19/07/20 – Galatians 2:1-8


Galatians 2:1Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with [me] also.


Paul continues his testimony of past events in his life.

fourteen years after – or “after a period (or interval) of fourteen years” or “after fourteen years had passed”.

This would refer to either his conversion or his initial visit to Jerusalem as per Galatians 1:18. Logically it should follow on from what Paul has already written in this epistle; therefore it is most probable that it refers to his 15 day visit to Jerusalem when he spent time with Peter. It cannot be assumed from the context that this was Paul’s first visit back to Jerusalem after meeting with Peter (as per Galatians 1:18). It merely says that Paul went to the apostolic Council after 14 years had passed by from the earlier visit.


Note that if Acts is in some sort of chronological order, then Paul visited Jerusalem at least once (assuming the following 2 verses refer to the same event) after his visit to Peter and before his return for the apostolic Council of Jerusalem as recorded in Acts 15.

Acts 11:29-3029Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judæa: 30Which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.

Acts 12:25And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem, when they had fulfilled [their] ministry, and took with them John, whose surname was Mark.


Paul and Barnabas attended the Jerusalem Council, probably because they were so opposed to the desire of many Jews that the Gentile Christians be circumcised.

Acts 15:1-21And certain men which came down from Judæa taught the brethren, [and said], Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. 2When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question.

These “certain men” probably are the false brethren of Vs 4 below.


Titus isn’t mentioned in Acts 15 as he probably would not have been considered eligible to discuss such weighty matters as discussed by this Council. Titus also could have caused some dissention if present in the Council as an uncircumcised Christian. We’ll deal with this further in Vss 3-5 below.


The Council of Jerusalem was convened specifically to discuss the problem of whether all Christians (and not just Jews) should be circumcised.

Acts 15:5-65But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command [them] to keep the law of Moses. 6And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter.

Note that it was the pharisees to whom Jesus said: But in vain they do worship me, teaching [for] doctrines the commandments of men. (Matthew 15:9)


Galatians 2:2And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel (euaggelion) which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain.


revelationapokalypsis (laying bare; making naked; disclosure of truth; a revealing concerning things before unknown; made visible to all; manifestation)

Such a revelation would make the gospel known (manifest; visible) to the Gentiles.

Ephesians 3:1-3a1For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, 2If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: 3How that by revelation (apokalypsis) he made known unto me the mystery;


communicated – or “declared”. Here Paul communicated (declared) to the Council at Jerusalem the gospel which he preached to the Gentiles. He made sure that the others would know exactly what his gospel to the Gentiles was.

privately – not publicly. Paul did not declare this publicly to all but privately (that is, only) to those of reputation [This is likely to have been James, Peter and John, being pillars (of the church) – see Galatians 2:9].

should run …. had run – both trecho (but different “tenses”) (run; of people in haste or in a race; to exert one’s self; strive hard; spend one’s strength in attaining something; the word occurs in Greek writings denoting to incur extreme peril, which it requires the exertion of all one’s effort to overcome)


preachkerysso (to be a herald; proclaim as a herald would; proclaim with the authority to be listened to and obeyed; to publish, proclaim openly: something which has been done)

While “preach” is translated from euaggelizo 3 times in Galatians 1, here the word used is different. (In Galatians 5:11 kerysso is also translated “preach”.) So why the use of a different term. While euaggelizo means to preach the euaggelion (good tidings; good news), kerysso refers to the one who preaches or proclaims publicly such as the gospel.


vainkenos (empty; vain; devoid of truth; empty vessels; empty-handed; without a gift; destitute of spiritual wealth; labours which result in nothing; fruitless)

Thus “lest by any means I should have been labouring or had been labouring in vain (fruitless endeavours; be left empty-handed)”.

Philippians 2:16Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither laboured in vain.


Paul discloses (makes known) to the Council the gospel which he preaches to the Gentiles (and which clearly, according to Paul, does not require them to be physically circumcised). Apparently he communicates this privately to the Council leaders in order that that his labours for the gospel would not have been fruitless. It is clear that Paul considers that the gospel would become somewhat fruitless if he demanded that the Gentiles be circumcised as well in order to be saved. If he can get the Council leaders on side (notably James, Peter and John), then with them on his side his efforts would bear fruit (see Galatians 2:9).


which were of reputationdokeo (to be of opinion; think; suppose; reputed to be) Translated “seemed” (twice) in Vs 6 below and again “seemed” in Galatians 2:9. All of these occurrences would relate to the same (or similar) people. These people (including James, Peter and John) had the reputation for a certain stand in the debate on circumcision. In Vs 2 below they are portrayed as being possibly swayed by the arguments of those “certain men” of Acts 15:1 who desired that all be circumcised.


