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THE EPISTLE OF PAUL THE APOSTLE TO THE GALATIANS - Chapter 2 - Verse 1

 

GALATIANS CHAPTER 2

THE second chapter is closely connected in sense with the first, and is indeed a part of the same argument. Injury has been done by the division which is made. The proper division would have been at the close of the 10th verse of this chapter. The general scope of the chapter, like the first, is to show that he did not receive the gospel from man; that he had not derived it from the apostles; that he did not acknowledge his indebtedness to them for his views of the Christian religion; that they had not even set up authority over him; but that they had welcomed him as a fellow-labourer, and acknowledged him as a coadjutor in the work of the apostleship. In confirmation of this he states Ga 2:1 that he had indeed gone to Jerusalem, but that he had done it by express revelation, Ga 2:2; that he was cordially received by the apostles there—especially by those who were pillars in the church; and that so far from regarding himself as inferior to the other apostles, he had resisted Peter to his face at Antioch on a most important and vital doctrine.

The chapter, therefore, may be regarded as divided into two portions, viz.:

I. The account of his visit to Jerusalem, and of what occurred there, Ga 2:1-10.

(a) He had gone up fourteen years after his conversion, after having laboured long among the Gentiles in his own way, and without having felt his dependence on the apostles at Jerusalem, Ga 2:1,2.

(b) When he was there, there was no attempt made to compel him to submit to the Jewish rites and customs; and what was conclusive in the case was, that they had not even required Titus to be circumcised, thus proving that they did not assert jurisdiction over Paul, and that they did not intend to impose the Mosaic rites on the converts from among the Gentiles, Ga 2:3-5.

(c) The most distinguished persons among the apostles at Jerusalem, he says, received him kindly, and admitted him to their confidence and favour without hesitation. They added no heavy burdens to him, Ga 2:6; they saw evidence that he had been appointed to bear the gospel to the Gentiles, Ga 2:7,8; they gave to him and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, Ga 2:9; and they asked only that they should remember and show kindness to the poor saints in Judea, and thus manifest an interest in those who had been converted from Judaism, or contribute their proper proportion to the maintenance of all, and show that they were not disposed to abandon their own countrymen, Ga 2:10. In this way they gave the fullest proof that they approved the course of Paul, and admitted him into entire fellowship with them as an apostle.

II. The scene at Antioch, where Paul rebuked Peter for his dissimulation, Ga 2:11-21. The main object of mentioning this seems to be to show, first, that he did not regard himself as inferior to the other apostles, or that he had not derived his views of the gospel from them; and, secondly, to state that the observance of the Jewish rites was not necessary to salvation, and that he had maintained that from the beginning, he had strongly urged it in a controversy with Peter, and in a case where Peter was manifestly wrong; and it was no new doctrine on the subject of justification which he had preached to the Galatians. He states, therefore,

(a) That he had opposed Peter at Antioch, because he had dissembled there, and that even Barnabas had been carried away with the course which Peter had practised, Ga 2:11-14.

(b) That the Jews must be justified by faith, and not by dependence on their own law, Ga 2:15,16.

(c) That they who are justified by faith should act consistently, and not attempt to build again the things which they had destroyed, Ga 2:17,18.

(d) That the effect of justification by faith was to make one dead to the law that he might live unto God; that the effect of it was to make one truly alive and devoted to the cause of true religion; and to show this, he appeals to the effect on his own heart and life, Ga 2:19,20.

(e) And that if justification could be obtained by the law, then Christ had died in vain, Ga 2:21. he thus shows that the effect of teaching the necessity of the observance of the Jewish rites was to destroy the gospel, and to render it vain and useless.

Verse 1. Then, fourteen years after. That is, fourteen years after his first visit there subsequent to his conversion. Some commentators, however, suppose that the date of the fourteen years is to be reckoned from his conversion. But the more obvious construction is to refer it to the time of his visit there, as recorded in the previous chapter, Ga 2:18. This time was spent in Asia Minor, chiefly in preaching the gospel.

I went up again to Jerusalem. It is commonly supposed that Paul here refers to the visit which he made as recorded in Ac 20. The circumstances mentioned are substantially the same; and the object which he had at that time in going up was one whose mention was entirely pertinent to the argument here. He went up with Barnabas to submit a question to the assembled apostles and elders at Jerusalem in regard to the necessity of the observance of the laws of Moses. Some persons who had come among the Gentile converts from Judea had insisted on the necessity of being circumcised in order to be saved. Paul and Barnabas had opposed them; and the dispute had become so warm that it was agreed to submit the subject to the apostles and elders at Jerusalem. For that purpose Paul and Barnabas had been sent, with certain others, to lay the case before all the apostles. As the question which Paul was discussing in this epistle was about the necessity of the observance of the laws of Moses in order to justification, it was exactly in point to refer to a journey when this very question had been submitted to the apostles. Paul indeed had made another journey to Jerusalem before this, with the collection for the poor saints in Judea, Ac 11:29,30; 12:25; but he does not mention that here, probably because he did not then see the other apostles, or more probably because that journey furnished no illustration of the point now under debate. On the occasion here referred to, Ac 15 the very point under discussion here constituted the main subject of inquiry, and was definitely settled.

And took Titus with me also. Luke, in the Acts of the Apostles, Ac 15:2, says that there were others with Paul and Barnabas on that journey to Jerusalem. But who they were he does not mention. It is by no means certain that Titus was appointed by the church to go to Jerusalem; but the contrary is more probable. Paul seems to have taken him with him as a private affair; but the reason is not mentioned. It may have been to show his Christian liberty, and his sense of what he had a right to do; or it may have been to furnish a case on the subject of inquiry, and submit the matter to them whether Titus was to be circumcised. Hie was a Greek; but he had been converted to Christianity. Paul had not circumcised him; but had admitted him to the full privileges of the Christian church. Here, then, was a case in point; and it may have been important to have had such a case before them that they might fully understand it. This, as Doddridge properly remarks, is the first mention which occurs of Titus. He is not mentioned by Luke in the Acts of the Apostles; and though his name occurs several times in the second epistle to the Corinthians, 2 Co 2:13; 7:6; 8:6,16,23; 12:18, yet it is to be remembered that that epistle was written a considerable time after this to the Galatians. Titus was a Greek, and was doubtless converted by the labours of Paul, for he calls him his own son, Tit 1:4. He attended Paul frequently in his travels; was employed by him in important services, (see 2 Co. in the places referred to above;) was left by him in Crete to set in order the things that were wanting, and to ordain elders there, Tit 1:5; subsequently he went into Dalmatia, 2 Ti 4:10, and is supposed to have returned again to Crete, whence it is said he propagated the gospel in the neighbouring islands, and died at the age of ninety-four.—Calmet.

{a} "fourteen years after, I went" Ac 15:2

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