Galatians 2:1-21 Comments by Stephen Ricker
one tidbit at a time read & study work the soil kind & courteous be serious about books the lion king stay connected to now dig in deep CLICK TO GO TO Bible Study HOME PAGE

The Task of Preaching the Gospel
Comments for Study 2

Galatians 2:1-21
Memory Verse: 8

BEFORE READING PLEASE CLICK HERE TO ANSWER THE QUESTIONS.

I. Controversial Mission (1-10)

>1. How long was it before Paul went to Jerusalem again? (1)

* Galatians 2:1 "Fourteen years later I went up again to Jerusalem, this time with Barnabas. I took Titus along also."

* "Fourteen years later" -The fourteen years is calculated after his conversion when he meet Christ on the road to Damascus. Paul's conversation was somewhere around 33 to 35 A.D. (Acts 9:1-18) Therefore, some presume the "fourteen years" visit is the time of the Jerusalem counsel. (48 or 49 A.D., Acts 15:1-29) Others say the "fourteen year" visit is the "famine gift" visit mentioned in Acts 11:27-30 and Acts 12:25. (43 or 44 A.D.)

* Acts 9:26-30 records a two week visit, presumably in 38 A.D. "When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus. So Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord. He talked and debated with the Grecian Jews, but they tried to kill him. When the brothers learned of this, they took him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus."

* Acts 11:27-30 records the beginning of the famine visit. "During this time some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. One of them, named Agabus, stood up and through the Spirit predicted that a severe famine would spread over the entire Roman world. (This happened during the reign of Claudius.) The disciples, each according to his ability, decided to provide help for the brothers living in Judea. This they did, sending their gift to the elders by Barnabas and Saul."

* Acts 12:25 records the end of the famine visit. "When Barnabas and Saul had finished their mission, they returned from Jerusalem, taking with them John, also called Mark."

* Acts chapters 9 through 11 quickly pass through eleven years. Galatians definitely points out two events in Paul's life during these eleven years; 1:17, and 1:18-19. The visit event mentioned here in 2:1-10 may fit in this eleven years. Most likely it was during the Jerusalem conference which was after Paul and Barnabas' first missionary trip.

* Paul's point is not to give a life testimony or an autobiography. Rather, Paul's point was that he had very little contact with the elders and apostles in Jerusalem and therefore was not appointed by them in anyway and was not their missionary. In other words, he was not acting on their authority, but on Jesus' authority.

* "years" -Often in ancient times part of a year was counted as one whole year. Thus the "fourteen years" could start and end in the middle of a year and still be counted as one whole year each.

* Paul's fourteen year ministry mentioned here goes to show that a man called by God and given the Holy Spirit (as all Christians have) can work independently and fruitfully apart from a centrally controlled organization for the advancement of the kingdom of God. During these years Paul worked in Syria and Cilicia. (Acts 9:30, 11:25-30) No details are give in the New Testament concerning this ten year ministry by Paul in Syria and Cilicia. (36-46 A.D.) Places like Tarsus, Paul's hometown, were not evangelized on any of Paul's three recorded missionary journeys and yet it had a church. This congregation and others in the area were evangelised during his ten year work there as reported in 1:21-24. We know there where churches there because Acts 15:41 says, "he went through Syria and Cilicia strengthening the churches there" as he quickly passed through the area at the start of his second missionary trip. Thus he must have had at least a partial evangelism of churches there during the unrecorded ten year ministry there.

* "I went up again to Jerusalem" -This statement does not exclude the possibility that he was part of the delegation that brought the free will offering from Antioch during the famine.

* "Barnabas" -Barnabas' Hebrew name was Joseph. He was "a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means Son of Encouragement)." (Acts 4:36) It's possible he was converted at Pentecost. Barnabas originally introduced Paul to the apostles. (Acts 9:27; 1;18) After Paul left Jerusalem and went to and stayed in his hometown of Tarsus, Barnabas went there to bring him to Antioch because of the great work of the Holy Spirit that was going on in the congregation. (Acts 11:22-26; 13:1) Paul and Barnabas taught the word of God in Antioch for least a whole year before they brought the "famine gift" to Jerusalem. Then they returned to Antioch. Barnabas is assumed to have been the lead pastor (shepherd) in Antioch during this time. Then Paul and Barnabas were chosen by the Holy Spirit to go on a missionary trip, their first (13:2) After the trip, they returned to Antioch where they spent considerable time. (Acts 14;23-28) It is believed that Barnabas resumed his lead pastorate role in Antioch when they returned to Antioch. Barnabas was part of the team that went to Jerusalem to settle the concern about salvation by grace through faith alone, or is circumcision also required. (Acts 15:2, 12, 25) After the return from the trip to Jerusalem, Barnabas remained in Antioch until his second missionary trip. (Acts 15:35-39) Barnabas was single and worked for a living while also being a missionary and a pastor at the writing of 1 Cor. 9:4-6 in 55 A.D. during Paul's third missionary trip. (Acts 18:23-21:17) Mark, the author of the gospel of Mark, was Barnabas' cousin. (Col. 4:10)

