Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along with me. I went up because of a revelation and set before them (though privately before those who seemed influential) the gospel that I proclaim among the Gentiles, in order to make sure I was not running or had not run in vain. But even Titus, who was with me, was not forced to be circumcised, though he was a Greek. Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in—who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery— to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you. And from those who seemed to be influential (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—those, I say, who seemed influential added nothing to me. On the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised (for he who worked through Peter for his apostolic ministry to the circumcised worked also through me for mine to the Gentiles), and when James and Cephas and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given to me, they gave the right hand of fellowship to Barnabas and me, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. Only, they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.
Comment: After a long experience away from Judea Paul makes another trip to meet with the leaders of the Jewish branch of the Christian church. He wanted to be certain of his unity in the gospel with these early leaders in the church, some of whom had been Jesus special disciples (Apostles). Here we find ourselves mixed up in a bit of church politics! All Jewish males were circumcised. So what, everyone knows that? But here we have the word mentioned four times, and an instance where instead of the word ‘Jews’ we have the ‘the gospel to the circumcised’. There was never a question of a Jew becoming un-circumcised when he became a Christian (NB there are ways with modern medicine to alter the look to appear as if a person is not circumcised). But there were some Jews who would have liked all gentile Christian males to be circumcised. Paul saw this, correctly, as bringing the gentile Christians under the ‘slavery’ of the Jewish law. If they first wanted them to be circumcised, then what about all the other Jewish laws? The gospel does not, and must not, lead to immorality, but salvation is through the gracious act of Christ on the Cross and is entered into by faith. The gentile Christians, as we clearly know from Paul’s other writings, were encouraged to be thoroughly good, including being very concerned about the poor, but salvation is by grace alone not grace plus works.
Prayer: Keep me me graciously true to Your great gospel, please, my God.
One thought on “Galatians 2: 1-10….A history lesson continued.”
Thank you Barry for your comments on this passage. This is a very interesting history lesson. Today, the matter of circumcision for males is a purely optional one. In Paul’s day, it was a very controversial matter, and was the cause of problems on several occasions. This history lesson is important for us, to help us to realize that these foundational matters were an important turning point in the history of Christianity.