Paul accepted by the Apostles
Chapter 2 continues on from Chapter 1 where we could see that false rumours had been spread around about Paul’s relationship with the other Apostles and the churches in Judaea. Paul is responding to churches in Galatia, by giving a recounting of his own history, and then launches into the most exciting parts of his letters to the churches.
After about 14 years Paul heads on over to Jerusalem again, but this time with Barnabas, and he also mentions that Titus is with him. It is not known if these 14 years is after his conversion or since he left for Syria and Cilicia, the grammatical structure isn’t clear on this.
Paul says he went up into Jerusalem by reason of receiving a revelation, and he preached to the leaders in private the same Gospel he preached to the Gentiles. Paul says then he wanted to be sure he wasn’t running and had not been running in vain, I take this to mean that he wanted to make sure that the other Apostles would agree with what he was teaching; as he did not want them to undercut his teaching should they disagree with him.
Verse 3-5 we see that even Titus who being with Paul was not forced to be circumcised, even though he was a Greek. Verse 4 Paul states that the false believers had infiltrated their ranks to spy on the freedoms that they had in Jesus Christ; trying to make them slaves to the law instead. They did not give in to those false believers for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for us.
What we see here is that Paul stood up against the pressure, not just against the people, but for the truth of the Gospel as well. The gospel is not just a message of how people are saved, it is also a message that breaks the social barrier between peoples and old, obsolete obligations of the old covenant.
Of the Apostles who seemed to be influential, it didn’t matter to Paul who they were; they had nothing to add to Paul’s message. On the contrary Paul says, when they saw that the Gospel of the uncircumcision was entrusted to him, and the Gospel of circumcision had been entrusted to Peter; they recognised that the Lord Jesus Christ had given him a mission and agreed to let him do it.
James, Peter and John, when they perceived the grace that was given to Paul, they gave him and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship, so this is like a deal where Paul will go to the Gentiles and Peter will preach unto the Jews.
The only thing they asked was that Paul was to remember the poor; which was the very thing Paul was eager to do. Especially to the church members of whom were poor.
But the plan failed to address a certain situation, what should be done in the churches that contained both Jew and Gentile?
The story unfolds!
Paul Opposes Peter
Verse 11-13 Paul tells us here that when Peter came to Antioch, Paul has a face to face confrontation with Peter for something Peter was responsible for.
Old Testament laws did not require a Jew to separate themselves from the Gentiles when eating or entering into Gentile homes, however Jewish customs did require this of them. Peter was well aware of this, as the text indicates in verse 12 that Peter did eat with the Gentiles; that is, until the representatives from the Jerusalem church arrived, Peter started to remove himself; separating from the Gentiles. This action caused the other Jews, influencing Barnabas to separate from the Gentiles as well.
When Paul sees the disciples not walking in the truth of the gospel, he asks Peter this question in front of the Jewish brethren, if you being a Jew Peter, living after the manner of the Gentiles, why do you force the Gentiles to live like the Jews?
Paul rebukes Peter by saying to him, we who are Jews by birth, and not sinful like the Gentiles, knowing that a man is not justified by works of the law, but by the faith OF Jesus Christ, even as the Jewish Christians believed in Jesus Christ that we might be justified by the faith OF Christ; for by the works of the Law shall no man be justified. These verses are some of my favourite verses in the bible, and very handy to know when witnessing to a believer in works salvation. The underline texts are important as we see here it is not of our own faith, but by the Faith OF Jesus Christ that we are justified.
You see, when Peter arrived in Antioch, he had been living and dining in the company of the Gentiles, and when he removed himself from their presence; he in fact pretended he never had any association with them when the other Jews arrived. Paul calls out Peter’s hypocrisy essentially implying that Peters act was conveying the message of being a Gentile is wrong.
God does not require Gentiles to live like Jews; neither does a Jew have to live like a Jew!
This behaviour can lead to social division inside the church; this is definitely not according to the truth of the gospel.
Paul says if we are not justified by the Law, and we ourselves are sinners, does this make Christ the minister of sin? God forbid! Verse 17 means to rebuild from works of the law, the very thing you destroyed when coming to believe on Jesus Christ, if you keep doing them, you in effect; makes you a transgressor again.
Paul says, for through the Law, we are dead to the law, so that we might live unto God, born again spiritually.
Paul says he died with Christ, but in any case he still lives; but it is not he, but Christ lives in him, and his life that is living in the flesh now; he lives by faith OF the son of God that loved us and gave himself for us. Paul says he does not frustrate the Grace of God, for which reason, if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain, his death would mean nothing. Truly, truly power verses in this chapter.
So much can be taken from this chapter, we see that no man is justified by the works of the law, and if we are justified by the works of the law, then our Lord Jesus Christ died for nothing.