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Bible Commentaries

Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures
Galatians 2

 

 


Verses 1-6

Paul's Gospel Approved by Church at Jerusalem (Sanctification: Doctrine) - In Galatians 2:1-6 Paul emphasizes his pure doctrine it is identical with and accepted by the apostles at Jerusalem. In this passage he refers to his third trip to the church at Jerusalem, at which time the church heard his doctrine and accepted it.

Paul's Third Trip to Jerusalem (The First Jerusalem Council) (A.D 50) - We find in Galatians 2:1-10 the story of Paul's visit to Jerusalem. He has just finished explaining how he received the message of the Gospel entirely by divine revelation apart from the influence of the apostles at Jerusalem ( Galatians 1:11-24). Paul now explains in Galatians 2:1-10 how the apostles in Jerusalem have confirmed the accuracy of his Gospel as well as his calling as an apostle to the Gentiles. We can imagine that Paul's adversaries, the Judaizers, were saying that Paul's Gospel was incomplete, or that Paul lacked the authority to deliver his message to the Galatians. Thus, Paul was dealing with both accusations.

Most scholars equate the account in Galatians 2:1-10 to Paul's third trip to Jerusalem as recorded in Acts 15:1-41. (Paul's second visit is recorded in Acts 11:27-30; Acts 12:25 when he and Barnabas came to bring alms.) Scholars believe that this passage in Galatians 2:1-10 refers to Acts 15:1-29, which we call the first Jerusalem Council, because of the number of similar circumstances. Here are the similarities:

1. The Locations are the Same - In both accounts we have Paul and Barnabas coming from Antioch to Jerusalem for the meeting and returning to Antioch. We see legalistic Jews coming from Jerusalem and causing trouble in Antioch.

2. The Characters are the Same - In both accounts we have Paul and Barnabas coming to Jerusalem and meeting with Peter, James and John while confronting legalistic Jews.

3. The Purpose of the Conferences were the Same - In both accounts we have a description of the purpose of the visit being a defense of the message of the Gospel to the Gentiles.

4. The Outcome of the Conference is the Same - In both accounts Paul wins his argument and is free to preach the Gospel without the additional weight of Jewish customs and laws.

An additional argument for equating Galatians 2:1-10 to Acts 15:1-29 is the fact that it would have been very unlikely that two similar meetings would have occurred within a period of a few short years. We must note that it would have been very unlikely for Paul to have rebuked Peter before the Jerusalem Council, where this issue was settled. In contrast, we find no similarities between Galatians 2:1-10 and the account of Paul's second visit to Jerusalem in Acts 11:27-30; Acts 12:25.

However, there are a few differences between Galatians 2:1-10 and Acts 15:1-20. First, we have no mention of Titus in Luke's account, while Paul places emphasis upon his uncircumcision. Second, Paul's account describes a private meeting while Luke describes a public meeting. Third, Paul refers to him making the trip by revelation while Luke's account describes it as a group decision. However, these three discrepancies should not discredit the overwhelming similarities.

For those who believe in the southern Galatian theory and, thus, equate Galatians 2:1-10 with Paul's famine visit in Acts 11:30, there is a major discrepancy in dating this event. Acts 12:1 tells us that King Herod died "about this time." Since we know the historical date of his death to be A.D 44, and Paul's famine visit to Jerusalem took place fourteen years after his first visit ( Galatians 2:1), which took place three years after his conversion ( Galatians 1:18). This would place Paul in Jerusalem in A.D 27, which is not feasible. Thus, we must accept Galatians 2:1-10 as a reference to the first Jerusalem Council.