* "Titus" -Titus was a Gentile companion with Paul and at times traveled by himself. (2 Cor. 2:13, 7:6-7, 7:13-14, 8:6, 8:16-24, 12:18; 2 Tim. 4:10) Paul calls him a "true son in our common faith" in his letter to him. (Titus 1:4) This is assumed to be in the spiritual sense, not the physical sense. We are not told when Titus came to accept Jesus as his Savior, though we can assume since he calls his "son" Paul preaching lead to his converstion. Later, Paul left him in Crete to oversee the church there. (Titus 1:5) He was left there during Paul's fourth missionary trip. Paul's fourth ministry was after the events recording in Acts.

* After conversion Paul spent time alone with God and then with other believers before he became a missionary. Yet, from almost the beginning he began to tell others about Jesus. Like Paul, the Samaritan women, and the Gerresene demoniac we can speak to others about what Jesus means to us. However, when it comes to being dedicated to a specific task (i.e. pastorate, missionary, elder, Bible teacher) it is good to spend time alone with God studying his word (individual and with a mature believer) and in prayer, and speak about the decision with other mature believers.

* From a human standpoint, Paul "had to work out his own interpretation of the gospel in the light of his conversion experience and such guidance as he had received from other missionaries in his early days as a Christian." (The Letter of Paul to the Galatians, William Neil)

* Put yourself in Paul's shoes. When he was converted and started his ministry almost all of the believers were Jews and living in Jerusalem and Judea. Then God sends you to the Gentiles, far away from Jerusalem (Acts 9:15, 22:17-21, 26:15-18), to the area around your hometown, and to people who never heard of Jesus. What would you do?

>What three reasons did he give for going there? (2)

* Galatians 2:2 "I went in response to a revelation and set before them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles. But I did this privately to those who seemed to be leaders, for fear that I was running or had run my race in vain."

* "in response to a revelation" -The revelation Paul often refers to is the gospel he received from the Lord Jesus in Arabia shortly after his conversion. (1:11-12) Romans 16:25-27 records, "Now to him who is able to establish you by my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all nations might believe and obey him-- to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen." And 2 Corinthians 12:1-7 records, "I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know--God knows. And I know that this man--whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows-- was caught up to paradise. He heard inexpressible things, things that man is not permitted to tell. I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses. Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say. To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me." And Ephesians 3:2-6 records, "Surely you have heard about the administration of God's grace that was given to me for you, that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly. In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to men in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God's holy apostles and prophets. This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus."

* "in response to a revelation" -Paul is also stating that he went to Jerusalem on this occasion not because the other apostles and elders in Jerusalem asked him to come to give them a report. Instead he went because God wanted him to go.

* "revelation" -A revelation is God revealing himself and his will (usually new) to someone in a dream, vision, and/or bringing them to heaven. All knowledge of God comes by revelation. Revelations are referred to in the Old Testament (2 Sam. 7:17; Prov. 29:18; Dan. 10:1; Hab. 2:2-3) and New Testament (those listed above and Rev. 1:1). As Jesus prayed to his father he said, "I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word." (John 17:6) John 1:18 records, "No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father's side, has made him known."

* "set before them the gospel that I preach among the Gentile" -Paul wanted to go to Jerusalem to explain what Jesus showed him in the revelation concerning the gospel and compare it to what Jesus told the apostles and other disciples during his earthly ministry.

* "fear that I was running or had run my race in vain" -Paul had worked hard to preach the gospel as Jesus had instructed him when he came to him on the road to Damascus. Yet every where Paul preached the gospel he meet opposition and hardship. After fourteen years he seems to have become discouraged and so wanted to confer with the other apostles.

* "for fear that I was running or had run my race in vain" -Paul needed reassurance about his work, not about his faith.

* "run" -Paul is using "run" as an allegory of the moral race. The Stoics also used this allegory. (1 Cor. 9:24-26; Phil. 2:16) Paul's belief and actions were based on it. He never varied or changed it before or after his visits to Jerusalem.

* At times many believers become tired and even "burned out" while doing the work of the Lord. Discouragements can come. For example see some of David's psalms and the life of Elijah.

