Galatians Chapter Two
I. Content of the Chapter
Paul Defended for the Gospel
I. Paul visited
A. The time and the fellow-travelers (v.1).
B. The aim is to defending for the gospel that he preached (v.2).
C. He did not allow the false brethren to destroy the truth of the gospel (v.3-5).
D. He did not allow those who seemed to be something to influence his position (v.6).
E. The pillars of the church gave him the right hand of fellowship (v.7-10).
II. Paul withstood Peter to his face in
A. Peter was to be blamed before men (v.11-13).
B. The reasons why Paul blamed Peter:
1. Believers should not walk according to the dual principles (v.14).
2. Believers are justified by faith instead of keeping the law (v.15-16)
3. Christ is certainly not a minister of sin (v.17-18).
4. Only when one is dead to the law will he be alive to God (v.19).
C. Paul testified that he lived by faith in the Son of God (v.20-21).
II. Verse by Verse commentary
Gal. 2:1 “Then after fourteen years
I went up again to
YLT: “Then, after
fourteen years again I went up to
Background: the matter in v.1-10
is recorded in detail in Acts. 15:1-29. The meeting of the apostles at
During the fourteen years, Paul had
already gone to
Literal Meaning: in the first paragraph of the second chapter (v.1-10), Paul aimed at declaring that he was not an apostle acting alone but a member acknowledged and accepted by other apostles. The two ones who were mentioned in this verse were the representative testimonies: Barnabas was the fellow-worker with whom the Jewish believers were familiar; Titus was an example of the Gentiles who were saved. They were the living testimony to Paul’s work among the Gentiles.
Gal. 2:2 “And I went up by revelation, and communicated to them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to those who were of reputation, lest by any means I might run, or had run, in vain.”
YLT: “and I went up by revelation, and did submit to them the good news that I preach among the nations, and privately to those esteemed, lest in vain I might run or did run;”
Meaning of Words: “privately”: in private, in secret; “of reputation”: seeming respectable, esteemed, considerable; “in vain”: for nothing, without effect, ineffective; “run”: race in the sports ground.
Background: according to Acts.
15:2, it was the church in
Literal Meaning: “And I went up by revelation” It meant that I went up to
“Those who were of reputation” were the leaders in the church who were esteemed by others.
According to this verse, there were two
kinds of meetings, concerning the meeting at
“Lest by any means I might run, or had run, in vain” It meant that if the church in Jerusalem and the apostles were not in harmony with Paul in dealing with Judaizers with one heart, probably this would make his work among the Gentiles be in vain.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Paul not only preached the message by revelation but also walked by revelation.
2) The principle on which believers walked is not our own favor but God’s revelation and guidance.
3) What Paul communicated to brothers were not his own affairs but “that gospel which he preached”. What were you talking about in your service communication?
4) Paul used “run” to describe his work, showing that his did not hold the free and easy attitude to work but made every effort into the work.
Gal. 2:3 “Yet not even Titus who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised.”
YLT: “but not even Titus, who [is] with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised --”
Meaning of Words: “was compelled”: make by force, press, urge; “be circumcised”: cut around.
The Background: circumcision originated from God’s covenant with Abraham (Gen. 17:11). It is the sign that the Jews made the covenant with God and kept the law. “Circumcision” is cutting the foreskin of men’s penes. The Judaizers advocated that the Gentile believers should also be circumcised and converted to be the Jews and then they shall be saved.
Literal Meaning: this verse shows
that the leaders in the church at
Enlightenment in the Word: it is not necessary for us the Gentile believers to keep the Jewish law and ceremonies.
Gal. 2:4 “And this occurred because of false brethren secretly brought in (who came in by stealth to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage),”
YLT: “and [that] because of the false brethren brought in unawares, who did come in privily to spy out our liberty that we have in Christ Jesus, that us they might bring under bondage,”
Meaning of Words: “by stealth”: come in privily; “spy out”: spy on, inspect insidiously.
Literal Meaning: “because of” shows that the following words explained the previous event, i.e. why Titus was not compelled to be circumcised.
This verse means that the Judaizers were “false brethren” who pretended to be Christians and sneaked into the church, attempting to spy out the attitude of the Gentile Christians to the Jewish law. They sought an occasion to snatch away the liberty of believers in Christ Jesus and made men be under the law and be bound and constrained by the law.
“Our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus” included that:
1) We are not constrained by the letters and ceremonies of the law and we should enjoy the liberty of obeying the Holy Spirit.
2) We are not constrained by others’ teachings and directions and should enjoy the liberty of faith.
Gal. 2:5 “to whom we did not yield submission even for an hour, that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.”
