2:7-8 But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter;
(For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:)
The word “contrariwise” indicates context to something prior mentioned. Prior, to this verse, Paul addresses those who spoke things contrary to his purpose. These Judaizers stated that circumcision was required plus grace, in turn, adulterating the Gospel. Nonetheless, the Gospel of the uncircumcision from Paul was accepted by the Gentiles.
Dispensational theologians may be more willing (although honest may be a better word) to note that the term, “gospel of the uncircumcision,” is not the same phrase or meaning as the “gospel of the circumcision.”
We can see an indication of the difference in the verses that follow. Even within Acts 2, Peter preaches to the crowd, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (38).
It takes an honest person to state there are two steps to this: repent and be baptized. Only then will you receive remission of sins. That same person needs to be even more honest to recognize that this is identical to the Gospel of the Kingdom, spoken of before Christ had even died and or been risen.
Compare Acts 2:38 to the teachings of John the Baptist in Mark 1:4, “John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.” This required work to be done plus faith and is regarded as the Gospel of the Kingdom.
Paul refers to the “Gospel of the Grace of God,” otherwise known as the “Gospel to the Uncircumcision” (Ephesians 3:2; 6).
A look into this Gospel will tell you there is only one thing required to obtain justification: Believe (Romans 10:9-10; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4).
Now compare the following verse with Act 2:38 and you will find the tension within the occasion of Galatians 2.
“For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).
This message Paul was entrusted to carry and was not shy about magnifying this office, as it was a God-instilled position (Romans 11:13; Galatians 2:8).
2:9-10 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.
Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do.
Many Protestant commentators are willing to concede that Peter (Cephas) was often over-exalted by early churches as showcased by the writings of early church fathers Tertullian and Origen. James, Cephas, and John would have been recognized together as leaders, particularly in ministry to the circumcision, Jews.
We inter-epistle the correlation between Acts 15:22-23 and Galatians 2:9. These men of rapport, committed Paul and Barnabas to go unto the uncircumcised following the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15. Although Paul and his party committed to the ministry of Gentiles, verse 10 supports other verses which indicate that Paul collected alms from wealthier Gentiles and distributed them to the poor in Jerusalem and Judea (Acts 11:23-30; Acts 24:17-18; Romans 15:26-27; 1 Corinthians 16:3)
2:11-13 But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.
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.
And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation.
Antioch was the first location where Christians were called Christians. Building off of the earlier notes on the Gospel of the Circumcision and the Uncircumcision, this first location was visited by Paul following his designation to the Gentiles. The first location visited with the purpose of ministering to Gentiles was where Christians derived their name.
This designation literally means, “follower of Christ” or “anointed.”
Peter’s trip here to Antioch was not a missionary journey for the Gentile. Antioch was a prominent Gentile location that served as a provincial capital for a number of empires. Laws had been passed through the years that allowed Jewish populations to migrate to Antioch and receive benefits of the empire.
Paul addresses the hypocrisy of James, the church father and half-brother of Jesus. James, apart from Peter and John, was willing to eat with Gentiles; however, in their presence withdrew himself.
Scripture says James “fear[ed] them which were of the circumcision.” This echoes the words of Christ in Matthew 10:28 which warns against the pressures of the flesh and fear of the Lord. These are words that James himself would have been familiar with.
Following his separation from the Gentiles, so did the other Jews. This separation did not reflect the nature of the Body of Christ and therefore Paul addresses it in the following Scripture.