what the Law itself did, I was broken off from all connection with the Law. From the words, "I have been crucified with Christ," in the next verse, and from what we read in Galatians 3:13, most especially when taken in connection with the occurrences at Antioch which at any rate led to the present utterance, and with the hankering after Judaical ceremonialism in Galatia which occasioned the writing of this letter, we may with confidence draw the conclusion that St. Paul is thinking of the Law in its ceremonial aspect, that is, viewed as determining ceremonial purity and ceremonial pollution. He is here most immediately dealing with the question, whether Jewish believers could freely associate without defilement in God's sight with Gentile believers who according to the Levitical Law were unclean, and could partake of the like food with them. The notion of becoming dead to the Law through the cross of Christ has other aspects besides this, as is evinced by Romans 7:1-6; a fact which is indeed glanced at by the apostle even here; but of the several aspects presented by this one and the same many-faced truth, the one which he here more particularly refers to is that which it bore towards the Law as a ceremonial institute. That which the Law as a ceremonial institute did in relation to Christ was this—it pronounced him as crucified to be in the intensest degree ceremonially accursed and polluting; to be most absolutely cherem. But Christ in his death and resurrection-life is appointed by God to be the sinner's only and complete salvation. It follows that he who by faith and sacrament is made one with Christ, does, together with the spiritual life which he draws from Christ, partake also in the pollution and accursedness which the Law fastens upon him; he is by the Law bidden away: he can thenceforth have no connection with it,—the Law itself will have it so. "But (the apostle's feeling is) the Law may curse on as it will: I have life with God and in God nevertheless." This same aspect of the death of Christ as disconnecting believers from the Law viewed as a ceremonial institute, through the pollutedness which the Law attached to most especially that form of death, is referred to in Hebrews 13:10-13. The phrase, "I died unto the Law," is similar to that of "being made dead to the Law" (ἐθανατώθητε τῷ νόμῳ), and being "discharged [or, 'delivered'] from the Law (κατηργήθημεν ἀπὸ τοῦ νόμου)," which we have Romans 7:4, Romans 7:6; though the particular aspect of the fact that the cross disconnects believers from the Law is not precisely the same in the two passages, since in the Romans the Law is viewed more in its character as a rule of moral and spiritual life (see Romans 7:7-23). That I might live unto God (ἵνα Θεῷ ζήσω); that I might become alive unto God. It is not likely that ζήσω is a future indicative, although we have καταδουλώσουσιν after ἵνα in verse 4, and the form ζήσομεν in Romans 6:2; for the future would most probably have been ζήσομαι, as in Galatians 3:11, Galatians 3:12; and Romans 1:17; Romans 8:13; Romans 10:5. It is more likely to be the subjunctive of the aorist ἔζησα, which, according to the now accepted reading of ἔζησεν for ἐνέστη καὶ ἀνέζησεν, we have in Romans 14:9; where, as well as the ζήσωμεν of 1 Thessalonians 5:10, it means "become alive." In verbs denoting a state of being, the aorist frequently (though not necessarily) means coming into that state, as for example, ἐπτώχευσε, "became poor" (2 Corinthians 9:9). "Living unto God" here, as in Romans 6:10, does not so much denote any form of moral action towards God as that spiritual state towards him out of which suitable moral action would subsequently flow. The apostle died to the Law, in order that through Christ he might come into that vital union with God in which he might both serve him and find happiness in him; this service to God and joy in God being the "fruit-bearing" in which the "life" is manifested (Romans 7:5, Romans 7:6).
This verse brings out into fuller detail the several points bound up in the succinct statement of Galatians 2:19. I am crucified with Christ (Χριστῷ συνεσταύρωμαι); I have been crucified with Christ. I am on the cross, fastened thereto with Christ; the object, therefore, with him of the Law's abhorrence and anathema. If we ask, how and when he became thus blended with Christ in his crucifixion, we have the answer suggested by himself in Romans 6:3, Romans 6:6, "Are ye ignorant, that all we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?"—"that our old man was crucified with him?" It was by believing in Christ and being baptized into him; comp. Galatians 3:27, "All ye who were baptized into Christ did put on Christ "—words which have to be taken in connection with the reference to "faith in Christ" in Galatians 3:26. The perfect tense of the verb συνεσταύρωμαι points to a continued state of being, following upon that decisive crisis of his life; the apostle images himself as still hanging on the cross with Christ, while also sharing in his resurrection-life; his "old man" is on the cross, while his spirit partakes in and is renewed by Christ's life in God (Romans 6:6, Romans 6:8, Romans 6:11). The pragmatism of the passage, however, that is, its relevancy to the subject discussed by him with St. Peter, consists in the twofold statement:
(1) that the Law as a ceremonial institute has now nothing to do with him nor he with it, except as mutually proclaiming their entire disseverment the one from the other; and
(2) that nevertheless, while thus wholly apart from the Law, he has life in God, as he further proceeds to declare. Nevertheless I live (ζῶ δέ). Notwithstanding all the Law's anathema, I am alive unto God (comp. Romans 6:11), the object of his love, and an heir of his eternal life. With this exalted blessedness of mine the Law cannot in the slightest degree meddle, by any determination which it will fain propound of cleanness or uncleanness. No ceremonial pollution of its constituting can touch this my life. My own life and my fellow-believer's life in God is infinitely removed from the possibility of receiving taint of pollution through eating (say) of blood, or suet, or pork, or through touching a leper or the remains of a deceased man. Nothing of this kind can mar or stain my righteousness or my fellow-believer's righteousness. Both he and I, sharing in the like "life" and righteousness, rejoice and exult together; let the Law denounce us for unclean as loudly and as bitterly as it will. Nay, if I were to allow myself to be disquieted by any such denouncement of pollution, I should, in fact, be allowing myself to harbour misgivings and unbelief touching the very essence of the grace of Jesus Christ. Yet not I, but Christ liveth in me (οὐκ ἔτι ἐγώ ζῇ δὲ ἐν ἐμοὶ Χριστός); and yet no longer I, but Christ liveth in me. It was essential to the apostle's argument that he should assert himself to be, in spite of the Law's anathema, "alive," in the full possession of life in God; but he hastens to qualify this assertion by explaining how entirely he owes this life of his to Christ; and, in his eagerness to do this, he compresses the assertion and the qualification in one clause so closely together as, in a way not at all unusual with him, well-nigh to wreck the grammatical construction. A method, indeed, has been proposed by critics of disposing this clause with respect to the preceding in such a manner as to make the sentence run quite smoothly; thus: Ζῶ δὲ οὐκέτι ἀγώ ζῇ δὲ ἐν ἐμοὶ Χριστός: that is, as given in the margin of the Revised English Version, "I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I that live, but Christ liveth in me." But not only does this method of construing altogether efface the apostle's assertion of his being alive notwithstanding the Law's malediction—an assertion which agrees so thoroughly with the defiant tone of the argument, but the abruptness of the construction as presented in the ordinary reading of the passage is its very recommendation; for such uncouthness of style is wont to show itself in St. Paul's more eager, impassioned passages. "No longer I;" as in those old days when I prided myself on being an especial favourite of Heaven, eminently righteous through meritorious doings of my own, through my punctilious observance in particular of all that the Law prescribes for gaining and maintaining ceremonial sanctity (comp. Philippians 3:4, Philippians 3:6). "In those days it was I that was alive; it is not so now." The ἐγὼ ἔζων, "I was alive," of Romans 7:9, serves again as a perfect illustration of the phraseology of the present passage; only we have still to bear in mind that the apostle is at present contemplating the ceremonial aspect of his old life, rather than, as in the Romans, the moral; the two being no doubt, however, in his former Pharisee scheme of religion, essentially conjoined. The in-being of Christ is to be understood as blending in one the two notions, of Christ as the ground of our acceptableness before God and of our being alive unto God, and of Christ as the motive spring of true practical well-doing (Romans 8:10). The two things, though notionally distinct, cannot exist apart, but the former is the more prominent idea here. And the life which I now live in the flesh (ὃ δὲ νῦν ζῶ ἐν σαρκί). "Life" still denotes his spiritual state of being, and not his moral activity, though by inference in-relying this latter; as if it were "the life which I now possess." The construction of ὃ ζῶ is paralleled by the ὃ ἀπέθανε, "the death that he died, he died," and the ὃ ζῇ, "the life that he liveth, he liveth," of Romans 6:10. "Now," as well as "no longer," stands in contrast with his old life in Judaism. But, on the other hand, "in the flesh," viewed in conjunction with (ἐν πίστει) "in faith," or "by faith," must be taken as in Philippians 1:22, that is, as contrasted with the future life; while we are in the flesh "we walk by faith, not by sight" (2 Corinthians 5:7). I live by the faith of the Son of God (ἐν πίστει ζῶ τῇ τοῦ υἱοῦ τοῦ Θεοῦ); I live by faith, the faith which is in the Son of God. By faith, not by works of the Levitical Law. It was by faith in Christ that I first became partaker of this life; it is by faith in Christ that I continue to partake of it; letting go my faith in Christ, I partake of the life no longer. The especial relevancy of this statement of the apostle's, whether with respect to the matters agitated at Antioch, or with respect to any such revival of Levitical notions of acceptableness with God as was now perplexing the Churchmen of Galatia, is the warning which it implicitly conveys that, to revert to Levitical notions of uncleanness or of righteousness, was to sin against faith in Christ, and therewith against the very essence of a Christian's spiritual life. It was the strong sense which the apostle had of the absolutely fatal tendency of such relapses towards Judaism that inspired the deep pathos which here tinges his language. Hence the magnificent title by which he recites Christ's personality, "the Son of God;" possessing as such an absolutely commanding claim to his people's adherence, which they dare not decline. Hence, too, the words which follow. Who loved me, and gave himself for me (τοῦ ἀγαπήσαντός με καὶ παραδόντος ἑαυτὸν ὑπὲρ ἐμοῦ); who loved me, and gave himself up for me. Fain would the reader realize to his mind the fervid, thrilling tones and accent of voice in which the apostle, while uttering these words, would give vent to the sentiment which so powerfully swayed his whole life, and which he so vividly describes in writing to the Corinthians: "The love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that one died for all, therefore all died [namely, to all but him]. and he died fur all, that they which live should no longer live unto themselves, but unto him who for their sakes died and rose again" (2 Corinthians 5:14, 2 Corinthians 5:15). The same appropriation of Christ's love to his own individual self which the apostle here gives utterance to, "who loved me, and gave himself up for me," may every human creature also express in whom only is the faith which takes hold of his love. In fact, the apostle speaks thus for the very purpose of prompting every individual believer who hears him to feel and say the same. This, he indicates, should be their feeling just as much as his; a sentiment just as irresistibly regulative of their life. Why not? Do they not also owe to him all their hope on behalf of their souls? For the expression, "gave himself up," comp. Galatians 1:4 and note. The Greek verb παραδόντος is distinguished from the simple δόντος, "gave himself," by its bringing more distinctly into view the notion of Christ's giving himself over into the hands of those who sought his life.
I do not frustrate the grace of God (οὐκ ἀθετῶ τὴν χάριν τοῦ Θεοῦ); I do not reject the grace of God. As I should be doing, it; instead of resting with "glorified" (1 Peter 1:8) satisfaction in the fatherly love and complacency with which God regards me in Christ, I began to give anxious heed to what the Law prescribes touching things or persons clean or unclean, and to deem it possible and needful to secure acceptableness with God through works of ceremonial performance. If it were only for one single reason alone, I do not, I cannot, thus slight and set at nought the state of grace with all its attendant blessings into which God has in Christ Jesus brought me. The "grace of God" presents that entire notion of the kingdom of grace which the apostle sets forth, and on which he descants with such glowing animation, in the fifth chapter of his Epistle to the Romans. The term of itself stands in vivid contrast to that slavish, anxious, never assured working for acceptance, which characterized the Jewish legalist, and characterizes the legalist Christian as well. As the apostle does not write ἐγὼ οὐκ ἀθετῶ, which would mean, "I do not set aside, not I," he is not to be read as if just now emphasizing a personal contrast between himself, and either St. Peter or the Judaizers with whom St. Peter was then to outward appearance taking sides; he is at present simply winding up his recital of his remonstrance at Antioch with the one terse argument, with which he then justified his own position, and, as if with a sledge-hammer, at once demolished the position of the Judaizers. The verb ἀθετῶ means "reject," "turn from as from a thing unworthy of regard;" as in Mark 7:9, "Ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your tradition;" Luke 7:30, "The Pharisees and lawyers rejected for themselves the counsel of God;" 1 Thessalonians 4:8, "He that rejecteth [our testimony touching this], rejeeteth not man, but God;" Hebrews 10:28, "A man that hath set at nought Moses' Law;" in which last passage it indicates, but without itself fully describing, a more aggressive disobedience. The rendering "made void," adopted by the Revisers, in the sense of "disannul," is doubtless fully authenticated by Galatians 3:15; 1 Timothy 5:12; Hebrews 9:18. Since even an apostle could not "disannul" the "grace of God" viewed in itself, this sense of the word, if adopted, would, as well as the perhaps questionable rendering of our Authorized Version, "frustrate," apply to the previous work of Divine grace wrought upon the apostle's own soul. But the logical connection of the following clause is more easily shown by our reverting to the sense before given to the verb, which in the New Testament is the more usual one. For if righteousness come by the Law, then Christ is dead in vain (εἰ γὰρ διὰ νόμου δικαιοσύνη ἄρα Χριστὸς δωρεὰν ἀπέθανεν); for if through the Law is righteousness, then did Christ for nought die. This one reason is decisive. The sole reason why the Son of God came into the world to suffer death was to do away our sins and make us righteous with God. But if sin can be purged by the purifications of the Law, and cleanness before God is procurable by Levitical ceremonies, then there was no need for this; then the Crucifixion, for this one end ordained and from the beginning of time prepared for by the Father, and fur this one end, of his own free choice gone forward to, brought about, and undergone by Christ himself, was a simply superfluous sacrifice. We might have been saved, nay, have perchance saved ourselves, without it. It is impossible to find in all Scripture a more decisive passage than this in proof both of the fact of, the atonement and of its supreme importance in the Christian system. This is emphatically Christ's great work. Compared with this, all besides is either subsidiary or derivative, Δωρεάν, (as a mere gift,) "for nought;" that is, without cause, there being no call or just occasion for it; thus, John 15:25, "They hated me without cause;" 1 Samuel 19:5, Septuagint, "Slay David without a cause;" Ezekiel 6:10, Septuagint, "I have not said in vain that I would do this evil unto them;" Ecclus. 29:6, "He hath got him an enemy without cause." The apostle adds nothing as to the effect of his remonstrance. It is impossible, however, to doubt that, so instinct as it was with the power of the Holy Spirit, it proved successful, not only in the healing of the mischief which had begun to show itself in the Antiochian Church, but also in its effect upon St. Peter. Nothing has transpired of any later intercourse between the two apostles. But the thorough honesty which in the main was one of St. Peter's great characteristics, notwithstanding the perplexed action in which from time to time he got involved, through the warmth of his sympathetic affections and his sometimes too hasty impulsiveness, would be sure to make him pre-eminently tractable to the voice of a true-speaking and holy friend; and, moreover, in the present instance, St. Paul was appealing to sentiments which he had himself recently proved at Jerusalem to be deeply operative in his own bosom. How deeply operative, is further evinced in his own two Epistles, written some eight or ten years later than this Epistle, and addressed also in part to the same Galatian Churches; in which he not only weaves into his language not a few expressions and turns of thought which have all the appearance of being borrowed from Epistles of St. Paul, but also in the second of them makes direct mention of those Epistles, speaking of them as standing on the footing of "the other Scriptures," and of their author as "our beloved brother Paul;" notwithstanding that one of those very writings contains the extremely plain-spoken account of that sad fall of his at Antioch. which we have here been considering. (On St. Paul's later relations with St. Barnabas, see above on verse 13.)
