1Fourteen years later I went up again to Jerusalem, this time with Barnabas. I took Titus along also. 2I went in response to a revelation and set before them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles. But I did this privately to those who seemed to be leaders, for fear that I was running or had run my race in vain. 3Yet not even Titus, who was with me, was compelled to be circumcised, even though he was a Greek. 4This matter arose because some false brothers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves. 5We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might remain with you.
6As for those who seemed to be important—whatever they were makes no difference to me; God does not judge by external appearance—those men added nothing to my message. 7On the contrary, they saw that I had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, just as Peter had been to the Jews. 8For God, who was at work in the ministry of Peter as an apostle to the Jews, was also at work in my ministry as an apostle to the Gentiles. 9James, Peter and John, those reputed to be pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the Jews. 10All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.
11When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong. 12Before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. 13The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.
14When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter in front of them all, "You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?
15"We who are Jews by birth and not 'Gentile sinners' 16know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.
17"If, while we seek to be justified in Christ, it becomes evident that we ourselves are sinners, does that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not! 18If I rebuild what I destroyed, I prove that I am a lawbreaker. 19For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. 20I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!"
Paul begins to explain that the Apostles also acknowledged him and his gospel to the gentiles. Paul states that fourteen years ago from the time of the letter to the Galatians, that he and Barnabas and Titus went to Jerusalem to meet with the “leaders”. If one reads closely one might note that Paul wanted to meet with them to share the revelation he received to the leaders to make sure he was on the right path. Noting his statement, “for fear that I was running or had run my race in vain.” One might see that he wanted to be sure that he was not mistaken in his understanding and wanted to make sure that the “leaders” might correct him. Paul also seemed concerned as he met with these “leaders” privately, and not publicly. I point this out that even if one receives a great vision, or revelation, one should always seek counsel of others. If one plans to embark on a mission, as Paul understood his to be, he was wise in his choice of persons and seeking their input.
The other point of notice in this is Paul’s humility. If he was mistaken in his understanding and needed to be straightened out, one can only assume his heart was such that he would have heeded the counsel of those who had walked with Jesus in Person and sat directly under his teaching.
Now, it is evident that Titus was a Gentile. The main way to tell is that Paul points out that he was not circumcised. I understand that Paul brought Titus as proof of the fruit of his gospel. Yet, there is a deeper issue going on. Paul is building up to a point. He is stating that those that came to Galatia and set out their gospel, taught that one must convert to Judaism and be circumcised. Now, at first glance we must realize that logically this plays out. God choose the Jew, then became a Jewish man, this Jewish man was the Jewish messiah so naturally the conclusion would be that one must convert to Judaism, and come under the Judaic law, thus become circumcised. In other words, one must become a Jew and live as a Jew to serve the Jewish God and Messiah. Jesus revealed to Paul a much greater thing as he stated in Ephesians, “His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two”. Paul understood that God now abolished the Law in Christ Jesus and set us free from the Law so that we are free to live by faith through Grace.
Both Jew and Gentile were to live under the New Covenant of Grace through Faith and not be under the Law and it’s righteous requirements. Now, some might state that Jesus did not come to abolish the Law, but to fulfill it. I will state here that by fulfilling it, He abolished it as Paul writes in Ephesians 2: 14 - 16:
For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.
So, my argument is that fulfilled the law; and by that abolished the Law. Paul states that there were some that tried to persuade him and others that they must become as Jews, Paul states that this is slavery. It was then and it is still today. If someone places a yoke of works on someone else, it is slavery and not freedom. Many call themselves righteous by their own works. They show their “fruit” as the Pharisees once showed their phylacteries. They brag of their own holiness, then judge and condemn others in the Name of Christ. These people are no different from the “false brothers” Paul speaks of who want others to follow them and be enslaved as they are and not enjoy the Freedom that is in the Person of Jesus Christ. In fact I will be so bold as to state their purpose is anti–Christ as Jesus stated:
John 8: 34-36 “Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”
Only the Son can set us free. Even those who “seemed” important could not deny that Paul had received the truth in his Gospel. Paul goes on to James, Peter and John all agreed that Paul had received the message of Grace from God.
Many state that Peter was the one that was charged to go to the Gentile. In a way he was. Yet, if he was, he failed miserably as he never left Jerusalem and here Paul states his ministry was to the Jew and not the Gentile. Peter was the door to the Gentile as God revealed to and through him that Gentiles were saved just as the Jew was. Yet, it was Paul who was chosen to go to the Gentiles first by Jesus, then confirmed by James, Peter and John.
Next Paul relates a story that is told in Acts, where Peter ate in the home of a Gentile, yet seemed to have fallen back into fear of being condemned by associating with Gentiles. One may surmise that maybe Peter did fail, and then chose Paul. I am not sure I fully agree, yet I see Peter seems to have a pattern of boldness then fear. One can understand why his last request was to be crucified upside down as he felt unworthy to be crucified as Jesus was. One can only wonder at Peter at times. Sometimes I see the wonder of a great God who loves us and uses us in spite of our failures. I wonder at the Great God who while we might fail, does not and will accomplish His plan.
Paul confronts Peter in this time of weakness. Interestingly, Paul states boldly, “I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong.” I see this was to show those in Galatia that Paul would stand up to even one of the Great Pillars if needed to bring them to account to the Gospel. For what person would stand up to one of those who walked with Jesus! Yet, Paul did, and the story is of great interest if one takes the time to read it in Acts 15.
Paul now begins to explain the purpose of the Law… that is to kill us. The Law was to show we were sinners and from it we cannot gain righteousness. Yet, by grace through faith in Christ Jesus we find Life! How glorious is it that the One who has shown we are not able to attain our own righteousness, becomes our righteousness. Many miss that if we could have obtained righteousness from the Law, then Christ died for nothing, yet, Christ died so that we could be free from the slavery of the Law and raised to New Life in Him by His Grace.