Biblical Studies/New Testament Commentaries/Galatians/Chapter 2

Galatians 2 (NRSV)Edit

Paul and the Other ApostlesEdit

1Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along with me. 2I went up in response to a revelation. Then I laid before them (though only in a private meeting with the acknowledged leaders) the gospel that I proclaim among the Gentiles, in order to make sure that I was not running, or had not run, in vain. 3But even Titus, who was with me, was not compelled to be circumcised, though he was a Greek. 4But because of false believers secretly brought in, who slipped in to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might enslave us— 5we did not submit to them even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might always remain with you. 6And from those who were supposed to be acknowledged leaders (what they actually were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—those leaders contributed nothing to me. 7On the contrary, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel for the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been entrusted with the gospel for the circumcised 8(for he who worked through Peter making him an apostle to the circumcised also worked through me in sending me to the Gentiles), 9and when James and Cephas and John, who were acknowledged pillars, recognized the grace that had been given to me, they gave to Barnabas and me the right hand of fellowship, agreeing that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. 10They asked only one thing, that we remember the poor, which was actually what I was* eager to do. Paul Rebukes Peter at Antioch

Paul Reprimands CephasEdit

11 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood self-condemned; 12for until certain people came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But after they came, he drew back and kept himself separate for fear of the circumcision faction. 13And the other Jews joined him in this hypocrisy, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. 14But when I saw that they were not acting consistently with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, ‘If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?

Righteousness From FaithEdit

15 We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; 16yet we know that a person is justified* not by the works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ. And we have come to believe in Christ Jesus, so that we might be justified by faith in Christ, and not by doing the works of the law, because no one will be justified by the works of the law. 17But if, in our effort to be justified in Christ, we ourselves have been found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! 18But if I build up again the very things that I once tore down, then I demonstrate that I am a transgressor. 19For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; 20and it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21I do not nullify the grace of God; for if justification comes through the law, then Christ died for nothing.


Fourteen years later, Barnabas, Titus and I went to Jerusalem because I had a revelation to preach to the Jews as I have been preaching to the Gentiles. I went to the leaders in private first not for fear that I had been mistaken in my revelation; but rather to confirm to the other apostles that the gospel which I preach was the same as theirs. Nor did the church at Jerusalem feel a need to have Titus circumcised. Some Judaizers, who crept in as spies, joined our ranks and tried to hinder us with lies, trying to suggest that my gospel was different from the gospel preached in the Jerusalem church but we did not yield to them in the least -- not even for an hour in order that we could keep the gospel in its pure unadulterated form to those who we came to bring it to. Those supposed important people, though, have no bearing on the effectiveness of the gospel for God does not care for the outward appearance. Instead of trying to change my message, those men actually recognized the fact that I had been entrusted with preaching the gospel and left me to it. Just as God was with Peter when he ministered to the Jews, so was He with me in my ministry to the gentiles. The apostles Peter, James and John accepted Barnabas and me as fellow apostles and supported. The only thing they asked of us was to remember the poor. When I was in Antioch, Peter wronged the very people he was ministering to and so I called him out on it. Before James came, Peter used to eat with the gentiles and be one of them. When some men of James came though, Peter reverted back to his Jewish tradition and expected all the gentiles to join him. I told him that he was being hypocritical in being one thing and demanding that the gentiles be another. I told him this because man is not saved by the laws and works found in Jewish customs. Rather, faith in Jesus is what brings salvation. Just because we as sinners find justification in sin, that does not mean that Jesus Christ promotes sin.


Galatians is one of the few Pauline letters to be accepted so easily as written by Paul himself. This is a result of many things. First, Paul includes his identity in the introduction of the letter. This is not enough to identify the original author of Galatians though. At the time of Paul writing his letters, there were a few who wrote counterfeit letters claiming to write in his name yet did not do so with his permission (Bowes 2008). However, the content of the text indicates Paul through and through. His genuine and humbling autobiography included in several parts of the letter is signature of Paul’s character (Boice 420).


There are two hypotheses as to the time this letter was written to the Galatians. The first references the Southern Galatia hypothesis. In his first missionary journey, Paul visits southern Galatia, composed of non-ethnic Galatians. If Paul wrote this letter to southern Galatians, it would have been written at an earlier date. If it was written to the northern Galatians (who he visited on his second missionary travel), then the letter would have been written at a later date (Boice 420) (Smith). The letter must have been written after the Jerusalem Council (the Apostolic Conference). The Jerusalem Council is generally thought to have happened in A.D. 48 or 49, so Paul’s letter must have been at least after A.D. 48 (Boice 420).