The Judaism of the earliest Pentecostal Church not rabbinical. Any one who will be at the pains of reviewing the contents of the four Gospels with an eye to this particular subject, cannot fail to be struck by the frequency with which Christ in his own conduct placed himself in even the sharpest antagonism to the "traditions of the eiders," and encouraged his disciples in likewise setting them at nought. And this he did in cases in which the contrast of his behaviour to the abject submission to those traditions paraded by the Pharisees must have been most striking, and have jarred, no doubt, very often even painfully, upon the ill-instructed religious sensibilities of those, who had grown up in the belief that to observe the traditions was both seemly and pious and to neglect them unseemly and schismatical. For example, in daily life, neither he nor his disciples would "baptize" themselves when coming home from the market, nor even apply lustral water to their hands before taking a meal, though there before their eyes stood tire vessels filled with water which had been provided for the guests and which the other guests were punctual in using. It was not without significance that in his first miracle he withdrew the water which had been set apart for such lustrations from one use of it which he would pronounce to be utterly frivolous and vain, to apply it to one which should really be serviceable and beneficent. Again, many were the restrictions which the traditions imposed upon men's actions on the sabbath—restrictions which not only were additional to those enjoined by the Law, but also in many cases contravened the calls of mercy and benevolence. Such restrictions Christ very frequently, and in the most public and pointed manner, so as to directly challenge attention to what he did, broke through, and taught his disciples to disregard; the Pharisees being repeatedly so enraged at these transgressions of the traditions as to endeavour in consequence to take his life. The fastings enjoined by the traditions, he and his disciples likewise offended the Pharisees by taking no account of. The traditions of especially one popular school of teaching allowed so great a facility of divorce as served to disguise a frightful excess of licentiousness, in which many of the Pharisees were themselves implicated; in opposition to which Christ was wont publicly to declare that 'connections formed after divorces not justified by adultery were themselves adulterous. Continually was the Lord warning his followers against the leaven of Pharisaism, to wit, its ostentation in religious observances; its laying so much stress upon the outward act, in neglect of the inward motive and the posture of the spirit; its draining away the forces of moral earnestness from the prosecution of justice, mercy, and truth, to squander them upon scrupulous and vigilant devotion to the veriest trifles of formalism; the consequent hollowness and hypocrisy of the religious character of its votaries; their love of money; their eagerness for social distinction; their cruelty to the poor amid all their ostentatious almsgiving; their hardheartedness to the fallen; their intense, devilish hatred of real piety. All the four Gospels abound in indications of that antipathy to Pharisaism and traditionalism which Christ both entertained himself and was careful to instil into the minds of his disciples. It cannot, therefore, be questioned that the disciples who formed the first nucleus of the Christian community, especially the twelve and the brethren of the Lord, were animated by similar sentiments of anti-Pharisaism; and so also the Pentecostal Church at Jerusalem as moulded under their influence. The Law of Moses, no doubt, they continued to obey, as their Master had done—the Law of Moses, however, as construed in the more humane and spiritual sense put upon it by the Sermon on the Mount, and not as stiffened and hardened into intolerable cruelty by the rabbinism which the Pharisees insisted upon. Such, we may feel certain, had been the attitude of St. Peter's mind in reference to the Law when, years before at Joppa, he had received the summons to go and visit Cornelius at Caesarea. It was with constraint put upon his own hitherto cherished tastes that he submitted to the call; and when he entered the Gentile's house, the fibre of Israelitism in his soul is seen quivering, shrinking back from the step which he was compelled to take. "Ye yourselves know," he said to the company of uncircumcised men among whom he found himself, "that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to join himself or to come unto one of another nation; and yet unto me hath God showed that I should not call any man common or unclean." It was painful to him as an Israelite and a Mosaist; but God's declared will was leaving him no alternative. Now, whence had arisen those feelings of repulsion? Partly it was, no doubt, a kind of caste sentiment. It had been then more than two thousand years a traditional consciousness with the Hebrew race that their circumcision lifted them to a higher level than the rest of mankind stood upon; and the persuasion inspired them with a disdain of uncircumcised nations, which with the most had little or no admixture of really religious feeling, being felt by the idolatrous Ephraimites as well as by the less unfaithful children of Judah. With the more pious members of the nation, this repulsion from Gentiles was partly the outcome of their sense of the deep degradation, religious and moral, in which heathen nations were sunk, steeped as they were in idolatry; but their sense of this was greatly intensified by the moral effect of the separation from other nations enforced by the ceremonial law. This was effected partly by the distinction between clean and unclean animals, which, recognized in an elementary degree as early as the time of Noah, was made in the Levitical legislation a matter of very minutely definite prescription (Leviticus 11:1-47.); and partly by the prohibition of eating either certain kinds of fat (Le Galatians 3:17) or blood: to partake either of the flesh of an unclean animal, or of suet or blood, was emphatically declared by the Law, and by the long-inherited tradition of the nation had grown to be instinctively felt to be, "defilement" and "abomination." There is no ground for supposing that St. Peter's shrinking back from Gentiles as common or unclean was caused by rabbinism. Rabbin-ism, no doubt, added much to the bitterness of the repulsion with these who served the traditions; but even where there was no bondage owned to the dicta of the elders, repulsion from the contact of a Gentile was a powerful sentiment, having its roots deep in the instinctive sentiments of the Hebrew race and in the feelings instilled by the peremptory enactments of the Divine Law. Now, however, in Cornelius's house, St. Peter does not allow his spirit to be dominated by sentiments such as these. God and Christ his Master were making it manifest, as in other ways, so especially by the astonishing illapse of the Holy Spirit into these believing hearers of the gospel message, that they were no longer unclean, and therefore he cannot possibly any longer treat them as unclean. He tarried with them certain days, and, according to the charge immediately after preferred against him and not denied, ate with them. That he partook of the same food as they, whether of a kind forbidden by the Mosaic Law or not, is not stated and is no necessary inference drawn from the circumstances. He would not, we may well believe, scruple now to recline at the same table with them; but it may be readily imagined that for a guest so highly revered, of whose Jewish sensibilities respecting food they could not be unaware, even if he or the six Jewish brethren who accompanied him from Joppa did not make a point of apprising them, the wealthy centurion and his family would be only too anxious to provide such food as both he and his fellow-visitors would find acceptable. Thus St. Peter might have "eaten bread" with the Gentiles, neither, on the one hand, himself breaking the Levitical Law by partaking of food which was forbidden to him as a child of the legal covenant, nor, on the other, declining to recognize the full acceptableness before God and the equal brotherhood in Christ of believers who were still in their uncircumcision. The caste feeling of proud disdain of uncircumcised men as men of an inferior grade, and the dread of ceremonial defilement from contact with those who were levitically unclean, dared no longer assert themselves, could, indeed, no longer be permitted to lodge in his bosom, in the face of the clear proof which had been afforded that the Almighty had in Christ adopted them as his own children equally with himself. Thus it appears that when at Antioch, at the time here referred to by St. Paul, Cephas was seen partaking of social meals in company with the Gentile converts, he was only acting in the same way as he had acted at Caesarea ten years before.
The battle of Christian liberty fought over the case of Titus.
The apostle proceeds to show that, on his subsequent journey to Jerusalem, he maintained his independence, and was recognized by the other apostles as possessing equal authority with themselves.
I. HIS NEXT INTERVIEW WITH THE APOSTLES. "Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also."
1. The period of this visit. It was fourteen years from the date of his conversion—not from the date of his former visit to Jerusalem—for he seems always to view his conversion as the true starting-point of his career. The word "again "does not determine whether he here refers to the second or third visit. It was evidently his third visit; for the second was with alms, when he probably saw no apostle, for the gift of the Gentile Churches was sent to "the elders," not the apostles, "by the hands of Barnabas and Saul" (Acts 11:30). There was no need to mention all his visits to Jerusalem, only those which gave him opportunities of intercourse with the apostles. This visit, then, was that of Acts 15:1-41., the period of the council of Jerusalem.
2. His companions on this visit—Barnabas and Titus. There was something significant in this companionship. Barnabas, a pure Jew, was the companion of the apostle in preaching freedom from the Law. He was one of the most beautiful characters in New Testament times, especially distinguished by the generosity of his disposition. Titus was a Gentile Christian, not even circumcised, and may have been sent to the council as the representative of Gentile Christians. The apostle took him there as an illustration of Christian liberty, for the council would be obliged to decide whether Titus was to be circumcised or not. Thus the apostle manifested the consistency of his doctrine and his practice. This is the first mention of Titus in Scripture; for the Galatian Epistle preceded the Second to the Corinthians, in which his name occurs in terms of high commendation.
3. The interval between his visits to Jerusalem was filled with constant labours as an apostle. He was engaged during all this period in independent labours, and therefore before the apostles could have had an opportunity of recognizing his work. During this time the apostles never thought of calling in question his free gospel. The Acts of the Apostles supply the history of his labours during this time (Acts 11:26; Acts 13:1-52.; Acts 14:28).
4. His journey was taken "by revelation." According to St. Lu, he was sent by the Church at Antioch (Acts 15:2), and therefore was not summoned by the apostles to give an account of his gospel. But the revelation may have suggested the very action of the Church at Antioch, or it may, on the other hand, have confirmed it. The apostle was in any case assured of Divine guidance at a most critical epoch in Christian history.
II. HIS BOLD YET PRUDENT EXPOSITION OF HIS GOSPEL. "And I went up by revelation, and laid before them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them of reputation, lest by any means I might be running, or have run, in vain."
1. His public exposition.
(1) It was addressed to the general body of Christians at Jerusalem, not to the apostles or eiders exclusively; for he expounded the gospel "privately" to the apostles.
(2) His gospel was that of justification by faith without circumcision.
(3) It was a gospel which had not changed since the council; for he speaks of it as that which "I preach," not which "I preached." The conference, therefore, made no change upon it.
2. His private exposition.
(1) It was addressed to the apostles—"to them of reputation," as Peter, James, and John are called in verse 9. Not so called in any spirit of irony, but because it is as authorities their names came at all in question. Besides, one of them, James, was not an apostle.
(2) Its object was to have a more thorough discussion, with a view to a mutual understanding in the interests of peace and the gospel. A private conversation admits of greater freedom and discursiveness in dealing with difficult or contested points. The apostle did not seek the testimony of men, as if the Word of God could not stand without it; but he knew that a cordial understanding with the apostles would add powerfully to the confirmation of the faith. If his gospel was approved by apostles, it would be clear of the charge of singularity, and would no longer be regarded as an invention of his own. He knew, besides, that, if the leading men could be gained over, the multitude would follow. He was anxious for the success of the gospel," lest he should run in vain," for a misunderstanding at that critical moment might involve the loss of his past and future labours, by imperilling the free mode of his offering the gospel to the Gentiles. Grave differences of judgment among ministers of the gospel compromise alike its authority and its practical effect.
(3) There is nothing here to justify a secret and underhand policy. The Church of Rome points to this case as favouring its doctrine of reserve. It is necessary to see, however, the utter groundlessness of this assertion. The apostle did not say one thing in private and another in public, but communicated, as he expressly says, the same gospel on both occasions. Openly he expounded it to the Christians at Jerusalem, but entered into its doctrinal aspects more deeply in private.
III. THE APOSTLE'S VICTORY. "Titus was not compelled to be circumcised," Greek though he was.
1. The language implies that efforts had been made to this end, not by the apostles, however, but by "the false brethren." But these efforts were defeated by the council. Had the council been of the opinion of the false brethren, Titus would have been compelled to be circumcised.
2. Mark the firmness of the apostle. "Not even Titus"—though he was brought into close contact with the Jews, and might therefore have taken a more conciliatory course toward them, especially in the great centre of Judaist influence—"was forced to be circumcised." If the apostle yielded at Jerusalem, he must yield everywhere else. Yet he allowed Timothy to be circumcised at Lystra, but that was a case of deference to the scruples of weak brethren. For the sake of gaining souls he will renounce liberty. But he will not allow the truth of the gospel to be sacrificed by men who say that circumcision is necessary to salvation.
3. Mark the ground of the apostle's firmness. "And this, because of false brethren insidiously brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ, that they might bring us into bondage." That is, he resisted the circumcision of Titus, because the false brethren would have taken advantage of the concession to bring the Gentiles into bondage to legal ceremonies.
(1) Who were the false brethren? They were persons at Jerusalem, not at Antioch (2 Corinthians 11:26). They were brethren only by profession, and therefore more dangerous than open enemies. "Pharisees at heart, these spies and traitors assume the name and garb of believers." The apostles did not coincide with them. They must have been Judaizers. Yet all Judaizers were not necessarily false brethren; but these were Christians only in profession.
(2) Their furtive attitude. They were "brought in insidiously," either into the ministry or into the membership of the Church. They had a standing somehow that entitled them to influence the usage or doctrine of the Church. False teachers always enter the Church in disguise (2 Peter 2:1). "These hell-scouts are skulking in every corner" (Trapp). The policy of such persons has nothing of Christian simplicity in it.
