World English Bible translation
2:1Then after a period of fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus also with me. 2:2 I went up by revelation, and I laid before them the gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately before those who were respected, for fear that I might be running, or had run, in vain. 2:3 But not even Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised. 2:4 This was because of the false brothers secretly brought in, who stole in to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage; 2:5 to whom we gave no place in the way of subjection, not for an hour, that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.
Paul's primary argument until this point was that the message that he had brought to the Galatians was received by revelation from Jesus Christ. This message did not come from men, but from God. He was calling on the Galatians to decide on its authenticity based upon this principle fact. But, in this lesson and in tomorrow's the focus will shift. Paul goes on to say that even though this message was received by revelation from Christ, the message was confirmed and accepted by the other Christian leaders.
After fourteen years Paul went to Jerusalem. He brought with him those that were principally associated with his ministry at the time. Barnabas was a fellow Jew who had been sent out by the Jerusalem church to check on what was happening in the church at Antioch, but Titus was a Christian of Greek origin. Paul met with Peter, James, and John. His purpose was to share with them the gospel that he had been preaching to the Gentile churches and to testify to the effectiveness by which God was advancing his gospel with those people.
Paul writes that he spoke with the other apostles privately "for fear that I might be running, or had run, in vain." Paul does not mean that he desired these men's opinions to such an extent that if they had disapproved he would have considered his own efforts to be worthless. Rather, what Paul does mean is that his gospel and his purpose were always that the Jewish churches and the Gentile churches should be reconciled to one another. He wanted the Gentile churches to be accepted as legitimate partners in Christ with the Jewish church. Anything less than full acceptance would have meant an early schism in the church.
What the other apostles decided in concert with Paul will be saved for tomorrow's lesson, but Paul has one further strong point he wishes to make. Even though Titus was a Greek and therefore uncircumcised, the apostles did not require Titus to become a Jew in order to be accepted by their assembly. There were some who were there that tried to insist that this happen. Paul calls these people "false brothers." These false brothers were more interested in putting people into bondage than they were interested in the liberty that is in Christ. They wanted to continue to impose the Law of Moses on everyone, even to Gentiles who were never under the Law.
Paul tells the Galatians that he confronted these men even in the very place where they might have hoped to find their greatest acceptance, in Jerusalem. There was no other place on earth that was more committed to the continuation of the Jewish faith than in Jerusalem. But, not even in the Jerusalem assemblies did Paul back down from these "false brothers." He says that he was not subject to them, "not for an hour." Paul stood his ground in order that the gospel of God's grace that he had been preaching to the Gentiles might continue with them.
Do you have the courage to stand up for what you know to be the truth, even in a place where that truth might not be readily accepted? Why do you think that Paul insisted on confronting the "false brothers" in Jerusalem?
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