Monday, January 26, 2015

Galatians 2:1-10

Paul had clearly and effectively dismantled the attacks of the Judaizers. They claimed that Paul was preaching a false gospel that only required that a person believe. In their estimation, Paul was at best an uninformed preacher and at worst he was a false teacher leading away thousands into heresy. With religious fervor, they took on the crusade of slandering his character and undermining his message. Paul spent all of Galatians 1 explaining that he was clearly an Apostle who had been hand-picked and called by Jesus Christ. Furthermore, in spite of the accusation that Paul was just a message-changing people-pleaser, Paul explained that he consistently taught the same message regardless of the audience.
For the last half of chapter one, Paul’s latest exhibit in defense of the gospel was his own conversion. He argued that the gospel that he preached was the same one that converted him. There was no point in changing the message. It was from God, and it clearly worked. Although Paul had clearly made his point, and could have ended his counter-attack against those who sought to malign him, instead he pressed on into chapter 2, dismantling the Judaizers argument for a works based salvation.
Paul explained that he preached for nearly 15 years before returning to Jerusalem. When he headed back to Jerusalem, he took with him Barnabas and Titus. Jerusalem was home to the Apostles Peter, James and John. This was important, because one of the key arguments that the Judaizers made against Paul was that the “real Apostles” in Jerusalem required all of the believers in Jerusalem to follow the ceremonial laws of Moses in addition to placing their faith in the saving work of Christ. To show that this was a complete misconception and a gross misrepresentation, Paul explained that when he took Titus, an uncircumcised Gentile convert, to Jerusalem, the “real Apostles” (Paul makes a mildly sarcastic comment about having favorites in verse 6) accepted him without forcing him to follow the ceremonial laws. (namely, circumcision)
The point that Paul was making was that when he brought Titus, a Gentile, to Jerusalem to see the church leaders there, none of the Apostles ever said that Titus was unconverted for not having followed the ceremonies of the Jews. Rather, they received Titus along with Paul and Barnabas. Furthermore, Paul explained that by receiving Paul and Barnabas, the church leaders in Jerusalem were more than willing to fellowship with Paul and Titus and to affirm the things that he was teaching. They never sought to correct his message, even though they had ample opportunity. They never told Titus that he needed to be circumcised. Clearly, the Judaizers were misrepresenting the truth of the gospel, by expecting things that the other Apostles in Jerusalem did not even require.
Paul was clearly a true apostle. His character could not be impugned. The gospel he preached was the same gospel that had drastically transformed his life. Additionally, the other Apostles affirmed both the gospel message that he preached and the converts that he had brought into the faith. The argument was clearly over. Those who came to Galatia to attack Paul had chosen to attack the wrong person. Paul was blameless.

Food For Thought: What reality did bringing Titus to Jerusalem prove for Paul?