(3) Their design. "To spy out our liberty which we have in Christ." Their work was" inspection for a sinister purpose." An impure intention was at the bottom of the movement. The liberty they threatened to destroy was not spiritual liberty in general, but that which was compromised by the demand of subjection to the ceremonial law. The liberty of believers was a present possession enjoyed by virtue of their union with Christ.
4. The result of the apostle's firmness. "To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour." If he had done it once, Christian liberty would have been sacrificed. The characteristic truth of the gospel—justification by faith without the deeds of the Law—was now safe. It was to "remain steadfast" with the Gentiles. Thus truth and freedom were henceforth to go together.
The apostle takes counsel with the other apostles on perfectly equal terms.
He is still asserting his apostolic independence.
I. HIS REBUKE OF THOSE WHO LEANED UPON AUTHORITY. "Those high in reputation; whatsoever they were, it maketh no difference to me: God respecteth no man's person." The apostle does not mean to disparage either the reputation or the authority of the other apostles. It was not his interest to do so, because it was important for him to show that he was even acknowledged by them. But the false brethren had unduly exalted the authority of the "pillar apostles," so as to establish a sort of papacy in the Church. He was, therefore, led to show that, in matters of faith, the authority of individuals has no weight; that we are bound to lean upon God, not upon men, even though they he persons of position and respectability. "God accepteth no man's person." He may employ whom he pleases to carry out his work, and can qualify them fully for the purpose. The Galatians were "respecters of persons," inasmuch as they depreciated the apostle, because the twelve were apostles before him and enjoyed the peculiar privilege of personal intercourse with the Lord on earth. The apostle declares, in fact, that God did not prefer James, or Cephas, or John to him, much less employ them to appoint him to apostolic office.
II. THE APOSTLES ADDED NOTHING TO HIS INFORMATION OR AUTHORITY BY THEIR ACTION AT THE CONFERENCE. "They who seemed to be somewhat added nothing to me." He got nothing from them; they added nothing to his knowledge of the gospel: he received no new instructions; they were perfectly independent one of another. They did not interfere with the course he had hitherto pursued, much less question its rightness.
III. THE APOSTLES, ON THE CONTRARY, PRACTICALLY APPROVED HIS COURSE. "But contrariwise, when they saw that I was entrusted with the gospel of the uncircumcision, as the gospel of the circumcision was to Peter … they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship."
1. They acknowledged his perfect equality with Peter.
(1) As to apostolic commission. "When they saw that I was entrusted with the gospel of the uncircumcision, as the gospel of the circumcision was to Peter." These words suggest:
(a) That the gospel is a solemn trust. There are many human trusts from which men naturally shrink because of the risk, labour, and anxiety involved in their faithful discharge. Yet the apostle thanked God that the weightiest of all trusts had been committed to him who was "a blasphemer, a persecutor, and injurious" (1 Timothy 1:13). Still he could say," Who is sufficient for these things?"
(b) The gospel is one, though it may be addressed to different circles of hearers. It is not implied in the apostle's language that there were two separate gospels—one for the Jews, and another for the Gentiles; for both Peter and Paul, as we know by their discourses and their Epistles, were in complete harmony as to the way of a sinner's salvation.
(c) The gospel was committed to Paul, not by Peter or any other apostle, but by God himself.
(2) As to apostolic success. "For he that wrought effectually for Peter toward the apostleship of the circumcision, the same wrought for me toward the Gentiles."
(a) The equal success of the two apostles. The false brethren boasted that Peter's gospel was most effectual in conversions, and that he himself was a mighty worker of miracles. The success of Paul was equally manifest.
(b) The true source of success in both cases was God himself, who worked mightily in the two apostles (Philippians 2:13; 1 Corinthians 12:6). All gifts, all adaptation, all power, come from him. Thus Divine appointment was signified equally in both cases by the effectual working of God.
2. The apostles acknowledged his official status and prerogative by giving him the right hand of fellowship in respect of future labours. "But when James, Cephas, and John, who have the reputation of being pillars, became aware of the grace that was given to me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship, that we should go to the heathen and they to the circumcision." They recognized him as a fellow-labourer, "for the grace given to him," both in respect to his success and his calling by grace to the apostleship.
(1) Mark the wisdom of a division of labour. They made a sort of convention as to the limits of their future labours—a convention, however, which could not always be very strictly observed. Paul was, no doubt, mainly concerned with the Gentiles, but usually preached first to the Jews in all places that he visited. Peter and John resided in their later years among the Gentiles. But it was an arrangement, notwithstanding, that was well calculated to promote the growth of Christianity at a time of great friction between the Jewish and Gentile elements in the Christian Church. Peter could not have been universal bishop or pope, if he was the apostle of the circumcision; for he practically conceded to Paul the apostolate of the largest part of the world—the Gentile nations.
(2) The important bearing of this convention upon the position and authority of the apostle. Those who so frankly entered into this arrangement "had the reputation of being pillars in the Church." They were so regarded even by the "false brethren" and the Judaists everywhere. Their act was therefore calculated to cut the ground from under the feet of the disaffected, who would see in it an approval of Paul's gospel.
(a) The apostle does not call the three pillars apostles, but "those in reputation," for one of them, James the Lord's brother, was not an apostle.
(b) Peter was not head of the Church, for he received exactly the same commission as Paul. Even James is mentioned here before Peter, evidently because of his permanent connection with the great centre of Jewish Christianity. It was very important for Paul to be able to quote James on his side.
(c) The gospel does not stand upon the authority of one apostle, any more than of twelve. It is the gospel of God.
(d) The conduct of the apostles in this whole transaction is worthy of general imitation. They first examined Paul's doctrine and listened with candour to his explanations, and then gave up their particular opinions when they became convinced of his Divine commission.
The claims of the poor saints in Jerusalem.
"Only they asked us that we should remember the poor; which very thing I also was forward to do." While they gave us the right hand of fellowship that we should go to the Gentiles, there was an agreement that we should remember the poor of the circumcision.
I. WHO WERE THE POOR? They were the poor saints in Judaea, not in Jerusalem merely (1 Corinthians 16:1). Their poverty arose, probably, from "the spoiling of their goods," so familiar in persecuting periods, as well as, perhaps, from forfeiting business relations with their own countrymen.
II. A COMMON AGREEMENT TO REMEMBER THEM.
1. It is agreeable to mark this unity of feeling in the midst of controversy.
2. There ought to be no division with regard to the poor. The dictates of humanity, the demands of duty, the claims of interest, alike enforce a due consideration of the poor, but especially of those who belong to the household of faith.
3. A common object of charity ought to have a uniting effect on people separated by other interests or opinions.
III. THE APOSTLE'S SPECIAL ANXIETY ON THEIR BEHALF.
1. He would naturally desire to conciliate the Jews and destroy their anti-Gentile prejudices.
2. Yet his liberality was no token of dependence upon Jerusalem.
3. The prospect of ingratitude ,from the Jews would have no effect in repressing his charitable zeal on their behalf.
4. The apostle was more forward on their behalf than any other apostle. How he fulfilled the engagement is abundantly manifest (1 Corinthians 16:1;2 Corinthians 8:1-24.; Romans 15:26).
The apostle's rebuke of Peter at Antioch.
There is no record of this scene elsewhere in Scripture. It is a further proof of the apostle's independence as well as of his devotion to Christian liberty.
I. CONSIDER THE CONDUCT OF PETER.
1. The seethe of this interview between Peter and Paul—Antioch. It was a city on the Orontes, in Syria, the seat of the Macedonian empire in Asia, chiefly inhabited by Greeks, liberalized in thought by considerable culture. It was the second capital of Christianity, Jerusalem being the first, and held a prominent place as the centre of Gentile Christian life. What occurred here would have wide results.
2. The time. It occurred probably during the sojourn of Paul and Barnabas at Antioch, after the council of Jerusalem had settled the whole question of the relation between Jewish and Gentile Christians (Acts 15:30-40). Peter's conduct was, therefore, all the more singular and indefensible, because it was so necessary to secure Christian liberty on the basis of the decrees. We cannot forget that, long before, the vision from heaven showed him the worthlessness of Jewish traditions (Acts 10:27).
3. The circumstances. "Before that certain came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them of the circumcision." Those who came from James were not false brethren, nor even necessarily Judaic zealots, but certain persons whom he sent to Antioch, not to impose a yoke of ceremonies on the Gentiles, but to reassure Jewish Christians as to their right to observe the divinely appointed usages of their fathers, which the decrees of the Jerusalem council had done nothing to overthrow. The conduct of James was perfectly legitimate. Yet it is probable they pleaded that there was no warrant in the decision of the council for the freer intercourse with Gentile Christians which Peter had been practising. The Jewish Christians were still to "keep the customs," and not to mix freely with the Gentiles (Acts 15:19). When these persons came to Antioch, they found Peter eating with Gentiles as he had done before (Acts 10:1-48.), disregarding the isolation established by Levitical laws. They found him, in fact, living as a Gentile, not as a Jew. Peter at once, through the influence of fear—probably the fear of losing his influence with the Jewish Christians—began to withdraw himself from the Gentiles, discontinuing his eating with them, without giving one word of explanation, and attaching himself to the Jewish Christians, as if the old distinctions of meats were still in force and still sacred in his eyes. It is not said that the "certain from James" reproached him with his laxity. It may have been, after all, an empty fear on his part. Yet it was a most extraordinary act of tergiversation on the part of one of the "pillars" of the Church.
4. Its effects upon both Jews and Gentiles at Antioch. It involved the Jewish Christians in the hyprocrisy of Peter himself. "And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him"—even those very persons who rejoiced at the decision of the council (Acts 15:31). The Jewish converts might be tempted to believe that the Mosaic Law was still in force. "Even Barnabas was also carried away with their dissimulation." "Even Barnabas"—my fellow-labourer in missionary work," a good man, full of the Holy Ghost and of faith," who once fought by my side the battle of Gentile liberty (Acts 15:1-41.), who had hazarded his life by my side (Acts 15:16)—"was carried away" by the force of such a formidable example in opposition to his own judgment and conviction. This incident probably led to the separation of Barnabas from Paul (Acts 15:39), for they never after appear together, though the affectionate relationship between the friends was never broken. But the effect upon the Gentile Christians at Antioch must have been something almost inconceivable. They would no more meet with their Jewish brethren at the Lord's Table. They were treated as unclean. Peter's conduct virtually condemned their liberty, and was an indirect attempt to bring them under the yoke of Jewish usages. "Why," says Paul, "compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?" The compulsion was exercised by the authority of his example; for the Gentile Christians could not know of his dissimulation, but would rather think he had changed his opinion upon the subject of the relation of the Gentiles to the gospel.
5. The true character of Peter's action. It was hypocrisy; for he acted against his better convictions, as if it were really wrong to eat with Gentiles. He concealed his real convictions. No voice had been louder at the council in protesting against the imposition of a yoke which "neither we nor our fathers were able to bear." He certainly did not "walk uprightly."
6. Its true explanation. This is to be found in Peter's character, which was one of unusual strength and of unusual weakness. He was that apostle who was the first to recognize and the first to draw back from great principles. lie was the first to confess Christ and the first to deny him; the first to own Gentile liberty, the first to disown it. "The fear of man is often as authoritative as papal bulls and decrees."
II. THE REBUKE OF PAUL. "I withstood him to the face, because he was condemned." There was no controversy between the two apostles; there was no difference of opinion; it was only a case of indecision in acting up to one's unchanged convictions. Peter was self-condemned, for his conduct bore the broad mark of inconsistency.
1. The rebuke was public. Such as sin openly should be rebuked openly. It is a necessary and difficult and much-neglected duty, and ought always to be discharged in a loving temper, without vanity or haughtiness. Here it was administered before the assembled Church at Antioch, Jews and Gentiles; otherwise it would have failed to influence the Jewish converts. Its publicity was necessary, as it was essential in the circumstances to establish fixed principles for all coming time.
2. The rebuke was fully justified.
(1) Peter was condemned by his own act.
(2) The rebuke would prevent the Zealots from being hardened and confirmed in their error. The Judaists would be allowed to receive no encouragement from Peter's tergiversation.
(3) The Galatians would receive a new lesson as to the relation of the gospel to the Law. They would be made to see what it was "to walk uprightly according to the truth of the gospel."
3. It was meekly and piously received. There is no record of Peter's answer. But there was no sharp contention between the apostles. It is pleasing to think that the rebuke did not sunder the friendship of the two good men. Years after Peter speaks of his rebuker as" our beloved brother Paul also" (2 Peter 3:15).
4. The rebuke proves at least that Paul was on an equality with Peter. If the rebuke had been administered by Peter to Paul, how we should have heard of Peter's primacy! Yet nothing said by Paul affects in the least the apostolic authority and dignity of Peter. It was not a case of error in doctrine, but of inconsistency in conduct. "Ministers may err and sin; follow them no further than they follow Christ."
Galatians 2:15, Galatians 2:16
The true way of salvation.
The apostle then proceeds to show that the way of salvation is not by the works of the Law at all, but in a quite different way. t/is words to Peter imply—
I. THE NECESSITY OF JUSTIFICATION FOR BOTH JEWS AND GENTILES. "We being Jews by nature, and not sinners from among the Gentiles." He tells the Judaists the Jews had some advantage over the Gentiles. Yet, after all, the Jews themselves, such as Paul and Peter, were obliged to renounce trust in Judaism and to find their justification in Christ Jesus. The apostle shows the necessity of justification elsewhere in the case of both Jews and Gentiles (Romans 1:1-32., Romans 1:2.). "All the world is found guilty before God" (Romans 3:19). The charge is abundantly proved, and the sentence has gone forth: "Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things written in the book of the Law to do them" (Galatians 3:10).
II. THE NATURE OF JUSTIFICATION. "Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law, but by the faith of Christ." Its meaning is to declare a person to be just. It does not mean either to pardon or to make just. It is a strictly judicial act. Newman admits that it signifies, not "to make righteous," but" to pronounce righteous;" yet he says it includes the "making righteous" under its meaning. That is, the sense of the term is counting righteous, but the sense of the thing is "making righteous." This is to make nonsense of language. To say that it means "making righteous" is to make justification and sanctification the same thing. This Romish divines actually do; yet they regard sanctification, that is, infused or inherent righteousness, as the ground of justification. That is, sanctification is at once a part of justification and the ground of it. Can a thing be at once part of a thing, and at the same time the ground of a thing? The meaning of the term "justification" is fixed by its opposite, "condemnation,'' which is, not to make wicked, but to pronounce guilty. "He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are abomination to the Lord" (Proverbs 17:15). "If there be a controversy between men, and they come unto judgment, that the judge may judge them; then they shall justify the righteous, and condemn the wicked "(Deuteronomy 25:1). "The judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification of life" (Romans 5:16). The term is thus forensic. Justification includes more than pardon, because:
1. The very terms imply a difference. To pardon is to waive the execution of the penal sanction of the Law. To justify is to declare that the demands of the Law are satisfied, not waived. Pardon is a sovereign act; justification, a judicial act.