Historical ContextEdit

Who and Where were the Galatians?Edit

The term "Galatia" stems from the Greek work Galatai meaning "Gauls" or "Celts" and refers to a people group that migrated from Europe to Asia Minor in the fourth century B.C. However, by the time of Paul the area that had become known as "Galatia" had well extended beyond the original borders unofficially established by the Gauls. Hence, a controversy has been stirring between scholars over the past few centuries over to whom Paul's epistle was actually addressed. Some believe it to be the ethnic Galatians in the north and others hold it to be the Roman citizens in the south district of the province. As a result, two hypothesis have been made (McDonald, 460).

North Galatia HypothesisEdit

There are several point that argue the validity of the North Galatia Hypothesis. Firstly, as stated above, the Greek term galatai refers to the ethnic group known as the Gauls who migrated into the territory. The use of this term in Galatians 3:1 would seem to support this interpretation. Secondly, scriptural cross-references to Acts 16:6 and 18:23 focus on the geographical sense of the term since the author mentions Phrygia, which is another territory very close to the homeland of the ethnic Galatians. Act 16:6 also speaks of how Paul and his companions "passed through" Phrygia and Galatia because they had been "forbidden to preach there". This may imply that Paul went directly to the ethic region rather than traveling through Asia Minor. The Lukan author also neglects to mention that Paul even entered Galatia on his first missionary journey when he proceeds to the cities of Lystra and Derbe. Textual criticism also affords supporters of this hypothesis great similarities with Romans, which is placed around the end of Paul's mission to the Corinthians. Some say Galatians should be dated in close proximity to Romans because of this. It has also been argued that the temperament of the Galatian Christians seems to reflect a popular stereotype from a later period which portrays the Galatian people as ignorant and unsophisticated [Gal. 3:1] (McDonald, 460-461).

South Galatia HypothesisEdit

The argument compromising the South Galatia Hypothesis begins firstly, on the basis that the names "Phrygia" and "Galatia" are adjectival in Acts 16:6 and 18:23. In such case then, it is referring to Phrygian-Galatia, the province that include the region of Phyrgia and thus, not the people group. It is also argued that the North Galatia Hypothesis requires Paul to take an unnatural detour. The route would have been far out from sufficient water supply. Another point that is often made in defense of the South Hypothesis is simply that Paul normally uses Roman provincial titles with reference to area churches. It should also be mentioned that during the first century, the province of Galatia was a large one that included many regions which brought many different ethnic groups together. A record from Roman sources includes the full title of a governor of Galatia. He is described as governor "of Galatia, of Pisidia, of Phyrgia, of Lycaonia, of Isauria, of Paphlogonia, of Pontus Galaticus, of Pontus Polemoniacus, of Armenia" (#1017 in Inscriptiones Latinae Selectae).

Below is a link showing a Map of "North" and "South" Galatia with further commentary on the book of Galatians.

Map of Galatia

Who was Barnabas?Edit

A great deal of what we know of this man comes from the New Testament book of Acts. Barnabas was responsible for introducing Paul to the Christians in Jerusalem and involving him in the mission with the Gentiles in the Church at Antioch. He was a Jewish man, a Levite from the island of Cyprus who lovingly sold his property and gave the proceeds to the Church in order to benefit the poor. Barnabas was a very well-respected leader in the Church and was convinced of the validity of the ministry to the Gentiles. He was so well trusted by the Antioch Christians, that they afforded Paul and him funds to take to the Church at Jerusalem during the famine (cf. Acts 4:36; 9:27; 11:22;12:25;13:1). Barnabas and Paul were partners throughout their travels, but eventually split over the issue of Mark's failure on their 1st missionary journey and Paul's refusal to take him on their 2nd (Acts 15:36-39). Outside of Acts and Galatians, there are only two references to him in the New Testament, but there are several allusions to him in noncanonical sources (Evans, Background Commentary, 483) .

