Paul’s Second Visit to Jerusalem
Galatians 2:1-5 (Acts 11:29-30) (AD 44)
(1) Then 14 years later (this probably refers to 14 years after Paul’s conversion near Damascus, recorded in Acts 9:1-9) I went up to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and Titus. (2) I went to Jerusalem in response to a revelation (possibly referring to the prophecy of Agabus in Acts 11:28). And when I arrived, I met in private with those esteemed as the prominent leaders of the Jerusalem church. I explained to them the gospel message that I proclaim among the nations, because I wanted to be sure that I was not running and had not been running my race for no purpose.
(3) Although Titus—a Greek from Antioch—who was with me was not compelled to be circumcised, (4) the issue of circumcision arose because some false Jewish believers had secretly infiltrated (slipped in under false pretenses) our midst to spy on the freedom we have in Jesus Christ and to make us slaves to the law of Moses. (5) But we did not give in to them for a single moment, so that the truth of the gospel message would be preserved for you.
Apostles to Jews and Non-Jews
(6) As for those who were held in high honor in the Jerusalem church—whatever they were makes no difference to me, because God doesn’t show favoritism and they added nothing to my gospel message. (7) On the contrary, they acknowledged that God had entrusted me with the mission task of proclaiming the gospel (good news) to non-Jews (uncircumcised), just as Peter had been to the Jews (circumcised). (8) For God, who was at work in Peter’s ministry as an apostle to the Jews, was also at work in me as an apostle to the nations.
(9) James, Cephas (Peter), and John—those esteemed as pillars (columns) of the Jerusalem church—gave me and Barnabas the right handshake of partnership when they recognized the grace of God given to me. They agreed that we should go to the non-Jews and they to the Jews. (10) The only thing they asked was that we would continue to remember the poor in Jerusalem—the very thing I was very eager to do all along (This request was the reason for Paul’s collection among the non-Jewish churches for the poor in Jerusalem; see 2 Corinthians 8:1-15).
Paul Confronts Peter in Antioch
(11) When Cephas (the apostle Peter) came to to the city of Antioch, I confronted him to his face because he was guilty of false teaching. (Peter probably went to Antioch in AD 48, before the Jerusalem Council of Acts 15:4-21. That would have been the same time that Paul wrote the letter of Galatians; see Acts 14:28).
(12) For Peter ate with non-Jews until some Jews came to Antioch from James in Jerusalem (James was the younger brother of Jesus, and now the leader of the Jerusalem church). But when they arrived, he began to withdraw and separate himself from the non-Jewish believers because he was afraid of the Jews who belonged to the “circumcision group” (those who insisted that non-Jews had to be circumcised to be saved). (13) The other Jews in Antioch joined Peter in his hypocrisy, so that even Barnabas was deceived and led astray.
(14) When I saw that they were not acting according to the truth of the gospel (good news) of Christ, I confronted Peter in front of everyone and said, “You are a Jew, and yet you live like a non-Jew and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you are now trying to force non-Jewish Christians to follow Jewish religious customs?”
Made Right With God by Faith
(15) This is what I told Peter, “We who are Jews by birth and not so-called ‘non-Jewish sinners’ (16) know that no one is made right with God (declared righteous, justified) by keeping the works of the law of Moses, but only through faith in Jesus Christ. So as Jews, we also must put our faith in Jesus Christ so that we will be made right with God (declared righteous, justified) by faith in Christ and not by keeping the works of the law of Moses, because no one is made right (declared righteous, justified) with God by the works of the law!
(17) “But if, in seeking to be made right (declared righteous, justified) in Christ, we Jews find ourselves also among the sinners, doesn’t that mean—as some of you say—that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not! (18) For if I rebuild what I destroyed, then I really would be a violator of the law. (19) For through the law of Moses I died to the law so that I could live for God. (20) I have died (been crucified) with Christ and so I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (21) I do not reject the grace of God, because if we could be made right with God (declared righteous, justified) through the law of Moses, then Christ died for nothing!”