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Galatians Chapter Two


Galatians 2

He then speaks historically of his ministry, and of the question whether man had anything to do with it. His gospel was not according to man, for he had not received it from any man; he had not been taught it. That which he possessed was his by the immediate revelation made to him by Jesus Christ. And when God, who, from his mother's womb, set him apart, and had called him by His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in him, the revelation had at once all its own power as such. He did not consult any one. He did not put himself into communication with the other apostles, but at once acted independently of them, as being directly taught of God. It was not till three years after that he went to make acquaintance with Peter, and also saw James. The churches of Judea did not know him by sight; only, they glorified God for the grace he had received. Moreover he was only fifteen days in Jerusalem. He then went into Syria and Cilicia. Fourteen years afterwards he went up to Jerusalem (we have the account in Acts 15) with Barnabas, and took Titus with him. But Titus, Gentile as he was, had not been circumcised; an evident proof of the liberty in which the apostle publicly stood. It was a bold step on his part to take Titus with him, and thus decide the question between himself and the judaising Christians. He went up because of false brethren, who sought to spy out the liberty into which Paul (enjoying it in the Spirit) introduced believers; and he went up by virtue of a revelation.

We may observe here, how the communications of God may be inwardly the guides of our conduct, although we yield to motives presented by others. In Acts 15 we find the outward history; here, that which governed the apostle's heart. God (in order that the thing might be decided at Jerusalem, to shut every mouth and to maintain unity) did not allow the apostle to have the upper hand at Antioch, or to arrange on the spot the walk of the assembly formed in that place. Neither did He allow him to isolate himself in his own convictions, but made him go up to Jerusalem and communicate to the chief apostles that which he taught, so that there should be community of testimony on this important point; and that they also should acknowledge Paul as taught of God independently of them, and at the same time recognise his ministry as sent of God, and that he was acting on the part of God as much as themselves. For, although God would have him communicate to them that which he had taught others, he received nothing from them. The effect of his communication was, that they owned the grace which God had granted him and the ministry he had received for the Gentiles, and they gave to him and to Barnabas the right hands of fellowship.

Had he gone up earlier, whatever his knowledge might have been, the proofs of his special and independent ministry would not have existed. But he had laboured fruitfully for many years without receiving any mission from the other apostles, and they had to recognise his apostleship as the immediate gift of God, as well as the truths which God had imparted to him: the proofs were there; and God had owned this apostleship, as He had given it. The twelve had nothing to do but to acknowledge it, if they acknowledged God as the source of all these excellent gifts. Paul was an apostle from God without their intervention. They could acknowledge his ministry, and in it the God who had give them that which they themselves exercised.

Moreover Paul had always acted independently in the fulfilment of his mission. When Peter came to Antioch, he withstood him to the face, because he was to blamed. He was not, as to Paul, as a superior before whom his subordinates must maintain a respectful silence. Although God had wrought mightily in Peter, yet his companion in apostleship (faithful to Him who had called him) could not allow the gospel to be falsified, which had been committed to his own care by the Lord Himself. Ardent as he was, poor Peter always cared too much about the opinion of others. Now the opinion that prevails in the world is always that which influences the heart of man; and this opinion is always one which gives a certain glory to man after the flesh. Paul, taught from above and full of the power of the Spirit, who, by revealing heavenly glory had made him feel that all which exalted the flesh obscured that glory and falsified the gospel that declared it-Paul, who lived and moved morally in the new creation, of which a glorified Christ is the centre; and as firm as he was ardent, because he realised the things that are not seen; as clear-sighted as firm, because he lived in the realisation of spiritual and heavenly things in Christ-Paul, for whom to win Christ thus glorified was everything, clearly sees the carnal walk of the apostle of the circumcision. He is not deterred by man; he is occupied with Christ who was his all, and with the truth. He does not spare one who overturned this truth, be his position in the assembly what it might.

