The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Galatians 2

Gal 2:2

WHO SEEMED TO BE LEADERS: Not the apostles, but "pseudo-apostles" (Gal 2:6,9; 6:3).

WAS RUNNING... HAD RUN: Heb idiom for prophet carrying a message: Jer 23:21; Eze 1:18,20; 1Ki 18:46; Psa 147:15; 2Ch 16:9; Hab 2:2; Amo 8:12; Zec 4:10; Dan 12:4.

Gal 2:4

FALSE BROTHERS: "Pseudadelphos". Pharisaical infiltrators intent on turning Gentile believers into slaves to the Law of Moses.

Gal 2:6

See Deu 10:17 and context: God shows no partiality.

ADDED NOTHING TO MY MESSAGE: That is, they could not compel Paul to change anything or add anything to his teachings! Or... they did not excel Paul in qualifications or arguments.

Gal 2:9

PILLARS: Which, ironically, draw lines of demarcation in field of gospel proclamation (cp usage of pillars in Gen 31:35-52; Exo 14:19,20).

RIGHT HAND OF FELLOWSHIP: Sig status of equality as apostles.

Gal 2:10

ALL THEY ASKED WAS THAT WE SHOULD CONTINUE TO REMEMBER THE POOR: The apostles in Jerusalem encouraged Paul "to remember the poor". This was not a general concern for all poor everywhere. It would appear that it was a concern for the "poor saints in Jerusalem" (Rom 15:26). Romans was written by Paul just before he arrived in Jerusalem with the money which he had been collecting for the poor brethren and sisters there. They were in particular need because: (1) on accepting the gospel they were put out of the synagogue and alienated from their fellow countrymen, and (2) some who were baptized in Jerusalem were from distant lands, and probably did not return home again -- but instead stayed in the city with the new ecclesia, without employment.

"Why does God allow so many of His children to be poor? He could make them all rich if He pleased; He could lay bags of gold at their doors; He could send them a large annual income; or He could scatter round their houses abundance of provisions, as once he made the quails lie in heaps round the camp of Israel, and rained bread out of heaven to feed them. There is no necessity that they should be poor, except that He sees it to be best. 'The cattle upon a thousand hills' are His -- He could supply them; He could make the richest, the greatest, and the mightiest bring all their power and riches to the feet of His children, for the hearts of all men are in His control. But He does not choose to do so; He allows them to suffer want... Why is this? There are many reasons: one is, to give us, who are favoured with enough, an opportunity of showing our love to Jesus. We show our love to Christ when we sing of him and when we pray to him; but if there were no sons of need in the world we should lose the sweet privilege of evidencing our love, by ministering to his poorer brethren; he has ordained that thus we should prove that our love standeth not in word only, but in deed and in truth. If we truly love Christ, we shall care for those who are loved by him. Those who are dear to him will be dear to us. Let us then look upon it not as a duty but as a privilege to relieve the poor of the Lord's flock -- remembering the words of the Lord Jesus, 'Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.' Surely this assurance is sweet enough, and this motive strong enough to lead us to help others with a willing hand and a loving heart -- recollecting that all we do for his people is graciously accepted by Christ as done to himself" (CHS).

Gal 2:12

BEFORE CERTAIN MEN CAME FROM JAMES: But not necessarily with his knowledge, nor his approval (Acts 15:24).

...AND SEPARATE HIMSELF: A form of spiritual blackmail.

"There are certain people that most of us look up to as being leaders in the church. They are examples to us of Christian life in action, they are always there, dependable and knowledgeable. They are people we believe will never let us down and will always lead us in the right direction. To most of the people in the early church, the apostles were those kind of leaders. Peter, particularly, seems to have been a leader -- and in the forefront of all that was happening and so his lead was followed by many of the other believers. But Peter, even though he was an esteemed apostle, was still just a man and still able to make mistakes. He was still just as able to bow to pressure as you or I. So when Peter did bow to pressure from forceful Jews he was joined by others who followed him and who were not so strong. Even Barnabas, who I would consider to have been a strong and godly man, was led astray by Peter's mistakes.