2. Pardon is remission of penalty, in the absence of a satisfaction. It is not an act of justice. But justification proceeds on the ground of a satisfaction. One is the remission of punishment; the other is a declaration that there is no ground for the infliction of punishment.
3. The apostle speaks of the blessedness of the man to whom the Lord imputeth righteousness without works" (Romans 4:6). To impute righteousness is to justify. To pardon a man is not to ascribe righteousness to him.
4. The terms of Scripture require this distinction. It would be unmeaning to say, "No flesh shall be pardoned by the works of the Law." Justification includes both pardon and acceptance with God. It includes a title to eternal life, and therefore is called "justification of life," and on account of it men are made heirs according to the hope of eternal life (Titus 3:7). This is the "true grace of God in which we stand." God does more than pardon; he "imputeth righteousness without works." Christ is made "the righteousness of God" to us. We are "accepted in the Beloved." Yet the pardon and the acceptance are never separated. All who are pardoned are justified, and all who are justified are pardoned.
III. THE GROUND OF JUSTIFICATION. "A man is not justified by the works of the Law, but by the faith of Christ."
1. It is not by the works of the Law.
(1) Of what Law? It is not the mere ceremonial law, though that was here prominently in question.
(a) It is the whole Law—the Law in the sense in which the apostle's readers would understand it, that Law whose violation brings in the whole world guilty before God (Romans 3:19).
(b) The apostle never contrasts the works of the ceremonial with the works of the moral law, as if to imply that we cannot be justified by the first class, but may by the second. The opposition is always between works in general and faith.
(c) He excludes as inadequate to our justification those very "works of righteousness" (Titus 3:5), that is, according to Romish theology, works done after regeneration, which may be regarded as possessing the highest order of excellence. He even excludes the works of a good man like Abraham, the father of the faithful (Romans 4:2).
(d) The objection of Romans 6:1, that if works are not the ground of our justification, we may live in sin, supposes that good works of every sort are excluded from the ground of our justification.
(2) The works, then, of the whole Law of God are excluded. Because Scripture repeatedly asserts the fact. We are not justified "by our own righteousness, which is of the Law" (Philippians 3:9).
(a) The Law demands perfect obedience, and no obedience at one time can atone for disobedience at another (Galatians 3:10, Galatians 3:21; Galatians 5:3).
(b) If we are justified by works, Christ is dead in vain. There was no need for his death (Galatians 2:21; Galatians 5:4).
(c) Our salvation would not in that case be of grace, but of debt (Romans 11:6).
(d) It would give room for boasting, which is excluded by the law of faith (Romans 3:27).
2. Our justification is by the faith of Christ. There are two facts here set forth—faith and the object of faith. The faith that justifies is distinguished by its object, Jesus Christ. The two prepositions (ἐκ and διὰ), used in the passage are designed to mark, respectively, source or cause and instrument.
(1) Consider the relation of faith to our justification. Strictly speaking, Scripture never says that faith justifies, but that we are justified by faith.
(a) Faith is not the ground of our justification. Yet it is said, "Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for (εἰς) righteousness" (Romans 4:3). This does not mean that faith is the graciously admitted ground of justification. For:
(α) We are never said to be justified on account of faith (διὰ πίστιν), but through (διὰ) faith or of (ἐκ) faith.
(β) This view of the relation of faith to justification is not consistent with those passages which affirm that the ground of our justification is not anything in us or done by us; for faith is a work done by us, quite as much as prayer or repentance.
(γ) It is not consistent with those passages which make Christ's merits, his blood, his death, his cross, the ground of our acceptance. Faith cannot, therefore, be at once the ground and the instrument of our justification.
(δ) We are saved by the righteousness of another, but that righteousness is always distinguished from the faith that apprehends it (Romans 1:17; Philippians 3:8-11). Faith cannot, therefore, both be and not be that righteousness.
(ε) The apostle, when he says that Abraham's faith "was counted to him for (εἰς) righteousness" or "as righteousness," meant merely to say that faith, not works, secured his salvation.
The word εἰς is used in two senses—"instead of" and "with a view to," and Ellicott is of opinion that the idea of destination is here blended with that of simple predication. Thus if Abraham's faith is equivalent to righteousness in God's account, it is because it is designed to secure that righteousness. "It was not the act of believing which was reckoned to him as a righteous act, or on account of which perfect righteousness was laid to his charge, but the fact of his trusting God to perform his promise introduced him to the blessing promised" (Alford).
(b) Faith is not the ground, but the instrument of our justification. It receives and apprehends Christ in his righteousness. We have proved that faith is merely the instrument of our justification when we have proved that the only ground of our acceptance with God is the finished work of Christ, and that the only grace by which we rely upon that work is faith. For there is a relation between justification and faith which does not exist between justification and every other grace.
(2) Consider Jesus Christ as the object of faith. The Saviour appears in this passage under three names—Jesus Christ, Christ Jesus, and Christ; as if the apostle meant to emphasize at one time the loving humanity, at another the official work, at another simply the Saviour in whom Jew and Gentile alike have their meeting-place. The "faith of Christ" includes a reference alike to his person and his work. The emphatic phrase, "we believed upon Christ," shows that faith is not a mere intellectual belief, but an act of trust, in which the soul goes out to him as at once "Wisdom, Righteousness, Sanctification, and Redemption."
IV. THE KNOWLEDGE OF OUR JUSTIFICATION. "Knowing that we are justified." There is a twofold aspect of this knowledge. It is:
1. Doctrinal. The apostles, both Peter and Paul, understood the true doctrine of a sinner's justification, as we see by their discourses and their writings.
2. Experimental. They realized it in its blessed fruits. They had an assured sense of God's favour, and of all the blessings involved in it.
V. THE EFFECT OF OUR JUSTIFICATION. The only effect pertinent to the present discussion was the new relation of the justified sinner to the Law. In virtue of his union with Christ, he died to the Law. There was, therefore, no longer any question of his submission to legal observances, or to "the beggarly elements" of a forsaken Judaism.
An objection met.
"For if, while we are seeking to be justified in Christ"—our union with Christ being the spring and fount of all our blessings—"we ourselves also"—as well as these Galatians who are sinners and Gentiles—"were found to be sinners, is Christ a minister of sin? God forbid!"
I. THE TRUE ATTITUDE OF ALL JUSTIFIED PERSONS IN RELATION TO SIN AND CHRIST.
1. They renounce all legal righteousness, such as the Judaists boast of, and reduce themselves to the level of Gentile "sinners." There is no difference between Jew and Gentile at the first point of contact between the soul and the Saviour. They are alike guilty before God.
2. They look for justification only in Christ. They are pronounced just by God because they are in Christ.
3. Because the Jewish Christians, in renouncing the Law, reduced themselves to the level of sinners like the Gentiles, Christ did not therefore become a minister of sin, because that renunciation was carried out under his authority. Yet Peter seemed to say by his conduct that the renunciation was altogether wrong.
II. THE INCONSISTENCY OF PETER'S CONDUCT. "For if I build again"—as you, Peter, are proposing—"the very things which I destroyed, I am proving myself a transgressor" Because the work of legal reconstruction would imply that my work of demolition was wrong. You, Peter, prove by your conduct that your former setting aside of the Law was a transgression.
III. THE LAW WAS ITSELF DESIGNED TO MAKE WAY FOR SOMETHING BETTER THAN ITSELF. "For I through the Law died to the Law, that I might live unto God."
1. The apostle's death to the Law. "I died to the Law." The Law in question is the Mosaic Law. The apostle's readers could understand it in no other sense. This death came through "the body of Christ." "Ye also became dead to the Law by the body of Christ" (Romans 7:4). He bore its penalty, and was therefore no more under its curse; and therefore, as "I have been crucified with him "(verse 20), so that his death is my death, died to the Law in him.
2. The Law itself led directly to that death. "I through the Law died to the Law." Not merely because it was a schoolmaster to lead me to Christ or manifested its own helplessness to justify, but because it was through the Law that sin wrought death in me (Romans 7:8). The Law took action upon me as a sinner. It wrought its will upon Christ when it seized him and put him to death. But in that death the Law lost its dominion over him, and therefore over us. Thus Christ is shown to be the "end of the Law for righteousness." Thus the apostle might say to Peter that "in abandoning the Law he did but follow the leading of the Law itself."
3. Death to the Law is followed by life to God as its great purpose. "I died to the Law that I might live unto God." It is suggestive that this was the very end of Christ's death. "For in that he died, he died unto sin once; in that he liveth, he liveth unto God" (Romans 6:10). We are, therefore, to reckon ourselves" alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord." This death to the Law does not involve lawlessness or freedom from moral restraints; for in its very nature it involves "death" to that sin, which is the strength of the Law. As we live in Christ, and Christ lives in God, our life is wrapped up in God. Therefore we cannot "serve him any longer in the oldness of the letter, but in the newness of the Spirit"—"in the newness of life;" "bringing forth fruit unto God."
Fellowship with Christ in his death and in his life.
"I have been crucified: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me." The apostle is showing how he died to the Law and became released from legal bondage; it was through his becoming a partaker of the death of Christ.
2. FELLOWSHIP WITH CHRIST IN HIS DEATH. "I have been crucified with Christ."
1. Here is a true identity of position. I was one with him under Law and in suffering and death, so that when he died I died with him. I died in him when he died as my surety, satisfying Divine justice for me. Thus baptism for me signifies "baptism unto his death" (Romans 6:4); "We are buried with him in baptism unto death." We are "planted in the likeness of his death." All this purports the interest of the believer in the merit of Christ's death.
2. It is a position involving a threefold change of relation.
(1) "As crucified with Christ," I become dead to the Law, so that the Law shall no more become "an occasion of sin" (Romans 7:5, Romans 7:6).
(2) I become dead unto sin, and therefore no more the servant of sin (Romans 6:6-16).
(3) I become dead to the world, and the world to me (Galatians 6:14).
II. FELLOWSHIP WITH CHRIST IN HIS LIFE. "Nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me." This a mystery to the world. The apostle is dead and is yet alive.
1. Our death with Christ involves our life with him. "If we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him" (Romans 6:8). It is thus we realize "the power of his resurrection" (Philippians 3:10). Thus "we shall live with him by the power of God" (2 Corinthians 13:4).
2. It is not a life which has its root in the apostle v himself. "Yet not I." We are by nature "dead" (Ephesians 2:1), and cannot quicken ourselves. Our life is no natural principle. Neither can we sustain this life nor prolong its existence. This fact explains at once the backslidings, the fears, and the unfruitfulness of believers.
3. Christ is the very life of the soul. "Christ liveth in me."
(1) He is the substance as well as the source of that life. "Because I live ye shall live also" (John 14:19); "Christ, who is our life" (Colossians 3:4); "He that hath the Son hath life" (1 John 5:12).
(2) This life is in virtue of a union with him produced by the Holy Spirit. Thus we become "one spirit" with him.
(3) Christ is the cause of its continuance (Ephesians 4:15, Ephesians 4:16; John 15:1-8; John 7:48).
4. The blessed fruits of this life.
(1) It is an absolutely secure life. The life is not in the believer's own keeping.
(2) It involves a near relationship to Christ (John 15:6).
(3) It is the life at once of earth and of heaven.
5. It is a life of which the apostle was fully conscious. He does not say, "I am elected," or "I am justified," but "I live." He speaks the language of happy assurance. He knows he is spiritually alive. His confession is a rebuke to those who doubt the possibility of attaining to the "full assurance of hope."
The nature and conditions of Christian life.
"The life which I now live in the flesh I live in the faith of the San of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me."
I. THE NATURE OF THIS LIFE. There is a mystery surrounding the origin of all life. There is mystery, too, in regeneration (John 3:8). Yet spiritual life is due to the quickening power of the Holy Spirit, through the Word, "making all things new." The first effect of regeneration is faith; and the life thus begun is sustained by the indwelling of the same Spirit through all the stages of a sanctified experience, till it shares in the glorified life of the Redeemer in heaven.
II. THE CONDITION OF THIS LIFE—IT IS LIFE "IN THE FLESH." That is, in the body. All life—physical, intellectual, moral—is exposed to risk of some sort. Frost or lightning may blight flower or tree; disease may undermine animal life; madness may attack intellectual life. So Christian life is exposed to many risks, simply because it is life "in the flesh," that is, in a body with passions and appetites prone to evil, and in a world with many seductions that appeal to the senses. Yet we must not regard the body with ascetic aversion, as if it were the sole cause of the soul's embarrassments. It is God's wonderful workmanship; it is the temple of the Holy Ghost, to be kept free from defilement; and it is and ought to be the willing servant of the immortal spirit in all the various activities of Christian life.
III. THE MEDIUM OF CHRISTIAN LIFE—FAITH. Faith is not merely the instrument of our justification, but the root-principle of our life. It is the principle which maintains this life in its constant exercise. We "live by faith;" we "walk by faith;" we "stand by faith;" we "overcome by faith;" we are "sanctified by faith;:" we are "kept by faith" through the power of God unto the final salvation. As the principle which unites the soul and the Saviour, it is the conduit which carries the mighty supplies of grace into the soul.
IV. THE EXTERNAL SUPPORT OR NURTURE OF THIS LIFE. "The Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me."
1. All life finds its nurture or support in sources external to itself, which it assimilates to its own inner growth. So it is in the animal and the vegetable worlds. Thus the soul finds its support in the Bread of life who came down from heaven. It is not faith that supports this life. Faith is nothing apart from its object.
2. It is not the Son of God; merely who is the support of this life. He might be only "Guide, Philosopher, and Friend," as in Socinian theology; but our life could find no adequate fulcrum or paint of support in the Son of God thus regarded. The apostle emphasizes
(1) the love and
(2) the sacrifice of Christ, "who gave himself for me."
He is no Saviour to me unless he is my High Priest, my Substitute, my Surety.
V. THE APOSTLE'S ASSURANCE OF HIS PERSONAL INTEREST IN CHRIST'S WORK. He does not use terms of generality, such as "he gave himself for us," but "for me." Thus he added assurance to his faith.