YLT: “to whom not even for an hour we gave place by subjection, that the truth of the good news might remain to you.”
Meaning of Words: “an hour”: instant; “yield submission”: give place; “continue”: stay constantly.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) We should never yield submission to the heresies for the sake of truth and others’ right reception of truth.
2) We should neither argue with men nor be unwilling to yield to others for our own gain and loss or the flesh.
Gal. 2:6 “But from those who seemed to be something--whatever they were, it makes no difference to me; God shows personal favoritism to no man--for those who seemed to be something added nothing to me.”
YLT: “And from those who were esteemed to be something -- whatever they were then, it maketh no difference to me -- the face of man God accepteth not, for -- to me those esteemed did add nothing,”
Meaning of Words: “whatever”: of what kind; “make no difference to me”: have nothing to do with me; “show personal favoritism to man”: lift up one’s head; “add”: impart, lay up in addition.
The Background: Paul’s knowledge of the truth in the New Testament was more than that of the apostles who became apostles before Paul and even Peter confessed that “something are hard to be understood” in Paul’s books (2Pet. 3:16).
Literal Meaning: “those who seemed to be
something” refer to the
leaders in the church at
“It makes no difference to me” It indicates that they added nothing to Paul.
“God shows personal favoritism to no man” It indicates that God shows no favoritism to man and He did not accept the face of the leaders in the church.
“For those who seemed to be something added nothing to me” It indicates that they neither taught Paul nor added the things that Paul had known to him. Paul’s being saved and experience were fully the work of God instead of that of men.
Enlightenment in the Word: in the spiritual things, we should neither know man according to the flesh (2Cor. 5:16) nor rely on men’s age, position, qualifications and etc.
Gal. 2:7 “But on the contrary, when they saw that the gospel for the uncircumcised had been committed to me, as the gospel for the circumcised was to Peter”
YLT: “but, on the contrary, having seen that I have been entrusted with the good news of the uncircumcision, as Peter with [that] of the circumcision,”
Meaning of Words: “commit”: entrust, put in trust with, at that time this word was used when an ambassador received the duty.
Literal Meaning: “the uncircumcised” refer to the Gentiles.
“The circumcised” refer to the Jews.
“As” shows that Paul and Peter were in the aspect of the gospel.
Please note that when Paul mentioned Peter individually, he always called him “Cephas”. However, he called him “Peter” in this verse and the eighth verse because Peter was always used to represent the twelve apostles of the Lord Jesus.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) The workers whom God had called must have His commission.
2) Not only the workers themselves but also others could perceive the commission that they have received from God.
Gal. 2:8 “(for He who worked effectively in Peter for the apostleship to the circumcised also worked effectively in me toward the Gentiles),”
YLT: “for He who did work with Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, did work also in me in regard to the nations,”
Meaning of Words: “work”: work internally, take effect, cause, make, be active.
Literal Meaning: here Paul made a dramatic announcement: God who worked with Peter also worked with him to preach the same message. This announcement meant to state that their work of preaching was all appraised and identified by God.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) The true spiritual works are not due to the compulsion for a short while but God’s inspiration. Those who are inspired would feel hard in their hearts if they do not obey Him.
2) The reason why the works of the Lord’s servants are effective is that the Holy Spirit works in them on one hand and works with them on the other hand.
Gal. 2:9 “and when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that had been given to me, they gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised.”
YLT: “and having known the grace that was given to me, James, and Cephas, and John, who were esteemed to be pillars, a right hand of fellowship they did give to me, and to Barnabas, that we to the nations, and they to the circumcision [may go],”
Meaning of Words: “perceive”: know clearly, discern; “seem to be”: be esteemed to be, be of reputation; “fellowship”: participation, partnership, communion.
Background: “James, who seemed to be pillars” The James here was not James the brother of John
because he had been killed by Herod (Acts. 12:2) but James the brother of the
Lord. At that time he had became a leader in the church at
“They gave the right hand of fellowship” At that time the Jews gave each other the right hand of fellowship and it referred to promise, identification, proof, trust and friendship.
Literal Meaning: “pillars” were those who had the power to make the church steady. They acknowledged that God’s grace and power worked in Paul.
“Gave the right hand of fellowship” It means that they acknowledged that there wasn’t the distinction of rank between the work of Paul and Barnabas in the Lord and that of the apostles.
“That we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised” They did not made the non-aggression pact in the sphere of influence of work but acknowledged the existing fact------the objects that they stressed on were different.
Enlightenment in the Word: in this verse James was mentioned first and Peter
was mentioned later. It probably showed that James was superior to Peter in the
Gal. 2:10 “They desired only that we should remember the poor, the very thing which I also was eager to do.”
