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Galatians Two

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

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Galatians 2:1 Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also.

fourteen years after. This visit possibly was the occasion of the Jerusalem council (Acts 15:1-4), at which the leaders among the Jewish Christians (especially Peter and James) officially declared that the Mosaic laws—circumcision in particular—were not binding on Gentile converts (Acts 15:5, 23-29). It was this same issue with which the Galatian Christians were now being challenged by the “Judaizers.” They seem to have been professing (but not genuine) Jewish Christians who were going around to the Gentile churches trying to undermine Paul's work and his preaching of salvation by grace alone. Paul was thus forced to defend himself and his teachings (just as he was constrained to do at Corinth) by stressing his own solid Hebrew and Pharisaical training, as well as his divine calling, and the authorization of the apostles at Jerusalem themselves. On the other hand, since he made no mention of the Council's decision, it seems more likely that this particular visit was the occasion mentioned in Acts 11:30.

Galatians 2:2 And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain.

Galatians 2:3 But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised:

Galatians 2:4 And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage:

Galatians 2:5 To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.

Galatians 2:6 But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man's person:) for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me:

Galatians 2:7 But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter;

Peter. It is interesting that Paul refers to “Peter” in Galatians 2:7-8, but calls him “Cephas” in Galatians 2:9, then “Peter” again in Galatians 2:11 (also Galatians 1:18; 2:14). The only other time Paul referred to Peter was in his first epistle to the Corinthians, but there he always called him Cephas (1 Corinthians 1:12; 3:22; 9:5; 15:5). Both names mean “Rock”—Peter in the Greek, Cephas in Aramaic. His given name had been Simon (note John 1:42), but had been changed to Cephas (or Peter) by Christ. Paul obviously used the two names interchangeably.

Galatians 2:8 (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:)

Galatians 2:9 And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.

Galatians 2:10 Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do.

Galatians 2:11 But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.

withstood him. This incident is not mentioned in Acts or anywhere else but here. Galatians 2:11-13 indicates that not only Peter but Barnabas also, and possibly James, had been so intimidated by the Judaizers who had come down from Jerusalem to Antioch (Paul called them “false brethren” in Galatians 2:4), that they tried to compromise with them, “fearing them which were of the circumcision” (Galatians 2:12). These apostles all knew better (Acts 10, 11, 15) but, like many modern Christians, were temporarily tempted to compromise the true gospel for the sake of expediency and outward harmony. Paul, therefore, had to rebuke even these leaders, and they evidently accepted his rebuke and abandoned their compromising behavior (in particular, that of refusing to eat with the Gentile Christians). Parenthetically, this clearly indicates that Peter was not infallible, and could hardly have been a “pope,” in the later sense of that title, as some came to believe. Paul clearly here exhibited a superior understanding of God's will and method.

Galatians 2:12 For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision.

Galatians 2:13 And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation.

Galatians 2:14 But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?

Galatians 2:15 We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles,

We. Even though Paul had to withstand Peter, he nevertheless acknowledged that he and Peter were both Jews and that they both agreed on the great doctrine of justification by grace through faith, and not by the works of the law. Peter's temporary compromise in conduct was not because of doctrinal differences with Paul.

Galatians 2:16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.

not justified by the works. Some have argued that James contradicts Paul at this point, saying that Abraham and Rahab, for example, were “justified by works” (James 2:21, 25). They were not justified by the “works of the law,” however. Abraham lived before God gave the Mosaic law, and Rahab lived in a culture that had not heard of it. As a matter of fact, they were justified by faith in the eyes of God (note James 2:23; Hebrews 11:31) and justified by works in the eyes of men (see James 2:18). There is no contradiction, for genuine saving faith is inevitably demonstrated before men by “works of righteousness” (Titus 3:5; Ephesians 2:8-10). In any case, Paul makes it clear to the Galatians, and to us, that no one can ever be justified by keeping the law; James himself makes it plain that no one can keep the law fully (James 2:10).

justified. The word “justified” means “made righteous” or “recognized as righteous.” The righteousness of Christ is imputed to the believer by faith (Romans 4:5; James 2:23).

no flesh be justified. Paul used these same words in writing to the Romans (Romans 3:20).

Galatians 2:17 But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid.

Galatians 2:18 For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.

Galatians 2:19 For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.

Galatians 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

crucified with Christ. Here is the great secret of a Christ-honoring Christian life. As Paul wrote to the Romans: “Reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:11).

liveth in me. Christ lives in us by His Spirit (John 14:16-17, 23). Since He is continually present in and with the believer, He knows all we say and do, hears our prayers and will guide our steps as we follow His will.

faith of the Son of God. This is not the faith which we exercise in Christ, but His faith, which He lives out through us as we appropriate His life in us (compare Ephesians 2:9).

Galatians 2:21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.