GALATIANS 2: 1-10
1 Then after fourteen years, I went up again to Jerusalem, this time with Barnabas. I took Titus along also. 2 I went in response to a revelation and, meeting privately with those esteemed as leaders, I presented to them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles. I wanted to be sure I was not running and had not been running my race in vain. 3 Yet not even Titus, who was with me, was compelled to be circumcised, even though he was a Greek. 4 This matter arose because some false believers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves. 5 We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you.
6 As for those who were held in high esteem—whatever they were makes no difference to me; God does not show favoritism—they added nothing to my message. 7 On the contrary, they recognized that I had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been to the circumcised. 8 For God, who was at work in Peter as an apostle to the circumcised, was also at work in me as an apostle to the Gentiles. 9 James, Cephas and John, those esteemed as pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the circumcised. 10 All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I had been eager to do all along.
One question the early church had to address was how to integrate Jews and Gentiles into one multi-ethnic family of God. (“Gentile” simply refers to anyone who is not Jewish.) For thousands of years the Jews had been following the Torah, or the laws of the Old Testament. The question they faced was how these new Gentile believers would relate to the Torah. For example, one of the laws of the Old Testament that was a point of tension was circumcision, and in Galatia some Jewish Christians were teaching that Gentiles had to be circumcised. Paul argues in Galatians 2:3 that not even Titus, a non-Jewish believer, was compelled to be circumcised. Read Acts 15: 1-21 to see more about how this discussion went.
Acts 15: 7-11, 19 >>> 7 After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: “Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe. 8 God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. 9 He did not discriminate between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith. 10 Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear? 11 No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are” … 19 [James spoke up] “It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God.”
Peter and James, both present at the discussion in Acts 15, were two of the most important leaders in the early church. However, three times in this passage in Galatians Paul calls out “those who seemed to be leaders” (2:2), “those who seemed to be important” (2:6), and “those reputed to be pillars” (2:9). While acknowledging the position these leaders have, Paul cautions that position and appearance are not the most important — the truth of the gospel is the most important!
Bible study tip >>> Look for repeated words and phrases. Go back and look for repeated phrases like the one above about those in positions in leadership. (Hint: There are several references about Paul’s mission to share the Gospel with the Gentiles.)
>>>Here’s a few questions to think about:
Look for the four times in this passage that Paul mentions his mission to share the gospel with the Gentiles. Paul’s purpose and mission are connected to his passion that nothing be added to the gospel. He is adamant that no extra burden get in the way of Gentiles accepting Christ Jesus. Paul is willing to fight in order that nothing gets added to the purity of the gospel. When purpose, mission, and passion align like it did for Paul, it creates a powerful force!
What is something you are passionate about and willing to stand up and defend?
How does your passion point to a mission or responsibility that God has entrusted to you?
Paul was willing to stand up to other leaders because he believed so strongly in the gospel and knew the mission God had called him to.
Are you more concerned with position and appearance or with the truth of the gospel?
Is there anyone you’re trying to impress right now that results in you compromising how you live out the gospel?