It was dissimulation in Peter. While alone, where the influence of heavenly truth prevailed, he ate with the Gentiles, surrounding himself with the reputation of walking in the same liberty as others. But when certain persons came from James, from Jerusalem, where he himself habitually lived, the centre where religious flesh and its customs still had (under the patient goodness of God) so much power, he no longer dared to use a liberty which was condemned by those Christians who were still Jewish in their sentiments; he withdrew himself. What a poor thing is man! And we are weak in proportion to our importance before men; when we are nothing, we can do all things, as far as human opinion is concerned. We exercise, at the same time, an unfavourable influence over others in the degree in which they influence us-in which we yield to the influence which the desire of maintaining our reputation among them exercises over our hearts: and all the esteem in which we are held, even justly, becomes a means of evil. [1] Peter, who fears those that came from Jerusalem, draws away all the Jews and even Barnabas with him in his dissimulation.

Paul, energetic and faithful, through grace, alone remains upright: and he rebukes Peter before them all. Why compel Gentiles to live as Jews in order to enjoy full christian communion, when he, being a Jew, had felt himself free to live as the Gentiles? Themselves Jews by nature, and not poor sinners of the Gentiles, they had given up the law as a means of securing the favour of God, and had taken refuge in Christ. But if they sought to rebuild the edifice of legal obligations, in order to acquire righteousness, why had they overturned it? Thus acting, they made themselves transgressors in having overturned it. And more than that; since it was in order to come to Christ-in exchange for the efficacy which they had formerly supposed to exist in the law as a means of justification-that they had ceased to seek righteousness by the law, Christ was a minister of sin. His doctrine had made them transgressors! For in rebuilding the edifice of the law, they made it evident that they ought not to have overthrown it; and it was Christ who made them do so.

What a result from the weakness which, in order to please men, had returned to those things that were gratifying to the flesh! How little did Peter think of this! How little do many Christians suspect it! To rest upon ordinances is to rest upon the flesh; there are none in heaven. When Christ, who is there, is everything, it cannot be done. Christ has indeed established ordinances to distinguish His people from the world, by that which signified, on the one hand, that they were not of it, but dead with Him to it, and, on the other hand, to gather them on the ground of that which alone can unite them all-on the ground of the cross and of accomplished redemption, in the unity of His body. But if, instead of using them with thanksgiving according to His will, we rest upon them, we have forsaken the fulness, the sufficiency, of Christ, to build upon the flesh, which can thus occupy itself with these ordinances, and find in them its fatal sustenance and a veil to hide the perfect Saviour, of whose death, as in connection with this world and with man living in the flesh, these ordinances so plainly speak to us. To rest upon christian ordinances is exactly to deny the precious and solemn truth which they present to us, that there is no longer righteousness after the flesh, since Christ is dead and risen.

This the apostle deeply felt; this he had been called to set before the eyes and consciences of men by the power of the Holy Ghost. How many afflictions, how many conflicts, his task cost him! The flesh of man likes to have some credit; it cannot bear to be treated as vile and incapable of good, to be excluded and condemned to annihilation, not by efforts to annul itself, which would restore it all its importance, but by a work that leaves it in its true nothingness, and that has pronounced the absolute judgment of death upon it, so that, convicted of being nothing but sin, it has only to be silent. If it acts, it is only to do evil. Its place is to be dead, and not better. We have both right and power to hold it as such, because Christ has died, and we live in His risen life. He has Himself become our life. Alive in Him, I treat the flesh as dead; I am not a debtor to it. God has condemned sin in the flesh, in that His Son came in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin. It is this great principle of our being dead with Christ which the apostle sets forth at the end of the chapter (only first recognising the force of the law to bring death into the conscience). He had discovered that to be under a law was to find himself condemned to death. He had undergone in spirit the whole force of this principle; his soul had realised death in all its power. He was dead; but, if so, he was dead to the law. The power of a law does not reach beyond life; and, its victim once dead, it has no more power over him. Now Paul had acknowledged this truth; and, attributing to the principle of law its whole force, he confessed himself to be dead by law-dead then to law. But, how? Was it by undergoing the eternal consequences of its violation; for if the law killed, it condemned too? (see 2 Cor. 3). By no means. It is quite another thing here. He did not deny the authority of the law, he acknowledged its force in his soul, but in death, in order that he might live to God.

