Home First
Covenant
Second
Covenant
Topical
Studies
Table of
Contents

GALATIANS

CHAPTER  TWO 

2:1-14      IN  JERUSALEM,  FOURTEEN  YEARS  AFTER
   2:1-3     Agreement.     With Apostles concerning circumcision.
2:4-5       Opposition.    By false brethren.
   2:6-10   Agreement.     With Apostles concerning the Gospel.
2:11-14   Opposition.    By certain from James.
Vs. 1 - 3    AGREEMENT

It was a bold move on the part of Paul to bring with him to the Jerusalem council, an uncircumcised Gentile, introducing him as a test case. The dispute over the necessity of Gentile circumcision took place at the Antioch Church, and was successfully resisted there. Then the church in that city determined to send its decision to the Jerusalem church to see whether it would or would not sustain its action (Acts 15:1,2). The context clearly indicates that strong pressure was brought to bear upon the Jerusalem church to impose circumcision upon Gentile converts, Titus being the individual around whom the controversy was waging. The Jerusalem council sustained the decision of the Antioch church to the effect that circumcision was not to be required of Gentile converts.

The
Test
Case

.
.

.
.
.

 

.
.

 

 


Vs. 11 - 14       OPPOSITION

"But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed."

Peter came to Antioch. a few weeks later he was followed from Jerusalem by Jews who had remained Pharisees though disciples of Christ. The subsequent controversy which rent the Antioch church and brought Paul into conflict with Peter was of crucial importance to the development of Christianity. Like many disputes which in retrospect proved turning points of history, the subjects might seem trivial to later ages: invitations to dinner, and a minor operation on the male organ. The issues, however, were profound:

1st. Whether Christianity should be merely a variety of Judaism -
2nd. Whether a man may be forgiven simply and instantly by trusting Jesus Christ -
OR - Whether such forgiveness is incomplete and conditional until he can show that he has worked faithfully and obediently to his life’s end to do what is right.

When Peter came to Antioch, the only place in the world where ex-pagans were living on terms of complete equality with Christian Jews, everybody watched what he would do. His courageous words and gifts of leadership had made him the central figure of the early church; his willingness to shock Jews by eating with the Roman Cornelius had opened the way to the winning of Gentiles. Yet at Jerusalem, where the disciples were primarily concerned to commend Jesus Christ to Jews, he had continued to observe Jewish laws including the normal segregation when eating. If, in the mixed community that was the Antioch church, he went off and ate by himself he would give the strongest support to those who still believed that a pagan on becoming a Christian must accept Jewish ways and Jewish law, and thus that the new faith remained simply a liberal Jewish sect.

Peter, however, joined Paul and Barnabas in living like a gentile, thereby ruining his status in the eyes of orthodox Jews. He no longer observed the Mosaic fasts or taboos nor refused to eat with Gentile converts at the common meal called "agape" - the love feast - which preceded the Lord’s supper. He thereby made plain that he believed as Paul did: no Gentile Christian need live like a Jew.

Then the "Christian" Pharisees arrived. Their words and actions were later repudiated, but they claimed to be traveling with the authority of the recognized leader of the mother church in Jerusalem, James the Lord’s brother. They were shocked by the laxity at Antioch - and of Peter in particular.


The Great Controversy

.
.

.
.
.

 

 

 

 

.
.
.

 

 

 

 

 

 


 
(1) They saw Jews eating with "sinners and Gentiles" (to Pharisees the words were synonymous), who thus were put on an equality.
(2) They discovered that every Gentile believer had been excused the necessity, binding on all Jewish proselytes, of submitting to the rite of circumcision.

At once they began a campaign: "Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses," they told converts, "you cannot be saved." Everybody involved in the dispute knew what they meant: "Unless, after believing in Jesus, you become a proselyte by undergoing the surgical operation, and thereafter observe all the ceremonies and do the good works required by the Mosaic Law and keep ritually undefiled in addition to your trust in Jesus Christ, you cannot be saved - Jesus by Himself cannot save you."