The purpose of this trip to Jerusalem was for Paul to defend his evangelistic work that he had been conducting in the regions of Syria and Cilicia for the last fourteen years ( Galatians 1:21). Titus would have been brought along as a testimony of God's saving grace upon the Gentiles and the church in Jerusalem saw an uncircumcised Gentile filled with the Holy Spirit. In this passage of Scripture, Paul explains to the Galatians how those of reputation in the Church confirmed the truth of his Gospel to Jesus Christ. He is able to tell the Galatians that the church elders in Jerusalem formally approved his version of the Gospel. Thus, Paul not only carries the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ to proclaim the Gospel, but also of the church elders in Jerusalem. I doubt that Paul's accusers carried either of these weights of authority.

In this first Jerusalem council, the leaders of the Church took action to mend any divisions between Gentile and Jewish Christians. Apparently, the Judaizing element was not as willing to abide by such a decision. Therefore, Paul also rehearses this story in order to help the believers in Galatia understand that the church at Jerusalem recognized their liberties in Christ, which Paul defended, and that some Jewish converts were not as willing to abide by this decision.

Galatians 2:1 Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also.

Galatians 2:1 — "Then fourteen years after" - Comments- Scholars date the first Jerusalem council at A.D 50. Thus, fourteen years earlier would refer to Paul's conversion around A.D 36.

Galatians 2:1"I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas" - Comments- Jerusalem was the city where the leaders of the Church remained after the persecution began ( Acts 8:1).

Acts 8:1, "And Saul was consenting unto his death. And at that time there was a great persecution against the church which was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria, except the apostles."

Galatians 2:1Comments- Scholars say that we can find another reference to this story of Paul's second visit to Jerusalem and those he took with him in Acts 15:2, which refers to "Barnabas…and certain other of them."

Acts 15:2, "When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question."

Galatians 2:2 And I went up by Revelation , and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain.

Galatians 2:2"which I preach among the Gentiles" - Comments- The verb κηρύσσω is used in the present tense, "Which I am preaching among the Gentiles." If we accept an early date of writing for the epistle of Galatians , which was after his first missionary journey, Paul was presently preaching to the Gentiles.

Galatians 2:2 — "lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain" - Word Study on "run" - Strong says the Greek word "run" ( τρέχω) (G 5143) means, "to run, walk hastily." Note other uses of this same Greek word in the New Testament:

1 Corinthians 9:24-27, "Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway."

Galatians 5:7, "Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?"

Philippians 2:16, "Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain."

2 Thessalonians 3:1, "Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you:"

Hebrews 12:1, "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,"

Comments- With the concept of running, Paul compares our Christian life to a course that we are to finish ( 2 Timothy 4:1).

2 Timothy 4:7, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:"

Comments- Paul desired that the apostles and elders agree with his Gospel so that his work not be in vain. Why would Paul consider that the fourteen years of evangelistic work in Syria and Cilicia would have been in vain? Apparently, it was necessary for him to get the acceptance of the church of Jerusalem so that his ministry could be considered a part of the whole. Paul understood that by isolating himself to a work led to nowhere. Therefore, the blessings from the church of Jerusalem practically gave a stamp of authenticity upon his work.

Galatians 2:3 But neither Titus , who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised:

Galatians 2:3Comments- Why was the fact that Titus was a Gentile brought out? As we see in Acts 15:1, some were preaching the need for circumcision.

Acts 15:1, "And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved."

Galatians 2:4 And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage:

Galatians 2:4"that they might bring us into bondage" - Comments- The devil is always trying to bring man into bondage to sins and rituals.

The bondage mentioned in Galatians 2:4 is the yoke of the Law ( Acts 15:5; Acts 15:10, Colossians 4:3; Colossians 4:9).

Acts 15:5, "But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses."

Acts 15:10, "Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?"

Colossians 4:3, "Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds:"

Colossians 4:9, "With Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They shall make known unto you all things which are done here."

Galatians 2:5 To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.

Galatians 2:5"To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour" - Comments- Acts 15:7 tells us that Paul withstood a great dispute over the issue of circumcision.

Acts 15:7, "And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe."