Who was Titus?Edit

Titus was a Gentile companion and helper of Paul's who was converted to Christianity by his missionary work. Titus is never mentioned in the Book of Acts but is later referenced in [2 Timothy 4:10] for his work in Dalmatia. He was eventually sent by Paul to strengthen the Church at Crete and was also used as an example by Paul for his position on Gentile freedom from Jewish Law- including circumcision. One of the main noncanonical references to Titus comes from Eusebius, who asserts that he became bishop of the churches at Crete. "Thus Timothy is related to have been first appointed bishop of the diocese of Ephesus, as was Titus of the church in Crete" (Ecclesiastical History 3.4.5; Evans 484).

Galatians 2:2Edit

I went up in response to a revelation. Then I laid before them (though only in a private meeting with the acknowledged leaders) the gospel that I proclaim among the Gentiles, in order to make sure that I was not running, or had not run, in vain.

Reflected here by Paul, is the ancient practice of seeking revelation before an important decision is made. This is exemplified in the following, brief Greco-Roman text.

  • "So Xenophon went and asked Apollo to what one of the gods he should sacrifice and pray in order best and most successfully to perform the journey which he had in mind, and after meeting with good fortune, to return home in safety."

(Anabasis 3.1.6., LCL)

This statement refers to a time when Xenophon (430-354 B.C.) was about to make an important decision and sought advice from his friend Socrates who instructs him to go on a journey to Delphi in order to receive guidance from the Greek god Apollo. Clearly, Paul was influenced by Hellenic culture whether by nurture or choice in order to effectively evangelize to people groups such as the Galatians. The nature of Paul's revelation in this instance is impossible to know, but one may speculate based on evidence in the Book of Acts. It may have been a sign from the Holy Ghost (16:6; 19:21; 20:22-23), a dream (16:9; 18:9; 23:11), or possibly even something given by a prophet (11:28; 21:4). The purpose of Paul's journey to Jerusalem from Antioch was to openly discuss the nature of the Gospel he was preaching, but the "leaders" chose to do this in private. The Jewish historian, Josephus sheds some light on the nature of such conferences may been like in Palestine (Evans, 484).

  • In his work Jewish War, Josephus writes how Petronius (leader of the Romans during the 66-70 A.D.) rebellion "held crowded private conferences" with leaders of the aristocracy and simply public meetings with the local Jews who were seeking his favor.

(Jewish War 2.199, LCL)

Galatians 2:6Edit

And from those who were supposed to be acknowledged leaders (what they actually were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—those leaders contributed nothing to me.

Here, Paul is speaking of James and John-not another end of leadership within the Church. As philosophers of his day were convinced, it was not socially responsible to show respect for a person's position; and it appears Paul agreed with this. Socrates, as he was about to die, tells those around him how they ought to raise their children.

...if they [the children] seem to you to care for money or anything else more than for virtue, and if they think they amount to something when they do not, rebuke them as I have rebuked you because they do not care for what they ought, and think they amount to something when they are worth nothing. If you do this, both I and my sons shall have received just treatment from you. (Plato, Apology 41E)

Paul understood from the Scriptures that God does not pick favorites or put value in high positions (Job 24:19; Deut. 10:17). A passage that reiterates this point is found elsewhere in the New Testament (Jas. 2:1) and Paul himself acknowledges this in his epistle to the Romans (Rom 2:11) (Evans 486).

Galatians 2:15-16Edit

We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; yet we know that a person is justified not by the works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ. And we have come to believe in Christ Jesus, so that we might be justified by faith in Christ, and not by doing the works of the law, because no one will be justified by the works of the law.

Paul appears to be accepting the idea that Jews and gentiles have a different standing before God because Jews are within the covenant, and keep the Torah whereas the Gentiles do not. In the context of this verse, it should be recognized that Paul is addressing the Gentiles as "sinners" with sarcasm and irony. Even though Paul and Peter stand within the covenant, Paul's point will be come to be (Gal. 3:1-5) that they and the Gentiles alike are saved through faith in Jesus Christ. The common Jewish idea that those who are outside the covenant are beyond salvation is rejected by Paul (Rom. 9:20-31; 1 Cor. 6:1; 9:21). How is the sinfulness of the Jews different from the Gentiles? It may be explained by a passage from the book of 2 Maccabees.

