GALATIANS CHAPTER TWO|
Verses 1-10 The Jerusalem Counsel
1. After an interval of 14 years: The interval is between 40-41 AD and 53-54
These years are covered by Acts 13-14 which records Paul's first
missionary journey and takes place over a period of about 14 years
(Galatians 2:1) rather than the "ten" that Wuest suggests. This all
depends on how one interprets the "14 years" of verse 2:1.
2. Went to Jerusalem: verse 2 says that this was "by revelation" which
indicates it was through divine guidance that Paul went up at this time.
The crisis which required Paul's assistance was the doctrinal attack on the church
at Antioch by the judaizers.
A. Paul finished his first missionary journey and was dwelling in
Antioch (Acts 14:26-28).
B. The Judaizers "invaded" the church and bean teaching false
doctrine. Acts 15:1, Some men
came down from Judea and began
teaching the brethren, “Unless you are circumcised
according to the custom of Moses, you
cannot be saved.”
C. The false teachers came from Judea, but from Galatians 2:5, we
learn that they were actually
members of the Jerusalem church.
D. At Galatians 2:12, we learn that they actually CLAIMED to be
E. Peter is at Antioch when this attack occurs and he along with
Barnabas and many other
believing Jews fell into the trap as Paul
explains at Galatians 2:11-21.
3. This necessitated a large debate among the leaders in Antioch. Sad to
say, there were still many who could not comfortably break from their Jewish
heritage and were wanting to place legalistic bondage onto both the Jewish and
the Gentile converts.
4. It was during this debate that Paul had to rebuke Peter for his
hypocrisy "in the presence of all" (Gal. 2:14), after which Peter returned to
Jerusalem. However, Paul's rebuke was well received as is indicated by Peter's
message during the Jerusalem counsel (Acts 15:7-21).
5. After the debate within the church at Antioch it was finally
determined through divine guidance that Paul should go to Jerusalem to search
out the matter. Acts 15:2.
6. Paul took with him Barnabas and Titus.
A. Who was Barnabas.
1. Barnabas is first mentioned at Acts 4:36 by the name
of Joseph (Joses). He was the man who
sold his land and gave it to
the church in Jerusalem to meet the needs of the people.
2. Then, having the communication gift of exhortation (paraklesis)
he remained in Jerusalem
ministering in that assembly.
The apostles called him "the son of exhortation."
3. He met Paul when he came to Jerusalem to join with
the other believers there. Barnabas
befriended him and introduced
him to the others. Acts 9:27.
4. Paul left Jerusalem because of persecution, but
5. After Antioch was reached with the gospel, Barnabas
was sent from Jerusalem to organize it
into a functional church. Acts
6. After the church was established, Barnabas went to
Tarsus, found Paul and brought him to
Antioch where the remained for about
a year. Acts 11:25-26.
7. After a year, Barnabas and Paul were selected to
take an offering to the believers in Judea in
anticipation of the prophesied
famine that was coming. They brought the offering to the church
elders in Jerusalem. Acts
8. When they finished this mission, they returned to
Antioch and brought John Mark with them.
9. Both Paul and Barnabas conducted the first
missionary journey which is recorded at
10. At the start of the 2nd missionary journey, Paul
and Barnabas had a dispute about the
reliability of John Mark, and
they separated. Barnabas took Mark and went to Cyprus,
which was the home town of Barnabas.
11. No more is mentioned of Barnabas except when Paul
mentions him in his letters.
1 Cor. 9:6; Gal.
2:1, 9; 2:13; Col. 4:10
12. This does not mean that Barnabas was at fault in
the dispute, for he was not. It was Paul who
was unforgiving and at fault in
the dispute. It is simply that the point of focus for establishing the
early church was now on
the apostle Paul.
B Who was Titus.
1. Titus was a student of Paul and very possibly a
convert as well. Titus 1:4
2. He as a Greek. Gal. 2:3
3. Titus became one of Paul's very close friends and
co-workers. 2 Cor. 2:13; 8:23
4. Titus was in training at Antioch when Paul and
Barnabas chose to bring him with them to the
Jerusalem counsel. Acts 15:2;
5. At the counsel, the judaizers demanded that Titus be
circumcised. But Paul resisted and did not
6. Titus is not mentioned again until Paul's third
missionary journey. Acts 19:22; 2 Cor. 15:2
7. During the third missionary journey Paul stayed at
Ephesus for three years. C. 56-58 AD.
8. He wrote 1 Corinthians from here before Spring
in 58 AD (1 Cor. 16:8).
9. He sent the letter with Titus (2 Cor. 7:5-8) and
then planned to meet him in Troas
10. When Titus did not show at Troas, Paul was
concerned but continued to Macedonia. Titus
was late getting to
Troas but knew Paul was going to Macedonia (1Cor. 16:5) so met up with
11.Titus returned to Corinth to gather the Corinthian
offering so it would be ready for Paul when
he got there, and he
brought the 2nd letter to them with him. 2 Cor. 8:16-23.
12. After Paul's release from the first Roman
imprisonment, he made several journeys and one
was with Titus to
Crete. He left Titus there to organize the church. Titus 1:5.
13. Paul sent either Artemis or Tychicus to Crete to
take over from Titus so he and Paul could
meet up in
Nicopolis in the winter. Titus 3:12.
14. In 66 AD, while Titus was in Crete Paul wrote the
letter that bears his name. The letter is a
review of valuable
Christian truth as the Holy Spirit ensures to have recorded all that we need
for moral and
spiritual living (life and godliness).
