26/07/20 – Galatians 2:9-14
Galatians 2:9 – And 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.
seemed to be – or “were reputed to be” or “had the reputation of being”
pillars – stylos (pillar; column; a prop or support) From styo (to stiffen) We get “stylus” from this word.
the right hands – dexios (the right; right hand; a place of honour or authority) It is the Greek equivalent of the Latin dexter = “skillful”; “right hand” where we get “dexterity”.
fellowship – koinonia (fellowship; community; communion; the right hand as a sign of such) From koinos (common; ordinary) – something held in common with others.
heathen – ethnos (a tribe; nation; pagans; Gentiles) Paul uses the term for Gentile Christians) We get “ethnic” from this word.
James – The Lord’s brother as explained in notes on Galatians 1:19. He was not James son of Zebedee, brother of John because this James had already been killed by Herod before the Jerusalem council.
Acts 12:1-2 – 1Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth [his] hands to vex certain of the church. 2And he killed James the brother of John with the sword.
He should neither be confused with James son of Alpheus who was one of the 12 disciples. Catholic tradition teaches that the James here was the son of Alpheus, claiming that Jesus had no actual brothers, and therefore James son of Alpheus was a cousin of Jesus. But James son of Alpheus couldn’t have been a brother of Jesus.
James, brother of Jesus, is often acknowledged to have been the bishop of Jerusalem and therefore led the council; see the following where James takes the lead in their discussions.
Acts 15:13 – And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men [and] brethren, hearken unto me:
It is clear that James therefore is now the acknowledged leader, a position Peter had held in the past. It is James who announces the ruling of the council in Acts 15:14-21, declaring that “they abstain from pollutions of idols, and [from] fornication, and [from] things strangled, and [from] blood” (Acts 15:20) yet notably leaving out any requirement that the Gentiles be circumcised. Instead James said that they had given no such commandment to be circumcised (Acts 15:24).
Cephas – or “stone”. This is Peter’s Hebrew name.
John – son of Zebedee, writer of John’s gospel, 1, 2 and 3 John, & Revelation.
It is clear that at least these 3 men were those of whom Paul said “to them which were of reputation” (Galatians 2:2) and that some of them, perhaps all 3, were those of whom Paul said “of these who seemed to be somewhat” (Galatians 2:6), men whom Paul was speaking boldly with in our passage last time (Galatians 2:1-8). Paul had concluded (Galatians 2:7-8) that they had seen (or “understood”; “perceived”) that Paul’s ministry to the Gentiles was as much a ministry of God as was Peter’s ministry to the Jews, that he “that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me (Paul) toward the Gentiles”. (Galatians 2:8)
Paul had effectively won the debate by his strong stand on the gospel to the Gentiles, and, to their credit, James, Peter and John perceived the grace that God had bestowed upon Paul’s ministry to the Gentiles. They recognised Paul’s authority in the preaching of the gospel to the Gentiles and offered to him the right hand of fellowship; that is, they accepted him as one with themselves in the ministry of the gospel. koinonia (“fellowship”) signifies the commonality of them all, including Paul, in the proclamation of the gospel to all who needed to hear and be saved. Paul would preach the gospel to the heathen (the uncircumcision) and James, Peter and John to the Jews (the circumcision).
Acts 15:22-29 – 22Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; [namely], Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren: 23And they wrote [letters] by them after this manner; The apostles and elders and brethren [send] greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia: 24Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, [Ye must] be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no [such] commandment: 25It seemed good unto us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, 26Men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27We have sent therefore Judas and Silas, who shall also tell [you] the same things by mouth. 28For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; 29That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.
Galatians 2:10 – Only [they would] that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do.
should remember – mnemoneuo (be mindful of; remember; call to mind; keep in mind) Note our word “mnemonics” which refers to memory aids to remember certain key facts.
the poor – or “those asking for alms”. This would have been assistance for those Christians in Judaea who were struggling with physical needs, especially financially.
was forward – to hasten; make haste; exert one’s self; endeavour; give diligence.
It appears that relief for the poor was already happening and that the council’s request above was simply a reminder to continue to do so.
Acts 11:29-30 – 29Then 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.
This does not appear to have been mentioned in the Acts 15 record of the Jerusalem council, but is likely to have been an extra comment not part of the official statement above in Acts 15:22-29. The apostles have desired that this good work should continue under the guidance of Paul.
