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The New Oxford Annotated Bible New Revised Standard Study Bible that provides essential scholarship and guidance for Bible readers.

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Commentary on Galatians

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Commentary spanning earlier chapters

1.6–2.14 : A recapitulation of Paul's life.

1.13–2.14 : Paul recounts his background in Judaism, his calling as an apostle, and his mission to the Gentiles.

The purpose of this autobiographical sketch is to state the facts, as Paul saw them, of how he became the apostle to the Gentiles.

2.1–10 : Paul meets with the Jerusalem leaders.

It is difficult to determine the relationship of Paul's and Barnabas's visit to Jerusalem, reported here, with the account of their visit in Acts 15.1–29 . If the same events are being described, then we have two radically different versions.

1 :

It is unclear whether the fourteen years are to be counted from his call or his first Jerusalem visit ( 1.18 ). Barnabas, a Jewish Christian and Paul's co‐missionary, who participated in the mission to Antioch and brought Paul there (see Acts 4.36; 9.27; 11.22–30; 13.1–15.41 ). Titus, a Greek, possibly converted by Paul himself, who also becomes Paul's co‐missionary.

2,6,9 :

Acknowledged, the Gk means “seem, appear.” Paul perhaps vacillates between the senses “seem [truly]” and “seem [falsely].”

3–5 :

Paul's opponents, the false believers, both in this earlier conflict and in Galatia, claim that conversion to Judaism is a precondition for membership in the Christian community and therefore demand Titus's circumcision.

6–9 :

Uncircumcised … circumcised, Gentiles and Jews. Paul asserts that the Jerusalem leaders agreed with him in distinguishing between their mission to their fellow Jews and his to the Gentiles, thus conceding his apostolic authority over the latter. The division of labor may not have been so sharply defined (Acts 10 ). John, probably the apostle (Acts 3–4 ).

10 :

Paul organized a collection among the churches he founded to be sent to Jerusalem (Acts 11.29–30; 24.17; Rom 15.25–29; 1 Cor 16.1–3; 2 Cor 8.1–9.15 ). The poor may be a religious expression which identified the Jerusalem Christians as the righteous, humble ones of God (Lk 1.48; Mt 5.3; 1QpHab 12.2–6 ), or a reference to the physical neediness of the community after the famine of 46/48 CE (Josephus, Ant. 20.51 ).

2.11–14 : Paul's confrontation with Peter at Antioch.

The table fellowship of Jew and non‐Jew was not forbidden by all interpretations of the Jewish law at the time of Paul. But refusal to eat Gentile food was a sign of loyal devotion to God (Dan 1.8–16; Tob 1.10–13; Jdt 10.5 ). Sharing, or not sharing, a meal was a strong indication of acceptance or nonacceptance (Acts 10.14; 11.3,8 ).

12 :

The people … from James, messengers from the Jerusalem apostle who insisted on a stricter interpretation of the law, forbidding such table fellowship.

14 :

Paul attacks Peter's behavior because it might compel the Gentiles to live like Jews. Although the ban on table fellowship did not prohibit Gentiles from being members of the Christian community, it could have relegated those who did not choose full conversion to Judaism to second‐class status.

2.15–5.1 : Paul's gospel: faith in Christ frees us from law.

2.15–21 : Jews and Gentiles are both justified through Christ.

Paul states his basic principle: Trusting in Christ, including the sacrifice of his death, is what makes one righteous.

15 :

Gentile sinners, Gentiles were sinners in Jewish eyes because they were idolators, i.e., adherents of non…Jewish religions.

16 :

Works of the law refers to those practices (dietary laws, sabbath observance, etc.) that marked Jewish identity. Faith in Jesus Christ stresses the believer's trust in Christ. The alternative translation (notes c and d), faith of Jesus Christ, emphasizes the saving effect of Jesus' obedience, culminating in his death on the cross.

17 :

Christ's exposure of our sinfulness, a consequence of bringing us to a righteous state, does not mean that Christ is carrying out the purpose of sin.

18 :

Things, i.e., observance of the law as the only path to righteousness.

19 :

Crucified with Christ, see 5.24; 6.14; Rom 6.5–11; 2 Cor 4.7–12 .

20 :

Christ who lives in me, see Rom 8.9–11; 2 Cor 13.5; Col 1.27 . Gave himself for me, see 1.4n.

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