15. Reputable scholarship places Titus after 1Timothy
and before 2Timothy. 2Timothy is clearly
from Rome during
Paul's second Roman imprisonment and is considered the last of his letters.
16. Titus probably had the gift of exhortation like
Barnabas. His ministry was that of a "foundation
layer" rather than
a pastor. Corinth, Crete, Dalmatia
17. See topic: Gift of
7. Titus was taken for three probably reasons
A. He was a close personal friend.
B. He was a functional believer with the gift of
C. He was a Gentile, and since the biggest issue was
circumcision, Paul will use Titus as a rallying
point around refuting the false
doctrine of requiring circumcision.
1. And I went up by revelation: aorist active indicative of anabaino
A. kata + the accusative case means according to. It indicates that
this is the basis for his journey.
B. revelation is apokalupsis. This indicates that Paul had specific
divine guidance. It indicates that
God said, "go there and take care of this
C. Today, we won't have a direct revelation from God to "do" or
"go." we must rely on principles
found in the Bible to assist us in
knowing God's will for us.
D. See Topic: Divine Guidance
E. Acts 15 gives a summary view of this visit at verse 4 by the
phrase, "received by the church, the
apostles and the elders." But the details
and chain of events must be gleaned gy comparing Acts
15 with Galatians 2.
2. And communicated to them: The verb is anatithāmi as an aorist middle
It means to place upon. He clearly displayed the facts of the
gospel to the church leadership.
3. the gospel that I proclaim to the Gentiles: kārussō
as a present active indicative.
Habitually or customarily proclaim.
Paul first met with the apostles and elders of the church.
"But I did it in private to those who were of reputation:" Just one word in
To those who SEEMED. The verb is dokeō
as a present active participle + "those."
It is an expression of respect, not sarcasm. He
respects the apostles and the leadership
of the Jerusalem church. Similarly at verses 6 and 9,
Paul is acknowledging the status of the
leadership and is showing no disrespect.
5. for fear that perhaps: mā pōs is a
conjunction to introduce a concern
Paul received "the gospel" directly from Jesus. His concern
is not about the validity of his message.
His concern is whether the Jerusalem leadership will
recognize it as valid. If they reject him then his
work throughout the gentile population, as well as among the
Jews, will be greatly impacted. And
it will cause serious damage to his past work as well as to
the entire church body.
6. That I was running or had run in vain: the adjective, kenos, indicates
Doing something that does not accomplish anything good or
Running or had run refers to his evangelistic endeavors, both
past and present.
7. Paul did not want to disrupt the Jerusalem church by presenting teaching
that would cause
problems with the assembly. He first clarified with the
church leadership the nature of his message
and his work among the Gentiles.
8. After this he stood before the whole
assembly and related the success of his evangelism to the
Gentiles, which is summarized at Acts 15:4, And
when they had arrived in Jerusalem
they were received by the church and the apostles and the
elders, and they reported all that God
had done with them."
9. During Paul's report the false teachers seem to interrupt and begin to
proclaim their false doctrine
of circumcision. Acts 15:5, "But certain ones
of the sect of the Pharisees who had
believed, stood up, saying, 'It is necessary to circumcise,
and to direct them to observe the law of
Moses.'" They even pushed this to the point of demanding that Titus be
10. Paul's response to this is recorded at Galatians 2:5, and it necessitated
the gathering of the
leadership into private chambers again to sort it out. Acts 15:6, And the apostles and the elders
came together to look into this
The nature and content of the false teachers
"But not even Titus who was with me, though he was a Greek, was compelled to
The Judaizers attempted to force their view immediately upon the gentile
it was because of the false brethren secretly brought in, who had
sneaked in to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, in order to
bring us into bondage."
A. These are the "believers" of Acts 15:5 who could not shake off the
B. They are designated as "false brethren" not because they are
unbelievers, for they are not,
but because they are false TEACHERS.
So they are not faithful "brethren," but instead,
those who are hindering the
advancement of truth throughout the churches.
C. Secretly brought in: pareisaktos is an adjective that means to
bring (aktos; agō) something
in (eis) along side (para). But it is
used to indicate a secret infiltration with nefarious intent.
D. who had sneaked in: the verb is pareiserchomai as an aorist
They had secretly infiltrated the church to
such an extent that the leadership was unaware of their
presence (Acts 15:24).
E. The infiltrators were so emboldened by their success that "in
the name of James (Ga. 2:12)
they "came from Judea" (Acts 15:1) and
reached out to the churches that Paul had founded.
F. in order to spy out our liberty that we have in Christ:
The verb kataskopeō as an aorist active
infinitive indicates a subversion that
finds out what the enemy knows and then attempts to
destroy it. Everywhere Paul went, these
enemies of the truth hounded him and sought to
undermine everything he said and did.
G. SEE: doctrine of Christian Liberty
we did not yield in subjection to them for even an hour, so that the truth of
the gospel would remain with you."
Of course, this attempt was vehemently opposed by Paul. He allowed no
compromise with what he knew to be the truth of the gospel. Even if the
Jerusalem leadership were to side with this false doctrine, Paul would resist
A. to whom not even for an hour: Paul did not even let them speak
for very long before he
protested and indicated his
disagreement with them.
B. did we yield: eiko as an aorist active indicative
C . in subjection: huptagā indicates positive response to authority
as is expected in a teaching
situation. But this was such a
serious presentation of false doctrine - even demanding that Titus
be circumcised, that Paul refused to
recognize their teaching authority.
