Galatians 2

The gospel of grace is one of justification by faith in Christ’s finished work apart from deeds of the law. We do not get saved by our works, but we get saved and work. Those who put themselves under the law after seeking justification through Christ take the place of unjustified sinners seeking to be made righteous by law and works, whereas justification is wholly by faith and sanctification wholly Christ living out through our lives.

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.

11 But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.

12 For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision.

13 And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation.

14 But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?

15 We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles,

16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.

17 But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is therefore Christ the minister of sin? God forbid.

18 For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.

19 For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.

20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.

Galatians 2:1-10 – ​Stand Firm for Truth

   The great controversy in Paul’s career was over the initial rite of Judaism. It would have been comparatively calm, if he had been willing to admit that Christianity was a sect of Judaism, and that men must become Jews before becoming Christians. His contention was that the ceremonial aspect of the Law did not apply to converts from heathendom. Gentile sinners had the right to go directly to Jesus Christ for salvation, without traveling around the circuitous route of Judaism. When men insisted on the outward rite, he resisted it with all the fiery vehemence of his nature, Galatians 2:3, 12. But when his opponents were willing to admit that circumcision was not essential, he administered it to one of Jewish blood, as a concession to the weak and uninstructed, Acts 16:3.
   What blessed intercourse the four men here named must have enjoyed together! James would tell of the earlier biography of Jesus, in the home of Nazareth; Peter would dwell upon his own fellowship with Christ throughout our Lord’s active ministry; John would unfold Jesus’ inner life, as he afterwards did in his Gospel; Paul would tell of that revelation of the risen Christ on the Damascus road. Note that God must work in and for us, if we are to succeed in the gospel ministry. See Galatians 2:8. —Through the Bible Day by Day

Galatians 2:11-21 – ​Living by Faith in Christ

   Evidently Peter had gone back from the clear revelation of Acts 10, and from his former practice as stated in Galatians 2:12. The fear of the conservative party of the mother Church had brought him into a snare. His example had a very unfortunate effect upon the rest of the Hebrew Christians, who took their lead from him. But Paul’s remonstrance probably brought Peter back to his former and happier practice.
   Paul goes on to show that the death of Christ has taken us altogether out of the realm of the ancient Law, with its restrictions and distinctions between clean and unclean, Jew and Gentile, Galatians 2:15-19. If the conservative view was right, and it was wrong to eat with the Gentiles, then all that Christ had done and taught was in vain. Indeed, he had become a minister to sin, Galatians 2:17, because he had taught his people to associate with Gentiles. But such a suggestion was, of course, unthinkable, and therefore Peter was wrong in withdrawing from Gentile fellowship.
   Then the Apostle breaks out into the memorable confession of the power of the Cross in his own life, Galatians 2:20-21. It stood between him and the past. His self-life was nailed there, and this new life was no longer derived from vain efforts to keep the Law, but from the indwelling and uprising of the life of Jesus—the perennial spring of John 4:14. —Through the Bible Day by Day

Galatians 2:20—I have been crucified with Christ; yet I live.

​   Clearly Paul intends us to understand that the life of which he was the center had been nailed to the Savior’s cross, and that Christ’s life had been substituted for it. Some have spoken of this real life of Christ in the soul as being mystical and untrue; but there can be no kind of doubt that it is the constant affirmation of the New Testament.
   Death, the gate of life.—It is obviously so in nature. Once each year nature lies down in its grave, sleeps in unbroken repose, and steps forth again with the glory of a freshly-renewed beauty. Often the overclouding of one faculty has been the signal of the quickening of all the rest. The blind Milton becomes the author of the “Paradise Lost.” Death of a twin-soul will often give to the survivor a new impulse toward a spiritual and transfigured affection. We cannot be possessed by the self-life and the Christ-life at the same moment. And wherever, by God’s grace, we erect the cross and assign our own life to its nails, the Spirit of Christ will breathe life and power.
   In the flesh, but not after the flesh.—We live our life in the flesh, as aforetime, doing the duties of our ordinary existence with careful precision; but we are no longer controlled by the selfish principle which too long dominated us. The attraction of earth is overborne by the mighty drawing of the eternal and unseen. The rush of the whirlpool is unable to prevail over the throb of the steam-propeller within.
   Not I.—Yet loved and ransomed by the Son of God, each of us is distinct to his loving eye. He does not bulk us all together as a mass, but singles each out for the gift of Himself, his prayers, his blood, his ceaseless thought. —Our Daily Homily