Galatians 2:1-10

Humility-Resistance-Affirmation-Unity

Studying the letters of the New Testament is refreshing and challenging. 

  1. They are refreshing because we get to see that the gospel of the kingdom is so tactically practical and transforming as it retakes ground held under the curse of sin captured in real-time. 
  1. They are challenging because they are so personal and so specific, yet divinely inspired Scripture. Therefore, we have to understand what God is saying in and through these interactions recorded for us in redemptive history in specific places with specific people and specific circumstances and then work to make an application today. 
    1. The meaning of God’s word is objective, universal, and constant. Application is going to be unique because truth must be applied on a timeline of changing history. Truth does not change, but time changes and thus we have to work to apply these personal and very specific letters to today because they are Scripture and true. 

What is the occasion for 2:1-10? What is being addressed? 

Remember, this correspondence is not written in a theological vacuum. It’s written to a people, a theological challenge, with some personal accusations against Paul and his team we don’t get a clear picture of. 

Paul’s apostolic ministry never lacks in conflict from outside and even inside. 

I’m convinced it is because he was in the middle of the gospel of the kingdom’s salt and light work, and the enemy comes after that with evil violence, and often that evil comes through his agents who are people (See Matthew 13:24-30…weeds among the wheat).

Paul’s work in Galatia comes under such attack, and that attack is some of the basis for his correspondence. 

Paul documents his trip to Jerusalem after saying such a trip wasn’t necessary (see 1:11-24). 

That seems like an “about-face”. It seems like Paul is saying one thing and doing another. 

So, why would Paul do that? Answering that question is how we get to the intent of the passage. 

NOTE: A text can not mean what it never meant. The author’s intent is where we get meaning.

In Galatians 2:1-10, “There is good reason to believe that Paul is responding to a charge from the Judaizers that may have gone something like this: ‘Paul at one point in his ministry was required to attend a meeting in Jerusalem, submit in private to the Three (James, Peter and John), and agree to obey their instructions, as is proven by his willingness to collect funds for the Christians in Judea.’” 

(Moisés Silva, “Galatians,” in New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition, ed. D. A. Carson et al., 4th ed. (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994), 1211.)

Paul did visit Jerusalem even after he said it was not necessary, as we’ve noted already. 

Is Paul’s visit the one recorded in Acts 11:27-30 or perhaps the Jerusalem council in Acts 15? Its hard to say for sure. 

So, why?

BIG IDEA: Paul submits to the gospel in humbly making sure his gospel witness was correct, in response to some prompting by God, while at the same time fighting against a clear false teaching and he receives and gives affirmation of his and Peter’s unique calls to Gentile and Jew while maintaining unity in serving the poor of the Jerusalem church.

Humility-Resistence-Affirmation-Unity

  1. Humility: Paul receives some revelation, and whatever it was, he wanted to make sure his preaching was correct. V. 1-2
    1. NOTE: I don’t believe that Paul’s inquiry was about the exclusivity of Jesus. Rather it was about some other issue that he needed to make sure was on point, and whatever it was, he was prompted to this act of humble submission by God. 
      1. The reason I say this is because in verse three he immediately repudiates any idea of adding circumcision to Titus so he could satisfy some false teacher’s demands. 
    2. Paul submits to being checked by those who have been in the faith longer than him, and that is a gospel act of humility. 
      1. This is not about saving face nor about the exclusivity of Jesus alone for salvation. It is about obeying the Lord regardless of what people think. 
    3. Paul heard and obeyed. 
  1. Resistence: Paul, Barnabas and Titus the Gentile resisted the false teaching of adding anything to Jesus for salvation in order to preserve the gospel for non Jews. V. 3-5
    1. This attack on the gospel came from insiders who were in fact outsiders who intended, whether consciously or unconsciously, to pervert the gospel. 
      1. See Matthew 13:24-30 (CSB) on Jesus telling us this would be the case. 
    2. It was necessary to resist clear threats to the exclusivity of Jesus so that the gospel would keep it’s global tactical sharp edge. 
      1. When we begin to add religiously cultural baggage to Jesus as necessary for salvation or even discipleship, we hinder the gospel and become a hindrance rather than a help. 
        1. This should be a constant evaluation for every church/disciple. 
  1. Affirmation: Paul, Barnabas and Titus receive affirmation and no additional requirements. And each recognize the other’s unique work among unique people. V. 6-9
  1. Unity: The Jewish and Gentile mission eagerly unify over the need to serve the poor among the fellowship in Jerusalem due to the famine because they are the universal church. V. 10
  1. The church is 1. Univesrsal – Every real follower of Jesus everywhere all the time. 2. Local – Every real follower of Jesus covenanted together under covenanted biblical leadership on the same mission 3. Cell – Christians in covenant fellowship and people investigating Jesus because of the local church’s evangelists gathered for Jesus fame and the building up of the church and salvation of he sinner. 
  2. This is a “church universal” principle. Anitoch was not Jerusalem, but they were on the same global team. 
  3. They could affirm each other while not doing each other’s work. 
  4. They could be in a relationship that was deep enough to give and receive correction while not doing the same thing. 
  5. Unity does not mean uniformity. Rather it means oneness of purpose. 
  6. Jerusalem’s leaders had a unique work among Jews.
  7. Antioch’s leaders had a unique work among non-Jews. 
  8. Both of these had the one mission of Jesus’ fame among the nations thus they could come together on meeting the need of fellow Christians in need. 

