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Ga 2:1-21. HIS CO-ORDINATE AUTHORITY AS APOSTLE OF THE CIRCUMCISION RECOGNIZED BY THE APOSTLES. PROVED BY HIS REBUKING PETER FOR TEMPORIZING AT ANTIOCH: HIS REASONING AS TO THE INCONSISTENCY OF JUDAIZING WITH JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH.
1. Translate, "After fourteen years"; namely, from Paul's
conversion inclusive [ALFORD]. In the fourteenth
year from his conversion [BIRKS]. The same visit
to Jerusalem as in
(A.D. 50), when the council of the apostles and
Church decided that Gentile Christians need not be circumcised. His
omitting allusion to that decree is; (1) Because his design here
is to show the Galatians his own independent apostolic authority,
whence he was not likely to support himself by their decision. Thus we
see that general councils are not above apostles. (2) Because he argues
the point upon principle, not authoritative decisions. (3) The decree
did not go the length of the position maintained here: the council did
not impose Mosaic ordinances; the apostle maintains that the Mosaic
institution itself is at an end. (4) The Galatians were Judaizing, not
because the Jewish law was imposed by authority of the Church as
necessary to Christianity, but because they thought it necessary
to be observed by those who aspired to higher perfection
(Ga 3:3; 4:21).
The decree would not at all disprove their view, and therefore would
have been useless to quote. Paul meets them by a far more direct
confutation, "Christ is of no effect unto you whosoever are
justified by the law"
2. by revelation--not from being absolutely dependent on the
apostles at Jerusalem, but by independent divine "revelation." Quite
consistent with his at the same time, being a deputy from the Church of
states. He by this revelation was led to suggest the sending of
the deputation. Compare the case of Peter being led by vision, and at
the same time by Cornelius' messengers, to go to Cæsarea,
3. But--So far were they from regarding me as running in vain, that "not even Titus who was with me, who was a Greek (and therefore uncircumcised), was compelled to be circumcised." So the Greek should be translated. The "false brethren," Ga 2:4 ("certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed," Ac 15:5), demanded his circumcision. The apostles, however, constrained by the firmness of Paul and Barnabas (Ga 2:5), did not compel or insist on his being circumcised. Thus they virtually sanctioned Paul's course among the Gentiles and admitted his independence as an apostle: the point he desires to set forth to the Galatians. Timothy, on the other hand, as being a proselyte of the gate, and son of a Jewess (Ac 16:1), he circumcised (Ac 16:3). Christianity did not interfere with Jewish usages, regarded merely as social ordinances, though no longer having their religious significance, in the case of Jews and proselytes, while the Jewish polity and temple still stood; after the overthrow of the latter, those usages naturally ceased. To have insisted on Jewish usages for Gentile converts, would have been to make them essential parts of Christianity. To have rudely violated them at first in the case of Jews, would have been inconsistent with that charity which (in matters indifferent) is made all things to all men, that by all means it may win some (1Co 9:22; compare Ro 14:1-7, 13-23). Paul brought Titus about with him as a living example of the power of the Gospel upon the uncircumcised heathen.
4. And that--that is, What I did concerning Titus (namely, by not
permitting him to be circumcised) was not from contempt of circumcision,
but "on account of the false brethren"
(Ac 15:1, 24)
who, had I yielded to the demand for his being circumcised, would have
perverted the case into a proof that I deemed circumcision necessary.
5. Greek, "To whom not even for an hour did we yield by
subjection." ALFORD renders the Greek
article, "with THE subjection required of
us." The sense rather is, We would willingly have yielded for
love [BENGEL] (if no principle was at
issue), but not in the way of subjection, where "the truth of
was at stake (namely, the fundamental truth of justification by faith
only, without the works of the law, contrasted with another Gospel,
Truth precise, unaccommodating, abandons nothing that belongs to
itself, admits nothing that is inconsistent with it [BENGEL].
6. Greek, "From those who," &c. He meant to complete the
sentence with "I derived no special advantage"; but he alters it into
"they . . . added nothing to me."
7. contrariwise--on the contrary. So far from adding any new light
to ME, THEY gave in
THEIR adhesion to the new path on which Barnabas and
I, by independent revelation, had entered. So far from censuring, they
gave a hearty approval to my independent course, namely, the innovation
of preaching the Gospel without circumcision to the Gentiles.
9. James--placed first in the oldest manuscripts, even before
Peter, as being bishop of Jerusalem, and so presiding at the council
He was called "the Just," from his strict adherence to the law, and so
was especially popular among the Jewish party though he did not fall
into their extremes; whereas Peter was somewhat estranged from them
through his intercourse with the Gentile Christians. To each apostle
was assigned the sphere best suited to his temperament: to James, who
was tenacious of the law, the Jerusalem Jews; to Peter, who had opened
the door to the Gentiles but who was Judaically disposed, the Jews of
the dispersion; to Paul, who, by the miraculous and overwhelming
suddenness of his conversion, had the whole current of his early Jewish
prejudices turned into an utterly opposite direction, the Gentiles. Not
separately and individually, but collectively the apostles together
represented Christ, the One Head, in the apostleship. The twelve
foundation-stones of various colors are joined together to the one
great foundation-stone on which they rest
Re 21:14, 19, 20).
John had got an intimation in Jesus' lifetime of the admission of the
10. remember the poor--of the Jewish Christians in Judea, then
distressed. Paul and Barnabas had already done so
11. Peter--"Cephas" in the oldest manuscripts Paul's withstanding
Peter is the strongest proof that the former gives of the independence
of his apostleship in relation to the other apostles, and upsets the
Romish doctrine of Peter's supremacy. The apostles were not always
inspired; but were so always in writing the Scriptures. If then the
inspired men who wrote them were not invariably at other times
infallible, much less were the uninspired men who kept them. The
Christian fathers may be trusted generally as witnesses to facts, but
not implicitly followed in matters of opinion.