Now I urge those who read this book not to be depressed by such calamities, but to recognize that these punishments [for breaking the Law] were designed not to destroy but to discipline our people. In fact, it is a sign of great kindness not to let the impious alone for long, but to punish them immediately. For in the case of the other nations the Lord waits patiently to punish them until they have reached the full measure of their sins, but he does not deal in this way with us, in order that he may not take vengeance on us afterward when out sins have reached their height. Therefore he never withdraws his mercy from us. Although he disciplines us with calamities, he does not forsake his own people. Let what we have said serve as a reminder; we must go on briefly with the story. (2 Macc. 6:12-17, NRSV)

When the Jews are punished for their sins, it is with corrective measures in mind. This is not the case for the Gentiles (Evans 492).

Word StudyEdit

Gospel (Galatians 2:2)

There are two words in the New Testament that are translated as Gospel: εὐαγγέλιον and εὐαγγελίζομαι. In the New Testament, the word εὐαγγέλιον (gospel) appears a total of 77 times, from all four of the Gospels to Pauline letters and even once in the book of Revelation. There are many different forms and uses of εὐαγγέλιον, but in Chapter 2, verse 2 of Galatians, it is a noun used as the direct object of a verb. There are two possible definitions to εὐαγγέλιον. They are:

1) A reward for good tidings

2) Good tidings

  • The glad tidings of the kingdom of God soon to be set up and of Jesus the Messiah (after the death of Christ, the term gospel also refers preaching about the suffering of Christ along with his resurrection in order to bring salvation to men and thereby fulfill the kingdom of heaven).
  • The glad tidings of salvation through Jesus
  • The declaratio0n of the grace of God evident through Jesus
  • As Jesus’ nature and identity as the Messiah was proven through his words, works, deeds, and death, Jesus’ story was called the gospel

(Strong G2098) (Logos)

As Paul was ministering to a people that was for the most part ignorant of the life and happenings of Jesus Christ, it would make sense to me that the term εὐαγγέλιον in this case referred to the nature of Jesus and the story of his life. If this were so, then Paul went to Jerusalem in order to tell the Jews about the life of Christ and the nature of his character.

Gentile (Galatians 2:8, 2:9, 2:14)

The word ἔθνος translates as “Gentiles”, specifically as a noun that acts as the object of a verb. This particular Greek word is found 164 times in the Bible but only 94 times is it translated as “Gentiles”. As an accusative noun, the word ἔθνος is only located in Pauline letters and in the book of Acts. Because the supposed author of Acts is Luke, a physician, and Paul, a very educated man, wrote these letters, it is my supposition that ἔθνος is a fairly intelligent word since no other author in the Bible uses it in this sense. The different definitions for ἔθνος are:

1) A large group (humans or animals) that live or are associated together
2) A mass of individuals of the same nature
3) A race, nation, or group
4) In the Old Testament, people that worship pagan gods
5) A term Paul uses to refer to Gentile Christians (Strong G1484) (Logos)

It seems that these verses are examples of Paul using the term ἔθνος as a reference to Christians that are not Jews. They might have been a community of people that lived together and therefore this word was chosen for its double implication. The ἔθνος that Paul was referring to in these verses was probably all Jewish, a common race. It is possible that the word ἔθνος was chosen for all three of these reasons.

Condemn (Galatians 2:11)

The Greek word καταγινώσκω is only used three times in the New Testament, once in Galatians and twice in 1 John. However, in 1 John it is translated both times as “blame” and is translated as “condemn” in Galatians. While both of these words from the English dictionary have the same basic meaning, “condemn” implies a more judgmental tone while “blame” seems to allow for more forgiveness and restitution. The definitions for the word καταγινώσκω are:

1) To find fault in, to blame

2) To accuse, to condemn

(Strong G2607) (Logos)

Since καταγινώσκω is translated either as “condemn” or “blame” and the two definitions offered are either to blame or to condemn, it is obvious that Paul uses καταγινώσκω as an accusatory remark rather than the more relaxed “blame”. I do not think the importance of the word καταγινώσκω is not so much in its definition but rather its frequency.

Hypocritically (Galatians 2:13)

The Greek word for “hypocritically” as used in Galatians 2:13 is συνυποκρίνομαι. The sense in which it used makes it rather unique to the passage. According to the ESV, every time the Greek word for hypocrite is translated, it is always as a noun. In Galatians 2:13 however, it is used as an indicative verb, both aorist and deponent. There are two general types of verbs: passive and active. Those two types of verbs describe what someone does or what happens to someone or something. The use of συνυποκρίνομαι instead shows how the Jews acted and that they affected the Gentiles they usually ate with, but also themselves.

