Galatians Chapter 2

March 15, 2012

This Preaching in Shorts Bible study is on 1 Corinthians. Each chapter is read verse by verse with the major points highlighted and discussed.

You can listen to the study by clicking here

Is real life found in Christ or in observing the law? Are we justified by following the law or having faith in Christ? This is one of the main threads of this letter to the Galatians. Last week we introduced in Chapter 1 the Judaizers, who were Jewish believers that were going around to the Gentile churches and insisting that the Gentiles needed to become Jewish (under the law) in order to really follow Christ. Paul is saying that they are wrong. Galatians 2 records for us Paul’s journey to Jerusalem with Titus to get a resolution to the problem. We are also going to see how the trouble stirred up by the Judaizers impacted the church in a negative way and an encounter that Paul has with Peter in order to deal with it.

Galatians 2:1-21 (NIV)
1 Fourteen years later I went up again to Jerusalem, this time with Barnabas. I took Titus along also. 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. 3 Yet not even Titus, who was with me, was compelled to be circumcised, even though he was a Greek. 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. 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. 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. 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 by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified. 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! 18 If I rebuild what I destroyed, I prove that I am a lawbreaker. 19 For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life 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 set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”

Galatians 2:1-10

Fourteen years after Paul’s first trip to Jerusalem, he heads back again to meet with the leaders of the church in order to deal with the problems that the Judaizers have been causing. He takes Barnabas with him, and interestingly he also takes Titus. Titus is kind of a living test case. Titus is an uncircumcised Gentile believer. It is important to note that the leadership of the church in Jerusalem did not force circumcision upon Titus. The church in Jerusalem affirms the ministry of Paul, affirms his calling to the gentiles, and only asks that they continue to remember the poor.

Galatians 2:11-21

There is a major principle that is gong to be established in these verses. I want to talk about it before we look at the actual events. The issue has to do with life and law, ultimately with shifting our focus from life to the law, which has been and unfortunately continues to be the habit of the established religious community. Jesus did not come to point everybody back to intensifying their efforts to follow the law. Jesus mission was an invitation to life, real full life. Righteousness, or right living can never come through the Law. Only a new life in Christ can bring us that justification from God which results in a restored relationship with God, and the infilling of the Holy Spirit who has the power to transform us to help us love and live in a way that honors God and blesses the world around us. Verses 20 and 21 are key verses in understanding this principle and will also be necessary to grasp as we continue on in the book of Galatians.

Galatians 2:20-21 (NIV)
20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life 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 set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”

Now on to the events of Chapter 2. Paul has to confront Peter. Why? Apparently, Peter comes for a visit to the church in Antioch. At first, Peter connects with the church there and participates fully in the life of the church. After all, Peter had the vision from God about things being “clean” and his own encounter with Gentiles being filled with the Spirit at Cornelius house back in Acts 10. So Peter is happy to fellowship and break bread with the Gentile believers in the church in Antioch. This eating together is a beautiful picture of the unity of Jew and Gentile. All is well until the Judaizers show up. Then, Peter draws back from the gentiles. What he does is that he stops eating with them. When Peter draws back, he is in effect saying that there are two bodies of Christ, one that is Jewish and one that is Gentile. This has a significant impact on the church. The action by Peter implies that gentile are somehow second class citizens in the Kingdom of God.

And because it was Peter, it impacts other Jewish believers in Antioch, including Barnabas, who had been Paul’s constant companion on the mission trips to the Gentiles. This action was divisive, and was not in line with the truth of the Gospel. Peter’s actions are so impactful that Paul encounters him publicly. Paul sees more than the immediate hurt and division in the church in Antioch, he sees the deadly intrusion of Law into the gospel message. Paul’s main point is made several times, that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Christ. Those who have put their faith in Christ can not mix the gospel and the law. The gospel message is about grace. If the law could have done it, we wouldn’t need Jesus and that would mean that the cross was for nothing. Paul will expound on this theme of life and law, grace and legalism in the following chapters.

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