2. So the truth of the gospel might remain with
you: The leadership of the Jerusalem church was not proclaiming a false
gospel. They were not being compromised UNTIL the legalistic believers
infiltrated with their false doctrine of Mosaic legalism. What Paul presented
to them was just a reinforcement and amplification of the truth. Paul could
not let any compromise to gain a hearing and a foothold in the church.
3. It seemed that there was danger of this happening until Paul's vehement
protest. As a result, the leadership retired to private chambers to sort it
all out as is described in Gal. 2:6-10 and Acts 15:6.
And just as was the case in Antioch, there were still many who could not
comfortably break from their Jewish heritage and were wanting to place
legalistic bondage onto both the Jewish and the Gentile converts.
4. After the church leadership resolved the doctrinal issues, Peter addressed
the entire assembly with his conclusion at Acts 15:7-11.
4. The chain of events:
A. Paul arrived in Jerusalem.
B. He meets first with the church leadership in private to get everything out
on the table. Gal. 2:2;
Acts 15:4, "received by the church, the
apostles and elders."
C. The leadership accepts him and he then addresses the entire
assembly. Gal. 2:6-10.
D. The Judaizers responded with their false doctrine of
circumcision. Acts 15:5; Gal. 2:3-5.
E. The church leaders retire to private chambers to discuss the
situation and resolve it. Acts 15:6
F. Then Peter gives the conclusion of the meeting before the
entire assembly. Acts 15:7-11.
G. Then the multitude kept silent and listened to all that Paul and
Barnabas had to say. Acts 15:12.
H. Then James gave the conclusion of the whole matter before the
assembly. Acts 15:13-21.
I. Then they wrote the letter to be sent to all the churches.
5. However, even though the Judaizers were temporarily silenced in Jerusalem,
they continued to chase after Paul and continually harassed the churches with
their false doctrine. This was the reason for writing Galatians and why the
issue of legalism had to be addressed in Paul's other letters.
6. Sadly, years later, James and the Jerusalem church returned to the false
doctrine of Mosaic legalism and even trapped Paul into compromising. Acts
Verses 6-10 Summary of the private meeting with the church leadership
Verse 6 Paul's sufficiency
The leadership of the Jerusalem church could not add anything new to Paul's
understanding of the gospel of Christ.
CT: "Now from the one's who seemed to be something - of what sort they were
then is of no consequence to me. God does not receive the face of man - for
those who seemed to be something contributed nothing to me."
1. The ones who seemed to be something; present active participle of dokeō
+ infinitive of "to be" + the indefinite pronoun "tis" (someone, something).
A. Paul is not showing any disrespect. He is simply maintaining his
own apostolic independence.
He recognizes and states that the
teaching he received from Christ was complete and sufficient.
B. There is a hesitation in the writing as Paul needs to make
explanation of what he just wrote.
2. of what sort they were then: hopoios tote (then) + imperfect of eimi
It speaks of reputation and status. It did not matter what title they had,
what status or what reputation. The real issue is the content of one's soul.
God looks on the inside.
3. is of no consequence to me: The verb is diapherō
as a present active indicative with the negative, ouden. The verb, pherō
means to carry. The idea here is that something carries no weight, makes no
impact; means nothing to me.
4. God does not receive the face of man: This simply means that God looks at
the heart rather than human appearances or status. 1 Sam. 16:7.
No matter who they are or what title or position they hold, if they do not
have the truth they are useless.
5. for those who seemed to be something (have
some importance) contributed nothing to me.
The verb is prosanatithāmi - to place at the face, thus to add or
6. It seems that the leadership was on the verge of being influenced by the
Judaizers and Paul would have none of it. However, once they met in private
and Paul explained everything, they all agreed and the viewpoint of the
Judaizers was rejected. During this discussion it was all Paul. The elders
and apostles could add nothing to what Paul already understood much more
clearly than they did.
Verse 7 They recognize Paul's authority and
The translation is pretty much self explanatory.
CT: But on the other hand, seeing that I had been entrusted with the gospel
(responsibility to proclaim) to the uncircumcised (Gentiles), just as Peter
to the circumcised (Jews) -
verse 8 parenthetical statement that recognizes
divine authority and empowerment
1. For the one who worked in Peter: energeō as an aorist active participle.
This sees a particular energizing of God that occurred in the past.
2. unto (preposition, eis) apostleship to the circumcised: this is a
reference to the FUNCTION of the gift of apostle, and refers to Peter's
ministry prior to this particular meeting.
3. worked also in me to the Gentiles: energeō as an aorist active
indicative. This gives it a PAST action idea and indicates that Paul is
referring to the previous activity of both of them as they carried out the
function of the gift of apostle. Probably the function of the gift is in
view rather than the receiving of the gift.
Verse 9 recognition and acceptance of
Paul's divine authority and commission
1. and recognizing the grace: the verb is gnōridzō as an aorist active
participle = having come to recognize, but the translation "recognizing"
preserves the intent.
2. the grace: charis is used to refer to the spiritual gift that Paul had.
It is given on the basis of God's grace and is thus designated as CHARISma -
a grace gift. Rm. 12:6; 1 Pet.
4:10; 1Cor. 12:4
3. that had been given to me: didomi (aorist passive participle) refers to
the fact of Paul's apostleship and the divine commission.
4. James, Peter and Cephas (John), who appeared: dokeō
as a present act. participle
As before, this verb simply shows the perception
and recognition of others concerning the status and authority of the people
5. to be pillars: present infinitive of eimi plus noun, stulos. A
pillar in a temple; a point of foundation.
At 1 Tim. 3:15, the word is used to indicate that the universal church (not
the building), that is, the "Christian faith" as it is defined and
represented in the New testament, is the pillar and foundation of THE TRUTH.