But where could he find this life, since the law only slew him? This he explains. It was not himself in his own responsibility, exposed as he was to the final consequences of the violation of the law-who could find life in it! Christ had been crucified-He who could suffer the curse of the law of God, and death, and yet live in the mighty and holy life which nothing could take away; which made it impossible for death to hold Him, although in grace He tasted it. But the apostle (whom this same grace had reached) owning it according to the truth as a poor sinner in subjection to death, and blessing the God who granted him the grace of life and of free acceptance in Christ, had been associated with Christ in God's counsels in His death (now realised by faith, and become true practically by Christ, who had died and risen again, being his life). He was crucified with Him, so that the condemnation of it was gone for Paul. It is Christ whom death under the law had reached. The law had reached Saul the sinner, in the Person of Him who had given Himself for him, in fact, and now Saul himself in conscience, and brought death there-but the death of the old man (see Rom. 7:9, 10)--[2] Nevertheless he lived: yet not he, but Christ, in that life in which Christ rose from among the dead-Christ lived in him. Thus the dominion of the law over him disappeared (while ascribing to the law all its force), because that dominion was connected with the life in regard to which he reckoned himself to be dead in Christ, who had really undergone death for this purpose. And Paul lived in that mighty and holy life, in the perfection and energy of which Christ was risen from among the dead, after having borne the curse of the law. He lived to God, and held the corrupt life of his flesh as dead. His life drew all its character, all its mode of being, from the source whence it flowed.

But the creature must have an object to live for, and so it was as to Paul's soul, it was by the faith of Jesus Christ. By faith in Jesus Christ Paul lived indeed. The Christ who was the source of his life, who was his life, was its object also. It is this which always characterises the life of Christ in us: He Himself is its object-He alone. The fact, that it is by dying for us in love that He-who was capable of it, the Son of God-has given us thus freed from sin this life as our own, being ever before the mind, in our eyes He is clothed with the love He has thus shewn us. We live by faith of the Son of God, who has loved us, and given Himself for us. And here it is personal life, the individual faith that attaches us to Christ, and makes Him precious to us as the object of the soul's intimate faith. Thus the grace of God is not frustrated: for, if righteousness were established on the principle of law, Christ died in vain, since it would be by keeping the law ourselves that we should, in our own persons, acquire righteousness.


[1] It is practically important to remark that worldliness or any allowance of what is not of God, by a godly man, gives the weight of his godliness to the evil he allows.

[2] Christ had also borne his sins; but this is not the subject here spoken of; it is the dominion of the law over him while living on earth.

── John DarbySynopsis of Galatians


Galatians 2

Chapter Contents

The apostle declares his being owned as an apostle of the Gentiles. (1-10) He had publicly opposed Peter for judaizing. (11-14) And from thence he enters upon the doctrine of justification by faith in Christ, without the works of the law. (15-21)

Commentary on Galatians 2:1-10

(Read Galatians 2:1-10)

Observe the apostle's faithfulness in giving a full account of the doctrine he had preached among the Gentiles, and was still resolved to preach, that of Christianity, free from all mixture of Judaism. This doctrine would be ungrateful to many, yet he was not afraid to own it. His care was, lest the success of his past labours should be lessened, or his future usefulness be hindered. While we simply depend upon God for success to our labours, we should use every proper caution to remove mistakes, and against opposers. There are things which may lawfully be complied with, yet, when they cannot be done without betraying the truth, they ought to be refused. We must not give place to any conduct, whereby the truth of the gospel would be reflected upon. Though Paul conversed with the other apostles, yet he did not receive any addition to his knowledge, or authority, from them. Perceiving the grace given to him, they gave unto him and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, whereby they acknowledged that he was designed to the honour and office of an apostle as well as themselves. They agreed that these two should go to the heathen, while they continued to preach to the Jews; judging it agreeable to the mind of Christ, so to divide their work. Here we learn that the gospel is not ours, but God's; and that men are but the keepers of it; for this we are to praise God. The apostle showed his charitable disposition, and how ready he was to own the Jewish converts as brethren, though many would scarcely allow the like favour to the converted Gentiles; but mere difference of opinion was no reason to him why he should not help them. Herein is a pattern of Christian charity, which we should extend to all the disciples of Christ.