YLT: “only, of the poor that we should be mindful, which also I was diligent -- this very thing -- to do.”
Meaning of Words: “eager”: make effort, use speed.
Background: there was great
dearth in the
Literal Meaning: Paul used the fine conclusion----“remembering the poor” to end his statement concerning this dramatic and uncommon matter. “Remembering the poor” betokened the theme of the following parts of the letter: those who have been bestowed grace and saved shall be called into the higher service of love of the law.
Enlightenment in the Word: if we see our brother have need and do not show compassion to him to help him, it shows that our faith is dead (James. 2:15-20).
Gal. 2:11 “Now when Peter had come
YLT: “And when Peter came
Meaning of Words: “withstand”: resist, stand against, oppose.
The matter that he debated with Peter was mentioned from this verse and he probably answered the accusation of the Judaizers who said that Paul was inferior to Peter and he indeed blamed Peter before all the people and such attitude was inappropriate.
Literal Meaning: in the eyes of Paul, what Peter had done at that time was an attack to the gospel and therefore he had to stand up to guard the gospel.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) The open rebuke is far better than the open praise and the hidden judgment.
2) We have to put men’s face and the respect for seniority aside in order to keep the truth of the gospel, just as what the Chinese past virtuous ones said------“forsaking family loyalty for righteousness”.
Gal. 2:12 “for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision.”
YLT: “for before the coming of certain from James, with the nations he was eating, and when they came, he was withdrawing and separating himself, fearing those of the circumcision,”
Meaning of Words: “would eat” is in the imperfect tense. It refers to the continued action, showing that Peter had acquired the habit of eating with the Gentiles. “Withdrew” is used to describe the relief of a garrison in the military strategy. It is in the future perfect tense, showing that he withdrew gradually. “Separate”: apart from, limit.
The Background: the Jews were forbidden to eat the unclean in the Old Testament (Lev. 11) and the Gentiles were not restrained by the judgment of foods. The Jews did not know the origin of the food of the Gentiles and therefore they never ate with the Gentiles, lest they eat the unclean. However, in the dispensation of the New Testament, Christ has annulled the law of commandments so as to make the Gentiles and the Jews be in one body (Eph. 2:11-18). God also made Peter accept the Gentiles through suggesting him eating the unclean in the vision (Acts. 10:9-16; 11:2-10).
Literal Meaning: “certain men came from James” refer to those who were from the church at
Enlightenment in the Word: Peter obviously knew that eating with the Gentiles did not disobey the truth. However, he dared not eat with the Gentiles for the weakness at that time. The failure reminds us that, the knowledge of truth is different from the practice of truth and we should not be satisfied with the intellectual knowledge.
Gal. 2:13 “And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy.”
YLT: “and dissemble with him also did the other Jews, so that also Barnabas was carried away by their dissimulation.”
Meaning of Words: “hypocrite” indicates that actors on stage wear the masks and speak behind the masks and therefore it indicates that one hides his true minds and feelings; “be carried away”: take off together, be led away.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) The failure of Peter indeed influences many people. Those who are leaders in the church have to be cautious in their words and deeds.
2) In a group, it is easy for men to “be carried away” with others’ walking. However, the thing that all the people do is probably not right.
3) Even Barnabas who was a good man (Acts. 11:24) failed unavoidably. And therefore we should neither trust ourselves excessively nor rely on the natural goodness of men.
Gal. 2:14 “But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, ‘If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews?”
YLT: “But when I saw that they are not walking uprightly to the truth of the good news, I said to Peter before all, `If thou, being a Jew, in the manner of the nations dost live, and not in the manner of the Jews, how the nations dost thou compel to Judaize?”
Meaning of Words: “saw”: the moment he saw; “not straightforward”: not walking straightforwardly, not walking on the straight way; “not…about”: not in accordance with, not in complete accord; “live”: get along, be accustomed to.
Literal Meaning: “they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel” It shows that Paul condemned Peter and others for the sake of the gospel and if he did not do so, the truth of the gospel might be misunderstood.
Paul’s words to Peter meant that: you, as a Jew, were not supposed to eat with the Gentiles. However, since you ate with the Gentile----“you lived in the manner of Gentiles”, it showed that you had identified with the lifestyle of the Gentiles---- “you lived not as the Jews”. However, when the Judaizers came, your acts of “withdrawing” and “separating” showed that you did not identify with the lifestyle of the Gentiles and such behavior meant that you “compelled the Gentiles to live in the manner of the Jews”. Your behavior was inconsistent and you did not walk according to the truth of the gospel.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Understanding the truth and practicing the truth are different. It is the difficulty of many people that what they do does not accord with what they know.
