Galatians 2

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Read Galatians 2

Paul Accepted by the Apostles

Then after fourteen years, I went up again to Jerusalem, this time with Barnabas. I took Titus along also. I went in response to a revelation and, meeting privately with those esteemed as leaders, I presented to them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles. I wanted to be sure I was not running and had not been running my race in vain. Yet not even Titus, who was with me, was compelled to be circumcised, even though he was a Greek. This matter arose because some false believers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves.We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospelmight be preserved for you.

As for those who were held in high esteem—whatever they were makes no difference to me; God does not show favoritism—they added nothing to my message. On the contrary, they recognized that I had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the uncircumcised, just as Peter had been to the circumcised. For God, who was at work in Peter as an apostleto the circumcised, was also at work in me as an apostle to the Gentiles.James, Cephas and John, those esteemed as pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the circumcised. 10 All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I had been eager to do all along.

Paul Opposes Cephas

11 When Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before certain men came from James, 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. 13 The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.

14 When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of them all, “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?

15 “We who are Jews by birth and not sinful Gentiles 16 know that a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.

17 “But if, in seeking to be justified in Christ, we Jews find ourselves also among the sinners, doesn’t that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not! 18 If I rebuild what I destroyed, then I really would be a lawbreaker.

19 “For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. 20 I have been 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. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”

Go Deeper

The book of Galatians is written by Paul to refute legalism in the early church. In Galatians 2, we see two pillars of the faith (Paul and Peter) in conflict over that subject, similar to arguments we can see amongst believers today. 

In the first section, Paul is establishing the history behind his confirmation by leaders in the early church, the apostles, to take the Gospel to the Gentiles. In verse 2, Paul states that he verified that the Gospel he was preaching was correct, especially in regard to the debate over circumcision. In that time, circumcision represented living under the Jewish law which taught that a person’s strict adherence to laws like circumcision brought salvation. An important theme of this book is presented in this section: “God does not show favoritism.” (vs. 6) Peter was very familiar with this truth because God revealed it to him, as recorded in Acts 10:34-35. The conclusion was that nothing Paul was preaching needed to be changed because the gospel teaches that salvation comes through faith in Christ alone—no works can bring salvation, not even the Jewish law.

Some of the Jewish believers of the day were arguing that in order for a Gentile to be saved, circumcision was required. Peter (or Cephas) was allowing those Jews to influence his actions; he no longer was associating with uncircumcised believers. This is what Paul publicly confronted Peter about in the second section of this chapter.

Peter, who had previously eaten with Gentiles, was suddenly not willing to associate with them because of what others might think. Peter’s actions caused others to think that faith wasn’t enough anymore—that salvation needed added works like circumcision to be valid. Paul corrects this publicly with Peter, possibly because Peter’s legalism was public and Peter was considered a prominent leader. We know that ultimately this conflict was resolved because Peter makes a public proclamation about this subject in Acts 15, allowing the Gospel to go forward.

Jesus teaches us in Mark 2:17, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” The Gospel is for sinners, and that includes all of us. Jesus preached the Good News to everyone—especially the marginalized and outcasts of society. He didn’t ask them to clean up before they came to a saving faith in Him. He sat with, ate with, and included them, freely showing them grace. Because it is nothing we do to earn salvation; it is only a gift of grace from Jesus (Ephesians 2:8-9).

One question we should walk away with after reading this chapter: Are our actions as believers in Christ allowing the Gospel to go forward or are we hindering it through our fear of others and legalism?


  1. What are the debates today that cause divisions among believers? Do they create barriers to coming to Christ? If so, what are they?
  2. What do we learn about Jesus’ ministry in the gospels? Look at the characteristics of His disciples’ backgrounds. Who does He call to follow him?
  3. How is the Lord convicting you to walk forward differently? Pray to God and consult with community for wisdom.

By the Way

Read a beautiful account of Jesus sharing the gospel with a Gentile, the woman at the well, in John 4:1-42. What can we learn from how Jesus engaged with her?

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3 thoughts on “Galatians 2”

  1. Once our lives have been intersected by the radical grace of the gospel nothing remains the same. Paul, a once zealous persecutor of Christians, now astonishingly preaches the very faith he once tried to destroy! Scripture records that the events we read of in chapter 2 occurred 14 years after his conversion where God had been equipping and preparing him for ministry. Paul possessed both zeal and humility as he met with church leaders with opposing views, “I wanted to be sure I was not running and had not been running my race in vain” (v2). This struck a chord in my heart. How often do we take account of the race we are running? Have we bought into a worldly view while putting the gospel aside? Have we treated the grace of God as meaningless? Are we willing to die to our old way of life? Are we running in vain? Today, may we realize that we have the resurrection power of Christ who is our living hope to continue to fight sin. May we never, ever live as if Christ died for nothing.

  2. I think what I am learning more and more about grace is that it is about freedom of sin of no more bondage. I was always “preached” hell fire and damnation growing up. You think lust even if you’re are “saved” you are going to hell for that thought!!!!! You get my drift, so it has taken many years to break that bondage off and realize what the liberty of grace is= we obey God because of love not because of law. Liberty of grace is not the license to do wrong just because I am under grace but because He so loved me that He gave me grace and I so love Him back I want to do right things!!!!! Verse 21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” I need to walk the walk that shows outwardly to all that I have been saved by grace and that I am willing to defend the gospel.

    God Thank You for my eyes of understanding of Your word and You become more open and enlightened to what I need to be doing here, now for You. I am so thankful for forgiveness and opportunity to move forward to be who You have called me to be. Thank You for Your love goggles, for Your words coming out of mouth. Thank You God that You gave me the spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. I am grateful thankful and blessed in Jesus name amen

  3. One thing that is repeatedly superior in breaking barriers is the gospel. No legalism, racism (Samaritan woman), Gnosticism (1John) ,individualism, satanism, and etc., can’t stop God from using whomever, and wherever, He wants the good news to be spread.
    In John 12:20-22, the Greeks requested to see Phillip bc they ‘wanted to see Jesus’. Whether it was bc of his Greek name, or bc of his place of origin—but God was in the business of breaking cultural barriers even in this passage between the circumcised and uncircumcised.
    When people “want” Jesus—-God will make a way. Whether we are Paul’s, Peter’s, Phillip’s, or the Samaritan woman—God changes the unapproachable to the approachable if we would just surrender.

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