Application

  1. Are we actively shaping our personal discipleship around hearing and obeying? 
    1. Paul heard the Lord, and he obeyed even if it looked like to his opponents that he was contradicting himself. 
    2. Our hearing and obeying cannot have in the equation people’s perceptions. 
      1. Proverbs 29:25 (CSB) The fear of mankind is a snare, but the one who trusts in the LORD is protected.
    3. kDsc
  1. Are we actively submitted to a leadership/fellowship that will help keep us in check? 
    1. Paul was willing to submit to the original apostles in order to be right in God’s sight. 
  2. Are we actively studying all of God’s word to know God’s truth, and then efforting at applying it to life and the world?

NOTE: Paul is having to theologically and culturally bridge a gap of understanding between the law and non-Jews as well as bridge a fellowship gap between both parties over their understanding of that law.

  1. Rejection of the law for salvation does not nullify Gods intent in his word for obedience. We have to grind out solid bible study. 
  2. Are we making effort to mine out the gospel of the kingdom in the text and live in daily obedience to Gods word in all of life.
    1. We, likewise, have theological/cultural/historical gaps in our universal fellowship from how we are understanding Scripture and making application. 
  1. Are we working out our faith through persevering obedience as fully integrated disciples of Jesus? 
    1. 2:1 “Then after 14 years”. 
    2. Obedience to God is worked out in perseverance over time getting into more and more refined practice of our faith.
      1. Through hearing and obeying and making obedient micro-adjustments, God works transformation over time.
    3. Tactically, we do this in domains of society as integrated followers of Jesus.
      1. Jennifer Jolly – discipleship relationships/work/mission/ministry/family are not separate buckets, but one life integrated on mission. 
  1. Are we aware of covert ministerial threats to the gospel in our setting? 

NOTE: These guys, in essence, wanted Paul to set up a new ministry of circumcision for Gentiles. 

  1. Are there any religious cultural additions we are adding to Christians that make basic discipleship harder than it should be?
  2. We have to be careful with our discipleship tactics that we don’t start using them as doctrinal tests and before we know it have additions to Jesus. 
    1. The fruit of the gospel is disciples who hear and obey making other disciples who hear and obey in integrated lives, not simply more churchy things to do. 
    2. One our key shifts in kdSc is “from programs to domains”. 
      1. How do we make hearing and obeying disciples that multiply themselves as fully integrated disciples of Jesus as opposed to worn out church folks ready to quit?
  1. We continue affirming gospel work that does not have the same tactical target but has the same eternal gospel.
    1. Local / Global partners / GlocalNet / Gulzar
    2. When the church universal loves the church local well, those outside of the kingdom of God see and take note. 
      1. John 13:35 (CSB) By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

Corporate Prayer

Ezekiel 36:37-38 (ESV) Thus says the Lord GOD: This also I will let the house of Israel ask me to do for them: to increase their people like a flock. 38 Like the flock for sacrifices, like the flock at Jerusalem during her appointed feasts, so shall the waste cities be filled with flocks of people. Then they will know that I am the LORD.”

  1. Increase our people.
  2. Increase our holiness.
  3. Increase our sending.

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