Max Suther Ministries
Galatians 2:14-16 Do we live what we believe?
Last time we looked at how Paul was disappointed with Peter because he acted like a hypocrite. Peter had been eating with gentiles and then when some important Jews came to visit, Peter ditched the gentiles. Paul is going to explain the problem with this issue today.
Do we live what we believe?
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?
15 We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles,
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.
Paul starts off by saying that Peter and the other saved Jews were not acting according to the truth of the Gospel. In other words by not eating with the gentiles and excluding them from fellowship they were saying that they weren’t saved. Peter and the others were ignorning the truth of the Gospel, and adding to the gospel or taking away from it. This wasn’t a matter of bad table manners but instead a matter of truth and what is right. If the gentiles needed to follow the Jews in circumcision or diet in order to be saved, then this isn’t the Gospel of Christ.
So what does Paul do about it? He confronts Peter to his face and asks a simple question. Peter if you are a Jew and live like gentiles, and not like a Jew (when no one is looking), then why are you compelling the gentiles to live like Jews?
This must have been hard for Paul to do. After all Peter was a pillar of the faith. These Jews were of some stature. But Paul had to do it. What Peter was doing was public and it was ultimately going to hurt the true message of Jesus Christ. Sometimes telling people the truth isn’t easy. Sometimes telling people they are hurting the church and the message of Christ isn’t easy, but it must be done.
Paul said to Peter, Peter we are Jews and we know the truth. The truth is that we aren’t justified by the law, but instead we are justified by faith in Jesus Christ. Paul goes on to say that no person is justified by the law. No man is justified before God based on what that man did. Paul is not telling Peter anything that he doesn’t already know. The problem is that Peter is not living what he knows in front of others. Peter knows that what Jesus did for us on the cross is the only way we could be justified. Hopefully you know this as well.
What Peter and Barnabas were doing is not living the truth but instead caving in to what others wanted them to do or they were ashamed to live their beliefs. I would say that we have that same problem from time to time. Sometimes we don’t act the way we should before others and when we don’t we deny the truth. For example if you say you that you believe God created everything on earth in 6 literal days, yet you deny this with your friends or are afraid to let others know what you believe, then in reality you are denying the truth.
Sometimes we even deny in many ways that we know Jesus. Peter did this when Jesus was on trial the day he was crucified. He denied knowing Jesus. We deny Jesus if we say to our friends there is more than one way to get to heaven. We deny Jesus if we say that there isn’t a literal hell. We deny Jesus when we say that a sinful lifestyle is okay. We deny Jesus when we are afraid to give God thanks for our food in front of others.
It is easy to say you believe something. It is much harder to live it.
I think Peter struggled like we do,
Galatians 2:11-13 Are You Leading by Your Actions?
So last time we found Paul, Barnabas and Titus in Jerusalem. It was determined that Paul would primarily go to the gentiles with the gospel, and Peter would go to the Jews. Both would preach that salvation is by grace through faith in Christ Jesus and not the law.
Are your actions leading others in the right direction?
11 But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.
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.
13 And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation.
So Peter makes a trip to Antioch and apparently was fellowshipping with the Jewish converts. As we see in the passage Paul was very upset with Peter. Paul even confronted Peter to his face concerning the issue. So the big question is why? What did Peter do that was so bad? Well it seems that in the past Peter had no problem fellowshipping with the gentile believers. He would sit down and eat a meal with them as brothers and sisters. He didn’t hold to some dietary restrictions but had liberty to eat what he wanted to eat with the gentiles.
The problem occurred when James and other Jews came from Jerusalem to the church in Antioch. When James showed up, Peter changed his ways. He didn’t want to be scene eating with the gentiles. In other words Peter was a hypocrite. Peter knew that in Christ he had liberty to eat what he wanted to eat, but his beliefs didn’t line up with his actions. Verse 12 said that Peter feared the Jews. Why would Peter fear the Jews? If Peter knows that what he was doing was not wrong, why would he care what the Jews thought?
I think we could ask ourselves the same question. If we know what is right and true, then why do we fear others or ignore our beliefs before them. Why do we care what man thinks? Shouldn’t we be more concerned with what God thinks?
Peter was told directly by God what to think. Let’s read
10 And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance,
11 And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending upon him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth:
12 Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air.
13 And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat.
14 But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean.
15 And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.
16 This was done thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven.
Peter knew that it was okay to eat what the Jews believed was wrong to eat. The church in Jerusalem knew that salvation was by grace and not the law. The church in Jerusalem said you didn’t need to be circumcised.
23 And they wrote letters by them after this manner; The apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia.
24 Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment:
25 It seemed good unto us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul,
Galatians 2:6-10 What are you willing to tell others?
Last time Paul explained that he, Barnabas and Titus went to Jerusalem because God instructed him to. The Judaizers had questioned Paul’s authority, and tried to infiltrate the churches with their false doctrine. Paul went to Jerusalem, not to confirm his message, but to get agreement with the other apostles in Jerusalem so that the Judaizers will be discredited.
What are you willing to tell others?
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:
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;
8 (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:)
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.