Verse AnalysisEdit

Galatians 2:1Edit

The beginning of the passage starts with Paul returning to Jerusalem for a second visit. It does not explicitly say what the fourteen years later is referring to. It is probably from the time of his conversion or his first visit to Jerusalem. There is approximately three years between these two dates but they are assumed to take place concurrently, starting at his conversion. So it would have been 11 years since his last visit This visit is referred to as Paul’s second visit as a Christian. (Longenecker 45) Here the reason why the group traveled “up” to Jerusalem is most likely because of its elevation, especially because Paul was probably traveling by foot and so the elevation change would have been easily noticed. (Matera 72) Barnabas is along because of his closeness to Paul, his significance and he also is seen as a “bridge between the Jews and the gentile mission.” (Longenecker 45) Barnabas is a Levite from Cyprus and is the one who vouched for Saul and his conversion experience when he became apart of the church. Titus is a tagalong of sorts and there is no solid reasoning for him joining the pair on their travels to discuss circumcision with the Church. He is probably a convert from Syrian Antioch. (Longenecher 46) Titus does not appear in Acts while Barnabas does Titus does reappear in 2 Corinthians (Matera 72).

Galatians 2:2Edit

It is clearly stated that this visit to Jerusalem did not come from any human wish it was definitely from a divine revelation. It is possible that the revelation came during a session of corporate worship; there is no specification whether the revelation was directly to Paul or if it was passed on from someone else. (Matera 72) The Gospel that was set before them was focused on the salvation that was being offered and how this salvation worked, along with a focus on the character of God and Christ’s work. By stating “I preach” he is probably writing while he is preaching, with a focus on Gentiles in the Gentile land. (Longenecker 48) There are two proceedings here one is Paul bringing the Gospel before the whole of believers and then the second when he meets privately with those that have the influence in the church. It is not sure who these people who had influence were. It was common though to use these statements in “political rhetoric.” (Longenecker 48) Cephas James and John are not likely to be those who are influential because they seem to make up an even more central group of the church. Here Paul is not seeking approval of his gospel but he is yearning for the cohesion of the entire church and does not wish for the church to be divided. This would greatly hamper the church as a whole. (Matera 73) Here Paul uses one of his many parallels between athletes and his preaching missions. His mission would have been in vain if the Church had split here because of the differences within itself. (Longenecker 49)

Galatians 2:3Edit

Titus here is referenced as a point against circumcision. (Longenecker 49) This is where Titus becomes a real asset to the trip. Titus is an example of one who was not circumcised before Galatia as was assumed by some. The statement that he was not compelled to become circumcised is not very clear and has been interpreted in different ways. Most see it as he was never circumcised and some see it as he was circumcised but not because of the pressure from the Jewish leaders. (Longenecker 50) Paul circumcised Timothy but because of his mother being a Jew and not because of any pressure from the Church. This is the first time that circumcision is mentioned in the Pauline letters. “Compel” is the same word that Paul uses when accusing Cephas later of pushing Gentiles to come under the law.

Galatians 2:4-5Edit

The reason for the pressure on Titus at all was because these brothers had come. It implies that this topic was brought to a head because of the unidentified false brothers. These false brothers are comparable to those in 2 Corinthians 11:26. This is the same meaning as spies or enemies of another camp. (Longenecker 50) There is a possibility that the apostles were just as much at fault as the false brothers for not teaching them. These brothers were false because they did not acknowledge the legitimacy of the Gentiles. (Longenecker 51) Freedom here does not mean free license. (Matera 74) The freedom that is referred to hear is a freedom from the law as Paul says infancy and slavery. (Matera 75) Here the false brothers are attempting to bring Paul under the Mosaic law again.(Longenecker 52)

Galatians 2:5

The reason why they refused to circumcise Titus was to preserve the freedom that the Gentiles had from the Mosaic Law. The you refer to all the converts from Galatia. (Longenecker 53) If Titus was circumcised then it would imply that all Gentiles would need to be circumcised. (Matera 75)

