THE BOOK OF GALATIANS
|KEY THOUGHT||NO. OF CHAPTERS||KEY VERSE||CHRIST SEEN AS|
|Liberty||6||Galatians 2:20||Christ Living In Us|
|The Apostle Paul||A.D. 60||Christ is the Deliverer from the law and mere externalism and leads unto glorious liberty.|
Reference material compiled by Ray
Various Authors, Edited as reference material
THE EPISTLE TO THE
Contents: Paul’s journey to Jerusalem and his contest for truth. Justification by faith in Christ without works.
Conclusion: The gospel of grace is one of justification by faith in Christ’s finished work apart from the deeds of the law. We do not get saved by our works, but we get saved and work. Those who put themselves under the law after seeking justification through Christ take the place of unjustified sinners seeking to be made righteous by law and works, whereas justification is wholly of faith and sanctification wholly of Christ living out through our lives.
Key Word: Uncircumcision, v. 7
Strong Verses: 16, 19, 20, 21
Christ Seen: v. 20. The present aspect of our salvation is Christ living in us by His Holy Spirit. God does not ask us to the Christian life, but wants us, by yielding to Him to let Christ live it in us.
Introduction: The apostle, in this chapter, continues the relation of his past life and conduct, which he had begun in the former; and, by some further instances of what had passed between him and the other apostles, makes it appear that he was not beholden to them either for his knowledge of the gospel or his authority as an apostle, as his adversaries would insinuate; but, on the contrary, that he was owned and approved even by them, as having an equal commission with them to this office. I. He particularly informs them of another journey which he took to Jerusalem many years after the former, and how he behaved himself at that time (v. 1-10). And, II. Gives them an account of another interview he had with the apostle Peter at Antioch, and how he was obliged to behave himself towards him there. From the subject-matter of that conversation, he proceeds to discourse on the great doctrine of justification by faith in Christ, without the works of the law, which it was the main design of this epistle to establish, and which he enlarges more upon in the two following chapters.
Verse 1: Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem
with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also.
That is, either after it pleased God to call him by his grace, and reveal his Son in him; or rather after he had been at Jerusalem to see Peter, with whom he stayed fifteen days, and then went into Syria and Cilicia; so that it was seventeen years after his conversion that he took this journey to Jerusalem he here speaks of; and he seems to refer to the time when he and Barnabas went from the church at Antioch to the apostles and elders about the question, whether circumcision was necessary to salvation, Act_15:1 which entirely agrees with the account the apostle here gives of this journey, and which he went not alone, but
With Barnabas: and took Titus with me also; Barnabas is mentioned in Luke's account as going with him at this time, but Titus is not; who, though he was not sent by the church, yet the apostle might judge it proper and prudent to take him with him, who was converted by him, was a minister of the Gospel, and continued uncircumcised; and the rather he might choose to have him along with him, partly that he might be confirmed in the faith the apostle had taught him; and partly that he might be a living testimony of the agreement between the apostle's principles and practice; and that having him and Barnabas, he might have a competent number of witnesses to testify to the doctrines he preached, the miracles he wrought, and the success that attended him among the Gentiles; and to relate, upon their return, what passed between him and the elders at Jerusalem; for by the mouth of two or three witnesses everything is established.
Verse 2: And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel 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.
