As we approach this chapter, we must keep in mind the grand points that Paul establishes in this epistle:
V. 1. This is the trip (mentioned in Acts 15:1,2) which Paul made to Jerusalem with Barnabas, concerning the question of whether circumcision is necessary to salvation. Titus, who was a Greek and a minister of the gospel, went with him. Titus was an uncircumcised Gentile, a living testimony of the apostle's message and practice.
v.2. They did not send for him, nor did he go to Jerusalem by a vote of the church. He felt led of God to go and talk privately with those who were apostles before him, men of great esteem and reputation. The issue was the theme of this epistle - that salvation is wholly by grace and does not require the keeping of the ceremonial law. If salvation were by anything but grace, Paul's ministry was all in vain.
v. 3. There was such agreement between Paul and the other apostles regarding the matter of the law and circumcision that Titus, an uncircumcised Greek, was accepted as a brother and fellow minister on the spot. They required nothing further of him. If these ceremonies were necessary, the apostles of Christ would have required them of Titus!
v. 4,.5. This is why Paul and the apostles refused to circumcise Titus. If it had been a thing indifferent and only to satisfy some weak believers (as in the case of Timothy, Acts 16:1-3), he would have complied. The false prophets who had crept in insisted that circumcision and other ceremonies were necessary to salvation. Paul would not give in to such error for an hour!
v. 6. These other apostles were reputed to be great, and they were (though their office and position made no difference to Paul, for his gospel was given him by God; besides, the Lord is not impressed with men's persons or position). These men imposed no new requirements on Paul, added nothing to his gospel and made no suggestions.
v. 7,8. 'But on the contrary, when they saw that I was ordained of God to carry the gospel to the Gentiles just as definitely as Peter was ordained to carry the gospel to the Jews, they were agreeable and rejoiced. For God, who motivated and equipped Peter for his work among the Jews, also prepared me to preach to the Gentfles' (Acts 9:13 -15).
v. 9,10. James, Peter and John, who seemed to be the spokesmen and pillars of the church, gave Paul and Barnabas their blessings and approval of the ministry to the Gentiles and made only one stipulation - that they remember and minister to the poor, which they were eager to do!
v.11-13. Evidently this incident occurred between Paul and the other apostles after the meeting in Jerusalem and it shows us several things.
Peter had agreed with Paul's gospel and given his blessings to his ministry. But when these Jews came down from Jerusalem to Antioch, Peter feared their disfavour and withdrew from the Gentiles. Having much influence, he caused a strong division among the brethren, even causing Barnabas (who knew better) to take part in his hypocrisy. We shall take up Paul's word to Peter in the next section.
[TOP OF PAGE]