Galatians 2:3But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised:


neitherbut not; neither; nor; not even.

a GreekHellen (a Greek national; in a wider sense the name embraces all nations not Jews that made the language, customs, and learning of the Greeks their own; the primary reference is to a difference of religion and worship) It is translated “Greek” 20 times and “Gentile” 7 times.

1 Corinthians 10:32Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles (Hellen), nor to the church of God:

But not even Titus (who was a Greek, or possibly just a Gentile), who was with Paul, was compelled (constrained; forced; threatened) to be circumcised. That is, the Council did not compel Titus to be circumcised, in spite of Titus keeping company with Paul, a circumcised Jew.


On the other hand, Paul required Timothy (who had a Greek father and a Jewish mother) to be circumcised in order to better prepare the way for the gospel to be preached.

Acts 16:3Him would Paul have to go forth with him; and took and circumcised him because of the Jews which were in those quarters: for they knew all that his father was a Greek.


Thus Paul resisted the circumcision of Titus even though he must have known that it would cause great offense to those “Christian” Jews who believed that without circumcision you couldn’t be properly saved (Acts 15:1).

Romans 2:28-2928For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither [is that] circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: 29But he [is] a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision [is that] of the heart, in the spirit, [and] not in the letter; whose praise [is] not of men, but of God.


Galatians 2:4And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage:


false brethrenpseudadelphos (a false brother; one who ostentatiously professes to be a Christian, but is destitute of Christian knowledge and piety) Only used 2 times, here and in 2 Corinthians 11:26[In] journeyings often, [in] perils of waters, [in] perils of robbers, [in] perils by [mine own] countrymen, [in] perils by the heathen, [in] perils in the city, [in] perils in the wilderness, [in] perils in the sea, [in] perils among false brethren;

unawares brought inpareisaktos (adjective) (secretly or surreptitiously brought in; one who has stolen in)

came in privilypareiserchomai (verb) (to come in secretly or by stealth; creep or steal in) A verb form of pareisaktos above.

spy outto inspect or view closely in order to spy out and plot against. Only used this once in the NT.

into bondagekatadouloo (bring into bondage; enslave)


Was Peter talking about the same people in 2 Peter 2:18-2118For when they speak great swelling [words] of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, [through much] wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error. 19While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage. 20For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. 21For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known [it], to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.


The issue over the circumcision of Titus arose because of false brethren who were secretly brought in, who came by stealth in order to plot against the liberty (freedom) which we have in Christ Jesus (such freedom not to be bound by their law that all should be physically circumcised) in order to bring us back to the bondage that we had escaped from in Christ Jesus.


Note that which appears to have triggered the Council at Jerusalem: Acts 15:1And certain men which came down from Judæa taught the brethren, [and said], Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.

That is, the trouble we are now facing with this Council is because of the underhand actions of false brethren who have caused this Council to be established in order to settle this matter. Apparently these false brethren had had some influence upon the thinking of such as James, Peter and John; thus Paul, Barnabas and Titus had come to defend the gospel of non-circumcision that they were preaching to the Gentiles.


Galatians 2:5To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel (euaggelion) might continue with you.


gave place – or “yield”

by subjection – or “by obedience”

no, not – emphatically “No!”

might continuediamino (to stay or remain permanently; continue)

for an hour – could refer to an hour or to any definite period of time. Thus, emphatically no, not for any time at all.

We emphatically did not yield in subjection to these false brethren, no, not even for an hour (not for any time at all) that the truth of the gospel might continue (might remain; might continue to remain) with you (the Galatians).


This does imply that the false brethren had influenced the apostles to consider that circumcision might be required for even the Gentiles, and that Paul had come to argue that, for the Gentiles, it was the establishment of a physical law that could be detrimental to the proper preaching of the gospel to the Gentiles (shall profit you nothingGalatians 5:2). If Paul yielded to their demands that the Gentiles be circumcised, it would adversely affect the preaching of the truth of the gospel to the Gentiles.


Galatians 2:6But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man’s person:) for they who seemed [to be somewhat] in conference added nothing to me:


seemeddokeo [to be of opinion; think; suppose; reputed to be; to be accounted (as)] Used twice in this verse. Also translated “seemed” in Galatians 2:9And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we [should go] unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.

