Then after fourteen years, I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along with me. I went up because of a revelation and set before them (though privately before those who seemed influential) the gospel that I proclaim among the Gentiles, in order to make sure I was not running or had not run in vain. But even Titus, who was with me, was not forced to be circumcised, though he was a Greek. Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in—who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery—to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you. And from those who seemed to be influential (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—those, I say, who seemed influential added nothing to me. On the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised (for he who worked through Peter for his apostolic ministry to the circumcised worked also through me for mine to the Gentiles), and when James and Cephas [Peter] and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given to me, they gave the right hand of fellowship to Barnabas and me, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. Only, they asked us to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do (Galatians 2:1-10 ESV).
What’s it all about?
Fourteen years after his conversion, Paul journeyed to Jerusalem to explain the gospel he had been preaching to James, Peter, and John. During his visit, some of the legalists attempted to force the Jewish rite of circumcision on Paul’s young protégé Titus. The pillars of the Jerusalem church did not require circumcision and added nothing to Paul’s message. Instead, they validated the message and endorsed Paul and Barnabas as missionaries.
There are no new doctrines (biblical truths) to be discovered nor new revelations to be received. The gospel we proclaim was divinely revealed to the Apostles, validated by those who were eyewitnesses of the resurrected Christ, and recorded in the New Testament. Therefore, we verify what we are taught by what is revealed in the Word of God. Likewise, our teaching must be based on the Holy Scriptures.
Questions from the Text:
1. Who were the pillars of the Jerusalem church, and why did Paul make it a point to verify the content of his message among them (Galatians 2:2, 9)?
2. Why were the legalists demanding that Titus be circumcised (Galatians 2:3-5)?
3. How was Paul’s authority to preach the gospel equal to that of Peter (Galatians 2:7-8)?
4. How did the endorsement of the eyewitness (James, Peter, & John) validate Paul’s message (Galatians 2:9-10)?
Now what? Like Paul and Titus, we must refuse to add any religious ritual, legal requirement, or perceived merit to our faith in Christ for salvation. We must correct those who subtract from or add to the gospel. Additionally, we must verify the content of what we are taught by what has been divinely revealed and recorded in God’s Word.
Small Group Questions
Scripture: Habakkuk 2:1-5; Romans 3:21-31; Acts 17:10-12
1. How is a person justified (declared righteous) before God?
2. What was the core of Habakkuk’s message to Judah?
3. In what way(s) do the Bereans serve as an example to all Christians?
4. What are some of the current rites, rituals, and rules that people try to add to the gospel?