Commentary on Galatians 2:11-14

(Read Galatians 2:11-14)

Notwithstanding Peter's character, yet, when Paul saw him acting so as to hurt the truth of the gospel and the peace of the church, he was not afraid to reprove him. When he saw that Peter and the others did not live up to that principle which the gospel taught, and which they professed, namely, That by the death of Christ the partition wall between Jew and Gentile was taken down, and the observance of the law of Moses was no longer in force; as Peter's offence was public, he publicly reproved him. There is a very great difference between the prudence of St. Paul, who bore with, and used for a time, the ceremonies of the law as not sinful, and the timid conduct of St. Peter, who, by withdrawing from the Gentiles, led others to think that these ceremonies were necessary.

Commentary on Galatians 2:15-19

(Read Galatians 2:15-19)

Paul, having thus shown he was not inferior to any apostle, not to Peter himself, speaks of the great foundation doctrine of the gospel. For what did we believe in Christ? Was it not that we might be justified by the faith of Christ? If so, is it not foolish to go back to the law, and to expect to be justified by the merit of moral works, or sacrifices, or ceremonies? The occasion of this declaration doubtless arose from the ceremonial law; but the argument is quite as strong against all dependence upon the works of the moral law, as respects justification. To give the greater weight to this, it is added, But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is Christ the minister of sin? This would be very dishonourable to Christ, and also very hurtful to them. By considering the law itself, he saw that justification was not to be expected by the works of it, and that there was now no further need of the sacrifices and cleansings of it, since they were done away in Christ, by his offering up himself a sacrifice for us. He did not hope or fear any thing from it; any more than a dead man from enemies. But the effect was not a careless, lawless life. It was necessary, that he might live to God, and be devoted to him through the motives and grace of the gospel. It is no new prejudice, though a most unjust one, that the doctrine of justification by faith alone, tends to encourage people in sin. Not so, for to take occasion from free grace, or the doctrine of it, to live in sin, is to try to make Christ the minister of sin, at any thought of which all Christian hearts would shudder.

Commentary on Galatians 2:20,21

(Read Galatians 2:20,21)

Here, in his own person, the apostle describes the spiritual or hidden life of a believer. The old man is crucified, Romans 6:6, but the new man is living; sin is mortified, and grace is quickened. He has the comforts and the triumphs of grace; yet that grace is not from himself, but from another. Believers see themselves living in a state of dependence on Christ. Hence it is, that though he lives in the flesh, yet he does not live after the flesh. Those who have true faith, live by that faith; and faith fastens upon Christ's giving himself for us. He loved me, and gave himself for me. As if the apostle said, The Lord saw me fleeing from him more and more. Such wickedness, error, and ignorance were in my will and understanding, that it was not possible for me to be ransomed by any other means than by such a price. Consider well this price. Here notice the false faith of many. And their profession is accordingly; they have the form of godliness without the power of it. They think they believe the articles of faith aright, but they are deceived. For to believe in Christ crucified, is not only to believe that he was crucified, but also to believe that I am crucified with him. And this is to know Christ crucified. Hence we learn what is the nature of grace. God's grace cannot stand with man's merit. Grace is no grace unless it is freely given every way. The more simply the believer relies on Christ for every thing, the more devotedly does he walk before Him in all his ordinances and commandments. Christ lives and reigns in him, and he lives here on earth by faith in the Son of God, which works by love, causes obedience, and changes into his holy image. Thus he neither abuses the grace of God, nor makes it in vain.

── Matthew HenryConcise Commentary on Galatians


Galatians 2

Verse 1

[1] Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also.

Then fourteen years after — My first journey thither.

I went up again to Jerusalem — This seems to be the journey mentioned Acts 15:2; several passages here referring to that great council, wherein all the apostles showed that they were of the same judgment with him.

Verse 2

[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.

I went up — Not by any command from them, but by an express revelation from God.

And laid before them — The chief of the church in Jerusalem.

The gospel which I preach among the gentilesActs 15:4, touching justification by faith alone; not that they might confirm me therein, but that I might remove prejudice from them. Yet not publicly at first, but severally to those of eminence - Speaking to them one by one.

Lest I should run, or should have run, in vain — Lest I should lose the fruit either of my present or past labours. For they might have greatly hindered this, had they not been fully satisfied both of his mission and doctrine. The word run beautifully expresses the swift progress of the gospel.

Verse 3

[3] But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised:

But neither was Titus who was with me — When I conversed with them.

Compelled to be circumcised — A clear proof that none of the apostles insisted on the circumcising gentile believers. The sense is, And it is true, some of those false brethren would fain have compelled Titus to be circumcised; but I utterly refused it.