VI. THE LIFE IN QUESTION IS DESIGNED TO BE MANIFEST. It is life to be lived. "The life which I now live in the flesh." Life may be secret in its origin, but it comes forth into visible display. We cannot see the life of the tiny seed-grain cast by the husbandman into the ground, but it gradually makes its way to the surface through all obstacles. Thus our life is to be an open life. We are not to "hide our light under a bushel;" we are not to bury our talent in the ground; but as "ye have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him." It is the duty of the saints to be witnesses to the Lord; it is their privilege to glorify him; it is their glory to reflect the image of his blessed character.
No frustration of Divine grace in the apostle's teaching.
"I do not frustrate the grace of God; for if righteousness come by the Law, then Christ died without cause."
I. THE GRACE OF GOD IS THE TRUE SOURCE OF SALVATION. This grace was manifested in the death of Christ, and in the blessings derived to believers from their union with him. The apostle's trust in him only magnified the grace of God.
II. ITS FRUSTRATION WAS POSSIBLE ON PETER'S PRINCIPLES. If any attempt were made to put works in the place of faith, or to mix works with faith as a ground of justification, or to establish a system under which ceremonialism was made essential to salvation, the grace of God were effectively frustrated.
III. THE ULTIMATE PRINCIPLE INVOLVED IN THIS FRUSTRATION. "If righteousness come by the Law, then Christ died without cause."
1. The righteousness in question is that by which a man becomes right with God. A man might attain to this righteousness if he could keep or had kept the Law of God. But he has broken the Law and is under its curse. The righteousness must therefore be reached in another way. It comes "by faith," not "by the Law "(Philippians 3:9).
2. Christ's death is altogether unnecessary on the supposition of a righteousness by the Law. Why should the Son of God have died to procure what a sinner can win for himself by his own personal obedience? This closes the argument in the most effective manner.
HOMILIES BY R.M. EDGAR
The apostolic conference.
Fourteen years elapsed between the first and second visits of Paul as apostle to Jerusalem. During this interval of severe work he had experienced the opposition of the Judaizers. He deemed it advisable, therefore, and was also impelled by the Spirit, to go up to have a conference with the apostles about the whole policy to be pursued in the Gentile mission. In the verses before us he relates what took place in connection with the conference. And here we learn—
I. HOW AGREEABLE TO THE MIND OF THE SPIRIT THE CONFERENCE OF BRETHREN IS. (Galatians 2:2.) For Paul went up with Barnabas and Titus "by revelation." The Spirit impelled him to confer with the apostles at Jerusalem, and to strengthen his own judgment by securing theirs. And in the conference he seems to have laid before them the gospel of free grace which for fourteen years he had been preaching among the Gentiles. His statement was an exposition of his message, how he had taught the Gentiles that they were to be justified by faith and not by ceremony. Moreover, he was careful to enter into conference only with those who were of reputation, whose judgment would command respect, and to insist on the conference being private and confidential. Now, there can be no question about the great value of such confidential interchanges of thought by brethren. Even when there is not much light shed upon the path of duty, as seems to have been the case here, there is yet the confirmation of the Lord's servants in the propriety of their course.
II. IN CONTENTION WITH OTHERS WE SHOULD HAVE CLEARLY BEFORE US THE INTERESTS OF THE GOSPEL. (Verses 3-5.) Titus, who accompanied Paul to Jerusalem, had been Paul's companion in Galatia and in the mission tom's of Asia Minor. He was a Greek, a Gentile therefore, as distinct from a Jew. He had not, like Timothy, any Jewish blood in his veins. When the Judaizers, therefore, urged that Titus should be circumcised, and so become a proselyte to Jewish ceremonials, Paul resisted the demand so determinedly that no circumcision of Titus ever took place. In doing so, Paul had the interests of truth clearly in view. Had he yielded to the clamour, the gospel would have ceased practically to be a power in Galatia. It would not have continued with them. It would have been said, on the contrary, that salvation does not come by faith alone, but by ceremony as well. It was the interests of the gospel which Paul had clearly in view. It would be well if we had always so clear a view of the interests of truth in our contentions with others. It is to be feared we sometimes fight for our consistency and personal interests rather than for the gospel. We should suspect our motives until we see the gospel's interests clearly involved in our struggle.
III. A CONFERENCE MAY ADD NO FRESH LIGHT TO WHAT WE HAVE, BUT SIMPLY CONFIRM US IN OUR COURSE. (Verse 6.) The apostle admits that the brethren at Jerusalem seemed to the Galatians to be most important judges of such matters as were brought before them.£ He himself did not form the same extravagant opinion of their ability, for he felt assured that "God accepteth no man's person," and that he, as an apostle born out of due time, had as much light given to him for his work as those who were in Christ before him. Hence he states plainly that they imparted nothing to him in the conference. They simply confirmed him in the practice of Christian liberty. And this will often be the case in Christian conferences. It is not the fresh light they shed upon doctrine or duty, but mainly the confirmation they afford of lines of duty already taken up. This, however, ought not to be despised, but rather gratefully accepted as according to the will of God.
IV. THE IMPRIMATUR OF THE APOSTLES IS SIGNIFICANT. (Verses 7-9.) It is to be observed that Paul never sought apostolic ordination. He and Barnabas were designated by the brethren at Antioch when about to proceed upon their first missionary journey (Acts 13:1-3). But he had never all these years sought for ordination at the hands of the apostles who were in office before him. At the end of fourteen years he gives in a report, and all that he receives from the apostles is "the right hand of fellowship." In this connection we may quote from the able book of the "American citizen" on 'The Philosophy of the Divine Operation.' He is contending for Paul, not Matthias, being the twelfth apostle. After showing Paul's superior marks of apostleship, he proceeds," Ordination, where there is no Holy Spirit, is not scriptural ordination. The laying on of hands by men who do not possess the Spirit of Christ themselves is not consecration. Hence offices and interests imparted by men or Churches whose spirit is merely formal and secular have no Divine validity. The men appointed under such circumstances may be good and useful, as many of them are. Communications of grace from above may be granted them. But the seal of God is not in the act of ordination. And Paul, called of God, with only the right hand of fellowship given him by the apostles, does the work of God better than Matthias, ordained by non-spiritual administrators."
V. THE REMEMBRANCE OF THE POOR WAS ALWAYS TO CHARACTERIZE THE CHRISTIAN MISSION. (Verse 10.) The apostles, in recognizing Paul's policy and mission among the Gentiles, merely reminded him of the care of the poor, which was to be a first note of the Christian mission. The gospel is preached to the poor; it charges itself with their care. It was with the gospel the obligation recognized by the "poor laws" arose. The care of the poor was not felt by other religious systems as it is by Christianity. And it is questionable if the poor are as well cared for by law as they would be if left to Christian love.£ Now, there can be no doubt of this trait of Christianity being a most important evidence of its Divine origin. The care of the poor would never have become the commonplace it now seems to be had not Christianity charged itself with the enlightenment and the care of the poor (Matthew 11:5). The Christian commune, the noble experiment which succeeded Pentecost, put for a time poverty outside the Church's pale (Acts 4:34). But even when poverty is driven out of the Church, it will still exist in the world, and for the poor Christianity must provide. This is one of its great missions; the apostles, though poor themselves, nobly responded to the call and faced the problem; and so must we all in our spheres if we have aught of the apstolic spirit.—R.M.E.
The apostolic strife at Antioch.
Passing from the Jerusalem conference, Paul next mentions the strife which Peter and he had at Antioch. Peter had come down to see the work of God among the Gentiles. In his large-heartedness he had not only approved of it and rejoiced in it, but, laying aside all his Jewish prejudices, he had taken his seat at the table of the Gentiles, and had eaten whatever was placed before him. But certain "false brethren" having come round, and having urged the imperative necessity of ceremony, he yielded to his fears, withdrew from Gentile society, and lived in quarantine with the Judaizers. It would appear also that Barnabas was entrapped into similar vacillation; so that there was nothing for it but for Paul to stand up like a man and denounce Peter for his weakness. In doing so he was contending for the truth of the gospel. Let us look into the subject a little more closely.
I. CONSIDER PETER'S LIFE OF LIBERTY. (Galatians 2:12.) It was only right, and what we should expect, for Peter to throw aside his Jewish narrowness, the punctiliousness about meats and drinks, and to go in for brotherhood with the Gentiles at their feasts. Here we have the noble and big-hearted apostle acting upon his own better impulses. It is such liberty the gospel fosters. It is the foe of that narrowness which so often keeps men from uniting. It is the foe of that little-mindedness which keeps so many in estrangement. We cannot be broader in our sympathies or freer in our life than the gospel makes us. It can be easily shown that the so-called liberties beyond its sphere are real bondages.
II. CONSIDER PETER'S RETURN TO BONDAGE. (Galatians 2:12, Galatians 2:13.) When the Judaizers came down from Jerusalem, they were so positive about the necessity of the Jewish ceremonies and scrupulosities, as to put pressure upon the apostle; so that, taking counsel of his fears, he deliberately withdrew from Gentile society and shut himself up with the Jews. This was a sore fall. And so astute were these brethren in their dissimulation that Barnabas was also led away. It is well to see clearly how bondage sets in immediately on our abandoning principle and acting on the pressure of our fears. Men fancy that, when called upon to act on principle, they are forfeiting their liberty; but the truth is all the other way. The free are those who act upon the dictates of truth; the slaves are those who have surrendered principle because of pressure.
III. CONSIDER PAUL'S NOBLE REPRIMAND OF PETER. (Galatians 2:14.) It must have been a trial for Paul to take his stand against his senior both in years and in the apostolate. He must have appreciated the delicacy of his position in standing up against the conduct of the apostle of the circumcision. But he felt constrained to rebuke his brother as by his vacillating conduct traitorous to truth. And in no way can we testify so powerfully to truth as when we take the field, however reluctantly, against those we respect, and who are deservedly popular, but who have somehow erred in judgment upon some point of importance. It requires courage and firmness; but it always has its reward in the extension of truth and of God's kingdom.
IV. PAUL SHOWS THAT THE QUESTION OF JUSTIFICATION WAS REALLY INVOLVED IN PETER'S CONDUCT. (Galatians 2:15-17.) Peter had very properly, though a Jew, lived after the manner of Gentiles, and so manifested his Christian liberty. Why, asks Paul, does he now turn round and require Gentiles to live like Jews? Is it to be thus insinuated that ceremonies save men's souls? Is not this the vilest bondage? Is not the gospel, on the contrary, the embodiment of the truth that a man is not justified by the works of the Law, but by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ? If Jewish ceremonies are still necessary to justification, then the work of Jesus Christ, in which we are asked to trust, cannot be complete. Such ceremonialism is thus seen to be in conflict with the gospel of justification by faith alone. To tell men that ceremonies must save them is to turn them away from Christ as the object of trust to rites and ceremonies as the object. Am I to believe in the power of baptism and of the sacraments as administered by certain persons in order to salvation? or am I to trust my Saviour? The two methods of salvation are totally distinct, and it is fatal to confound them. The meaning of all such ceremonialism is to put souls upon a false track, so far as salvation is concerned. It is to translate man's justification from the true foundation in Christ's work to the rotten foundation of self-righteousness. Against this we must ever wage persistent war.
V. PAUL CONSEQUENTLY INSISTS ON THE SINFULNESS OF THE LEGAL SPIRIT. (Galatians 2:18.) For what we destroy in accepting the gospel is all trust in ceremonies as grounds of salvation. The works of the Law are seen to be no ground of trust for justification and salvation. If, then, after having destroyed the self-righteous and legal spirit, and fled for refuge to Jesus as our Hope, we turn round like Peter to rebuild the edifice of self-righteousness and legalism, we are simply making ourselves transgressors. We are forfeiting our liberty and piling up fresh sin. Hence it is of the utmost moment that we should clearly and constantly recognize the sinfulness of the legal spirit. It robs Jesus of his rightful position as Saviour of mankind. It casts away the gospel and goes back for salvation to the Law, which can only condemn us; it makes the sacrifice of Jesus vain and only increases sin. Against all legalism, consequently, we must wage incessant war. Nothing is so derogatory to Jesus or destructive of men's souls. It is another gospel, but an utterly fallacious one. Unless Jesus has the whole credit of salvation, he will not be our Saviour. He must be all or nothing. "Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ."—R.M.E.
The death of legal hope the life of evangelical obedience.
Paul proceeds in the exposition of Peter's mistake to show that it is only when through the Law we die to all legal hope, we can live unto God. When legal hope has died within us, Christ has room to live and be the source of our spiritual energy.
I. CONSIDER THE DEATH OF LEGALISM. (Galatians 2:19, Galatians 2:20.) The idea of self-righteousness or Pharisaism was and is that we can live through the Law. But the more careful analysis of sin leads us to see that the Law can only condemn and slay us. The same experience became our Lord's when he became our Representative. Though obeying the Law in every particular, he found that, in consequence of our sin, for which he had made himself responsible, the Law demanded his death in addition to his obedience, or rather "his obedience even unto death." Not until he was crucified had he satisfied the demands of Law. In his crucifixion, therefore, he died to the Law. It had after that no more claim upon him. When he said on the cross, "It is finished," he died to the Law. Now, it is only when we enter into this purpose of the crucifixion, and die to all hope from the Law, that we are in a position to live unto God. "The death of legal hope" is "the life of evangelical obedience." The legalism must die within us before we get into the large place of new obedience. Among the many purposes of our Lord's death upon the cross, this was a prime one, viz. to wean us away from all idea of winning life by law-keeping, that we may gratefully receive it as the gift of free grace.
II. CONSIDER THE LIFE UNTO GOD. (Galatians 2:19, Galatians 2:20.) Though legal hope has died, so that Paul is "dead to the Law" like Christ in Joseph's tomb, he is at the same time enabled to "live unto God." In truth it is then that the life unto God begins. For life by the Law is life for self; whereas when we die to all legal hope, we are delivered from the self-life, and enabled to live the life of consecration to God. And when does this life of consecration to God come? By inspiration Christ comes and lives literally within us by his Spirit, so that we become in a real sense inspired persons. Consequently, Paul declares that it is not he himself who lives the consecrated life, but "Christ liveth in me." He abandoned himself to the Spirit of Christ, and thus made way for the life of consecration. Nothing is more important, then, than this self-abandonment to the Spirit of Christ, who is the Spirit of consecration. This is the holocaust of the Christian life, the abandonment of every faculty and power to the Divine fire, that all may rise in sublimity to heaven.
