Continuing the Letter of Paul to the Galatians into chapter 2
2:1 Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also.
Every word of the Bible is inspired, therefore it is important to read each word carefully. The book of Acts is not the last book to communicate Paul’s ministry timeline. The apostle Paul’s letters also validate his whereabouts and therefore further supports its credibility and Biblical inerrancy.
In chapter 1, Paul introduces his calling, his conversion, and his apostolic training which was received directly from Jesus Christ (Galatians 1:12; 15-17). In chapter two, Paul details a second journey to Jerusalem, fourteen years after the first. There are a few things to note here.
First of all, one can assume using sound judgment, that Paul’s second trip to Jerusalem was nearly seventeen years after his conversion on the road to Damascus. This is deduced by adding the time that had passed from his conversion to his first Jerusalem trip to the time elapsed until his second. This second trip would likely have occurred between 49 to 51 A.D. This second trip is detailed in depth by Luke in Acts 15, and we see here a common theme between Acts 15 and Galatians 2. The theme here is a defense against legalism and works plus faith based salvation (Acts 15:1-2; Galatians 2:4; 9-11).
Saying this, I also conclude that this letter is an early letter of Paul because of who is not mentioned as his travel companion, Timothy. Timothy is not introduced until Acts 16, while it is apparent that Titus and Silus were both traveling with Paul by this second trip to Jerusalem. Titus and Silus would have been among the “certain other of them” mentioned in Acts 15:2.
Following this trip to Jerusalem, Acts 15 indicates that there is a split between Paul and Barnabas following a disagreement on taking the ministry associate, John Mark, who had previously abandoned Paul (Acts 15:38).
Also, this statement once again presents a cultural phrase pertaining to Israeli geography as we once again see the phrase, “I went up,” referring to Jerusalem, “the city on a hill” [See Galatians 1:17].
2:2 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.
In this verse, we see the crossroad of dispensations. We see a bridge between the Dispensation of the Law and the Dispensation of the Grace of God (Exodus 19:5). The apostle Paul affirms time and time again that this dispensation and its message is entrusted to him and that he received by direct revelation of Jesus Christ and by which was kept secret from humanity for the entirety of history. His designation was to take this message to the Gentiles (non-Jews) and will be seen soon (and or in Acts 15), Peter was to keep his ministry distinct by ministering to those of the circumcision (Jews) [See Ephesians 3:2-13).
The second half of verse two indicates a hint of irony. As Paul speaks about those “of reputation,” this address those of high regard within the Christian communities of Jerusalem. In the verses to come you may note: Peter, James, and John. This phrasing, following verses, and contextual evidence shows that there were differences in components in the message between Paul and the Jewish apostles and that Paul was determined to show their error. Some were mixing the Gospel of the Grace of God, which is characterized by justification by faith, with Jewish customs (such as circumcision).
Those who practiced and preached this faulty doctrine became known as Judaizers. Paul will starkly warn against this practice through the remainder of his ministry.
2:3-5 But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised:
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:
To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.
Paul’s style of writing is entirely emphatic and shows the gravity of adulterating the grace of God. Titus, a Gentile, did not feel compelled to be circumcised, and by the grace of God, he did not have to be. There was little to no repercussion to this either, because Titus ministered to Gentile populations.
We will later find that Timothy opts to get circumcised, which is also entirely acceptable and helped Timothy to minister to certain crowds. Regardless, a focus within this passage is that in Christ and His Body, there is liberty. Only within the Spirit of God is true freedom possible. The apostle Paul later proclaims to the Corinthians church,
“Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2 Corinthians 3:17).
Judaizers loomed within the early, infant church and attempted to subject Christians to the Law; nonetheless, pillars within the church such as Paul faithfully persisted in their message that justification is by faith, which is a gift of God by grace, lest any man should boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).
2:6 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:
“But of these who seemed to be somewhat” directly corresponds with the seemingly ironic phrase earlier written, “to them which were of reputation.” Once again, Paul offer plenty of context to indicate that these phrases were not benevolent adoration for the people spoken of, as he then continues, “whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man’s person.”
Paul’s attention was on the shortcomings of the message they preached and he was not refraining from drawing attention to their doctrinal flaws, as we see throughout the remainder of Galatians 2. Paul later indicates why their reputation meant little to him when he wrote these words in 1 Corinthians 2:2, “For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” Who they were also stands to little consequence to him when it is also made known that, “For there is no respect of persons with God” (Romans 2:11-16).
All have sinned and have fallen short of the glory of God, all will be judged according to their deeds, and who they stake their hope in. The good news is that all can also be freely justified and made right with God. This is far more notable than Earthly titles (Romans 3:23-24).