Galatians 2:1-5



 "Fourteen years later I went up again to Jerusalem, this time with Barnabas.  I took Titus along also."


Fourteen years from the time of his conversion on the road to Damascus Paul went up to Jerusalem.  Paul is making it clear that he has been absent from the influence of Jerusalem’s teachings.  Paul is writing the Galatians to convince them again that he has the true gospel as received from Jesus and is independent of any man.  He has mentioned his first visit to Jerusalem as being three years after his conversion.  Now, he gives another time where he could have been instructed by the Twelve apostles or corrected by them.  This time it was fourteen years after his conversion.  He is going to use this example as proof that even the Twelve apostles agree with him.  His gospel was endorsed at the Jerusalem council and not vise-versa. 


This would have been the Jerusalem council of Acts 15.  Paul had already gone on his first missionary journey, had started many Gentile churches including the ones in Galatia.  Paul and Barnabas had returned to conflicts in the Antioch church in Syria with the Judaizers. 


Due to the conflict with the Judaizers from Jerusalem who claimed to be sent by James, Jesus’ brother and pastor of the Jerusalem church,  Paul headed to Jerusalem.  He was going to cut the Judaizers off at their source. 


Paul takes with him two witnesses of the Holy Spirit’s manifestation among the Gentiles with out the Gentiles being circumcised and submitting to the Law of Moses.  Barnabas and Titus had both seen the gospel work and had themselves preached it. 


Titus was himself a Gentile.  This is the first mention of Titus in scripture.  Titus had been saved and appears to have been brought along as a sample of the Gentile fruit.  Titus was not circumcised and was going to be used as an example of the work of the Holy Spirit in a non-circumcised Gentile’s life.  Obviously, Titus’s personality was very strong and independent.  (Remember, Timothy was circumcised so as not to be a stumbling block to the Jews.)  Titus was not circumcised as an demonstration to the Jews that would force the leaders to see the power of the gospel.  Titus would be an example to the most powerful and prominent men in all of church history.


Later Paul would use Titus to trouble shoot church problems in Corinth and Crete.  Titus was successful and is recognized as an ideal example of a Pastor and church leader. 

Barnabas would serve as witness from the Jewish point of view and as an original member of the early church in Jerusalem. 


Paul has his defense prepared and his witnesses positioned.  The great Rabbi and trained defender of the Jewish code is ready to present and defend the gospel before the great men of the Jerusalem church.  In a man to man debate Paul would win unchallenged.  But, we have seen men with little training out debate the even the Sanhedrin and other Jewish leaders because they had the Spirit of God.  In this case, the great debater, Paul, also has the Spirit of God and the truth of the gospel on his side.  



"I went in response to a revelation and set before them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles.  But I did this privately to those who seemed to be leaders, for fear that I was running or had run my race in vain."


The last time Paul was in Jerusalem he was instructed by a revelation to leave.  In Acts 22 Paul is testifying before the crowd of Jews in Aramaic.  He says in verse 17 that when he returned to Jerusalem after being gone in Damascus for three years (35-38 AD), “I fell into a trance and saw the Lord speaking.  “Quick! . . . Leave Jerusalem immediately, because they will not accept your testimony about me.’

Paul had been obedient to that vision or “revelation” for fourteen years.  (The exception being when Paul took the offering from the Antioch church to the famine struck Jerusalem saints, but this too, was in response to a “revelation,” a prophetic message by the prophet Agabus.) Now, another “revelation” or vision from God made it clear to Paul that he needed to go to Jerusalem and confer with the leaders there.


The importance of mentioning the “revelation” is to continue to build his case of independence.  He did not go to Jerusalem because he was ordered there by Peter or James.  Paul went because Jesus had instructed him through a revelation to go.


Notice that he says that he “set before them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles.”  The word “preach” (“khrussw or “proclaim”) is in the present tense in the Greek and the English translation.  This means that Paul presented a gospel to the leaders in Jerusalem  that he preached before the council meeting and is still currently preaching ever since that day at the Jerusalem council.  The point is clear already:  They had no impact on Paul’s gospel message.  He preached it before they approved it and he has preached it ever since.


The word “set” as used in “set before them the gospel” is the word “aneqemhn” from “anatiqhmi” or “anatithemi” and means “to communicate your view in words for consideration and consultation from others.”  Paul went to present his gospel to the leaders to consider its validity and then they could decide what to do with it.  The Jerusalem leaders could accept it or reject it, but their decision would not affect Paul’s ministry.


Paul made his presentation privately to the leaders.  Considering the fact he was sent to Jerusalem by Jesus and he was approaching the Apostles of the Lord, Paul did not go to the church membership and try and gain a following first.  This would have been arrogant, self promoting and not in line with the purpose of his visit.  Instead he went only to the leaders for a private consultation. 

Paul calls them “those who seemed to be leaders” or “tois dokousin” (tois dokousin).   There is no sense of this being a derogatory phrase.  In fact, this phrase is found in Greek literature (Eur…, Herodian, Plato) in reference to men of standing, men of esteem and those dignified.   tois” means “the ones.”  dookousin” is a verb that means “to seem, to be accounted, to be reputed.” 


Any use at this time of this phrase in an ironic sense would undermine Paul’s point here. He is not trying to be critical of the other leaders.  He is instead trying to stand independent of them and use this situation in Jerusalem to show that they instead of despising his gospel embraced it.  It would make his argument worthless to say “these men think they are important but that is only in their own eyes” and then say “these arrogant men, agree with my teaching.”  Paul is saying these honorable men listened to my gospel.


