Discernment and Strength - Galatians 2:1-6

Discernment and Strength

I wish my kids understood what I desired of them, even though I frequently tell them as clearly as day. Understanding the will of God for our lives can always feel like a mystery. Do we have the discernment to hear what God is speaking to us? Do we have the background and understanding to remain steadfast in the truth of the Gospel?

Galatians 2:1-6
1 Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along with me. 2 I went up because of a revelation and set before them (though privately before those who seemed influential) the gospel that I proclaim among the Gentiles, in order to make sure I was not running or had not run in vain. 3 But even Titus, who was with me, was not forced to be circumcised, though he was a Greek. 4 Yet because of false brothers secretly brought in—who slipped in to spy out our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, so that they might bring us into slavery— to them we did not yield in submission even for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might be preserved for you. And from those who seemed to be influential (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)—those, I say, who seemed influential added nothing to me. 

Paul is telling the church of Galatia a story of a prior visit to Jerusalem. He references two names, Barnabas and Titus, likely because they were known to the Galatian church. Barnabas was a respected Jew and was chosen by the Christians in Antioch to accompany Paul. Titus was a Gentile convert who was a great and true friend to Paul. 

Fourteen years…that’s a long time. There is a lot that can happen over that timeframe. Paul mentions that it has been 14 years since his last visit, the visit of his conversion on the road to Damascus. He mentions this to say that he wasn’t in Jerusalem the entire time and listening to the teaching of the other apostles, but he has been away and preaching the same Gospel message as the apostles. 

But why did Paul return to Jerusalem? Because of a revelation by God. He felt God’s calling and had the discernment to understand. Then, he made the active decision to step forward in faith because he knew that God had a plan for him in Jerusalem. Additionally, when Paul went there, he met with influential leaders, those who had a reputation. He preached to them tactfully in private to ensure they understood what the true Gospel of Jesus was. Some of the Jewish Christian converts still felt strongly toward some of the traditional Jewish customs and laws. It was a struggle to believe that Gentiles, uncircumcised, and who didn’t follow the laws of Moses, could still have salvation. So, Paul didn’t want to correct the influential leaders in public. It goes along with the adage of praising in public but correcting in private. Tearing down influential leaders in public could have detrimental consequences on the spreading of the Gospel. 

Paul points out that Titus was a Gentile, and he was not forced to be circumcised. He says this to point out that it is redemption through faith and not by works. God has no partiality in salvation because His grace is abundant for all.  But, this was too good to be true. There must be some rules and regulations that we must meet to gain salvation. So, Paul mentions some ‘false brothers’ because they didn’t truly believe that salvation was by faith alone. So, Paul needed to ensure the Gospel was not compromised and continued preaching redemption by faith. Because it is through Jesus Christ that we have freedom from sin, nothing else. Paul stood before those influential leaders but remained steadfast in the truth of the Gospel. He was not moved and trusted in the revelation revealed to him by Christ. There is no redemption through works or legalism. There is only redemption by faith in Jesus Christ. 

So, we are to be encouraged by Paul’s story here. He was called by God to return to Jerusalem. He had the discernment to listen and understand the calling of God. He need to correct the false teaching and the legalism emplaced. Because, it is through faith that God’s grace is for all, and there is nothing we can do to earn salvation. Paul had brothers in Christ who helped him along the way. So are we to fellowship with other Christians and strengthen each other to remain steadfast in the truth of Jesus Christ. 

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