Galatians 2

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Verse 1: Fourteen years later I went up again to Jerusalem, this time with Barnabas. I took Titus along also. (NIV)

  • There is a lot of confusion about the timing of all of this as it matches with the accounts of either Acts 11 or Acts 15. Both seem to fit some aspects and not others.
  • This is probably 14 years after conversion, instead of after Arabia, and so this is probably around 44-46 CE ( George 136).
  • The genitive of “through” here is used to indicate time, after fourteen years. Part of a year also counts so it could be from 12 to 14 years.
  • It seems that “bring along with” here works with both Barnabas and Titus instead of just Titus. It could indicate that both Barnabas and Paul were bringing Titus but the verb is singular so it probably indicates that Paul was bringing the other two.
  • This is the end of a sequence of events indicated by “then” starting each sentence (verses 18, and 21).
  • Titus is not mentioned in the book of Acts, though he was part of the group that took collected money to Jerusalem, 2 Corinthians 8:6-24. It is thought that Titus was Luke's brother, and that Luke didn't mention either his own name of Titus's when writing the book (Bruce 107).


Verse 2: I went in response to a revelation and set before them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles. But I did this privately to those who seemed to be leaders, for fear that I was running or had run my race in vain. (NIV)

  • The second word in this verse is “de” or “but” and indicates a switch from discussing why he went instead of where he went.
  • Going “in response to a “revelation” is the same language as Paul used to describe his conversion experience (George 138).
    • Paul makes it clear that he goes not because of a man or because of an inquisition into his apostleship but because God called him.
    • There was probably some question about this, that he was forced to go.
    • This revelation is unknown to the Bible elsewhere unless it is the prophecy of Agabus in Acts 11:27-30 where the Antioch believers contributed money for Barnabas and Paul to take to Jerusalem (Bruce 108).
  • ”Set before” is here a middle verb of "placing upon" it is used metaphorically to indicate setting forth of an idea, but setting it forth for input from other people (Kittel Vol. 1 353). Paul was looking for confirmation of his message, not just telling the apostles how it would be.
  • By saying “I preach” (present active indicative verb) Paul is saying that the gospel he presented in Jerusalem is the same one he is preaching while he is writing this letter. The implication is that because he didn't get rejected in Jerusalem his gospel has apostolic authority.
  • It is interesting here what Paul means by how he talked with the disciples "but by myself."
    • Whether this means that he did it away from the public or that he didn't bring Titus and Barnabas with him is unclear.
    • Perhaps Paul was so nervous about being wrong that he didn't let even his followers and friends listen in.
    • ”On my own” can also refer to just no outsiders but other people being there. So perhaps Titus and Barnabas were there but that it wasn't open to the public. After all the false brothers were there so it wasn't just four guys alone in a closet.
  • The word for prominent people is actually a verb “dokokousin” (a participle) which means choose or suppose. It is indicating those that can make a decision.
    • It is from dokeo which means “to appear.”
    • The standard meaning of this form is “the ones who seem” but there is no indication as to what these people seem like. It is assumed that they appear to be powerful.
    • Those that have power is another meaning and is probably used here (Bruce 109).
    • Basically, Paul is saying that these are people who are not God but are powerful people that can decide the circumcision issue with subjective judgment in a way that people will accept as valid. Paul is not giving a ton of power to these people, just the acclamation of the crowds and the ability to decide subjectively.
    • This is a depreciatory phrase, not of the apostles, but of the claims made of them (Lightfoot 108).
    • Paul is trying to respect the real power and authority that the apostles had, while fighting the huge status they had with some people, a status that hurt Paul's own standing (Bruce 117).
  • Most translations have Paul doing his speaking in private because he was afraid. Even the most literal translations have "fear" in their writing. But fear is not literally in the text at all.
  • ”Me pos” or ”perhaps not” together indicate that a rhetorical phrase is here. Paul did this so that what he did wouldn't be in vain.
    • This is normally translated as “for fear” to bring out the rhetorical nature, and the implications of reason/purpose.
    • This is possibly strengthening the idea that Titus and Barnabas were excluded from this discussion so they wouldn't lose heart in Paul's message.
    • Paul might be almost trying to vindicate why no one can bear witness to what went on there. The false believers were there so it wasn't a tiny meeting at least.
  • Paul does not want to have "run", i.e. worked, for nothing.
  • Without Jerusalem's validation Paul's work would have been in vain is the implication, he needs their approval.


