Tuesday, 23 February 2016
And I went up by revelation, and communicated to them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to those who were of reputation, lest by any means I might run, or had run, in vain. Galatians 2:2
This is referring to Paul’s trip to Jerusalem with Barnabas and Titus. Paul received revelation that there was trouble coming and eventually, according to Acts 15:2, it turned into a great dissension within the church –
“Therefore, when Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and dispute with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain others of them should go up to Jerusalem, to the apostles and elders, about this question.” Acts 15:2
Having received revelation of this kind was certainly to quiet him and give him the confidence he needed to know that he was on the right path. His words in this verse show us this. Upon his arrival in Jerusalem, he “communicated to them.” The communication was to those who would soon render a decision at the Council in Jerusalem. Paul first spoke in private with them in order to ensure they knew, in advance, that a dissension had arisen. Thus they would be prepared for the challenge that lay ahead in the deliberations.
What he specifically communicated was “the gospel which I preach to the Gentiles.” This is written in the present-tense for a good reason. The gospel he had preached; the gospel he had presented to the leaders and the council at Jerusalem; the gospel he continued to preach after that; and the gospel he still preached, even to the Galatians at the present time, was a consistent message. It had not changed.
It was this same gospel that he communicated “privately to those who were of reputation.” These words are also in the present tense in the Greek. Therefore, they are more appropriately rendered “to them of repute.” Again, the present tense is necessary to understand that those who approved of his gospel message to the Gentiles were the same people who were still the ones who continued to approve of it.
Paul is showing that the false apostles’ claim that they had the true gospel was, in fact, what was false. They may have pretended to come under the authority of the leaders in Jerusalem, but this was not so. The same people who were authorities in Jerusalem at that time were still the authorities in Jerusalem, and it was Paul and his gospel message that they backed. If they had any doubt of this, all they would need to do is send a message to inquire whether this was true or not. However, Paul’s continued words of the letter will even make that unnecessary. By the time he is done, they will see that his message was the very intent of God for the Gentile people.
To finish this verse, he notes that his meeting with these leaders was to find out if “by any means I might run, or had run, in vain.” The intent of Paul’s visit, and the calling of a council by the leaders, was to settle the matter of Paul’s gospel as he conveyed it to the Gentiles. Therefore, his words here are not questioning the possibility that his labors were in vain, as if he was the one who was misguided all along. Instead, his words are directed as to whether or not they understood and supported his work, as if they were not yet satisfied in their understanding of the message he preached. Vincent’s Word Studies paraphrases the verse and then explains it thus –
“‘I laid before them that gospel which I preach to the Gentiles, that they might examine and settle for themselves the question whether I am not possibly running or had run in vain.’ The investigation was to be for their satisfaction, not for Paul’s.
Life application: Paul’s message was presented to the leaders in Jerusalem for evaluation. The Bible shows that what he preached to the Gentiles was proper. He was given their full support and approval. Therefore, to understand proper church-age doctrine, we are to turn to the letters of Paul. If this is not so, then we have no sure word at all. Be sure to stand fast on what Paul teaches. It is the message approved by the Lord Jesus for the proper conduct of our Christian walk.
Lord God, Your word teaches us that we are saved by grace through faith. It goes on to say that it is not of works lest anyone should boast. I receive that. Thank You for the grace You have bestowed upon undeserving me. Thank you that I stand justified by faith alone. All credit goes to You. My destiny is set and my future is sure. Hallelujah to Christ who has freely offered all I need in order to be restored to the paradise that was lost so long ago! Amen.