Period of Third Visit to Jerusalem
Galatians 2:1-10
Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also.

Three preliminary points are mentioned.

(1) Time. "Then after the space of fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem." It is possible to date this from his conversion, but it is more natural and quite tenable to date it from the last-mentioned visit. If so, then we have seventeen important years, during which all the intercourse that Paul bad with the senior apostles extended to fifteen days spent with Peter in Jerusalem. That, surely, was very little on which to found a representation of his being a pupil of these apostles, or one acting under their orders.

(2) Companions. "With Barnabas, taking Titus also with me." The mention of Barnabas as his principal companion helps to identify the visit with that recorded in the fifteenth of the Acts. Titus also is brought in, as afterward to be referred to. Both may have been known to the Galatian Churches, and would be able to bear witness to the accuracy of his account of the conference.

(3) Impulse. "And I went up by revelation." The impelling influence was a supernatural communication made to him, that it was his duty to go up to Jerusalem. It may have been with or against his own inclination. It was certainly conjoined with the action of the Gentile Churches. But what determined his action was no feeling of his own as of doubt about his teaching, or summons from Jerusalem to give an account of his teaching, but simply the intimation to him of the Divine will. The private conference. The great feature of the third visit was conference. There was the public conference, of which we have a record in the fifteenth of the Acts. But there seems to have been beforehand a private conference with the men of repute, which alone is mentioned here, as being that which affected the question of his independence as an apostle.

(1) Subject of conference. "And I laid before them the gospel which I preach among the Gentiles." He laid not before some, but before all the Christians at Jerusalem, the gospel which he was still in the habit of preaching among the Gentiles. He made it a public enough matter that he preached justification by faith. He made it equally public that, as an inference from that, he taught that there was no necessity to impose circumcision on Gentile converts.

(2) Reason for private conference. "But privately before them who were of repute, lest by any means I should be running, or had run, in vain." While courting publicity, he had a regard to prudence. The gospel he preached might have a strange sound to them at Jerusalem. He did not, therefore, in the first place lay it before the general body of Christians there. But he began by laying it privately before the three afterward mentioned, viz. James, Peter, and John. They had special qualifications for understanding what was to come up for public conference. And experiences, reasons, nice points, could be gone into with them that could not so suitably be gone into at a public conference. They were, moreover, men of repute, men of leading, who might be expected to influence the others. If, then, he secured a good understanding with them, his course, both what it had been and what it might yet be, would have its full effect. Whereas, if for want of the proper means being used, he failed in securing a good understanding, he would really be impairing the effect of what he had done or might yet do. Results of private conference as bearing on the question of independence -


1. No compulsion was used in the case of Titus. "But not even Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised." This was a good ease for trying the question of liberty. Timothy, who was after this circumcised in accommodation to Jewish feeling, was of hail-Jewish extraction. Titus was of pure Gentile extraction. Was he, then, necessitated to circumcise Titus? No; it was a notorious fact that under the eye of the three, under the eye of the whole Church, he was allowed to go about Jerusalem with an uncircumcised Gentile convert as his recognized companion and assistant. That was not as though he had weakly yielded at the conference. It was, on the contrary, a signal triumph obtained for liberty.

2. The reason of his taking so firm a stand was that it was made a question of liberty. Character of the false brethren. "And that because of the false brethren privily brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage." They were false, men who had never really agreed to the terms of Christian membership. They had become connected with the society of Christians, not as genuine believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, but on falsely pretending faith. They climbed into the Christian fold by some other way than Christ. There were others in the background who prompted them to make a false profession. They acted as the tools of others for illegitimate purposes. Espionage was one purpose. They stole into the Christian camp, not because they had any delight in being there, but simply as spies. What they wished to spy out was the liberty enjoyed by the Gentile Christians, i.e. liberation from circumcision in the possession of Christ. More particularly, it was the action of the Church in Jerusalem in view of the association of an uncircumcised Gentile convert with Paul. A further purpose was bondage. They spied out the liberty that they might have it as an object for their attack. Their tactics were to make a demand for the circumcision of Titus. Their success would have been the enslavement of Gentile Christians. Stand made by Paul against the false brethren. "To whom we gave place in the way of subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you." It was a bold step, in the first place, to take Titus to Jerusalem. Feeling may have been stronger than he expected to find it. How was he to act? It would, no doubt, have been pleasing to many if he had seen his way to circumcise Titus. Under certain circumstances he might have been free to do it in the way of accommodation. But seeing that the false brethren, by the circumcision of Titus, meant the enslavement for ever of Gentile Christians, he gave place in the way of subjection, no, not for an hour. He acted thus decisively in the interests of all his Gentile constituents. And his successful resistance on this occasion, which some were now seeking to turn against him (as though he had then given in his submission to Peter and the rest), was really a triumph obtained for the Gentile Christians everywhere, for which particularly they, the Galatians, should show gratitude in the way of resisting the assaults of the Judaists on them. Let the truth of the gospel - justification simply by faith - continue with them.


