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The Letter of Paul to the Galatians: Chapter 2

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1Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along with me. 2I went up in response to a revelation. Then I laid before them (though only in a private meeting with the acknowledged leaders) the gospel that I proclaim among the Gentiles, in order to make sure that I was not running, or had not run, in vain. 3But even Titus, whowas with me, was not compelled to be circumcised, though he was a Greek. 4But because of false believers a Gk false brothers secretly brought in, who slipped in to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might enslave us — 5we did not submit to them even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might always remain with you. 6And from those who were supposed to be acknowledged leaders (what they actually were makes no difference to me; Godshows no partiality)—those leaders contributed nothing to me. 7On the contrary,when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel for the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel for the circumcised 8(for he who worked through Peter making him an apostle to the circumcised also worked through me in sending me to the Gentiles), 9and when James and Cephas and John, who were acknowledged pillars, recognized the grace that had been given to me, they gave to Barnabas and me the right hand of fellowship, agreeing that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. 10They asked only one thing, that we remember the poor, which was actually what I was b Or had been eager to do.

11But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood self‐condemned; 12for until certain people came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But after they came, he drew back and kept himself separate for fear of the circumcision faction. 13And the other Jews joined him in this hypocrisy, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. 14But when I saw that they were not acting consistently with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?” a Some interpreters hold that the quotation extends into the following paragraph

15We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; 16yet we know that a person is justified b Or reckoned as righteous; and so elsewhere not by the works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ. c Or the faith of Jesus Christ And we have come to believe in Christ Jesus, so that we might be justified by faith in Christ, d Or the faith of Christ and not by doing the works of the law, because no one will be justified by the works of the law. 17But if, in our effort to be justified in Christ, we ourselves have been found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! 18But if I build up again the very things that I once tore down, then I demonstrate that I am a transgressor. 19For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; 20and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, e Or by the faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me. 21I do not nullify the grace of God; for if justification f Or righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died for nothing.


a Gk false brothers

b Or had been

a Some interpreters hold that the quotation extends into the following paragraph

b Or reckoned as righteous; and so elsewhere

c Or the faith of Jesus Christ

d Or the faith of Christ

e Or by the faith of the Son of God

f Or righteousness

Text Commentary view alone
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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