2) “They were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel” because the truth of the gospel is the straight way. We shall be manifested by faith once we do not walk straightforwardly. The truth of the gospel could not only save us but also correct us.
3) Augustine said that “it is not proper to correct one in secret who has made the mistake in public” (it is translated from the Chinese version).
4) Though many people made the mistake, Paul only condemned Peter. Those who are leaders in the church shall be responsible for the greater part.
5) The gospel has released us so that we are no longer “compelled” to keep the law.
6) The gospel has broken the hedge of races and culture and made all the people one in Christ and get along with each other and therefore we should not have misgivings.
7) Peter did not have something against Paul for his being condemned by him and later he introduced Paul in the epistle (2Pet. 3:15-16) and such bosom was a good example to the Lord’s workers.
Gal. 2:15 “We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles,”
YLT: “we by nature Jews, and not sinners of the nations,”
Background: Generally the Jews
have the sense of vanity and they hold that: they are exceptionally gifted and
are God’s elect and they have God’s promises and have the law given by God (
Literal Meaning: Here Paul borrowed the Jews’ proud tone of expression and refuted them with their own way in order to point out the contradiction of the Judaizers.
Enlightenment in the Word: missing the mark is “sinning”. God Himself and His will are the supreme aim of men and therefore all those who stray from the will of God are sinners.
Gal. 2:16 “knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.”
YLT: “having known also that a man is not declared righteous by works of law, if not through the faith of Jesus Christ, also we in Christ Jesus did believe, that we might be declared righteous by the faith of Christ, and not by works of law, wherefore declared righteous by works of law shall be no flesh.'”
Meaning of Words: “justified”: render just. It is the term in the court and it is used to declare the defendant innocent; “flesh” is a term of emphasis in the original and it refers to all humans and there isn’t one exception.
Literal Meaning: “justification” includes that 1) cancelling the details of the case; 2) declaring that one is innocent; 3) giving him the legal position, calling him the just, enjoying the legal rights and etc.
“We” refer to the Jewish believers. Since the Jewish believers had known that they were justified by faith in Christ instead of the works of the law, why did they compel the Gentiles to be justified by the works of the law?
“Even we have believed in” It means that we also admitted that we ourselves were sinners.
“Flesh” refers to everyone.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Justification is the action of God’s free grace and it is not the result of men’s morals and behavior.
2) Christ Jesus had met the demands of the law on the cross and no one could fulfill the righteousness of the law besides Him. We have to be united to Jesus Christ by faith, be in Him and regard Him as our righteousness (1Cor. 1:30) and then we shall be justified before God.
3) The greatest expression of faith does not lie in men’s trusting God, relying on Him and waiting for His work but men’s stopping their own works.
Gal. 2:17 “‘But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is Christ therefore a minister of sin? Certainly not!”
YLT: “And if, seeking to be declared righteous in Christ, we ourselves also were found sinners, [is] then Christ a ministrant of sin? let it not be!”
Meaning of Words: “seek”: seek after, desire; “certainly not”: let it no be.
Literal Meaning: “while we seek to be justified by Christ” it refers to relying on the grace of the Lord’s redemption only and not relying in the works of the law.
“We ourselves also are found sinners” It is the view of the Judaizers who held that those who did not keep the law were still sinners, no matter if they had believed in Christ.
“Is Christ therefore a minister of sin?” Paul said that the above-mentioned statement almost put Christ in the position of serving sin. But was that so? Paul firmly said that, “certainly not!”
Gal. 2:18 “For if I build again those things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor.”
YLT: “for if the things I threw down, these again I build up, a transgressor I set myself forth;”
Meaning of Words: “destroy”: loosen down, spoil; “build”: construct, edify, embolden.
Literal Meaning: what Paul destroyed was the teaching of justification by the works of the law (v.16). If he built up this wrong teaching again, i.e. admitting that the works of the law were the foundation of one’s being saved, it proved that the action that he destroyed the law was sin.
Gal. 2:19 “For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God.”
YLT: “for I through law, did die, that to God I may live;”
Literal Meaning: “through the law” It means that through the law Paul knew that he cannot keep the law.
“Died to the law” And therefore he no long fulfilled the duty by the dead works to the law.
“That I might live to God” And he turned to live to God by faith.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) Since men cannot meet the demands of the law,
the only way to be free from the law is death (
2) If men live to the law, they cannot live to God. If the law has the position in men, God cannot have the position in men.
3) Living to God is the result and dying to the law is the reason. If we want to achieve the result, we must have the reason.