10 Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do.
So Paul continues his story concerning his visit to Jerusalem with Barnabas and Titus. Remember that the Judaizers had visited various churches and tried to convince people that they needed to be circumcised and observe the law in order to be a Christian. Apparently they acted like they had authority to do so from Jerusalem. So Paul goes to Jerusalem to solve this issue once and for all. Paul wants to make sure that everyone understands that salvation is by grace through faith in Jesus and not by keeping the law.
Paul apparently met with some of the people who seemed to be a big deal and he said they added nothing to him. In other words, they didn’t give Paul the Gospel or the apostolic authority. God gave him both. They had nothing to add to what Paul had been doing or saying. Paul then confirmed that they understood how the mission to go to the gentiles was given to him by God. The mission to go to the Jews was given to Peter. This isn’t saying that they can’t cross lines, but this is simply saying this is their main mission.
Paul then mentions James, Peter and John met with him and they all agreed that Paul and Barnabas should go to the gentiles and the others go to the Jews. Remember Paul’s intent. He wasn’t looking for confirmation from these guys that he had been preaching and teaching the right message. He knew that he had been preaching the Gospel of Christ properly. He went to Jerusalem to make sure everyone was on the same page so that the Judaizers couldn’t say that they had authority to preach their false doctrine from those in Jerusalem.
So what can we learn from this passage. Well I think one major lesson is don’t compromise the Gospel. Paul knew that God gave him the Gospel, not man. Paul knew what had changed his life and what was changing other’s lives. He didn’t need an important person to confirm what he was doing. He wasn’t going to let anyone change his mind about what his mission was when he went to Jerusalem. His quest was to get everyone on the same page. We also have the truth. The truth of the Gospel of Christ is contained in God’s word. We shouldn’t ever compromise the message. We shouldn’t try to get man to approve the message or any church to approve the message. God approved the message and told us to proclaim it without compromise. When you water down the Gospel you are doing your friends, coworkers and family any good. When churches water down the Gospel and say that there are many ways to God and many ways to heaven they aren’t doing anyone any good.
Galatians 2:1-5 Can you save yourself?
Last time we looked at how Paul after being called by Jesus, spent three years in Arabia being trained by God. After this period he went to Jerusalem for 15 days. Today we jump forward 14 years and we see Paul going back to Jerusalem.
Can you save yourself?
Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also.
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.
3 But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised:
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:
5 To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.
In verse one Paul tells us that it has been fourteen years and he and Barnabas decide to go to Jerusalem. Paul and Barnabas had been working and traveling spreading the Gospel. They had been teaching that you can be saved by grace through faith in Christ and no other way. Some people think that Paul went to Jerusalem to confirm what he had been preaching was okay with the other apostles and the church in Jerusalem. The truth is that, Paul had not concerned himself with verifying what he was preaching was the truth or not, because he had received it straight from Jesus. He had been preaching the same thing for many years and seeing people get saved. He saw the evidence of the Holy Spirit in the lives of those that were saved. He saw great works and the advancement of the church.
The book of Acts records Paul going to Jerusalem a few times. For years people have debated if this account is the one written about in Acts 9 or Acts 15. The truth is there is another option. There might not be a parallel account of this visit in Acts. The bottom line is I don’t think it matters. What is important is what Paul is trying to get across to the Galatians. Apparently some of the Judaizers convinced the people in Galatia that they had some special authority from Jerusalem or maybe said those in authority in Jerusalem approved of their message. Paul by revelation goes to Jerusalem and tells those that seemingly were big wigs that he had preached the Gospel to the Gentiles. Paul said in verse 2 that he did this so that what he was doing was not in vain. What he is saying is I want to get things straight so that we don’t run into this problem again.
One of the interesting things Paul did is take Titus with him. Titus was a Greek and apparently the Judaizers wanted to circumcise him. Paul takes Titus for a reason. If Titus goes with Paul and does not come back circumcised, then he is living proof that Jerusalem was on Paul’s side. I’m glad to say that Titus came back without being circumcised.
What Paul is very angry about is ultimately what the Judaizers are trying to do. Paul said in verse 4 that these false brethren would come in and spy on the church. They would see the liberty the people had in Christ, and instead of being happy that Christ had freed these people from bondage, the Judaizers preferred that the church be in bondage. Paul makes it clear that he didn’t stand for this one hour. Why? Because he wanted to make sure the truth of the gospel would continue.
Paul’s whole life and ministry depends on the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Unfortunately we have churches today that want to put people in bondage. We have churches today that believe what Christ did for us on the cross wasn’t sufficient to save us and to keep us saved.
Galatians 1:17-24 What could God do with your life?
So last time we looked at how God called Paul and revealed himself to Paul. Paul had a bad reputation among the Christians, yet God used him anyway. Today we look at the first few years of Paul’s life after he got saved.
What could God do with your life?
17 Neither went I up to Jerusalem to them which were apostles before me; but I went into Arabia, and returned again unto Damascus.
18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days.