* Paul's meeting with the leaders in Jerusalem ensured unity amongst the different congregations, even though some primarily consisted of Gentiles and others of Jews. This meeting established the people of different cultures are united in Christ Jesus through a common acceptance of key facts as found in the Scriptures. Though not all cultural practices are good and wise, some do not counter or inhibit a walk with God.

* We can assume that Paul had heard of Peter's experience with the vision of the sheets and Cornelius' household. (Acts 10:1-11:18)

>Why privately?

* "I did this privately to those who seemed to be leaders" -Perhaps Paul wanted to avoid being arrested or perhaps he felt a private discussion would provide a better understanding response than might be possible where this issue to be aired openly in front of the whole congregation.

* Paul is not talking about the modern use of subcommittees. He is talking about a personal man-to-man meeting.

>What does "seemed to be leaders" imply to what was happening in the Jerusalem church?

* "seemed to be leaders" -Assumed to be referring to Peter, John and James, the brother of Jesus; all three also considered apostles.

* The leadership in the churches during this time was a theocracy revolving around a group of elders and thus similar to what the Lord established amongst Israel at Mt. Sinai. The church government was not a dictatorship or monarchy, where one person has absolute sway and is considered to be speaking "the very words and will of Jesus and God the Father" whenever he speaks and/or makes a decision. A theocracy is lead by Jesus who interacts and guides his people through the working of the Holy Spirit on an individual basis, establishing elders, overseers, and deacons whose job it is to shepherd (pastor) his flock. Jesus told Peter, "Feed my lambs." (John 21)

* If you belong to a "Christian group" that insists that one man or woman has a divine appointment as leader, then it is not working under the will of the Holy Spirit. Get out of it! In these last days many "Christian groups" and "Christian churches" teach that their leader must be obeyed at all times; and if that person's will and direction is not followed, then the offender is punished either socially, emotionally, economically, and sometimes even physically. Get out of that group right now. If the group you are in does not have a group of elders, men as described in the New Testament, who act as a body of equals chosen by God through the entire congregation's decision (as opposed to one man or a group of men's choice) then it is not working under the will of the Holy Spirit. Get out of it.

>2. What is interesting in the phrase "compelled to be circumcised"?

* Galatians 2:3 "Yet not even Titus, who was with me, was compelled to be circumcised, even though he was a Greek."

* "yet not even Titus... even though he was a Greek" -Titus was full gentile by both parents. Paul brought him to the council as a great example of God's grace given to a man not based on circumcision, but on faith.

* "compelled to be circumcised" -Neither the Holy Spirit or the council in Jerusalem said Titus should be circumcised. And at the writing of the letter, Titus was still not circumcised. So Titus was an example of Paul's gospel message being of God and accepted by the other apostles.

>What kind of brothers were among them and what were they doing? (4)

* Galatians 2:4 "[This matter arose] because some false brothers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves."

* "false brothers" -Paul distinguishes between Jewish Christians and Judiazers. Acts 15:5 speaks of "those belonging to the Pharisee party" as men trying to impose circumcision and obedience to the law of Moses on the Gentile believers.

* "infiltrated our ranks" -Military terms. Someone from the outside acting as a spy.

* "to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus" -These men obviously reported back to someone; perhaps the chief priests and elders of Judah.

* "freedom" -Free and freedom occurs eleven times in Galatians.

* "freedom we have in Christ Jesus" -The life of a Christian does not follow a set of rules and regulations and so Jew and Gentile believers lived and mingled together freely. [Jewish laws forbid them from even entering a Gentile house. (Acts 10:27)] We are lead by the Spirit. We exercise control to say "yes" to the Spirit or "no". We are free to serve God as he leads us. When each believer accepts Jesus as Savior and Lord, he gives us the Spirit. Yet not all are full of the Spirit. Are you led by the Spirit? Or do you resist the Spirit? Do you offer your body, mind, heart, soul and actions to the service of Jesus and the advancement of his kingdom? Or do you use your freedom to serve yourself and gratify the sinful nature?

* Freedom in Christ is a privileged and a gift. God did not make mankind as robots. He gave us free will. That freedom was lost when Adam and Eve sinned. That freedom is regained by Jesus' death on the cross. A person who accepts Jesus' cross becomes united with him in among other things the freedom of choice to serve him. At times in my life I want God to give me one clear pointing to where he wants me to go. This often does not happen. Why? Because through exercising my freewill in deciding to bring glory and honor and seeking the kingdom of God first, I can bring glory and praise to God. In fact, everyday decisions come my way by divine choice and love so that I am given chances to do what is right and best and for the glory of God. Paul realized that Jesus' crucifixion gave him and use the chance to freely obey Jesus and remain in Jesus' love. Thus, prayer and Bible study is all the more important so that we can be prepared and wise when decisions need to be made. You may say at times as I do, I am not wise enough or strong enough to make this decision. That is true. Yet, with the Holy Spirit we are given the source of truth and wisdom and the power to act upon them. So, God not only gives his people times to make free will choices, but the wisdom and power to enact upon them. Jesus taught us to pray, "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one." (Matt. 6:13)

* some are ignorant of the freedom we have in Christ. Others don't understand it. Other abuse it. Others ignore it wilfully. And some curse it.