God's truth resides in the Christian faith. Christianity is the custodian of
6. Here, the leadership of the Jerusalem church (specifically the apostles)
are likewise custodians of the truth.
Their teaching is to be recognized as representing the true tenets of
7. gave to me and Barnabas the right
hands of fellowship: koinōnia refers to acceptance and shared service.
8. in order that: hina is a purpose or result clause. Here the result is
that our ministry to the Gentiles and theirs to the Jews is an acceptable
1. An added emphasis from the Jerusalem leadership was to remember the poor,
which Paul was in favor of as well.
TOPIC: Christian welfare
2. In actuality, several things were discussed and summarized in a letter,
which is recorded at Acts 15:23-29.
Several of the things mentioned in this letter were not really an issue at
the time and Paul taught later the grace approach with regard to them.
3. What it boils down to is a compromise by these leaders of the church in
order to keep peace between the gentiles and the Jews who failed to
recognize the new covenant.
4. Even though the results of the council are recorded in the bible, this
does not mean that those conclusions are what God wants for us as believers.
Later teachings by Paul clarifies the divine viewpoint regarding them.
SUMMARY OF THE JERUSALEM COUNCIL
1. Jews from Judea, apparently under the guise of having authority from the
Jerusalem church, came to Antioch and started teaching that unless you were
circumcised you could not be saved. Acts 15:1, 24.
2. It became a source for intense argumentation and strife among the believers
at Antioch. Acts 15:2.
3. So Paul, Barnabas, Titus and others went to Jerusalem under divine guidance
to meet with the apostles and elders there in order to get it all settled.
Acts 15:2; Gal. 2:1-2.
4. Upon arrival at Jerusalem they met first with the church leadership in
private to clarify the issues of the gospel to the Gentiles. Gal. 2:2
5. The church leadership accepted them and allowed them to address the
assembly of believers.
6. As Paul began to speak about the Gentiles, the Judaizers interrupted and
proclaimed that the Gentiles must be circumcised and keep the law of Moses.
Acts 15:5; Gal. 2:4
7. They had actually demanded that Titus be circumcised immediately. But Paul
interrupted the interrupters and prevented them from speaking or doing
anything to Titus. Gal. 2:3-5.
8. This required that the church leadership hold a council with Paul and
Barnabas to discuss the situation. Acts 15:6.
9. First there was much debate about it. Acts 15:7. Paul's ministry to the
Gentiles was acknowledged. The Jerusalem church extended the right hand of
fellowship and service to Paul and rejected the false teaching about keeping
the law. Gal. 2:9
10. The apostles and elders made a point that Paul's ministry should be sure
to help the poor, but he was doing that anyway. Gal.2:10.
11. Then Peter stood up before the assembly and supported the doctrine of
Christian liberty and freedom from the Mosaic law. Acts 15:7-11.
12. Peter's teaching was accepted and Paul then addressed the assembly
reporting in detail about his progress among the Gentiles. Acts 15:12
13. When Paul was finished James addressed the assembly and proclaimed
officially that the Gentiles were not under the law. Acts 15:13-21.
14. There was a bit of compromise as James insisted on some side issues (meat
and blood), but Paul did not argue and would address them as false issues
later in his letters. Acts 15:20.
15. A letter was written to proclaim the official position of the Jerusalem
church and it was delivered to the Antioch church by Paul and Barnabas. Acts
16. The church at Antioch accepted with joy the conclusions from Jerusalem and
the issue was settled for the time being. Acts 15:30-32
Peter's legalism and hypocrisy is the backdrop for Paul clarifying the
contrast between law and grace as it relates to both salvation and Christian
1. But when Cephas (Peter) came to Antioch: this is an occasion some time
after the Jerusalem council. We are not told the reason for Peter's visit.
Perhaps it was simply to see for himself the progress of the church there.
2. When he arrived he observed that the Jewish and Gentile believers ate
together at the same table.
This was something that was taboo for the Jews because of the presence of
forbidden foods, but to bring it into Christianity is against the whole
principle of grace and Christian liberty.
3. Peter understood that this was a false issue, based mainly on his vision
about Cornelius that is recorded at Acts 10. He was encouraged by this
practice of Christian liberty and happily joined with them in their meals.
4. But James sent some representatives to Antioch to look into practices of
the church. They challenged Peter about this behavior and not wanting to
offend "the party of the circumcision," he chose to cease the activity of
eating with the Gentiles.
5. In spite of the conclusions of the Jerusalem council, there was still a
strong element of legalists hovering around within the church, who
apparently carried a certain degree of influence.
6. Eventually, James and the Jerusalem church succumbed to this sect of
legalism and lost focus on grace and liberty altogether.
7. Later, it is this legalistic nature of the Jerusalem church that
influenced Paul to take a vow and attempt an animal sacrifice.
See topic: Paul's sin
8. The letter that bears James's name was written prior to his lapse into
legalism and is recognized as part of the canon of Scripture.
See Topic: James the brother of Jesus
9. I oppossed him to his face: anthistāmi
as an aorist active indicative. It means to stand against. It describes the
historical fact of the situation. At the point in time that Peter chose to
cave under the pressure of the legalists and stop having meals with the
Gentile believers, when Paul became aware of it, he immediately rebuked
Peter for his legalism and hypocrisy.
The phrase, "to his face," is kata prosōpon,
and indicates a personal confrontation and according to verse 14, it was a
public rebuke in the presence of the whole assembly.
10. Because he stood condemned: The verb is kataginoskō
as a perfect passive participle plus the imperfect of eimi. This is a
periphrastic construction which is very strong to indicate the severity of
the situation. It has the idea of knowledge of one's wrong doing. His
actions were known and exposed as self-condemning.
