The NASB entitles chapter two as Paul’s acceptance by the Apostles.
A short side trip.
Is there a difference between the Apostles and disciples? Our mind quickly draws a picture of the twelve that Jesus picked out. Of course, there was Judas who had to be replaced, but effectively we are talking about the twelve disciples. Told to gather in Jerusalem, and wait there until the Holy Spirit came upon them, we see this:
Acts 1:14-15 NASB These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers. 15) At this time Peter stood up in the midst of the brethren (a gathering of about one hundred and twenty persons was there together), and said,”
What we see here is a collection of what was loosely known as the disciples. But notice the quantity – about one hundred and twenty persons. Since women were not high on the priority list, they, except for Mary the mother of Jesus, were probably not counted.
This varied group became the church in Jerusalem. They owned no buildings, obtained no tax exemptions, and still found themselves threatened by the likes of Saul in a very short time. The early church, meeting in small numbers, in homes were very Jewish inhabit and tradition. And, they were many days distant from any of the church bodies that the new disciple Saul, would have established.
We learned, from Saul/Paul’s mouth, that:
For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. Galatians 1:12 NASB
Nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went away to Arabia, and returned once more to Damascus. Then three years later I went up to Jerusalem to become acquainted with Cephas, and stayed with him fifteen days. But I did not see any other of the apostles except James, the Lord’s brother. Galatians 1:17-19 NASB
The information (the grace, mercy, and freedom) that Paul preached came straight from God. Mind you, there was that small interaction with James, but that did not account for much. And, I stayed with Peter for fifteen days.
What do we know about Peter?
Peter was the first one we see being sent to the Gentiles. However, Peter did not grasp what God was telling him and the Gentile evangelistic move on Peter’s part died.
There was the vision of the blanket coming down with clean and unclean animals in it. The voice Peter heard, he identified as Jehovah, told him to eat anything on the blanket. Of course, being a Jew, he could never eat anything unclean. The object lesson was yet to come, as God pointed out that Peter was never to call anything unclean that He had made clean.
As quickly as the vision came to an end, there was a knock at the door. The visitor pleaded with Peter to come to the house of this man’s master, one Cornelius, a Roman centurion, and yet a devout man. The implications show the centurion’s devotion to the Jewish way of life. (As Roman, he would have been considered a Gentile and therefore a worshiper of pagan gods. These attributes would have caused the centurion to be deemed unclean and untouchable by a Jew.)
Peter arrives at the Centurion’s home and begins to deliver his best message, but right in the middle of if the entire family receives the Holy Spirit and begins speaking in other tongues. Peter is baffled and says, well, I guess the Holy Spirit of God is not exclusive to the Jews. And with that, Peter disappears into the church council in Jerusalem, and we hear little else of Cornelius.
Back to Paul.
Galatians 2:1 NASB Then after an interval of fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along also.
A short stay with Peter, and a brief conversation with James. Paul’s stay in Damascus, we assume, lasted three years. Now fourteen years later Paul takes Barnabas, a Jewish convert, and Titus as well. And where do they go? To the council in Jerusalem.
Galatians 2:2 NASB It was because of a revelation that I went up; and I submitted to them the gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but I did so in private to those who were of reputation, for fear that I might be running, or had run, in vain.
“It was because of a revelation that I went up”, this revelation is a mystery to us. We only know that it was a motivation for Paul to run this message that he preached to the Gentiles, past the church elders. This entire idea is a bit of a problem, for what did Jewish followers know of the Gentiles aside from the prejudice that was integrated into their thought life from their youth.
“I submitted to them the gospel which I preach among the Gentiles”; I can read several layers of meaning into this statement.
To a degree, he is submitting to the church leadership.
He is doing a validation check. An underlying tone here could be the belief that they don’t get what Paul is teaching, nor do they teach it. Since we can understand that the church elders focused almost strictly on the Jewish community, Paul’s message may be heresy as far as they are concerned.
He is preaching that same message to them. Is it possible that his motives included having church elders expand their target audience?
“but I did so in private to those who were of reputation, for fear that I might be running, or had run, in vain.” Rarely do you hear anyone speak of Paul as a fearful man, and yet, there is that word, fear. An obvious aspect of this is that Paul had been preaching this gospel to Gentiles already, but wait a minute; having read a rather chronological record of Paul’s activities in the book of Acts, we know that Paul spent a tremendous amount of time in the Synagogues. Paul did not take his message to the Gentiles until he had his fill of beatings and attempts on his life at the hands of Jewish zealots. This fourteen year period of time then included the abuse and eventual migration to the Gentile community. Almost all of the new believers/followers of Christ were Jewish. In a moment we will see Barnabas and Titus. Note how Paul tells us that Titus was not compelled to become circumcised, indicating that he was not born Jewish, but says nothing about Barnabas. The implications are that Barnabas was a Jewish convert.
