Monday, July 13, 2009

Galatians 2:6-10

V6-10 – 6As for those who seemed to be important – whatever they were makes no difference to me; God does not judge by external appearance – those men added nothing to my message. 7On the contrary, they saw that I had been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles [or uncircumcised], just as Peter had been to the Jews [or circumcised]. 8For God, who was at work in the ministry of Peter as an apostle to the Jews, was also at work in my ministry as an apostle to the Gentiles. 9James, Peter [or Cephas] and John, those reputed to be pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the Jews. 10All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.

As we come to v6, it ties in exactly as you’d expect after understanding v1-5 as expounded above. Paul had the gospel revealed from Christ; it was the truth; he was going to preach it whether or not anyone else – even if deemed “important” by the Judaizers – agreed or not. Paul is quick to point out that “those who seemed to be important…added nothing” to his message. They may have “seemed important” – for example, James was Jesus’ half-brother, Peter had been given the keys to the Kingdom, and John was the one Jesus loved – but that didn’t matter for authority to preach the gospel as far as Paul was concerned, for “God does not judge by external appearance.” Paul is by no means mocking the other apostles, for he saw himself as the least of them, not worthy to be called an apostle (1 Corinthians 15:9); but he is downplaying his attackers claims that he is not a valid, “important” spokesman for the gospel of Jesus Christ.

So with a big sigh of relief, the climactic conclusion, we read in v9 that the Christian leaders of Jerusalem extended “the right hand of fellowship,” acknowledging that Paul and Peter had both been graced by God with the task of preaching the gospel (v7-8), and that Paul’s doctrine in no way conflicted with authentic Christianity. There would be no division this day, as long as the poor (namely the Jewish Christians in poverty in Jerusalem) were remembered (v10). Paul was eager to aid them, as seen throughout his ministry (Acts 11:27-30; 24:17; Romans 15:26; 1 Corinthians 16:1-3).

Vincent Cheung concludes here, “This in effect puts the Judaizers, who oppose Paul, outside of the apostolic circle and the main thrust of the Christian movement. Thus since Jerusalem agrees with Paul, and Paul disagrees with the Judaizers, this means that the Judaizers are in fact the real deceivers and false teachers, and the enemies of the gospel. By this point in the letter, Paul has provided more than sufficient refutation to all those arguments of the Judaizers that are based on personal attacks.” Nevertheless, all is not well that seems to end well, as we see in the next passage (and Acts 21:17-25). Sadly, orthodoxy – right doctrine neither always nor instantly leads to orthopraxy – right behavior. I think you can get a feel that Paul had his eyes and mind and heart set firmly on both; while perhaps the Jerusalem Christian leaders may have been lax at upholding the latter (orthopraxy), worrying more about the former (orthodoxy).

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