Verse 3: Yet not even Titus, who was with me, was compelled to be circumcised, even though he was a Greek. (NIV)

  • This verse introduces us to one of the most critical issues of this letter, circumcision.
    • Circumcision was a very important rite for the Jews as part of fulfilling the law, and people were divided on whether it should be included as part of the Christian belief as well.
    • With Jesus, the discussion was on whether circumcision was required to be a believer or not. Paul is fighting against those that say circumcision is required.
  • We know from Acts 16 that Timothy was circumcised to appease the Jews. But Timothy had a Jewish mother, Titus was purely Gentile (George 147).
  • Bringing Titus along could have served two purposes. First, if this was a delegation from Antioch, then he could come as a member. Second, he was a living example of a Gentile convert and helped prove Paul's case (George 141).
  • This verse basically is saying that despite what anyone else might say, Paul came off fine with the apostles and that he didn't lose even in the instance of Titus. His worry was in vain.
  • ”Circumcise” is here functioning as a general infinitive, indicating that he never needs to be circumcised, not just that he didn't have to be then. It is a statement for all time/any time.
  • “Being a Greek” is used adverbially, indicating that Greeks are normally uncircumcised, a concessive meaning.
  • The word for “forced” is literally a physical violence. This was a possibility, that Titus would be physically forced into circumcision.
  • Acts records that there were some concessions Paul had to make, so by concentrating on this key issue and example, Paul is trying to defend himself and his position from attack.


Verse 4: This matter arose because some false brothers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves. (NIV)

  • ”False brothers” is notable because even with the conflict Paul is having with these people, he still called them brothers at the beginning of this letter. (George 148).
  • ”Brought in secretly” is an adjective with the meaning of something that is not supposed to be in a specific place worming its way into that place. Also found in 2 Peter 2:1 (a different form).
  • ”Came in along,” here translated as “our ranks,” literally means to come alongside and is used in Revelation without a sneaky implication. It can indicate joining a group and could imply coming to faith or entering the conference.
  • ”Look carefully” is an aorist infinitive dealing with "examining closely against."
    • It is here indicating the purpose that these people had, to find fault with or spy on the Church.
    • It seems to have a more active role than just spying as they did bring forth the accusations about circumcision, more like "judge" or "tear down." This is supported to some extent by their purpose being described as to "thoroughly enslave us."
  • ”Enslave us” is here in the future indicative tense.
    • This isn't a possibility but a definite thing that would happen if they got their way.
    • It matches the idea of current freedom in Christ mentioned earlier. Paul is taking a past event and making its implications go further than the event itself to say that if this agenda ever succeeds we will be enslaved.
    • This enslavement is in parallel with the freedom that was earlier mentioned.


Verse 5: We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might remain with you. (NIV)

  • What is translated as “a moment” literally means “hour.” It does not indicate a definite time period, but instead shows that they never yielded.
  • "Yield into submission" is the literal rendition of “give in” and involves a double usage of submissive terminology.
    • This really indicates what Paul thinks giving in to these people would be like.
    • It would be like giving up, this is almost warlike terms of surrender.
    • Paul in these verses is trying to present a picture of how wrong it is to ever let people like this into your council, without naming names in the Galatians' situation.
  • ”To stay by” or “to continue” is the literal meaning of “to remain”.
    • Paul is saying that they would not have the gospel anymore if this plan of the false believers went through.
    • This is a subjunctive, a mood of possibility. Not giving in makes it possible to preserve the gospel, not certain. There are other ways to lose the truth of the gospel but that this is one sure way.
  • ”With you” is here indicating a metaphorical space, with the truth of the gospel staying by or with us.
  • ”Ina,” translated as “in order that” or “so that” is a word that indicates uncertain results or purpose, a hopeful idea, not a definite one. Paul is hoping that the truth will stay with the Galatians, but it isn't a guarantee that just because this problem is beaten it doesn't mean that all problems are.
  • What is the truth of the gospel? This is uncertain, other than the big picture that it is our freedom in Christ.


Verse 6: As for those who seemed to be important—whatever they were makes no difference to me; God does not judge by external appearance—those men added nothing to my message. (NIV)