Galatians 2:5Comments- If Paul would have lost this debate and received instructed from James the Lord's brother to revise his message of the Gospel, he would have had to yield in submission to this decision; for the church in Jerusalem held authority over all of the churches for it was the mother church. However, Paul won a great victory for the faith of the Gentiles in that he could preach without unnecessary restrictions being placed upon him and still have the support of the church of Jerusalem behind him ( Galatians 2:9-10). This is why Paul uses the term "the truth of the Gospel" in this verse rather than simply "the Gospel". Paul was emphasizing here the content of the Gospel. He will use this phrase again in Galatians 2:14.

This phrase "the truth of the Gospel" could well be translated "the liberties of the Gospel" within the context of this epistle as Paul fought for the freedom of the Gentiles to serve God without unnecessary restrictions.

Galatians 2:6 But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man"s person:) for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me:

Galatians 2:6 — "God accepteth no man's person" - Scripture References- Note similar verses:

Acts 10:34, "Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:"

Romans 2:11, "For there is no respect of persons with God."

James 2:1, "My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons."

Galatians 2:6"for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me" - Comments- This is referring to what Paul had been preaching. The apostles and elders at Jerusalem did not add to or correct the message that he had been preaching. They did not ask him to change any of his message nor add restrictions to it. On the contrary, the apostles received Paul and Barnabas and endorsed them, recognizing them as apostles to the Gentiles ( Galatians 2:7-10).


Verses 7-10

Paul's Calling Approved by Church at Jerusalem (Sanctification: Calling) - In Galatians 2:7-10 Paul emphasizes his calling by telling the Galatians how the apostles acknowledged and confirmed his calling as an apostle to the Gentiles. They formally recognized Paul's calling as an apostle to the Gentiles, who was now preaching the true Gospel.

Galatians 2:7 But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter;

Galatians 2:8 (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:)

Galatians 2:8Comments- Paul the apostle was a man of great zeal and achievement. He was born of Jewish parents in the city of Tarsus, the chief city of Cilicia, where Greek culture predominated. In this city was a great university, which Strabo (63 B.C. to A.D 24?), the Greek historian and geographer, was known for its enthusiasm for learning, especially in the area of philosophy. Strabo said this university surpassed those at Athens, Alexandria, and all others in its passion for learning (Geography 14513). 81] It is from this upbringing that we see why Paul was a man of zeal and great achievement; for he was raised in an atmosphere of physical and mental achievement around the university in Tarsus. We know nothing in detail about his parents. Of his siblings, we only know that he had a sister, for Paul's nephew helped him escape harm ( Acts 23:16).

81] Strabo writes, "The inhabitants of this city apply to the study of philosophy and to the whole encyclical compass of learning with so much ardour, that they surpass Athens, Alexandreia, and every other place which can be named where there are schools and lectures of philosophers." See The Geography of Strabo, vol 3, trans. H. C. Hamilton and W. Falconer (London: George Bell and Sons, 1889), 57.

Acts 23:16, "And when Paul"s sister"s son heard of their lying in wait, he went and entered into the castle, and told Paul."

Since ancient times, a Jewish child was exposed to three levels of education at the respective ages of five, ten, and fifteen, at which levels they studied the Mikra, Mishnah, and Gemara or Talmud. Their secular education was tied to their study of the Law of Moses. 82] Therefore, Saul would have been introduced to the Hebrew Scriptures at an early age, and studies through his early teenage years. Paul would have been then admitted into the Jewish community as a competent and instructed member. All Jewish boys were also to be trained in a trade about this age, which was believed to help a person live a balanced life. 83] For Paul, we know that he was trained as a tent-maker ( Acts 18:3). If the parents wanted their children to acquire additional education, they sent them to Jerusalem, where there were schools of well-known rabbis. 84] Paul was probably sent to Jerusalem to further his training in Jewish law as a teenager. In his quest for education, he found himself seeking a meaning in life that went beyond his reasoning. Because of his Jewish heritage, he was later trained in the strictest of sect of the Jews, that of a Pharisee, and in this training, he sat under the most well known Hebrew teacher of his day, a man called Gamaliel ( Acts 22:3).

