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We have seen that the Lord
Jesus Christ communicated the gospel directly to Paul. Was it the same
gospel that the other apostles had received from the lips of the Lord? We
will see the oneness of the gospel and Paul's experience with the apostles
Then fourteen years after I
went up again to
It was a master stroke of
Paul to take Titus with him. Titus was a young preacher and a Gentile. This,
I believe, was the first great council in
You see, the Judaizers were
going about saying that the church in
And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain [Gal. 2:2].
Paul recognized that if he
were preaching a different gospel from what the other apostles were
preaching, there was something radically wrong. Paul was willing to admit,
"If I were preaching a different gospel, I would be wrong. I have run in
vain. I have certainly been disillusioned and misinformed." So he goes to
Interesting indeed is the fact that Paul submitted to the true church as his authority, and didn't just take his own visions and experiences as the final word. No doubt his encounters with the Lord were everything to him, but he also recognized that if it were truly of the Lord then surely the local church would be on the same page.
God also chose to use the local church as the gauge of what was scripture and what was not. Many other books were written, but the canon would only consist of what the church accepted thru the Lord's leading. The church is Christ's body, still on earth! Sure, there are many false churches that are way off, but that doesn't minimize the power in the true local church!
But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised: And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage [Gal. 2:3-4].
Out where Paul was
preaching some had come into the church under false colors. Apparently they
were not believers. They just came in to spy out the liberty which believers
had in Christ. They found out that this young preacher, Titus, was a Greek
and Paul had not compelled him to be circumcised. So what will the church at
To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you [Gal. 2:5].
Paul stood by his guns. These false brethren said, "This man Titus who is here meeting with the church (and it was practically all Jewish then) has not even been circumcised!" Paul says, "No, and he's not going to be circumcised. [I bet Titus appreciated that. Do it as a baby or don't do it at all!] He is as much a believer as any of you. He has been saved by faith apart from the Law. He is not about to follow any part of the Law for salvation." This is a tremendous stand that Paul is taking.
But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man's person:) for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me [Gal. 2:6].
Paul says, "We sat down with the apostles and communicated the gospel." They said, "Now, Brother Paul, we've been hearing these reports. Tell us what you preach." And Paul told them. Paul finds out that these apostles didn't have anything to add to what he was preaching. He was preaching the grace of God; they were preaching the grace of God. They find they are in full agreement. They all are preaching the same gospel. This is tremendous!
But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter [Gal. 2:7].
Let's understand that there were not two gospels in the sense of Peter's gospel and Paul's gospel. These men were in complete agreement. The gospel of the circumcision and the gospel of the uncircumcision refer to the groups the gospel was going to. The Gentiles were the group that Paul was speaking to. He was called to go to the Gentiles, the uncircumcised. Peter was called to go to his own Jewish brethren who were the circumcised.
(For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:) [Gal. 2:8].
The proof of the pudding, of course, is always in the eating. What results were they getting? When Peter preached the gospel, quite a few people were saved. When Paul preached the gospel, quite a few people were saved. They were both preaching the same gospel.
Now bringing this principle down to where we live, the real test of any Christian work is not promotion. The real test is the result it gets. God's people should be very sure that they are supporting a ministry that gets results. If it is not producing results, why in the world do you support it?
And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen [non Jews], and they unto the circumcision [Gal. 2:9].
The apostles accepted Paul's apostleship. "The right hands of fellowship" -- fellowship is the Greek koinonia, one of the great words of the gospel and the highest expression of a personal relationship. It means sharing the things of Christ.
Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do [Gal. 2:10].
Paul came back later with
an offering for the poor saints in
This was social service. A
thing that we in our circles are sometimes guilty of is a lack of real
service in this area. James, in his very practical epistle, says, "If a
brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say
unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give
them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?
Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone" (James 2:15-17).
And the apostles there in
In this personal section of
Paul's life we have seen his experience in Arabia with the Lord Jesus
Christ, and his experience with the apostles in
The church in
What was going to be done
to keep from offending the Jewish Christians? Well, in
When Simon Peter came up to
visit Paul in
Peter had been a believer
for some time when he came to visit Paul in
Now notice Peter's reaction:
But when Peter was come to
Now this is probably what
happened. When the time came to eat, Simon Peter went over to the kosher
table, while Paul went over to the Gentile table. Peter noticed that there
was pork roast on the Gentile table. After dinner Peter joined Paul and they
went outside for a little walk. Peter said, "I noticed that you ate at the
Gentile table." "Yes," Paul said. "And I noticed that you ate pork tonight.
Is it good? I never have tasted it." "Yes," Paul said, "it's delicious."
Then Peter asked, "Do you think it would be all right if I ate over there?"
And Paul said, "Well, it is my understanding that we are going to have some
nice pork chops in the morning for breakfast. Why don't you try it?" So in
the morning when he came to breakfast, he went over to the Gentile table,
sat down gingerly and rather reluctantly took a pork chop. After he had
tasted it, he said to Paul, "It is delicious, isn't it?" Paul said, "Yes.
After all, under grace you can either eat it or not eat it. It makes no
difference. Meat won't commend you to God." So Simon Peter said, "I'll be
here tonight and I understand you are having ham tonight. I want to try
that." So at dinner time he starts rushing for the Gentile table when he
looks over and sees some of the elders from the
And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation. But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews? [Gal. 2:13-14].
It was all right for Peter
to eat at either table, kosher or Gentile. But after he had been eating at
the Gentile table and for fear of the brethren from
Now these brethren from
The nature of Paul's rebuke shows, first of all, the inconsistency of lawkeeping. If it was right for Simon Peter to live as the Gentile believers lived, why should he desire the Gentiles to live as the Jews? That is what he was saying when he left the Gentile table for the kosher table. If Gentile living under grace apart from the Law wasn't good enough for Peter, was it bad for the Gentiles themselves? If Simon Peter was free to live outside the Law, was it not lawful for the Gentiles to do the same?
The bottom line is that we are free in Christ! Free from the law, oh happy condition! We are out from under that bondage and burden. But if we really believe in grace, we need to walk in it, and not ride the fence or try to have it both ways. We should do what we do before God in good conscience, not trying to please just those who are in the room. Obviously we don't want to offend or cause some to stumble, but we don't want to offend the God who paid the high price to remove our chains!
The gospel is as good in
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