1. For before certain ones from James had come, he was eating regularly with
The verb is an imperfect a. indicative which shows that this was a regular
2. But when they came he withdrew himself: hupostellō as an imperfect act.
indiucative. The tense is reflexive, that is, the subject acts upon itself.
He withdrew himself. I don't think this was a gradual withdraw, but an
immediate response to the criticism from the legalists.
3. and separated himself: aphoridzō is the verb and again the
imperfect act. indicative indicates a reflexive action upon himself. Thus,
he stopped eating with the Gentile believers and actually separated himself
4. fearing those (the sect) of the circumcision:
phobeomai as a present middle participle. He was fearful of what these
legalist believers might say or do. Perhaps reporting back to James what
they had seen him doing.
5. When the believer responds in fear instead of a confident knowledge of
bible truth, he will make wrong decisions. Proverbs 29:25, "the fear of man
brings a snare, but he who trusts in Yahweh will be exalted."
6. The party of the circumcision was the group of legalists who believed
that all believers needed to observe the law of Moses. It appeared that this
was resolved in the Jerusalem church through the Jerusalem council, but
obviously not so. James and the elders were still being influenced by the
Jewish customs of the Mosaic law.
7. These events took place in about 53 AD. James wrote his wonderful letter
in about 45 AD. It is sometime after the writing of that letter that he
became influenced by these legalists.
Our actions have consequences. When we have a reputation of doing the right
thing, when we do a wrong thing, many might be influenced to follow in our
example. In this case, not only were several members of the Antioch church
influenced to follow Peter's example, but even Barnabas himself followed him
in this hypocrisy.
1. And the rest of the Jews were hypocritical with him: verb sunupokrinomai
as an aorist indicative.
"The word dissembled (in the KJV)
means to be an actor in the dramas of the fifth century BC
Athens. In the fifth century BC
they had large audiences for their dramas. They usually had three, sometimes
four, actors. They had very powerful voices and strong bodies. They put on a
very large wax mask designed for the particular drama. Each actor had maybe
half a dozen wax masks — for when he was supposed to be happy, to be sad,
etc. So an actor was someone who spoke from behind a mask, and that is the
Greek word here. It means to speak from behind a false face or to speak from
behind a false front or to be a hypocrite. In other words, a hypocrite is
someone who has two faces, his own and the one he puts on. The word to
dissemble (KJV) means to be a hypocrite, to have two faces. It can be seen
now that Peter is two-faced. He is a legalist, he put on a legalistic front,
but behind that is a grace man." (RBThieme).
2. "The rest of" probably refers to the majority
rather than absolutely every Jewish believer in the church. These Jews were
influenced, NOT by the legalists from James, but because of Peter's actions.
3. With the result (hoste) that even Barnabas
was carried away: sunapagō as an aporit pas.
The passive voice indicates that Barnabas received an influence that led him
in a direction he would not normally go.
4. by their hypocrisy: this is the noun form, hupokrisis.
The significance of this word is that they were very clearly following a
viewpoint that they had been teaching against. They were acting contrary to
that viewpoint, but Paul was able to nip in the bud.
It seems that even the most grace-oriented believer can be distracted and
have a lapse in judgment, make a wrong decision and fall into sin. Of course
he soon recovered. Probably immediately after Paul's rebuke of Peter, they
all regained their grace perspective and rejected the teaching of the
Wuest sums up the
Barnabas defection quite well:
"But now regarding Barnabas, and the fact that he was swept off his feet and
carried away with their
hypocrisy. It was bad enough for Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles and the
champion of Gentile liberty from the law, to have Peter act as he did. But
the hypocrisy of Barnabas was the cruel blow. With the single exception of
Paul, Barnabas had been the most effective minister of the gospel in the
conversion of the Gentiles. He had been deputed with Paul by the Antioch
church to the council at Jerusalem as its
representative. He had come back with the news that the position held by
Paul and himself with regard to Gentile freedom from circumcision had been
sustained by the Jerusalem apostles. Now, his withdrawal from social
fellowship with the Gentiles, came with the force of a betrayal to Paul and
the church at Antioch. The defection of Barnabas was of a far more serious
nature with regard to Gentile freedom than the vacillation of Peter.
Barnabas was Paul’s chief colleague in the evangelization of the Gentiles,
and now to have him play the hypocrite and deserter, was a bitter blow to
the great apostle. This may well have prepared the way for the dissension
between them which shortly afterwards led to their separation (Acts 15:39).
Barnabas, the foremost champion of Gentile liberty next to Paul had become a
1. But when I saw: aorist active indicative of horaō refers to the point of
time that Paul realized or discovered what was going on.
2. that they were not straightforward: the verb orthopodeō (present active
indicative) means to walk straight or accurately.
3. about the truth of the gospel: Notice the use of the word, "gospel" in
reference to Christian conduct.
The gospel includes much more than just salvation information. This of
course, was previously clarified to Peter in his vision of Acts 10 and at
the Jerusalem council.
The gospel includes standards
for living the Christian way of life: 1 Tim. 1:3-11; Acts 15:35; Rom. 16:25;
Gal. 1:6-9; 3:1-3
4. I said to Peter in the presence of all of them: this clarifies the
phrase in verse 11, "I opposed him to his face." It indicates it was a
public rebuke and exposure of the false doctrine they were advocating.
AT THIS POINT THROUGH
Paul records the message he delivered directly to Peter, but in the presence
of the entire assembly at that time.
