by Darrel Cline (darrelcline biblical-thinking.org)
Chapter # 2 Paragraph # 1 Study # 11 May 15, 2011 Dayton, Texas
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:
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, Part Nine: Jerusalem's Response. [The first eight parts: The "fourteen years"; The issue of "going up to Jerusalem"; Barnabas and Titus; The divine mandate; Paul's action; The key result; The false brethren; and Paul's response.]
A. Jerusalem's Response.
1. This response is "from those who seemed to be something".
2. This response was: "to me they added nothing".
3. This response was: "they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship".
a. This declaration is loaded on the front end with "clarifications". It is found at the end of 2:9, but its "prelude" begins in 2:7.
b. Those "clarifications" line up along this path...
1) There was a "no additions" (see I.A.2. above) reality in which the "seemers" (those who "seemed" to be something special in the leadership in Jerusalem) did notinsist upon, or (perhaps) even mention, any particulars that Paul was omitting, or (perhaps) down playing, in his proclamation of the Gospel among the nations. It is hard to see how this is not a critical blow to those who would "add" circumcision, or law-keeping, to the Gospel.
2) There is a "but (Greek's strongest adversative) on the other hand" reality that emphasizes the contrast between what might have been expected (some "addition" that would strengthen the apostle Paul's proclamation) and what actually happened (not only did they not "add", they "embraced").
3) There is a "when they saw the gospel was entrusted to me" reality that stands as a declaration that they came to clearly understand in a way, perhaps, that they had not before (after 16-17 years). [It is hard for me to understand how Paul could have been functioning for so long with Barnabas alongside and those in Jerusalem not knowing what he was preaching.]
4) There is a deliberate "the Gospel of the Uncircumcision" and "the Gospel of the Circumcision" reality.
5) There is a deliberate "apostleship of the circumcision" and an "apostleship of the nations" reality.
6) There is a deliberate insertion of divine activity. Paul's claim is that "...He that wrought effectually in Peter...the Same was mighty in me..." (AV).
a) The word translated "wrought effectually" is the same word translated "was mighty".
b) This word is used in Galatians 2:8 (here) twice as noted, in Galatians 3:5 to refer to God's production of "miracles" in the midst of the Galatians, and in Galatians 5:6 where Paul discounts everything except a love-energized faith. In all three texts/contexts, the issue is the activation of "energy" toward the accomplishment of some result. Galatians 5:6 is the clearest of the three in driving home the reality that nothing "avails anything" if it is not driven by a "faith" that has its marching orders under the auspices of the divine value system (Love).
i. The most obvious "problem" in this context with Paul's thesis of God's effectual working" is the issue of human frailty and abuse of the use of the gift.
ii. It is a huge problem that Peter, in the latter half of this chapter, "acted the hypocrite" by using his reputation as a gifted apostle to promote a false gospel. All of the gifts of God are pure, but the men who exercise them are not. But, what good is a "gift" if it can be used to destroy and not build up? In a very real sense, we have the same question before us with the doctrine of a jot-and-tittle-accurate written revelation: what good is an absolutely accurate revelation without an equally accurate interpretation? Further, what good is the "gift of teaching" if the "teacher" can teach error? James' caution to "be not many teachers" rests upon a future judgment, but that will not help the currently misled learners (James 3:1). Why does God give good gifts to flawed men and then not guarantee the legitimate use of them?
iii. All of the issues of "Love" and "Faith" are issues of deep complexity in that both require the alteration of the human heart, an action that is beyond human capacity. And none of the issues of "Love" and "Faith" are exempt from the absolute necessity of divine involvement/interference. This means that, even with "inerrant" words (from men as vocal or writing apostles), men's hearts remain unchanged without God's direct involvement, yet there is a reason for the presence of inerrantly communicated Truth. What is that reason? It is this: God does not directly create information in the brains of men; rather, God communicates information that is, then, processed by the minds of men into their understanding of His Truth. Because of this, He set up the process of communication to primarily include the words of prophets and apostles as foundational. In other words, though inerrant words cannot alter a human being's heart or mind, they must be present for even God to alter that heart or mind. In His own creation, God is limited to communicating information before He alters a human heart or mind (He cannot impart, by divine fiat, all of the contents of omniscience, so He must impart those contents bit by bit -- jot by tittle). In other words, it is of primary necessity for men to be exposed to Truth over time so that they may have the details of that Truth placed into their brains. Inerrant revelation is a necessary first reality; inerrant "interpretation" is a possible, secondary, incremental reality. Even though those brains also have all manner of falsehoods recorded within them, the presence of Truth makes discernment a real possibility.
c) The bottom line? That it is God Who "has worked" and "is working" within men in order to accomplish His goals.
i. This is the ultimate block to the development of false idols (objects of faith that can disallow the active involvement of God). One of the issues here is the immediate presence of God in all of His creation and His constant participation in the details. It is necessary for every believer to retain the primacy of God's presence/activity while accepting the reality of personal response/responsibility because of the overwhelming impact of appearances (God is not seen or heard in a physical world so that what He does is often falsely attributed to His intermediate agents).
ii. This is the ultimate "authority"/"truth" issue: if it was, in fact, God Who "has worked"/"is working", there is no "wiggle room" in terms of believing acquiescence. The "Gospel" is absolutely true at the jot and tittle level and only "unbelievers" will mess with its contents and implications.
iii. This is the root of Paul's theology of "Christ in you, the Hope of glory" (Colossians 1:27).
iv. The order of Paul's expression is notable: God first worked in Peter; then He worked in Paul. He is clearly riding on the more accepted reality of the divine work in Peter so that he might establish the less accepted reality of the divine work in himself. Peter was the ultimate "seemer" (a man given a reputation in the eyes of men by God so that he "seems" to be "of God").
v. This makes Paul's confrontation of Peter in the latter half of our chapter even more potent.
7) There is a definite "knowing" reality that sponsored the extension of the right hands of fellowship.
a) This "knowing" is, at root, the essence of "apostleship". The gift of apostleship fundamentally consists of being given an inerrant knowledge of the truth so that any with the gift will be able to inerrantly understand and proclaim the Gospel. This does not mean that "apostleship" underwrites faithfulness, but it certainly does underwrite awareness of the Truth.
b) Because "apostleship" is the same essential reality no matter to whom it is applied, Paul and Cephas and James and John could not help but "know" that Paul's presentation of the Gospel was both accurate and complete.