Galatians 2 Paul Defends the Gospel of Grace

  1. Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also.

Barnabas. Means "one who encourages." His given name was Joseph, and he was a Levite from the island of Cyprus (see Acts 4:36). He was Paul's companion on the first missionary journey (Acts13:1-14:28). Titus. A Gentile Christian who served as Paul's delegate to Corinth and later was left in Crete to oversee the church there (see Titus 1:5).


Apparently this visit was the visit mentioned in Acts 15 but this time Paul was going there to find out more about Jesus Christ's earthy life but for thrashing out problems involved in the conduct of Gentile converts after they had accepted Christ. These problems came to a head in Acts 15 and are officially resolved there where a unanimous decision is reached.


Paul, Barnabus and Titus meet with the BIG THREE in Jerusalem, Peter, James and John. This Jerusalem Council has a particular significance for the Book of Galatians: the purpose for Paul's writing of Galatians was to answer the very same issues which were settled in this council.


Acts 15:1-24 1And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.2When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question. 3And being brought on their way by the church, they passed through Phenice and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles: and they caused great joy unto all the brethren. 4And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them. 5But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses. 6And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter. 7And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. 8And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; 9And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. 10Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? 11But we believe that through the grace of the LORD Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they. 12Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them. 13And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me: 14Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. 15And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, 16After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: 17That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things. 18Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world. 19Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: 20But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood. 21For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day. 22Then pleased it the apostles and elders with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas and Silas, chief men among the brethren: 23And 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. 24Forasmuch 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:


Obviously, these Judaizers of Acts 15:1-6 were teaching "standard" salvation by works:

This is the sum total of RELIGIONS - systems that want people to follow their rules, their creeds, their priests rather than follow the Lord Jesus Christ.


  1. 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.

The Lord lays it on Paul's heart to make this visit and he takes a Gentile convert with him, Titus, and Barnabus. At Jerusalem they meet privately with them which of reputation; i.e., Peter, James and John.


lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain

1 Corinthians 9:26-27 26I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:27But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.

Paul doesn't doubt the outcome of the race that he is running but he believes his race is in vain if he allows his work to be swallowed up by the Judaizers who are teaching something that is contrary to his message of grace.


  1. But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised:


  1. 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:

The people who were trying to get Paul "in a bind" on circumcision are "false brethren" who had slipped into the local assemblies and had put pressure on Titus to get him circumcised.


to spy on. (as in spying out a territory)

2Samuel 10:3 And the princes of the children of Ammon said unto Hanun their lord, Thinkest thou that David doth honour thy father, that he hath sent comforters unto thee? hath not David rather sent his servants unto thee, to search the city, and to spy it out, and to overthrow it?

1Chronicles 19:3 But the princes of the children of Ammon said to Hanun, Thinkest thou that David doth honour thy father, that he hath sent comforters unto thee? are not his servants come unto thee for to search, and to overthrow, and to spy out the land?


Liberty or freedom.

Galatians 5:1,13 1Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.13For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.

Romans 6:18,20,22 18Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.20For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness. 22But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.

Romans 8:2 For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.


"Free" and "freedom" are key words or ideas in Galatians, occurring many times:

Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

Galatians 4:22-23,26,30-31 22For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman. 23But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise. 26But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all. 30Nevertheless what saith the scripture? Cast out the bondwoman and her son: for the son of the bondwoman shall not be heir with the son of the freewoman. 31So then, brethren, we are not children of the bondwoman, but of the free.

Galatians 5:1,13 1Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. 13For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.


  1. To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.

Paul ignored these "false brethren" and didn't yield one inch of ground to them. Although he himself had been baptized with water, he never made the mistake of connecting water baptism with salvation.

2 Timothy 3: 1- 11 - 1This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.2For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, 4Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; 5Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. 6For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, 7Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 8Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith. 9But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as their's also was. 10But thou hast fully known my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, charity, patience, 11Persecutions, afflictions, which came unto me at Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra; what persecutions I endured: but out of them all the Lord delivered me.


Titus 3:1 - 11 1Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work,2To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men. 3For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. 4But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, 5Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; 6Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; 7That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. 8This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men. 9But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain. 10A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject; 11Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.


