Study Notes on Galatians 2
Paul continues discussing his journeying, and relates an issue he had with Peter to what his major theme in this letter is. Righteousness does not, and never did, come by following the law.
1 Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also.
Either 14 years after his conversion or 14 years after his first visit to Jerusalem.
This Jerusalem visit is recorded in Acts 15 and although Titus isn't named in that chapter, we see here in Galatians that he was there. This is why is requires a whole bible to understand the whole bible. Not all the information is given at one time or in one chapter. This forces study.
Acts 15:4, But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.
2 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.
He went up by revelation, meaning God revealed to him in some way that he should go to Jerusalem.
Privately he spoke with those who were well esteemed among the people which probably includes Peter, James, and John. Perhaps felt that if he didn't go about it this way and explain it first to "them which were of reputation" they might not understand or might in some way hinder his preaching at the Jerusalem council.
"It was necessary, therefore, that he should give the apostolic council the fullest information that he had acted according to the Divine mind in every respect, and had been blessed in his deed." - Adam Clarke
3 But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised:
So the gospel Paul preached was clear enough and understood by those there that they would acknowledge that circumcision was not necessary. So they didn't request or demand that Titus get circumcised. We see this in Acts 15.
Acts 15:10-11, Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.
The burden of the law was great, and Jesus had fulfilled the law. It's demands no longer apply to believers.
Now this verse brings up the circumcision of Timothy in Acts 16. The difference is that circumcision isn't necessary, but Timothy did it willingly in order to have an audience with the Jews.
1 Corinthians 9:20, And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law;
4 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:
Evidently some Judaizers were brought in to subvert the gospel and fight against it. I reckon that verse 3 is mentioned as a parenthetical statement, and this verse provides further explanation to verse 2, and why Paul spoke to those of reputation first in private.
These false brethren sought to disregard the gospel and push the law as being essential to Christianity. See Ephesians 2:11-16.
Acts 15:24, Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment:
5 To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.
Great verse. Those that opposed the gospel and preached law weren't even given the time of day so to speak. He did not submit to their opinions in the slightest.
We have no need to allow heretics to push lies, for false religious ideas to be heard. There will always be opposition to the truth but our priority should be that the gospel continues.
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:
This sounds harsh but it shouldn't be read so. The apostles of reputation mentioned in verse 2 weren't consulted to add to the gospel but just to be informed of it, and of Paul's mission to the gentiles. Paul didn't regard their standing and whatever opinions they might have held. The truth of the gospel stands alone regardless of what human "rank" might be preaching it.
"Paul means to say that whatever was their real rank and standing, it did not in the least affect his authority as an apostle, or his argument. While he rejoiced in their concurrence, and while he sought their approbation, yet he did not admit for a moment that he was inferior to them as an apostle, or dependent on them for the justness of his views." - Albert Barnes
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:)
They had nothing to add or correct about the gospel or Paul's mission. They saw the work of God in him and gave him and "Barnabas the right hands of fellowship."
It's the same gospel but different mission fields.
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.
By saying "seemed to be", he isn't lessening their position but extending it. It's placing emphasis on the fact that they were in fact pillars of the church at Jerusalem.
10 Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do.
Specifically the poor in Jerusalem which was a very persecuted church.
11 But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.
What did Peter do? See next verse.
12 For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision.
13 And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation.
Peter knew the wall of partition had been broken down between Jew and Gentile, yet out of fear of the Jews he withdrew from eating with the Gentiles. The same fear that caused him to deny Jesus three times. Yet God still used Peter in a mighty way.
14 But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?
So out of fear, even Peter was judaizing!
15 We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles,
Jews by nature as opposed to Jews in a spiritual sense (Romans 2:28). Meaning Jews had the advantage of knowing about salvation first. He elaborates in the next verse.
16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
So he's laying down some solid doctrine here building off his rebuke of Peter. Peter didn't need to obey the Jewish food laws, and there is no works of any law that could make a man right before God.
This really begins the theme for the rest of the letter.
17 But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid.
"First, yes, we seek to be justified by Christ and not by Jesus plus our own works. Second, yes, we ourselves also are found sinners, that is, we acknowledge that we still sin even though we stand justified by Christ. But no, this certainly does not make Jesus the author or approver of sin in our life." - Guzik
18 For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.
If by keeping the law, which was destroyed, someone wants to reach God he makes himself a transgressor. By trying to keep the law you insult the work of Christ.
"One can not be a servant of Moses (the Law of Moses), and of Jesus Christ." - Garner-Howes
"Essentially Paul said, 'There is more sin in trying to find acceptance before God by our law-keeping than there is sin in everyday life as a Christian.'" - Guzik
19 For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.
It's one or the other. We are dead to the law and free to live for Christ.
Romans 8:2, For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.
20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
So if we aren't under the law, how do we live and behave? Christ lives in us and we live by faith. The Lord maintains our spiritual life.
Colossians 2:14, Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;
21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.
Frustrate means to despise, or render useless. If you think you can earn your way to heaven then Christ died for nothing.
Romans 11:6, And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.
"He did not mix law and grace to provide an offer of salvation from sin, for they no more mix in God’s redemptive purpose and plan than oil and water mix." - Garner-Howes