Paul’s Approval by the Apostles; 2:1-10.
(Read Galatians 2:1-10)
After fourteen years, Paul went to Jerusalem with Barnabas and Titus (Acts 15:2). He went there because of a revelation from God (Gal 2:2). Barnabas was known to the Jerusalem churches and Titus was a Gentile convert. The purpose of this visit was to explain the gospel they were preaching among the Gentiles to the apostles. Apostles were held in high regard and considered as pillars of the church (Gal 2:2, 9). Paul desires unity and harmony among believers. Paul wanted to make sure they agree with his message and mission. The apostles did not demand that Titus should be circumcised. They did not believe that circumcision was necessary for salvation. They gave Paul and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship and endorsed their ministry among Gentiles (Gal 2:9). The only thing they suggested was to remember the poor. At that time believers of Judea often experienced famine and religious persecution. Thus the Lord helped Paul to prevail against the false teachers who insisted that non-Jews need to be circumcised to become part of the church. Paul considered it as a form of spiritual slavery (2:4). Paul resisted this teaching that undermines the spiritual liberty in Christ. There is only one gospel for Paul and Peter. They are divinely appointed to proclaim the gospel. God gets glory for what He accomplishes through Peter among Jews and Paul among Gentiles. The gospel is universal and personal. Paul was not ashamed of the gospel because it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes (Rom 1:16). Our performance is not the basis of our acceptance with God but the faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ.
Paul Confronts Peter: 2:11-16.
(Read Galatians 2:11-16)
Paul continues to defend the faithfulness of the gospel. When Peter arrived in Antioch, he ate with Gentile believers. The love feast among believer was a common practice at that time. He knew that God is no respecter of persons (Act 10:10-16). But Peter refused to eat with Gentiles when the false teachers arrived from Jerusalem. This caused misunderstanding and division among the believers in the church. Jewish believers followed the example of Peter. Even Barnabas was influenced to join in this hypocrisy. Jews regarded Gentiles as unclean and sinners. Peter was trying to earn the approval of men rather than God. Paul confronted Peter and reprimanded him in public for his inconsistent conduct. Peter did not try to defend himself but graciously accepted Paul’s rebuke. Peter was teachable. One of the greatest pitfalls among Christians is their unwillingness to be corrected. Later Peter calls Paul “our beloved brother” (2 Pet 3:15-16). Both Jews and Gentiles are justified by faith apart from the work of the law (Gal 2:15-16). To be justified is to be found not guilty before the holy God. Justification is the judicial act of God whereby He declares righteous those who trust in Christ. God accepts all who put their faith in Christ regardless of religious or ethnic back ground. The gospel is not only to be shared with the unbelievers, it nourishes believers in their daily walk. Pray that we may be kept from the temptation of seeking men's approval rather than God's approval.
Salvation is wholly by Divine Mercy: 2:17-21.
(Read Galatians 2:17-21)
Gospel clearly teaches that both Jews and gentiles can be justified by faith apart from works of the law (2:15-16). The Law reveals that both Jews and Gentiles are sinner (Rom 3:20). Salvation is by grace through faith in Christ. Since grace does not encourage men to sin, Christ is not a promoter of sin (2:17). Thus Paul silenced the argument of the false teachers that faith in Christ in not sufficient for salvation. If righteousness is by keeping the law, Paul was guilty of building the system he tried to destroy. Under the law Paul was brought to despair and it led him to Christ for salvation. By keeping the law Paul could never earn God’s approval. So he died to that law so that he might live in the newness of life in Christ. By faith Paul is united to Christ’s death and His resurrection. In Christ he found his perfect sacrifice for sin. A Christian is, one in whom Christ lives (Col 1:27). This is likened to the union of the vine and its branches (John 15:1-5). The believer manifests the life of Christ through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit. This new life must be lived in the flesh, but not by the flesh. Paul affirms that the sovereign Lord loved him and gave himself for him. Christ’s sacrifice is sufficient for our salvation. The false teachers were seeking to add works to the grace. If salvation is through the law, then there was no need for Christ to die (Gal 2:21). If salvation is by works, the death of Christ was a tragedy and the grace of God is meaningless. If we are saved by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace (Rom 11:6). God desires all men to be saved (1 Tim 2:4). Pray for the salvation of your unsaved friends.