Monday, 22 February 2016
Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and also took Titus with me. Galatians 2:1
Paul now mentions a period of “fourteen years” until he again “went up to Jerusalem.” There is great debate as to which starting period he is speaking of, his conversion or since his previous trip to Jerusalem. If from his conversion, he is stating that the period covers everything since verse 1:15. If from his last trip to Jerusalem, it is speaking of the details of verse 1:18.
Either way, Paul says that he “again” went up to Jerusalem. This indicates that something important transpired during this visit which occurred around 14-20 years after his conversion (the timing depends on how this verse and verse 1:18 are considered). In the interim, Paul had gone to Jerusalem (see Acts 11:29, 30 & Acts 12:25) on a mission trip for relief of the saints there during a famine. And yet, he doesn’t mention this. This is passed over then because it does not bear on what he is speaking of in this letter to the Galatians.
However, the trip to Jerusalem which he now refers to goes directly to the heart of the matter concerning the apostasy of those in Galatia. For this reason, he “went up” again to Jerusalem. As always, the noting of a trip to Jerusalem includes the idea of ascending. Regardless of the point on the compass, or the elevation from which one goes there, it is always considered a trip “up.” It is as if a throne in a court is being approached for a decision on a matter. Such is certainly the case here.
The record of this trip is found in Acts 15, and it is known as the Council in Jerusalem. A matter of great importance was to be settled there. Unfortunately, despite the obvious nature of the ruling, its edicts were ignored by those in Galatia, and they have continued to be ignored by the foolish since then. On this trip, Paul notes that he went with Barnabas. As a fellow apostle and a central figure in the earlier workings of the church, it was a logical choice.
Barnabas was a Jew and his presence filled an important point for those at the council to consider. He had participated in Paul’s evangelistic efforts and he was able to confirm the message which Paul preached among the Gentiles. But to ensure that the message was perfectly understood, Paul next notes that he “also took Titus” with him.
The reason for bringing Titus along is to confirm the gospel message which Paul preached elsewhere. It will be explained precisely in the coming verses. Titus is not specifically mentioned as having gone with Paul in Acts 15, but the account does say “that Paul and Barnabas and certain others of them” went up to Jerusalem. Titus would be among the “certain others” and his importance in having gone will now be seen in this epistle to the Galatians.
Life application: Bible study is hard work. Sometimes, piecing together a timeline of the events of what occurs seems like a lot of hard work with no set gain to be realized. However, this is not the case. The Bible rewards those who diligently seek the Lord through it. Our doctrine is only as good as our willingness to pursue what is sound. Picking and choosing what we will believe based on random verses will inevitably lead to faulty doctrine, but it is so much easier than diligently studying the word. However, easy is only rewarding in the short term. In the long run, having right doctrine will receive eternal rewards.
Lord God, it sure is nice to go to church on Sunday, hear an easy message about how to run our lives, and then have the rest of the week to use for “more important” things. And deep studies of Your word can wear us out mentally and take up limited time. But this is where wisdom is to be found! And so, help us to be willing to devote our time and energy to a deeper understanding of Your word, and in a right application of it. Help our doctrine to be pure and our hearts undefiled towards You. Forget easy! Help us to stretch ourselves as we draw near to You with right doctrine. Amen.