Galatians 2:1-21 Bible Study
Remember that we discussed in chapter 1 that this message is about being fooled and distracted from the true gospel.
A friend of mine on FB used to send me messages about losing salvation and he would teach how Christ died so we could keep the law on our own. There was brief period when I was distracted by his teaching, and I focused on law for righteousness, but thankfully I came back to Christ as my righteousness.
What type of distractions do you deal with? Distractions like “you have to tithe to avoid a curse”, “You have broken fellowship with God when you sin until you repent and confess“, God sees you as a lukewarm Christian and wants to spit you out of his mouth”. Pick your distraction because there are plenty. Remember when you got saved how the message was come just as you are, God loves you and if you confess your sins and accept Jesus God would forgive you and make you His child? That was zero you and 100% about what God would do. You couldn’t do anything about your sins or save yourself no matter how hard you tried. You accepted Christ, you got saved, and then the distractions creep in and you’ll notice they are always about what “you” do.
We are going to see some major distractions here in Chapter 2. Were going to learn that even the apostles get it wrong sometimes.
Remember in chapter 2 Paul said he didn’t get his gospel from man. He got it from God. Now we pick up in Chapter 2.
Galatians Chapter 2 – The Council at Jerusalem
[Galatians 2:1-2] 2 Then after an interval of fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along also. 2 It was because of a revelation that I went up; and I submitted to them the gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but I did so in private to those who were of reputation, for fear that I might be running, or had run, in vain.
Paul finally had done a double check. He didn’t get his message from man and now he is making sure he has his gospel message right. The other disciples got it from Jesus and he’s comparing notes.
[Galatians 2:3] 3 But not even Titus, who was with me, though he was a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised.
Titus was a non-Jew and Paul brought him into a Judaism environment and Titus didn’t give in to the pressure of ritual and religious customs. Distraction # 1 PRESSURE to fit in with the religious elite.
[Galatians 2:4] 4 But it was because of the false brethren secretly brought in, who had sneaked in to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, in order to bring us into bondage.
We see two things here. Christ-followers have LIBERTY, and Judaism is bondage. The Jews want to put them in bondage with more rules and laws. Nothing has changed. today it’s even the Christians that are putting back in bondage.
You have been totally set free (and I mean totally) in Christ. The legalist thinks that’s hyper-grace or a license to sin, but the true gospel defends that too because not only are you free, but scripture says God made you a new creation with new desires, and if that’s true then though you have the freedom to do whatever you want – what you now want to do is live a godly life. Though we all stumble in many ways (James 3:2). Check out these three verses that you may never hear preached:
1 Corinthians 10:23 23 All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify.
1 Peter 2:16 Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God.
Galatians 5:13 For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.
[Galatians 2:5] 5 But we did not yield in subjection to them for even an hour, so that the truth of the gospel would remain with you.
So why is bondage to law a distraction and why would someone want to be in bondage to the law? Because it gives you a role and all you will think about is what you’re doing (or not doing) instead of what Christ did. Christ is your righteousness, not part Christ with a little pinch of you.
[Galatians 2:6] 6 But from those who were of high reputation (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—well, those who were of reputation contributed nothing to me.
He’s talking about the religious elite and supposedly wise ones. Today we might call them the Pope, pastors, preachers, deacons.
We get hung up on famous authors and speakers and even though scripture is very clear, if we’re not careful we let them make us see it differently.
[Galatians 2:7-10] 7 But on the contrary, seeing that I had been entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been to the circumcised 8 (for He who effectually worked for Peter in his apostleship to the circumcised effectually worked for me also to the Gentiles), 9 and recognizing the grace that had been given to me, James and Cephas and John, who were reputed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, so that we might go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. 10 They only asked us to remember the poor—the very thing I also was eager to do.
Peter (Cephas) Opposed by Paul
[Galatians 2:11] 11 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned.
This is that classic confrontation between Paul and Peter because Peter would not even eat with non Jews. God had told Peter in a dream “DO NOT CALL unclean what I call clean”. So we see even Peter had some jacked up doctrine at times.
[Galatians 2:12] 12 For prior to the coming of certain men from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles;
James was the one that screwed up Peters thinking. He had it wrong. He wanted to fit in. Some James had some bad doctrine. Religious pressure and it’s alive and kicking today.
[Galatians 2:12 contd.] but when they came, he began to withdraw and hold himself aloof, fearing the party of the circumcision.
In other words Peter was worried what the Jews would think of him eating with Gentiles. Peer pressure to fit in with religious people.
[Galatians 2:13] 13 The rest of the Jews joined him in hypocrisy, with the result that even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy.
Barnabas was known as a kind loving guy, and even he gave in for a period to religious pressure.
[Galatians 2:14] 14 But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in the presence of all, “If you, being a Jew, live like the Gentiles and not like the Jews, how is it that you compel the Gentiles to live like Jews?
In other words “hey Peter, you’re a JEW and you’re not all jacked up about the law now that you know Christ, so why the heck are you trying to push the law on Gentiles?” “you’re a hypocrite Peter“. Again, just plain religious pressure to go along with everyone else.
[Galatians 2:15-16] 15 “We are Jews by nature and not sinners from among the Gentiles; 16 nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus,
Paul is very clear we are not JUSTIFIED by law, but we ARE through FAITH in Jesus.
[Galatians 2:16 contd.] even we have believed in Christ Jesus,
His point here is they are serious Jews that used to really uphold Judaism and Law, yet they place all their faith in Christ alone
[Galatians 2:16 contd.] so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified.
We know we are saved by faith, but some will distract us and say things like we are forgiven “IF” we confess our sins. IF is conditional upon you and not your faith.
[Galatians 2:17] 17 But if, while seeking to be justified in Christ, we ourselves have also been found sinners, is Christ then a minister of sin? May it never be!
This one is hard, but I think it means if we get saved by faith alone and then rebuild the law back into our life then we are ministering sin to people. Romans tells us the law excites sin.
Why do I say that? Check out the next verse.
[Galatians 2:18] 18 For if I rebuild what I have once destroyed, I prove myself to be a transgressor.
In other words if I accept Christ alone as savior and destroy the law and then I rebuild it I prove myself to be a transgressor. It starts with a pinch here and a pinch there. Unfortunately, this describes a lot of Christians today.
[Galatians 2:19-20] 19 For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.
This “being crucified with Christ” is not symbolic. It’s literal. The old you that was dead in Adam is gone. Buried. It’s not coming back. You are new at your core. You have been given life in Christ! God does not see the old, but rather He sees the new – even when you stumble in sin.
[Galatians 2:21] 21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died needlessly.”
In other words if it’s even remotely possible that you can be found righteous through the law then what the heck the Jesus die for?
So my closing question is just that. If you can do it then why did Jesus die? And if you can’t then why do people think it’s okay to push the law, keeping in mind that if we stumble at one point of the law we are guilty of it all! You don’t have to be physically intimate to commit adultery – all you have to do is have a little bit of lust in your heart and you’re GUILTY (according to Jesus). So if you really think you’re doing “pretty good” and keeping the law you are fooling yourself. Does that mean we say screw it and let’s all just go sin? No. But it does mean you need to completely get free from looking at the law as a measure of your okayness with God. It’s Jesus alone that made you right with God and He’s not looking for you to help Him out. Your role? Believe God and let Christ live through you.
Christ leads us now, and we don’t need the law to be our teacher. We just need Jesus. Don’t get fooled.