* "make us slaves" -Paul elsewhere makes it clear that living by the laws in the Old Testament is a life of slavery. Romans 7:24b-5 states, "Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God--through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God's law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin."

* The Judaizers didn't consider themselves as enslaving anyone by preaching their message of the law of Moses and circumcision. Yet they did. Similarly, today many say and teach similar things while all along believing that they are doing and teaching what is the right. I've recently read a book by a man who calls himself a Messianic Jew and yet is preaching the very same thing that the Judaizers were teaching in Paul's days. He is as wrong as the Jehovah Witnesses, the Mormons, the Way, and Mohammed's followers.

>What does it mean "that the truth of the gospel might remain in you"?

* Galatians 2:5 "We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might remain with you."

* "We" -Neither Paul, Titus, or Barnabas.

* "the truth of the gospel" -All truth comes from God alone. The good news is from God and it is truth.

* "might remain with you" -Truth can remain in a congregation and in an individual, our mind and beliefs. And so it can be said that it can be robbed from us too. Jesus' parable about the seed planting on four different types of soils teaches this.

* "you" -The "you" here can refer to Gentiles in general and does not necessarily mean that there were congregations in Galatia at the time Barnabas, Paul, and Titus visited Jerusalem.

* On another occasion did have Timothy circumcised because he was half Jew and "because of the Jews in the area". (Acts 16:3) Paul never says that Jews should not be circumcised. He, as a Jew, still followed Jewish customs too; thus exercising his freedom in Christ.

>3. What was impressive about the false brothers? (6)

* Galatians 2:6 "As for those who seemed to be important--whatever they were makes no difference to me; God does not judge by external appearance--those men added nothing to my message."

* "As for those" -Paul's resumes his main point.

* "who seemed to be important" -Probably referring to Peter, John, and James, Jesus' brother with the clear intention of not using the word "apostle" and thus play into the Judaizer's hand. Paul was not being disrespectful. Rather he was downplaying the importance of one man over another within the body of Christ as the "false brothers" in the previous verse were doing.

* "makes no difference to me" -Paul was called by God much later than the other apostles. Yet timing does not matter to God when it comes to his call and his reward, and all are given a task in his vineyard. Jesus' parable "The Workers in the Vineyard" (Matt. 20:1-16) teaches this. He concludes it with, "Take your pay and go. I want to give the man who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don't I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?' So the last will be first, and the first will be last."

* "God does not judge by external appearance" -The Pharisees always put on a good show to impress people and yet they were not called by God as Jesus often told his disciples. (Matt. 23; Mark 8:15) Men often look at outward appearances and say, "That man looks like a leader, so handsome, strong and with a full head of hair," when in God's eyes he was never chosen by God to be a leader and his ministry is all but dead. Then men look at another man and say, "That man does not look like a leader, not so handsome and losing his hair." If God did not favor companions or relatives of the historical Jesus over someone, like Paul, who received his apostolic commission later and apart from them and did not look impressive on the outside, (2 Cor. 10:10) then we should follow God's example and not judge by outward appearances.

* The point here is do not trust in anything you do to be saved. External appearance needs nothing as far as salvation is concerned. Salvation is in the heart. Jesus said, "The kingdom of God is in you."

>What really matters? (7-8)

* Galatians 2:7-8 "On the contrary, they saw that I had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, just as Peter had been to the Jews. For God, who was at work in the ministry of Peter as an apostle to the Jews, was also at work in my ministry as an apostle to the Gentiles."

* "they saw that I had been entrusted" -God entrusted Paul, not any man or group of men. God calls us, not man. The other saw God's work through Paul and accepted his special call by God.

* "with the task of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles" -Paul was assigned a special group to preach the gospel to. Peter did to. God often gives each person specific and sometimes unique missions. Romans 12:4-8 states, "Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man's gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully."

* "Peter had been to the Jews" -At that time Peter was ministering to mostly Jews in Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria. Later, church history records that Peter left Jerusalem (Acts 12:17) and Judea and traveled in Gentile areas. Indeed just before Roman armies came into Judea and Jerusalem most if not all Christians had left. (Heb. 13:11-14)

* What has God entrusted you with? Are you doing what he has asked of you? Jesus taught the parable of the talents with the understanding that we are entrusted with tasks. (Matt. 25:14-30)

>What did James, Peter, John and Paul recognize? (9)

* Galatians 2:9 "James, Peter and John, those reputed to be pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the Jews."

