The Council of Jerusalem.* 1Then after fourteen years I again went up to Jerusalem with Barnabas,* taking Titus along also.a 2I went up in accord with a revelation,* and I presented to them the gospel that I preach to the Gentiles—but privately to those of repute—so that I might not be running, or have run, in vain.b 3Moreover, not even* Titus, who was with me, although he was a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised,c 4but because of the false brothers* secretly brought in, who slipped in to spy on our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus,d that they might enslave us— 5to them we did not submit even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel* might remain intact for you.e 6But from those who were reputed to be important (what they once were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—those of repute made me add nothing.f 7* On the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter to the circumcised,g 8for the one who worked in Peter for an apostolate to the circumcised worked also in me for the Gentiles, 9and when they recognized the grace bestowed upon me, James and Cephas and John,* who were reputed to be pillars, gave me and Barnabas their right hands in partnership, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised.h 10Only, we were to be mindful of the poor,* which is the very thing I was eager to do.i
Peter’s Inconsistency at Antioch.* 11j And when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face because he clearly was wrong.* 12For, until some people came from James,* he used to eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he began to draw back and separated himself, because he was afraid of the circumcised.k 13And the rest of the Jews* [also] acted hypocritically along with him, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy.l 14But when I saw that they were not on the right road in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of all,m “If you, though a Jew, are living like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?”*
Faith and Works.* 15We, who are Jews by nature and not sinners from among the Gentiles, 16n [yet] who know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.* 17But if, in seeking to be justified in Christ, we ourselves are found to be sinners, is Christ then a minister of sin?* Of course not! 18But if I am building up again those things that I tore down, then I show myself to be a transgressor.* 19For through the law I died to the law,* that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ;o 20yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me; insofar as I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who has loved me and given himself up for me.p 21I do not nullify the grace of God; for if justification comes through the law, then Christ died for nothing.q
* [2:1–10] Paul’s second journey to Jerusalem, according to Galatians, involved a private meeting with those of repute (Gal 2:2). At issue was a Gentile, Titus, and the question of circumcision, which false brothers (Gal 2:4) evidently demanded for him. Paul insists that the gospel he preaches (Gal 2:2; cf. Gal 1:9, 11) remained intact with no addition by those of repute (Gal 2:6); that Titus was not compelled to accept circumcision (Gal 2:3); and that he and the reputed pillars in Jerusalem agreed on how each would advance the missionary task (Gal 1:7–10). Usually, Gal 1:1–10 is equated with the “Council of Jerusalem,” as it is called, described in Acts 15. See notes on Acts 15:6–12, 13–35, the latter concerning the “decree” that Paul does not mention.
* [2:1] After fourteen years: thirteen or more years, probably reckoned from the return to Syria and Cilicia (Gal 1:21), though possibly from Paul’s calling as a Christian (Gal 1:15). Barnabas: cf. Gal 2:9, 13; 1 Cor 9:6. A Jewish Christian missionary, with whom Paul worked (Acts 4:36–37; 11:22, 25, 30; 12:25; 13:1–3; 15:2). Titus: a missionary companion of Paul (2 Cor 2:13; 7:6, 13–15; 8:6, 16, 23; 12:18), non-Jewish (Gal 2:3), never mentioned in Acts.
* [2:2] A revelation: cf. Gal 1:1, 12. Paul emphasizes it was God’s will, not Jerusalem authority, that led to the journey. Acts 15:2 states that the church in Antioch appointed Paul and Barnabas for the task. Those of repute: leaders of the Jerusalem church; the term, while positive, may be slightly ironic (cf. Gal 1:6, 9). Run, in vain: while Paul presents a positive picture in what follows, his missionary work in Galatia would have been to no purpose if his opponents were correct that circumcision is needed for complete faith in Christ.
* [2:3] Not even a Gentile Christian like Titus was compelled to receive the rite of circumcision. The Greek text could be interpreted that he voluntarily accepted circumcision, but this is unlikely in the overall argument.