And I went up by revelation, He was not sent for by the apostles at Jerusalem, nor did he go of himself, nor only by the vote of the church at Antioch, but by a divine revelation; not a revelation made to the church, or by the prophets there, but by God himself to him; he had a secret impulse from the Spirit of God, and a private warning given him, that it was the will of God he should go up at this time; which is no ways inconsistent with his being sent by the church, but served as a confirmation to him, that what they determined was right, and according to the mind of God:
and communicated unto them that Gospel, which I preach among the Gentiles; that self-same Gospel, which he had preached, and still continued to preach to the Gentiles; relating to free and full remission of sin by the blood of Christ, justification by his righteousness without the works of the law, and freedom from all the rituals and bondage of the Mosaic dispensation: for as the Gospel he preached was all of a piece, uniform and consistent, so he did not preach one sort of doctrine to the Gentiles, and another to the Jews; but the very self-same truths which were the subject of his ministry in the Gentile world, which were a crucified Christ, and salvation alone by him, these he communicated, laid before, and exposed unto the consideration of the elders and apostles at Jerusalem; not with a view either to give or receive instructions, but to compare their sentiments and principles together; that so it might appear that there, was an entire harmony and agreement between them; and this he did not publicly, to the whole church, at least at first, and especially the article of Christian liberty, which respects the freedom of the believing Jews, from the yoke of the law; for as yet they were not able to bear this doctrine; they could pretty readily agree that the Gentiles were not obliged to it, but could not think themselves free from it; wherefore the apostle, in great prudence, did not avouch this in the public audience:
but privately to them which were of reputation; or "who seemed to be", i.e. somewhat, very considerable persons; not in their own opinion, or appearance only, but in reality, they seemed to be, and were pillars in the house of God; particularly he means James, Cephas, and John, then in great esteem with the saints, and deservedly honored and respected by them, they being faithful laborers in the word and doctrine; so the Jewish doctors (a) call men of great esteem, who "seem to be", or "are accounted of", a word to which the phrase here used answers: these were spiritual men, capable of judging of all spiritual things; men of full age, whose senses were exercised to discern between truth and error; and were very proper persons for the apostle to lay the scheme of his ministry before, and the various truths he insisted on in it: these he met "privately", or "separately", as it may be rendered; he either conversed with the apostles alone, and all together, in some private house; or separately, one by one, in their own houses, and there freely and familiarly discoursed with them about the several doctrines of the Gospel; and particularly this, of freedom from the law: his end in it was, as he says.
lest by any means I should run, or had run in vain: which is said, not with regard to himself, as if he had entertained any doubt of the doctrines he had preached, and needed any confirmation in them from them; for he was fully assured of the truth of them, and assured others of the same; or that he questioned the agreement of the apostles with him; or that his faith at all depended on their authority; but with regard to others, and his usefulness among them. The false teachers had insinuated that his doctrine was different from that of the apostles in Jerusalem, and so endeavored to pervert the Gospel he preached, and overthrow the faith of those that heard him; and could this have been made to appear, it would in all likelihood have rendered, in a great measure, his past labors in vain, and have prevented his future usefulness: some read these words as an interrogation, "do I in any manner run, or have I run in vain?" no; from the account he laid before the church, the elders, and apostles, both in private and in public, in Act_15:4 it clearly appeared what success attended his ministry, how many seals he had of it, what numbers of souls were converted under it, and how many churches were planted by his means; for by "running" here is not meant the Christian course he ran, in common with other believers, which lies in the exercise of grace, and the discharge of duty; but the course of his ministry, which he performed with great activity, application, diligence, and constancy, until he had finished it.
Verse 3: But neither Titus, who was with me, being
a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised:
There was such an agreement between the apostle, and his fellow apostles at Jerusalem, even about this article of the necessity of circumcision, and other rituals of the law of Moses, to salvation; that Titus, whom he brought along with him, an intimate companion of his in his travels, a fellow laborer with him in the ministry, and now upon the spot, though he was a Gentile, an uncircumcised person, yet even not he
was compelled to be circumcised: the elders did not urge it, or insist upon it, as proper and necessary; they looked upon it as a thing indifferent, left him to his liberty, and made use of no forcible methods to oblige him to it; yea, were of opinion, as Peter and James in the assembly declared, that such a yoke ought not to be put upon the necks of the disciples, and that those who turned to God from among the Gentiles, should not be troubled with these things.
Verse 4: And 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:
And that—referring to Titus’s uncircumcision. Paul refrained from circumcising Titus, not out of disrespect for the rite of circumcision, but because legalistic Jews would have seen such an act as Paul’s admission that circumcision was necessary for all believers.
False brethren—Judaizers, who in this case were not genuine believers in Jesus Christ. The Judaizers forced Jewish customs and laws upon Gentile Christians.