* "when they recognized the grace given to me" -God gave Paul forgiveness and a mission not because he deserved it or did anything to obtain it, but purely by God's mercy and love.

* During Jesus' ministry these same disciples saw a man preaching about Jesus and tried to stop him from speaking because he was not one of them. Jesus said that they were wrong and added, "whoever is not against us is for us." (Mark 9:40) They learned that and when Paul came, though he was not one of them, that is not sent by them, they recognised that God had sent him out.

* "right hand of fellowship" -The hand shake was a sign of acceptance as equals, friendship, and trust.

* "pillars" -Important structures in a building of Christ. Jesus taught the parable of building a house on sand or rock. (Matt. 7:24-29) "Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock."

* "when they recognized the grace given to me" -James, Peter, and John recognized the work of God through Paul's life. Any spiritual leader that does not recognized the grace of God (work of God) in someone's life is dead to the Spirit and deserved to have his hair curled in disgrace.

* "grace given to me" -Grace is the undeserved favor of God shown to man. Although we quickly think of being saved by grace (Eph. 2:8), grace is also given for fruitful service (Rom. 12:6) (Life Change Serices, Navpress)

* At the council Paul pointed to the many Gentiles who had accepted Jesus as Savior and Lord and who lived by faith in Jesus through his ministry. The great number of sheep under Paul's care was a sign that God accepted his ministry and gospel. If the leaders from Jerusalem did not accept that work, then they were not accepting Jesus' and the Holy Spirit's work. If they had not acknowledged Paul, they would be rejecting Christ.

>While preaching the gospel what was Paul also asked to do?

* Galatians 2:10 "All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do."

* "continue to remember the poor" -Paul and the Gentile churches had already sent a gift to the believers in Jerusalem because of a famine.

* "the poor" -There is indication that this was a term used to describe followers of Jesus in Judea only. The poor here refers to financial and spiritual poor. Jesus' and his disciples were poor, especially compared to the religious leaders, and Jesus ministered to the poor. Jesus said, "Blessed are the poor," (Luke 6:8) and "Blessed are the poor in spirit." (Matt. 5:3) The congregation in Judea was always poor and so pulling together of resources was especially important as was recorded in Acts. Rev. 2:9 and 3:17 shows the concept of Jesus' followers being poor was still relevant in the early days of the Gentile congregations.

* "eager" -In our desire to fulfill God's will in our lives we should not forget to help the needy in Christ.

* To this day many in congregations who are true believers have to go outside the congregation to get help while others in the congregation have a lot, some even second and third houses. This is to our shame.

* If you know someone within your congregation who is poor and also sincere in faith in Jesus, do something to help them and/or encourage them as a sign of your oneness in Christ.

* Jesus taught concerning our appearance before him to come, "Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?' The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'" (Matt. 25:37-40)

II. Paul Opposes Peter (11-16)

>4. Later, why did Paul oppose Peter? (11)

* Galatians 2:11 "When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong."

* "When Peter came to Antioch" -Peter began traveling to different cities. The Holy Spirit was directing his course through different events including persecution received in Jerusalem. (Acts 12:17)

* "Antioch" -Antioch was the leading city in Syria, the third largest city in the Roman Empire at the time with half a million people from many cultures in it. A large growing congregation was started there after Stephen's death. The congregation consisted of Jews and Gentiles.

* "I opposed him to his face" -Men of God, even great men of God can be wrong, even in crucial areas. No one should consider his position and person beyond rebuke as long as we are in the flesh. cult leaders hate being rebuked because they live on pride.

* "he was clearly in the wrong" -Peter's actions was no small issue. Peter's actions was affecting the entire congregation and needed to be corrected. Since Peter's action was public, it had to be dealt with in public.

* Discretion and discernment is needed when addressing a paster (shepherd), elder, and overseer. All rebuke needs to be in love. 1 Timothy 5:1-2 states, "Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity." 1 Timothy 5:19-20 states, "Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses. Those who sin are to be rebuked publicly, so that the others may take warning."

* More verses that also address confronting a fellow Christian we believe are in error are Matt. 18:15-17; and 1 Cor. 6:1-8; Eph. 5:11; Titus 1:9-16.

>Why did Peter draw back from eating with Gentiles? (12)

* Galatians 2:12 "Before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group."