The implications of such an argument went far wider than the issue at Antioch which remained in the context of Jewish obligations. Paul saw that the Christian Pharisees’ contention was totally at variance with a truth he had understood since Damascus and would expound fully in his letters later on: that Self-righteousness, however expressed, is the rival and not the complement of Grace.

The matter came to a head over the issue of ritual defilement. The advocates of "circumcision" argued their case so hotly and cogently that Peter stopped eating with the Gentiles. Paul was indignant. Peter may have been swayed by representations that his actions in Antioch must severely embarrass his Jerusalem friends in their ministry to Jews, but Paul was sure Peter did not honestly believe the Judaizers were right. Peter had conformed from fear of their tongues, or from a willingness to sacrifice principle for peace and unity. Indeed, if there were any apostle walking crooked, it was not Paul, but Peter.

Next, most of the Jewish members of the congregation followed Peter’s example.

Vs. 13 - THEN BARNABAS WAVERED -

                [NIV: Even Barnabas was led astray]

Barnabas, who had taken Paul’s part when the point had been discussed in Jerusalem during the famine visit, who had seen overwhelming evidence in Galatia that God remade pagans into full Christians.

Paul resolved to speak out. This deep crack in the Christian church must not be papered over in order to preserve a spurious unity. The dispute was not about trivialities - the fundamental principle was whether anyone might be Justified by Faith alone.

He chose an occasion before virtually the entire congregation. In the most public manner he criticized Peter to his face, using words that not only pointed out the inconsistency but went right to the heart of the matter: "If you," said Paul loudly for all to hear, "a Jew born and bred, live like a Gentile, and not like a Jew, how can you insist that Gentiles must live like Jews?"

It was a moment when the church might split into factions and destroy itself. But the man who had wept when the Lord, at His trial, turned and looked on the disciple who had denied him with oath, immediately accepted the justice of Paul’s rebuke. Peter repented, and when the issue was debated again months later at Jerusalem it Peter's his strong support of Paul’s position which gained the day (Acts 15). Nor did he resent Paul’s intervention.


The Dispute
.

 

 

 


The Danger

;

 

First, Peter

.

 

 

Next, Others

.

Even Barnabas

.


The Confrontation

.

 

 

 

 


Vs. 15 & 16 - JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH

LAW - as used here is in its qualitative and legalistic sense. It denotes divine law looked upon as a purely legalistic system. It consists of statutes. If a person obeys the law, he secures thereby the divine approval. If he disobeys it, he is subject to divine condemnation. The divine approval is a matter of debt which God "owes" and "pays" to the person who obeys. This is a salvation which the person merits, and which is given on the basis of works, not Grace.

We must be careful to note that the Bible nowhere teaches this concept of divine law as an answer for salvation from the wages of sin. This concept had its origin in the thought and practice of mankind all down the ages since its inception in the heart of Cain. Paul had held this view as a self-righteous Pharisee. The commandment which he thought was ordained to give life, he found to be a ministration of death (Rom. 7:10). He admits, that with all the racial superiority and privileges inferred in what he says in verse 15, that even Jews found out that they could not be declared righteous by virtue of their obedience to the legal enactments of the Mosaic law.

JUSTIFIED (  dikaioo). The cognate noun also means "righteousness".

It is the act of God in justifying a believing sinner.

It is God taking away our guilt and sin’s penalty as Christ bore both on the cross.

It is God imputing His righteousness, even Christ Jesus Himself, and causing us to stand guiltless and uncondemned for time and eternity.

Translation by Wuest: "And knowing that a man is not justified by law works but only through faith in Christ Jesus, we also placed our trust in Christ Jesus, in order that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by law works, because by law works there shall no flesh be justified."

 

Law
vs
Grace

.
.

.
.
.