Galatians 2:6-10Edit

Verse 6 to verse 10 is a long sentence that is probably the center of the narrative. Here Paul returns to the earlier narrative of the meeting with those who were influential. During this return to the meeting Paul accuses the Judiazers of not following the proper theology here. The statement involving the pillars of the church was only eschatological. (Longenecker 53) Paul here does not see himself as against the church at all. He does see himself as independent of the Church and does not need permission to continue preaching his message. (Matera 75) He does continue to recognize that the Jerusalem church has authority still. (Matera 76) There is a movement from eschatology to ecclesiasticism. The Jerusalem apostles did not add anything to him at this meeting. (Longenecker 54)

Galatians 2:7

Paul now moves to focusing on his mission and what he is onto next after there has been recognition by the church of what he is doing. (Longenecker 54) There was a combination of how he received a commission and the things that he was doing along with what he was saying during their meetings that the church was truly supporting his mission. “I was entrusted” is commonly used in the Pauline writings. (Longenecker 55) The entrusting of the gospel in this manner is the only instance of this. (Matera 76)

Galatians 2:8

The focus is on the audience in this verse more than on the actual message. This verse is a reiteration of the verse right before, by acknowledging the work of the Lord through Paul as he worked through Peter. (Longenecker 55) This is the only instance that Cephas is called Peter. (Matera 76)

Galatians 2:9

This is the focus verse of the long continuous sentence of verse 6 through 10 in the debate Paul is having with all of the Galatian Judiazers. The grace here is a divine grace. The Jerusalem Church does not expressly call Paul here an apostle here, while he saw himself as an apostle. Paul saw himself as a Peter to the Gentiles. James, Cephas and John are all cannons of truth within the church and were probably apart of those in respected in verse 2. (Longenecker 56) Pillar is a common use in Greek architecture and is common in the day. It is often in used as a metaphor in Greek literature. (Longenecker 58)

Galatians 2:10

The word “only” is a separating word of the main point and another statement that was still worthy of being remembered. There are two different meanings for the poor those who are literally financially struggling and those who are Christian who are choosing to make themselves humble before Christ. Early Christians viewed themselves as poor in many ways, it isn’t known where exactly these poor came in on the economic scale. (Longenecker 59)

Galatians 2:11Edit

There is some speculation here that the items in verse 11-14 occurred before the prior verses of 1-10. It is unsure when Cephas came to Galatia that begins this whole interaction. The Antioch episode was probably after Paul and Barnabas returned to Syrian Antioch from their mission to Cyprus. He obviously came before Paul rebuked him but not sure whether or not Cephas was there when Paul and Barnabas arrived. Antioch is a very Pauline church even though many account Peter as its father. This visit is a very well known one in the churches history. (Longenecker 71) The point of Cephas’ visit is unknown to the reader but it is implied that the listeners did. There is also little knowledge about the character or physical circumstances of his visit. “to the face” does not imply hostility but more of a direct encounter, it is better communicated as opposed or stood against. The use of “condemned” increases the severity of Cephas’ actions as this is usually used as condemned before God or condemned to death. (Longenecker 72) This Antioch is not to be confused with the one in Pisidia as this one is in the Northwest corner of Syria. This was the 3rd largest city in the empire and the Hellenists of Cyprus and Cyrene brought Christianity here around A.D. 40. Paul was a loyal member to this congregation. There is the possibility that Peter had come here to escape the reign of King Agrippa. This should be compared to the adversaries of 2 Corinthians 10:1. (Matera 85)

Galatians 2:12Edit

“For” signals the reasoning behind the charges that Paul is bringing. The James in this passage is the Lord’s brother that is the head administrator of the church until around AD 62 at his martyrdom. (Longenecker 72) It is unsure who the men from James were it is doubtful that they were the false brothers or Judiazers, even though Paul does seem to insinuate similarities between the Judiazers arrival in Galatia and the men from James in Antioch. The way that “meals” is presented it probably means regular everyday meals but this could Eucharist. (Longenecker 73) Gentile meals were dirty for many reasons such as; it had already been offered to false gods, it had come from unclean animals or it was not properly prepared. One of the reasons that the Maccabean revolt happened was to insure the continued practice of the Jewish Customs. (Matera 85) It is unsure why Cephas had any fear of a delegation from Jerusalem as he was supposedly a pillar of the church. They could have been Judiazers or James could have been a Judiazers, he also could have been afraid of hurting the relationship with Antioch if they did not agree with his counsel. There is a possibility that Peter was in a sense riding the fence as to keep peace with both sides and Paul interpreted it as just the opposite. The other view is that because of the rising Jewish nationalism against Christians there was an antagonism toward all Gentiles. (Longenecker 74) There is an implication here that Cephas slowly separated himself over time from the Gentiles. This was a peer pressured decision not one that was logically thought out. (Longenecker 75)

