2:1-10 The Gospel Of Grace Results In Liberty
Memory Verse: Galatians 2:4-5
2:1-5 Paul Defends The Liberty Of The Gospel Of Grace
- 2:1 After Paul tells us about his early years in 1:16-14 he picks up here in chapter 2 starting 14 years later. At this time he went to Jerusalem with Barnabas and Titus.
- 2:2 Paul, by revelation of God, goes to Jerusalem to meet with the leaders of the church there. He was going to discuss the gospel that he was preaching among the gentiles and to report all that God was doing. Paul knew the gospel he was preaching was the true gospel, but there were false teachers entering the church and teaching false things. The gospel radically changed how things worked in the Jewish system, mainly that of including gentiles, but also not requiring believers to keep the law. The gospel freed people from the law, it didn’t bind them to it. Paul didn’t want there to be conflict that would cause a divide in the church because people didn’t understand the full application of the gospel. He didn’t want his ministry to be ruined because of this lack of understanding, so he met with leaders to discuss all of this.
- 2:3-4a Paul uses Titus as an example. He is a Greek not a Jew. Therefore, he didn’t get circumcised as a child like the Jewish children did. Paul says Titus wasn’t compelled or forced by anyone in Jerusalem to get circumcised after believing the gospel of grace to be seen as a real Christian. The message was clear: faith in Jesus alone for salvation. There are no external behaviors that we can add to our faith in Jesus that are required to be saved. This is where the false teachers were wrong: they believed that the new gentile Christians had to become Jewish—that is, they had to adhere to certain external cultural behaviors now that they believed in Jesus or they weren’t really Christians (legalism). Therefore, since Titus didn’t get circumcised, he warns us that we cannot add on anything to faith in Jesus for salvation (such as baptism, speaking in tongues, standards).
- The Misunderstanding: Many Jews didn’t understand the purpose of the law. They thought they could be made holy through trying to keep the law. But the law was given to show them that they couldn’t be made holy on their own. The parts of the law that dealt with offering gifts and sacrifices or deal with meats, drinks, divers washings, and carnal ordinances were imposed on them until the time of reformation—the time of Jesus. Jesus fulfilled what the law couldn’t do, make us holy and thus we don’t need the law anymore—it has been fulfilled.
- The Liberty: Through the death and resurrection of Jesus we have been made holy, not through the things that we do or by keeping special ceremonial laws in the Old Testament. They were given to point us to Jesus, not to do to make us holy. Now, we are in Christ, and in Him we have liberty. We are no longer a slave to the law, because Jesus has freed us from it. Therefore, we have no obligation to keep any of the ceremonials laws of the Old Testament or any Jewish traditions or cultural mandates.
Colossians 1:22, 2:16
- 2:4b-5 Paul also shows us the attitude we are to have towards false teachers. In the first chapter he tells us they should be accursed—that is because they preached a damning message they themselves should be damned. Here he says the false believers came into the church to spy on their liberty in Jesus and try to bring them back into bondage—to take away the liberty that Jesus brought and make them slaves again to the law. To these type of false brethren Paul said that he didn’t give them any of his time. Instead he guarded the gospel truth so that it would continue on unto the Galatian churches. He spent his time teaching and preserving the gospel. We should do the same. We are not to entertain those who preach a false gospel, spend time arguing with them or even give them consideration about teaching another gospel. The gospel is not up for debate and we are not to waste time debating it with those who don’t believe it. If you know someone is part of a cult or teaches heresy, then you should not give them any time (not in church, your house, small group, etc) but only declare the truth to them (if they want to listen). In this circumstance, this is a one-way conversation that only tolerates one message: faith in Jesus alone for salvation.
2:6-10 Paul’s Message And Calling Are Confirmed
- 2:6 Because Paul received the gospel by revelation, he was assured that it and the liberty that resulted from it was true. After his meeting with the apostles in Jerusalem, Paul’s message didn’t change. They didn’t add anything to the message that Paul was preaching. The message was confirmed by apostles: faith in Jesus alone for salvation. But Paul didn’t go to Jerusalem to get their conformation of the message he was preaching. He was already sure of the message and position. (You can see his confidence in his tone when he talks about the other apostles. Whatever they were made no difference to Paul. He knew God shows no partiality or is a respecter of persons.)
- 2:7-9 Instead of adding to the message Paul was preaching, because he was preaching the same message that they had preached, they gave to Paul and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship. They realized that the same God that worked in Peter to become an apostle to the Jews (entrusted with the gospel of the circumcision—Jews) worked in Paul to become an apostle to the Gentiles (entrusted with the gospel of the uncircumcision—Gentiles). Both sides realized that there was only one gospel: faith in Jesus alone for salvation, but that they had different callings and agreed for Paul (and those with him) to take the gospel to the Gentiles while they (James, Peter, John, and whoever else was with them) took the gospel to the Jews. We learn a few things from their interaction: (1) There is only one true gospel: faith in Jesus alone for salvation. (2) Unity is based on the true gospel. We need to be united and divided over the gospel. If someone preaches a false gospel we need to separate from them. If someone preaches a true gospel we should work to be united. (3) We accept everyone who believes in the true gospel, who is in Christ. There should be no racial attitudes or prejudice in the church. (4) Even in our unity we have different callings. God gives different abilities and gifts to believers to reach different peoples. We fulfill these callings and are in different locations, but we teach the same gospel, we never change it for a certain people group.
- 2:10 After they agreed to separate and each go their way preaching the gospel, the leaders of the church in Jerusalem asked one thing of Paul: to remember the poor. Paul was already willing to do this. We should also remember the poor and show mercy.
- Why did Paul go to Jerusalem?
- Why was Titus a strong example?
- What attitude does Paul have towards false teachers?
- What is the true gospel?
- What are some things we learn from Paul’s interaction with the other apostles?