Galatians 2:3 NASB But not even Titus, who was with me, though he was a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised.
Now, here comes the real reason Paul is in Jerusalem, and it has little to do with acceptance.
So Paul, is in Jerusalem, having secret talks – if you will, with the church elders, because of the next few verses.
Galatians 2:4-5 NASB But it was because of the false brethren secretly brought in, who had sneaked in to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, in order to bring us into bondage. 5) But we did not yield in subjection to them for even an hour, so that the truth of the gospel would remain with you.
“But it was because of the false brethren secretly brought in, who had sneaked in to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus.” How would you make these determinations?
Are you aware that witch covens have people planted in churches for the express purpose of bringing curses against your pastor and your church body? You might think that would be obvious, especially if they wore a long pointed hat. But you realize that they look like anybody. Unfortunately, most of our false brethren have submitted themselves to Satan’s work unwittingly. In being false they slip in quietly and once accepted to some degree, they espouse vehemently, things that are in opposition to the nature and character of God and His word.
secretly brought in,
To be secretly brought in implies something intentional. Isn’t Satan intentional in his disdain and methods? We are not on a proverbial witch hunt, but what other groups might want to see our groups and churches disrupted? Surprisingly, our governments, with their Antichrist attitudes and laws could fit that description. What about other religious ideologies such as Islam? Islam has stated goals of killing off everyone that is not of their beliefs, and yet the Quran gives them the liberty to lie and deceive in order to infiltrate for the purpose of taking you down and putting you in submission.
to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus,
This aspect becomes important went put in the context of Jew converting and becoming followers of the way. Really, they were and still are, adding the richness found in the Messiah; the same Messiah they have spent their lives waiting for. Traditional Jews (Paul was one,) despise this “Gentile” messiah, as they choose to believe we created Him. What they are doing is ignoring chapters like Isaiah 53, which speak of the tortures He endured to bring us this freedom called grace and mercy.
in order to bring us into bondage.
Bondage, look the word up and you might find this: See Slave. The dictionary tells us that it is: Slavery or involuntary servitude; captivity; imprisonment; restraint of a person’s liberty by compulsion.
So, Paul, in the course of teaching freedom, occasionally found people, integrated into their groups, that had the express goal of restraining, restoring traditions over freedom, and recapturing those who had been set free.
“But we did not yield in subjection to them for even an hour, so that the truth of the gospel would remain with you.” Because we know that Paul went to the council in Jerusalem, we have to assume that here too he sustained some pressure to change. If you read about Paul’s trials and tribulations, then you know that this was one of his major arguments. In reply, the council asked no demands of the Gentiles except that they stay away from eating animals with the blood still in them.
Galatians 2:6 MSG As for those who were considered important in the church, their reputation doesn’t concern me. God isn’t impressed with mere appearances, and neither am I. And of course, these leaders were able to add nothing to the message I had been preaching.
Based upon this statement, “these leaders were able to add nothing to the message I had been preaching.” we can assume that to some degree they understood the message, although they may not have preached it themselves. The Jerusalem council may have been apprehensive about letting the Gentiles into the synagogues, but that was not the issue, nor the question; the real question had more to do with economics, for example:
If they were Jewish converts, who then would buy the lambs for sacrifice? This is important if they all come to the understanding that Yeshua the Messiah became the sacrificial lamb. This question is not so important if they were merely Gentile believers.
And what becomes of the important rituals, rituals that probably required some temple fee? In scripture we see a man coming to Jesus and saying, if you will you can make me clean. Well, surely Jesus could and he did make the man clean, but, there is the demand of the law to go and show yourself to the priests. They, in turn, would decree you clean before the community and restore your rights. Jesus helped the man and gave him a stern warning which he ignored, and that was that he tell no one. Did any of you ever question why he would do such a thing? It was because the man was asking Jesus to circumvent the system; a procedure which could have got him prematurely killed.
And should these converts decide to leave the temple congregation, then the tithing collections will surely drop.
No, Paul stood his ground with these elders. His words surely rang true with them, as they also saw and heard things that were new and controversial. Having nothing they could add the conference was over and the three returned home.