Verse 4

[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:

Because of false brethren — Who seem to have urged it.

Introduced unawares — Into some of those private conferences at Jerusalem. Who had slipped in to spy out our liberty - From the ceremonial law. That they might, if possible, bring us into that bondage again.

Verse 5

[5] To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you.

To whom we did not yield by submission — Although in love he would have yielded to any. With such wonderful prudence did the apostle use his Christian liberty ! circumcising Timothy, Acts 16:3, because of weak brethren, but not Titus, because of false brethren.

That the truth of the gospel — That is, the true genuine gospel.

Might continue with you — With you gentiles. So we defend, for your sakes, the privilege which you would give up.

Verse 6

[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:

And they who undoubtedly were something — Above all others.

What they were — How eminent soever.

It is no difference to me — So that I should alter either my doctrine or my practice.

God accepteth no man's person — For any eminence in gifts or outward prerogatives. In that conference added nothing to me - Neither as to doctrine nor mission.

Verse 7

[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;

But when they saw — By the effects which I laid before them, Galatians 2:8; Acts 15:12.

That I was intrusted with the gospel of the uncircumcision — That is, with the charge of preaching it to the uncircumcised heathens.

Verse 8

[8] (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:)

For he that wrought effectually in Peter for the apostleship of the circumcision — To qualify him for, and support him in, the discharge of that office to the Jews.

Wrought likewise effectually in and by me — For and in the discharge of my office toward the gentiles.

Verse 9

[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.

And when James — Probably named first because he was bishop of the church in Jerusalem.

And Cephas — Speaking of him at Jerusalem he calls him by his Hebrew name.

And John — Hence it appears that he also was at the council, though he is not particularly named in the Acts.

Who undoubtedly were pillars — The principal supporters and defenders of the gospel.

Knew — After they had heard the account I gave them.

The grace — Of apostleship.

Which was given me, they — In the name of all.

Gave to me and Barnabas — My fellow-labourer.

The right hands of fellowship — They gave us their hands in token of receiving us as their fellow - labourers, mutually agreeing that we - I and those in union with me.

Should go to the gentiles — Chiefly.

And they — With those that were in union with them, chiefly to the circumcision - The Jews.

Verse 10

[10] Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do.

Of the poor — The poor Christians in Judea, who had lost all they had for Christ's sake.

Verse 11

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

But — The argument here comes to the height. Paul reproves Peter himself. So far was he from receiving his doctrine from man, or from being inferior to the chief of the apostles.

When Peter — Afterwards, Came to Antioch - Then the chief of all the Gentile churches.

I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed — For fear of man, Galatians 2:12; for dissimulation, Galatians 2:13; and for not walking uprightly. Galatians 2:14.

Verse 13

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

And the other believing Jews — Who were at Antioch.

Dissembled with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their dissimulation — Was borne away, as with a torrent, into the same ill practice.

Verse 14

[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?

I said to Cephas before them all — See Paul single against Peter and all the Jews! If thou being a Jew, yet livest, in thy ordinary conversation, after the manner of the gentiles - Not observing the ceremonial law, which thou knowest to be now abolished.

Why compellest thou the gentiles — By withdrawing thyself and all the ministers from them; either to judaize, to keep the ceremonial law, or to be excluded from church communion ?

Verse 15

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

We — St. Paul, to spare St. Peter, drops the first person singular, and speaks in the plural number. Galatians 2:18, he speaks in the first person singular again by a figure; and without a figure, Galatians 2:19, etc.

Who are Jews by nature — By birth, not proselytes only.

And not sinners of the gentiles — That is, not sinful Gentiles; not such gross, enormous, abandoned sinners, as the heathens generally were.

Verse 16

[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.

Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law — Not even of the moral, much less the ceremonial, law.

But by the faith of Jesus Christ — That is, by faith in him. The name Jesus was first known by the gentiles; the name Christ by the Jews. And they are not always placed promiscuously; but generally in a more solemn way of speaking, the Apostle says, Christ Jesus; in a more familiar, Jesus Christ.

Even we — And how much more must the Gentiles, who have still less pretence to depend on their own works! Have believed - Knowing there is no other way.

Because — Considering the demands of the law, and the fate of human nature, it is evident, that by the works of the law - By such an obedience as it requires.