III. CONSIDER THE LAW OF THE NEW LIFE. (Galatians 2:20.) Paul has abandoned himself to the Spirit of Christ. His life becomes in consequence one of simple dependence upon the Son of God: or, as it is here put, "The life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God;" or, as the Revised Version has it, "And that life which I now live in the flesh I live in faith, the faith which is in the Son of God." The self-abandoned life is the life of constant dependence upon the Son of God. But this being so, the law of Christ's life necessarily becomes the law of the life of consecration. What, then, is the law of Christ's life? It is the law of love leading to self-sacrifice; for of the Son of God it is here said by Paul, "Who loved me, and gave himself for me." Christ, in consecrating himself to God, dedicated himself to our salvation. He became the voluntary victim; he died that we might be redeemed. Hence self-sacrifice is the law of the new life. Now, no other system but Christianity secures such self-abandonment and self-abnegation. The Hindu self-abandonment to Brahma, for example, is abandonment to a desireless condition. "He remains," it has been said, "stupidly still (immobile), his arms in air. Brahma is his death, and not his life." Again, Mohammedan self-abandonment is crude fanaticism. "It is true," says the same writer, "that Allah does not kill all the faculties of the soul as Brahma does; but he renders them fatalistic, fanatic, and sanguinary. He is for his adorers the fire which consumes them, and not their life." The Jesuit, again, has a self-abandonment to the chief of his order at Rome; but in renouncing judgment, affections, will, and conscience to his superior, he allows his true life to be killed, and his obedience is only the galvanism of spiritual death.£ It thus turns out that all other self-abandonments but that to Christ are counterfeits, and his only stands the test of experience. He rouses us to action, to intelligent self-sacrifice. He teaches us to "live not unto ourselves, but unto him who died for Us, and rose again" (2 Corinthians 5:15).
IV. IN THIS ARRANGEMENT THERE IS NO FRUSTRATION, BUT A MAGNIFYING OF THE GRACE OF GOD. (Galatians 2:21.) If righteousness came by ceremonialism, if ceremony were the secret of salvation, then assuredly the grace of God would be frustrated, and Christ have died in vain. If legal hopes are still legitimate, then the crucifixion of Christ was a mere martyrdom by mistake. On the other hand, when we have seen clearly, as Paul did, that the Law cannot save us, but must be given up as a ground of hope, then we gather round the cross of Christ, and we adore the devotion which thereby secured our salvation, and we magnify the grace of God. Legalism is the antithesis and frustration of Divine grace; whereas the life of consecration, which the death of all legalism secures, is the tree exaltation of God's grace manifested in a crucified Saviour. Let us make sure, then, of the crucifixion of the legal spirit within us, and then the consecrated life which the contemplation of Christ crucified inspires shall be found to be the true way of magnifying the grace of God.—R.M.E.
HOMILIES BY R. FINLAYSON
Period of third visit to Jerusalem.
Three preliminary points are mentioned.
(1) Time. "Then after the space of fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem." It is possible to date this from his conversion, but it is more natural and quite tenable to date it from the last-mentioned visit. If so, then we have seventeen important years, during which all the intercourse that Paul bad with the senior apostles extended to fifteen days spent with Peter in Jerusalem. That, surely, was very little on which to found a representation of his being a pupil of these apostles, or one acting under their orders.
(2) Companions. "With Barnabas, taking Titus also with me." The mention of Barnabas as his principal companion helps to identify the visit with that recorded in the fifteenth of the Acts. Titus also is brought in, as afterward to be referred to. Both may have been known to the Galatian Churches, and would be able to bear witness to the accuracy of his account of the conference.
(3) Impulse. "And I went up by revelation." The impelling influence was a supernatural communication made to him, that it was his duty to go up to Jerusalem. It may have been with or against his own inclination. It was certainly conjoined with the action of the Gentile Churches. But what determined his action was no feeling of his own as of doubt about his teaching, or summons from Jerusalem to give an account of his teaching, but simply the intimation to him of the Divine will. The private conference. The great feature of the third visit was conference. There was the public conference, of which we have a record in the fifteenth of the Acts. But there seems to have been beforehand a private conference with the men of repute, which alone is mentioned here, as being that which affected the question of his independence as an apostle.
(1) Subject of conference. "And I laid before them the gospel which I preach among the Gentiles." He laid not before some, but before all the Christians at Jerusalem, the gospel which he was still in the habit of preaching among the Gentiles. He made it a public enough matter that he preached justification by faith. He made it equally public that, as an inference from that, he taught that there was no necessity to impose circumcision on Gentile converts.
(2) Reason for private conference. "But privately before them who were of repute, lest by any means I should be running, or had run, in vain." While courting publicity, he had a regard to prudence. The gospel he preached might have a strange sound to them at Jerusalem. He did not, therefore, in the first place lay it before the general body of Christians there. But he began by laying it privately before the three afterward mentioned, viz. James, Peter, and John. They had special qualifications for understanding what was to come up for public conference. And experiences, reasons, nice points, could be gone into with them that could not so suitably be gone into at a public conference. They were, moreover, men of repute, men of leading, who might be expected to influence the others. If, then, he secured a good understanding with them, his course, both what it had been and what it might yet be, would have its full effect. Whereas, if for want of the proper means being used, he failed in securing a good understanding, he would really be impairing the effect of what he had done or might yet do. Results of private conference as bearing on the question of independence—
I. HE DID NOT YIELD ON THE QUESTION OF LIBERTY.
1. No compulsion was used in the case of Titus. "But not even Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised." This was a good ease for trying the question of liberty. Timothy, who was after this circumcised in accommodation to Jewish feeling, was of hail-Jewish extraction. Titus was of pure Gentile extraction. Was he, then, necessitated to circumcise Titus? No; it was a notorious fact that under the eye of the three, under the eye of the whole Church, he was allowed to go about Jerusalem with an uncircumcised Gentile convert as his recognized companion and assistant. That was not as though he had weakly yielded at the conference. It was, on the contrary, a signal triumph obtained for liberty.
2. The reason of his taking so firm a stand was that it was made a question of liberty. Character of the false brethren. "And that because of the false brethren privily brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage." They were false, men who had never really agreed to the terms of Christian membership. They had become connected with the society of Christians, not as genuine believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, but on falsely pretending faith. They climbed into the Christian fold by some other way than Christ. There were others in the background who prompted them to make a false profession. They acted as the tools of others for illegitimate purposes. Espionage was one purpose. They stole into the Christian camp, not because they had any delight in being there, but simply as spies. What they wished to spy out was the liberty enjoyed by the Gentile Christians, i.e. liberation from circumcision in the possession of Christ. More particularly, it was the action of the Church in Jerusalem in view of the association of an uncircumcised Gentile convert with Paul. A further purpose was bondage. They spied out the liberty that they might have it as an object for their attack. Their tactics were to make a demand for the circumcision of Titus. Their success would have been the enslavement of Gentile Christians. Stand made by Paul against the false brethren. "To whom we gave place in the way of subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you." It was a bold step, in the first place, to take Titus to Jerusalem. Feeling may have been stronger than he expected to find it. How was he to act? It would, no doubt, have been pleasing to many if he had seen his way to circumcise Titus. Under certain circumstances he might have been free to do it in the way of accommodation. But seeing that the false brethren, by the circumcision of Titus, meant the enslavement for ever of Gentile Christians, he gave place in the way of subjection, no, not for an hour. He acted thus decisively in the interests of all his Gentile constituents. And his successful resistance on this occasion, which some were now seeking to turn against him (as though he had then given in his submission to Peter and the rest), was really a triumph obtained for the Gentile Christians everywhere, for which particularly they, the Galatians, should show gratitude in the way of resisting the assaults of the Judaists on them. Let the truth of the gospel—justification simply by faith—continue with them.
II. HE PRESERVED HIS EQUALITY WITH THE THREE.
1. They imparted nothing to him. "But from those who were reputed to be somewhat (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me; God accepteth not man's person)—they, I say, who were of repute imparted nothing to me." The construction with which the sentence commences is not carried out to the end. "From them of repute" would naturally be followed up by "I received nothing." But instead of that, after the parenthesis which is in three clauses, it is taken up in the form—"they of repute," which is followed by "imparted nothing to me." The three were reputed to be somewhat, and Paul does not mean to hint that this reputation was not deserved. What he has to do with is that their reputation should be thought to destroy his independence. He esteemed them, and he was glad to know of their being esteemed. In that respect their reputation did matter to him, but it mattered nothing for his independence. It is not upon reputation that God proceeds in his choice or acknowledgment of instruments, And with all their reputation they imparted to him no additional authority or element in teaching, as superiors to an inferior.
2. They recognized him. As having an independent trust. "But contrariwise, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel of the uncircumcision, even as Peter with the gospel of the circumcision (for he that wrought for Peter unto the apostleship of the circumcision wrought for me also unto the Gentiles)." Of the men of repute, he singles out Peter as the principal representative of the circumcision. He was entrusted with the gospel whose sphere was the circumcision; and he presented it, as may be seen from his address and Epistles, with a certain adaptation to the Jews. The burden of his early preaching was the great crime which the Jews had committed in crucifying their Messiah, and their duty to repent of that crime and to trust in Christ for salvation. When he writes to them as the Dispersion, he is still a Jew, in dwelling on the ancient glories of the race. His mind is imbued with the deliverances wrought for them, the majesty and sanctity of their temple, the sacred functions of the priesthood, the mystery of sacrifice, all receiving their fulfilment in the Christian manifestation. He is also a Jew in looking forward to a glorious future. His gospel points away to" the inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and that fadeth not away;" "the salvation ready to be revealed in the last time;" "the appearing of Jesus Christ." But Paul was on a parity with Peter. He was entrusted with the gospel, whose sphere was the uncircumcision, and he presented it with a certain adaptation to the Gentiles. Not shunning Jewish imagery, he combined with it a certain free use of Gentile imagery. And it was specially given him to preach, what Peter indeed had learnt before him, that the Gentiles were to be admitted into the kingdom of God without being required to submit to circumcision. This parity of trust was made evident to the men of repute at Jerusalem. And the way in which it was made evident was this. It was evident that Peter was appointed to the apostleship of the circumcision by the abundant energy with which God supplied him for working among them. It was equally evident that Paul was appointed to the apostleship of the Gentiles by the abundant energy with which God supplied him for working among them. As having such a trust by the display of grace toward him. "And when they perceived the grace that was given unto me." The conclusion was forced home on them that he had an independent trust. When they compared that with their former knowledge of him, they could only ascribe it to grace. Their knowledge was now of him as a remarkable trophy of grace.
3. They gave him formal recognition. "James and Cephas and John, they who were reputed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship, that we should go unto the Gentiles, and they unto the circumcision." The three are now mentioned by name. The last mentioned is John, and it is remarkable that in this, the only mention of him by Paul, he is represented as doing a kindly act. Peter, who is called Cephas (which also means "rock"), has just had a wide sphere connected with him. James is here placed before him on the same ground on which he presided at the public conference, viz. as representative (not necessarily bishop)of the mother Church at Jerusalem. His taking the lead made the formal recognition of Paul the act of the Church: while the association of Peter and John with him gave it a wider significance. These three were had in estimation as pillars (stoops, supports), i.e. men upon whom (humanly speaking) the keeping up of the Church greatly depended. Their formal recognition extended to Barnabas. They recognized in what was not exclusively Eastern fashion (being rather universal), by each giving the right hand of fellowship. That in regard to which they expressed fellowship was the division of work—Gentile and Jewish—which is not to be understood with the greatest strictness. The fellowship they expressed amounted to giving Paul and Barnabas their hearty good wishes in their separate and co-ordinate sphere.
4. They only recommended. "Only they would that we should remember the poor; which very thing I was also zealous to do." There is a recognized ecclesiastical distinction between an injunction and a recommendation. The three did not, as ecclesiastical superiors, lay their authority upon Paul and Barnabas; they on]y, as brethren, made a request of them. The request chimed in with Paul's own habitual feeling. He speaks only for himself, his zeal extending beyond the time when he could speak for Barnabas, who shortly afterwards parted from him. Thus conclusively does he establish his independence. The matter of the request was remembering the poor. It was a request that came very naturally from the three. They were connected with a poor Church. Intolerance, too, was more rife and keen in Palestine than elsewhere. And it would often be a perplexity to them—taking them to the throne of grace—how the poor under their charge were to be provided for. They therefore took occasion to commend them to these representatives of the Gentile Churches. It was a providential arrangement that the Jewish Christians were to some extent dependent for support on the Gentile Christians. It tended to call forth the charity of the latter and to counteract the narrowness of the former, and thus to promote unity. It is a peculiarly Christian thing to remember the poor. Christ has shown men to be equal irrespective of condition, in that he has died for all, and would have all raised to sonship. Having taught us to care for men's souls, he has taught us, as we could not otherwise so forcibly be taught, to care also for men's bodies. We are to show our affection for Christ in ministering to the wants of his poor. And we will show a tenderness even for the wants of those who are not with us in the same Christian bond.—R.F.
Withstanding of Peter at Antioch.
"But when Cephas came to Antioch, I resisted him to the face." From the public conference at Jerusalem, Paul and Barnabas went down to Antioch, where, it is said, they tarried. They separated after this stay. The visit of Peter to Antioch must be referred to this period, seeing Barnabas is mentioned as still with Paul. There was more than resistance made to Peter; there was the going up to him, meeting him face to face, and charging him with inconsistency. So significant was this, that three such Fathers as Origen, Chrysostom, and Jerome were only able to get over it by unwarrantably supposing it to be simulated. It was Paul himself who quoted the words, "Thou shalt not speak evil of a ruler of thy people." He could not have borne himself thus to Peter if he had owed obedience to him as his ecclesiastical superior. But, having an independent sphere, and being specially entrusted with the liberty of the Gentile Christians, he had a right to speak freely. Nor was there impropriety in his bringing this incident forward here, although it reflected on Peter, seeing that it was necessary to put his independence beyond question, which had been called in question in the Galatian Churches.
I. HOW THE OCCASION DEMANDED HIS WITHSTANDING OF PETER. "Because he stood condemned." He was condemned by his own conduct. Its inconsistency was so marked.
