Introduction to Galatians Chapter Two:
In this chapter, Paul continued his defence of the Gospel of Grace. Paul dealt a heavy blow on the false teachers who were seeking to undermine his apostleship and ministry to the Gentiles by revealing that His apostleship, ministry and teaching were recognized, endorsed, validated and supported by the leaders of the Church in Jerusalem when he went to Jerusalem by the leading of the Holy Spirit.
Paul further clearly presented and reiterated the truth of the Gospel that justification is purely by faith in Christ alone and not by the works of the law.
Paul also revealed how he stood alone to defend the truth of the Gospel in Antioch even when Peter and the rest of the Jews and his companions compromised the truth of the Gospel by their hypocritical conduct because of the fear of visiting Jews from Jerusalem. Paul had to call them to order by rebuking and correcting them sharply and openly, but in love.
Paul was directed by the Holy Spirit to seek for the approval and support of the Church Leadership in Jerusalem:
1 Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and also took Titus with me.
2 And I went up by revelation, and communicated to them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to those who were of reputation, lest by any means I might run, or had run, in vain. (NKJV).
Paul continued to defend the Gospel he preached to the Galatians by revealing how the Gospel he received by the revelation of Jesus was endorsed by the Church leaders in Jerusalem – James, Peter and John.
After his first visit to Jerusalem three years after his conversion, Paul went again to Jerusalem fourteen years later being led by the Holy Spirit to communicate or explain to the Church leaders the Gospel he had received from the risen Lord Jesus and that which he was preaching among the Gentiles.
Paul was apparently not seeking for the approval of men, but he was out to defend the Gospel he preached among the Gentiles which the false teachers were seeking to pervert by all means. He stated his motive for the visit and meeting with the Church leaders in verse 2 – “lest by any means I might run, or had run, in vain.”
Therefore, it became necessary for the Gentiles Church to know that the Church leaders in Jerusalem recognized, validated, endorsed and supported the apostleship and ministry of Paul to the Gentiles and the Gospel that he was preaching to them.
It is very important to consider how the Holy Spirit led and directed Paul to go back to Jerusalem so that his ministry may be endorsed, validated and supported by the Church leadership in Jerusalem. This is an important lesson for us today!
God is not an author of confusion or disorder. Even though you are fully convinced about the calling, vision, or ministry you have received from God, yet you must seek to inform and carry along your church or spiritual leaders so that like Paul you may receive their approval, recognition, validation, support and blessing.
Paul refused to submit to false brethren in Jerusalem:
3 Yet not even Titus who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised.
4 And this occurred because of false brethren secretly brought in (who came in by stealth to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage),
5 to whom we did not yield submission even for an hour, that the truth of the gospel might continue with you. (NKJV).
While Paul was in Jerusalem, he stood his ground and refused to yield or bow to pressure and persuasion from false brethren who were seeking to pervert or corrupt the Gospel of Christ by preaching that the Gentiles are not saved or accepted to God only on the basis of faith in the person and finished work of Christ, but must also be circumcised, and observe and adhere to Jewish rites or traditions.
In spite of all the efforts of the false teachers in Jerusalem to force Paul and his companions to observe and follow their Jewish regulations and so pervert the Gospel, Paul refused to give in or compromise for a single moment. What a good example to emulate!
Having received the true Gospel or revelation of the truths of God’s Word, we must hold fast to it and refuse to compromise notwithstanding the pressures.
Like Paul, you must never compromise the truth of the Gospel or yield to pressure or persuasion of false teachers or brethren who are perverting the Gospel of Christ. Compromising the truth of the Gospel or submitting to false teachers is a sure way to bondage.
Many believers are back in bondage today because they would not resist or stand their ground against false teachers and teachings.
Paul admonishes us in Galatians 5:
1 Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. (NKJV).
4 Now this I say lest anyone should deceive you with persuasive words.
5 For though I am absent in the flesh, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ.
6 As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him,
7 rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.
8 Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. (NKJV).
