Lesson 57: "Fourteen Years After I. . .Communicated Unto Them That Gospel" (Galatians 2:1-2)
Paul's Missionary Journey Epistles. This is lesson #57. Welcome again! Now, let's see? Who did Paul write the Galatian letter to? "Unto the churches of Galatia." (1:2). Paul was an apostle of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ gave himself for our sins (v.4). How? "according to the will of God and our Father..." (same verse). Somebody was teaching the Galatians a perverted gospel. Have you got the picture? We said before; some in those churches of Galatia were leaders and some were followers. Some were perverting the gospel; some were being misled. Paul was writing to both. Obviously, you would expect the greatest impact and those most likely to respond would be Galatian disciples who were honest hearts; but, were a little muddled by the Judiazing teachers. Paul's letter was intended to help the good honest hearts get things back in perspective. It also served as a warning to those perverting the gospel. In the last 14 verses of Galatians chapter 1, if I may continue to paraphrase; Paul said in effect he was being accused by the perverters of the gospel in Galatia of being a false teacher, himself. Their thesis was that Paul was not an apostle at all; but, Paul had concocted his doctrine; i.e. what he was teaching, he learned from Peter and the other apostles and Paul's doctrine was not from God. That was absolutely NOT TRUE. Paul WAS an apostle; getting his teaching directly from God and from Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit. So, Paul's point (in the last 14 verses) was: not only did Paul NOT get his doctrine from other apostles; but, (# 1) their contention was very contrary to Paul's earlier disposition and (# 2) Paul did not have an opportunity to even confer with other apostles, even if he had the disposition to do so. Paul invited them to investigate.
Alright, Galatians ch. 2 ! Many years later, Paul did have an opportunity to discuss these thing with the other apostles and with other Judean Christians. Even then, many years later; Paul did not gain one wit of information through that source, that he had not already received and that he had not already been teaching for many years. In effect, Paul was saying: check me out. Let's read! Are you ready? We'll begin in v.l of Gal. ch. 2 and read down through v.10. Here we go! Get your eyes on the text. V. 11 "Then fourteen years after I vent up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also. 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. But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised: 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: to whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you. But of those 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: but contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter; (for he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles;) 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. Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do."
Alrightl Back up to v. 1 and let's sift through those ten verses again. Paul's reference here fits the first part of Acts ch. 15 so closely that I cannot see how one could argue otherwise. It involves the same people: Paul, Barnabas, Titus, James, Cephas or Peter and John. It involves the same place: Jerusalem (v.l). It involves the same subject: circumcision (v.3). We have talked about Acts ch. 15 before as it relates to the Judiazing teachers. I appeal to you to take the time, right now : turn the tape off and go back and familiarize yourself with Acts ch. 15. Not withstanding what I have (here) said; some commentators today assign the book of Galatians to a period, about 10 years earlier than we have (here) assumed it to be. Please don't just swallow my thoughts, hook, line and sinker. Do a thorough comparison of these things on your own and draw your own conclusions. Rubel Shelly for example; believes the book of Galatians to be the earliest book of the N.T. to have been written; even before the book of First Thessalonians, as we have assumed in this study. Personally, I don't think that's right. But, I'm not here to mislead you. Check it out for yourself. Paul was encouraging the Galatians to investigate him.. Who would I be to encourage you to do anything less I must concede that fourteen years (here in v.l) seems to be a lot of space between Acts 9:26 and Acts ch. 15; as I understand it. .However, if we back up the writing of the book of Galatians by a decade or so; that doesn't help that problem a bit. It exacerbates the problem; in my view. For, if you assign Paul's conversion (on the road to Damascus) to a time-frame within three years after Jesus' ascension back into heaven; and then add another three years after Paul's conversion before he went to Jerusalem and met Peter and James the Lord's brother; as Paul said about a half dozen verses up the page here (Gal. 1:18); which we interpreted in the context of Acts 9:26ff; and then if we add another fourteen years (given here by Paul in Gal. 22:1; starting from AD 33) that bring us up to about AD 5O or AD 52 for the circumcision dispute at Antioch (in Acts ch.15); even if you allow for a heavy rounding-off of Paul's figures. Notice now! Paul said here in v.l, "I went up AGAIN to Jerusalem." Obviously, that ties back