To spy—they were actually enemies in the disguise of friends, who wanted to deprive the Gentile Christians of their freedom in the Lord.
Our liberty—The Gentiles were free from the responsibility of the Jewish ceremonial laws.
Might [will] bring us into bondage—The Greek verb (future tense) implies the certainty and continuance of the bondage.
Verse 5: To whom we gave place by subjection, no,
not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.
We did not give in to them for a moment” (NIV). The “we” is a reference to both Barnabas and Paul, since both resisted all of the efforts of the Judaizers to impose the Jewish laws on the Gentile Christians.
That the truth of the gospel might continue with you—the question not only concerned Titus, but the truth of the unencumbered gospel which Paul had been preaching. He did not yield on this point, insisting that he defended the true faith.
Verse 6: But 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:
These who seemed to be somewhat [something]—i.e., the people of importance, the apostles to the circumcision.
God accepted no man’s person—Paul admits that the apostles were great leaders, but says that this makes no difference to God, and thus no difference to him (Eph. 6:9).
In conference added—imported (the same Greek word for “conferred” in 1:16). Paul was suggesting that just as he had not added anything to the gospel at the time of his conversion, so the leaders of the church had not added anything to his message.
Verse 7: But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter;
But contrariwise—this prepares the way for Paul’s next statement, which would show that the other apostles acted in a manner directly opposite to the way the Judaizers would have liked them to act. They approved of Paul and his commission.
The gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me—Greek, “I have been entrusted with the gospel of the uncircumcision.” Paul’s ministry was to the Gentiles.
The gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter—Peter had originally opened the door of the gospel to the Gentiles (Acts 10; 15:7); but in the ultimate apportionment of the spheres of labor, the Jews were assigned to him.
Verse 8: For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the
circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:
He who wrought powerfully with Peter, wrought powerfully also with me. He gave us both those talents which were suited to our work, and equal success in our different departments.
Verse 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.
James—is placed first in order, since he was the leading elder of Jerusalem and presided at the council (Acts 15). He was called “the Just” because of his strict adherence to the law, and was especially popular among the Judaizers, even though he did not represent as extreme a viewpoint as they did.
Cephas—Peter was not thought of so highly by the extremists because of his dealings with the Gentile Christians. Each of the apostles was thus given a separate group as a special ministry. James, who was careful to observe the letter of the law, ministered to the Jews of Jerusalem, who would appreciate him. Peter, who had opened the door to the Gentiles but was nevertheless favorable to the Jewish Christians, ministered to the Jews of the dispersion.
Paul, who had been an example of Judaism at its peak, had been converted suddenly and found his ministry among the Gentiles.
John—had received an indication in Jesus’ lifetime of the admission of Gentiles into the church (John 12:20-24).
seemed to be pillars—The pillars of the church held the superstructure in place and rested on the foundation, who is identified by Paul as Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 3:11).
perceived the grace that was given unto me—in bringing the gospel to the Gentiles. Paul convinced the apostles that his ministry was valid by presenting the things which God had done through him. One graphic example was Titus, who had come to Jerusalem with Paul and Barnabas.
gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship—Barnabas and Paul were recognized as colleagues in the apostleship.
we should go unto the heathen [Gentiles]—Paul and Barnabas had the ministry to the Gentiles, whereas the Jerusalem apostles had the ministry to the circumcision [the Jews].
Verse 10: Only they would that we should remember
the poor; the same which I also was forward to do.
They saw plainly that God had as expressly called Barnabas and me to go to the Gentiles as he had called them to preach to the Jews; and they did not attempt to give us any new injunctions, only wished us to remember the poor in Judea; but this was a thing to which we were previously disposed.
Verse 11: But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.
Peter—in the earliest manuscripts, he is named “Cephas.” The fact that Paul stood up against Peter is the strongest proof offered as to his independence in relation to the other apostles.