  • ”Seemed important” is the same word found in 2:2, for a fuller description see that verse.
  • Paul is here describing why he is insulting the apostles by calling them people who are basically deceiving the populace by only seeming to have power. Paul doesn't care what they are, it's God's problem not his.
  • ”Pote” literally means "at one time or another," but is here not translated.
    • In this case it literally comes out as "what kind at one time they were I don't care." This might indicate some kind of perceived change in the apostles. Probably not.
    • Most likely it is referring to "ever" so it is discussing that Paul could care less at any time.
  • ”He matters” is singular, but all the rest of the statement is plural, Paul all of a sudden switches number in mid idea.
    • This word also literally means "he carries through" but in this sense has the idea of changing someone, or someone caring about something to the point where it makes a difference to them.
    • Paul might care, but not enough to worry about.
  • ”Lambanei” means "he takes." "God does not take or receive men on face" is the literal reading of this portion.
    • Face value is the idea here and God can either be picking people, taking them, or receiving them as they come.
    • This verb could take either the idea of God taking people from earth or receiving those who come. Theology dictates the interpretation more than the words used here.
  • ”My” is emphatic at the end of this verse. The implication is that others might have gotten authorization and added insight into their message, but not Paul (Bruce 119).
  • ”Contribute” or “added to” here means not that they didn't give Paul anything but that they did not give anything really essential.
    • The pronoun used in reference to who the apostles might have contributed to is also plural, indicating that they did not give anything to the three of them, not just to Paul alone.
    • The next verse would seem to indicate that this is talking about how Paul was not asked to change anything.


Verse 7: On the contrary, they saw that I had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, just as Peter had been to the Jews. (NIV)

  • ”Having seen” is an adverbial participle of time that literally means "they were seeing" with a time aspect of when, “when they saw.”
  • ”Entrusted” is the perfect passive form of the word "to faith" or "to trust."
    • It is a perfect, which indicates a completed action with continuing results.
    • It is also passive, so it is an action being done to the subject. This indicates that God was showing faith with Paul. God trusted Paul with the gospel to the Gentiles and this action is still affecting Paul when he was writing this letter.
  • Literally, this does not say “Jew”, but “circumcised.” This of course refers to the Jews, but is in parallel with the uncircumcised.
  • The way that Paul indicates who he has been entrusted with and who Peter has been entrusted with is the circumcised and the uncircumcised.
    • This basically is a way of indicating Jew and gentile, but in such a way that the readers know that to become circumcised is truly to change who they are and the gospel they received.
  • By putting Peter and himself side by side, Paul is also again emphasizing his credentials. By talking more about his own ordaining than about Peter's, in a way Paul is saying that his ministry is just as and possibly more authoritative than Peter's. He is an apostle too, with the same credentials and qualifications.


Verse 8: For God, who was at work in the ministry of Peter as an apostle to the Jews, was also at work in my ministry as an apostle to the Gentiles. (NIV)

  • The word translated “at work” means to work energetically in/from/within. It could also intensify the action, but I believe it is referring to God literally working through and from within Paul, much like in the earlier verses.
  • Paul is here making Peter and himself equal in rank, both started out with the same rank and by the same power, but to different places. IE follow Paul's lead here Galatians because he is the one put over you, not Peter's gang.
  • The participle “at work” could be an inceptive participle, indicating that God began to work in Peter and continued this through Paul.
  • Again, Paul makes it clear that he is being used by God, not Paul working on his own.
  • This is the only time in Paul's writings where Peter is called Peter and not Cephas.
    • Peter would probably not have been fluent in Greek, being a fisherman, so naturally Paul would know him as Cephas, which means Peter in Aramaic.
    • There are also a lot of one-time use words here, indicating that it could be a quote from some decision others made.


Verse 9: James, Peter and John, those reputed to be pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the Jews. (NIV)

  • The participle “having known” is here working as a participle of reason. “Because” they knew the grace in him, they welcomed him. This implies that the disciples wouldn't have welcomed Paul otherwise, and that their welcoming validates him.
  • ”Seemed” to be pillars again appears here, as well as other verses in this passage.
    • This indicates once again that while others might think of these people as big shots, Paul did not.
    • They were the ones who appeared to be pillars, not the ones that were pillars.
  • Here the infinitive form of "to be" is used.
    • It indicates that not only were these people thought of as pillars but that people thought these people should be considered pillars and rightly deserved their place.
    • This is a general reference for all time. These people were thought by others to be pillars forever.
  • They seem to be dividing up the world, with Paul taking a good portion of it. “That” is a statement of hopeful purpose, not definite purpose. They gave Paul the chance to go to the gentiles, but did not actually say that he had fully achieved that mission.


Verse 10: All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do. (NIV)

  • It does not actually say if anyone asked Paul to remember the poor or if they ordered him to do it. Because he did not mention what this statement was, it is possible that it was an order, a provision to being allowed out and about with their blessing.
  • ”We might remember” is a subjunctive verb of possibility, indicating this was a request. **Paul's reluctance to say directly so makes it seem unlikely it was truly a request, but more of an order that Paul does not want to admit to in order to retain his authority.
    • In this case it seems to be a directive of "should" not "can" or "might."
  • "I was diligent" seems to be indicating that Paul was already feeding the poor before this direction. He is trying to show that he was not ordered to do anything he didn't want to do.


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