Galatians 2:13Edit

“The rest of the Jews” is talking about the Jews of Antioch. The Jews probably joined Peter more for the fact that he was Peter and not that he put together a great persuasive argument. (Longenecker 75) The fact that Baranabas followed Peter and left Paul was very painful. He was the last person that was expected of because he knew what was right. Paul credits Cephas as the problem and Barnabas as a follower. This eventually led to the separation between Paul and Barnabas even though it seems that remained friends as in 1 Corinthians 9:6. (Longenecker 76) Paul implies that Peter and other Jewish Christians don’t believe in the new dietary legislation and only pretend because of those associated with James. This forced Paul to stand alone against all of the Jewish Christians at Galatia. (Matera 86)

Galatians 2:14Edit

This verse brings about the implication that some time passed before he was upset enough to say something and confront Cephas. Paul was deeply hurt by the Jews of Antioch and by Barnabas but his argument was with their leader. (Longenecker 77) Cephas had been living like a Gentile and now he was changing his ways imposing Jewish law on Gentiles implying that Jews can live like Gentiles but Gentiles must come under the law of the Jews. “To refuse table fellowship with Gentile believers because of legal restrictions is to deny the truth of the gospel.” They were not on the right path because they were not straightforward. Here Cephas was singled out. (Matera 86) The hypocrisy of Cephas was magnified because he was a pillar of the church. The use of “force” here is the same as “employ” in verse 3. Peter is forcing the law upon the Gentiles that he did not force upon Titus such as being circumcision. (Matera 87)

Galatians 2:15Edit

The statement “by nature” emphasizes that Jewish Christians are defined at birth as Jews. “Sinners of the Gentiles” is a term used by Jews as a derogatory reference towards gentiles. While this term is antagonistic towards Gentiles it probably is accompanied by a sense of irony when used by Paul. (Longenecker 83) This verse emphasizes those that are of the Gentiles are born into sin. (Matera 92)

Galatians 2:16Edit

The following is suggested to be of common knowledge. (Longenecker 83) This conjunction qualifies all the preceding statements. Paul’s writing contains four main features that are very important to this verse. Paul’s uses cluster words like justify and make righteous, Pauls understanding of the law he contrasts with Jesus Christ, the meaning of works of the law and what he means by faith in Christ. (Longenecker 84) To Justify has 8 separate occurrences in Galatians. (Matera 92) Paul here commends the law and talks of its benefits even though he often degrades it. (Longenecker 85) Paul emphasizes this point by quoting Psalms 143:2. (Matera 94) Paul has an argument based on the Jewish-Christian this is the earliest citing of rectification. There are three pericopes that should be cited, Romans 3:25, 4:25 and 1st Corinthians 6:11. (Martyn 264) Rectification is the act of God setting things right that have been wrong. Transgressions against the will of God have caused a need for rectification. (Martyn 265) God has formed rectification by forgiving sins especially through Christ. (Martyn 268)

Galatians 2:17Edit

Paul now begins to focus on the disagreement. He is speaking opposing justification, he is going for a justification through Christ nullifying There are three interpretations of verse 17 first that we are seeking Christ for justification, second, that we are sinners and thirdly Christ is a minister of sin. Paul could have multiple meanings for “found to be sinners” one understanding is that being justified by Christ causes one to fall back into sin or that being apart from the law doesn’t allow anyone to claim a higher status than another. This could also be a response to the Judiazers, “If you do not live according to the Mosaic law, then you have no way to check licentious living. And if Torah does not govern your Christian life, then Christ is responsible for your ethical failures. Indeed, without legal regulations, Christ himself, being alone responsible for morality, becomes in Galatia, this is the conclusion that Paul’s lawless theology must bring you.”(Longenecker 89) Jewish Christians find themselves alongside the gentiles with no law. Faith in Christ is equal to ethnic Jews living as Gentile sinners. (Matera 95) Paul responds to the charge of living in sin by claiming a higher lifestyle. (Longenecker 90)