Was come to Antioch—at this time, Antioch was the chief center of the Gentile church. It was the place where the gospel had first been given to Gentiles, and the place where the name “Christians” was first employed (Acts 11:20, 26). The issue at Antioch was not whether Gentiles could become Christians without being circumcised, since that question had been settled in the Jerusalem council; it was, rather, whether uncircumcised Gentile Christians could sit at the table of fellowship with Jewish Christians
Because he was to be blamed [condemned]—Peter’s actions at this time contradicted his actions at another.
Verse 12: For before that certain came 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.
For before . . . certain [men] came from James—James leaned toward a legalistic interpretation of Christianity; and even if these men were not actually representing him (as can be inferred from Acts 15:24), they would no doubt have been a part of the Jerusalem church which had James as leader.
He did eat with the Gentiles—the vision which Peter had received (Acts 10:10-20) and the commands he had been given (Acts 11:3-17) were consistent with this action.
He withdrew—imperfect tense in Greek: “began to withdraw” or “continued to withdraw.” Peter, through fear of these men, was unfaithful to his own principles (Acts 15:7-11).
Verse 13: And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation.
The other Jews dissembled likewise—lit., “the other Jews joined [with him] in hypocrisy.” They acted as though obedience to the ceremonial law was necessary for salvation, even though they knew that they were free from the law to eat with the Gentiles, having already done it (Acts 11:2-17). This was not the same problem of Christian liberty as that which Paul later faced in Corinth and Rome (1 Cor. 8–10; Rom. 14). It was a question which affected the essence of the gospel which Paul was preaching; whether the Gentiles were going to be forced to live like the Jews in order to be saved.
Barnabas also was carried away—Barnabas was the one Paul would have least expected to be caught in this hypocrisy, since he was present with Paul when the gospel was first preached to the Gentiles.
Verse 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?
They walked not uprightly—lit., “they did not walk straight.” The NIV translates, “they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel."
The truth of the gospel—the gospel teaches that justification by following the law is inconsistent with faith in Christ’s redemption. This was the stand taken by Paul. Here he stood alone against Judaism.
I said unto Peter before them all—Peter had to be rebuked in the presence of the Gentile believers because his high authority would lead the Gentiles to believe that since he followed the rules of the Judaizers, it was necessary for them to do the same. What Paul said is made clearer in the RSV: “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews [lit., ‘to Judaize’]?” Peter had abandoned the Jewish dietary laws and eaten like a Gentile. How could he now switch? That would encourage the Gentiles to adhere to Jewish customs.
Verse 15: We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles,
We who are Jews by nature—we who belong to the Jewish nation—who have been born, bred, and educated Jews.
And not sinners of the Gentiles Not without the knowledge of God, as they have been. Often signified a heathen, merely one who had no knowledge of the true God. But among the nations or Gentiles many Jews sojourned; who in Scripture are known by the name of Hellenists, and these were distinguished from those who were termed sinners of the Gentiles—heathens, in our common sense of the word; while the others, though living among them, were worshippers of the true God, and addicted to no species of idolatry.
Verse 16: Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law—the basis of justification cannot be the law, since the only thing obedience to the law can do is to fulfill the requirements of the law.
but by the faith of [in] Jesus Christ—In coupling the name of “Jesus” to the title of “Christ,” Paul was affirming the Messiahship of Jesus, since “Christ” is Greek for “Messiah.”
Justified by the faith of Christ—made righteous by faith in Christ.
And not by the works of the law—No one could be justified by keeping the law, since everyone would break some part of it. And the moral law was even more demanding than the ceremonial law.
For by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified—this is a paraphrase of Psalm 143:2. Paul rests his argument on this as an axiom of his theology. In all of Paul’s writings there is hardly any other verse that so dogmatically and dynamically pronounces the core of his theology. Thrice he says that a man is not justified by the works of the law, and thrice he says that a man is justified by faith in Christ Jesus.
Verse 17: But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid.