Translated “which were of reputation” in Galatians 2:2 above.


these who seemed to be somewhat – This does seem to refer to “them which were of reputation” (Galatians 2:2). It appears to follow on from Paul’s private communication with them. Those of reputation with whom Paul discussed matters privately (Galatians 2:2) seemed to be in agreement somewhat with the trouble-making false brethren, and Paul wished to correct this.

Thus “But of these who were reputed to be somewhat in conference (in our private communications with them) added nothing to my views (what I considered to be the truth already – see Vs 5 above).”


in conference addedprosanatithemi (to lay upon one’s self in addition to; to undertake besides; to consult; to take one into counsel; communicate; impart)

From pros (to the advantage of; with regard to) and anatithemai (declare; communicate)

anatithemai was translated “communicated” in Vs 2 above; this then establishes some link between the 2 verses.

prosanatithemi is also used for “conferred” in Galatians 1:16bimmediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:


(whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man’s person:) – It does not matter who it was who had these views somewhat the same as the false brethren, for God is impartial, respecting no person above another.

Acts 10:34-3534Then Peter opened [his] mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: 35But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.

Romans 2:10-1110But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile: 11For there is no respect of persons with God.

It doesn’t matter who you are or what position you hold; God does not place one opinion above another just because you have more earthly importance.


Galatians 2:7But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as [the gospel] of the circumcision [was] unto Peter;


contrariwise – or “on or to the contrary”

saw – or “understood” or “perceived”

the uncircumcision – could also refer to Gentiles in general.

was committed unto meor “was entrusted to me” The word used, pistueo, can mean “to be entrusted with something” and derives from pistis (faith). It is translated “have believed” in Galatians 2:16 (…. even we have believed in Jesus Christ ….)


Those of reputation who seemed to be influenced by the false brethren were able to add nothing to my views; to the contrary, when they saw that the gospel (good tidings) for the uncircumcision (the Gentiles) was entrusted to me just as the gospel of the circumcision (the Jews) was entrusted to Peter …..


While Peter was to have some input into outreach to the Gentiles, he remained primarily committed to the outreach of the gospel to the Jews. He was originally the chief spokesman for the disciples on and after Pentecost, yet he was also called (in Acts 10 & 11) to open the gospel up to be available to the Gentiles. Peter also said at the Jerusalem Council: Acts 15:7And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men [and] brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe.

This seems to refer to the previous verse with God not being a respecter of persons (Vs 6 above), that Paul had been entrusted with the outreach to the Gentiles in the same way as Peter was (or had been) entrusted with the gospel to the Jews. That is, Paul is setting himself up as the Gentile gospel equivalent of Peter with the Jewish gospel.


Note also the conclusion of the Jerusalem Council after Paul’s views were made clear.

Galatians 2:9And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we [should go] unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.


Note, too, that despite the gospel being for both the Gentile and the Jew, it was still the one and same  gospel as per Galatians 1:6-7a6I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: 7Which is not another;

Romans 1:16For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. (where “Greek” can also be translated “Gentile”)

Acts 15:12Then all the multitude (at the Council) kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them.


Galatians 2:8(For he that wrought effectually (energeo) in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty (energeo) in me toward the Gentiles:)


wrought effectuallyenergeo (to be operative; be at work; put forth power; effectually work) Note our word “energy”.

was mightyenergeo

Thus the gospel to the Gentiles was committed to Paul just as the gospel to the Jews had been committed to Peter (Vs 7 above), God’s might in working effectively is equally the same for both Peter and Paul. The question must be asked, though, why this word was not translated the same in each case in the KJV when it is the same Greek term each time in the original?


Here Paul justifies his claim (in Vs 7 above) that the same God who “wrought effectually” in Peter to bring the gospel to the Jews had also “was mighty = wrought effectually” in Paul to bring the gospel to the Gentiles. Paul is thus claiming to be the equivalent of Peter with the only exception being to whom they each were called to preach.


In this passage today Paul is claiming equality of ministry with Peter and the other apostles. Even though he declares elsewhere to be the “least of the apostles” .....

1 Corinthians 15:9-119For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 10But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which [was bestowed] upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. 11Therefore whether [it were] I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed.

….. he still claims to have the same power of ministry as Peter. It is not what we do that counts, or who we are, but what God is able to do with and through us.

1 Thessalonians 5:24Faithful [is] he that calleth you, who also will do [it].


To the Galatians page


To the New Testament page


To the Old Testament page


To Messages and Teachings page


To Sermons & Messages page


To Sermons by Date Index


To Calvinist Heresies page


To Posts / Blog / News page


List of all my posts on this site


To Comments page


Hoppers Crossing Christian Church homepage