Shall no flesh living — No human creature, Jew or Gentile, be justified. Hitherto St. Paul had been considering that single question, "Are Christians obliged to observe the ceremonial law? But he here insensibly goes farther, and, by citing this scripture, shows that what he spoke directly of the ceremonial, included also the moral, law. For David undoubtedly did so, when he said, Psalms 143:2, the place here referred to, "In thy sight shall no man living be justified;" which the Apostle likewise explains, Romans 3:19,20, in such a manner as can agree to none but the moral law.

Verse 17

[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.

But if while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves are still found sinners - If we continue in sin, will it therefore follow, that Christ is the minister or countenancer of sin?

Verse 18

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

By no means.

For if I build again — By my sinful practice.

The things which I destroyed — By my preaching, I only make myself - Or show myself, not Christ, to be a transgressor; the whole blame lies on me, not him or his gospel. As if he had said, The objection were just, if the gospel promised justification to men continuing in sin. But it does not. Therefore if any who profess the gospel do not live according to it, they are sinners, it is certain, but not justified, and so the gospel is clear.

Verse 19

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

For I through the law — Applied by the Spirit to my heart, and deeply convincing me of my utter sinfulness and helplessness.

Am dead to the law — To all hope of justification from it.

That I may live to God — Not continue in sin. For this very end am I, in this sense, freed from the law, that I may be freed from sin.

Verse 20

[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.

The Apostle goes on to describe how he is freed from sin; how far he is from continuing therein.

I am crucified with Christ — Made conformable to his death; "the body of sin is destroyed." Romans 6:6.

And I — As to my corrupt nature.

Live no longer — Being dead to sin.

But Christ liveth in me — Is a fountain of life in my inmost soul, from which all my tempers, words, and actions flow.

And the life that I now live in the flesh — Even in this mortal body, I live by faith in the Son of God - I derive every moment from that supernatural principle; from a divine evidence and conviction, that "he loved me, and delivered up himself for me."

Verse 21

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

Meantime I do not make void - In seeking to be justified by my own works.

The grace of God — The free love of God in Christ Jesus. But they do, who seek justification by the law.

For if righteousness is by the law — If men might be justified by their obedience to the law, moral or ceremonial.

Then Christ died in vain — Without any necessity for it, since men might have been saved without his death; might by their own obedience have been both discharged from condemnation, and entitled to eternal life.