Paul gives Christians plenty of advice on what to do after they are saved but he never did connect their conduct as Christians with their eternal justification by the grace of God through faith in Christ. See Ephesians 5 and 6; Colossians 3 and 4; Philippians 4; 1 Corinthians 1 -14.)


the truth of the gospel might continue with you

If Paul had yielded on the circumcision issue with Titus it would have shaken the faith of the converts in Galatia. Timothy was a different situation (Acts 16:3), for his mother was a Jewess, and he submits to circumcision as a testimony to the unsaved Jews in that area. The Galatians were not half-Jew-half-Gentile; they were pure Gentile, or heathen as Paul puts in Galatians 1:16.


  1. 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:
  2. those who seemed to be somewhat (important):

    Deuteronomy 10:17 For the LORD your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward:

    1Samuel 16:7 But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.

    Luke 20:21 And they asked him, saying, Master, we know that thou sayest and teachest rightly, neither acceptest thou the person of any, but teachest the way of God truly:

    James 2:1 My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.


  3. But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter;

Paul's ministry was not exclusively to the Gentiles. In fact, he regularly went first to the synagogue when arriving in a new location

Acts 13:14 But when they departed from Perga, they came to Antioch in Pisidia, and went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and sat down.


He did, however, consider himself to be foremost an apostle to the Gentiles

Romans 11:13 For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office:


  1. (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:)

  1. 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.

Peter, James and John were not able to tell Paul any theology he didn't already know although they were looked upon by their community as pillars. Paul dealt with them on an equal footing.

pillars. A common metaphor for those who represent and strongly support an institution - notice they are not referred to as princes as some religions would have them known.


right hand of fellowship.

A common practice among both Hebrews and Greeks, indicating a pledge of friendship. The right was the hand of power, the right hand side was regarded as the side of honor, therefore, for a man to offer his right hand was to signify trust (one could not hold a weapon and shake hands too) and to honor the one in whom you offered you hand.

2 Kings 11:11 And the guard stood, every man with his weapons in his hand, round about the king, from the right corner of the temple to the left corner of the temple, along by the altar and the temple.

1 Chronicles 12:2 They were armed with bows, and could use both the right hand and the left in hurling stones and shooting arrows out of a bow, even of Saul's brethren of Benjamin.


  1. Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do.


  1. But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.

Antioch. The leading city of Syria and third leading city of the Roman empire (after Rome and Alexandria). From it Paul had been sent out on his missionary journeys.

Acts 11:26 And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.

Acts 13:1-3 1Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.2As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. 3And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.

Acts 14: 26 And thence sailed to Antioch, from whence they had been recommended to the grace of God for the work which they fulfilled.

I withstood him to the face

Paul corrects the "prince of the apostles" and tells him off in no uncertain terms. It seems that Peter got his wires crossed somewhere; here he was a heretic in doctrinal matters.

was to be blamed.

Peter - For yielding to the pressure of the circumcision party (the Judaizers), thus going against what he knew to be right.


  1. 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.

that certain

Paul is talking about Peter. He is not referring to the others that came of the circumcision.

he did eat with the Gentiles

Acts 11:1-18 1And the apostles and brethren that were in Judaea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God.2And when Peter was come up to Jerusalem, they that were of the circumcision contended with him, 3Saying, Thou wentest in to men uncircumcised, and didst eat with them. 4But Peter rehearsed the matter from the beginning, and expounded it by order unto them, saying, 5I was in the city of Joppa praying: and in a trance I saw a vision, A certain vessel descend, as it had been a great sheet, let down from heaven by four corners; and it came even to me: 6Upon the which when I had fastened mine eyes, I considered, and saw fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. 7And I heard a voice saying unto me, Arise, Peter; slay and eat. 8But I said, Not so, Lord: for nothing common or unclean hath at any time entered into my mouth. 9But the voice answered me again from heaven, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. 10And this was done three times: and all were drawn up again into heaven. 11And, behold, immediately there were three men already come unto the house where I was, sent from Caesarea unto me. 12And the Spirit bade me go with them, nothing doubting. Moreover these six brethren accompanied me, and we entered into the man's house: 13And he shewed us how he had seen an angel in his house, which stood and said unto him, Send men to Joppa, and call for Simon, whose surname is Peter; 14Who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved. 15And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning. 16Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost. 17Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God? 18When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.


he withdrew and separated himself

What kind of separation is this?

Is it?

Romans 1:1 - 2 1Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God,2(Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,)


2 Corinthians 6:14-18 14Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?15And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? 16And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 17Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you. 18And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.