* [2:4] False brothers: Jewish Christians who took the position that Gentile Christians must first become Jews through circumcision and observance of the Mosaic law in order to become Christians; cf. Acts 15:1.
* [2:7–9] Some think that actual “minutes” of the meeting are here quoted. Paul’s apostleship to the Gentiles (Gal 1:16) is recognized alongside that of Peter to the Jews. Moreover, the right to proclaim the gospel without requiring circumcision and the Jewish law is sealed by a handshake. That Paul and colleagues should go to the Gentiles did not exclude his preaching to the Jews as well (Rom 1:13–16) or Cephas to Gentile areas.
* [2:9] James and Cephas and John: see notes on Gal 1:18, 19; on Peter and John as leaders in the Jerusalem church, cf. Acts 3:1 and Acts 8:14. The order here, with James first, may reflect his prominence in Jerusalem after Peter (Cephas) departed (Acts 12:17).
* [2:10] The poor: Jerusalem Christians or a group within the church there (cf. Rom 15:26). The collection for them was extremely important in Paul’s thought and labor (cf. Rom 15:25–28; 1 Cor 16:1–4; 2 Cor 8–9).
* [2:11–14] The decision reached in Jerusalem (Gal 2:3–7) recognized the freedom of Gentile Christians from the Jewish law. But the problem of table fellowship between Jewish Christians, who possibly still kept kosher food regulations, and Gentile believers was not yet settled. When Cephas first came to the racially mixed community of Jewish and Gentile Christians in Antioch (Gal 2:12), he ate with non-Jews. Pressure from persons arriving later from Jerusalem caused him and Barnabas to draw back. Paul therefore publicly rebuked Peter’s inconsistency toward the gospel (Gal 2:14). Some think that what Paul said on that occasion extends through Gal 2:16, 21.
* [2:11] Clearly was wrong: literally, “stood condemned,” by himself and also by Paul. His action in breaking table fellowship was especially grievous if the eating involved the meal at the Lord’s supper (cf. 1 Cor 11:17–25).
* [2:12] Some people came from James: strict Jewish Christians (cf. Acts 15:1, 5; 21:20–21), either sent by James (Gal 1:19; 2:9) or claiming to be from the leader of the Jerusalem church. The circumcised: presumably Jewish Christians, not Jews.
* [2:13] The Jews: Jewish Christians, like Barnabas. Hypocrisy: literally, “pretense,” “play-acting”; moral insincerity.
* [2:15–21] Following on the series of incidents cited above, Paul’s argument, whether spoken to Cephas at Antioch or only now articulated, is pertinent to the Galatian situation, where believers were having themselves circumcised (Gal 6:12–13) and obeying other aspects of Jewish law (Gal 4:9–10; 5:1–4). He insists that salvation is by faith in Christ, not by works of the law. His teaching on the gospel concerns justification by faith (Gal 2:16) in relation to sin (Gal 2:17), law (Gal 2:19), life in Christ (Gal 2:19–20), and grace (Gal 2:21).
* [2:17] A minister of sin: literally, “a servant of sin” (cf. Rom 15:8), an agent of sin, one who promotes it. This is possibly a claim by opponents that justification on the basis of faith in Christ makes Christ an abettor of sin when Christians are found to be sinners. Paul denies the conclusion (cf. Rom 6:1–4).
* [2:18] To return to observance of the law as the means to salvation would entangle one not only in inevitable transgressions of it but also in the admission that it was wrong to have abandoned the law in the first place.
* [2:19] Through the law I died to the law: this is variously explained: the law revealed sin (Rom 7:7–9) and led to death and then to belief in Christ; or, the law itself brought the insight that law cannot justify (Gal 2:16; Ps 143:2); or, the “law of Christ” (Gal 6:2) led to abandoning the Mosaic law; or, the law put Christ to death (cf. Gal 3:13) and so provided a way to our salvation, through baptism into Christ, through which we die (crucified with Christ; see Rom 6:6). Cf. also Gal 3:19–25 on the role of the law in reference to salvation.