19 But other of the apostles saw I none, save James the Lord's brother.
20 Now the things which I write unto you, behold, before God, I lie not.
21 Afterwards I came into the regions of Syria and Cilicia;
22 And was unknown by face unto the churches of Judaea which were in Christ:
23 But they had heard only, That he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed.
24 And they glorified God in me.
Paul in verse 16 said that after he got saved he didn’t consult with man, but instead God began to train him. Although God had called him to be an apostle he didn’t go to Jerusalem to tell the other apostles of what happened. Instead God took him to Arabia. The Arabia written about here is not Saudi Arabia, but instead a dessert region outside of Damascus. Verse 18 tells us that he spent three years there. So what happened in those three years? Well apparently God trained him and taught him. There are several applications we can make at this point. One is that if you are going to be something and used by God, you need some training and understanding. Some people get saved and immediately want to start teaching a class. Some think they know enough, but even Paul was taught and waited three years before doing anything. Now I am not suggesting that a new Christian wait three years before doing something. A new Christian should get involved in what is appropriate from day one. Any new Christian can tell others what God just did for them. Any new Christian can tell others about how they got saved. I am suggesting that every new Christian also needs to be trained or disciple. Paul was disciple by the Lord. In some degree we are as well. When we begin to read and study God’s word, you learn more about God and what his will is for your life. As a new Christian you should have someone helping you understand the basics of Christianity in preparation of more responsibility.
A second application is that the church shouldn’t expect too much from a new Christian. I know some people who got saved in the morning and people in the church thought they should be like Paul by night. We need to remember that God accepted them into the family the way they were. If they are truly saved God will change them. God taught Paul three years before he started preaching and teaching others. Let’s don’t rush new Christians.
Paul then continues and said after the three years of training he went to Jerusalem to see Peter. Paul went to Jerusalem to see the top people but he wasn’t looking for their approval. He had God’s approval and was commissioned directly by God. He stayed with Peter for 15 days.
Paul also met James the half brother of Jesus, who also was the head of the church in Jerusalem.
Now imagine Peter and James face when they see Paul. Paul after all had a reputation of persecuting Christians. Paul even admits that he persecuted the church but now the people accepted him. But if you read the book of Acts it appears that not everyone was so quick to embrace Paul. Of course this is expected.
I think one of the lessons is that you never know who God will save and what he will do with that person.
Galatians 1:14-16 Has God revealed himself in you?
Last time Paul explained that he didn’t receive the Gospel of Christ from men, but instead from God. Apparently the Judaizers had questioned Paul’s authority or put doubt in the minds of the new believers as to Paul’s authority and his ability to deliver God’s word to them. We briefly discussed how Paul had persecuted the church before God saved him. Today we continue to look at how God revealed himself to Paul and changed him forever.
Has God revealed himself in you?
14 And profited in the Jews' religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.
15 But when it pleased God, who separated me from my mother's womb, and called me by his grace,
16 To reveal his Son in me, that I might preach him among the heathen; immediately I conferred not with flesh and blood:
So Paul in verse 13 explained how he persecuted the church before God saved him and changed his direction. Now Paul explains to the new believers and the Judaizers in Galatia that he was high up in the Jewish ranks. In other words he not only knew the law but was above and beyond the most knowledgeable people. He was also very zealous concerning the rituals, feasts and traditions of the Jews. In other words he is telling the Judaizers that he knows probably more than they do about being Jewish, Jewish law and history.
But then in verse 15 Paul said “But when it pleased God, God called Paul by His grace”. Paul thought he knew God, but he didn’t. Paul thought he was on the right side, but he wasn’t. Paul thought he was doing all the right things, but he wasn’t. Paul wasn’t looking for Jesus, but when it pleased Jesus he showed up and saved Paul by his grace. Jesus didn’t save Paul because of anything he was doing. On the contrary. Paul was against Jesus, and against the church, yet God saved him anyway.
God had a purpose for Paul. Paul was part of a religious sect called the Pharisees. The word Pharisee means separate. Now after being saved by Jesus, Paul belonged to Jesus and was set apart for him. We call this positional sanctification. It simply means when you got saved you were set apart for God’s purpose and you belong to him.
In verse 16 Paul said that God saved him to reveal his Son in Paul. In other words God saved Paul so that he could know Jesus but just as important that others would know Jesus through Paul. I think many Christians miss this point. Jesus saved us not only to keep us from hell, but he saved us so that others could know him through us. God wants to live through us. The fruit of the Spirit should show in our life. Let’s read Galatians 5:22-23
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.
Notice what Paul was saved for in particular, to preach Jesus amongst the heather, or to the gentiles. In some respects we have been called to do the same thing. We might not be preachers, but we should be telling others about Jesus. But we aren’t just to tell them, but we are to live a life before them that shows that Jesus is living in us.
I think one of the big lessons is that you really don’t know who God will save, so don’t try to figure it out. Just tell everyone about Jesus. Paul was the least likely person to talk to about Jesus. As a matter of fact, he might have had you killed if you went up to him and told Paul the gospel. Paul knew his reputation before he got saved. So did others. The fact is though God still saved him. God changed his reputation. God saved you by grace and not because of whom or what you are.
Great application for daily life
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