Paul’s ministry received validation, endorsement, and support of Church Leadership in Jerusalem:
6 But from those who seemed to be something–whatever they were, it makes no difference to me; God shows personal favoritism to no man–for those who seemed to be something added nothing to me.
7 But on the contrary, when they saw that the gospel for the uncircumcised had been committed to me, as the gospel for the circumcised was to Peter
8 (for He who worked effectively in Peter for the apostleship to the circumcised also worked effectively in me toward the Gentiles),
9 and when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that had been given to me, they gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised.
10 They desired only that we should remember the poor, the very thing which I also was eager to do. (NKJV).
When Paul went to Jerusalem in obedience to the revelation, instruction and guidance of the Holy Spirit to seek for the approval of the Church leadership, the Church leaders in Jerusalem recognised, endorsed, approved of and supported his apostleship, ministry and the gospel he was given by the Lord Jesus to preach among the Gentiles.
How did the Church leaders in Jerusalem endorsed and supported Paul’s ministry?
First, (verse 3) by receiving and accepting Titus into their midst (a Gentile covert of Paul, the trophy of God’s Grace, a proof of Paul’s ministry among the Gentiles) without compelling him to be circumcised contrary to the teaching and expectation of the false teachers who were preaching that the Gentiles must observe the Jewish regulations, especially circumcision before they can be saved or accepted to God.
Second, (verse 9) by recognizing the grace or gift that God had given Paul and giving him and his companions the right hand of fellowship, encouraging them to keep preaching to the Gentiles and helping the poor.
We also must be careful today not to seek to force a new convert to adopt our traditions or regulations which are peculiar to us. We must also learn to accept, support and encourage those who are preaching and teaching the true Gospel.
How can we hold fast to the Gospel truths in the midst of much oppositions, pressures or persuasions?
Consider these admonitions from God’s Word:
- Pay more closer attention than ever to the truths you have heard.
1 Therefore we must give the more earnest heed to the things we have heard, lest we drift away.
2 For if the word spoken through angels proved steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just reward,
3 how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him, (NKJV).
1 Corinthians 15
1 Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand,
2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you–unless you believed in vain.
3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,
4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, (NKJV).
- Avoid listening to or supporting false teachers – those who are not preaching or teaching the true Gospel of Christ.
2 John 1
7 For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.
8 Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward.
9 Whoever transgresses and does not abide in the doctrine of Christ does not have God. He who abides in the doctrine of Christ has both the Father and the Son.
10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this doctrine, do not receive him into your house nor greet him;
11 for he who greets him shares in his evil deeds. (NKJV).
17 Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them.
18 For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple. (NKJV).
- Trust and depend on the Holy Spirit (the Spirit of truth) – Be sensitive and receptive to the voice, guidance or leading of the Holy Spirit.
13 “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.
14 “He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. (NKJV).
2 Timothy 1
13 Hold fast the pattern of sound words which you have heard from me, in faith and love which are in Christ Jesus.
14 That good thing which was committed to you, keep by the Holy Spirit who dwells in us.
15 This you know, that all those in Asia have turned away from me, among whom are Phygellus and Hermogenes.
16 The Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain;
17 but when he arrived in Rome, he sought me out very zealously and found me.
18 The Lord grant to him that he may find mercy from the Lord in that Day–and you know very well how many ways he ministered to me at Ephesus. (NKJV).
Paul’s withstood Peter when he compromised the truth of the Gospel by his conduct:
11 Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed;
12 for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision. (NKJV).
Paul sharply and openly rebuked and corrected Peter when Peter compromised the truth of the Gospel by his hypocritical conduct because of fear of men.
Peter would eat and fellowship freely with the Gentiles converts in the absence of Jews from Jerusalem but not in their presence, thereby demonstrating by his conduct that the Gentiles converts were still not saved, purified, sanctified, or accepted into God’s family.
Like Peter, if we fear men or desire the praises or approval of men, we would easily compromise the truth of the Gospel either by our words or actions.