5. If you being a Jew,
live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how is it that you
compel the Gentiles to live like the Jews?:: this is a personal challenge to
Peter exposing his hypocrisy. Barnabas and the rest of the Jews will
likewise be challenged by these words.
Again, I must simply
quote Wuest. He sums it up better than I could. And my purpose for providing
a commentary on Galatians is to benefit the reader.
"The word live here, from
zao, does not refer to the moral living according to Gentile or Jewish
fashion, but to the shaping of the life with reference to the external
social observances in the Christian fellowship, such as Levitical
restrictions on eating. The present tense of live must not be pressed to the
point of teaching that Peter at the time of this rebuke, was living as the
Gentiles do, for he was not. It describes a mental attitude or habit which
had in times past shown itself in outward actions, and which was still in
force, but which was being hypocritically covered up by Peter’s action of
withdrawing from fellowship with the Gentiles. It shows that Peter had not
in principle abandoned it, but had trimmed his sails to the sudden change of
wind that came from Jerusalem. Paul, in his rebuke, forcibly sets forth
Peter’s inconsistency in compelling the Gentiles to obey the Levitical
legislation regarding foods, for the Gentiles had only one of two choices in
the premises, either to refuse to obey the law in this respect and thus
cause a split in the Christian Church, or to preserve harmony by coming
under the law. And the apostle Peter did all this with a full understanding
of the vision God had given him, which clearly taught him that the Levitical
legislation for the Jew was now a thing of the past (Acts 10:28), and that
the line of separation had been broken down between Jew and Gentile by the
Peter’s action of refusing to eat with the Gentiles, did not merely have the
effect of maintaining the
validity of the law for Jewish Christians, but it involved the forcing of
that law upon the Gentile
Christians, that, or creating a wide-open division in the Church. This
latter was what concerned the
apostle Paul. He deemed it of utmost importance to maintain the unity of the
Christian Church as against any division into Jewish and Gentile groups. At
the Jerusalem council he had agreed to a territorial division of the
missionary field into Gentile and Jewish divisions, but to create a division
between Jew and Gentile in a Gentile"
We are Jews by nature and not sinners from among the Gentiles:
he uses the word “sinners” he is using something out of our old vocabulary.
The Pharisees as the leaders of the Jews always referred to the Gentiles as
This is not Paul's
viewpoint. What he is doing is expressing the attitude that Peter's actions
implies - that the Jewish Christians are better than the Gentile Christians,
and that they should not fellowship together. This of course is totally
contrary to the principles of grace and is categorically rejected by Paul.
The idea here is to
compare the NEED for salvation through faith apart from the works of the
The common Jewish attitude is that they were saved BECAUSE they were by
birth (by nature - phusis) God's chosen people and automatically accepted by
Him as righteous and saved.
Jesus taught about this at Luke 3:8, "do not begin to say to yourselves, 'we
have Abraham for our father,' for I say to you that God is able from these
stones to raise up children to Abraham."
So in advocating Jewish
superiority over the Gentiles it follows the Jewish viewpoint that the Jews did not need
salvation because they are Abe's seed. But the Gentiles did. However, in verse 16 Paul will establish
that the "we" Jews DID need salvation and have accepted that salvation
through faith in Christ. This puts them on an equal status not only for
salvation but then also for Christian living. And in the same way that
salvation is received without the works of the law, so also is Christian
living to be conducted without the works of the law.
Peter should be cringing
in his seat by now and mentally recovering from his lapse into legalism. But
Paul is far from over in order to establish beyond any doubt that the Jewish
attitude and viewpoint, whether relating to salvation or to the believer's
walk with God, is totally contrary to God's truth.
1. But: the particle "de" introduces a viewpoint and course of action that
is contrary to the "cultural" viewpoint of the religious Jew.
2. knowing: oida as a perfect active participle indicates knowledge based on
facts learned and retained in the mentality of the soul.
See topic: the mind
3. that a man is
justified: dikaioō as a present active indicative to establish a universal
principal of divine truth. This is the way it is; there are no exceptions.
The verb means to be viewed as or declared as righteous
The negative "not" occurs with the verb to emphasize the false means for
justification. The verb is then amplified by both the negative and the
positive means for becoming righteous in the sight of God.
4. not by the works of
the law . . . for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified:
5. but through faith in Jesus Christ: the noun for faith is pistis.
6. even we believed in
Christ Jesus: pisteuō is the verb form and is an aorist active
indicative and refers to the specific point in time that "we" trusted in
Christ as savior.
7. with the result that: hina plus the subjunctive mood to indicate a result
8. we were justified: aorist passive subjunctive of dikaioō indicates the
past moment in time that divine righteousness was imputed to the one who
believed, and specifically at that very moment in time.
9. by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law: Not one work; not
many works; not persistent works; not a life of sinlessness; not a moral
life; not a philanthropic life
10. for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified: statement of
The subject is "flesh" with the adjective "pas" in front of it = ALL flesh.
The negative (ou) governs the verb; shall not be justified. future passive
indicative of dikaioō.
CT: for by the works of the law all flesh shall not be justified.
See Topic: justification
Amplification to seal the truth in the minds of the hearers. It will be
summarized by the dynamic and powerful statement in verse 21, "for if
righteousness comes through the law then Christ died in vain."
Here I am simply going to provide the excellent analysis by R.B. Thieme as
transcribed from his Galatians series.