Paul then says a very interesting statement, “for fear that I was running or had run my race in vain.”  This can not mean that all of a sudden Paul began to doubt his Damascus road experience, his instruction by the Lord in Arabia, the confirming OT verses he had used repeatedly to prove the validity of the gospel to the Jews or the manifestations of the Holy Spirit in the Gentile converts.  Paul is not saying he fears his message has been wrong.  This would mean he was ready to abandon his gospel if it was rejected by the apostles but also mean he would continue to preach it if they gave him their approval.  This would destroy his entire point he is making to the Galatians. 


He does say literally from the Greek, “lest perchance I should run or had run in vain,” or “lest by any means I should be running or had run in vain.”  Paul’s fear is three fold:

That the Gentiles would be forced to follow the Jewish customs in order to hear the gospel in spite of Paul’s work.

That Christian unity would be lost and give way to two

branches of Christianity: the Jewish and the Gentile.

Paul’s work, converts and churches would be disowned by the Jerusalem leaders.


The word “vain” or “kenon” means “uselessly; without effect; empty; no effect.”


Paul uses the example of running since running takes a lot of effort but if misguided proves to be useless.  If in a attempt to run somewhere quickly you begin by running the wrong way, you are running in vain.  If in a race the runner does not know the rules for the race (ie: jumping over hurdles, carrying a baton, etc.) he can disqualify himself.  If a runner does not know the distance of the race and paces himself for a five mile run, but the race is for only 100 meters his preparation is in vain. 


Paul concern is not that he is running the wrong way, but the rest of the church leadership has taken off in the wrong direction.  Paul does not fear that he does not know the rules but fears the Judaizers will successfully add to the rules of the race the hurdle of circumcision and the baton of the Jewish law.  Paul knows the distance between a person and salvation is simply faith, but legalism wants to place salvation far away on the other side of performance.


Failure by the Jerusalem apostles to accept Paul would not stop Paul, but it would make his ministry much more difficult.




"Yet not even Titus, who was with me, was compelled to be circumcised, even though he was a Greek.”


Paul begins verse 3 by saying, “Yet. . .” in response to his previous fears in verse 2 of having run his race in vain.  Paul did fear he and his work would be rejected, “yet” even Titus, a Gentile converted under Paul’s gospel, was accepted.  Paul’s gospel was not rejected by the apostles, in fact they will support it.  Why are the Galatians rejecting it?  How can churches today reject what Paul and the Twelve accepted? 

 In light of the Galatians being tempted and convinced by the Judaizers to be circumcised Titus is again brought out as an example.  If circumcision was the issue, and if the Judaizers were preaching the gospel that the Twelve apostles from Jerusalem preached how is it that Titus was not impressed.  How could Titus have stood in front of Peter, James and John and defied them in their own city?  Because, that was not what they preached nor did they practice circumcision. Titus came along as the Gentile sacrifice.  If Paul was convinced he was wrong then Titus would be the first of Paul’s Gentile converts to be circumcised.


The problem is that the Galatians have been convinced by men of a much lower standing with much less authority to embrace something Titus was allowed to reject.   Titus was a Gentile like the Galatians.  Titus stood in the midst of the church leaders in Jerusalem and openly rejected the teaching of the Judaizers and was still welcomed and accepted by the apostles of the Lord.



"[This matter arose] because some false brothers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves.  5We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might remain with you".


The grammar of this verse is difficult and helps identify the authenticity of the manuscripts to the original.  Scholars (including liberal) accept the book of Galatians as being an authentic document written by Paul.  From the early writers of Church history up through the modern liberal writers this letter stands as accepted.


The words “This matter arose” have been added by the NIV translators in an attempt to make the text flow.  The Greek text says, “but on account of the false brothers brought in secretly, who stole in to spy on the freedom of us which we have in Christ Jesus in order that they might enslave us.”


This verse is an explanation of the word “compelled” in verse 3 used in reference to who was “compelling” Titus and arguing for

his circumcision.  Paul says it was not the Twelve apostles but the “false brothers.”  Acts 15:4-6 describes this moment at the Council of Jerusalem.  After Paul had spoken to the church the false brothers broke out against him in this meeting of the general assembly.  It says, 4When they (Paul, Barnabas, Titus) came to Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church and the apostles and elders, to whom they reported everything God had done through them. 



"Then some of the believers who be longed to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, ‘The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to obey the law of Moses.’  6The apostles and elders met to consider this question.”


“The false brothers,” (“sham-Christians”) were a well known group to the Galatians as identified by the article “The.”  Paul does not write “some false brothers,” but “THE false brothers.”  This would be the same people who had caused trouble in Antioch, Syria while Paul was gone, and had gone into the churches of Galatia.  They were the same ones who were defeated by Paul in Antioch, and by the Twelve apostles in Jerusalem at this meeting.  Paul is telling the Galatians they have been kicked out and rejected everywhere they go.  He will eventually tell the Galatians in an allegory from Galatians 4:30 to, “Get rid of the slave woman and her son.”


These false brothers had “infiltrated” the Jerusalem Council in an attempt to “spy” on the freedom from the law and to “make” the believers slaves to the law again.  They were false simply because they did not fully understand the gospel.


Infiltrated” - “secretly brought in  See 2 Peter 2:1 where same word is used of “false teachers” introducing heresies.

Spy” - “sneaked in” and has the idea “of inquiry with a claim to the right of supervision” it is the word “kataskopa” and is used of spying on the city of an enemy to assist in its overthrow.


Result:  The false Christians who previously where tolerated were exposed and expelled in Jerusalem.

They wanted to reduce believers to slaves they could rule over.