"We need to make sure that we are followers of the Lord Jesus Christ -- not followers of people we consider faithful. Jesus will never fail us, but even the strongest most faithful believer can lead us astray. Set your eyes on Jesus today" (RP).

Gal 2:13

"Perhaps it is something of a comfort in our own problems to know that for a time two great apostles were not in the same 'fellowship' " (AE, Xd 108:60).

Gal 2:14

The "ultra-conservatives" from Jerusalem demanded that circumcision be made a "matter of fellowship" (AE, Xd 108:60).

Gal 2:15

'GENTILE SINNERS': A Judaistic phrase of contempt.

Gal 2:20

CRUCIFIED WITH CHRIST: This means three things: (1) a man on a cross is facing in only one direction; (2) he is not going back; and (3) he has no further plans of his own; he is through with the pomp and pride and vanity of this life. Its chains are broken and its charms are gone. Probably for the first time ever, he is truly "free" from everything that this world has to offer!

WHO LOVED ME AND GAVE HIMSELF FOR ME: In the most poignant personal expression Paul testifies to the moral force of the life and sacrifice of Christ when he writes that the Son of God "loved me and gave himself for me". Nothing else can have the spiritual impact of this truth totally believed. Christ did not just die for 'us' as an anonymous group. The real, awe-inspiring wonder is that he died for us as a group of individuals, each of whom he loved personally. He died for each one of us. He died for ME! Had there been only one sinner, Christ would still have been willing to die. When each of us stands before the judgment seat he will be looking into the eyes of a man who surrendered his life, personally and individually, for him or her.

Gal 2:21

"This may be one of those verses that you casually glide by in reading, but it is a concept that has tremendous implications for the person who will but study its meaning.

"The initial implication for the verse is simple. The Judaizers, believers in Jesus who taught that salvation still came through following the Law of Moses, had put themselves in an untenable position. They had, in effect by their teaching, made Christ's death on the cross meaningless. Paul states the logic as follows: (1) If salvation comes by the Law of Moses, and (2) we already have the Law of Moses, then (3) Jesus did not have to come into the world to save us, and thus (4) his death was meaningless. The Judaizers had made the Law of Moses the thing that needed to fill the 'salvation gap' -- the gap between baptism and salvation in the Kingdom. In other words, it was fine to believe in Jesus and become baptized as taught by Jesus and the apostles. However, the Judaizers inserted a step between baptism and the kingdom that enabled salvation. Their stopgap was the Law.

"We readily see the logic and validity of the argument when we apply it to the Law of Moses, but do we see it when we apply it to other things? Do we see that we commit the same error when we take that verse and subtract 'the law' and put something in its place? For example, let's take out 'the law' and put in 'works' and see if the logic still holds? 'I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by works, then Christ is dead in vain.' The logic again is irrefutable. Isn't this the logic of Eph 2:8,9?: 'For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.'

"The fact is that everything -- EVERYTHING -- that can be done for us in the way of salvation... was done for us on the cross by Jesus Christ. We might be able to take ourselves out of the way of salvation by refusing to act on our 'faith', but we cannot do anything more to save ourselves than we did when we believed and were baptized into the saving name of Jesus. When we appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ, it is not to see if WE have saved ourselves, but to see if we have keep the precious gift of salvation that we were given in an appropriate manner... or have we buried our talent in the 'earth' of our flesh?

"All human-created fillers for the 'salvation gap' -- works, Bible study, being nice to our neighbors, etc -- as important as they may be, will not save us because that work has already been finished. When we do those things (and rest assured we MUST do those things), it is not to save ourselves, but because we have been saved. These acts of faith must be done or we do not possess the faith that saved us in the first place.

"We fear this position because it hurts our human pride. We have nothing to brag about (which is the point in the first place). We also fear, like Paul's Judaizing opponents are quoted as saying, 'Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?' This too is a complete misapplication of Scripture. Having our names written in the Book of Life is not about license to sin, but about understanding the process of salvation. The last thing we want to do is be guilty of teaching that 'Christ is dead in vain' " (KT).

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