Here Paul continues his personal testimony for the purpose of bringing the Galatian Christians back from false teaching to the truth of the gospel, defending the gospel of salvation is by faith alone in Christ alone, not because of works.
Paul’s second journey to Jerusalem (v. 1) refers to Acts 11:29-30. He, Barnabas, and Titus brought relief from the church at Antioch to the Jerusalem church during the famine (Acts 11:27-30; cf. Gal 2:10). During that Jerusalem visit Paul met and conferred with church leaders who recognized Jesus’ call of and work through Paul to bring the gospel to the Gentiles (vv. 6-10). The Jerusalem church leaders never demanded Titus to be circumcised and thus come under the Law (v. 3).
Shortly after that Peter, the apostle to the Jews (“the circumcised,” vv. 8-9), went to Antioch. Sadly Peter had a relapse of the Lord’s revelation in Acts 10 (Jesus told Peter to go to the Gentile Cornelius doubting nothing) in that Peter would not fellowship and eat with Gentile Christians in Antioch (Gal 2:11-3). Peter’s actions thus set aside the grace of God to rebuild the structures of the Law to gain a right standing in others’ eyes by works (vv. 14-21). Peter should have lived out his faith in Jesus Christ as Paul did. Paul thus “withstood him to his face” (v. 11) for his hypocrisy that badly influenced other Jewish Christians, even Barnabas.
Truths to Nail Down and Meditate On
- Salvation is received by faith alone in Christ alone; works do not and cannot earn it.
- Sadly, saints can “forget” and act contrary to truths the Lord taught them. Peter did so—a leader of one of Jesus’ chosen disciples! Because of this, beware of pride of knowledge and position (1 Cor 10:12).
- The direction and decisions of your life are watched by and influence others, for good or bad. Follow Christ so that you can provide a pattern others can follow (1 Cor 11:1; Phil 3:17; 1 Tim 4:12; 2 Tim 3:10; 1 Pet 5:3).
- Confronting believers for sinful patterns of living is essential for their perseverance, the testimony of Christ, and the protection of the body. Paul will instruct the Galatians to do this very thing (6:1-2; see also Matt 18:15-16; Rom 15:14; 1 Thess 5:11, 14; Heb 3:13; 10:24-25; 12:12-13; James 5:19-20)