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Summary: It looks as if they may have chastised the apostle for being a persecutor of the church before his conversion, when nothing of that nature could be said of the Twelve and therefore he was not to be considered on a level with them.

September 21, 2013

The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Galatians

Tom Lowe

Chapter II.B.3.b: The Approval of Paul (2.6-10)

Galatians 2.6-10 (KJV)

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:

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;

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

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.

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

Commentary

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:

In this verse and the next five verses, Paul provides us with an illustration of his independence from the Twelve and the heads of the Jerusalem Church with regard to both his doctrine and ministerial position, and at the same time informs us of the complete recognition which they had accorded him in both cases.

But of these who seemed to be somewhat,

When Paul wrote, “But of these who seemed (or, who were reputed) to be somewhat” it seems that he may have meant to add, "I received nothing new either in knowledge of the gospel or in authority as Christ's minister," or something like that. The words he has placed within the parenthesis asserting his independence with respect to those whom his critics in Galatia would seem to have declared his superiors, both in knowledge and in authority, have in them the sound of sarcasm. “Seemed to be somewhat” means they were “reputed to be important persons,” or they were “highly thought of,” or “highly regarded.” It is obvious that he refers to the twelve and the leaders of the mother Church of Jerusalem, however, there is nothing in scripture or otherwise to indicate that these men possessed an extravagant conceit; nor were they thought to be something when they were nothing, because they really were something; they were ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of grace; they were the Lord's ambassadors, and the apostles of the Lamb. However, says the apostle,

(whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me:

“Whatsoever they were” has the feel of something that is in the past, so that it may be more appropriate to render it as “whatever they were anytime in the past.” The term “anytime,” would include the time when The Twelve were constantly in the presence of our Lord, which was a situation which Paul's detractors were no doubt in the habit of to bring up as a mark of distinction not possessed by him. “It maketh no matter to me” is not exactly equivalent to "I don’t care," as if it was an almost pompous waving aside of the consideration; it is more accurately a serious assertion of an actual fact. Whatever were the gifts of knowledge and spiritual insight which the twelve or the other heads of the Jerusalem Church possessed, or whatever their apostolic privileges or authority, whether derived from personal communication with the Lord Jesus while He was upon earth or in any other way, Paul's knowledge of the gospel and Paul's apostolic authority did not come from them and neither was it affected by them. At the time he is writing this Epistle, he was just the same in respect to the possession of the essential truth of the gospel and to his apostolic authority as the spiritual rulers of the Jerusalem Church.

Paul may have said this to defend himself from accusations made against him by the false teachers who endeavored to make him out to be less by giving glowing and enthusiastic praise to the apostles at Jerusalem. It looks as if they may have chastised the apostle for being a persecutor of the church before his conversion, when nothing of that nature could be said of these men, and therefore he was not to be considered on a level with them. This may have been his reply to that accusation; that it is true, he had persecuted the saints; and he was willing to admit it, for his own humiliation, and to illustrate the grace of God in his conversion; and as for these excellent men, what they were before their conversion was no concern of his. If he had been disposed to look into their characters, I am sure he would have found some blemishes, though, perhaps not as stark as his was; but it is not what he and they had been, but what they now were, that mattered. He could have found that they were formerly persons of a very low standing in life, of lowly occupations, fishermen by employment, and very illiterate persons, while he was raised as a scholar at the feet of Gamaliel; but he chose not to make such an investigation since he knew that God was no respecter of persons, nor was He influenced by any such external circumstances, but chose whom he pleased to serve in such a high office; and that he, who made apostles out of fishermen made him who was a persecutor an apostle too. Or these false teachers perhaps had objected to him, saying that these valuable men had been with Christ from the beginning, were eyewitnesses of his majesty, heard the doctrines of the Gospel from his lips, and saw his miracles, but that Paul had come to be an apostle at a much later date, and could not pretend to have such advantages, and therefore ought not to be considered equal to them. His answer is, that whatever privileges of this kind they had enjoyed, and it could not be denied they were considerable, yet it did not matter, nor did it make any great difference between him and them; he had seen Christ too, though as one born out of due time; had received an immediate commission from him to preach his Gospel, and was appointed an apostle by him as they were. And though they might have entertained different opinions from him formerly, concerning the observance of the law, he indicates he had nothing to do with that, and that their own master, to whom they must give an account, will, without respect of persons, render to every man according to his works.

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