Galatians 2:11 – But when Peter was come (erchomai) to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.
It is not clear exactly when Peter was in Antioch as it doesn’t appear to be mentioned in the Acts account, even by implication. Paul was teaching and preaching in Antioch with Barnabas and it is likely that at some time during Paul’s period here in Antioch that Peter also visited there.
Acts 15:35 – Paul also and Barnabas continued in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also.
Peter may not have been there for long, but long enough to be eating with the Gentiles, yet when “certain (men; people) came from James” (Vs 12 below), Peter avoided the Gentiles because he was afraid of what they might think of him.
Paul clearly accused Peter of having double standards, acting as if he believed in mixing with the uncircumcision (Gentiles) when on his own, but avoiding them when the circumcision (Jews) turned up in town! (See next verse.)
withstood – anthistemi (set one’s self against; withstand; oppose; be set against)
to be blamed – to find fault with; blame; to accuse; condemn. Used only 3 times in the NT; translated “condemn” in both 1 John 3:20 & 21.
But when Peter had come to Antioch, I (Paul) opposed him openly (to his face) because he was condemned (by his behaviour).
Paul was a straight speaker who saw no need to beat about the bush going in circles when making a point. Paul was an in-your-face kind of person who always made it quite clear what he thought about something. Paul did have a habit of making enemies, yet he wasn’t necessarily wrong to do so. When near his time of execution, Paul lost the support of all (“no man stood with me”), yet he still maintains that his preaching of the gospel would “be fully known” in spite of opposition.
2 Timothy 4:14-17 – 14Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works: 15Of whom be thou ware also; for he hath greatly withstood our words. 16At my first answer no man stood with me, but all [men] forsook me: [I pray God] that it may not be laid to their charge. 17Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me; that by me the preaching might be fully known, and [that] all the Gentiles might hear: and I was delivered out of the mouth of the lion.
Galatians 2:12 – For before that certain came (erchomai) from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision.
certain – or “certain ones”, that is, certain people came.
came; were come – erchomai, a word that indicates these people coming or going from one place to another. It differs from heko (see John 6:37) which indicates simply being present, or not absent. These certain people came from James to Antioch (probably according to his directions as leader of the Council). Thus, “And when these certain (or particular) ones had arrived after their travels ……”
withdrew – to withdraw (as of a timid person); of those who from timidity hesitate to avow what they believe; to be unwilling to utter from fear; to shrink from declaring; to conceal; dissemble. Peter acts from a concern that those who came from James might be critical of him for eating with the Gentiles. Therefore he disassociates himself from them because he is too embarrassed to be seen with them.
separated – made it clear that he wasn’t with them. This is what can happen in outdoor church services where others might be looking on. Some may be afraid to be seen to be attached to those whom the general public might term “radicals”.
fearing – phobeo [to put to flight by terrifying (to scare away); to flee; be struck with fear; be seized with alarm; of those startled by strange sights or occurrences; of those struck with amazement; hesitate to do something for fear of harm; to reverence, venerate, to treat with deference or reverential obedience] We get our word “phobia” from this term.
And what was Peter’s phobia? He was afraid to be seen as being too friendly with the Gentiles. The Jews considered themselves as better, cleaner, superior people to all other nations, especially the Samaritans who claimed to be also descended from Jacob. The woman of Samaria asked Jesus, “Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle?” (John 4:12) The Jews despised them greatly; note the parable of the good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37. And the Gentiles were usually described as goyim or not Jewish and thus people to be also despised. Peter stated that it was against the law (man’s law, obviously – note Matthew 15:9) for a Jew to mix with non-Jews because they were considered unclean.
Acts 10:28 – And he (Peter) said unto them, Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.
So, while Peter must have personally considered eating with Gentiles to be acceptable, he was afraid of what the other Jewish Christians might think of him for doing so. Peter, therefore, was afraid of losing the respect of his fellow Jewish church leaders, so much so that he made sure they didn’t see him eating with those “unclean” Gentiles! He was more afraid of what the circumcision (the Jews) would think than he was of offending the Gentiles by avoiding them while the Jews were in town!
Galatians 2:13 – And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation.
dissembled – synupokrinomai or synypokrinomai (to dissemble with; act hypocritically with) It means to “talk or act hypocritically; disguise or conceal” or “To disguise or conceal one's real nature, motives, or feelings behind a false appearance.” (thefreedictionary.com) The other Jews were hypocrites together with Peter.
