Galatians 2.1-5 – A Test Case

Time has passed since Paul went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia (1.21), and he again heads for Jerusalem this time taking Barnabas and Titus (2.1). Paul writes that he went there because of a revelation, and this could well be the prophesy of Agabus in Acts 11.27-30. On arriving he meets with the pillars of this new church community (v.9, a very Jewish term) and sets before them the gospel that he was teaching. This wasn’t for approval, for affirmation, for a good old “Well done Paul”. We see the reason why he met privately with the leadership in vv.2-5.

…to make sure that I was not running—or had not run–in vain. Yet not even Titus, who was with me, was compelled to be circumcised, although he was a Greek. Now this matter arose because of the false brothers with false pretenses who slipped in unnoticed to spy on our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, to make us slaves. But we did not surrender to them even for a moment, in order that the truth of the gospel would remain with you.

(NET)

Paul is checking that his gospel message was not being preached in vain, that his ministry was not being hindered by the Judaizers who sought to add works to the faith of the new Jesus followers. Straight into v.3 we see that Titus was brought along, as it were, as a test case. So, if Titus was presented to the leaders of the Jerusalem church and they forced him to be circumcised, then maybe the Judaizers were right: maybe believers did need to become Jewish to follow Jesus (cf. Acts 15.1)? But that wasn’t Paul’s message, was it? 

No, he says, “…this matter arose because of the false brothers with false pretenses who slipped in unnoticed to spy on our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, to make us slaves”. 

Paul writes that they did not surrender…even for a moment so that the truth of the gospel would remain with you. Now, we know he is writing to the churches in Galatia (the you in with you) but is this not still true and applicable for you, today? When people or powers are telling you that you need to do this or that in addition to your faith in the faithfulness of Jesus the response has to be the same:

… we did not surrender to them even for a moment, in order that the truth of the gospel would remain…

This has to be the response because of the beautiful truth of the gospel. It’s not based on outer appearances, a strict adherence to strict laws, or living a life under a legalistic system. It’s based on a truth that lives within you, a truth that spans all nations, tribes, and tongues, and on a truth that has set you free.

Published by James Travis

Pastor of Saar Fellowship in the Kingdom of Bahrain. Married to Robyn and Dad to our two boys.

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