This verse is difficult to interpret. But among the several interpretations that have been offered by various commentators, the following explanation seems the most satisfactory:
A final interpretation is that Paul refers to the standard objection to the doctrine of justification by faith, which, significantly enough, he also deals with elsewhere. According to this interpretation, Paul would be answering the objection that to eliminate the law entirely as he is doing is to encourage godless living, living without norms. The argument would go “Your doctrine of justification by faith is dangerous, for by eliminating the law you also eliminate a man’s sense of moral responsibility. If a person can be accounted righteous simply by believing that Christ died for him, why then should he bother to keep the law or, for that matter, why should he bother to live by any standard of morality? There is no need to be good. The result of your doctrine is that men will believe in Christ but thereafter do as they desire.” Paul’s reply is abrupt. The form of his expression suggests that he was aware of the possibility that a Christian can (and that all Christians do) sin. But this is not the result of the doctrine of justification by faith, and therefore Christ is not responsible for it. Such a thought is abhorrent.
“Absolutely not!” “God forbid!” If there is sin, as Paul acknowledges indirectly in the next verse, man himself is responsible (“I am a lawbreaker”).
Verse 18: For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.
If I act like a Jew, and enjoin the observance of the law on the Gentiles, which I have repeatedly asserted and proved to be abolished by the death of Christ, then I build up what I destroyed, and thus make myself a transgressor, by not observing the law in that way in which I appear to enjoin the observance of it upon others.
Verse 19: For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.
The law was Paul’s teacher and guide, leading him to Christ. It did this in two ways. First, the law as contained in Scripture pointed out the way that Paul failed to keep the law, as well as the punishment for that failure (Rom. 3:20; Gal. 3:13). This drove him to Christ as the refuge from God’s anger, since the law itself taught that it was not permanent, but would give place to Christ (Rom. 10:4). Second, the OT Scriptures drew him to Christ through the promises in the prophets of a better righteousness, and of God’s law written on the hearts of men (Deut. 18:15-19; Jer. 31:33; Acts 10:43).
Am dead to the law—lit., “died to the law.” Paul became dead to the law and thereby passed from being under its power with respect to its demands) (Rom. 6:14; 7:4-6; Col. 2:20). Just as a woman, once married and bound to a man, ceases to be bound to him when he dies, and is free to marry another husband, so by our union with Christ in his death, we are freed from the past power of the law over us (Rom. 6:6-11).
Verse 20: I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet
not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I
live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
In the Greek, the verb is in the perfect tense, indicating the present effect of a past action: “I was crucified with Christ [at the time he was crucified] with the present result that I am now still crucified.”
Nevertheless I live; yet not I—lit., “and I live no more.” The “I” here is the old man, Paul’s old ego; such had been crucified with Christ.
But Christ liveth in me—in the place of Paul’s old life, Christ lives—and that in Paul. Thus Paul was saying, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me”.
The life which I now live—the Christian life, now lived by the new “I,” the new regenerated man.
In the flesh—referring to his human existence or to his body.
I live by the faith of the Son of God—i.e., “I live by faith in the Son of God” or “I live by the faith the Son of God gives me.” Paul lived by Christ’s life and by the faith Christ gave him. The phrase “Son of God” is a reminder that his divine Sonship is the source of life-giving power.
Loved me, and gave himself [over to death] for me [on my behalf]—referring to Christ’s death on the cross. The love which motivated that giving is the link which united Paul with Christ. Paul carefully notes that the death of Jesus was not merely an act of violence, or an accident which took place in history, but rather a self-giving on behalf of sinners.
Verse 21: I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.
I do not frustrate—I do not contemn, despise, or render useless, the grace of God—the doctrine of Christ crucified; which I must do if I preach the necessity of observing the law.
For if righteousness—if justification and salvation come by an observance of the law, then Christ is dead in vain; his death is useless if an observance of the law can save us; but no observance of the law can save us, and therefore there was an absolute necessity for the death of Christ.
This lesson was prepared using the following: Brooks, Keith I., The Summarized Bible; Clark, Adam, Commentary on the N. T.; Henry, Matthew, Commentary on the N. T.; Green, Oliver, Commentary on Galatians; Walvoord, John, Commentary on the Book of Galatians.
All scripture is from the King James Version.
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