In Chapter 2 Paul continues his attempt to show that He was a true apostle raised up by God to preach His gospel, and that his message was authentic. He uses 2 incidents to demonstrate that.
i). 2:1-10. Paul’s trip to Jerusalem to see the other apostles. The conclusion will be that Paul is recognised as an authentic apostle sent from God. Also Paul’s message (gospel) is seen as authentic as well.
ii). 2:11-14. Paul’s correction of the wrong action of Peter when he came to Antioch.
Paul concludes the chapter by writing of his own experience of the Gospel. 2:15-21
(I sometimes find it helpful in trying to understand passages of the Bible to begin with the text and look at how it all fits together. Sometimes a table seems to be the best way of classifying the information. I found this helpful in looking at Galatians 2 with its accumulation of facts. On the left side of the table is normally the narrative detailing the action of the characters in the passage. In this case on the right hand side I looked at the result of some action, or the reason for the action or the purpose of the action. It seemed to be easier for me to understand the overall message of the passage in that way. It certainly helped in teaching from it yesterday as I tried to share the message with others. My comments are in blue print for convenience)
ACTIONS OF THE PEOPLE IN GALATIANS 2
|THE RESULT, REASON OR PURPOSE|
PAUL GOES TO JERUSALEM TO SEE PETER AND OTHERS 2:1-10
|Gal 2:1 Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along with me.||Reason. 2:2 I went up because of a revelation (The revelation was that this was the time for Paul to connect with the other apostles)|
|2:2 (I went up because of a revelation) and set before them (though privately before those who seemed influential) the gospel that I proclaim among the Gentiles||Purpose. in order to make sure I was not running or had not run in vain. (We see the humility of Paul. He knew his message was authentic but was humble enough to have his message tested out by others.)|
|2:3 But even Titus, who was with me,||Result. was not forced to be circumcised, though he was a Greek. (This meant that the wider church did not see the necessity of circumcision for acceptance with God. Faith in Christ was sufficient. The false teachers were indeed wrong.)|
|2:4 Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in–who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus,||Reason. so that they might bring us into slavery–. (Faith in Christ brings freedom. To impose anything else as necessary for salvation brings people into bondage to error.)|
|2:5 to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment,||Purpose. so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you. (That is why Paul rebuked Peter later in this passage for yielding to the temptation to please the false teachers by withdrawing from the Gentile believers. It was hypocrisy).|
|2:6 And from those who seemed to be influential (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)–those, I say, who seemed influential||Result. added nothing to me. (The authenticity of Paul as a messenger and the authencity of Paul’s message had now been publicly established. He was the “real deal”.)|
|2:7 On the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised||(Same gospel message about Jesus as Saviour but to different audiences.)|
|2:8 (for he who worked through Peter for his apostolic ministry to the circumcised worked also through me for mine to the Gentiles), (God at work through His messengers by His Spirit)
2:9 and when James and Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given to me,
|Result. they gave the right hand of fellowship to Barnabas and me, Purpose. that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. (Paul described his ministry as from God, Rom 15:18 For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to bring the Gentiles to obedience–by word and deed) Result. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the Jews. (This showed that the other apostles recognised the legitimacy of Paul’s message as coming from God.)|
|2:10 Only, they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.|
PETER (CEPHAS) COMES TO SEE PAUL IN ANTIOCH
|2:11 But when Cephas came to Antioch,||Result. I opposed him to his face, Reason. because he stood condemned.|
|2:12 For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles||Result. but when they came he drew back and separated himself, (A hypocritical action)Reason. fearing the circumcision party. (Men-pleasing rather than God-pleasing)|
|2:13 And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him,||Result. so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. (Our hypocrisy can cause others to stumble. Sin always has consequences.)|
|2:14 But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel||Result. I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?”|
PAUL’S GOSPEL. HUMANS ARE MADE RIGHT WITH GOD BY FAITH and not by works of the law
|2:15 We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners;|
|2:16 yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus||Purpose. in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, Reason. because by works of the law no one will be justified.|
|2:17 But if, in our endeavour to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not!|
|2:18 For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor.|
|2:19 For through the law I died to the law,||Result. so that I might live to God. (Paul had ceased to rely on observance of the law as a means of getting right with God. He died to the law in that sense as He entered into a living relationship with a living Saviour).|
|2:20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.||Result. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Total commitment means we make Jesus to be the Lord of our lives.)|
|2:21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law,||Result would be. then Christ died for no purpose. (The law could not save anyone. Jesus did in His grace).|
The phrase “with Christ” in Galatians 2:20 is significant. (Hopefully there may be time in future articles to deal with this more closely.) However for the present we look at how many of the verses using the term “with Christ” show the identification of the believer with Christ in His death, resurrection, ascension, sitting at the right hand of God etc. The following do not include similar concepts like “with Him” or “in Him” or “in Christ”.
Dying and living with Christ. Rom_6:8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.
Fellow heirs with Christ and having to suffer with Him. Rom_8:17 and if children, then heirs–heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.
In this passage in Galatians 2, our identification with Christ in His death and in His risen life. Gal_2:20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Being made alive with Christ.Eph_2:5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ–by grace you have been saved–
Death opening the way to a deeper life with Christ. Php_1:23 I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.
We died with Christ in His death. Col_2:20 If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations–
We were raised with Christ in His resurrection. Col_3:1 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.
Our lives were linked to Christ in His death and resurrected life. Col_3:3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
Saints will reign with Him in glory. Rev_20:4 Then I saw thrones, and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed. Also I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus and for the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or its image and had not received its mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.
Paul could not see his life apart from Christ. God had revealed Him to Paul. Paul had responded to Him with a total commitment that involved every aspect of his life. It was as though his old life ended with Christ in His death. He came alive with Christ as a new creature. He would live for him for ever. His words in 2:20 are challenging to us today. To what extent have our old lives come to an end? To what extent have we come alive to Christ so that He has full access in and through our lives? Worth pondering as we come to the end of chapter 2.
Blog No.084. Jim Holbeck. Posted on Wednesday 21st August 2012