GALATIANS Chapter Two  


Verses 1-10 The Jerusalem Counsel
(Acts 15:1-30)

Verse 1
1. After an interval of 14 years: The interval is between 40-41 AD and 53-54 AD.
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 began 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 "from James."
   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 Barnabas remained.
     5. After Antioch was reached with the gospel, Barnabas was sent from Jerusalem to organize it
         into a functional church. Acts 11:19-24.
     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 11:27-30.
     8. When they finished this mission, they returned to Antioch and brought John Mark with them. Acts 12:25.
     9. Both Paul and Barnabas conducted the first missionary journey which is recorded at Acts 13-14.
     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. Acts 15:36-40.
     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.
          See Topic: Paul's sins

   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; Gal. 2:1
     5. At the counsel, the judaizers demanded that Titus be circumcised. But Paul resisted and did not tolerate them..
     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. Acts 19:1-0:1a
     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  (2Cor. 2:13).
     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 him there.
     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 Exhortation

7. Titus was taken for three probable reasons
     A. He was a close personal friend.
     B. He was a functional believer with the gift of exhortation.
     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.

Verse 2
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 thing."
   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 indicative. 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.

4. 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 the Greek.
     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 uselessness. Doing something that does not accomplish anything good or beneficial. 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 circumcised.
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 matter."

Verse 3-4
The nature and content of the false teachers
"But not even Titus who was with me, though he was a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised."
The Judaizers attempted to force their view immediately upon the gentile convert, Titus.
Verse 4
"But 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 discontinued Mosaic practices.
   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 active indicative. 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

Verse 5
"But we did not yield in subjection to them for even an hour, so that the truth of the gospel would remain with you."
1. 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 it.
   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. Acts 15:2-29.

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 21:17-26.
See Topic: Paul's sins

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 (were).
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 contribute.
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 viewpoint
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 in view.
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 THE TRUTH.
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 Christianity.

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 pursuit.

Verse 10
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.


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 15:22-29

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

Verses 11-21
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 living.
Verse 11
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.

Verse 12
1. For before certain ones from James had come, he was eating regularly with the Gentiles.
The verb is an imperfect a. indicative which shows that this was a regular practice.
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 from them.

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.

Verse 13
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. indicative.
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 Jerusalem legalists.

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 turncoat."

Verse 14
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 s
tandards 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.

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 Cross.
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"

Verse 15
We are Jews by nature and not sinners from among the Gentiles:
When 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 sinners." (Thieme).

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 law.
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.

Verse 16
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 clause.
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 absolute truth.
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

Verses 17-21
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.
From R. B. Thieme:
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.

             Verse 17 — “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 savior 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 baptized, 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: mh genoitw. 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.”

            Verse 18 — “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 savior 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.

            Verse 19 — “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.

            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 the law.

Verse 20
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 truth.

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. 2:20; 3:3

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. 2:20

C. Furthermore, our identification with His death extends forward and identifies with His burial, resurrection, ascension and session. Col. 2:12; Eph. 2:4-6.
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 inheritance.
   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

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 Cor. 1:30

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; 5:8

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 God:
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).

Verse 21
1. I am not setting aside the grace of God: atheteō as a present active indicative.
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 law:
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.
Romans 3:21-28

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 after salvation.



Return to BIBLE FRAGRANCES index



©Ron Wallace, Anyone is free to reproduce this material and distribute it,
but it may not be sold under any circumstances whatsoever without the author's consent.


Home | Recent Additions | Studies | Commentary


Prophecy | Articles | Topical | About Us