82] Nathan Drazin, History of Jewish Education from 515 B.C.E. to 222 C.E. (Baltimore: The John Hopkins Press, 1940), 14.

83] One Jewish rabbi wrote, "Excellent is the study of the Law combined with some worldly occupation, for toil in them both puts sin out of mind. But all study of the Law without some labor comes in the end to naught and brings sin in its train." (Aboth 22) See Nathan Drazin, History of Jewish Education from 515 B.C.E. to 222 C.E. (Baltimore: The John Hopkins Press, 1940), 20.

84] R. F. Youngblood, F. F. Bruce, R. K. Harrison, and Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nelson"s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary, rev. ed. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1995), in Libronix Digital Library System, v 21c [CD-ROM] (Bellingham, WA: Libronix Corp, 2000-2004), "Education."

Acts 18:3, "And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers."

Acts 22:3, "I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day."

He was schooled in Greek rhetoric, philosophy, sophistry and literature. He had seen man's wisdom at its best as he studied Greek philosophy. He has seen man's religion at its best as he studied under Gamaliel. In these two educational environments, Paul was yet to find a purpose in life. Paul could have easily reasoned with the greatest Greek mind to these Greek converts. For he says, "And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of Wisdom of Solomon , declaring unto you the testimony of God…. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man"s wisdom" ( 1 Corinthians 2:1; 1 Corinthians 2:4). We see Paul quoting from the Greek poet Aratus in Acts 17:28 while preaching in Athens, but that did not bring him close to God. Yes, he came closer to discovering the truth at the feet of Gamaliel than at the University of Tarsus, but it did not answer the most important question in life, "What is the meaning of life and why am I here?" He had seen man's wisdom at its best as he studied Greek philosophy. He had seen man's religion at its best as he studied under Gamaliel. Both failed to explain the meaning of life. It is this heritage that prepares Paul to become the apostle to the Gentiles.

Galatians 2:7-8Comments - Paul's Apostleship to the Gentiles- What was it that the Church saw in Paul that confirmed his calling as an apostle to the Gentiles? Galatians 2:8 tells us they saw how God worked mightily through him in the preaching of the Gospel. In other words, they saw the anointing that produced signs, wonders and miracles as well as the conversion of many souls.

It is important to note here that it is God who confirms a man's calling through the impartation of the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Although many people wish to serve in many capacities of the Church, only a few have the distinct anointing that confirms a particular calling.

1 Corinthians 2:1-5 describes Paul's method of preaching the Gospel to the Gentile churches. He came to them in weakness and fear and the simple message of Christ and His crucifixion. Although Paul was educated in Jewish law and traditions prior to his conversion, the Lord sent him far away to preach to the Gentiles ( Romans 11:13, Galatians 2:8, 1 Timothy 2:7, 2 Timothy 1:11). Had he been sent to the Jews, he would have tended to trust in his education and understanding of their traditions in converting them to Christ. He was instead sent to the Gentiles so that his trust and dependence was totally upon God and his message was the simple Good News of Christ and His Crucifixion and Resurrection. For Paul the power of the Holy Spirit rested in this message. In contrast, Peter, who was unlearned in the Jewish educational system ( Acts 4:13), was sent by God as an apostle to the Jews ( Galatians 2:8). Therefore, Peter had to trust in the Lord to preach to the Jews.

Romans 11:13, "For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office:"

Galatians 2:8, "(For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:)"

1 Timothy 2:7, "Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not;) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity."

2 Timothy 1:11, "Whereunto I am appointed a preacher, and an apostle, and a teacher of the Gentiles."

Acts 4:13, "Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John , and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus."

Galatians 2:9 And when James , Cephas, and John , who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.