* "came from James" -Jesus' brother, not the apostle who was martyred early on. (Acts 12:2) Why state that these men came from James? Perhaps because as the apostles began to leave Jerusalem and Judea, he took over Jerusalem's leadership. Also, this makes it clear that Peter was not traveling with them. James did not sent them and yet accepts that they came from his flock. He states, "We have heard that some went out from us without our authorization and disturbed you, troubling your minds by what they said." (Acts 15:24)

* "he use to eat with the Gentiles" -At around this time Peter had a vision of a sheet with different animals that was meant to teach him, "Do not call anything impure that God has made clean." (Acts 10:15) Since then he broke Jewish tradition by not only entering Gentile homes, but also eating with them.

* "eat" -This refers to common meals as well as the Lord's Supper. In those days, as seem by Paul's letter the Corinthians, when a congregation celebrated the Lord's Meal it was indeed a full meal. So here, Peter had been eating common meals and the Lord's Supper with Gentiles. This fact adds to the great need for Paul to correct Peter publicly. By pulling away from Gentiles during the Lord's Supper, Peter was saying that the Gentiles were not really Christ followers because they were not circumcised and did not follow dietary and other Mosaic laws.

* "draw back and separate himself" -Peter knew that the Judaizers held to the belief that Jews considered the Gentiles "unclean" and separated themselves from then even though Jesus had taught differently. Peter was succumbing to their pressures.

* How do you react when confronted with error? Are you defensive or reflective?

* Does some Christian societies press us in social behavior that is either not needed and even not in line with Jesus' teachings? Yes. If even Peter was pressured into such behavior by members of a congregation, but not members of Christ; then how much more are Christians today under similar pressures.

* How can we determine which practices within the congregation that we attend are cultural based as opposed to based on truth? Study and prayer. We should always recognize that there is a difference between cultural practices and godly practices. I have been to many countries and congregations. I can attest that there are many ways to live and worship and still be within the body of Christ.

* We should agree that there are core facts that must be accepted and there are cultural differences that must be acknowledged as allowable and not harmful. I once attended a multi-cultural congregation that could not distinguish these two facts. The leaders who were mostly from another country, could not accept other cultures. So they tried to force people not from their country and yet in their church to accept their cultural practices as the "true way God wants us to live". They were like the Judaizers in Paul and Peter's day. Missionaries have often found they must change cultural practices to be accepted by the countryman they live next to and yet retain that which is true to Christ.

* We can only speculate why Peter retracted from the Gentiles when the Judaizers from Jerusalem showed up. Perhaps Peter feared that the report they might carry back home would undermine his reputation, hinder evangelism among Jews, lead to an attack from Gentile-hating militants who wanted to drive all Gentiles (especially Romans) from Jewish soil, and/or even restart the persecution that Paul engaged in before his conversion.

* Are we any different than Peter? He learned something from God with the sheets and reported it to the Jerusalem church. Then, in Antioch he did the opposite that the had earlier learned and preached. I know I am just like Peter was. I thank God for given us the truth concerning Peter, good and wrong, and not just the good.

>What was the "circumcision group"?

* "circumcision group" -Also called "the Judaizers" and "Party of the Pharisees". (Acts 15:5) They were Jews that held a strict interpretation of the law and considered their traditions on equal authority as God's.

* "circumcision" -A cutting away of the male foreskin. Every descendant of Abraham and every foreign male within Abraham's household was required to be circumcised. (Gen. 17:10-14) The Jews stated in Jesus' and Paul's time that in order to be a part of the nation this sign of God's covenant with Israel was needed. The rite signified and invitation for God to cut the man off from his life and his people if he ever broke the covenant. (Life Change Series, NavPress))

>Why would they believe that Jews should not eat with Gentiles? (Matt. 9:10-11, 11:18-19; Jer. 16:8; Ez. 11:12)

* Matthew 9:10-11 "While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew's house, many tax collectors and "sinners" came and ate with him and his disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, 'Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and 'sinners'?'"

* Matthew 11:18-19 "For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, 'He has a demon.' The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, 'Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and "sinners."' But wisdom is proved right by her actions."

* Jeremiah 16:8 "And do not enter a house where there is feasting and sit down to eat and drink."

* Ezekiel 11:12 "And you will know that I am the Lord, for you have not followed my decrees or kept my laws but have conformed to the standards of the nations around you."

* A devout Jew did not want to be rejected from the covenant given to Abraham and Israel at Mt. Sinai as their forefathers had repeatedly done and eventually lead to the fall of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. However, they did not understand that Jesus had given a New Covenant, a greater covenant as the prophets foretold. (Luke 22:20; and 2 Cor. 3:6) As it says in Hebrews 8:8-13, "But God found fault with the people and said: "The time is coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they did not remain faithful to my covenant, and I turned away from them, declares the Lord. This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more." By calling this covenant "new," he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and ageing will soon disappear." See also Hebrews 9:15 and 12:24.