in to v. 18 of ch. 1; doesn't it? The word "again" implies Paul was at Jerusalem twice. He said "fourteen years after." After what? After Paul was in Jerusalem before. It is obvious to me that Paul is (in this fourteen year figure, v.l); Paul is leaving out or skipping over the trip into Judea mentioned at the end of Acts ch. 11 (and I grant you) it is specifically said in Acts 12:25; Paul and Barnabas "returned from Jerusalem." But, as I said, Paul obviously skipped over that trip here in Gal. 2:1; for the obvious reason that the trip had no bearing upon Paul's point here in the Galatian letter. Later, you'll remember, after Paul and Barnabas' "no small dissension and disputation" at Antioch (Acts 15:2) and their trip to Jerusalem (mentioned in the same verse); Paul and Barnabas vent their separate ways. Paul, later yet, took Silas and began what we usually call: Paul's second missionary journey "being recommended by the brethren unto the grace of God" (Acts 15:40). That second missionary journey took Paul and Silas through Asia Minor, which included these very churches of Galatia where they were joined by Timothy and then Luke as they came to Troas. By Paul's vision, Paul then went to Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea, Athens and finally on to Corinth for a year and half before returning to Jerusalem and Antioch; from which he began the third missionary journey (Acts 18:22—23). Add another visit to Galatia (and these very churches) on the third journey and then three more years at Ephesus (Acts 20:31) and I don't see how the book of Galatians could possibly have been written before AD 57 or 58; which we have assumed in these lessons.
However, be that as it may; don't miss Paul's point here in Gal. 2:1-10. Paul concedes that after an extreme lapse of time and after teaching what Jesus had revealed to Paul, as Paul described it back in Gal. 1:12; Paul did have an occasion and an opportunity, when he was at Jerusalem fourteen years later, to discuss these things with (at least some) of the other of Jesus' apostles. The very apostles and disciples, I would infer, from which the Judiazers were accusing Paul of stealing his teachings. Paul admits, I think that's the point, that he was a little nervous when he sat down to compare notes with the others. Thus, Paul said he did it "privately" (v.2). Paul was conscious that this could bring about a rift in their ranks. But; the bottom line is (as we read on down) that he and the other apostles found they were in perfect harmony. Obviously, this is what you would expect since, as Paul said (v.8), both Paul and the other apostles received their revelations from the same spiritual source. Paul, of course, was working primarily with Gentiles; while the other apostles were working primarily with Jews. There was that difference and Paul goes on to say; the others encouraged him to "remember the poor" (v.10). This does not mean that Paul ignored the poor before that; but, he admits that he was more forward and more conscientious to remember the poor after that meeting with the other apostles. You see, Paul's remembering the poor in a more forward way (v. 10) is saying in essence that any differences even here were corrected and that brought Paul into perfect harmony with the others. These two things: Gentiles vs. the Jews AND more emphasis upon caring for the poor were the only nonconformities Paul could detect between he and what the others were teaching. Thus, Paul's point is that they WERE teaching the same thing. Exactly the same doctrine! In other words the fact that the Holy Spirit had given them slightly different missions (Paul to the Gentiles and the other apostles to the Jews) naturally stood out in that discussion or conference, if you prefer to call it that. Doctrinally they were totally together. The fact that Paul here mentions the poor; probably ties into the fact that Paul had, at some time in the past (most likely when he was there last, Acts 18:23), he had encouraged the Galatians in a collection for the poor saints at Jerusalem and in Judea as Paul had done at Ephesus, Macedonia and Achaia in more recent months before this writing. Do you remember I Cor. 16:1, as Paul began to close out that epistle? As he wrote from Ephesus, Paul said to the Corinthians: "Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I gave order to the churches of Galatia, [where Paul? to the churches of Galatia] even so do ye." So, you see, not only did Paul teach the same thing as the other apostles; Paul had encouraged exactly the same mission (with respect to caring for the poor) in Corinth as Paul had done in the churches of Galatia. If I'm reading right; at a later time (Acts 20:4); a representative from Galatia, at least from the church in Derbe (one of these churches in Galatia) a representative WAS SENT to help deliver that collection to the poor disciples in Jerusalem and in Judea. So, Paul's point here in these ten verses comes down to the same bottom line as the fourteen verses at the end of chapter one: Paul was NOT off on his own preaching some strange doctrine unknown to the rest of Jesus' disciples. Both Paul and the other apostles were attuned to the Holy Spirit of God. Their doctrine was from the same source and thus identical. Such accusations as the Judiazing teachers were making against Paul were thus false accusations.