Galatians 2:9 — "And when James , Cephas, and John , who seemed to be pillars" - Comments- Scholars generally agree that the individual referred to as James in Galatians 2:9 is the brother of the Lord, and not James the apostle, the son of Zebedee and brother of John , since this James was killed by King Herod II around A.D 44 (see Acts 12:1-2). Otherwise, these names would read, "Cephas, James and John ," which is the order found in Matthew 10:2, Mark 3:16 and Luke 6:14. Rather, it is believed to refer to James , the brother of the Lord, and bishop of the church in Jerusalem. His office as bishop would have held priority over the apostles, who were members of this congregation.

Galatians 2:10 Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do.

Galatians 2:10 — "the same which I also was forward to do" - Comments - That Isaiah , Paul worked hard to serve the poor. As we study the thirty-year ministry of Paul the apostle, we see him doing just this, remembering the poor. Perhaps the greatest example of this in his ministry was the collection that he took up for the poor saints at Jerusalem in A.D 58. It was this trip to Jerusalem to deliver this love offering from the Gentile churches that led to his imprisonment and trial before Caesar in Rome. Paul spent many years in prison and suffered a great deal because of his commitment to personally deliver this gift to the poor ( Acts 24:17, Romans 15:25-26, 1 Corinthians 16:1-4). Note:

Acts 24:17, "Now after many years I came to bring alms to my nation, and offerings."

Romans 15:25-26, "But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto the saints. For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem."

1 Corinthians 16:1-4, "Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye. Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come. And when I come, whomsoever ye shall approve by your letters, them will I send to bring your liberality unto Jerusalem. And if it be meet that I go also, they shall go with me."

Galatians 2:10Comments - It may be suggested that Galatians 2:10 is a reference to the collection of the poor saints in Jerusalem. Thus, we must date this epistle according to ancient tradition as having been written while Paul was in Rome.


Verses 11-21

Paul's Steadfastness to the Gospel (Sanctification: Perseverance) - In Galatians 2:11-21 Paul emphasizes his perseverance to stay true to the Gospel by giving the Galatians an illustration of how Peter the apostle compromised the Gospel by seeking to please men ( Galatians 2:11-21). In Paul's account of Peter's fault he refers to "the truth of the Gospel" ( Galatians 2:14) as the guideline for Christian conduct. When Paul says, "if I build again the things which I destroyed" ( Galatians 2:18), he is referring to the fact that a believer can go back into bondage to the elements of this evil world. In Paul's account of rebuking Peter, he is trying to illustrate to the Galatians how easily believers can become entangled again with the bondages and fears of this world as they seek to please men. This story reveals that Peter held Paul's view of Gentile liberties. In this illustration Paul moves into the next phase of his apology by explaining that justification comes only by faith in Jesus Christ.

Outline - Here is a proposed outline:

1. Paul and Barnabas Return to Antioch — Galatians 2:11-14

2. Salvation by Faith in Christ Jesus — Galatians 2:15-21

Galatians 2:11-14 — Paul and Barnabas Return To Antioch - In Galatians 2:11-14 we have the account of Paul's stay in the church at Antioch. Whether this event took place between his first and second missionary (A.D 51) journey or between his second and third (A.D 54) is not indicated. The fact that Paul refers to Barnabas suggests that this event took place before they separated while preparing for Paul's second journey. We see in Galatians 2:11-14 how Peter briefly returned to legalistic thinking, the ways of the Law (Judaism), although he knew Christ.

Paul's Example to Timothy - Note how Paul later commanded Timothy to defend the Gospel, as Paul did in Antioch before Peter:

1 Timothy 5:20, "Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear."

This passage illustrates:

Proverbs 17:10, "A reproof entereth more into a wise man than an hundred stripes into a fool."

Proverbs 19:25, "Smite a scorner, and the simple will beware: and reprove one that hath understanding, and he will understand knowledge."