Galatians 2:18Edit

The “for” used here absolutely refutes the accusation that Christ in anyway promotes sin. To return to the law now is to truly break the law. The argument is based on the premise “If I do what I shouldn’t, then I am.” (Longenecker 90) Paul tore to pieces the dietary legislation, if he reestablished this law he would have broken the law and be a sinner. (Matera 95)

Galatians 2:19-21Edit

Here Paul is basing his argument on that he has died to the law and it no longer has power over him. This is another reason why Christ isn’t a supporter of sin. This verse is well complemented by Romans 7:4. ( Matera 95) Also helpful are Luke 20:37-38 and Romans 6:10-11. As Paul has died to the world the people of Galatia need to deny to their passions. (Matera 96) This is the basis of Paul’s own theology. The Law had a purpose and it was to bring us into a better relationship with the Father. Christ’s death is instrumental in being freed from the law and there needs to be a focal point of Christ for direction. Jews have a faith that is centered around the law while Christians have one that is centered on Christ. The Torah was intentioned to bring an end that was no longer needed. Paul was stating his own belief while imposing it on those around him. Just as he has died to the world he has died to the law. (Longenecker 91) Paul refers to the law as a curse that we are now rid of because of the death of Christ. (Longenecker 92)

Galatians 2:20

The death on the cross implies a death to ones own ego and replaced with a focus on Christ that is now within us.(Longenecker 92) When Paul was alive he was under the control of it but now that he is not alive to self but to God Christ has replaced self. There is a “divine interchange: Christ in place of the ‘I’.”(Matera 96) This is one of the few place were Paul refers to Christ as being within the human instead of the human within Christ, which discards the ideology that the flesh and divine spirit are totally separate. (Longenecker 93) Here Christ handed himself over to death whereas in Romans 8:32 and 4:25 he does not hand himself over but God does. This is also the only reference to Christ specifically loving him. This is a passage that emphasizes the personal relationship that is here, by Christ handing himself over for others. (Matera 96) Here Paul is beginning to close his statement with stressing faith as a response when one makes a commitment to believing, the love of Christ and giving of one’s self sacrificially. (Longenecker 94)

Galatians 2:21

Now Paul actually comes to his final statement and once again rebuts what was charged. The grace that is used here is referring to the grace that gave the law to the Jews. The Judiazers were attempting to pick Paul apart by twisting the definition of grace that he uses so often and using it against him. (Longenecker 94) If their statement was true about grace this is where Paul finds the claim that Christ’s death was worthless. (Longenecker 95) The people of Galatia are abandoning the one who called them to grace by acting along with Cephas. The believer is made upright by God’s justice through Christ. (Matera 97) This is the first time that Paul talks about the crucifixion. It is possible that the people of Galatia used crucifixion as a means of execution, so this was a very real example.( Martyn 277)


Boice, James Montgomery. "Galatians: Introduction." The Expositors Bible Commentary. 10. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1976. Print.

Bowes, Dr. Wendell. "Untitled Lecture." Old Testament Interpretation. Lecture. October 2009.

Evans, Craig. "Galatians." The Bible Knowledge Commentary . 1st. 3 vols. Colorado Springs: Victor Publishers, 2004. Print.

Longenecker, Richard N. "Galatians." Word Biblical Commentary. Volume 41. Dallas, TX: Word Books, Publisher, 1990. Print.

Martyn, J. Louis. Galatians. The Anchor Bible 33A. Broadway, N.Y.: Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, 1997. Print.

Matera, Frank J. "Galatians." Sacra Pagina Series. volume 9. Collegeville, Minnesota: The Liturgical Press, 1992. Print.

McDonald, Martin. "Introduction to Galatians." The Bible Knowledge Commentary . 1st. 3 vols. Colorado Springs: Victor Publishers, 2004. Print.

Smith, Barry D. "The Letter to the Galatians." Religious Studies 2033: The New Testament and Its Context (2010): n. pag. Web. 26 Apr 2010. <>.

Strong, J. (1996). The exhaustive concordance of the Bible : Showing every word of the text of the common English version of the canonical books, and every occurrence of each word in regular order. (electronic ed.) (G1484). (G2607). (G2098). Ontario: Woodside Bible Fellowship.