Verses 17-18, the second logical
mouth trap. Remember that the legalists have charged Paul with promoting sin
by making the Jews or anyone else abandon the law. This was one of the great
criticisms of Paul. Paul’s very bracing of Peter proves that he understands
the true purpose of the law and the false purpose of the law. Verse 17 is
the first part of a logical mouth trap. If Peter was right in doing the law
now then he was wrong and a lawbreaker during the time when he lived under
grace. Verse 18 is the other side of the mouth trap: If he was right in
eating with the Gentiles he is now wrong in going back to the law.
— “But if” — introducing a first class condition; “while we seek” — present
active participle, we keep on seeking; “to be justified” — aorist infinitive
of purpose. It was Paul’s purpose and it was Peter’s purpose to be justified
by faith in Christ. And this is a passive voice which means that they
received justification, they do not earn it or deserve it; “by Christ
[literally, in the sphere of Christ, and we do, first class condition], we
ourselves also are found sinners.” We are found” — aorist indicative active,
in this point of time. The implication is that Peter’s actions believing
Jews are sinners needing to live under the Mosaic law to get righteousness
is the reason why he has cut off all of his contact with the Gentiles. He
stopped eating with the Gentiles because he said in effect that in order to
be justified we have to do more than believe in Christ, we have to keep the
law and I’m going back to the law.
“Is therefore Christ
the minister of sin?” By this question Paul is speaking of those who abandon
justification by faith and go back to the law. To go back to the law after
you have believed in Christ, what does that make Christ? It makes Him the
minister of sin. You start out by grace. You are saved by grace through
faith, you have believed in Christ, Peter. You continue operation grace,
then you come to a point where you start living under the law. Now you have
abandoned grace and you have gone to the law, and when you go to the law for
justification as you have at this point, you are saying in effect that what
Christ did on the cross is not enough and that after accepting Christ as
saviour you are still lost in sin and therefore you have made Christ the
minister of sin. Here Paul has demonstrated to Peter in one phrase that by
leaving grace and going back to the law he has actually said that Christ is
not the minister of salvation, Christ is the minister of sin, and that is
true every time that anyone tries to be saved by keeping the law, by being
baptised, by walking an aisle, by raising their hand, by signing a card, by
joining a church, by paying a fee, for salvation. They are saying that
Christ is the minister of sin, and this is blasphemous and unthinkable. So
Peter’s actions have implied that Christ is the minister of sin and His work
on the cross is not efficacious, therefore Christ needs outside help from
the law. Paul ends up by saying “God forbid” which is not God forbid at all.
The word “God” does not occur here at all. There are two Greek words here:
The first one means “no” and the second one means “let it not become.”
Putting the two words together it becomes “Let it not become so.”
— “For if,” another first class condition; “I build again the things which I
destroyed” — and that is exactly what Peter is doing. For when Peter
received Christ as saviour he destroyed the law. The law means works and
Peter was saved by grace. No he is, picking up works, energy of the flesh,
and he is building again the things he has already destroyed. “For if I
build again” — present indicative active. It means “If I begin to build
again.” Peter has just begun, he hasn’t finished it.” This is a reference to
Peter going back to the law — “that which I destroyed.” The word for
‘destroy’ here means to abrogate, to deprive, and Peter deprived himself of
the law for a system of justification or he abrogated the law by believing
in Jesus Christ. Notice that if he starts to build it again the trap is
shut, Peter is caught inside; “I make myself a transgressor.” Peter has a
choice: Make yourself a transgressor or make Jesus Christ the minister of
sin. Which will it be? And which ever way you jump, remember you are wrong.
“I make myself” is literally, “I keep on establishing myself [present linear
aktionsart] a transgressor.” Principle: Legalism is always characterised by
hypocrisy. You cannot be legalistic without being hypocritical, and you are
wrong one way or the other every way you turn through legalism. Legalism is
the chief source of all hypocrisy and contradiction. Peter’s return to the
Mosaic law is an attack on the principle of salvation by grace for he makes
Christ the minister of sin and at the same time he makes himself a
transgressor by building again that which is abrogated.
— “For I through the law” — ‘through’ is the preposition of instrumentality;
“I by means of the law am dead to the law.” This is the principle which is
amplified in the next verse. It means that as soon as you put yourself under
the law you are dead, for the law says if you sin the wages of sin is death
and you are dead as soon as you put yourself under the law. When you are
spiritually dead there is only one answer, a new birth. We are all born into
this world under the law and therefore we are born spiritually dead. So by
means of the law we are dead. “I am dead” — aorist indicative active,
referring to a point of time. The law makes Paul dead to the law because the
law condemned him to death. The best thing the law can do for any member of
the human race is to condemn him to death. Why is that the best thing?
because then we can go outside of the law for life. In other words, we go to
Christ who paid this penalty for us, who died as our substitute and took our
place. The law is not dead to Paul but Paul is dead to the law. The law,
because of the law, penalised him with death and therefore Paul can no
longer serve under the law because the law killed him. You can’t serve under
that which kills you. You cannot arrest a dead man for loitering in the
cemetery! “That I might live” — ‘that’ introduces a purpose clause; “I might
live unto God.” The Greek says, “that I might enter into life with God [in a
point of time]” — an ingressive aorist. The point is when I believe in Jesus
Christ. This is amplified in verse 20.
— death to the law is based on retroactive positional truth. Christ died
with reference to the law, we are in union with Christ, we are dead to the
law. The law first of all killed us when we came under it, now we look back
and we are still dead to the law after salvation because we are in union
with Christ. Christ died with reference to the law, we are in union with
Him, therefore with reference to the law we have exactly the same position:
dead. We are identified with Him in His death and therefore we are dead to
1. I have been crucified with Christ: This is a perfect passive indicative
that indicates a past completed action that has permanent results extending
into the present and future. Since I was crucified with Christ, I am dead IN
HIM through positional union with Him. This is called retroactive positional
A. Retroactive position (RP) in
Christ refers to the fact that through that union with
Christ, the believer is identified "positionally" with
Christ's death on the cross.
