Summary: There are always those who would change the gospel. This is to be expected since the gospel is a judgment against the world system which refuses to recognize God, His condemnation of sin & His redemptive purpose for all men.
GALATIANS 2: 1-10
THE JERUSALEM COUNCIL
There are always those in the world who would change the gospel. This is to be expected since the gospel is a judgment against the world system which refuses to recognize God, His condemnation of sin, and His redemptive purpose for all men.
The greatest danger to the Gospel though is not opposition from outside of Christianity but from within. The reason is because many attempt to change the Gospel because they don’t believe it is unalterable revelation. [In the preceding passage Paul imparted evidence that The Gospel is God’s Revelation and did not come from man. Here he demonstrates that despite the independence of the Gospel ministry it does not cause anarchy. The Gospel is not schismatic (cause division) or sectarian (for a certain group) but is the only true faith delivered to the church.]
I. CALL TO COUNSEL, 1-2.
II. CORRECTNESS CONFIRMED, 3-6.
III. COWORKER COLLABORATION CLARIFIED, 7-10.
Paul begins the next episode in his account of the gospel message in verse 1. Then after an interval of fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas taking Titus along also.
Paul was converted around A.D. 35. The 14 years he mentions maybe calculated from the time of his conversion, or after his first visit to Jerusalem. Most likely, he made his first trip to Jerusalem around A.D. 38 (see Acts 9:26-30). The Jerusalem Counsel therefore occurred some time around 49-52 A.D.
Accompanying Paul on his second visit to Jerusalem as a Christian were his close friends Barnabas and Titus. Barnabas (son of encouragement) and Paul visited Galatia together on their first missionary journey (Acts 9:27; 11:22-30; 13:1ff). Faithful Titus was Paul’s disciple. He wrote a personal letter to him when Titus was establishing churches on the island of Crete (see the book of Titus).
After Paul’s conversion, he devoted many years preparing for the ministry to which God had called him. This preparation period included time alone with God (1:16,17), as well as time conferring with other Christians.
In their zeal new Christians often want to begin a full-time ministry without investing the necessary time studying the Bible and learning from qualified teachers. We need not wait to share Christ with our friends, but we may need more preparation before embarking on a special ministry, whether volunteer or paid. While we wait for God’s timing, we should continue to study, learn, and grow.
In verse 2 Paul gives the reason he went to Jerusalem at this time. It was because of a revelation that I went up; and I submitted to them the gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but I did so in private to those who were of reputation, for fear that I might be running, or had run, in vain.
God told Paul, through a revelation, to confer with the church leaders in Jerusalem about the message he was preaching to the Gentiles, so they would understand and approve of what he was doing. [Acts recounts a number of ways by which revelations came to Paul: by dream visions
(16:9; 18:9-10; 23:11; 27:23-24), by ecstatic trances (22:17-21; cf. 2 Cor 12:2-4); by signs given by the Spirit in some manner (13:2; 16:6,7;20:22-23; 21:4), and by signs given by a prophet (11:28; 21:10-11). [Word Biblical Com. Vol. 41. Galatians; by Richard Longnecker, 47.]
The essence of Paul’s message to both Jews and Gentiles was that God’s salvation is offered to all people regardless of race, sex, nationality, wealth, social standing, educational level, or anything else. Anyone can be forgiven by trusting in who Christ is and in what He has done (see Romans10:8-13). God saves by His life altering grace through faith in the Gospel message.
Paul was a man who gave authority it’s due respect. He did not go his own way and do his own thing. He submitted Himself to God and went to talked with the leaders of the Church to iron out any disagreements. He respected them and treated them with courtesy.
II. CORRECTNESS CONFIRMED, 3-6.
Verse 3 states that there was no pressure to circumcise Titus. But not even Titus who was with me, though he was a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised.
Circumcision was at the heart of the controversy. When Paul took Titus, a Greek Christian leader to Jerusalem, the Judaizers (false brothers) said that Titus should be circumcised. Paul adamantly refused to give in to their demands. The Apostles agreed that circumcision was an unnecessary rite for Gentile converts.
Several years later, Paul would circumcise Timothy, another Greek Christian (Acts 16:3). Unlike Titus, however, Timothy was half Jewish. Paul did not deny Jews the right to be circumcised. He was simply saying that the gospel did not ask Gentiles to become Jews before becoming Christians. Paul did not appose national or racial rites or customs. He just did not want them to be applied as part of the gospel.