Chapter # 2 Paragraph # 1 Study # 1
March 6, 2011
1 Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also.
2 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.
3 But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised:
4 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:
5 To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.
6 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:
7 But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter;
8 (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:)
9 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.
10 Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do.
1901 ASV Translation:
1 Then after the space of fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus also with me.
2 And I went up by revelation; and I laid before them the gospel which I preach among the Gentiles but privately before them who were of repute, lest by any means I should be running, or had run, in vain.
3 But not even Titus who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised:
4 and that because of the false brethren privily brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage:
5 to whom we gave place in the way of subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.
6 But from those who were reputed to be somewhat (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth not man's person)-they, I say, who were of repute imparted nothing to me:
7 but contrariwise, when they saw that I had been intrusted with the gospel of the uncircumcision, even as Peter with the gospel of the circumcision
8 (for he that wrought for Peter unto the apostleship of the circumcision wrought for me also unto the Gentiles);
9 and when they perceived the grace that was given unto me, James and Cephas and John, they who were reputed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship, that we should go unto the Gentiles, and they unto the circumcision;
10 only they would that we should remember the poor; which very thing I was also zealous to do.
- I. Paul's Confrontational Clarification of the Gospel in Jerusalem.
- A. The "fourteen years".
- 1. Question: Is it "fourteen years" after the three years in Damascus, or is it "fourteen years" after the initial event -- Paul's conversion?
- 2. Answer.
- a. It is typically presented as fact that the event to which Paul points occurred in A.D. 49 (most "facts" regarding dates in the first century are somewhat problematical).
- b. Accepting the A.D. 49 date would make the "fourteen years" after the initial "three years", given the probability that both the "fourteen" and the "three" were periods somewhat shorter than a full period.
- c. Given an A.D. 33 conversion date, a diminished "seventeen" years would put the dates into a most likely scenario.
- 3. The real question, though, is why Paul would even address the length of the time frames involved.
- a. According to Luke's record in the Acts, this event (recorded in Acts 15), to which Paul points, is after the first missionary journey (recorded in Acts 13-14). This indicates that the controversy which hit Galatia had entered Antioch previously and had been officially dealt with in Jerusalem. This makes the Galatian heretics even more liable because they were continuing to go against, not only the Gospel, but also the "Church" which had addressed the issue at length and settled the matter.
- b. The issue of the time frame(s) is one: Paul was preaching "his" Gospel as the true message from God for a relatively long time in contrast to the "gospel" of the party of the circumcision. The conclusive argument is that, when Paul's Gospel was subjected to that of the apostles and elders in Jerusalem, his was accepted by them as the definitive truth, but the preliminary fact that he had been preaching it for sixteen/seventeen years means that it had already been accepted by the apostles in Jerusalem (Barnabas being their appointed surrogate -- Acts 11:22) because, if they had had any objections to that message, they would have surfaced long before sixteen/seventeen years had transpired. The formulation of the Gospel as "Grace-based" began as early as John, the baptizer, and only became more clearly so as time and experience passed. Peter, by whom the message of grace originally went to the Gentiles, actually made this point when the contention was brought to a head (Acts 15:7-11). His point was clear: God gave His Spirit to the Gentiles with no requirement that they be circumcised or subjected to the Law of Moses in any way.
- B. The issue of "going up to Jerusalem" is the same as it has been in all of the records of the New Testament -- "Jerusalem" was where one expected to find the Truth of God (though that expectation was thoroughly frustrated for the most part by the perversions that had found acceptance in Jewry). God yet had sealed "Jerusalem" as His. He yet stamped it as the place where His Truth was rooted by sending Paul there to clarify, once and for all, the content of the Gospel.
- 1. The perversion of "Jerusalem" consisted most fundamentally in a movement from the "heart" to the "lips" (Isaiah 29:13) as an expression of the continuing desire of the creature to have "distance" between God and himself so that he can do what he pleases with a minimum of any sense of "guilt". The doctrine of the perversion fit that desire well in that it allowed an external conformity without demanding any submission of the heart. As long as men "conform" to the externals, they are "free" to pursue their own lusts without qualms of conscience.
- 2. The truth of "Grace", however, disallows anything less than a real, personal, closing of the distance by way of "repentance" (a most fundamental "grace" doctrine).
- C. Barnabas and Titus.
- 1. We are familiar with Barnabas: he was sent by the apostles in Jerusalem to oversee the ministry in Syrian Antioch. As noted above, it would have been impossible for the Church in Jerusalem to be ignorant of the "message" of Barnabas and Saul. In its "knowledge", that Church "glorified God" for what He had done in converting Saul into Paul.
- 2. The mention of Titus.
- a. There is no indication in Acts of when, or where, Titus became a part of Paul's team.
- b. The most common occurrence of this name is found in 2 Corinthians (8 of 13 uses in the New Testament).
- c. The significance is not that the Galatians had any knowledge of Titus, but that in the third verse of Galatians 2 he is declared to be an uncircumcised Greek. Acts 14:1 is Luke's first reference to "Greeks" becoming believers in the Pauline message (in Iconium, a city of Galatia).
- D. The divine mandate.
- 1. Paul claims special revelation as the foundation of his trip to Jerusalem.
- 2. This is the same term used in 1:12 where Paul claimed that his message came by means of "revelation" as opposed to typical human methodologies.
- 3. This, clearly, is the "big gun": if God really is the instigator of the confrontation, there can be no legitimate hesitation in operating by the message. Paul's umbrella issue in Galatians is this issue: the message is to be believed.