B. RP in Christ takes us back to the
cross and identifies the believer with the work of Christ in
dealing with sin.
1. Identification with Christ in
His death: Rom. 6:2-3, "died to THE sin (nature),"
"baptized into His death."
2. We died when He died. Col.
3. Christ died to the sin
nature. Rom. 6:10
We are dead to the sin nature. Rom. 6:2
4. Crucified with Christ: Gal.
C. Furthermore, our identification
with His death extends forward and identifies with His
burial, resurrection, ascension and session. Col. 2:12; Eph.
This is called CURRENT POSITIONAL TRUTH (CP).
D. Current positional truth describes our present position
in Christ in which we share His session at the right hand of
the Father. Eph. 1:20-22; Philip. 2:9-11; Col. 3:1a.
E. Through Current position in
Christ, the believer shares everything that Christ has in
His exalted humanity. The believer shares His destiny and
1. Christ IS eternal life: 1 John 5:11-12
2. Christ is perfect righteousness: 2 Cor. 5:21
3. Christ is the SON: Gal. 3:26
4. Christ is the ELECT one: Eph. 1:4
5. Christ is the HEIR of God: Heb. 1:2 + Rom. 8:16-17; Gal. 3:29
F. Because of current position (CP)
in Christ, God sees the believer as perfect and sinless. He
sees us as He sees THE SON.
G. The application of these
truths into our Christian life can be described as
EXPERIENTIAL POSITIONAL TRUTH (EP).
H. Because of RP we should live in
victory over sin. Rom. 6:11-13
"don't let THE sin (nature) reign in your mortal body so
that you should obey its lusts."
I. Because of CP, we should reflect
our exalted standing before God into our Christian
experience by seeking to imitate the light of His standards
and the character of Christ. Eph. 5:8; Col. 3:1-2
J. So, EP is simply imitation of
Christ in the life of the believer. Eph. 5:1-2; Col. 3:1-14
A. All believers are in union with Christ. 1 Cor. 12:13; 1
B. This union confers on the
believer the positional status of being one and equal with
the glorified humanity of Jesus. Gal. 3:27-28
C. This union is permanent and
unable to be disbanded by God or man.
Rom. 8:38-39; Eph. 1:13; 2 Tim. 2:11-13
D. The character of the believer
through this positional status is perfectly righteous and
sinless. 2 Cor. 5:21; Col. 2:10
E. But in actual experience, the
believer must still contend with the world, the sin nature
and the devil. Eph. 6:12; Gal. 5:17; Col. 2:8; 1 Pet. 2:11;
F. So the issue throughout the
Christian life is to use the Word (1 Tim. 1:5) and the
filling-control of the Spirit (Gal. 5:16, 25) to live a life
that consistently reflects the perfect character and status
of our position. Eph. 5:8; Col. 3:1, 9-10
2. And I myself no longer live: present active
indicative to describe the spiritual impact of these truths into Paul's life
and what it SHOULD be to every believer. The believer's life should no
longer be focused on SELF, but on his purpose for remaining here on earth
after salvation. His focus should be on the privilege and responsibility of
representing Christ in this world of darkness in order to bring glory and
honor to God the Father.
3. but Christ is living in me: present active indicative
describes the spiritual reality of a successful Christian life. It refers to
what happens when the believer learns and applies the truths of the bible,
which is the imitation of Christ's character in and through that believer.
It is the fulfillment of the growth process that actually FORMS the
character of Christ in the believer, which is what Paul refers to at
Galatians 4:19, "until Christ is formed in you." It is the transformation by
the renewing of the mind of Romans 12:2. It is the process of becoming
partakers of the divine nature of 2Peter 1:4.
4. and the life which I now life in the flesh: that
is, in my physical body here on earth.
5. I am living (present active indicative) by means of faith in the Son of
This refers to functional faith in the character and plan of God directed to
the one who fulfilled the salvation work of God by fulfilling the Messianic
commission of death on the cross.
(verse 7, who loved me and gave himself for me).
It is what Paul describe at Colossians 2:6-7, "as you therefore received
Christ as savior (by faith) keep on walking in Him, having been firmly
rooted and now being built up in Him and established in THE FAITH, just as
you were instructed."
Paul is describing his experience and what should be the
experience of every believer. Our purpose for remaining here on earth is to
"grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2Peter 3:18),
so that you may "proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of
darkness into His marvelous light." (1Peter 2:9).
1. I am not setting aside the grace of God: atheteō as a present active
In this absolute statement of denial, Paul is conversely stating that Peter
and the others are indeed doing that very thing.
2. For IF (assuming) that righteousness is through the
Wuest wrote: "One may preach that Christ died for our sins,
but if he adds works to faith as the means of the acceptance of the
salvation Christ procured for lost sinners at the Cross, he has thwarted the
efficacy of grace, for the fundamental meaning of grace is that
salvation is given free, without money and without price. There is no
salvation for the sinner who depends in the least upon good works as a means
of acceptance with God."
3. then Christ died needlessly: the word dōrean
indicates the uselessness of Christ's work on the cross; indeed for His
entire arrival and life, if a righteous standing before God could be
obtained by good works of any kind.
After stating EXACTLY through inspiration or summarizing
what he said to Peter, throughout the rest of the letter, Paul amplifies the
issue of faith versus works for salvation and applies it to Christian living