* Mosaic laws designed to quarantine disease (Num. 19:11-22; Hag. 2:12-13) were eventually applied to externally separate Jews from paganism and according to the Pharisees, from Gentile contact completely. Also, close association with Gentiles would physically link a Jew to all kinds of bad practices, even evil practices. In addition, many devout Jews followed such detailed rules of seating, blessing, serving, and etiquette that eating with Gentiles would make difficult, if not impossible. So eventually, they would not even go into a Gentile house and even talk to a Gentile.

* Jesus Christ rejected this emphasis on external defilement during His earthly life. (Mark 7:14-19; Luke 5:30-31) In His death, Jesus removed the legal (including dietary) barrier to fellowship. (Eph. 2:14-16)

* We can thank God for sending an apostle to the Gentiles who safeguarded our freedom in Christ.

* The "new covenant" started by Jesus at his first coming has been enacted and proceeding for around two thousand years. It will continue until Jesus comes again. When Jesus comes again he will establish his Millennium Kingdom and invoke "another new covenant".

>5. How can a few false brothers affect even mature true bothers? (13)

* Galatians 2:13 "The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray."

* "other Jews" -Jewish Christians that were not part of the circumcision group.

* "joined him" -Peter's actions of submitting to the circumcisions' group pressure lead to others committing the same error.

* "hypocrisy" -A hypocrite says and teaches one thing and then in practice does the opposite. The phrase, "Do what I say, not what a do," is rationalization for a hypocrite. I remember a preacher who strongly told his congregation the not take vacations and that having a vacation spirit wrong wrong, and then took secret vacation

* "even Barnabas" -Barnabas had spend a long time with the Gentile believers in Antioch.

* "was led astray" -Paul often uses the term in his letters. Here we see what he means.

>What can we learn? (Acts 20:29-31)

* Acts 20:29-31 "I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears."

* If Barnabas and Peter were led astray, then any believer can be lead astray. This does not mean that we lost our salvation. Rather, it means that we subject ourself to undo errors and even trouble and hardship for the Lord disciplines and rebukes his own.

* "Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth" -Within the church of Jesus Christ are people are still in rebellion to God. They accept some of the truth and reject others. A half truth is not truth. Partial truth is still a lie. Truth will not mingle with a lie. And yet these people do just that. Not everyone who attend a church are members of the true church. In Jesus' parable of the mustard seed are birds seated on the branches ready to eat the seeds.

>6. How did Paul get involve when he saw that the truth was being undermined? (14)

* Galatians 2:14 "When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter in front of them all, 'You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?'"

* "in front of them all" -A public rebuke was needed and was good for the congregation even though it embarrassed Peter. I saw a congregation who had several leaders in it that stole from the congregation. And yet some of the elders thought that it should be handled in quiet, not exposed because "they experienced enough". What the elders showed was they did not have concern for the flock (congregation) because the guilty was their friend and chosen by them to be a leader and even a pastor. Thus, many in the congregation was hurt. This is to the elders' shame.

* "force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs" -The point of the error.

>What is the truth in Jesus? (15-16)

* Galatians 2:15-16 "We who are Jews by birth and not 'Gentile sinners' know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified."

* "Gentile sinners" -A term used by Jewish leaders; Pharisees and teachers of the law.

* "a man is not justified by observing the law" -Paul brings this truth out in great detail in Romans.

* "by faith in Jesus Christ" -A essential truth that all must accept.

III. Crucified with Christ (17-21)

>7. What misconception about justification by faith did Paul counter in verse 17?

* Galatians 2:17 "If, while we seek to be justified in Christ, it becomes evident that we ourselves are sinners, it becomes evident that we ourselves are sinners, does that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not!"

* "If" -Paul is going to make a point with a hypothetical argument from the view point of a person who has lived according to the Mosaic law in order to obtain justification and justification through Christ. He was not about to bring up anybody's name here. Whether he had someone in mind are not is not worth speculating.

* "justified" -Justified is the Greek word "dikaloo" meaning, "to declare a person right", or "to make him right". Justified can also be defined as, "God treats me just-as-if-I-did not sin".

* "while we seek to be justified in Christ" -Paul's hypothetical argument can be applied to all Christians at one time or another in our lives. Justified can be defined as, God treats me "just as if I did not sin".

* "we" -Paul included himself in this hypothetical possibility.