.
.
.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paul rests his case on this as an axiom in theology, referring to Psalm 143:2 -
Sinai Calvary
Moses Christ
Law Promise
Doing Believing
Works Faith
Wages Gift
Curse Blessing

These are presented as diametrically opposed to each other.

The moral law is, in respect to Justification, more legal than the ceremonial, which was an elementary and preliminary Gospel.

So "Sinai" (ch. 4:24), which is more famed for the Decalogue than for the ceremonial law, is made pre-eminently a type of Legal Bondage - therefore, Justification by the Law, whether moral or ceremonial, is absolutely impossible. (Rom. 3:20)

The
Great Contrast

.
.

.
.
.

.
.

 

.

Vs. 17 & 18 - INCONSISTENCY

By eating with the Gentiles, Peter is declaring the Levitical legislation null and void.

Then, by withdrawing from that fellowship, he declares it valid.

Paul tactfully puts himself into the picture and insists: instead of committing sin by abandoning the law for Grace, he actually becomes a transgressor by returning to the law.

Inconsistency

.
.

TRANSGRESSOR - (parabates)  -  [NIV: Lawbreaker]

Until now, the word "SINNER" (vs 17) has been used, which is  "hamartolos".

1. "Parabates" (Transgressor) one who disregards the ethical spirit of the law.
2. "Hamartolos" (Sinner) one who disregards the letter of the law.
Equals

.
.

By using the word "Transgressor" here, God is emphasizing the point that one who is obedient to the statutes of the Levitical Law may miss the real meaning and purpose of that law.

Peter, by withdrawing from fellowship with the Gentiles in the "Love Feast", obeyed the letter of a law that he knew had been set aside by God. He was ignoring the significance of the law, that of a temporary measure for the time of the Old Testament dispensation, to be fulfilled and superseded by the Cross of Christ. He had now become a transgressor of the present Law of Christ.

 

Sin

.

 

 

.

Vs. 19 & 20 - I ... AM DEAD TO THE LAW     [NIV: I died to the law]

Literally: I died to the law, and so I AM DEAD TO IT = I am passed from under its power. (Col.2:20; Rom.6:14; 17:4,6) Just as a woman, once married and bound to a husband, ceases to be bound to him when he dies and she may be lawfully married to another husband. So by the believing union with Christ IN HIS DEATH, we, being considered dead with him, are severed from the law’s past power over us.

Paul does not say that he is dead to all law - thus a lawless individual.

He is dead to "Law in Particular" - not "Law in General."

He still holds to the great ethical principles of Love and Justice, for instance, which are eternal in their significance and taught by Jesus in His sermon on the mount (Matt. 5, 6, 7).

Death

.
.

.
.
.

 

 

 

 

He found that it provided no remedy for sin, but rather condemned him hopelessly, for no one can fulfil its requirements.

THE LAW EXERCISED A DOUBLE POWER OVER HIM

It made him a sinner

and

It punished him for being one

The poet says, "Do this and live, the law commands, but gives me neither feet nor hands. A better word the Gospel brings. It bids me fly, and gives me wings."

Equals

.
.

.
.

 

 

 

.

THAT I MIGHT LIVE UNTO CHRIST

Galatians is the study of the death we have passed from, and how we passed from it. Ephesians is the study of the life we have passed into, and how we passed into it. Verse 19 states the fact: I died so that I might live. Verse 20 explains how:

I was crucified with Christ Christ now lives in me
Dead are: Alive in me are:
MY works HIS works
MY thoughts HIS thoughts
MY reasonings HIS reasonings
MY righteousness HIS righteousness
MY efforts HIS efforts
MY desires HIS desires
MY life HIS life

It is empowered by the faith of the Son of God: the Life-sustaining force is total reliance on, and absolute union with Jesus Christ.

And Ephesians expands the thought.

Life

.
.

.
.
.

.
.


.

 

 

 

  To Chapter One      To Chapter Three

 


Home First
Covenant
Second
Covenant
Topical
Studies
Table of
Contents
Top