Like Paul, we must not be afraid to rebuke and correct in love our brethren in Christ who are compromising the truth of the Gospel by their hypocritical conduct because of fear or praises of men.
Solomon reveals in Proverbs 27:
5 Open rebuke is better Than love carefully concealed.
6 Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But the kisses of an enemy are deceitful. (NKJV).
Paul charges Timothy in 1 Timothy 5:
20 Those who are sinning rebuke in the presence of all, that the rest also may fear. (NKJV).
Paul also charges Titus in Titus 1:
10 For there are many insubordinate, both idle talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision,
11 whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole households, teaching things which they ought not, for the sake of dishonest gain.
12 One of them, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.”
13 This testimony is true. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith. (NKJV).
Paul was not afraid to stand alone for the truth of the Gospel of Christ:
13 And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy.
14 But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, “If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews?
15 “We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles. (NKJV).
When Peter compromised the truth of the Gospel by his hypocritical conduct in Antioch, the rest of the Jews including Barnabas (Paul’s closet companion) followed his bad example, refraining to eat or fellowship with the Gentiles converts in the presence of visiting Jews from the Church in Jerusalem.
We must bear it in mind that our conduct exerts great influence upon the people around us, especially those who hold us in high esteem. Therefore, we must be careful not to compromise the truth of the Gospel by our conduct and so mislead those who are following us.
Jesus sternly warns against causing other believers to stumble or sin in Matthew 18:
6 “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea.
7 “Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes! (NKJV).
Like Paul, we must see to it that we are not following any spiritual leader blindly. We must not follow in the steps or examples of anyone not living or walking according to the examples and teachings of Christ regardless of his status or position in the Church.
1 Corinthians 11:
1 Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ. (NKJV).
17 Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern.
18 For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:
19 whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame–who set their mind on earthly things. (NKJV).
Paul would not re-build or re-establish the rites of Mosaic law by his teaching or conduct:
16 “knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.
17 “But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is Christ therefore a minister of sin? Certainly not!
18 “For if I build again those things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. (NKJV).
Paul would not under any circumstances or by any means present or promote observance or adherence to the rites of Mosaic law as a condition or requirement for justification before God.
Even when he had to stand alone in defence of the truth of the Gospel, Paul clearly defended the Gospel by his teaching and conduct. Paul taught and demonstrated that no man can be justified, saved or accepted to God on the account or basis of his performance, good works, or self-righteousness according to the works of the law.
Paul revealed that promoting justification by the works of the law and not purely by faith in Christ, either by his teaching and conduct, would make him a transgressor.
Like Paul, you also must resolve never to promote either by your words or actions a different Gospel which advocates justification by the works of the law and not purely by faith in Christ alone and His finished work of redemption.
Paul affirmed that he was dead to the Law so that he might live to God:
19 “For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God.
20 “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
21 “I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.” (NKJV).
Like Paul, you have been delivered from the law having been crucified with Christ, but not to live as it pleases you, but to live to God.
Having been raised together with Christ, you are expected to walk in the newness of life and serve God in the newness of the Spirit and no in the oldness of letter of the law.
Paul states in Romans 6:
1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound?
2 Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it?
3 Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?
4 Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. (NKJV).
He further reveals in Romans 7:
4 Therefore, my brethren, you also have become dead to the law through the body of Christ, that you may be married to another–to Him who was raised from the dead, that we should bear fruit to God.
5 For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions which were aroused by the law were at work in our members to bear fruit to death.
6 But now we have been delivered from the law, having died to what we were held by, so that we should serve in the newness of the Spirit and not in the oldness of the letter. (NKJV).
The Christian life is not so much of living for Christ as it is letting Christ lives, works and expresses Himself in and through you.
You cannot live the Christian life successful in your strength or effort, but by faith in Christ – appropriating the divine resources available to you in and through Christ.
Paul closes this chapter by warning that seeking to obtain righteousness through the keeping of the law is simply setting aside or rejecting the grace of God, thereby despising the death of Christ.