In our earlier discussion we touched on Paul's phrase here in v.3, "the truth of the gospel." Backup and re-read v. 3-4-5 again. It's obvious that the Judiazers in the Galatian churches were teaching that same false doctrine that they had taught at Antioch of Syria back in Acts ch. 15. If you read this real close; you can sharpen up your concept of the Judiazing doctrine. The Judiazers had taught: "That it was needful to circumcise them [i.e. to be saved, male disciples of Jesus or male Christians in other words had to be circumcised, Acts 15:5], and to command them to keep the law of Moses." Paul's trip to Jerusalem along with Barnabas and Titus, at the conclusion of that 14 years (mentioned in v.l), had involved this very issue: circumcision. Titus, apparently refused to be circumcised at Antioch. That's the picture I get, at least. The Judiazers, apparently, became very dogmatic. Acts 15:2 says: "When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question." Who was it that determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain others should go up to Jerusalem about this? I would assume it was probably the elders of the congregation in Antioch. Paul, being an apostle could have settled that dispute before it happened. But, you know there are times that some people will just not listen. So, the elders at Antioch may have thought the Judiazers would accept the answer more quickly from the Jerusalem apostles and elders than from Paul and Barnabas. Another interesting angle to this is that Paul said here in v.2, "I went up by revelation." That is, I would infer, the Lord instructed Paul to go to Jerusalem. That might have been one of the reasons why Paul communicated privately, as he said in v.2. But, down in v.6, Paul said, "they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me." Thus, as we have said before; the bottom line is that Paul was in perfect harmony with the other apostles, doctrinally. Titus was not compelled to be circumcised (v.3). So, built into Paul's double-barreled discussion here about his apostleship; seems to be a second inference, for the benefit of the Judiazer (and their sympathizer) that says in effect: your case, (about circumcision, i.e.) has been tried before and the verdict denounced you in error several years ago. We've talked about that little letter before that begins down in Acts 15:23. That verse says the apostles and elders at Jerusalem "wrote letters." Letters in the plural, my understanding of that is that it probably means duplicates or copies in other words. That same verse (v.23) says that the letter was sent to Syria and Cilicia in addition to Antioch. In the next chapter (Acts 16:4), as Paul and Silas went through this very same section of Asia Minor on the second missionary Journey, that verses says: "as they went through the cities, they delivered them the decrees for to keep, that were ordained of the apostles and elders which were at Jerusalem." What could that meant other than that Paul and Silas distributed copies of that little letter among what we are here calling the churches of Galatia? I don't know if tract racks had been invented then or not; but, those Judiazers knew the score on that little letter. They knew that it condemned their doctrine of circumcision and keeping the Law of Moses. They chose to ignore it. But-, Paul kept Jogging their memory in a masterful way. Some today use that technique of ignoring what they don't like and that part of the Bible that destroys their doctrine. So, we need to take a lesson from Paul and keep jogging a few memories. Paul said here in v.5 that he didn't give-in for an hour. What Paul? "That the truth of the gospel might continue with you." As I said, when you get this in focus; it helps one get a better handle on and a better concept of the Judiazing doctrine. So, hang in there. It's time to say: have a good day.