Peter's separation here is a running away from an obligation because of his "fear of man." He just didn't remember his Proverbs.

Proverbs 29:25 The fear of man bringeth a snare: but whoso putteth his trust in the LORD shall be safe.


  1. And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation.
  2. Peter is fellowshipping in the local church at Antioch with "brothers in Christ." They are all sitting around the table eating fried catfish and hushpuppies (fried in hog lard no less), seafood gumbo and pork barbecue when a messenger comes in and walks up to Peter and whispers in his ear, "That bunch from Acts 11:2 just pulled up at Motel 6!"


    "Uh, oh!" says Peter, "I'm gonna get my shirttail in a wringer now!"


    "Ya'll excuse, brothers, I gotta go make a proper appearance!"


    When word gets around the room after Peter leaves the table, some of the converted Jews get up with him.


  3. 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?

Paul practices what he preaches. He does not hesitate to straighten out Peter on his grace doctrines.


Paul says, "Hey Peter. If you, being a Jew are fellowshipping with these gentiles - and you were before those Acts 11:2 guys from Jerusalem showed up at Motel 6 - and you were enjoying it, even though you knew that an Orthodox Jew shouldn't be enjoying it, how come you reversed field, brother, and quit enjoying it?"


"Are you trying to teach these Gentiles that Orthodox Judaism is the right way to live?"


Peter's answer to Paul is never recorded. However, Peter refers to his rebuker as "our beloved brother Paul" in the following verse:

2 Peter 3:15 And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you;


I guess Peter didn't hold a grudge against Paul.


  1. We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles,
  2. It appears that Paul's rebuke ends in verse 14 and now he seems to be expounding aloud to himself and the Galatians. It is clear that he goes on using "we" to include Peter and anyone like him that tends to forget what justification by grace really means.


  3. 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.
  4. A key verse in Galatians. Three times it tells us that no one is justified by observing the law, and three times it underscores the indispensable requirement of placing one's faith in Christ.

    by the works of the law.

    Paul is not depreciating the law itself, for he clearly maintained that God's law is "holy, righteous and good"

    Romans 7:12 Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.


    He is arguing against an illegitimate use of the Old Testament law that made the observance of that law the grounds of acceptance with God.

    be justified

    The essence of the gospel message is found in faith, the means by which justification is received, not its basis.

    Romans 3:20,24,28 20Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.24Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: 28Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

    Philippians 3:9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:


  5. But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid.

There are two readings on this verse.

The first one is this: If we find ourselves sinning after we get saved (and justified) does that mean that Christ is the Author of sin since He was the one who justified us? God forbid!


The second one is: Now that we are justified, does Christ place us in a position where we can become sinners? You do call people who eat with Gentiles 'sinners' don't you? (Luke 5:30) Well, you could not be a sinner in that sense unless Christ is the minister of sin, for He is the one who put you in fellowship with gentiles who were justified like you are. Is Christ that kind of Minister? God forbid!


  1. For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.
  2. Now Paul turn his guns off of Peter and points them at himself. Paul is saying that if a saved child of God who has been justified by faith apart from the works of the law returns to those works or gives any indication (as Peter had done) that those works are connected with justification, he brackets himself. He has stuck himself back under the law as a sinner trying to get to heaven by works. The following verses are pretty plain.


    Romans 3:26 - 27 26To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.27Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.

    Romans 4:5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.


  3. For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.
  4. See Romans 6 and 7.


  5. I am crucified with Christ: neverthless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

I am dead, but I am alive. I am a live spirit and a dead body. An unsaved person is a dead spirit and a live body.


Paul was a living sacrifice always bearing about in his body the death of his Lord and dying daily.

Romans 12:1 - 3 1I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.2And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. 3For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.

2Corinthians 4:10 Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body.

1Corinthians 15:31 I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.


The tense of Galatians 2:20 is the same as the tense of Galatians 6:14.

Galatians 6:14 But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.


Romans 7:22 - 25 22For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:23But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. 24O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? 25I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.


Here are three tremendous truths:

The real "ME" is the NEW MAN born of the Spirit who "lives", but this "NEW ME" is Jesus Christ Himself!!

Here are three MORE tremendous truths:

Paul is not discussing his bodily life. He is discussing his REAL LIFE, which is Jesus Christ Himself.


  1. I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.

To mingle legalism with grace distorts grace and makes a mockery of the cross.