1. Before the coming of certain from James, he mixed freely with the Gentile Christians. "For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles." It is difficult to say whether, or how far, James is involved by the introduction of his name here. There is no reason to suppose that he sent these men (especially as Peter was already on the spot) to raise the question of intercommunion in the Church at Antioch. He had been remarkably explicit on the question of circumcision at the public conference in Jerusalem. We can understand his not being thoroughly liberated from Jewish narrowness. And those men who used his name or came from under his influence may have been of a more timid type than he. The question related to eating with the Gentiles. This was forbidden under the old order of things, on the ground of its being a barrier against heathenism. But when Jews and Gentiles were both within the one Church, circumstances were changed. There was no need for the barrier being continued. But it was difficult for those who had been accustomed to the barrier to regard it as done away. The difficulty had been got over at Antioch, but it still existed to comers from Jerusalem. Peter had been broadened in his ideas, and when he came to Antioch he had no difficulty in entering into the free communion which had been established there. He lived as though he had been one of the Gentiles. He made no difference at private meals or at the public agapae. To see a leader like Peter following such a course promised well for the interests of liberty.
2. On the coming of certain from James, he gave way to fear. "But when they came, he drew back and separated himself, fearing them that were of the circumcision." He drew back until he occupied a separate position. The influence by which he was swayed from the course which he had been following was fear. His fear was occasioned by the coming of certain from James. The objects of his fear were they of the circumcision, i.e. Jewish Christians, especially at Jerusalem, with whom these comers from James would communicate. He was afraid of what they of the circumcision would say. We need not be surprised at his being suddenly swayed from a noble course. It was of a piece with his nobly daring to walk on the water toward Christ, and then, when he looked on the troubled water, crying out in fear, "Lord, save me; I perish." It was of a piece with his drawing his sword in defence of his Master, and then, when questioned by the servants in the hall of the high priest, denying him three times, the third time with an oath. So he had made a noble vindication of his conduct on a former occasion, when taken to task for going in to the uncircumcised and eating with them. He was still acting under the same noble impulse when at first in Antioch he freely associated with the Gentile Christians. But when he saw certain from James, from no unbrotherly feeling toward Paul or toward the Gentile Christians, but, simply afraid of how it would affect him with them of the circumcision, he drew back and back until he placed a decided distance between him and the Gentile Christians.
3. His dissimulation was followed. "And the rest of the Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that even Barnabas was carried away with their dissimulation." Peter's conduct is characterized as dissimulation. That was the head and front of his offending. And a very serious offence it was. It was not that he was narrow-minded like the comers from James, but that he concealed his liberal sentiments. It was not that he had changed his mind, but that he acted as though he had changed his mind. This was serious, not only in itself, but in its consequences. For Peter held high position as an apostle. His influence would have carried the rest of the Jews forward in their free intercourse with the Gentiles. But when he dissembled, he carried the rest of the Jews with him in his dissimulation. Numbers carry influence as well as position. Even Barnabas got into the stream. He was a man of position. He had been under the influence of Paul, and with Paul had championed Gentile liberty at Jerusalem. But when the rest of the Jews dissembled with Peter, the consequence was (expressed, if not by "insomuch," by "carried") that he was carried away as by a stream. Paul was equal to the occasion. "But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel." The influence from James was not decided enough. Peter dissembled, the rest of the Jews followed, even Barnabas was carried off his feet, only Paul walked, as the expression here is, with straight feet,—the stream did not carry him away; for which the Church to all time is his debtor. He saw that they were not straight-footed, that they were being carried away and aside from the path of gospel liberty. He saw what was at stake, that it was really, as before, the enslavement of the Gentiles; and therefore, unawed by the reputation of Peter, unawed by the influence of numbers, unshaken by the desertion of Barnabas, he to the face withstood Peter.
II. THE WORDS WITH WHICH HE WITHSTOOD PETER. "I said unto Cephas before them all." It was not silent, dogged withstanding; it was rational withstanding. Paul had his reason, which he stated, not only promptly, but publicly. Peter's offence had been public, especially in its consequences. It was not a case, therefore, for consulting the feelings of the offender. There was public procedure to be counteracted. They all, as well as Peter, needed to be brought back to the truth of the gospel. And therefore what he said, he said, not behind Peter's back, nor to him in private, but to his face before them all.
1. Peter was not acting fairly with the Gentiles. "If thou, being a Jew, livest as do the Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, how compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?" Paul proceeds upon Peter's practice. He had been living up to that time in Antioch after Gentile fashion, i.e. in disregard of the law of meats, and not after Jewish fashion, i.e. showing regard to the law of meats. There was no consistency, therefore, in compelling the Gentiles to Judaize. That is the word which is in the Greek (distinct from the former mode of expression), and which ought to have been in the translation as guiding to the meaning. The force put upon the Gentiles was not the force of Peter's example, but the force or logic of Peter's position. It was not that Gentiles needed to be circumcised in order to have communion with Christ, which had been disclaimed at the public conference; but it was that they needed to be circumcised in order to have communion with Jewish Christians. In that respect it was putting the Gentiles to the necessity of Judaizing.
2. Jews as well as Gentiles needed to believe on Christ in order to be justified. "We being Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, yet knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law, save through faith in Jesus Christ, even we believed on Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law: because by the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified." Three times is the word "justified" used here, three times are the works of the Law disclaimed as the ground of justification, and three times are we said to be justified by faith in Christ. Paul proceeds on the fact that they (and he includes himself) were Jews. The Gentiles were sinners (actually); hence the need for a barrier being raised against Gentilism. The Jews were privileged. There was much in the distinction, apart from the self-righteousness that might be put into it, and which Paul here meets with a touch of irony. But there was nothing in it for justification. To be justified is to be regarded as having met the requirements of Law. They, Jews, saw two things with regard to justification. They saw that a man is not justified by the works of the Law. The requirements of the Law are briefly that we love the Lord our God with all our soul, with all our strength, and with all our mind; and that we love our neighbors as ourselves. This love should be exhibited in our works. But, as they fall far short of such a standard, they are not the source out of which we can be justified. They saw also that a man is justified through faith in Jesus Christ. They saw where justification was not to be found; they, beyond that, saw where it was to be found. Not seeing it in themselves, in their own works, they saw it in Christ. He has met all the requirements of Law. His work can carry a law, usable sentence. And we are justified by means of faith in him; not because of the nature or degree of our faith, but simply because of our faith bringing us into a relationship to Christ as our Surety, in which we are regarded as having met all the requirements of Law. Seeing these two things with regard to justification, they, Jews, acted upon them. They believed on Christ Jesus not otherwise than the Gentiles. They sought to be justified, not on the ground of their own works, but on the ground of Christ's work. They saw that works could not be the ground from their own Scriptures, in which they read, "By the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified."
3. Paul repudiates an inference from Jews needing to take up the position of sinners along with Gentiles, in order to be justified in Christ. "But if, while we sought to be justified in Christ, we ourselves also were found sinners, is Christ a minister of sin? God forbid." He is proceeding upon the former statement. They, Jews, were not justified by the works of the Law,—that was equivalent to their being found sinners. This name, jarring to the ear, had formerly been applied to the Gentiles. Were they, then, to be classed as sinners with the Gentiles in order to be justified in Christ? Was that not (some might say) making Christ a minister of sin? Such an inference with all his heart he repudiates. God forbid. It is no more making Christ a minister of sin than one who comes with the means of escape to a man who is unconsciously perishing is the minister of danger to him. The first ministry that man needs is the ministry of conviction. We must be roused out of our self-pleasing dreams to see that we are sinners. And Christ is doing us a loving service when, even in his offer of salvation, he convicts us of sins.
4. He is rather proved the transgressor who builds up after pulling down. "For if I build up again those things which I destroyed, I prove myself a transgressor." The connection is that, instead of Christ being the minister of sin, he himself would be proved the transgressor. While not using Peter's name, he puts Peter's case. Peter had pulled down, in becoming a Christian believer; he had abandoned Law-righteousness. Now he was building up again, in giving the Law a place for justification. If he, Paul, did that, he would be proved a transgressor. He would certainly be a transgressor between the time of his pulling it down and the time of his building it up again.
5. His own experience carried him beyond the Law. "For I through the Law died unto the Law, that I might live unto God." The Law was the instrument by which there was effected his death to the Law. It showed him to be a sinner, but that led to his seeing how the curse was removed, how all the claims of Law were for ever met; so that he became a dead man to the Law, placed for ever beyond its power. He was a dead man to the Law, that he might be a living man to God—in his having his covenant standing secured, but also in his having his being vitalized by God and drawn towards God.
6. He presents in himself a threefold contrast.
(1) Crucified, and yet he lives. "I have been crucified with Christi yet I live." The contrast has already been presented; here it is made to stand out. How he became a dead man to the Law was by sharing death with Christ as his representative, even the particular form of death, viz. crucifixion. The contrast was startling (to the disciples and to the murderers) when Christ presented himself alive after his crucifixion. "I am he that liveth, and was dead." This representation repeats the contrast in us. Nay, our crucifixion is carried down so that not in successive moments but in the same moment we share with Christ in his crucifixion and in his resurrection.
(2) Himself, and yet not himself. "And yet no longer I, but Christ liveth in me." The crucifixion has not been the annihilation of self; for it can still be said, "I live." It is he who, as a living man, stretches himself, who before was crucified. All the elements in the new life are ours as subsisting in us. But there has been the crucifixion of the old self. There is a rapidity in the thought—No longer I. It is no longer self that is the central principle of our life. That is a false, God-opposing self that has been, and is being, taken forth and crucified before our eyes. Away with self in the place that does not rightfully belong to it. A change has been made from wrong to right. It is Christ we have placed at the centre of our life; from which centre he rules the whole life, fills us with his own light, and strength, and peace, and joy, so that it is truly Christ living in us.
(3) A life in the flesh, and yet a life of faith. "And that life which I now live in the flesh I live in faith, the faith which is in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself up for me." "We exist here in a double connection—first, with the transitory on one side; and, secondly, with the untransitory on the other. The sponge gets its food and life from the fluid, ever-moving waters of the sea; but it must be also fastened to some rock that does not move, and gives firm anchorage to it in the waters. The bird has wings connecting it with the air, and feet on which it takes the ground for rest or settles in firm hold on its perch for the sleep of the night. Trees get their feeding largely from the air, and the light in which their foliage so receptively spreads itself and their limbs so gracefully play; but they must have their roots also taking firm hold of the ground, by these to be localized and kept erect and steady in the storms. By such feeble analogies we conceive the double state of man, connected on one side with infinite mutabilities in things, and on the other with immutable ideas and truths and God." The great object with which our faith brings us into communion in the unseen world is here said to be the Son of God, who loved us and gave himself for us. And what we have to do in our life in the flesh is to draw our life from redeeming love. What we have to do amid our experience of sin is to appropriate redemption. And this we have to do, not once, but habitually.
7. What his care was. "I do not make void the grace of God: for if righteousness is through the Law, then Christ died for nought." His care was to magnify the grace of God in the death of Christ. He would not allow the Law to be sufficient for righteousness, because that would be to make void the grace of God in a way which was never to be thought of, viz. making the death of Christ superfluous. All make void the grace of God who live as though Christ had never died. Let us magnify the grace of God by regarding the death of Christ as all-sufficient for righteousness—taking it as our righteousness.—R.F.
HOMILIES BY W.F. ADENEY
Diversities of administrations.
I. THE GOSPEL IS OFFERED TO MEN IS ALL CIRCUMSTANCES OF LIFE. It is for men of every race, practising all varieties of social habits, living in different stages of civilization, holding the utmost diversities of creed, viewing the gospel itself from many distinct standpoints. None are so privileged as not to need it—the circumcised want it. None are so neglected as to be excluded from it—the uncircumcised have it preached to them. In the breadth of Divine love God has so ordered it that means shall be found for spreading his grace in the various directions where it is needed.
II. DIFFERENT MEN ARE CALLED TO DIFFERENT FIELDS OF CHRISTIAN WORK. Division of labour is as valuable in the Church as in business. This principle is generally recognized in foreign missions. It would greatly economize work and money and save much unseemly strife if it were equally acknowledged at home. It is to the shame of the Church that so much of its efforts is spent in maintaining the rivalry of the sects and parties, while the great world lies neglected. If the labourers are few it is a scandal that they should be quarrelling for their rights on the little patch already cleared. We are too short-sighted. We should "lift up our eyes." There the fields white to the harvest would call us out to broader efforts.
III. THE VARIOUS FUNCTIONS OF CHRISTIAN WORK ARE DETERMINED BY THE VARIOUS GIFTS OF THE CHRISTIAN LABOURERS. St. Paul was most fitted for Gentiles, St. Peter for Jews. They wisely recognized their diversity of vocations. It is important to see that we are in the right work. What is the best work for one man may be very unsuitable for another. We shall fail if we slavishly copy the most successful servants of Christ in a line that may not be ours. Butler could not organize a revival; nor could Wesley confute deism. We may be discouraged needlessly at our failure. Try some other work till the right work is discovered. The important point is to find our mission in our capacities rather than in our inclinations. We are not necessarily most fit for the work we like best. Still sympathy with a particular work is one great aid to success; only let us see that we do not confound this with self-will or ambition.
IV. DIVERSITY OF ADMINISTRATIONS IMPLIES SO DISCORD. Rather it is the best security for harmony. When all attempt the same work jealousy and rivalry spring up. If we differ naturally we are sure to come in conflict when trying to do the same thing. The ox and the ass are useful beasts, but bad yokefellows. The Apostles Paul and Peter could not have remained on friendly terms if they had kept to the same field. We should show friendship for those who are carrying on a different work from our own, recognizing them as fellow-servants with one Master.
V. THE SAME TRUTH AND GRACE ARE FOUND IN DIVERSITIES OF ADMINISTRATIONS. St. Paul and St. Peter preached essentially the same gospel. There is but one Christ and one narrow way. Diversity cannot go beyond the one gospel without becoming apostasy.—W.F.A.
A bold rebuke.
There can be no doubt that this rebuke offered by one apostle to another was real and earnest, and not, as St. Jerome tried to maintain, a dramatic pretence. We have here, then, the startling spectacle of the two leading apostles in conflict. Yet it is plainly implied that they were not opposed in their general work. It was not their teaching nor their normal practice, but one particular act of weakness that occasioned the trouble.
I. APOSTLES ARE FALLIBLE. Plainly St. Peter was to blame. If St. Paul's view of the gospel were correct—as we must all now hold—St. Peter was wrong in ceasing to eat with Gentiles. But even if the view of the Jerusalem Church were correct, he was not the less to blame in first following the more liberal course, and then abandoning it out of deference to the party of James. He was clearly inconsistent, and it is evident that his inconsistency was not due to change of conviction, but only to culpable weakness.
