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Lessons from Galatians Part 2

Updated: Oct 1, 2023

Chapter 2 Paul sorts out Peter

Paul is still addressing his critics who compared his calling unfavourably to the apostles Peter, James, and John.

The critics were a bunch of very vocal Jews, who believed that the Christians needed to believe in Jesus and keep the law of Moses. They were also known as the circumcision group.

2:1 Fourteen years later I went up again to Jerusalem, this time with Barnabas. I took Titus along also.

Paul is just letting them know that was he was neither dependent upon nor subordinate to the other main apostles.

2:2 I went in response to a revelation and set before them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles. But I did this privately to those who seemed to be leaders, for fear that I was running or had run my race in vain.

Paul uses great wisdom here, he goes straight to those who were the leaders of the Christian faith, to explain his version of the gospel to them. He was willing to be put to the test and was open to any criticism or correction by the apostles. He was not up for a public debate; this matter was to be resolved in private.

2:3 Yet not even Titus, who was with me, was compelled to be circumcised, even though he was a Greek. Paul’s gospel and practice were the same, he did not command to be circumcised his gentile fellow ministers.

2:4 This matter arose because some false brothers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves. They are still around, the legalists. We need to fight against both legalism and against liberalism.

2:5 We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might remain with you.

6 As for those who seemed to be important--whatever they were makes no difference to me; God does not judge by external appearance--those men added nothing to my message.

7 On the contrary, they saw that I had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, just as Peter had been to the Jews.

8 For God, who was at work in the ministry of Peter as an apostle to the Jews, was also at work in my ministry as an apostle to the Gentiles.

Paul’s message and preaching was certainly both powerful and anointed and left the apostles with no other course of action, other than recognise Paul’s calling to preach the gospel to the gentiles.

2:9 James, Peter, and John, those reputed to be pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the Jews.

10 All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.

11 When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong.

Think of one of the best-known Christians in the world, Billy Graham or Reinhard Bonke, imagine God has sent you to give them a telling off!

2:12 Before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group.

13 The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.

14 When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter in front of them all, "You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?

15 “We who are Jews by birth and not 'Gentile sinners'

16 know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified (put in right standing with God) by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.

We know that God accepts only those who have faith in Jesus Christ. No-one can please God by simply obeying the Law. So we have put our faith in Jesus Christ, and God has accepted us because of our faith.

2:17 “If, while we seek to be justified in Christ, it becomes evident that we ourselves are sinners, does that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not!

When the Jews started looking for a way to please God, they discovered that they were sinners too. Does this mean that Christ is the one who makes us sinners? Definitely not!

2:18 If I rebuild what I destroyed, I prove that I am a lawbreaker.

But if I tear down something and then rebuild it, all I prove was that I got it wrong the first time.

2:19 For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. It was the Law the law that killed me and freed me from its power, so that I could live for God.

2:20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.

I have been nailed to the cross with Christ. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I have died, but Christ lives in me, and I now live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave his life for me.

2:21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!"

I will not turn my back on God’s undeserved kindness to me. If we could be saved by keeping the law, then it was useless for Christ to die for us.


Paul went up to Jerusalem to meet with the apostles.

He was well received and his ministry to the Gentiles was recognised.

None of his gentile companions were forced to be circumcised.

When Peter needed correction about falling back under the Law, God sent Paul, to tell him off.

Paul, exposed Peter’s hypocrisy in public.

Paul begins to explain the differences between the Law and the Gospel.

He concludes that if we can be saved by simply obeying the Law then Jesus Christ died for nothing.


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