Peter was acting hypocritically by pretending that he had nothing to do with those Gentiles who were clearly so unclean that Peter, being a good self-respecting Jew, would naturally have nothing to do with them. And it wasn’t just Peter who was guilty of such hypocrisy, for there were other converted Jews also in Antioch who did likewise. The word synupokrinomai is a synthesis word (many acting as one; many all acting the same way); it has the idea of many acting together (jointly) as one in what they do. Here these Jews, along with Peter, were acting hypocritically as one.
was carried away – synapago (to lead away jointly with or together; to be carried away together with; to yield or submit one’s self to lowly things, conditions, employments: not to evade their power) Another synthesis word where many act together as one. To be carried away by the persuasion of the group such that one becomes part of (yields to) the actions of the group as a whole. Thus Barnabas was carried away together with these Jews and, of course, with Peter also, in their hypocrisy. In a way we could see this as group hysteria.
dissimulation – hypokrisis (the acting of a stage player; dissimulation; hypocrisy)
We get our word “hypocrisy” from this word. It is translated “hypocrisy” in Matthew 23:27-28 – 27Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites (hypokrites)! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead [men’s] bones, and of all uncleanness. 28Even so ye also outwardly appear righteous unto men, but within ye are full of hypocrisy (hypokrisis) and iniquity.
Paul would have understood this well, probably having been one of the pharisees to whom Jesus had addressed these words. He now uses the same terminology for those who are behaving in the way he used to think was right and normal! Possibly these Jews were part of the legalistic problem that Paul addresses in Galatians, a legalistic stand that once upon a time Paul himself would have applauded!
It’s interesting to consider that this hypocrisy all seemed to have started with Peter trying to avoid being seen as weak by those Jews who came from James.
Galatians 2:14 – But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before [them] all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?
walked … uprightly – orthopodeo (to walk in a straight course; metaphorically to act uprightly) Its only NT occurrence. From orthos (straight; erect; upright; not crooked) and pous (foot).
before – or “in front of”
after the manner of Gentiles – ethnikos (like the Gentiles) from ethnos (which is translated “heathen” in Galatians 2:9, and “Gentiles” 5 times in Galatians 2 (2, 8, 12, 14, 15). (ethnikos is the adverbial form of ethnos.) When a word is used so many times in the one chapter, then it is likely to be an important part of the interpretation.
compellest – anagkazo (to necessitate, compel or constrain by force, threats, permission or entreaties) It has the idea of using some sort of pressure to force it to be done. Translated “compelled” in Galatians 2:3)
to live as do the Jews – Ioudaizo (to adopt Jewish customs and rites; imitate the Jews; Judaise; one who observes the ritual law of the Jews) In this context it refers to the necessity of applying Jewish law in order to be properly considered as a member of the Church. This is its only NT occurrence.
It derives from Ioudaios (Jewish as respects birth, origin or religion) which is translated “Jew” in Galatians 2:14 and “Jews” in Galatians 2:13 & 15. We came across another form of this word, Ioudaismos (Judaism; religion of the Jews) translated “the Jews’ religion” in Galatians 1:13 and 14, its only two NT occurrences.
“as do the Jews” is another yet similar word: Ioudaikos (Jewishly; after the manner of the Jews) This is the only place this Greek term is used.
Thus we have a lot of emphasis on “Gentiles” and “heathen” on one hand, and “Jew”, “Judaism” and “Jewishness” on the other hand. Clearly Galatians 2:1-14 relates to some sort of connection between these 2 ideas, actually 2 opposing ideas. Paul is trying to get across to us that these 2 ideas are in conflict with each other and that one side in particular (the Jews) is trying to compel the other side (the Gentiles) to come into line with what the Jews feel is the better way to go: that is, to be a good Christian you have to be a good Jew. (Many “Christian” beliefs today assess other “Christians” according to their compliance with certain “necessary” rules and regulations. Thus pentecostals may assess a person who doesn’t speak in tongues as a lesser or inferior Christian (if Christian at all), and calvinists may assess a person who rejects calvinist teachings likewise as inferior or not Christian at all.
