Am trying to imagine how Paul might have felt timid and small in comparison to the 12 Apostles. After all these are the men that had been with Jesus, walked with Him, ate at the same table with Him and even had the King of The Universe wash their feet, preety cool right? Let’s dig in.
Galatians chapter two (2) starts us off, with Paul explaining how he had stayed 14 years before he went up again to Jerusalem, which he did in response to a revelation and when he went there, he had to meet privately with those esteemed as leaders. Am thinking maybe the Bible Scholars, Reverends and Bishops of our times? So here was Paul in front of these esteemed leaders and he presented to them the gospel that he preached among the Gentiles. “I wanted to be sure I was not running and had been running my race in vain” Galatians 2:2 For Paul it was a matter of letting them know what he’d being doing, more like accountability, but then again he was confident of himself and his calling as we see in Gal 1:15 “But when God, who set me apart from my mother’s womb and called me by His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, my immediate response was not to consult any human being.”
Back in the days, Jews and Gentiles didn’t use to associate with each other, but I like what Galatians 2:6 says, “Whether Jew or Gentile, God does not show favouritism.” He’s not like man who favours those he likes and those he dislikes, are disregarded. However, we later on see that Paul seems to have passed the test (so to speak) because the leaders who were held in high esteem, recognised that Paul had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been to the circumcised. 2:8 “For God, who was at work in Peter as an apostle to the circumcised, was also at work in Paul as an apostle to the Gentiles.” We are all called differently, some to be Pastors while others to be Evangelist and still others Prophets of God. Some have being called into full time ministry, while for the rest, our work stations are our pulpits! We all need to stick to our lanes, uphold each others ministry instead of tearing them down in competition, after all, we’re all working and serving one God right?
The road map had being set out and It was crystal clear – Paul to the Gentiles and the rest to the circumcised, but they had one thing in common – look after the poor, Gal 2:10 “All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I had been eager to do all along.” If each and everyone of us took up the responsibility of supporting and looking after the poor amongst us, I believe their status would change because, they would be uplifted and their lives would be different, and we see verse ten reminding us that looking after the poor is something that we should do willingly. King Solomon reminds us in Proverbs 19:17 “Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and He will reward them for what they have done.”
Paul and Barnabas were in ministry together until we get to Acts 15:36-41 (Read the story), where they had a sharp disagreement and they each went their ways. When we come to Galatians 2:13 we encounter a hypocrisy in which Cephas is condemned by Paul because “he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group,” and in this hypocrisy Barnabas was led astray. Barnabas is mentioned here from the time they disagreed with Paul way back in the book of Acts. Am no Theologian, but what am getting Paul say here was that, Cephas was interacting with the Gentiles, until other people who belonged to the circumcised group came along and as we know Jews and Gentiles didn’t mix. However, when we read further in 2:14 we get a feel of why Paul condemned him ”You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?” More like preaching water and drinking wine right? Cephas was living like a Gentile, yet he knew the truth of been a Jew. If I was to put this in our current times it would be, someone who knows about Jesus and salvation, but is still double dipping into the things of the world! being double-minded, its like you want the best of both worlds.
I Love the powerful statement that Paul gives in 2:16 “A person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ.” Justification is only through Jesus Christ and not because by the works of the law. 2:19-20 “For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” What then does it mean to be crucified with Christ? After all none of us can bare the physical pain Christ endured for the sake of our sins. To be crucified with Christ is to put aside worldly, fleshly desires and to live a life that is pleasing to God. To crucify the flesh and all its desires; lies, idolatry, adultery, sexual immorality, drugs, judging others and so much more. ‘It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me’ – what does Christ represents, Holiness, Love, Gentleness, Kindness, therefore these are the virtues that I need to embrace now to be able to represent Him and what He’s Kingdom is all about. “The life I now live in the body I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me,” how do we honour God for saving us? By believing in He who gave up His life that you and I may live. Having loved us so much that nothing, not even His Son could be spared; if this isn’t love, I don’t know what is.
Finally Paul finishes Chapter two with verse 21 stating, “I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” There’s a lot of arguments and conspiracy theories out there about what we need to do in order to get to Heaven. Some people believe there is no afterlife, what you see is what you get; and when we die, we’re just like animals whose lives end unceremoniously. I choose to believe in the Bible, the very Word of God. Righteousness cannot be gained through the law, but only through Jesus Christ the Son of the Living, True God. Therefore, let’s not take advantage of God’s love or His Grace and Mercy and continue living double standard lives, but rather lets take a stand for God and live our lives Holy and Pleasing to Him who loves us so much. Don’t assume that you will be justified because of following what the law says or been a law abiding citizen, yes all this you should follow, but the only way to Heaven and see God is through – JESUS CHRIST.
Memory Verse: Galatians 2:20 I have being crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.