4) Death cuts off the relation and life keeps the relation. If we want to have relation to God, we should be out of the relation to the law.
5) We must put all the regulations, ambitions, desires, goodness and badness of life aside and this way, the living God will reign and work in us as our power and guide us in the life.
Gal. 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”
YLT: “with Christ I have been crucified, and live no more do I, and Christ doth live in me; and that which I now live in the flesh -- in the faith I live of the Son of God, who did love me and did give himself for me;”
Meaning of Words: “have been crucified” It is in the perfect tense and it refers to the present effective action which had been done in the past.
Literal Meaning: this verse shows the mystery of “living by faith”:
1) Who do we believe in? “Believing in the Son of God”.
2) Why do we believe? “He loved me and gave Himself for me”.
3) What’s the effect of faith? In the negative aspect, the old man “has been crucified with Christ” and in the positive aspect, the new man “now lives in the flesh”.
4) What’s the true meaning of life? “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me”.
Enlightenment in the Word:
1) The word “has been” shows that the fact that we have been crucified with Christ is a past fact. When Christ died on the cross, God had put us in Him and made us die with Him together.
2) The problem lies in whether we appropriate the fact which is fulfilled objectively and make it become our subjective experience today.
3) If we want to experience that we have been crucified with Christ, we must be hopeless of ourselves first and say “amen” to the fact which God has accomplished.
4) In the experience of Christians, dying with Him together was before living with Him together. If one does not have the experience of dying with Him, he would not have the experience of living with Him.
5) Not only the “bad” me but also the “good” me (who desired to be justified by the works of the law) need to be crucified with Him.
6) “Denying oneself and taking up his cross” is the key to follow the Lord (Luke. 9:23).
7) The cross is God’s conclusion and he concluded that I should die. However, if I was unwilling to surrender to God’s conclusion completely, I cannot achieve the condition that “it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me”.
8) “No longer I” is before “but Christ”. Christ begins to work the moment that you fully stop your works. When you are stilling working, Christ keeps Himself unmoved.
9) God does not want us to live like Christ. He wants us not to live and let Christ live in us.
10) “I live by faith in the Son of God” It means that we believe that the Son of God lives in us and the Lord Himself has been our live.
11) “I live by faith in the Son of God” The faith in the Son of God is the faith of the Lord Jesus. He believes that God bestows blessings and He also believes that God does not bestow blessings sometimes. He believes that God works and He also believes that God does not work sometimes. Whatever conditions He is in, He always commits Himself to the hand of God and even when He was on the cross, he still believed the goodwill of God. It is the faith that makes us live on the earth.
Gal. 2:21 “I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.’”
YLT: “I do not make void the grace of God, for if righteousness [be] through law -- then Christ died in vain.”
Meaning of Words: “set aside”: make void, disannul, cancel, invalid; “in vain”: without a cause, for naught, unnecessary.
Literal Meaning: if what the Judaizers said was right and men were justified by the works of the law, it would be unnecessary for Christ to be crucified. Their point of view not only disannulled God’s salvation but also made Christ’s crucifixion be in vain. However, Paul said that he did not “set aside the grace of God”. He did not rely on the works of the law but rely on the salvation.
III. Outlines of the Spiritual Lessons
The Example that the Apostles Gave in the Beginning of the Church
I. The positions of the apostles were the same and there isn’t the relative superiority (v.6).
II. The gospel that the apostles preached was the same and no one added something to it or decreased it (v.6).
III. The apostles’ understanding to the truth of the gospel was the same (See Acts. 15:22-29).
IV. The ministry of the apostles was not of men’s appointment but the Lord’s commission (v.7).
V. The apostles respected each other the burden of work (v.8).
VI. The apostles were responsible to the Lord respectively, however, they still had communion with each other (v.9).
VII. The apostles also encouraged each other (v.10).
Paul and Those Who Were of Reputation
I. He was willing to communicate with them and be approved by them (v.2).
II. He was confident in the revelation that he had received and was not influenced by persons (v.6).
III. He received their coordination and encouragement in the work (v.9-10).
IV. He withstood them to their face when they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel (v.11-14).
Paul’s Burden to the Gospel
I. Preaching the gospel (v.2).
II. Holding on the truth of the gospel (v.5).
III. Knowing the objects to whom he preached the gospel (v.7-8).
IV. Defending the truth of the gospel (v.11-14).
How to Live out the Gospel
I. Having the communion of the Holy Spirit inward (v.8).
II. Walking according to the truth of the gospel outward (v.14).
III. Living to God by faith (v.19).
IV. Dying and living with Christ (v.20).
── Caleb Huang《Christian Digest Bible Commentary Series》
Translated by Sharon Ren