Paul observes that all these “hypocrites” (Peter, converted Jews, and Barnabas as well) did not live consistently according to the truth of the gospel. He gets straight to the point, speaking his mind to Peter in front of them all (probably all those who were involved with Peter in this hypocrisy). Paul says that if Peter, being a Jew, should choose to live according to the customs of the Gentiles (“When in Rome do as the Romans do!”), and not as good Jewish Christians were expected to live, then why should he put pressure on the Gentiles to live like the Jews especially as regards their religion and worship. That is, if Peter considers it permissible to break Judaistic customs and eat with the Gentiles (which was against the laws of Judaism – Acts 10:28) then isn’t he being inconsistent if he compels the Gentiles to be perfect as regards the law of the Jews.
This is leading up to the requirement (by Jewish converts) at Galatia that all believers (including Gentiles) should be circumcised or else be considered inferior in some way. Paul appears to be saying that Peter’s relaxing of his laws as a Jew should permit some equivalent relaxing of the laws demands on Gentiles also.
Apparently at least some Galatian Jews considered that a good Christian should also be a good Jew, as if becoming a Christian required that one should also become Jewish or else be considered perhaps not properly saved. Thus, in their eyes, a Gentile had to become a Jew to be a good Christian. And, if a person who claimed to be saved could be declared unsaved if he broke the law of circumcision, then the circumcision has become the gospel. Note the Seventh Day Adventists (SDAs) who have the appearance teaching a biblical gospel, yet if you break the law, especially the sabbath day law, then you are effectively anathema! Thus the SDA gospel is actually their obedience to the law, especially of keeping the sabbath.
And, with Galatians focusing on the gospel as it does, it brings to mind how so many today preach the gospel and then assess it via an added extra requirement. It’s how you assess your converts that demonstrates your real gospel! Many denominations preach what appears to be the true biblical gospel, and this can fool a lot of people into thinking that their church is on the ball spiritually. However, many churches do not practise what they preach. Years ago, when Damean told me he was opposed to calvinism, I told him that Gracewest was calvinist, to which he replied that they say that but they don’t teach it (his words). That is, he was saying that Gracewest didn’t practice what they preached! In fact, this is a huge problem for many churches: they do not practise what they preach. It is how they assess people as Christians that counts, and for calvinism, it is your good works that define your Christin status, and not any word of testimony that you might speak. It’s apparently not enough to be merely saved!
In practical terms, the calvinist gospel is very simple. Imagine that there are 2 trains, one heading for hell (it’s packed tight) and the other heading for heaven (there’s not really many on this train). Everyone is on the hell train when they’re born, even the calvinist God’s Chosen Ones are there to begin with. Only those justified and with eternal life (born again) are eligible for the heaven-train; no-one on the hell-train is eligible. (By the way, “eligible”, “elite”, “elegant” and “election” are all derived from the Latin eligere (to be chosen) which is the equivalent of the Greek term ekloge (the election).
However, at some point in time, the calvinist God will transfer his Chosen Ones to the train for heaven by causing them to be made eligible by granting them eternal life and declaring them to be justified. They won’t know anything about it beforehand, and may not even realise at first that they have changed trains.
After they are on the heaven-train they are given an understanding of the biblical gospel, and, with the gifts (from their calvinist God) of faith and repentance, they will believe in the calvinist Christ and will be “saved”. But note how irrelevant this allegedly biblical gospel is, for they have to be already eligible (that is, chosen) for heaven, justified and with eternal life, before their claimed biblical gospel may be applied. So what difference would it make to calvinist belief if they just dropped their claim of a biblical gospel off the agenda? Absolutely none at all! And therefore the calvinist is born again with eternal life before he is required to call upon the name of the Lord to be saved! (Spurgeon taught this clearly.)
So just what part does the calvinist Jesus play in this so great salvation? Apparently he has little to do until after the Chosen Ones have been born again. The calvinist Jesus may only get involved after the calvinist God has set the Chosen Ones on the train to heaven. Far from being the only way to the Father (John 14:6), the calvinist Jesus has been replaced by the “regeneration” (the “born-again” ones)! And it is only those who are already born again who may now call upon the name of the Lord! So why bother calling upon the name of the Lord if you are going to heaven already without this? Why bother doing anything if it’s impossible to change anything anyway? Effectively the Chosen Ones will enter heaven even if they omit calling upon the name of the Lord!
And so, how is this gospel in practice any different to the gospel of the JWs? Yet we would never consider admitting JWs into fellowship with our church. So why do those who would reject JW beliefs then accept calvinist beliefs? And how is this different in any significant way to the legalism of the Galatians? Think upon this carefully indeed!
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