* "it becomes evident that we ourselves are sinners" -In this hypothetical argument the believer in Jesus is living by faith and seeks justification through Jesus' death and resurrection. Then that person sins and finds himself or herself committing that sin. This could be one sin or more than one, it does not matter for the same of this argument. To God committing one sin is as good as committing many for the outcome is the same in God's eyes.

* "sinners" -Word Studies in the New Testament by Vincent states, "Like the Gentiles in verse 15. Paul assumes that this was actually the case; that, seeking to be justified in christ, they were found to be sinners. To seek to be justified by christ is an admission that there is no justification by works; that the seeker is unjustified, and therefore a sinner. The effort to attain justification by faith in Christ develops that consciousness of sin. It compels the seeker, whether Jew or Gentile, to put himself upon the common plane of sinners. The Jew who calls the Gentile a sinner, in seeking to be justified by faith, finds himself a sinner also. The law has failed him as a justifying agency. But Paul is careful to repudiate the false inference from this fact, stated in what immediately follows, namely, that Christ is a minister of sin."

* "does that mean that Christ promotes sin" -That is leads us into sin and promotes sin by causing us to abandon the law and adapt a sinners life.

* J. Vernon McGee wrote in his Thru the Bible Commentary Series, "The sense of this verse seems to be this: Since the Jew had to forsake the Law in order to be justified by Christ and therefore take his place as a sinner, is christ the One who makes him a sinner? Paul's answer is, 'Of course not' The Jew, like the Gentile, was a sinner by nature.".

* "Absolutely not!" -The whole hypothetical argument is false. The question is not whether or not Christ is in general a promoter of sin, but whether he is in the hypothetical argument presented here.

* Peter said the same thing during the Jerusalem council, "Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of the disciples a yoke that neither we nor our fathers have been able to bear? No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are." (Acts 15:10-11)

>8. What was being referred to that could be rebuilt in verse 18?

* Galatians 2:18 "If I rebuild what I destroyed, I prove that I am a lawbreaker."

* "what I destroyed" -The law. Jesus destroyed the law on the cross.

* "If I rebuild" -Paul is saying, "If I go back under the law, I make myself a sinner."

>9. What happens when a person lives by the law?

* Galatians 2:19 "For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God."

* "through the law" -The law condemns us. Even under the legal system, God would have to destroy the nation Israel. But He gave the sacrificial system -five sacrifices - all of them pointing to Christ. They were a foreshadow of the true sacrifice. They allowed Israel to remain until the only effective sacrifice arrived. A study of the five sacrifices given to Israel can help us understand what Jesus did when he died on the cross. Practicing them no longer does anything and in fact is an insult to God if practiced since Jesus' sacrifice.

* A person can live by the law, as the Israelites and Jews tried to do for twenty-five hundred years. A person can also live for God by living by faith in Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit. Christians live on and by a hire truth than people did before Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead.

* "die to the law" -Since we are united to Jesus as a bride is to the bridegroom we died to the law when he died to the law on the cross. And so we rise with him to live a new life in service to God.

>What good outcome can result?

* "I might live for God" -The honor we have is that we no longer live to satisfy the law, but we live to satisfy God.

>10. When we accept Jesus what two things happen according to verse 20a?

* Galatians 2:20a "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me."

* "I have been crucified with Christ" -Many Christians do not realize just how deep, complete, eternal, and absolute our union with Jesus is. Paul writes of this in several Ephesians verses, "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ." (1:3) "And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus." (2:6-7)

* "Christ lives in me" -Jesus promised, "I am with you always until the very end of the age." (Matt. 28:20) And he prayed, "My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me." (John 17:20-23)

* Ephesians 5:30-32 "for we are members of his body. "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." This is a profound mystery--but I am talking about Christ and the church."

* "I no longer live" -The new life of Christ began after his crucifixion. (Rom. 6:9-11) We who are crucified with Christ repeats this experience. We rise with Christ and share his resurrected life. The old man dies with Christ, and Christ is in us as a down-deposit (the principle) of the new life. (Rom. 6:4-11)

>While in this body how are we to live?

* Galatians 2:20b "The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."

* "live by faith in the Son of God" -Living by faith is a continual act. We have faith in Jesus; what he did, is doing, and will do.

* A Christian does don't have blind faith as some suppose. Our faith is active and present. When we live and act in faith, we see the results of that faith.

* Living by faith can also be "live in faith" and in verse 5:25, "living by the Spirit".

>Why then should we not set aside the grace of God to start living by the law?

* Galatians 2:21 "I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!"

* Paul concludes his argument against the Judaizer by saying Christ died for nothing is righteousness could have been gained through the law. After all, why would God send his only Son to suffer and die if these weren't needed.

CLICK TO GO TO Bible Study HOME PAGE


Click the house to go to the Bible Study HOME Page