1. They imparted nothing to him. "But from those who were reputed to be somewhat (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me; God accepteth not man's person) - they, I say, who were of repute imparted nothing to me." The construction with which the sentence commences is not carried out to the end. "From them of repute" would naturally be followed up by "I received nothing." But instead of that, after the parenthesis which is in three clauses, it is taken up in the form - "they of repute," which is followed by "imparted nothing to me." The three were reputed to be somewhat, and Paul does not mean to hint that this reputation was not deserved. What he has to do with is that their reputation should be thought to destroy his independence. He esteemed them, and he was glad to know of their being esteemed. In that respect their reputation did matter to him, but it mattered nothing for his independence. It is not upon reputation that God proceeds in his choice or acknowledgment of instruments, And with all their reputation they imparted to him no additional authority or element in teaching, as superiors to an inferior.

2. They recognized him. As having an independent trust. "But contrariwise, when they saw that I had been entrusted with the gospel of the uncircumcision, even as Peter with the gospel of the circumcision (for he that wrought for Peter unto the apostleship of the circumcision wrought for me also unto the Gentiles)." Of the men of repute, he singles out Peter as the principal representative of the circumcision. He was entrusted with the gospel whose sphere was the circumcision; and he presented it, as may be seen from his address and Epistles, with a certain adaptation to the Jews. The burden of his early preaching was the great crime which the Jews had committed in crucifying their Messiah, and their duty to repent of that crime and to trust in Christ for salvation. When he writes to them as the Dispersion, he is still a Jew, in dwelling on the ancient glories of the race. His mind is imbued with the deliverances wrought for them, the majesty and sanctity of their temple, the sacred functions of the priesthood, the mystery of sacrifice, all receiving their fulfilment in the Christian manifestation. He is also a Jew in looking forward to a glorious future. His gospel points away to" the inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and that fadeth not away;" "the salvation ready to be revealed in the last time;" "the appearing of Jesus Christ." But Paul was on a parity with Peter. He was entrusted with the gospel, whose sphere was the uncircumcision, and he presented it with a certain adaptation to the Gentiles. Not shunning Jewish imagery, he combined with it a certain free use of Gentile imagery. And it was specially given him to preach, what Peter indeed had learnt before him, that the Gentiles were to be admitted into the kingdom of God without being required to submit to circumcision. This parity of trust was made evident to the men of repute at Jerusalem. And the way in which it was made evident was this. It was evident that Peter was appointed to the apostleship of the circumcision by the abundant energy with which God supplied him for working among them. It was equally evident that Paul was appointed to the apostleship of the Gentiles by the abundant energy with which God supplied him for working among them. As having such a trust by the display of grace toward him. "And when they perceived the grace that was given unto me." The conclusion was forced home on them that he had an independent trust. When they compared that with their former knowledge of him, they could only ascribe it to grace. Their knowledge was now of him as a remarkable trophy of grace.

3. They gave him formal recognition. "James and Cephas and John, they who were reputed to be pillars, gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship, that we should go unto the Gentiles, and they unto the circumcision." The three are now mentioned by name. The last mentioned is John, and it is remarkable that in this, the only mention of him by Paul, he is represented as doing a kindly act. Peter, who is called Cephas (which also means "rock"), has just had a wide sphere connected with him. James is here placed before him on the same ground on which he presided at the public conference, viz. as representative (not necessarily bishop)of the mother Church at Jerusalem. His taking the lead made the formal recognition of Paul the act of the Church: while the association of Peter and John with him gave it a wider significance. These three were had in estimation as pillars (stoops, supports), i.e. men upon whom (humanly speaking) the keeping up of the Church greatly depended. Their formal recognition extended to Barnabas. They recognized in what was not exclusively Eastern fashion (being rather universal), by each giving the right hand of fellowship. That in regard to which they expressed fellowship was the division of work - Gentile and Jewish - which is not to be understood with the greatest strictness. The fellowship they expressed amounted to giving Paul and Barnabas their hearty good wishes in their separate and co-ordinate sphere.

4. They only recommended. "Only they would that we should remember the poor; which very thing I was also zealous to do." There is a recognized ecclesiastical distinction between an injunction and a recommendation. The three did not, as ecclesiastical superiors, lay their authority upon Paul and Barnabas; they on]y, as brethren, made a request of them. The request chimed in with Paul's own habitual feeling. He speaks only for himself, his zeal extending beyond the time when he could speak for Barnabas, who shortly afterwards parted from him. Thus conclusively does he establish his independence. The matter of the request was remembering the poor. It was a request that came very naturally from the three. They were connected with a poor Church. Intolerance, too, was more rife and keen in Palestine than elsewhere. And it would often be a perplexity to them - taking them to the throne of grace - how the poor under their charge were to be provided for. They therefore took occasion to commend them to these representatives of the Gentile Churches. It was a providential arrangement that the Jewish Christians were to some extent dependent for support on the Gentile Christians. It tended to call forth the charity of the latter and to counteract the narrowness of the former, and thus to promote unity. It is a peculiarly Christian thing to remember the poor. Christ has shown men to be equal irrespective of condition, in that he has died for all, and would have all raised to sonship. Having taught us to care for men's souls, he has taught us, as we could not otherwise so forcibly be taught, to care also for men's bodies. We are to show our affection for Christ in ministering to the wants of his poor. And we will show a tenderness even for the wants of those who are not with us in the same Christian bond. - R.F.

Parallel Verses
KJV: Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also.

WEB: Then after a period of fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus also with me.

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