Summary: A contrast of Jerusalem and Antioch, Peter and Paul, and law and grace -- How God bridged the gap and sent the good news around the world! Link inc. to formatted text, audio, PowerPoint.
From Jerusalem to Antioch
We have seen that the Lord Jesus Christ communicated the gospel directly to Paul. Was it the same gospel that the other apostles had received from the lips of the Lord? We will see the oneness of the gospel and Paul's experience with the apostles in Jerusalem. We will see the communication of the gospel and see that the church in Jerusalem approved Paul's gospel.
In Jerusalem with disciples:
Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also [Gal. 2:1].
It was a master stroke of Paul to take Titus with him. Titus was a young preacher and a Gentile. This, I believe, was the first great council in Jerusalem as recorded in Acts 15. The question to be settled was whether men are saved by the grace of God, or whether they should come in under the Mosaic Law. Paul had Titus there as exhibit number one. Titus had not been circumcised. Will he be forced to become circumcised? This was to become a very important matter.
You see, the Judaizers were going about saying that the church in Jerusalem held that all believers in Christ should be under the Mosaic Law. All of the men there at the Jerusalem church, which was an all-Jewish church, had certainly been under it. Many of them still went to the temple to worship. In fact, that must have been the Christian's meeting place. Paul and Barnabas came there to get the official word regarding law and grace.
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 [Gal. 2:2].
Paul recognized that if he were preaching a different gospel from what the other apostles were preaching, there was something radically wrong. Paul was willing to admit, "If I were preaching a different gospel, I would be wrong. I have run in vain. I have certainly been disillusioned and misinformed." So he goes to Jerusalem and communicates that gospel to the apostles there.
Interesting indeed is the fact that Paul submitted to the true church as his authority, and didn't just take his own visions and experiences as the final word. No doubt his encounters with the Lord were everything to him, but he also recognized that if it were truly of the Lord then surely the local church would be on the same page.
God also chose to use the local church as the gauge of what was scripture and what was not. Many other books were written, but the canon would only consist of what the church accepted thru the Lord's leading. The church is Christ's body, still on earth! Sure, there are many false churches that are way off, but that doesn't minimize the power in the true local church!
But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised: 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 [Gal. 2:3-4].
Out where Paul was preaching some had come into the church under false colors. Apparently they were not believers. They just came in to spy out the liberty which believers had in Christ. They found out that this young preacher, Titus, was a Greek and Paul had not compelled him to be circumcised. So what will the church at Jerusalem decide about him? Paul says, "Well, they didn't compel him to be circumcised. They didn't listen to the false brethren. If they had, we would be put right back under the bondage of the Mosaic Law rather than enjoying the freedom by the Spirit of God and the freedom of Christ."
To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you [Gal. 2:5].
Paul stood by his guns. These false brethren said, "This man Titus who is here meeting with the church (and it was practically all Jewish then) has not even been circumcised!" Paul says, "No, and he's not going to be circumcised. [I bet Titus appreciated that. Do it as a baby or don't do it at all!] He is as much a believer as any of you. He has been saved by faith apart from the Law. He is not about to follow any part of the Law for salvation." This is a tremendous stand that Paul is taking.
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 [Gal. 2:6].