Proverbs 27:5, "Open rebuke is better than secret love."

Galatians 2:11 But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.

Galatians 2:11 Comments- Peter was an important apostle. In Galatians 2:11 Paul shows his own confidence and assurance of his calling in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Note that Eusebius (A.D 260 to 340), while listing the names of some of the seventy whom Jesus sent out by twos, tells us that this was not Peter the Apostle mentioned in Galatians 2:11, but another one of the early disciples bearing the same name.

"They say that Sosthenes also, who wrote to the Corinthians with Paul, was one of them. This is the account of Clement in the fifth book of his Hypotyposes, in which he also says that Cephas was one of the seventy disciples, a man who bore the same name as the apostle Peter, and the one concerning whom Paul says, "When Cephas came to Antioch I withstood him to his face." (Ecclesiastical History 1122)

However, Cyprian (died A.D 258), bishop of Carthage, writing in one of his epistles, states that this was indeed Peter the apostle being corrected by Paul.

"Neither must we prescribe this from custom, but overcome opposite custom by reason. For neither did Peter, whom first the Lord chose, and upon whom He built His Church, when Paul disputed with him afterwards about circumcision, claim anything to himself insolently, nor arrogantly assume anything; so as to say that he held the primacy, and that he ought rather to be obeyed by novices and those lately come. Nor did he despise Paul because he had previously been a persecutor of the Church, but admitted the counsel of truth, and easily yielded to the lawful reason which Paul asserted, furnishing thus an illustration to us both of concord and of patience, that we should not obstinately love our own opinions, but should rather adopt as our own those which at any time are usefully and wholesomely suggested by our brethren and colleagues, if they be true and lawful." (Epistles 703)

Galatians 2:12 For before that certain came from James , he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision.

Galatians 2:13 And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation.

Galatians 2:14 But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?

Galatians 2:14 — "But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel" - Comments- The phrase "the truth of the Gospel" is a key phrase in the epistle of Galatians as it reflects the underlying theme. Paul had rebuked the Galatians for embracing "another gospel" ( Galatians 1:6-9) and was now defending the true Gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul then gives an account of his personal testimony as a witness of the true of the Gospel that he received by revelation from Jesus Christ ( Galatians 1:10 to Galatians 2:10) and gives them an illustration of how Peter the apostle compromised the Gospel by seeking to please men ( Galatians 2:11-21). Paul is trying to illustrate to the Galatians how easily believers can become entangles with the bondages and fears of this world as they seek to please men.

Galatians 2:14Comments - In Galatians 2:14 Paul scolds Peter by tell him that he has been living in the liberty apart from the Law as a Jew, and now he has withdrawn himself from the Gentiles as the Judaizers do, thus, compelling the Gentiles to follow him by living like a Jew.

Galatians 2:15-21 — Salvation by Faith in Christ Jesus - The message of Galatians 2:15-21, whether Paul was addressing Peter or the churches of Galatia, is the declaration that justification before God comes through faith in Jesus Christ, both for the Jews as well as the Gentiles.

Galatians 2:15 We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles,

Galatians 2:15 "We who are Jews by nature" - Comments - Scholars debate where Paul's address to Peter ends and his words to the Galatians resumes. Some say that Galatians 2:15 could not be to the Galatians because they were not Jews, so that Paul would is still addressing Peter, a Jew by nature, along with Paul as a Jew. However, others believe that the statement also fits the context of the following passage and that Paul has returned to addressing the Galatians.

Galatians 2:16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.