1. If an apostle fail, who else will presume to be safe?
2. The "fear of man that bringeth a snare" is a fruitful source of temptation to many of the best men, especially in regard to sins against charity. We seem to be ashamed of our charity more than of any other grace, and yet it is the noblest and the most essentially Christian.
3. Distinguish between apostolic teaching and apostolic conduct. Neither in his preaching nor in his writing did St. Peter defend the course he pursued at Antioch. Inspiration for teaching does not imply faultlessness in action.
II. IT IS RIGHT TO REBUKE DANGEROUS FAULTS. St. Peter was the senior apostle, and it might seem presumptuous to oppose him. He was the foremost apostle, and opposition might endanger the peace of the Church. Many would let deference to years and rank and fear of painful discord prevent them from acting as St. Paul acted. But right is above all personal considerations. There are interests of the Church that may be ruined by a slavish fear of disturbing peace. The peace thus secured is a false peace. There are times when controversy in the Church is a duty of paramount importance. It may be the only security against fatal error. Yet, though then the least of evils, it is still an evil, and should not be undertaken without grave reason.
1. In the present instance the question was of vital importance. It cut at the root of the unity and brotherhood of the Church. If Christians could not eat together at the "agape," the simple but all-significant meal of the Christian family, the Church would be broken up. This was no light matter to be overlooked. It demanded even the contention of apostle with apostle. Let us see that the importance of the cause is sufficient to justify the painful consequences of a controversy before opening it up.
2. The question was of public interest. The fault of St. Peter was no secret, nor did it only concern himself. His powerful example affected others, till even St. Barnabas was led away. No private friendship can be pleaded in excuse for letting a public evil go unchecked. In such cases brother must oppose brother, though his heart bleeds at the necessity.
III. REBUKE SHOULD BE OPEN AND DIRECTLY OFFERED TO THE OFFENDER. St. Paul "withstood him to the face." It needed no little courage for the new and often-suspected apostle thus to challenge the first man in the Church. Few have such courage, and many only betake themselves to backbiting. If we have anything against a man, the right thing is to tell it him to his face. This is the only honourable course. It is due to him in fairness. It prevents misunderstanding, and often saves a long and widespread quarrel. Such a course escapes presumption if it is taken with an honest conviction that the conduct opposed is wrong, with a sincere desire to save others from the consequences of it, with all humility in regard to one's self as equally fallible and with great kindness and charity for the offender. Yet we are not all called to this work. It requires a Paul to rebuke a Peter wisely and well.—W.F.A.
Justification by faith.
These words contain the pith and kernel of the Epistle. Occurring in historical narration, they strike the key-note of what is rather an expostulation and appeal to previous convictions than an original, calm argument, such as is the treatment of the same subject in the Epistle to the Romans. St. Paul says he convicted St. Peter of inconsistency in requiring Gentiles to Judaize, by reminding him that even they, Jews as they were, were not justified on account of works, but through faith in Christ. By an easy and natural transition this reminiscence is made the occasion for passing from the historical to the doctrinal part of the Epistle. That great truth which called forth the protest of apostle against apostle is the truth from which the Galatians, like the Christians at Antioch, are being lured away. It is of the essence of Christianity to them as it was to their sister Church, and as it will be to the Church in all ages.
I. CHRISTIANITY BRINGS JUSTIFICATION. What is justification? Some have understood it as "making righteous," others as "accounting righteous." It is plain that St. Paul does teach that real righteousness is obtained through faith (e.g. Romans 3:21). But it is equally plain that the natural rendering of such a passage as that now before us suggests the idea of treating or reckoning as righteous. The inference is that St. Paul used the expressions in both senses. And the inference from that is, not that he was confused in thought or consciously ambiguous, but that he saw a much closer connection between the two than Protestant theology, in revulsion from Romanism, has always made apparent. Justification is the immediate result of forgiveness. God cannot think a man to be other than he is; but he can act towards him better than he deserves, can treat a sinner as only a righteous man deserves to be treated. This is justification. Now, forgiveness is personal and moral. It is not mere remission of penalties. It is reconciliation and restitution. The justification which is the consequence is not a mere external thing. It sows the seed of positive righteousness by infusing the highest motive for it. If it did not do this it would be immoral. Justification is itself justified by its fruits. This great boon is the first grace of Christianity. Until we are forgiven and thus justified we cannot begin to serve God.
II. CHRISTIANITY DECLARES THE FAILURE OF ATTEMPTING TO SECURE JUSTIFICATION THROUGH WORKS OF LAW. All the world over men have been making frantic but futile efforts in this direction. A sickening sense of failure is the invariable result (Romans 7:24). It is like the vanishing of a nightmare to see that the whole attempt is a mistake, that God recognizes its impotence, and that he does not expect us to succeed in it.
1. We cannot be justified through works of Law, because if we do our best we are unprofitable servants, and have only done what we ought to have done. The slave whose whole time belongs to his master cannot earn anything by working overtime. Future obedience is simply obligatory on its own account; it cannot atone for past negligence.
2. We cannot renew our own nature by anything we do, seeing that we only Work outwards from our nature. While the heart is corrupt the conduct cannot be justifying.
3. There is no life in Law to infuse power for holier service. Law restrains and represses; it cannot renew and inspire. Only love and grace can do that.
4. Nevertheless, obedience to the principles of the Law is not superseded by any other method of justification. It is the justified through faith, and they only, who truly obey the Law, delighting to do the will of God.
III. CHRISTIANITY PROMISES JUSTIFICATION THROUGH FAITH IN CHRIST.
1. Faith is the means of justification, not the grounds of it. We are not justified on account of faith, but through faith. Faith is not, taken as itself, a virtue serving just as works of Law were supposed to serve. The one ground of forgiveness and renewal is the grace of God in Christ. Faith is the means of securing this, because it unites us to Christ.
2. This faith is in Christ, not in a creed. We may cast our thoughts about Christ into a creed. Yet what is necessary is not the understanding of and assent to any doctrines, but trust in a Person.
3. The faith is active trust. It is not only believing about Christ, but relying on him in conduct. For example, it is like, not only believing that a certain pillar-box belongs to the post-office, but also dropping one's letter into it.
4. It is trust to Christ in all his relations, and therefore as much the confidence in him as our Lord and Master that directly leads to obedience, as passive reliance on him as a Saviour for the forgiveness and renewal which we can never work out for ourselves.—W.F.A.
Dying to Law and living to God.
Here is a history of man's experience with Law. At first the vision of Law crushes and terrifies. Then it works deliverance from the life that is wholly given up to it. This deliverance is not for antinomian licence, but for spiritual life in God.
I. WHAT IS IT TO DIE TO LAW? Law here is not merely the Mosaic code. It is generic. Every nation has more or less some conception of law. We all feel it in our conscience. To live for this, to toil simply to meet its requirements, to be gloomy and despondent at our failure, is to live to Law. This by no means implies perfect or even partial obedience to Law. It may go with absolute failure; it is never found resulting in the complete harmony of Law and conduct. Sow, to die to Law is to be free from this galling yoke. It is to be liberated from the frightful vision of an obligation that is imperative and yet beyond our powers—the nightmare feeling that we must do what we cannot do. It is freedom, too, from the habit of living in regard to Law as the rule and motive of life.
II. HOW DOES LAW LEAD TO THIS RESULT? We can understand how the gospel does it by offering forgiveness and by calling us to a better method of holiness. But Law also strangles the life that dwells in it.
1. It condemns our failure, and so shows us that it is vain to attempt to live in it.
2. It proves itself impotent to give us the means of fulfilling its requirements. The longer we live in it the more do we see that such a life is fruitless. Thus we gradually cease to feel drawn to it. At length we confess our failure and abandon the attempt. The Law has then killed the life we had in it.
III. WHAT IS THE OBJECT OF THIS DEATH TO LAW? Regarded by itself it is a miserable disaster. Law points to righteousness. To cease to live in Law is to dismiss the discredited guide in the wilderness and to be left alone. By itself the result would be ruinous. But it is only permitted in order to clear the way for something better. We must not rest in freedom from Law. To be free from the obligation and free from the penalty, and to have no new and better life, would be the collapse and degradation of all moral order. That is a false and fatal gospel which consists only in the promise of such a result. The only reason for allowing it is to secure the new life in God.
1. This means exchanging a blind submission to Law or a loving obedience to our Father in heaven.
2. It means abandoning the helpless command for the inspiration of a living presence. This is the true Christian life. It is therefore no selfish salvation that is offered to us, but a life of self-dedication, a losing of self in God. Note that the Law does not lead to this result, nor does dying to the Law. Thus far only the way is prepared. The new life in God flows from the gospel of Christ.—W.F.A.
Crucified with Christ.
St. Paul's Christianity was identification of the Christian with Christ. It was not merely believing a scheme of doctrine, nor following a certain course of devotion, nor accepting an offered grace. It was absolute union with Christ in spiritual experience. Nothing is more characteristic of the apostle than the way in which, in almost every Epistle, he describes the Christian life as going step by step with the life of Christ from the earthly humiliation and death to the heavenly triumph. Here the most essential elements of that experience are pointed out, and the secret of them declared.
I. THE ESSENTIAL CHRISTIAN EXPERIENCE.
1. Crucifixion with Christ. This is no figure of speech, meaning only that, inasmuch as Christ died for us, we may be said to have been crucified representatively in him. The passionate earnestness of St. Paul in describing his own spiritual renewal goes far beyond any such shallow conception. He is plainly describing what he really endured.
(1) This is death. The old life is killed out. The passions, lusts, habits, and associations of the life in sin, self, and worldliness are mortified. Christianity is not simply educational. It is first of all militant—purging, scourging, killing.
(2) This is crucifixion—a painful, violent death; for it is no light matter to destroy the life in sin, so full of pleasant attractions, and so deeply rooted in our inmost nature—and a judicial execution, wrought on us by the vindictive powers of our own treacherous passions when once we turn from them to faith in Christ.
(3) This is a crucifixion with Christ. Our union with Christ necessitates this death of the old life and brings it about. The new wine bursts the old bottles. Conscience and Law fail to destroy the old life, though they reveal its hideous deformity. But when we come to Calvary and reach out to the dying Christ, entering into his experience by faith and vivid sympathy, the old self receives its mortal wounds. Then we can live the former life no longer.
2. Christ living in us. St. Paul feels that he has so given himself up to Christ that the ruling power in him is no longer self but Christ. This is true Christianity.
(1) It is life. We die that we may live. We begin with mortifying the old life, but we do not continue to exist in a barren asceticism. New energies spring up from the grave of the old life.
(2) This life is Christ's. It derives its power from Christ, it is swayed by the will of Christ, it seeks the ends of Christ, it breathes the spirit of Christ, it is lived in personal communion with Christ. Selfish aims and self-devised resources are gone, and in their place the grace of Christ is the inspiration, and the mind and will of Christ are the controlling influences of the new life. This is not a future possibility, but a present attainment. The life is now lived in the flesh.
II. THE SECRET Of THIS EXPERIENCE.
1. It is realized through faith. St. Paul lives "in faith." The power of Christ to destroy the old life and live himself in us depends on our faith in him, and is exercised just in proportion as we yield ourselves to him in trustful reliance and loyal obedience. No fate will make it ours, no mechanical influence will secure it. Intelligently, voluntarily, we must exercise faith in him to be joined to him in crucifixion and new life. Faith is always the greatest bond of union.
2. It is determined by the love and sacrifice of Christ. Here is the motive for our faith. The love of Christ constrains us. The gift of himself for us reveals and confirms his love and brings it home to our hearts. The explanation of the revolution in St. Paul's life, of the death of the persecutor, and the creation of the apostle, is his coming under the influence of these truths. To enjoy the same experience we must
(1) fix our thoughts on the same great, wonderful love and sacrifice of Christ; and
(2) appropriate them personally to ourselves. "He loved me," etc.—W.F.A.
I. IF WE SEEK FOR RIGHTEOUSNESS BY MEANS OF LAW WE MAKE NO USE OF THE GRACE OF GOD. Here are two rival methods for obtaining righteousness. The first is wide and various, by means of Law, any law—the Levitical system, ascetic discipline, rites of heathen mysteries, Stoic philosophy, our own attempts to conform to an outside rule. The second is specific, the grace of God, the grace shown in the gospel, the grace that comes through the sacrifice of Christ. These two methods are mutually exclusive. They run in opposite directions. The Judaizing party was trying to combine them. The Roman Catholics made the same attempt when they regarded justification as the result of works wrought by means of grace. But, though grace does lead us to conformity with Law, it can only do so in its own way by changing the heart and planting principles of righteousness, not by assisting the old servile effort to keep certain external ordinances. The old stage-coach can be of no assistance to the express train. By so much of the distance as you go by road you leave the rail and therefore lose ground. The mistake of neglecting grace for Law is
(1) foolish, for we thus lose a help freely offered;
(2) ungrateful, for we refuse the gift of God; and
(3) dangerous, for we shall be to blame for the failure that could have been avoided had we not declined to avail ourselves of God's method of righteousness.
All attempts, then, to increase holiness by monastic rules, regulations of a religious order, specific vows, or restraints of formal Church discipline are unchristian. The higher righteousness must be attained by the same means through which the first elements were secured. Any other method is poorer and weaker. We begin with grace; we can never improve upon grace.
II. IF RIGHTEOUSNESS WERE ATTAINABLE BY MEANS OF LAW, CHRIST'S DEATH WOULD HAVE BEEN TO NO PURPOSE.
1. The method of Law was the older method. If this had been successful there would have been no need to add another. If the Old Testament were enough the New Testament need never have been produced.
2. The method of Law was the less costly method. We do not turn to more expensive methods if no superior advantage is to be gained by them. The new method is only possible at the greatest possible cost. The righteousness by Law required no special sacrifice. The righteousness by grace required the death of the Son of God. How much superior must God consider it to be willing to pay so heavy a price in order to secure it to us! We may be sure that, if by any easier way the same results could have been reached, God would have spared his own Son. Yet they who neglect this grace for the old method of Law proclaim by their actions that the great sacrifice was unnecessary. For themselves, too, they do make it a useless thing. This is the pathetic side of their error. Refusing to avail themselves of the grace of God, they bring it to pass that, as far as they are concerned, Christ died in vain.—W.F.A.
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Exell, Joseph S; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice. "Commentary on Galatians 2". The Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29