- Locate the Passage
2:1-10 is the first preaching unit of Galatians 2. It follows Paul’s selective autobiography (1:11-24) and records his interaction with the Jerusalem apostles.
- Identify the Genre
The macro level is epistolary. The micro level is expository.
- Determine the Structure of the Passage
This passage is Paul’s account of his meeting with the apostles in Jerusalem some fourteen years after his conversion. The progression of this account may be summarized as follows:
-direction to Jerusalem by revelation (1-2)
-rejection of false teachers (Judaizers) and their enslaving doctrine (3-5)
-positive reception by the apostolic leadership in Jerusalem (6-10)
- Exegete the Passage
Verse 1 informs the reader that, after some fourteen years, Paul “went up” to Jerusalem. He was accompanied by Barnabas and Titus. Verse 2 lets the reader know that Paul returned to Jerusalem according to (kata-“because of”) a revelation (apokalupsin) from the Lord. Thus directed, Paul set before (anethemen-aorist, “laid out before”) the Jerusalem apostles the gospel that he was preaching (kerusso) to the Gentiles (ethnesin). Apparently, this was a private meeting with the apostles. Paul indicates that his purpose in setting his gospel before the leaders was in order to make sure that his efforts (note the use of trexo-“was running” and edramon-“had run”) were not in vain (kenon-“empty”). Most likely, Paul was thinking of the content of his message to the Gentiles (faith in Jesus Christ plus nothing makes one a part of God’s family and no addition to the gospel (such as circumcision) is necessary).
Verses 3-5 set the stage for the favorable reception Paul’s gospel would receive in Jerusalem. Verse 3 highlights the issue of circumcision as it relates to Paul’s companion, Titus. Paul records that, though Titus was a Greek, he was not compelled (enegkasthe-aorist passive-“forced”) to submit to the Jewish rite of circumcision. In verse 4, Paul inserts into the narrative a rather abrupt acknowledgement of the presence of “false brothers” (pseudadelphous) in Jerusalem. This is a reference to the Judaizers who insisted that Gentiles must trust Christ and be circumcised in order to be right with God. Paul notes that the Judaizers crept in to “spy out” (kataskopesai) the freedom that we have in Christ Jesus. Dr. Jack MacGorman accurately and vividly refers to these Judaizers as “the knot-hole gang of Jews.” Their purpose, according to verse 4, was to enslave (katadoulosousin) the Galatian believers through their false teaching. Verse 5 records Paul’s refusal to submit (hupotage-“be in subjection”) to the distorted teaching of the Judaizers even for a moment. The purpose of such a refusal was that the truth of the gospel might be preserved (diameine-“might continue”) for the Galatian believers.
In verse 6, Paul again sounds the note of not being a man-pleaser. He refers to the reportedly “influential” leaders in Jerusalem (dokounton-“those having reputation”) and notes that their status in no way altered his view of the truth. He even adds the reminder that God shows no partiality (literally-”God of no man receives face”) and asserts that the leaders “added” nothing to him. Instead, when they saw that Paul had been entrusted (pepisteumai-perfect passive) with the gospel to the uncircumcised (Gentiles) just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel to the circumcised (Jews), they, with “pillars” James, Cephas and John, gave the “right hand” of fellowship (koinonias) to Paul and Barnabas (verses 7-9). Note that the Jerusalem leadership also perceived (ginontes-aorist active participle) the grace that had been given to Paul. This indicates that they saw the hand of God on Paul for gospel ministry to the Gentiles and readily acknowledged it. Verse 10 records that, having the full endorsement of the Jerusalem apostles, Paul was asked by them to remember the poor. It was a request with which he was eager to comply.
- Let the Structure of the text Drive the Structure of the Sermon
Paul’s reception and recognition by the Jerusalem apostles dealt a devastating blow to legalism and its adherents (Judaizers) and affirmed the blessing of liberty in Christ that Paul steadfastly proclaimed. The structure of the sermon could follow this form:
- The Lord directs Paul to Jerusalem. (1-2)
- Paul rejects false teachers and their enslaving doctrine. (3-5)
- The Jerusalem apostles affirm the Paul’s call and ministry. (6-10)