Summary of Galatians 2:
Fourteen years later Paul went up to Jerusalem with Barnabas and Titus in response to a revelation. Titus refused to be circumcised as well. But some false brothers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom given by Christ and to make them slaves. But they did not give in.
Those who seemed to be important did not add to Paul’s message. They saw he had been entrusted with ministering to the Gentiles. James, Peter, and John gave Paul and Barnabas approval to go to the Gentiles.
Peter ate with the Gentiles before certain men (Judaizers) came from James. Yet when they arrived, Peter began to withdraw and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of the Judaizers. Even Barnabas followed their lead.
Paul confronted Peter’s hypocrisy in front of them all, pointing out his past behavior and how it does not align with God’s word. Paul says a man is justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law for if righteousness could be gained through the law then Christ died for nothing! Paul explains he lives only by faith in Jesus who lives in him. Keeping the law will not get Paul (or anyone) to heaven as the Judaizers continued to believe. Only through Christ does one live.
BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 12, Day 5: Galatians 2
12) Peter was first eating with the Gentiles and then he quit, afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. The worst part was that others began to follow Peter’s behavior, even Barnabas.
13) Personal Question. My answer: It’s important to follow God’s word and not be hypocrites, but as soon as you realize what you are doing, to turn back to God. It’s good to have people in your life who will do this for you.
14) Personal Question. My answer: I try hard to walk in God’s ways every day and not be a hypocrite, but I’m sure I fail often and always.
Conclusions BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 12, Day 5: Galatians 2
My favorite part: “I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong.” I’m going to start saying this to people since it’s in the Bible!
I love the example of calling others out. Sometimes we all need this in our lives — someone who loves us enough to tell us we need to mend our ways.
End Notes BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 12, Day 5: Galatians 2
In Galatians 1:18-19, Paul described a trip he made to Jerusalem three years after Jesus met him on the road to Damascus. Here he describes a second trip to Jerusalem, fourteen years later.
Who Was Titus?
Titus was a remarkable man and associate of the Apostle Paul. A surprising number of passages show us that Paul loved and trusted Titus and regarded him as a valuable associate.
- 2 Corinthians 2:13, Paul refered to Titus my brother, and says how he had no peace when Titus was absent.
- 2 Corinthians 7:6 says how Paul was comforted… by the coming of Titus.
- 2 Corinthians 8:6 shows how Paul trusted Titus to receive a collection from the Corinthians.
- 2 Corinthians 8:16 says that Titus had the same earnest care that filled the heart of Paul.
- In 2 Corinthians 8:23, Paul said If anyone inquires about Titus, he is my partner and fellow worker concerning you.
- In 2 Corinthians 12:18, Paul spoke again of Titus, and how he shared Paul’s heart: Did Titus take advantage of you? Did we not walk in the same spirit? Did we not walk in the same steps?
- In Titus 1:4, Paul called Titus a true son in our common faith.
Paul went to Jerusalem by the express direction of God.
This trip to Jerusalem is most likely the one mentioned in Acts 11:27-30, when Paul brought a gift from Christians in other cities to the Christians in Jerusalem who suffered under famine. When Paul was in Jerusalem at this time he assured the leaders there that he was obedient to God in his presentation of the gospel to the Gentiles.
Paul did it privately to those who were of reputation. He did the best he could to not publicly embarrass those who were of reputation in Jerusalem.
This was remarkable love and sensitivity on Paul’s part. It would have been easy for him to say, “I’m right and anyone who disagrees with me is wrong, and I can’t wait to confront them publicly.” But he didn’t. He knew that being right didn’t give you the privilege of being rude.
The leadership in Jerusalem accepted Titus (a Gentile convert) even though he was not circumcised in accord with the Mosaic Law. This shows that the Jerusalem leadership accepted the gospel of grace as Paul understood it.
It is significant that Paul calls these men false brethren – a severe title. Of course, they did not think of themselves as false brethren. They thought of themselves as true brethren. But because they opposed and contradicted the gospel revealed to Paul by Jesus Christ, they really were false brethren, according to the standard of Galatians 1:6-9.
Paul realized that if the message of the gospel was compromised, it wasn’t just bondage for the Gentiles, but it was bondage for everyone who named the name of Jesus.
The leaders of the Jerusalem church (James, the brother of Jesus; Cephas, also known as Peter, and John) accepted Paul and his ministry to the Gentiles. They approved Paul’s ministry, knowing that Paul did not require the Gentiles to come under the Mosaic Law to find favor with God.
Therefore, to please the Jews and to avoid a conflict, Peter treated these Gentile Christians as if they were not Christians at all.
Peter had known that God did not require Gentiles to come under the Law of Moses for salvation. He learned this from the vision God gave him in Acts 10:10-16. He learned this from the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the Gentiles who believed (apart from being circumcised) in Acts 10:44-48. He learned this by the agreement of the other leaders of the church in Acts 11:1-18. Now, Peter turned back on all that he had known about the place of Gentiles in the church, and he treated uncircumcised Gentiles as if they were not saved at all.
Peter gave in to social pressure pushes, which pushed him to compromise in some way.
If Peter fell, so can you.
Barnabas was Paul’s trusted friend and associate. Barnabas stood beside Paul when he first met the apostles (Acts 9:27). Barnabas sought out Paul and brought him to Antioch to help with the ministry there (Acts 11:25). Acts 11:24 says of Barnabas, he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. Yet, Barnabas also failed at this critical test.
The word hypocrite, in the original language of the New Testament, means “one who puts on a mask,” referring to an actor. In this case Peter, Barnabas, and the rest of the Jewish Christians in Antioch knew that these Gentile believers were really Christians. Yet, because of the pressure from the certain men from James, they acted like they were not Christians at all.
Anyone Can Fall
Paul confronted Peter because he knew the Gospel was at stake, despite how hard it must have been. Peter, after all, was an apostle, who walked with Jesus. This is a great lesson for us that anyone can fall — ANYONE.
“To give a short definition of a Christian: A Christian is not somebody who has no sin, but somebody against whom God no longer chalks sin, because of his faith in Christ. This doctrine brings comfort to consciences in serious trouble.” (Luther)
Paul made a bold statement, saying that he had died to the law. If he was dead to the law, then it was impossible for the law to be the way that he stood accepted by God.
Since we died with Christ on the cross we have a different life. Our old life lived under the law is dead. Now we are alive to Jesus Christ and Jesus is alive in us (but Christ lives in me).
By ‘flesh’ Paul understands what Jesus meant in the third chapter of John, ‘That which is born of the flesh is flesh’. (John 3:6) ‘Flesh’ here means the whole nature of man, inclusive of reason and instincts. ‘This flesh,’ says Paul, ‘is not justified by the works of the law.’” (Luther)
Over time, Peter came to his senses and took Paul’s words to heart. We know this from Acts 15:6-11, where Peter, in Jerusalem, before James and Paul and Barnabas and the other apostles, proclaimed that Gentiles did not have to come under the Law of Moses to be saved.
What Good Came From Speaking Up?
- Paul stayed true and proclaimed the gospel.
- Peter became even more convinced in the truth than before.
- Barnabas came to the correct belief on this matter.
- The men who came from James and started the whole mess had a line drawn at the true gospel.
- The Jewish believers in Antioch had the truth spelled out clearly before them.
- The Gentile believers in Antioch had their faith and liberty in Jesus strengthened.
- We enjoy the truth today.
All this good came, but only because Paul was willing to do something that was totally right, but extremely uncomfortable. Peter was willing to do that too, when he admitted he was wrong. Peter and Paul were willing to sacrifice their comfort zone for what was right.