── John WesleyExplanatory Notes on Galatians


Chapter 2. The Truth of the Gospel

Eat with the Gentiles
Separate from the Gentiles

I. Second Visit to Jerusalem

  1. In Response to a Revelation
  2. Not on Account of Importance
  3. The Ritual of Fellowship

II. Conflict at Antioch

  1. In the Wrong
  2. Join in Hypocrisy
  3. Not in Line with the Truth

III. All Saved by Faith

  1. Not by Observing the Law
  2. Crucified with Christ
  3. Live by Faith
── Chih-Hsin ChangAn Outline of The New Testament
Chapter Two General Review
1) To understand why Paul would refuse to circumcise Titus (but then 
   had Timothy circumcised later, as recorded in Acts 16:1-3)
2) To appreciate why it was necessary for Paul to rebuke Peter to his 
3) To understand why if righteousness comes by the law, then Christ's 
   death was in vain
As Paul continues defending his apostleship, he describes a meeting in
Jerusalem fourteen years after the one with Peter related in chapter 
one.  It was prompted by a revelation, and Barnabas and Titus went with
him to meet "those who were of reputation".  The meeting was private, 
but some false brethren were secretly brought in who sought to demand 
that Titus, a Gentile, be circumcised.  Paul refused, viewing it as an 
effort to bring them back into bondage from which Christ set them free 
The result of the meeting was that "those who seemed to be something" 
added nothing to Paul.  In fact, once they saw that the gospel of the 
uncircumcised had been given to him just as the gospel of the 
circumcised had been given to Peter, and once James, Cephas, and John  
perceived the grace that had been given to Paul, he was extended the 
right hand of fellowship.  They only asked that Paul be mindful of the
poor, something he was very eager to do (6-10).
The rest of the chapter describes a confrontation in Antioch between 
Peter and Paul.  Peter, who was visiting, at first was willing to eat 
with the Gentiles; but when some came from James, out of fear he 
withdrew himself.  Through his influence the rest of the Jews, even 
Barnabas, were carried away into hypocrisy.  This prompted Paul to 
withstand Peter "to his face", and to rebuke him in the presence of 
all.  In the course of his rebuke, Paul stressed that we are justified
by faith in Christ, and not by the works of the law, otherwise Christ 
died in vain (11-24).
      1. Occurring fourteen years later, accompanied by Barnabas and
         Titus (1)
      2. Spurred to go by revelation, he communicated the gospel he had
         preached (2)
      3. Refused to allow Titus to be circumcised, as some brethren 
         desired who were secretly brought in to the meeting (3-5)
      1. Those who seemed to be something (reputation really made no
         difference) did not add anything to Paul (6)
      2. When those of reputation saw...
         a. That the gospel of the uncircumcised had been committed to
            Paul just as the gospel of the circumcised was to Peter
         b. That James, Cephas, and John perceived the grace given to
         ...they extended the right hand of fellowship to Paul and 
            Barnabas (9)
      3. They asked only that the poor be remembered, something Paul
         was very eager to do (10)
      1. Paul had to withstand Peter to the face, because he would not
         eat with Gentiles when those from James came to Antioch 
      2. Peter's example of hypocrisy influenced other Jews, even 
         Barnabas (13)
   B. PAUL'S REBUKE (14-21)
      1. Peter's hypocrisy (14)
         a. He himself, though Jewish, lived as a Gentile
         b. Yet he was compelling Gentiles to live as Jews
      2. A summary of Paul's rebuke (15-21)
         a. Jewish Christians realize that they are justified by faith
            in Christ, not by the works of the law by which no flesh 
            can be justified (15-16)
         b. If I seek to be justified by Christ through a means which
            cannot justify, isn't that making Christ a minister of sin?
         c. If I rebuild that which cannot justify and has been 
            destroyed (i.e., the law), won't I become a transgressor
            again? (18)
         d. Through the law, I have died to the law, having been 
            crucified with Christ; Christ now lives in me and the life
            I now live to God is a life of faith in the Son of God
         e. If righteousness comes through the law, Christ died in 
            vain, and the grace of God has been set aside (21)
1) What are the main points of this chapter?
   - The meeting at Jerusalem (1-10)
   - The confrontation at Antioch (11-21)
2) How long was it before Paul returned to Jerusalem?  Who went with 
   him? (1)
   - Fourteen years
   - Barnabas and Titus
3) What prompted him to go?  What did he do there? (2)
   - A revelation
   - Communicated to those of reputation the gospel he had preached 
     among the Gentiles
4) What did some who were secretly brought in to this meeting try to 
   get Paul to do? Did Paul submit to their command? (3-5)
   - To have Titus circumcised
   - No
5) How do you reconcile Paul's refusal to circumcise Titus with the 
   fact that Paul later had Timothy circumcised? (cf. Ac 16:1-3)
   - Circumcision of a Jewish Christian as a matter of expediency was
     permissible; but circumcision imposed upon a Gentile as an element
     necessary for salvation was not!
6) When did those who "seemed to be something" add to Paul? (6)
   - Nothing
7) What two things prompted them to extend the right hand of fellowship
   to Paul and Barnabas? (7-9)
   - When they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcised had been 
     committed to Paul, just as the gospel to the circumcised had been
     committed to Peter
   - When James, Cephas, and John perceived the grace that had been 
     given to Paul
8) What was the only thing they asked of Paul? (10)
   - To remember the poor
9) When Peter came to Antioch, why did Paul find it necessary to 
   withstand him to his face? (11-12)
   - Because he was willing to eat with Gentiles at first, but when 
     certain men from James came, he withdrew himself out of fear
10) Who else was carried away by Peter's hypocrisy? (13)
   - The rest of the Jews, including Barnabas
11) Briefly describe Paul's main argument as found in verse 16.
   - One is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in
12) How did Paul live his life, once he had died to the law? (19-20)
   - Having been crucified with Christ, he lives by faith in the Son of
     God who loved Him and gave Himself for him
13) If righteousness can come through the law, what does that say about
    the death of Christ? (21)
   - It was in vain


--《Executable Outlines