Galatians 2:16 — "the works of the Law" - Comments - Galatians 2:16 specifies a particular kind of works, which are the works of the Law. In contrast, the works of faith mentioned in the epistle of James are mentioned within the context of obedience to God ( James 2:22; James 2:24). The Jews had misinterpreted the Law and lived by traditions rather than by an inner conviction of loving God and mankind. Since the theme of grace verses law is woven within the fabric of this epistle, Andrew Wommack defines the word "Law" in the book of Galatians as, "Works you must do to earn the favor of God." He says that this word carries a wider meaning than the Mosaic Law or the civil laws of a society. 85]

85] Andrew Wommack, Gospel Truth (Colorado Springs, Colorado: Andrew Wommack Ministries), on Trinity Broadcasting Network (Santa Ana, California), television program.

James 2:22-24, "Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only."

Galatians 2:16 — "for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified" - Comments - This is a possible loose quote from Psalm 143:2.

Psalm 143:2, "And enter not into judgment with thy servant: for in thy sight shall no man living be justified."

Galatians 2:17 But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid.

Galatians 2:17Comments - Although the Jews lived a moral life compared to the heathen, in light of the Gospel they too are recognized as sinners. This does not mean that Christ Jesus was the cause of this sinful condition among the Jews. As we draw near to Jesus and the Cross and as we seek to walk closer to our Lord and Master Jesus, we see more and more clearly our old, sinful nature that has been crucified. As we see more the fullness of God's revelation of the Gospel, we fall further short of walking in that fullness. This is how Paul declared to Timothy that he was current the "chief of sinners".

1 Timothy 1:15, "This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief."

Galatians 2:18 For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.

Galatians 2:18"For if I build again the things which I destroyed" - Comments - Peter was building again what he had destroyed (that wall of partition between Jesus and Gentiles). When we pursue the Law, we are revealed as transgressors.

Galatians 2:18"I make myself a transgressor" - Comments - Following the Law reveals us as transgressors.

Galatians 2:19 For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.

Galatians 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

Galatians 2:20 — "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me" - Comments- The Greek verb συσταυρόω (G 4957), translated "I am crucified" (KJV), is used in the perfect tense in Galatians 2:20, a grammatical tense which expresses an action that takes place in the past, but lingers (continues) into the present. Thus, Paul is saying, "I have been crucified with Christ, and its effect continues in my life until today." We experience this spiritual death to sin and new life in Christ Jesus in the past at the time of salvation. However, each day we continue to experience death in the sense of denying our fleshly passions in order to follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit in divine service and sacrifice. In other words, crucifixion is an on-going process for every child of God that will take place until the redemption of our mortal bodies.

Galatians 2:20 — "and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God" - Comments- The phrase "faith of the Son of God" means that we have faith toward, or acting toward, the Son of God. Notes these insightful words from Frances J. Roberts regarding this verse:

"Ye have faith in Me, this is good, but faith without works is dead. Faith I can give thee as a gift, but the works I can do through thee only as your ego is moved out of the way. For they are not your works, but My works, even as Jesus said ‘I must work the works of Him that sent Me'. And as Paul said ‘The life that I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave His life for me'. And again in another place it is written, ‘It is no more I that live, but Christ liveth in Me.'" 86]

86] Frances J. Roberts, Come Away My Beloved (Ojai, California: King's Farspan, Inc, 1973), 138.

In James 1:5, we are to ask for faith, and God will give it to us free and generously as a gift, but the works must be an effort on our part.

James 1:5, "If any of you lack Wisdom of Solomon , let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him."

Galatians 2:21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.

Galatians 2:21Word Study on "frustrate" - Strong says the Greek word "frustrate" ( ἀθετέω) (G 114) Literally, "to set aside, disesteem, neutralize, violate."

Comments- A man rejects the grace of God for salvation by "seeking to be justified by the law" ( Galatians 5:4). He thinks that he is deserving of salvation because, in his own eyes, he has done good enough to merit salvation.

Galatians 5:4, "Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace."

 


Copyright Statement
These files are copyrighted by the author, Gary Everett. Used by Permission.
No distribution beyond personal use without permission.

Bibliography Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Galatians 2:4". Gary H. Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ghe/galatians-2.html. 2013.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, November 25th, 2020
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34
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